From immeasurable greatness of power to immeasurable riches of grace

What the gospel means to us

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 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. – Ephesians 2:1-10

A few posts back I wrote about the three points to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. After further consideration, I have concluded that there were actually four points to his prayer for the Ephesians. I missed the fourth point partially due to the chapter division between chapter one and chapter two. We psychologically assume that with a new chapter there is a new subject. In this case, I think that is wrong. Chapter two begins with, “and.” For all you grammarians, that is a conjunction that ties this sentence with what preceded it. I believe Chapter 2 verses 1-10 are point number four to Paul’s prayer.

Remember the thrust of Paul’s prayer is that the eyes of our hearts are to be enlightened so we can know at an experiential level several things: the hope to which we are called, the riches of his glorious inheritance in us, the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us and now point number four, that we might know the immeasurable riches of his grace.

To get us to that place of appreciation of his immeasurable grace, Paul first gives us an accurate picture of where we were before he brought us into his grace. We were in terrible shape, dead in trespasses and sins. We followed the course of the world which is under the dominion of the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience, that is the demon spirits of this world.

I know that is hard to swallow since most of us lived as pretty nice people before we came to Christ. Our friends and neighbors would say we were “good guys and gals.” We weren’t crazy rapists, human traffickers, terrorists or any other clearly evil thing. But God says we lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath.

Lust doesn’t have to look evil. It can look very attractive and be encouraged. It doesn’t have to be for your neighbor’s wife or husband. It could be for a new house or car, or a great job promotion. It could look like “Your Best Life Now.” Lust is lust even if our lust is approved of and encouraged by the culture around us. Wanting “good things” without God is sin and driven by the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.

To see this clearly, we need to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. We won’t come to this conclusion on our own.

Once this picture of ourselves is hammered into our hearts, we are ready to get it. “But God, being rich in mercy…” Now we can appreciate his grace. Not only did he forgive us and promise that someday we get to go the heaven, no, he “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

This too requires a power-work of the Holy Spirit to burn this reality into our hearts and not just our brains. As I have written before, I have a great love for academics, but academics won’t change our lives and allow us to live life successfully. Only the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives will do that.

Add this section of Ephesians to the prayer I shared with you earlier to truly, in your heart, know the immeasurable riches of his grace toward you.

That will bring great joy

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