Alive together with Christ
Ephesians 2 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The most familiar portion of today’s text is probably Ephesians 2:8-9, which says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. I think it is important to include verse 10, which says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. If we are saved by grace through faith it is important that we fully understand what it is that we are saved from and who or what it is that our faith is in. Verses 4-7 provide us with both answers: God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. We are saved from death in our transgressions. Romans 6:23 says: The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is by God’s grace, His free gift to us, that we are saved from sin and death. That it is free to us, does not mean though that it is without cost. The grace of God, which saves us from sin and death, came at the price of the life of Christ; actually not His life but His death on the cross for us. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It is not just in believing that Jesus lived, it’s not just in believing and following what He said, but rather it is in believing that He died for us, once for all. Our faith is not just that we believe in who Jesus was and is, not that we believe what He said, but that we believe what He did. That is the faith that saves us.
If that is the faith we have, then we also as Paul says, should recognize that: We were dead in our transgressions and He made us alive together with Christ. John 3:16 says that we who believe in Christ have eternal life. But it is so much more than just a future life after this life ends. Paul says, we were dead, not we will die. It is in Christ that we are made alive. That does not speak of a future in heaven, but rather our present, now, here on earth. After He was crucified for our sin, Jesus was raised from the grave and again walked among the living. He was not just raised to an unseen, eternal life in heaven, but rather He lived again, here on earth. Hebrews 11:1 says: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Our faith then is not only in that Jesus died for our sins, but our faith is also in the evidence of the resurrection, that just as Jesus lived again, so too are we made alive in Him, not only in a future in heaven, but here and now on earth. It is interesting that after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, they did not immediately recognize Him. The resurrected Christ looked different than the man Jesus, who they formerly had known. So too, if we are made alive in Christ, if we are living as one resurrected from death, should not look the same as we did before. Paul says: You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind…But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us made usalive together with Christ and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are presently seated with Christ in heaven even as we walk in this life among men. Surely then, if we are representatives; actually residents of heaven here on earth, we should not look like those who are dead but rather like the one who lives.
Verse 10 says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. That we are God’s workmanship, speaks to the fact that we are created by Him. The verse says we are created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand. In Genesis 1:26-28 it speaks of the works God created us for: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In Christ Jesus, we are created for the good works which were intended for us from the beginning, before there was death from sin. In Christ, by grace through faith, believing in the seen evidence of the resurrection we are created to fulfill God’s original plan, His original purpose. The good works we are created for begin with complete fellowship with God, walking with Him, in His image and likeness, not looking like those who are dead, but rather like the one who created life. We are to not only look like Him, but also to have the authority He intended, to do the good works He prepared beforehand. Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. As representatives and residents of the kingdom of heaven that’s what our lives should look like, that’s what we should do. We should do the works that God prepared for us, the works that Jesus did, with the authority we were given in Christ.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit that I have been saved from death and made alive to walk in all that You have prepared for me. May I no longer be recognized as one who was dead, but may others see Your image and likeness in me. May Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, in and through my life. Amen.