• Lucas McKown

Rooted and Grounded in Love (2 of 3)

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

In the last post, we looked at the theme verses for the series that are found in Ephesians chapter 3 verses 14-21:

[14] For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [15] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, [16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)

This passage is just before the middle mark of Ephesians. It is just before Paul, the writer, transitions from talking about what God has done to him telling that Christians of what they should do. In other words, Paul over all of the book is saying, “Here is what God has done,” in the first three chapters, then saying, “If you believe what I have said to you, do this” in the second three chapters, and in this text, Paul is closing “What God has done.”

In the actual text, Paul laid out the origin, the outpouring, and the purpose of the new status of the Christian believer. The origin of the new status is God. The outpouring, or how the new status looks, is faith and love. The purpose of the new status is for the glory of God. It is out of God’s love that he saves for his glory. In this post and the next, we are going to look at this love of God in salvation, and actually, Paul had just finished writing about it before this passage. So, we are going to flip back to Ephesians chapter 2. We are going to look at the first half of chapter 2 in this post and look at the second half next week.

But, before we start, I want you to think about what it means to be dead. Don’t overthink it. Plainly, think about what it means to be dead. Think about it a bit, then come back.

To be dead, even you may say it, is not when you hear a corny joke. In this way and in others, we soften this word. Are you actually dead when you hear a bad joke? Of course not. You know that. But, just like how we soften the word here, we soften it in other places as well. In the Bible, we see the word “dead”, and then, we downplay it. We make it weak in our heads. We make it softer and easier to swallow. We don’t like the harshness of “dead”. Today, we are going to look at a passage that very plainly says dead, and before we do this, let’s think of what it means. Can a dead body do the things that a living body does? Can he raise his arm? Can he blink? Can he taste? Can he see? It is the same way with the soul. Can a dead soul do the same things as a living soul? Can he be pleasing to God? Can he do good? Can he seek God? The answer to all of those is “no, someone with a dead soul cannot do such things”. When we come to the passage, let’s not make it kinder with how we define kind. Let’s not make it loving with how we define loving. Let’s not make it gentle with how we define gentle. Let’s not soften the Word of God when the Word of God does not soften itself. Let’s read it for what it is: a sword, a sword that is sharper than any other. Now, let’s go to the text.

[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not 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, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

Both paragraphs of chapter two have a similar flow. Overall, it talks about God’s great work. It starts by showing that a work by God needed to be done, then it states the work done, then the purpose of the work. Verses one through 10 are about death and life; the second part is about separation and adoption. So what is the problem that God has solved? Well, Christian, you were dead. What has he done? If you are a Christian, he has made you alive in Christ. Why? For his glory. Now, let's start walking through the text.

[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (ESV)

Paul starts by stating that you were dead in your trespasses and sins. Now, let’s paint an image. Say you’re dead and in the ground six feet under, and let’s call the dirt “trespasses and sins”. Can you dig yourself out? No, you can’t move. You can’t call for help. You can’t even think about doing any of this. You’re dead. If this is the case, what would it take to make you alive? It would take someone digging you up, pulling you out of the ground, and breathing life into you. Christian, you did not pull yourself out of your sin. You couldn’t even think about pulling yourself out of your sin. It took God reaching down and yanking you up to get you out of the sin in which you walked. You followed the course of this world. You followed the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is at work in the sons of disobedience. You were an enemy of God, working against him, hating him. You hated God. You couldn’t imagine seeking him because you already knew him, and you hated him.

And just so you know, you’re not alone. Paul goes on to say, “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind”. Everyone that you know has been hostile to God. Everyone you know has rejected God. Everyone you know has spit in God’s face. All the people that you know are “by nature children of wrath”. We all deserve to rot in eternal torment for our rebellion and disobedience against God.

Have you worshipped idols? You deserve hell. Have you said God’s name in vain? Join the idol worshiper in hell. Have you ever dishonored your parents? To hell with you, too. Have you killed, or even hated someone in your heart? Hell. Have you committed adultery, or looked at someone in lust? Hell. Have you ever stolen? Hell. Have you ever lied? Hell. Have you ever coveted? Hell.

You may say, “But sir, that is only one sin. Will that really send someone to hell?” To that I say, “Absolutely”, and I say it for two reasons. First, God is perfect and demands perfection; therefore, if you have sinned once you are worthy of damnation. Secondly, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). God is your master, or he is not. If you have sinned, then sin is you master.” However, there is hope. Paul doesn’t leave us hopeless he gives hope where hope should be. Let’s see where God, through Paul, points our hope.

[4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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. (ESV)

Christian, God has taken you, a child of wrath, and has made you alive with Christ. He has not only given you life in Christ, but he has raised you up and seated you in the heavenly places. He has made you heirs with Christ. You were dead and buried, without hope, and God raised you up and gave you a kingdom.

God is so rich in mercy! God has shown such a great love! That even when we were dead, unable to even try to save ourselves, unable to seek God, unable to call for help, while we were trespassing against God, while we were rebelling against him, while we hated him, he loved us, and he has given us life together with Christ. It is by his grace that you have been saved. And it is by his grace that you have been raised up with Christ, and you are seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It is interesting that Paul says you are seated. It is already yours. You have not yet seen it with mortal eyes, but God’s promises are so sure that you are already seated with Christ. Notice also that it is in Christ that you are seated. You are not seated in and of yourself. You are seated in heavenly places because of his seating there and your union with him.

It is such a great love that God has seemed to take us from the deepest hell to heaven itself. Why would he do this? Paul goes on to say.

[7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not 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, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

He has done this, he has brought us from deepest hell and placed us in heaven, to make known his great grace in Christ Jesus. It’s is so sweet that God has included us in his will, that he has shown us such grace. That is why it is to him that the glory is to be. To God be the glory!

This is why Paul goes where he goes next. He gives a warning of stealing glory from God in your salvation. He states clearly that it is by grace you have been save through faith. Where does this faith come from? Well, it is a gift from God, not a result of works. When you get a gift what have you done to deserve it? Nothing. What did you contribute to it? Did you buy it? Did you even wrap it? No. It is the same way with faith. You have done nothing for the great gift that God has given you. You have contributed nothing to your salvation, except ... Except what? The acceptance of it? Did I accept the salvation? That’s what I contributed to it. I, by my will, accepted my salvation. “I have contributed nothing to my salvation, except the acceptance of it.” NO! You have contributed nothing to your salvation, except the sin that made it necessary. You have been saved by God’s grace through God’s faith that has been gifted to you. Therefore, don’t boast in anything you have done. Boast in God and what he has done! We are his workmanship, not our own workmanship. All the good works that we do, where do they come from? God. It says clearly “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God is the one that has prepared the good works for us, that we should walk in them. Why did it take God to prepare good works? Well, because we were dead.

Believer, do not take glory from God in your salvation. That is not somewhere you want to be. Give God all the glory for his saving you and for your good works. Because, without him, you would not be saved, and you would not have good works. Also, make sure that you’re walking in the good works that God has prepared for you.

If you’re not a believer, you know you’re dead. You know that you are rebelling against a holy God, and I call you to repent. Turn from your sin and believe in Christ, then God will give you life and seat you in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

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