Last time we ended by noting that the theme of “Saved to do Good” does not end at the end of chapter 1. We saw in part 1 that God richly blesses Christians with spiritual blessings that go way beyond what many experience, and that the purpose of these blessings is for us to do good works that bless other people in Christ’s name.
The last of these blessing was incomparable power, which was elaborated on in parts 2 and 3 as we saw that God’s power is received and exercised primarily through his church, in conjunction with other believers, and not as lone warriors. As we explored the nature of this power, we saw that, among other things, it was power over death.
Now read Chapter 2: 1-8
you were dead in your transgressions and sin.
This goes beyond the power over the fear of physical death. Every person alive was once dead without hope of anything beyond this life.
because of his great love for love for us, God who is rich in Mercy, made us alive in Christ …. it is by grace you have been saved.
While we were dead in sin, God showed his power, glory and grace by raising us with Christ Jesus. The victory over spiritual death did not come easily. Raising us from our spiritual death took the same power of God that raised Christ himself from death. It is so easy to take our salvation lightly, but for God there was a battle involved.
We were followers of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit that is now at work in those who are disobedient
There is a spiritual battle being raged for our souls and God fought to have us. His weapons were love, mercy and forgiveness. That sounds so kind, but it was with these weapons that Christ fought for us and won the victory through his own death and suffering. Because his purity and perfection persisted through all that the evil one could dish out, God’s power prevailed, raising him up and conquering the death that is inherent in our sinful natures (verses 3 and 4).
We almost never consider the possibility that Jesus could have failed, yet without the reality of that possibility, there could not have been victory.
seated us with him in the heavenly realms, in Christ Jesus.
What an amazing and glorious victory it is! What Satan himself coveted is freely given to us in Christ.
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace
There is indeed a spiritual battle going on that we only see small glimpses of. Praise God that he fights for us, and that his grace is incomparably rich.
Grace is an enormous topic that goes way beyond our normal understanding of the word. Ask yourself a simple question. How can God, who can’t tolerate sin, love people who are covered inside and out with sin? We see here that it is by grace that he does this. Grace is exercised through love, mercy and forgiveness, but how can the Holy Spirit enter into a creature filled with sin and convict them of their need of Christ, when he can not be in the presence of sin. In Genesis, the Spirit could not enter the darkness until after the light shone into it. So how does he enter a heart where there is only the darkness of sin? It is by grace. It is by an astonishing and elaborate plan that God set in motion before he created the world. This plan is far beyond our ability to comprehend more than small pieces of it. It is way more than a kindly disposition. It is what God stakes his rule on.
Finally, we get to verse 10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God prepares good works for us to do. Notice that he doesn’t prepare us to do good works, he prepares works that fit who he already made us to be in Christ. We have seen that, in Christ, we are part of his plan and purpose, his grace, his incomparably rich grace. In order to fulfill that purpose we need to do the good works that he has prepared for us. We are His workmanship; and he is working on us, and fighting for us, through the good works he gave us to do.
Our good works were prepared for us in advance. Much of the doctrine of predestination comes from Ephesians. When were our works prepared for us? When we came to the Lord? When we were born? Before then? The text says we were “created” in Christ Jesus. Taken literally, our position in Christ began during creation, at the beginning of time. We were created in Christ before the man Adam was created. Therefore, we existed in Christ before Adam was made the representative of the human race. As a result, while we were in the world, we were Adam’s children; but now, in Christ, we are children of God and not subject to Adam’s guilt. No earthly system such as the Law of Moses could ever free us from the guilt and condemnation we inherited from Adam when we were born. When we enter into Christ, however, we no longer bear that guilt because Christ is now our representative, not Adam. The question of how we can be cleansed from original sin is resolved; and in realizing this we gain better insight into why predestination was part of God’s plan of grace.
We are now God’s creation: saved by him, being “in Christ”, showing his grace, showing his glory, adopted as sons, abundantly blessed by him, waiting on him for even greater blessings – all of this –
“To do good works”, which he has already prepared for us to do. Could there be a more magnificent calling than this?
Some may be thinking that all our works are ‘filthy rags’. Those are our works, done in our strength, done as children of Adam. The works of God, done in Christ, are blessed in advanced and we can take pride in doing them.