Those who are in the medical profession will at times have had the serious responsibility of signing a death certificate. Examining someone, finding no signs of life, no pulse, no breathing, and rendering the decision. This person was alive but now they are dead.
In this chapter 2 of his letter to the Ephesian Christians Church leader Paul turns this around and dramatically says that in spiritual terms a Christian is someone who used to be dead but now we’re alive through God’s grace to us in Jesus.
Let’s look at this wonderful passage of God’s Word under three headings:
1. A fatal diagnosis
2. A radical solution
3. A wonderful new belonging
1. A fatal diagnosis
If you are not a Christian you must realise you are in a most serious condition before God. You may feel very much alive physically and intellectually, with strong emotions and personality as bubbly as they come, but if you have never consciously put your trust in Jesus as Saviour, if you’re not following and serving Him with your lifestyle choices then the Bible says you are spiritually dead!
Dead to God. No vital signs of a relationship with Him. Your heart doesn’t skip when we sing these songs of faith. Your jealousy for His honour is not aroused when you hear His name blasphemed. You have no hunger for His Word of Truth. You’ll jump up and down and cheer and shout when your team scores a goal but barely lift a finger to share the good news of Jesus with your lost neighbours.
You may think you’re living life to the full but God says you’re dead, dead in your soul where it matters most, any chance of relationship with your Maker killed off by your transgressions and sins.
‘Transgression’ means deliberately crossing the line into forbidden territory. The word translated ‘sins’ here means falling short, missing the mark, failing to meet the required standard. Your rebellion and failure have made you dead to God. This is the Word of the Lord!
More, the Apostle says before they became Christians they were all bound into sinful habits by evil powers. Some examples of this are obvious, others more subtle but outside of God and His grace people are imprisoned in darkened ways of thinking, speaking, acting, dominated by human pride.
Does it matter? Is this serious? Absolutely! Paul says a non-Christian is by nature an ‘object of wrath’. If you’re not a Christian you are guilty before God and liable for His holy condemnation and punishment!
The Bible pulls no punches. It tells it like it is. If you are not a Christian you are spiritually dead, still bound in sin and under condemnation.
Thankfully scripture doesn’t finish here. It also tells us of
2. The Radical Solution
‘But God’ writes His inspired Apostle, the same God Who hates sin, loves people and has mounted the most dramatic rescue. Loving us from before we were born He decided to show us grace, underserved mercy in Christ His Son. Amazingly, the Father allowed His pure and perfect Son to carry the guilt and the consequences of our rebellion and failure on the cross of Calvary. Atonement made, those of us who put our trust in Jesus find ourselves forgiven, saved and brought to new life by the Holy Spirit.
‘By grace are we saved through faith’ [in Jesus]
We started with a solemn ‘fatal diagnosis’ but thanks be to God we are now offered a ‘radical [God-given] solution’ in His amazing grace to this world of sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ!
This means for Christians,
3. A wonderful new belonging.
If we are Christian believers and followers of Jesus let’s understand that we don’t belong anymore in the world of rebellion and failure. That is no longer the home in which we may comfortably rest.
Spiritually we have been given a new home in heaven with Christ. We are no longer dead but alive to God as loving children of a loving Father. He has united us to our risen Saviour and Master. We belong where He belongs. Our destiny is to share His resurrection and life forever. The New Testament declares our names are already recorded, written in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’. It’s like our seats have been reserved at our Father’s heavenly family table. We belong to that Kingdom now. The Kingdom of eternal peace and glory and never-ending praise for our Lord Who by His grace has opened the door to us.
And so, because we already belong there, we are to live our lives here and now as citizens of heaven. We will want to love what is good and shun what God calls evil. We will practise love toward our Master and toward one another for His sake.
The lovely thing is that we’re not required to do this in our own strength, in case any are tempted to boast. It’s not our doing but God’s. He Who saved us by His grace, continues to work ongoing grace in us changing our habits and attitudes to be more like Jesus.
This passage concludes with the marvellous v10:
‘For we are God’s workmanship [His ‘masterpiece’] created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.
This is grace. God rescues something twisted and broken from the scrap heap, the incinerator, and through Jesus and the Spirit, makes of it a masterpiece, for His glory.
Praise His name!