Tag Archive: Ephesians



“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, is is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

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Only from God’s infinite graciousness, and our Faith in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, are we saved. There is no work, nor deed, we can do of our own accord to make us worthy of the gift. Contained within this gift is the gift of salvation, and thereby a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. This gift is offered freely and we shouldn’t look to making ourselves worthy of the gift, but rather realize that the gift has already been offered and the choice is ours to either accept or deny it.

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Yet, we struggle at times, striving to be worthy of the gift, and in essence, belittling the gift offered. It is, to use unworthy human terminology, the greatest of all charitable and merciful gifts. For the gift of life to the dead has the ability to transform lives in amazing ways and it raises us up unto life. Furthermore, it shows how dead we were in sin, and how alive we are in Christ.

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(see my note concerning Romans 6:23, “On The Justice and The Gift”)

The amazing thing is this gift has already been offered to all. Anyone can accept this gift without some worldly action or deed, which testifies to the amazing glory and mercy of God. We are all equally worthless in terms of our ability to able to well up a spring of life within ourselves due to our actions. Rather, our eternal worth is found in the Lord. Thus, let us not boast of our actions and victories, for they, in and of themselves, have no ability to procure the gift. Rather, boast in the Lord, who has offered the gift, to those unworthy, and to all manner of the multitude of sinners and disobedient, due strictly to His great love and mercy for all His creation. May He be forever praised. Amen.

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“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.” -2 Corinthians 12:2

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It should be no secret to those who follow the Lord that there is indeed a supernatural aspect to our faith. The deeper our relationship with the Lord becomes, the more this is manifest within our lives. It does not follow the common course of things, causality and physicality, but rather surpasses it and our mystical (not in a pagan sense, indeed the word actually has its origins in Christianity) relationship with God becomes apparent.

A person who chases after these experiences alone, however, is in extreme danger of practicing that which belongs to the occult. Man should never initiate such experiences, but let them come at the Lord’s bidding and when He sees fit to make them manifest, and to what degree.

There are numerous supernatural manifestations that can occur when one is in the Lord. These range from prophecy, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, and even hearing, or speaking, directly from the Lord Himself. It should be mentioned there is a dualism concerning such things, for the occult has similar practices, but there is one major difference, one is perpetuated by man, the other by the Lord, and manifest in man or nature.

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Paul, no stranger to the miraculous, recounts the story of an unnamed man who was caught up to the third heaven. This, “Third Heaven,” doesn’t indicate that there are separate layers of paradise, but in this account, it suggests that wherever this person was taken, it transcends the upper atmosphere of the earth, the surpassing heaven, the firmament of the cosmos, and finally into that supernatural realm which is the dwelling place of God. What is therefore concluded by the mere existence of this third heaven is that it trumps all that is physical.

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Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t know if this person’s experience was in the body or independent of it. The interesting thing about this, among others, is that regardless, in Paul’s mind, it neither adds nor detracts from the reality of the experience. To Paul, either way, it doesn’t cease to be any less real.

There is a phenomenon some experience called, “waking dreams.” Though it has it’s ungodly representation in the occult, Christians too have these experiences, from God, where they neither know if they are awake or dreaming, or if they are of the body or a part from it. The question becomes if any of these categories negate the reality of the experience? My conviction is that it doesn’t necessarily follow that these encounters are any less real than the physical ground we walk on. In fact, they may represent to some degree true reality.

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As I have stressed before, the occult has similar practices. Apart from who initiates the experience, is there any way to tell one from another? I am convinced that there are some guidelines we should look to when approaching the subject.

The first is, who does it glorify? Realize the Lord does nothing arbitrarily and without purpose. For instance, He wouldn’t lift you up to the third heaven just to satisfy some personal curiosity you may have concerning it. Rather, the experience will be for not only your benefit, which is apparent by the mere personal nature of the experience, but the Lord will use it in order that you be a testimony before man. Thus, it will be to His glory.

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Second, where does it lead you? If one is led to a place of darkness apart from God, or if the experience makes you focus on the self, then one is in terrible danger. If such an experience leads one to become boastful of their own abilities to produce such a supernatural experience, than one can reasonably conclude it is not from God, and if it is not from God, than one is being deceived.

Deception wouldn’t be called such if it didn’t have the ability to put on a guise of something true and lead people astray. That’s why it is so effective. One should pray for discernment in the Spirit and protection of the Lord, that such deceptions may not lead you into believing a lie. We need to realize that the Great Deceiver never created anything himself, he only perverted those pure things that God set in place. Thus, there is a dualism about such things, the proper, and the sinful, or improper.

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If an experience produces fruits of a Godly nature, and it’s in perfect alignment with the Spirit and nature of God revealed in His scriptures, than one can induce that it’s from God.

Yet, on the antithesis, if an experience produces fruits of the self, pride and encourages sin, and leads people astray, along with not lining up with scripture, then one can deduce that it is not from God. Yet, it should be said that we need discernment in the Spirit, for the Spirit is capable of understanding the supernatural, while our minds are inept at knowing such things. Remember, such false supernatural occurrences are due to the actions of man and not the will of God.

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Finally, realize our God is not one of confusion. Chances are, He won’t let such experiences in your life, that are of Him, until you are ready. However, as we grow, use the faculties the Lord has given you, along with the weapons of righteousness, that in these supernatural manifestations, if they indeed occur, you may not be led astray.

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2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (LITV)

This verse seems to imply that when we come to Christ and are found in Him, our old self dies and we are ‘born again’ as a new creation, a creation that will last for eternity once our body perishes from physicality. These are profound truths and this verse deserves, much like the other verses in the Bible, some proper reflection and a closer look. 2 Corinthians 5:17 further states what Christ accomplished when He died upon the cross in regards to who we are in Him. The death of the old self is one of the fundamental truths behind the Christian faith. When we believe upon Jesus Christ the old self dies and we are “born again” as a new creation. This new creation lives in us now, but will be transfigured upon our death and resurrection. This new creation, not only lives in this reality, but now lives in the surpassing reality, that is eternity. Our deeds and actions now affect both, producing current fruits, and presently unknown riches inside that reality which lies beyond our current Euclidean understanding.

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The verse starts out with the word, “Therefore,” in the NIV and HCSB, among others. “Therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. In this and other examples where the word “therefore” is included, that which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” Thus, we need to ask ourselves the question, “To which statements within 2 Corinthians or elsewhere is Paul referring?” I believe the answer lies a few verses prior in 2 Corinthians 5.

2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluation others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now!”

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There are several premises and statements here which Paul uses to draw his conclusion, stated in the remainder of 2 Corinthians 5:17. These are as follows:

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

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“If” is a word that implies a hypothetical, stating that conditions must be met for the consequent to be evidenced. “If” introduces the condition that one must be in Christ for the consequent, stated in the conclusion of the verse, to be made plain. Just what does it mean to be in Christ? Ephesians 1 gives us the answer.

Ephesians 1:13, “And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

David K. Lowery tells us the Agent by which this transformation occurs:

“This new creation is brought about by the Holy Spirit, the Agent of regeneration and the Giver of divine birth.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Life Application Study Bible concurs with Lowery:

“The Holy Spirit gives [Christians] new life, and they are not the same anymore.” –Life Application Study Bible

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So, to be in Christ is to have believed the word of truth, that is the gospel of salvation revealed by Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which one receives when believing this glorious gospel. Included in this is a faith and a obedience to the commandments of the Lord, Whom we love and worship, and who we place in His rightful place, an exalted position as the Lord over our lives.

Philip E. Hughes in the NIV Study Bible parrots this point.

“[Being in Christ refers to us being] united with Christ through faith in Him and commitment to Him.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

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A ‘new creation’ by necessity refers unto some old state, or state of being. The old state is referred to by the Scriptures to have ‘passed away,’ by and through the grace of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the presence of the Great Counselor, the Holy Spirit. ‘Passed away,’ seems to reference the death of something, and indeed Paul tells us we share in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, upon whom our old nature was placed and condemned to death, so that when Jesus was raised by the manifest glory of the Father, we too were raised where we may put on this new nature as an advanced, state-of-the-art garment, clean without stain or blemish. Galatians tells us:

Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In addition, Romans chapter 6 declares:

Romans 6:4-6, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been unified with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

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Paul is attempting to use reason to show that this old self has truly died and has been replaced by something new and far more glorious. Paul was a masterful apologeticist and offered many proofs throughout the Scriptures to us, and also to those present with Paul in times past, those he was witnessing to and even to the apostles themselves. Case in point:

Acts 9:20-22, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. ‘Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?’ they asked. ‘And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?’ Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.”

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How is Paul’s argument constructed? Paul’s argument is constructed by the premises stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. These statements represent the ‘new creation.’ Being the case, then, they are referenced as axioms which should be represented within the body of believers. Thereby, through their negation we should see, or get a description, of the old nature, or non-believers, those not in Christ. Let us refresh our memory by stating these axioms once more.

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

Now, if we take these axioms and negate them, the old nature should become apparent. I have numbered these for easy reference, thus 1 in the following list will correspond to the negation of 1 in the former.

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  1. Love of self, pleasure and material or the physical controlled and motivated us.

  2. Christ may have died, but for no great divine purpose.

  3. We must indulge in life and do whatever pleases us at any particular moment, for this is the only means to have a rich and fulfilling life.

  4. It is the self and the love of the self which motivates and compels us.

  5. To live for someone else is an absurdity, unless it in some way mutually and reciprocally benefits the self.

  6. Christ may have died, but He was not divine and there has never been nor there will be any resurrection from the dead, for death is final.

  7. The viewpoint of man is limited to the material and what can be experienced by the senses.

  8. Christ was most certainly a mere man, if He existed at all.

This sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? These necessary negations may have been evident in our lives at one time, or with the examination of the world, we see that it is very much applicable to the secular community at large. Furthermore, it follows the philosophical doctrines of materialism, post-modernism and existentialism so prevalent in the world today. However, some may find that at least a couple may apply to their lives right now.

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It is important that if any of these aforementioned statements apply, still, to our lives, that we spend much time in prayer and examining the self and the state of nature as it applies to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I assure you, friends, that this is convicting for me for I have failed in following the statutes of our Lord Jesus Christ to an extreme degree. So if one is feeling convicted by these words, I join him or her in company that desperately needs the power of the Lord made manifest in our lives. May it be so both by the Lord’s discipline and grace.

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John Gill echoes this message by stating the necessity of “newness” within professed Christians.

“Whoever is in the kingdom or church of Christ, who professes himself to be a Christian, ought to be a new creature.” –John Gill

Paul, himself, by the grace of our Lord, was in a unique position to be able to juxtapose the old nature with the new creation. As David K. Lowery states:

“No one was more able to reflect on that transformation than Paul who switched from a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

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We can definitively see a vast opposition between the old nature and this new creation. The degree of this ‘newness’ through and by the Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Usually when we consider something to be new, it is not to a full extent, that is lingering vestiges of the old may remain, which become simply “covered up” by the new, but in Christ the old is referenced as being completely destroyed in order to make room for the full revelation of what is new, so that it may become apparent in us. The Life Application Study Bible has some profound things to add concerning this.

“We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated—we are re-created (new creations), living in vital union with Christ. At conversion we do not merely turn over a new leaf; we begin a new life under a new Master.”Life Application Study Bible

“While this newness is true individually, Paul is saying much more. Not only are believers changed from within, but a whole new order of creative energy began with Christ. There is a new covenant, a new perspective, a new body, a new church. All creation is being renewed.”Life Application Study Bible

“This is not a superficial change that will be quickly superseded by another novelty. This is an entirely new order of all creation under Christ’s authority. It requires a new way of looking at all people and all of creation.” –Life Application Study Bible

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This insight provided by the Life Application Study Bible is echoed by the literal translations of the Scripture, such as the LITV concerning 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

John Gill, too, points out that there is a vital extraordinary distinction to this “newness,” or being of a new creation, which trumps our normal conceptions of what we may consider to be new.

“[A new creation] is applied by the apostle to converted persons; and designs not an outward reformation of life and manners, but an inward principle of grace, which is a creature, a creation work, and so not man’s but God’s’; and in which man is purely passive, as he was in His first creation; and this is a new creature, or new man, in opposition to, and distinction from the old man, the corruption of nature; and because it is something anew implanted in the soul, which never was there before; it is not a working upon, and an improvement of the old principles of nature, but an implantation of new principles of grace and holiness; here is a new heart, and a new spirit, and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys; here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with: old things are passed away: the old course of living, the old way of serving God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; the old legal righteousness, old companions and acquaintance are dropped; and all external things, as riches, honours, learning, knowledge, former sentiments of religion are relinquished: behold, all things are become new.” –John Gill

Due to the fact that we are a new creation, and have a place within the new creation, let us, therefore, strive to have absolutely no association with the old self, for the new creation is diametrically opposed to the old self. The old is contradictory to the new creation, as the new creation stands in opposition with our old nature. Let us, therefore, put on the nature of Christ and do away with the old garments of Adam. As Christ tells us in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 9:16-17, “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

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