Saturday, May 2

Ephesians, Part II

As you know, at Quest we have been discussing what our lives will look like if we are truly following Jesus. We’ve started looking at the book of Ephesians with that idea in mind. Last week, we discussed Ephesians chapter 2. Here is some of what we talked about:

  • In verses 8-9, Paul tells us that we have been saved by grace through faith, and that this is the gift of God so that no one can boast. There are a number of important ideas here. The first is that we are saved, and we have the ability to have a relationship with God, because of grace. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. In fact, we shouldn’t be able to have it because we proven ourselves unworthy. But in spite of that, God shows us grace and enters into a relationship with that. We are able to receive that grace when we have faith in God. When we act in faith, God gives us his grace.
  • It’s important that God’s grace is a gift rather than something that we can earn. If we could earn God’s grace by doing good things or by checking off everything on some religious list, then it would be about us and what we did. We would essentially be able to say “God wants to have a relationship with me because I’m awesome. I deserve it.” This is what Paul means when he says “so that no one may boast.” Because God’s grace is a gift, and is something that we don’t deserve and haven’t earned, it’s not about us or what we have done. It is about God and what he has done. We can’t say “I have a relationship with God because I’m awesome.” Instead, we have to say “I have a relationship with God because he is awesome.”
  • Everyone who follows Jesus Christ is one. God doesn’t divide people based on class or anything else. This is not how it has always been. Before Jesus came, God essentially belonged to the Jews. If a non-Jew wanted to become a believer in God, they essentially had to become culturally Jewish. Even then, they could enter the Temple, but they could only enter the Gentile court. There was a wall that divided the court the Gentiles could use and the one that the Jews could use. There was a reminder written on the wall telling the Gentiles that if they tried to get closer to the center (and therefore symbolically closer to God) they would be killed. To the Jews, Gentiles were second class citizens. But because Jesus came, the division between the Jews and the Gentiles has been removed.
  • Because of what Jesus did, people who were once separated from God are now able to come close. This has special meaning for the Gentiles, because they weren’t permitted to come close under any circumstances before. However, this is true and important for all of us. As Paul says, we were dead in our transgressions. Because of our sins, we are separated from God. However, because Jesus died and rose again we are now able to draw near to God. We are no longer strangers or aliens as far as God is concerned. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we are citizens of his kingdom and members of his family
  • At the end of the chapter, Paul tells us that we have “been joined together” and we are being “built together.” If we are followers of Jesus Christ, then we are part of a single group. Unfortunately, as people we tend to divide ourselves back up. We divide on denominational lines. We divide on racial or ethnic or cultural lines. We divide on class lines. Often, even if we want to be inclusive an welcoming, a person who doesn’t share the dominant background of the people in our church can feel like they don’t really fit in. This is sad. In the eyes of God, the followers of Jesus make up a single group – a single Church. He doesn’t see the divisions that we make among ourselves. Unfortunately, these divisions often make it more difficult for us to work together for the benefit of the kingdom of God. In fact, they can even make us spend so much time fighting among ourselves that we waste time that could be spend on advancing Jesus’ kingdom. Paul reminds us that we need to see all followers of Jesus as one. We are all part of the same community, and we need to be able to work together.

This should give you a good idea of what we talked about concerning Ephesians chapter 2. Next week, we will continue our discussions on the book of Ephesians and look at chapter 3.

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