What Should Easter Mean to You? Ephesians 1:19 – 2:10

There are many significant resurrection texts: the Messianic Psalms in the OT; John 11 and the raising of Lazarus; 1 Cor. 15 – if there is no resurrection of Christ than our faith is in vain. But I thought this passage in Ephesians sums up what Easter should mean to each one of us.

Review:  Message of Ephesians: SINCE GOD DESIGNED THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS GLORY AND BLESSED IT WITH THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY, LET US WALK WORTHY OF OUR HIGH CALLING

Paul has just finished describing in chapter 1 some of the glorious blessings that we have in Christ … now he focuses on the awesome Resurrection Power of God at work in our lives.

Why do we need the Enabling Resurrection Power of God?  [Many parallels to the need for such saving power in the Book of Judges]

1)  We were dead and we needed to be made alive – We can accomplish nothing in our own power

2)  We are in a war!  We are attacking Satan and his world system and sin with the standards and purposes of a holy, sovereign God.  We are under attack as well (Ephes. 6:10-13).  Do we feel the pressure of the battle?  Are we actively fighting?  The purpose of the church is to equip soldiers to fight.

We need to tap into God’s resources and power in order to live victoriously — otherwise we will be discouraged and become casualties — rendered ineffective and useless for fighting.  Soldiers are not concerned with their comfort or quality of life during the conflict, but are oriented towards the future in expectation of the higher quality of life that will be enjoyed at that time.  Our expectations should be focused on the future as well.

3)  Our commander-in-chief is invisible!  The Apostle Paul had been taken prisoner by the enemy.  He is concerned that the believers don’t lose heart at his tribulations (3:13).  He is still actively fighting effectively behind the lines as an ambassador in chains relying on the same power of God (6:20).  Paul points the saints to the exalted Lord Jesus Christ as their commander-in-chief.  We do not want to have an unhealthy dependence on human spiritual leaders.

The enemy will try all sorts of propaganda techniques to try to discourage us.  God’s answer = We have the same POWER available to us as was evidenced in Jesus Christ (just as we saw that our spiritual blessings and privileges are identical to those of our Lord Jesus Christ).

GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER WORKS WITHIN US TO CHANGE BOTH OUR POSITION AND OUR PRACTICE

-          CAN GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER REALLY SAVE US?

-          WHAT CHANGES SHOULD WE SEE?

I.  (1:19-23)  CAN GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER REALLY SAVE US?

GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER IS MORE THAN SUFFICIENT –

BY DEFINITION AND BY ILLUSTRATION

 

THE GUARANTEE FOR OUR SUCCESS IS GOD’S POWER WORKING FOR US — THE SAME POWER THAT RESURRECTED AND EXALTED CHRIST TO HIS POSITION AS HEAD OVER ALL — BOTH IN THE UNIVERSE AND IN THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY

 

A.  God’s Power is More Than Sufficient – By Definition

1.  The Nature of This Power

Paul presses all the words for power in his vocabulary into service in order to convey something of its all-surpassing character.

4 different Greek words (but the emphasis is not on the different nuances of meaning in each; rather the cumulative effect of these words):

a. “dunamis” — strength, might, power — general word to introduce the whole subject   (cf. “dynamite”)

b.  “energeia” — power in action; working power   (cf. “energy”)

c.  “kratos” — the strength exercised in the activity; over-powering master; dominion   (cf. “creator”)

d.  “ischus” — inherent ability — whether exercised or not; strength possessed

2.  The Measure of This Power — “the exceeding greatness

            You cannot measure it or exhaust it; it goes beyond all that we could ask or think–  3:20  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,”

Why would anyone fight on the other side?  Let’s make sure we are not fighting against the power of God.  If we have such unlimited power available, let’s do some significant fighting.  The victory in the war is assured; the only question is which soldiers will get the medals.

B.  God’s Power is More Than Sufficient – By Illustration

4 Great Acts of God described (2 groupings of 2) — what He already did for for Christ:

1.  raised Him

2.  seated Him

3.  put all things under His feet – universal dominion

4.  gave Him to the church to be head over all

 

1.  The Resurrection

            Represents the best proof of God’s might; only God could do this.  When the NT writers wish to show the fullness of God’s love, they point to the death of Christ — Rom. 5:8  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

but the chief demonstration of His power is the resurrection.  Look at the other prophets people worship today: Where is Mohammed?  Where is Joseph Smith?

[Romans 1:4; 2 Cor. 13:4; Heb. 11:19]

3 Reasons God wants us to look at a risen Christ:

a.  God’s Supreme Seal Upon His Son

                                    1)  As to His Person — Christ linked His claim to Deity to His resurrection — Matt. 16:14ff;  God validated Christ’s claims by the resurrection — Matt. 12:38-40; John 10:18; Matt. 27:40, 63-64 — all His enemies had to do was to produce Christ’s body to prove it was a hoax

2)  As to His Work — validation of His death; accepted as sufficient sacrifice — Romans 4:25; 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:13ff

b.  God’s Guarantee for the Believer’s Future — Answers man’s questions about:

                                    1)  Death — it’s been transformed — Rev. 1:17-18; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; sting of death is gone because the penalty and guilt is gone; 1 Pet. 1:3-4; the law calls for the execution of God’s judgment on sin

2)  This Body — His resurrection is the guarantee of mine — 1 Cor. 15:20; Phil. 3:21

3)  Believers in Glory — assurance of inheritance and place with Him — 1 Pet. 1:3-4

c.  Provides Power in the Believer’s Life Right Now

                        Rom. 6:4-5 — we partake of His very nature – “as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life

Response of people makes all the difference: some mock; some say it’s impossible; some believe

Transition: Christ is not only alive, but reigning; the resurrection and the exaltation are always linked in Scripture

2.  Exaltation

a.  Significance — restored to His manifest glory which He had laid aside in the Incarnation – Phil. 2; Sitting was a mark of honor or authority in the ancient world in the following contexts:

                                 1)  King — sitting to receive his subjects

In Revelation, God is pictured as ruling on His throne; Mark 14:62;

Heb. 1:3-4; we will reign with Christ

2)  Court — sitting to render judgment

3)  Teacher — sitting to teach — Matt. 5:1; Christ taught with evident authority

4)  High Priest — always stood — but Jesus was the exception — Heb. 10:11-14

b.  The Measure of His Exaltation

                                    “above all principality and power …”

possibilities:

            – ranks of good angels

            – includes different orders of demons as well (6:12 supports this)

            – all grades of authority — both human and super-human

Maybe not precise terms to specify graduated ranks, but rhetorical terms brought together in order to express the unique supremacy and absolute sovereignty proper to Christ, and meaning simply that whatever powers or dignitaries existed and by whatever names they might be designated either now or at any time in the future, Christ’s dominion is above them all.

The world loves power and seeks after titles and honor and authority.  Christ has it all.  That same power of God is working for us and is more than sufficient to meet our need for significance and security.

3.  The Dominion of Christ over the Universe

                        “put all things under His feet” — Ps. 8:4-6; 1 Cor. 15:27; Heb. 2:8-9

Remember the charge given to the first Adam — exercise dominion over the world; the purpose of God has always been dominion

4.  The Headship of Christ over the Church

4 great acts of God – shows by illustration as well as by definition that God’s resurrection power is sufficient to save us

II.  (2:1-10)  WHAT CHANGES SHOULD WE SEE? 

GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER HAS CHANGED OUR POSITION AND PRACTICE  [outline here from Dr. Ken Peterman]

A.  God’s Resurrection Power Has Changed our Position

1.  Our Old Position – Estranged from God

a.  We were DEAD — Ephes 2:1

Death means separation.  In this case, spiritual death is total, absolute, complete and full separation from God.  We were absolutely powerless, helpless, unable, incapable to think, feel, or will anything to do with God or for God because we were dead in trespasses and sins.  The Greek word translated “trespass” means “stepping over the mark or boundary” — being a rebel.  The word in the original for “sins” here means “missing the mark”, “falling short” or being a failure.  In our dead state, (separated from God) we were both rebels and failures.

b.  We were ENSLAVED — Eph 2:2

1)  We walked according to the age of this world.

What defines the culture of this present world?  Pride, selfishness, lust, greed, fear, hate, materialism, sensuality, independence, relativism, etc. – Without Christ, we fit right in

2)  We walked according to the principles of Satan.

We walked according to the “prince of the power of the air.”  We were enslaved to Satan.  This doesn’t mean that we were demon possessed or demon affected, but it means we operated under some of the same principles that govern Satan’s activities.  Some of these activities include: lying, unbelief, pride, deceit, wickedness.

3)  We walked according to the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.

The Greek word for “lust” means “strong desire.”  It can be used in both a positive and negative context, but usually is negative in connotation.

Lust of the flesh — the phrase “of the flesh” qualifies the lust in which we walked in our unsaved state.

In Ephesians 2:3 Paul refers to the desire of the body.  We were enslaved to these sensuous desires: eating, drinking, sex, etc.  In other words, we abused these God-given blessings.

The phrase “of the mind” indicates the lusts of ambition, knowledge, independence, etc.

Summary: So we were not only dead, but enslaved to the principles of the world system, to Satanic principles, and to the lust of our flesh and of our minds.

In other words, Paul pictures unsaved man a corpse wrapped around and around with strong unyielding chains making it absolutely impossible to save ourselves

If this were not enough, Paul adds one more element to the picture.

c.  We were CONDEMNED BY BIRTH – Eph. 2:3

And were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.”  This phrase looks at origins.  We were depraved, polluted, corrupted, evil, sinful, by birth.  The Psalmist said “In sin did my mother conceive me …”  Psalms 51:5; Other passages teach the same truth — Romans 3:9; Gal. 3:22.

Unless one has a clear understanding of this helpless spiritual position it is impossible to fully understand or appreciate the grace of God.  “Only to the cross I cling, nothing in my hand I bring.”

KEY POINT: Eph. 2:4  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us

- Don’t overlook the mercy of God; not the tyrant and scrooge that some would like to make Him out to be; don’t presume upon the mercy of God

- Don’t forget the great love of God – lies at the heart of our salvation

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

2.  (:5-6)  Our New Position – Empowered by God

a.  (:5)  We were MADE ALIVE

Note that the work was done by God — not us.  We were made alive with Christ.

The basis of this new life is grace and the instrument through which it was accomplished was faith.

b.  (:6)  We were RAISED UP WITH CHRIST

This means that we partook of his resurrection life.  When Christ was raised physically, we were raised spiritually.

c.  (:6)  We were SEATED WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENS

We have positionally experienced the victory that Christ now enjoys in heaven.  Total victory in Him; total victory is also ours.

Since sin is associated with out old position of death — the contrast — holiness is associated with our new position of life.

B.  God’s Resurrection Power Has Changed our Practice

1.  The Old Practice Characterized by the Ungodly Principles of:

a.  Death:

                                    1)  Trespasses:  active rebellion, sins of commission.

2)  Sins: passive sins, sins of omission.

b.  World:

            Materialism, sensuality, independence, greed, lust, etc.

c.  Devil:

            Pride, deceit, hate, fear, lying, evil acts

d.  Flesh:

            Abuse of eating, drinking, sex, etc.

e.  Mind:

            Ambition, pride, independence, etc.

2.  The New Practice Characterized by the Godly Principles of:

a.  Life

            Holiness is associated with resurrection life.  The very fact that we are identified with Christ in his resurrection and ascension into heaven associates us with holiness or freedom from sin.

b.  Glorifying God

            The purpose of the new life and new position is to ultimately bring glory to God (2:7).

Verses 8-10 give two reasons why our salvation will glorify God:

1)  (:8-9)  because our salvation is entirely by grace and not by our own works.  This also includes our faith.

2)  (:10)  because we are his workmanship to be displayed in eternity as his trophies

            – We are God’s workmanship

            – We were created in Christ Jesus by God; we did not create ourselves

The Greek word “workmanship” means the product of a person’s hand.  In the Old Testament the same concept referred particularly to the creation of a poem.  If we are God’s workmanship, we are the product of his hands or his poem.

c.  Holiness in General; Good Works in Particular

Note that we were created “unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

This verse more specifically defines God’s concept of our holy walk; the type of holiness in which we as believers are supposed to walk in is good works.

Exactly what are some of the good works in which God has ordained us to walk?

A close examination of the terminology “good works” in other contexts helps us to clarify what is meant here.

1.  Acts of Responsibility to those over us

Romans 13:3  “Rulers are not a terror to good works.”

Titus 3:1  “Obey magistrates, be ready to every good work.”

Ephesians 6:8  Relationship of servant/employees to their employers

2.  Any Practical Deed done to benefit others

Galatians 6:10  “Let us do good to all men as we have opportunity.”

Acts 9:36  “Dorcas, full of good works and almsdeeds.”

(she made coats and garments for others)

1 Timothy 5:10  “Hospitality — washed saints feet, relieved the afflicted

2 Corinthians 9:8  “Giving money to those in need

3.  Our Ordinary Family Responsibilities

1 Timothy 5:10  “Followed every good work: brought up children

1 Timothy 2:10  Reference to good works followed immediately by admonition

to submission

4.  The Practical Use of our Gifts and Abilities or Talents in Active Ministry Towards Others

2 Timothy 2:21  “If a man, therefore, purge himself from these he shall be a

vessel unto honor, sanctified, and fit for the master’s use, and prepared unto

every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is

profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in

righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all

good works.”

CONCLUSION:  What should Easter mean to each one of us?

Answers 2 Fundamental Questions:

1) CAN GOD’S RESURRECTION POWER REALLY SAVE US?

            Sufficient by definition and by illustration – 4 great acts of God rehearsed for us

2) WHAT CHANGES SHOULD WE SEE?

            Changes in both our position – from death to life and in our practice – from sin to holiness

Easter is a dramatic, climactic event – leaves no room for sitting on the fence

Joshua calls us to respond in a decisive manner:  24:14-15

Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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