God’s Awesome Plan of Salvation (Ephesians 2)

I have to make some sort of amends for my post regarding the
tinted glasses on Ephesians. If anything, the humor sparked some serious
considerations on Ephesians chapter 2?one of which spurred by my brother in
Christ, Doug from Coffeeswirls. Together we embark on a look at Ephesians 2,
not to spark debate, but merely in an effort of learning and mutual
edification. Perhaps this will count as penance for my humor?mia culpa, mia
culpa, mia maxima culpa
.

So as I approach Ephesians 2 with a magnifying lens, I must
remind the reader that this chapter is not written in a void. My commentary
will focus primarily on chapter 2?but please read the rest of the book.

For, whenever we look at any portion of Scripture we must ask the
purpose of its existence. Why is this portion in this part of the letter to the
Ephesians and not the beginning? Why isn?t it in the letter to Timothy? Are the
concepts portrayed in Ephesians 2 repeated elsewhere in Scripture and if so, in
what context?

We must take into consideration that Ephesians 1 primarily
has us looking at the predestination of Sons in Christ with the end goal being
both the praise of God?s glory and the individual personal understanding of
being beneath that preeminent One. Chapter 3 would have us looking at the
revealed mystery of the unified body and the hoped for comprehension of the
unfathomable riches found in the love of Christ. Ephesians 4 puts the truth to
the road having the believer walk worthy of the calling to the very point of
growing into the full stature of the head. Ephesians 5 would show us how this
is carried out in every day living and Ephesians 6 will impress on us how  this practical living reaches into the
spiritual realm.

Every bit of this book is saturated with the purpose to work
for the end goal of glory of Christ as we increase in those works and in love
for Him. It is extremely sad (and sobering) when we later see the church at
Ephesus busy about much work but admonished because she had forgotten her
reason for the work?her first love, Jesus Christ (Rev 2:1-7).

How does Ephesians 2 fit into this picture then? What roles
does Ephesians 2 play in the development of understanding the depth and breadth
of God?s love and simultaneously energize the believer to work for God?s glory
out of love? Some like to take the passages here and make it a statement on the
inability of man to respond to the Gospel?does this passage speak of inability?

Eph 2:1-3 proves to be the black despair of mankind without
God?s salvation. Calvinists are dead on here. Men are dreadfully sinful,
walking in the course, or path, of this world?according to the prince of the
power of the air?this authority that is currently working in the world. We
believers were also in this dark atmosphere, breathing its air and enjoying it.
We followed after the lusts of our flesh and mind and indulged ourselves. We,
like the rest of the world were children of wrath?that is, worthy of the wrath
of God. Here?s your deadness. The fact that men weren?t speaking to God is only
part?the aspect that God has every right, and is personally required by His
nature to judge them is the overarching Death.

That?s the black backdrop?not a statement of how God is
electing some and not others. Because God?s mercy is now seen, breaking into
the scene with the brightness of His overwhelming love and He saved these types
of people. He then takes these people, who have died but now have been made
alive and seated them in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph 2:4-9).

God?s mercy allows Him to save, His grace is the showering of
His salvation and faith is the means of appropriating this salvation (Eph 2:8).
Here the Calvinist might balk and say ?Faith is a gift of God? and the Arminian
may snap back ?Grace is the gift of God.? Both wrong and if they get stuck
there they miss the point of the passage in its entirety.

Ephesians 2 is dealing specifically with the dire need of
man and God?s given salvation from beginning to end. Dead men in sins, made
alive in Christ by God?s mercy, seated by God in heavenly places (Eph 2:5-6)
with plans to show the surpassing riches of His grace in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

What?s the gift? God?s salvation is the gift. It is
completely a gift of God. He didn?t have to save men but out of his mercy He
chose to. He didn?t have to show grace but out of His love He moved to. He
didn?t have to make it available through faith, but in His wisdom He designed
it to.

Does this mean that it is not appropriated through faith? Of
course not, since that?s the very means that God makes salvation available to
sinners?the righteous or just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17)! Does this make faith a work?
By no means! If faith was a work, God?s promises to Abraham would have been
merited?but they were not, they were given and appropriated by his belief for ?Abraham
believed God and it was accounted to Him to righteousness? (Romans 4).

Ephesians 2:10
now makes the connection we?re searching for regarding works. We?re not saved
by works nor by any action of ourselves (that salvation is solely God?s) but
we?re saved unto good works. As a believer who is growing to the full stature
of the Son (Eph 4:13), who is predestined to be conformed to His very image and
for His glory (Eph 1)?we must understand that there is a path of good works
that God has delineated for us to walk in. That?s right, a road of good works
(which will consist of trials and hardships and even persecution) prepared
beforehand for the person who is labeled a ?child of God? to grow into the full
stature of a ?Son of God?

Speaking to Gentiles directly now (Eph 2:11-12), who were
excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and were strangers to God?s package of
promises, pagans in every sense of the word?these people have been brought
near. That dividing wall which protected Israel and proved to be the enmity
against all of mankind, has been torn down so that Jew and Gentile could be
made into a new man (speaking of this new unit) and establishing peace between
mankind and God (Eph 2:15-17).

How was this done? Thank God, it was also done by God
Himself who has brought us near by the blood of Christ and through His flesh
(Eph 2:2:13, 15)! Now, we Goyim are
no longer strangers but are fellow citizens and are of God?s household with all
the foundations that that entails of the apostles and the prophets and Christ
in the corner stone (Eph 2:19,20). Imagine it: a holy and spiritual temple
being built together for the housing of God (Eph 2:21-22).

This chapter is pivotal to the believer?s development. Our
salvation is wholly God but not to be left in an ivory tower of theology. This
salvation has tremendous practical implications in its very nature, by the fact
that we as believers are being built into a temple like Israel?s
old tabernacle, for the housing of God. Shudder believer and tremble in awe at
the unfathomable riches of His love and His mercy by which He saved us. He
didn?t have to do it; He did it and in His grace and mercy made it available to
us through faith.

-r-
If you want a completely well-rounded picture, study Colossians with Ephesians. You may enjoy seeing how Ephesians focuses on the body and Colossians focuses on the head. Also, I’m sure you noticed the connections in Ephesians 2 with Romans 1 – 5…the first movement of Paul’s defense of God’s righteousness. Indeed, you might even see some similarities with Romans 6 – 8 as well.
Update: I just read Doug’s post. Praise the Lord, looks like we’re (mostly) vibing. Rebecca also has a few posts on Ephesians 2 (part 1, part 2).

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