Ephesians 2:1–10comment (0)
September 16, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 2:1–10
Explore the Bible
Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
God’s Power Changes People
Although many complicated, confusing and contradictory ideas abound regarding salvation, God’s plan of redemption is not difficult to understand. A person is saved by trusting God’s offer of salvation through what Jesus Christ accomplished when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. That trust involves depending upon God and what He says about Jesus, totally relying upon God to save. As far as God is concerned, however, we can be certain that He will keep His word and that He will save those who rely on Him. He has made salvation possible through His power and will use that power to save anyone who exercises faith in Christ. Although no one deserves salvation, God desires all to experience it and has made it available simply out of His grace. This week’s lesson teaches that God’s eternal plan of salvation reaches to the depth of our sin, uses God’s power to rescue us and displays the riches of God’s grace by means of our works.
The Depth of Our Sin (1–3)
Sin characterizes all people. These verses mark five characteristics of unbelievers. (1) They are dead — spiritually dead — in their sinfulness. Because they are dead spiritually, they are cut off from God. They are unresponsive to God. If an individual continues in this state of deadness by rejecting Christ, then when he or she ultimately experiences physical death, he or she also will experience the second death, eternal separation from God (Rev. 20:14).
(2) Furthermore unbelievers’ lives are dominated by Satan. Their conduct is directed according to the pattern of the world and its prince. (3) In addition, they are said to be disobedient. (4) They are derelict, living lives abandoned to self-centered appetites and desires. (5) Also unbelievers are destined for God’s wrath. We need salvation because of what sin does to us and makes us.
The Power of God’s Grace (4–7)
Into this dark and foreboding picture of our need steps God with His abundant grace. The picture of verses 1–3 is bleak and black; sinners live in ways that leave God out of the picture. But God will not stay out of the picture. God enters the picture in order to rescue.
God is wealthy in all those virtues and values unbelievers need. His character includes “mercy” (kindness and blessing extended to one in misery and need) and love (His marvelous action of caring for and providing for the needs of those hostile to Him). In the display of His grace, God has acted on the basis of His love and given new life — spiritual life.
Notice that God’s action in salvation does not wait for the initiative of sinners; “while we were yet sinners,” He made us spiritually alive. In fact, God did three amazing works for us as elements in our salvation. (1) He gave us spiritual life with Christ; we experienced new life with Christ. (2) He, in Christ, raised us up from spiritual deadness; we experienced co-resurrection with Christ. (3) He, in Christ, seated us with Christ in the sphere of spiritual realities; we experienced co-exaltation with Christ. All this brings us from depths of despair and darkness to the marvelous light of God’s grace and power. Our salvation is by means of God’s grace; our response to His work of grace is our trusting Him. All the work of salvation has been completed by Jesus. We can have salvation only because of God’s amazing grace; thus we will be eternally a display of His grace.
The Place of Our Works (8–10)
The apostle Paul stressed in these verses that each of the components of salvation, as well as the whole experience of salvation, is a gift of God.
We cannot do anything to earn salvation. All we can do is receive it by faith as an unmerited gift of God’s grace. God’s purpose in our receiving the gift is to provide in us good works.
Salvation is God’s gift and we are able to do all the good we can in order to show that we have received it.