God’s Purpose for the Church Part 5

by Mike Ratliff

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints and believers in Christ Jesus who are in Ephesus.  2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and  our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

While visiting in Oklahoma over this last weekend I heard a sermon Sunday morning taken from 2 Peter 3:17,18.

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17,18 NASB)

It was a good sermon. The preacher used the example of how we are able to discern what is error from what is not by remaining faithful to our study and obedience to the truth, that is, God’s revealed truth, which is his Word. When we do that then when counterfeit truth is taught as if it is the truth we are already on guard and are able to not be carried away by the error of those unprincipled false teachers who are seeking to draw away followers from the flock of God unto themselves. This series on going through The book of Ephesians a verse at a time is what the Holy Spirit uses to build the mind of Christ in Christians. This is their transformation through the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2). Let us look at Ephesians 2:1-10 for some more of that mind renewal.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked according the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also 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 trespasses, he made us alive with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,  7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is god’s gift;  9 not by works lest any should boast. 10 For we are his masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

A good subtitle for this section could be “Our New Life in Christ.” The Pelagians have it all wrong. Well actually, all who deny the doctrine of Original Sin have a huge problem with Ephesians 2:1. The unregenerate are not dead because of their sinful acts, but because of their sinful nature (Matthew 12:35; 15:18, 19). The unregenerate sinner exists in a realm of spiritual death that means they are lost, that is, completely separate from God who is Holy. In v2 we see that all the lost, and that includes all believers before their salvation, walk in that lostness, that darkness, which is according to the world system, this age, according to the ruler of this world and this age, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, who is Satan.

10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” (Romans 3:10-18 NASB)

That is the spiritual condition of unregenerate man. In Ephesians 2:3 Paul tells believers that we also were just like that. There was nothing about us that made us worth redeeming in and of ourselves. However, look carefully at Ephesians 2:4-7. Why are genuine Christians regenerate? Why did God justify us? It is because God is rich in mercy and because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were completely undeserving, he made us alive with Christ by grace. He raised us up who were dead in trespasses and sins unto spiritual life. This is regeneration; this is making dead faith into living faith as a gift by his grace. We did not earn or deserve it. Why did God do this? It was for his own glory that he might display the wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

Now we come to vv8,9. We have been saved by grace through faith, neither of which was our own, they were God’s gift to us, not by works lest we boast. If any part of our salvation was something we did or had anything to do with some attribute on our part then this statement could not be true. Look at v10. God did it this way and we are his masterpieces or workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them.

I know that many may want to argue about some of these points, but if you do then ask yourself why. Why do you want to take credit for something that Paul makes abundantly clear here that is 100% God’s work?

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “God’s Purpose for the Church Part 5

  1. I am reading and teaching a small group study on Michael Horton’s book, Christless Christianity. He emphatically makes this same point in the closing pages of chapter 4, regarding the parable of the tax-collector and the pharisee, “The only thing worse than his self righteousness is that he pretends to give God a little credit for it.”

    Let the Pelagians howl! Let the Truth ring out for the glory of our God!

  2. “Let the pelagians howl!”

    Oh and all who live a religious life by men’s receipes for salvation in systems will join in the chorus! …And so will the howls of the wolves who gather to feast!

    well said Manfred!

  3. Excellent Mike. .. I love this: vs.4- “BUT GOD” he’s the initiator not man. He gets the highest praise because it was because of HIS GREAT LOVE.. Nothing in man for we are DEAD…

    The Arminians or free willers make the huge mistake of thinking the did something, that they chose… It’s not there. Their premise is false and built on straw-men arguments and not on what God’s word actually teaches. If we deduce from the proper premise then all their arguments fall.. They say God doesn’t “force” people to be saved. Well, DEAD men can’t be forced obviously. Then they make the false argument that “we are not robots” WEll of course we’re not because dead men cannot respond to stimuli.

    It’s utterly and completely by the grace of GOD..the work of our salvation is wholly God’s WORK.

    “who does Paul credit their conversion to? What is the difference in an unsaved person and a redeemed person? Is it a decision that a sinner makes? is it something that is praiseworthy in the sinner that sets him apart from other sinners–that makes him ,,,, better? What is the turning point? Verse 4-”But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”—notice the heart of what Paul is teaching here… the key phrase is this.. take all the extraneous phrases out and this is the heart of what Paul is saying.. “But GOD has quickened us” –It’s God who raised us up from this state of spiritual death.. This is the work of GOD.”-Phil Johnson

    God gets ALL the glory and honor..

    Thanks mike

  4. Hi Mike,

    Regarding: “The preacher used the example of how we are able to discern what is error from what is not by remaining faithful to our study and obedience to the truth, that is, God’s revealed truth, which is his Word. When we do that then when counterfeit truth is taught as if it is the truth we are already on guard and are able to not be carried away by the error of those unprincipled false teachers who are seeking to draw away followers from the flock of God unto themselves. ”

    I heard Dr. White use the illustration that the way people (I think he stated in the Treasury department) are trained to detect counterfeit money is not by examining and studying all the various counterfeits but by knowing the real thing. They are required to spend so much time looking and studying real money that the counterfeit simply just stands out.

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