The Book of Ephesians.
(Verse by verse study.)
By Pastor Nick Bibile
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
To the apostles, the New Testament writers, grace is a wonder. The reality of Godís wrath, his justice due to sin is so strong and simply amazing that there should be such thing as grace of God. The grace, which was so costly to God at the cross but no cost to us. The hymn writers caught this sense of wonder as they wrote amazing grace, amazing love. How can it be that thou my God should die for me?
Grace is central to the New Testament, grace is the New Testament.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Centrality of grace is so strong in the New Testament as Paulís letters open with the word of Ďgraceí.†
Ro 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship.
Rom 1:7 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ga 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Php 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Col 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thes 1:1 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Th 1:2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Ti 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
2Ti 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.
Phm 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is said that the theme of the New Testament is salvation. Then why did Paul always begin his letters with the word grace? Because the New Testament salvation is of grace alone.† Apostle Paulís conversion is very personal to him as he was the enemy of God persecuting the Christians hunting after them as he thought that righteousness could be obtained by keeping the law of God. He was responsible for stoning Godís servant Stephen to death.† Paul did not seek God but God sought Paul, his salvation is grace alone without any works that he did which he can boast.
Also all New Testament theology is based on grace.
Ro 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
2Co 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
Ga 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Col 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
†6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.
Ac 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Of all the wonders of the world, the wonders of science, the wonders of nature cannot be equal with the wonder of Godís grace. No wonder apostle Paul said it is something unspeakable.
2Co 9:14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
†15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
All evangelical churches believe that we are saved by grace but sad to say when it comes to their teachings they believe a man is saved by grace plus works. The subject that is very unpopular today is sin and wrath of God. Without sin and without the wrath of God the word grace has no meaning, no wonder the evangelical church today always speaks and teach on the love of God but have hardly explain the true nature of sin and the wrath of God, as a result there is no value on Grace.
For us to understand that believers are saved by grace alone we need to go to the very beginning to the book of Genesis.† God made Adam the fountainhead of the human race a perfect being, he was totally innocent without sin, he did not have the inherent sin but absolutely a perfect being. He did not know what sin was as a result he and his wife Eve stood before God naked without any guilt.
God is the Creator and man is a Creature. Creator requires obedience from his Creatures.
God gave Adam a commandment.
Ge 2:16† And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
†17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
God required from Adam obedience. Adam could have lived forever in paradise if was able to perform works of obedience to God. It means even if Satan came and tempted Adam and Eve they could have resisted all temptations from the enemy by their works of obedience. And they could have lived forever with human works of righteousness. Adam and Eve were perfect yet we all know the outcome that human works of righteousness failed.† As God said, death and misery came to all humanity.
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
The fountainhead sinned out of that fountainhead flowed polluted water and spread to all humanity. The result all were born sinners. Humanity have offended God and obeyed Satan, Godís enemy.
†If God wanted to he could have destroyed all humanity. Then later we see God gave man the law. Again perfect obedience was required. Now this time man is not perfect like Adam but in his fallen state, in his sinful state there is no way we can perform perfect obedience to God by keeping all the commandments. The result is man is in double trouble. In Adam all men sinned then added to that we have all violated all the commandments of God by thought and actions.
Now lets be reasonable. When one third of the Angels in heaven sinned with Lucifer did God pardoned them? No. Instead they will be punished in the lake of fire for eternity. Now when man sinned against God is God under any obligation to pardon mankind? Of course not. God is not under any obligation to anyone as he is the most Highest God as the Creator he can dismantle and destroy his creatures, as God is sovereign, he is not obligation to anyone.† The fairest thing is that we all deserve the wrath of God as we have offended God; hurt him deeply with our sins.
Now read Ephesians 2:8-9
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
†9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The scripture is clear by grace you are saved. First of all you are saved from what? From the wrath of God. As we all deserve the wrath of God. Let me show you first the wrath of God that is going to come.
Lu 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Future tense)
Ro 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Ro 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (There is a future Day of Judgment and wrath going to come)
Godís righteous judgment is his wrath upon all sinners. Now salvation means to be saved from the wrath of God.
Ro 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Salvation is that a person is saved from Godís wrath unto him.
1Th 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered (past tense to the believer) us from the wrath to come. (Future tense to the believer)
Notice the word delivered is past tense. It was the work of Jesus on the cross that delivered us from Godís wrath. Yes, my friend God required satisfaction as we have offended him and yet there was no one that could satisfy God, we could not pay the debt we owed to God.
What is grace?
Grace is Godís undeserved favor. Which means we did not deserve salvation but the wrath of God. Grace is Godís unmerited love. The word merit means something we earned and deserve. What we really deserved was the judgment of God. But grace is Godís unmerited love, a love of God that we never earned or deserved.
Grace comes from the very heart of God. He is the God of all grace. (1Pet 5:10) Grace is Godís goodness to save sinners, God loving the unloving, pardoning their sins and accepting them, revealing himself to them. Grace is his election love and covenant love, Godís grace saves from sin brings ungodly humans to fellowship with their Creator.
Now let me tell you an illustration of Godís grace as given by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, which will help us to understand the saving grace of God.
During the last century in the worst slum district of London there was a social worker by the name of Henry Moorehouse. One evening when he was walking alone he saw a little girl coming out of a little store carrying a pitcher of milk, (Not like today a cartoon or a plastic container but an earthen vessel) taking home. Suddenly she slipped and fell, the pitcher fell on the sidewalk and broke the milk ran all over. The little girl began to cry as her little heart would break. Moorehouse quickly stepped to see if the girl was hurt, helped her to her feet saying, ďDonít cry little girl.Ē But there was no stopping her tears.
She kept repeating, ďMy mom will whip me; my mom will whip me.Ē Moorehouse tried to comfort her by saying, ďNo little girl, your mom wonít whip you. Look the pitcher is not broken in many pieces.Ē He began to stoop down and picked up the pieces, began to work as he was putting the pitcher back together, the little girl stop crying. But he knocked it apart again; once more she began to cry. Moorehouse repeated. ďDonít cry little girl. I promise you that your mother wonít whip you.Ē
Once more he began to restore the pitcher this time getting all together except for the handle. Moorehouse gave to the little girl and she tried to attach it. But naturally, all she did was knock it down again. This time there was no stopping of her tears. She would not even look at the broken pieces lying on the sidewalk.
Finally Moorehouse picked up the little girl, carried her to the store bought her new pitcher bought her the milk and the new pitcher was filled with milk. He asked her where she lived and carried her to the house, set her down on the step, placed the full pitcher of milk in her hands. Then he opened the door for her. As she stepped in, he asked one more question, ďNow do you think your mother will whip you?Ē
He was rewarded for his trouble a bright smile as she said to him, ďOh, no, sir, because it is a lot better pitcher than we had before.Ē
What a great illustration of Godís grace in salvation. We were created in Godís image but that image was broken beyond repair due to sin.† Like Moorehouse we tried to put the pieces together with our own works of righteousness to please God, but it was a broken righteousness, there is no way we can perform any works of righteousness due to our fallen nature, inherit sin in us as a result we are sinners not because we sin but because we are sinners.
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sinsÖ
Gen 8:21 for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.
Heart is deceitful beyond cure.
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
We are sinners from birth.
Isa 48:8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
We have all gone astray.
Ro 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
†11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
†12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Ro 7:14† For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Ro 5:10 For if, when we were enemiesÖ
Ro 5:6† For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
Tit 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
Foolish, disobedient, lustful etc.,
Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
We were helpless, lost, cannot save ourselves.
Pr 20:9† Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Just like the little girl in Dr. Barnhouse story, she did not do anything to deserve Moorehouse favor. She did not pay for her new pitcher and milk. She did not hire Moorehouseís service. She did not even ask him to help her but he did it as it pleased him to do it. He did not expect a reward from the girlís parents.
In the same way there was the wrath of God upon us, we did not deserve to be saved, we did not ask God to help us but yet it pleased God to send his Son to this world the first Adam was disobedient but the last Adam Christ was obedient to the Father as he did the will of God, he paid the price, bought us from his own blood and set us free.
There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gates
Of Heaven, and let us in.
Lu 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
We are saved by the works of Jesus as Christ took our place and was subject to the Father, he obeyed all of the law where we have broken, he loved the Father where we did not love, he took the punishment on our behalf, yes, Christ did it all for us.†
One of the greatest hymns of all time is ĎAmazing Grace.í Written by a Calvinist John Newton. What made John Newton to write such a great hymn? Although John Newton was taught Christianity in his early years by his mom, when she died he forgot all of Christianity and did his own will followed the way of the world. He was a son of a commander of a merchant ship. At 11 years of age he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. His Father was a strict man but did not care of religion. The conditions on board were intolerable to him, so he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman. Finally, at his own request, Newton was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused, for 15 months he lived as a slave in Africa half starved and ill treaded. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John's father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own slave ship. And what kind of captain was he? Lindsay Terry writes, "It is reported that at times he was so wretched that even his crew regarded him as little more than an animal. Once he fell overboard and his ship's crew refused to drop a boat to him. Instead they threw a harpoon at him, with which they dragged him back into the ship." John Newton had bad morals; he was noted for his profanity even some of the sailors were shocked. He was known as the great blasphemer.
But God intervened in Newton's life and got his attention through a violent storm. The gale was so severe that all the livestock were washed overboard and the crew tied themselves to the ship to keep from being swept overboard. As he was attempting to steer the ship through the violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his "great deliverance." He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, "Lord, have mercy upon us." Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.† May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. "Thro' many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'tis grace has bro't me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
At 82, Newton said, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior." No wonder he understood so well grace--the completely undeserved mercy and favor of God.
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
Frederick M. Lehman