INTERESTING FACTS : John Hancock, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS; REVOLUTIONARY GENERAL; GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
"Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement." He called on the entire state to pray "that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory."[1
Daily Reading : EPHESIANS 1-3; 4- 6
TEXT : Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
THEME : SALVATION
Book Introduction - Ephesians
Writer: The Apostle Paul (1:1).
Date: Ephesians was written from Rome in A.D. 64. It is the first in order of the Prison Epistles. (Acts 20:1 - 27:44).
See Scofield - Act_28:30) and was sent by Tychicus, concurrently with Colossians and Philemon. It is probable that the two greater letters had their occasion in the return of Onesimus to Philemon. Ephesians is the most impersonal of Paul's letters. Indeed the words, "to the Ephesians," are not in the best manuscripts. Col_4:16 mentions an epistle to the Laodiceans. It has been conjectured that the letter known to us as Ephesians is really the Laodicean letter. Probably it was sent to Ephesus and Laodicea without being addressed to any Church. The letter would then be "to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus" anywhere.
Theme: The doctrine of the Epistle confirms this view. It contains the highest Church truth, but has nothing about Church order. The Church here is the true Church, "His body," not the local Church, as in Philippians, Corinthians, etc. Essentially, three lines of truth make up this Epistle: the believer's exalted position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position.
There is a close spiritual affinity between Ephesians and Joshua, the "heavenlies" answering in Christian position to Canaan in Israel's experience. In both there is conflict, often failure, but also victory, rest, and possession Jos_21:43-45; Eph_1:3; Eph_3:14-19; Eph_6:16; Eph_6:23. As befits a complete revelation, the number seven is conspicuous in the structure of Ephesians.
The divisions are, broadly, four:
1. The apostolic greeting (Ephesians 1:1-2).
2. Positional; the believer's standing "Christ" and "in the heavenlies" through pure grace (Ephesians 1:3 - 3:21).
3. Walk and service (Ephesians 4:1 - 5:17).
4. The walk and warfare of the Spirit-filled believer (Ephesians 5:18 - 6:24). (C. I Scofield)[2
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "THE GRACE OF GOD THAT SAVES YOU MUST BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD."
I am sure you are familiar with the word grace. Every Christian as well as every non-Christian is. However, the meaning of the word is often misunderstood by most. The word grace has a depth and width to it that is often missed by the average Christian - including many Christian teachers. Primarily defined as - "unmerited favor," that definition falls short of the entire meaning of grace.
Thayer's definition of grace is as follows -
"Of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues; the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace; the token or proof of grace."[3
Strong's lexicon designs grace as -
"Graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)."[4
Since the Bible declares you are saved by grace, it then becomes necessary that you understand the meaning of the word. As stated, "unmerited favor," is not a complete definition of the word. The popular and universal defining of grace as "unmerited flavor" is more to the leading of mercy than it is of grace. Mercy is not getting what you deserve, and therefore is closer to the expression of "unmerited favor." However, grace goes further than simply being a receiving of mercy or favor that you do not deserve. It includes that concept, but grace means much more.
Grace is the dynamic, active influence of Jesus Christ on the soul. As Strong's lexicon tells you, grace is the -"divine influence upon the heart." Further, Strong's goes on to state that grace has - "its reflection in the life, including gratitude." With the combination of the words "influence" and "reflection," you can move on to a more complete definition and understanding of what God's grace is. The grace of God is not a static quality, but it is a dynamic power. By way of illustration, it is the difference between the painting of a waterfall and Niagara Falls. One is merely an image. The other is a reality that is seen and felt.
Therefore, the grace of God in the life of a true Christian can be seen, heard, and "felt." Grace is a demonstrable attribute of God that is clearly understood by the Christian's attitude, character, behavior, and outworking in love. Grace is more than a mere word and an academic acceptance of a principle of the Holy Scriptures. Unfortunately, today "mental assent," is believed to be Biblical faith. However, merely intellectualizing the grace of God still falls short of "his Glory." God's intent in creating a "new creature in Christ Jesus," was not to simply have people memorize or repeat Biblical phrases. The grace of God when truly received produces fruit, fruit that can be tasted in the actions and behavior of the professing believer.
For example, how many "grateful," Christians do you meet on a regular basis? I hope they are many. However, far too many people who claim to possess (or rather, be possessed) by the grace of God show little evidence that they are controlled by his grace. Not showing gratitude, or being grateful on a consistent basis is more evident that the grace of God is absent than it is present. The same is true of the fruit of the spirit -love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (self-control). These are the attributes of a true Christian. Further, they are produced by the grace of God, not the works of man.
With this in mind, we see that salvation is truly of the LORD. In addition, when this is clear in the mind, all the credit and glory goes to God for all things. There are some, even in the Church today, that have the mistaken notion that somehow they affect their own salvation apart from the grace of God. This is obviously, a mistaken ideology. It is the mind of man that imagines they divide the responsibility with God and share equal responsibility in the process of salvation. Eternal life is a gift. It is not something earned by man or worked for after one receives and follows Christ. Salvation is all of grace by faith. It is the gift of God - otherwise, man would boast.
Notice in Ephesians 2:10 that the grace of God produces "works." Further, the text states that the Christian is ordained by God to walk in these works of righteousness. Therefore, it must be understood that true grace is reflected in the life of the believer by "works." However, those works are the product of the Holy Spirit in the inner man of a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ. Works of righteousness come from the "true vine," that is, Jesus Christ. Righteousness in the life of the believer is a result of the grace of God. Once again, all the glory belongs to the LORD. There is no occasion of boasting on your part. What you have comes from God, and it is the direct product of his grace.
Now, there is a dilemma between faith and works. The Apostle Paul writing in the Book of Romans states that salvation is all of grace and none of works, even as he does here in the book of Ephesians. On the other hand, the Apostle James tells you in his epistle that faith without works is not (saving) faith at all. It is dead. How then do you reconcile these seeming contradictions? The answer once again is found in the definition of grace. Grace is the power of God working in the (true) Christian giving evidence of his or her salvation. Being a Christian is more than Church membership or signing a pledge card for salvation. It is more than mere words, or the assertion of Christian beliefs or doctrines. Grace is power or influence, to do and to become, what you could not become - without God's aid.
The grace of God that saves you must be clearly understood. Otherwise, there will be no end of distress, anxiety, and lack of confidence. In addition, for some there will be no end of boasting, arrogance, and the pride that precedes destruction as well as the haughty spirit that goes before a fall. Therefore, give the Glory to God. Say as the Apostle Paul once said - "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1Co_15:10) This is true grace, and it is salvation.