The Greatest Gifts Ephesians 2:1-2:10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This passage tells us that God has great gifts that He wants to give to us… but the chapter starts out with some very peculiar, almost ominous words. Paul begins this passage by reminding us how evil we have been in the past, before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. Before our gifts can be fully understood, it’s necessary for us to understand how undeserving we are of any gift. In fact, Paul reinforces this theme in verses 8 and 9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Why would Paul go to such lengths to prove to us that we don’t deserve God’s gift? Because, there are some who call themselves “Christians” but never seem to comprehend their legal standing before God, e.g., they are Christian in name only and are undeserving of His gifts. Matter of fact, some actually believe they have “earned” God’s pleasure and therefore they “deserve” God’s favor. They could not be further from the truth. It’s importance that each of us realize that we have no "right" to the salvation our Father offers us through His Son, Jesus Christ, or even any gift at all. Without this realization we can never fully appreciate and respond to His offer, e.g., Christ’s power within us and a desire to act and be seen as Jesus’ brother. That’s why Paul goes to such lengths to tell us, that before God got hold of us, e.g., our pre-salvation status, we… 1st (vs. 1) … were dead in our sins
2nd (vs. 2) … were under the power of the ruler of the Kingdom of the air (Satan) 3rd (vs. 3) … once lived satisfying our sinful cravings…And we were objects of wrath Now contrast those pre-salvation statements, with how Paul describes as our AFTER salvation status.
AFTER salvation we’re told… (vs. 5) … we’ve been saved by God’s grace… and because of that (vs. 5) … we’ve been made alive in Christ (vs. 6) … and we’ve been seated with Christ in the heavenly places The key is simply acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. But there are a couple of things I feel are important to note at this point regarding our salvation status. This is where the whole concept of “gifts” comes into play. Jesus told the crowds that had gathered, in John 15:10, that if we loved Him we would obey His commands.
Because, before accepted Christ into our hearts, we were "dead in our transgressions." (v.1). But now, we have been reborn … we have been “made alive” in Christ” (vs. 5). The sin which dragged us down, kept us contained and not allowed us to truly enjoy the life that God intended for us in the first place has been forgiven and forgotten, thanks to the blood that was shed at Calvary.
We were objects of God’s wrath and subject to the "prince of the power of the air" (v. 2 and 3). But, now, God has "raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms …" (v. 6). God, in His holiness, cannot deal with us because sin has tainted our lives. It’s only through the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, that we can come into our Father’s presence and be justified as sufficiently righteous to bridge the gulf between God and sinful man.
Our sins forgiven our relationship restored, our eternal destiny secured, …, all because our Heavenly Father loved us, …, more than we can comprehend. Is there any reason why the gifts and talents He has bestowed upon us should not then be used for His gain, His glory, and not our own?
And that’s exactly the point of this newsletter. When we use the talents and gifts for our own selfish gain, we are actually cheating God of the glory He would have otherwise received. As well, we are depriving ourselves of His blessing when we glorify Him by using the gifts He has given us. Every time we glorify God by whom we are or by what we do, e.g., by being Christ-like, using our gifts to His glory, God is glorified, but we receive the blessing.
This is because of God’s great love for us, e.g., His grace. We who have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ and truly desire Him, have received something we did not deserve … something we could never buy … something we could never earn … we received the right to stand as heirs to eternity in paradise with our Creator Himself. Our Heavenly Father graciously gave us good gifts that His Son Jesus Christ might be glorified in our lives; that we might be the beacon on the hill for others, those without Christ. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (v. 10). You see… you,…, me, …, we are God’s workmanship. God has taken that which was useless and without value to Him and has transformed us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, some may ask: “What can I do?” What are my gifts?” Part of being a Christian is discovering the gifts God has bestowed upon us. We discover the “gifts” God has for us – by making ourselves available to God. When we make ourselves available to God, then He makes His purpose for our lives obvious to us. We make ourselves available to God through prayer, confession, and by submitting to His Will for our life. I challenge you to discover the gifts our Father has placed into your lives, serving Him, shepherding others for His glory, putting those talents to work for the greater glory of God rather than our own glory. But, stand back, because I promise, you’re going to be blessed more than you can now understand.
I truly believe we all have been blessed with special gifts and talents from God, and this is our opportunity to use those gifts for His glory.
See you Sunday,