Sermon Notes • February 28

Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul Prayed

Today we are going to be looking at Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus. This is Paul’s second prayer for them, the first being in Ephesians 1:15ff. Paul was a man of prayer and we should be also. Prayers in the Bible remind us of the things we should be praying for ourselves and for those we know. The most important pattern for prayer is, of course, the prayer that Jesus taught His disciple. We call that the Lord’s Prayer although the prayer He prayed for us is is found in John 17:6-20.

Paul was writing about the new society Jesus came to establish that has its oneness in Jesus at its center with the promise of multiple spiritual blessings to those who are a part of it. Paul prayed that each believer would know more completely the fullness of that fellowship and the reality of the promised spiritual blessings. 

Read Ephesians 3:14. Paul began by stating that the reason he was praying for them is the truths he had been writing about. While the Christians in Ephesus had a unique and special relationship to God, they were not taking advantage of that relationship the way they should. There is a huge difference between knowing something and applying that truth. 

In chapter 2 Paul had declared that Christians are alive in Him (2:5) and are His workmanship (2:10). Paul added in 2:19 that we are members of the household of God.  Paul added at the end of chapter 2 that Christians ae being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Then after a parenthesis in Ephesians 3:1-13 in which he reflected on his privilege to preach the gospel to Gentiles, Paul returned to those truths as he prayed for the believers in Ephesus. 

In a sense, this prayer forms a critical transition between the first half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians and the second half. Recall when we introduced Ephesians, we noted that the letter is easily divided into 2 parts. In chapters 1-3 we have the doctrinal section and in the last 3 chapters we have the practical section. Before moving on to that practical section, Paul prayed that God would, “out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Paul knew that for us to be able to live as God wanted us to live, we need more than good theology, we need to be living out that theology in daily life. Paul knelt before the Father to ask Him to make the theology real in our everyday experiences.  

Our relationship with God brings with it special privileges and blessings but too many of us are living without enjoying or taking advantage of them. It is essential if we are going to live the full life God has provided for us, that we grasp the truth expressed in our theology. We could illustrate it with an example of owning a computer. Most people who own a computer use only a fraction of the functions that are built into it.  

In Paul’s prayer he was writing to tell the Christians in Ephesus that while they had the same computer or relationship with God that every believer has, too many of them were falling far short of what is available to them in that relationship. They are making use of 10, 20 maybe 30% of what their computer or relationship will do but there is much more.

Read Ephesians 3:16-17. To follow-up with the illustration of the computer, Paul was saying, “I want you to understand more fully what the operating system in your relationship is capable of doing so that you can use it naturally and comfortably. I want you to know the fullness of God’s provision so when you face an ethical challenge, you can make use of more of the functions of your computer/relationship with God.

That was Paul’s goal in writing. The things we should be praying foremost for ourselves, our family and our friends are the spiritual blessings that God has revealed in His Word. Sometime, think about the things you ask of God. If you are like most, what you pray for is generally centered on the physical well-being of family. We want God to care for our loved ones, keep them safe, heal them of physical diseases, job opportunities, etc. All those things are legitimate prayer items and fall under the category of “give us this day our daily bread.” Too often, however, that is the end of my prayers so too seldom do I pray for spiritual growth, a deeper knowledge of God’s love, for God’s peace etc. Those, however, are the things essential if we are going to live out our faith in a sinful and challenging world.

Moving on, Paul wrote, “I kneel before the Father.” We can too easily read that thinking so what. We give folks the option of kneeling or being seated and I then pray standing. I stand because that’s the biblical way (just kidding). Actually, standing was the more common way of praying in Bible times. Luke 18:9-14 is an example of men were standing for prayer. There is no prescribed right position in which to pray. You can pray kneeling or seated, while walking or lying in bed. 

Kneeling, however, implies several things. In ancient times one always knelt before a king, showing both humility and submission to him. When we kneel in prayer, we are showing humility and submission to God.

When we bow or kneel in prayer, we are expressing submission to the Lord. Expressing submission to anyone or anything other than God is forbidden which is why in Daniel 3 we read Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to the statue King Nebuchadnezzar. Read Exodus 20:4-5 and Psalm 95:6. (When the Apostle Paul wanted to discuss the ultimate reign of God he noted, according to Philippians 2:10 that the time will come when every knee will bow before Jesus. Everyone will one day submit to Him and that submission is symbolized in bowing before Him.

Kneeling also seems to imply something else. Most of the examples of kneeling in prayer that find in the Bible are at times of urgency. For example, Ezra 9 records a prayer in the life of that man at a time describes an extremely challenging for Israel. There we read in verse 5, “I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God.” There was an urgency to his prayer for the nation. In the New Testament we read that when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, literally hours before His crucifixion, Jesus “fell to the ground and prayed.” His prayer was one of submission as He determined to do the will of the Father and not his will and it was a prayer of urgency since the next 24 hours would see Him on a Cross bearing our sins.

Whatever position we assume in prayer, and undoubtedly over a week we will pray in a variety of positions, we should always pray with the attitude of bended knees. All our prayers should be bathed in humility and submission to His will and not ours. 

Read Ephesians 3:14. It is important to note that when Paul prayed, he did so to the one who was worthy of his submission but at the same time to the one who was his Heavenly Father. We approach God as the almighty one who holds in His hands, according to Ephesians 3:16. “glorious riches.” We also approach Him as our Father. God can be scary but our Father in heaven can be approached openly knowing He will meet us with open arms. How you view God makes a difference in your attitude and expectations. Jesus taught His disciples to approach God as “Our Father who is in heaven.” The Greek phraseology there is closer to “Our dad who is in heaven.” While being sure not to overstep our familiarity with God, do not forget that when you pray you can approach Him as “Father.”

Always approach God on your knees as far as attitude and commitment is concerned. That is what makes for effective and meaningful praying,

Sermon Notes • February 21

Ephesians 2:11-22

Read Ephesians 2:11-12. Paul introduced this section by bluntly describing the position of Gentiles before they made Jesus their Savior and passed, as Paul clearly stated in the opening verses of this chapter, from death to life. 

In the days of Jesus there was total animosity between Jews and all Gentiles. Jews called Gentiles “dogs” and unless absolutely necessary would have no interaction with them. Having anything to do with a Gentile made a Jew unclean. If they had to travel to a Gentile country, they shook the dust off their feet when they arrived back in Israel as a sign that Gentiles were dirt that you did not want to bring into God’s country. There are reports that if a Jew married a Gentile a symbolic funeral for the Jew was carried out. Some Jews said that Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. 

A list of the indicators of the hatred of Jews for Gentiles could go on and on with an equally long list of how many Gentiles felt about those Jews who thought they were the only ones who truly knew God. Most Gentiles despised the Jews and wanted nothing to do with them.

God never sanctioned that attitude on the part of either Israel or Gentiles. God let it be known that He had chosen Israel to be His special people so He could bless all the peoples of the earth. God stated in various Old Testament places that Israel was to be a witness to the Gentile world, but seldom, if ever, did they fulfill that role. 

In verses 11 and 12 Paul spelled out the place of Gentiles in the scheme of things when the early church was formed. Paul noted first that Gentiles were called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision.” Gentiles were viewed as those outside the people of God. Gentiles were social outcasts.

In addition to name calling, Gentiles were “separate from Christ.” The promised Messiah was to come through the Jewish people, in the lineage of David etc. Gentiles had no future except judgment because there was no promised one who would redeem them. Those outside of Jesus were dead in their trespasses and sins. Such was the state of Gentiles and Jews, but the Jews had the promise of a Messiah.

Further, Gentiles were “excluded from citizenship in Israel.” The Jews believed that they were the chosen people, God’s holy nation. He was their God and not the covenant God of anyone else. That meant that when a Gentile was refused citizenship, he was refused permission to belong to the people of God and, therefore, separated from every blessing afforded to the people of God. 

Gentiles were “foreigners to the covenants of the promise.” God’s covenant was with Israel, a covenant that made multiple promises specifically to them, including to be their God, provide for them, protect them etc. Read Genesis 12:2-3. As far as the Jews were concerned that covenant was an exclusive promise to them.

To make matters worse, they were “without hope and without God in the world.” Although God had left a witness to Himself in creation the Gentile world never accepted that witness, suppressing the truth. In place of that truth, they established their own religions and setting up their own idols. Paul detailed their rejection of whatever light they were given in the opening section of Romans.

One writer (William Hendriksen) summarized Gentiles in the day of Paul as “Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless.” That about sums it up. Paul described them in verse 13 as being “far away” from God. It was not a pretty picture for us as Gentiles, and we are counted among those Gentiles.

Fortunately, that was not the end of the story. Read Ephesians 2:13. The “But now” of verse 13 is the equivalency of the “But God” of verse 4.

The rest of chapter 2 makes it clear that Jesus did something to end that separation of Jews and Gentiles. Read Ephesians 2:14. The essence of that summary is that the two groups who were once bitter enemies are now one. The things that once separated are gone. 

The first part of verse 15 records that Paul was saying that Jesus established a new community, which we know as the church. In so doing He set aside the various rules and regulations that once identified one as a Jew. Those regulations included such things as circumcision, various sacrifices, and dietary laws. Jesus never abolished God’s moral law but abolished the ceremonial law which was fulfilled completely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

The center part of verse 15 reads, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two.” Note that God has created one new humanity. The key to understanding that statement is the word “new.” In Greek there are a variety of different words that are used to describe different aspects of being “new.” The Greek word used here is “kainos.” Kainos was used to describe that which was new in form or quality. It was used to describe something that was different in nature, in essence.

Read Ephesians, in 4:24. The Christian is not simply the old person whitewashed to look new but is a totally new creature in Christ. The transformation that takes place when one makes a commitment to Jesus is more than simply changing one identity from non-Christian to Christian. It is a transformation of the individual that only God can do whereby one is different in nature.

When Paul described the fellowship of Jews and Gentiles as being a “new humanity out of the two” he was not talking of a new group in which Jews and Gentiles simply worshipped together, but a totally new entity. The “new” humanity was not a new club made up of Jews and Gentiles after they had compromised in order to worship together. The church is a totally new entity that is possible only because God has changed individuals so they can indeed be one in Jesus.

When we began looking at this, I noted that an initial response to this section can be one that says it was tremendously important in the early church but since we no longer face the separation of Jews and Gentiles, it is irrelevant to today. Perhaps, if the message is simply about Jews and Gentiles but what if the principle is larger? What if God was not saying through Paul that there will never be unity between parties that have radically different ideas until they are united in Jesus?

Think about the significant unity movements of the past year or so. Think about “Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter.” Think about the issue of refugees vs. existing society. Think about the push for equality between men and women. The point is, we live in a sinful world and while sinners desire some kind of unity, there will be none until they are united in Jesus. We will not have real lasting peace on earth until we are made into a new society in Jesus. There may be intermediate steps that may minimize differences but in the end the hope of society is in a relationship with Jesus.

Read Ephesians 2:15-17.  

Notice the word “peace” which occurs 3 times with the additional word “reconcile.” The message of the Bible is that a result of man’s sin discord and alienation came into the world. Most critically there was discord or alienation from a holy God but in addition there was discord among men. Genesis 3 details the alienation from God and then immediately following that, in Genesis 4, we have discord among men pictured with the killing of Abel by his brother Cain. 

The last few verses in Ephesians 2 deal with the problems the Jews and Gentiles had. In truth, however, they deal with the much larger and more relevant issue of first having peace with God so we can then legitimately have peace among men. Paul summarized that in verse 19. Read that verse. It describes what we are and the only hope for oneness in the world. 

The church has not always been the church and reflected the reality of that, but that is our hope. The first challenge is to be sure we live so every Christian is seen as an equal member of the household of God.  Second, it is a challenge to present Jesus to those around us as the only real, lasting solution to the problems that divide.

Bulletin • February 14

MANBECK’S ZION EVANGELICAL

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

Worshiping the Lord in Spirit and Truth

February 14, 2021

A Year in Ephesians

Norman Dixon, Pastor

610-589-2034

Email: Dixonnorm@comcast.net

Web Site:  www.manbecks.org

Organ Prelude to prepare your heart for worship

Welcome and opportunities to Worship and Serve

Greet one another in the Name of Jesus          

Call to Worship – Psalm 26:5-7

* Opening Chorus #708           Behold, What Manner of Love

* Invocation

* Hymn #156                                                   The Love of God

First Scripture: RR from Power Point               1 Corinthians 

Praise Chorus #13                Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!

* Prayer Hymn #517   I Will Sing of My Redeemer (Stz.1,2,4)

**Pastoral Prayer

Offering of Tithes and Gifts to the Lord/plates in the back 

Special Music:  Eve Kurtz or congregational favorite

Scripture:  1 John 3:1-10

Sermon:  “God and Valentine’s Day” 

* Hymn of response #429    They’ll Know We Are Christians

*Benediction

* Recessional Response #235       Take the Name of Jesus (1st vs.)

Leave to Serve

*Please Stand                                       **Please kneel (if able)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

TODAY:

  • Building Fund Offering
  • Sweet Valentine Candy Bar

WEDNESDAY:

  • No Bible Study or Ash Wednesday service                                

NEXT SUNDAY:

  • First Sunday of Lent                                              9:00 A.M.

LOOKING AHEAD:  

  • February 24 – Zoom Bible Study resumes          7:00 P.M.
  • February 27 – Newsletter 
  • February 28 – Special Offering/Kingdom Extension Com.
  • March 14 – Building Fund Offering
  • March 16 – Official Board Meeting                      7:00 P.M.

Statistics:  February 7, 2020

                           Attendance:  Worship Service – Cancelled

                                                                    Zoom – ?

                                                                Offering – $

                                Special Offering (Care Net) – $55.00

There will be no Ash Wednesday Zoom worship service or Bible Study.

When Bible study resumes, see Pastor for Zoom meeting number and ID.  

“Love is the only force capable of 

transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  • Donna (Julie from Twin Pines, on rehab floor and can’t seems to turn the corner.  Mother could finally see her)
  • Jon (Bill Schaeffer is over covid and in rehab)
  • Jon (Grandson in DE tested positive for covid)
  • Ardella (Students and schools/disrupted year)
  • Jon R. (2 friends who have Parkinson’s)
  • Judy (kids today and world events/fear)
  • Hannah Bossler (Type 1 diabetes/retaining fluid)
  • Those battling cancer:

Grace, 5 year old with leukemia Mike

Bob Kramer Tim McMillen Mrs. Powell

Jake Wolfe           Rick Fidler Jay Newswanger    

  • Military:  Keith Gillespie                 Lois’s grandson, 

          Ashley Somers, Navy     Caleb Reiter 

  • Nursing home/Assisted living residents

               Grace Kimmel   Nancy Wildsmith          

  Edgar Bennett Norm Delp 

PRAISE: 

  • Laura (mass on knee was not cancer)
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  • Week Day Church School
  • Joe Toy (Street ministry in Philadelphia)
  • Jamie and Anita Farr (Wycliffe in Florida)
  • Robert and Bettina Schaeffer (L.I.F.E. Ministries in NY)
  • Wagner’s & Stoltzfus’s (Rift Valley Academy in Africa)

Sermon Notes • February 14

Christian Love

Considered on Valentine’s Day, 2021. Christians know more about love than anyone else and have the potential for being the best lovers because Christians have a model for love that no one else can really appreciate and have a power to generate real love that no one else can ever have.

Christians have a special model of love in the love of God. Love is the predominate way in which Scripture pictures God. God can be seen in many ways (all-powerful, glorious, holy etc.) but when John wanted to describe God he said, “God is love.” (I John 4:18)

The early church had an interesting time trying to define the concept of God being love. The Hebrew the idea of God being a God of love was depicted through the word “hesed’ which spoke of the unique, forgiving, faithful, giving, blessing, relationship between God and the nation of Israel. “Hesed” encompassed all the qualities of God seen in His covenant relationship to Israel.

The church, however, reached out to the Gentile community. The covenant relationship that meant so much to Israel did not really apply to Gentiles. The church, therefore, went searching for a way to describe this same love characteristic to them.

In the Greek there were 4 different words for love.

 1. “Eros” or sensual love. It is the root from which we get our English word “erotic” and while it was not specifically evil it was not a fit description for God.  

2. “Storge” or family love as displayed between members of a family or tribe. It was too limited to depict God’s love. 

3. “Philio” or brotherly love depicted the love shown to those outside the family. Like “storge” it was too limited to really define God’s love. We get Philadelphia meaning “brotherly love” from this word.

4. Finally the Greek had a word for love that was almost never used, “agape.” Because it was so seldom used it had little meaning other than “love.” The early church decided to appropriate that little used word and pour into it the concepts of God’s love even though no word could ever fully describe God’s love.

Remember, only those who know Jesus in a personal way via their commitment to Him can understand even in part “agape” love and that gives us an incredible edge in our capacity to love.

.

1. “Agape” love, or God’s love, is love expressed and offered regardless of the merit one might have for it. One of the primary messages of the Bible is that God loved us while we were yet sinners and gave Himself for us. In our culture, love is often offered only to those who seem to deserve it for one reason or another. “Agape” love is offered to all but freely. 

2. “Agape” love is steadfast. Because it comes to us without merit it goes on forever. There will never be a time in all eternity when we will not be loved by God. Read Romans 8:31-29. “Agape” love is not withheld if the recipient fails in some way but is always steadfast and sure. Read I Corinthians 13. Paul reminded us that “agape” love does not keep records of wrongs done to it; it does not envy and is not self-seeking. This steadfast “agape” love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always preserves. It is steadfast, always there no matter what. “Agape” love goes far beyond the “in sickness and health” of the marriage vow. It never fails.

3. “Agape” love does not place a limit on what it will do for the one loved. God so loved us He gave His only Son to die for us. God does not distance Himself from us when the price gets to a certain point or the connivance level reaches a given point. “Agape” love is always there for us. There is absolutely nothing that can ever cause God to love us any less than He did on the Cross or that He did on the day He saved us from our sins. Because His love does not have limits, we not only don’t have to earn it, but there is also nothing we can do to add to detract from it. It is always 100%, totally, completely love for us.

“Agape” love is our model and John wrote that in the same way we have been loved, we are to love others, setting no limits and making no expectations in return for it. “Agape” love is so encompassing that when Jesus described how it would look in real life, He said it included loving neighbors we may never have met and even those who would otherwise be considered our enemies. 

As Christians we understand what real love is in ways no non-Christian can ever know. We know what true love is because we have experienced His loving forgiveness. We understand true love because it has been showered upon us in so many indescribable ways.

There is more. Not only has God modeled real love for us, but He has also given us His Spirit to live within. One of the incredible ministries of the Holy Spirit is to transform us into the character of God. First on the list of changes promised in Galatians 5:22-23 is love. The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, “agape” love, God’s love. No one who is not a Christian has that advantage. The Holy Spirit indwells only Christians so we and we alone can learn how to love as God loves. 

What will that love look like in us? Some believe that what Paul was saying in Galatians 5 was “The fruit of the Spirit is love” full stop. They believe that the other characteristics or fruit that follow present a picture of how love is played out in real live. The other fruit is then seen as facets or manifestations of love. That was not what Paul had in mind but a study of the nature of love in I Corinthians 13 shows an amazing parallel to the fruit that are listed after love in Galatians 5. 

God wants us to be known by the way we love. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He replied, “Love the lord your God with all your heart and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the only characteristic singled out as a barometer of faith with Jesus declaring, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” According to the book of Acts the early church had a unique witness because of their love for one another with Acts telling us that those Christians were known in their communities as those who indeed did love one another.

If God is the model of agape love and He has given us His Spirit to enable us to love, why do we sometimes fall so far short of our potential as true lovers?  

One of the reasons we find it difficult to love the way God wants us to is that we have been led by culture to have a false idea of what true love is. Too often Christians have accepted the cultural definition of that says love is primarily an emotion. Certainly, there is an emotional component to love but “agape” love is so much more that an emotion. “Agape” love is a commitment, a decision to love and stay in love. “Agape” love is a decision to allow God’s love to permeate our lives so we love those whom He loved the way He loves, not with our love but with His love.

Whom should we love beside God? Broadly, God’s Word encourages us to love everyone. More specifically God wants us to love the following: 

1. Scripture records clearly that we are to love our family. God’s Word records that we have been given family as a special gift and we have been given the capacity to love them in practical ways as none other. 

2. Scripture also stresses that we are to love the brethren and because we love them, we are to care for any brethren who are hurting in any way. 

3. Finally, Scripture insists we are to love our neighbors and even to love our enemies. 

Christians make the best lovers because the God who is love is our model. Because we have been loved so much by God He calls upon us to love others for His sake and then gives us His Spirit to teach and enable us to love. In many ways, Valentine’s Day is God’s day and should be celebrated 24/7/365.

Wed. Night Bible Study Notes • Feb 10

Daniel 4

Introduction: The timing of this event was probably close to the end of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and life and was his personal testimony of the experience he had had that changed his life and convinced him that Yahweh was the true and living God.

Overview: The chapter is a penetrating study of a man full of pride who was humbled to learn that all he had and all he had done was because of what God did for him or allowed/enabled him to do. One of the important truths of our faith is that God will share everything with us except His glory. God’s glory belongs to Him and Him alone.

The chapter introduces the reader to two sovereigns. On the one hand we have King Nebuchadnezzar who at his time was ruler of the most powerful kingdom in the world and alongside of him was the Most High God who is ruler of heaven and earth.

In verse 3 King Nebuchadnezzar stated his primary thesis of his testimony, a testimony that is repeated and summarized in verses 17, 25 32 and 34. King Nebuchadnezzar learned that the “Most High God” rules not only in heaven but on earth as summarized in verse 26. 

In Verse 4 Nebuchadnezzar, who was at one of his royal palaces declared he was “contented

and prosperous.” He was at ease or rest in what we would describe today as a luxurious setting. He had overseen the building of a marvelous kingdom and city and took personal credit for it all.

Verse 5 introduces the event that set the stage of the rest of the chapter. King Nebuchadnezzar recorded, “I had a dream that made me afraid.” The phraseology reminds us of the way the events of chapter 2 were introduced. Because of his understanding of the importance of dreams we are told this one, “terrified him or made him afraid.” As one would expect, verses 6-7 record that he called in all the advisors that he usually relied on. As expected, they were either unable or unwilling to interpret the dream for him.

Verse 8 records that finally Daniel arrived. King Nebuchadnezzar called Daniel by his Babylonian name, “Belteshazzar.” Verse 9 is primarily a declaration of King Nebuchadnezzar’s confidence that Daniel had the ability to interpret his dream.

Verses 10-12 give a description of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream with verse 13 presenting the second part of his dream, and probably the part that terrified him most. The terminology used here clearly describes King Nebuchadnezzar’s surprise and even shock.

Verses 14-15 detail that part of the dream which clearly shows that what was his kingdom at that time would not continue and would not continue because of the actions of God and all this would happen as judgment on him. The first part of verse 15 holds out hope that both King Nebuchadnezzar’s life and his kingdom may survive.

In verses 15b and 16 the imagery shifts from that of a tree to that of a man. The picture is vivid. That individual will live outdoors with the animals and will have the “mind of an animal,” and act like an animal. The prophecy goes on to note that this condition will last “till seven times pass by for him.” Most commentators believe that is intended to imply 7 years although technically the term was also used to simply denote a long period of time.

Verse 17 presents the reason for this dream. At the heart of this part of the dream are three important truths:

  1. The one behind this message is not the messenger but God himself. The messengers merely delivered the message.
  2. God is the God of the whole world.
  3. It is God’s decision as to whom He will give kingdoms. They go to anyone He wishes.

Verse 19 introduces Daniel’s interpretation of the dream and presents an interesting picture of Daniel. Daniel understood the implications of the dream God had given to King Nebuchadnezzar and was disturbed or alarmed at what the dream meant. Daniel genuinely cared for the king who had not only treated him well but seems to have treated all the Jews well. Daniel’s attitude reminds us to pray for our enemies and to love those who persecute us. King Nebuchadnezzar sensed the hesitance on the part of Daniel, so he said to him, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Daniel went on and in verse 23-25a to repeat the dream. In verse 24 Daniel said that part of the dream applied to King Nebuchadnezzar, making it very clear that the message was coming from the “Most High,” that is from God Himself.

Verse 25a makes it clear what would happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that he would live like the animals, eating the food that animals eat and would sleep outside so that in the morning he would be wet from the night dew.

Verses 25b and 26 offer a ray of hope. King Nebuchadnezzar will exist under judgment for a period of 7 but God has left a stump from which the renewed kingdom would come if King Nebuchadnezzar repented and acknowledged that all he had really came from God. Verse 27 records that Daniel followed that interpretation with a plea to King Nebuchadnezzar to repent.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s sin was primarily that of pride, although there were other factors including his treatment of the oppressed. Pride is seeing one possessions or achievements as the by-product of one’s own work instead of seeing them as coming from God. 

Verses 28-30 describe what happened when King Nebuchadnezzar failed to repent. He was givena full year, but he did not repent. That tells us a lot about the patience of God and of His desire to see us turn away from sin rather than face His judgment. See II Peter 3:9. 

Without a doubt Babylon was great but the issue was not the greatness of the city and kingdom but the one to whom glory should be directed. 

Verse 31 states that time was up. Just as God is patient and not anxious to punish, He is also just and will not turn His back forever on sin. Verse 32 repeats what God had said would happen if he did not repent. God does not change His mind when He calls for a specific action or forbids something. We don’t get to vote on what part of God’s directive we want to follow.

Verse 33 describes what happened next and notes that it happened immediately. The sentence was carried out and he was driven into exile. The picture of him in exile is that of one totally unable to care for himself. He who thought he was a representative of the gods and master of everything couldn’t even function above that of an animal.

Verse 34a records King Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony at the end of the appointed time when he finally surrendered to Yahweh. The moment he repented God restored his sanity. 

Verses 34b-35 give King Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony to God and reveal what he learned about the Most High God. His testimony is filled with descriptive statements about God.  

Having repented verse 36 states that God restored him to all that had been lost. In his case it was full restitution but that is not always the case. Many times, there are lasting consequences to sin. We cannot assume that we can sin, repent and everything will be as it was.

Verse 37 is King Nebuchadnezzar’s closing testimony and contain his praise of Yahweh.

Bulletin • February 7

MANBECK’S ZION EVANGELICAL

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

Worshiping the Lord in Spirit and Truth

February 7, 2021

A Year in Ephesians

Norman Dixon, Pastor

610-589-2034

Email: Dixonnorm@comcast.net

Web Site:  www.manbecks.org

Organ Prelude to prepare your heart for worship

Welcome and opportunities to Worship and Serve

Greet one another in the Name of Jesus          

Call to Worship – Psalm 66:1-4

* Opening Chorus #738                           The Wonder of It All

* Invocation

* Hymn #12                          Praise Him! Praise Him! (Stz.1 & 3)

* Prayer Hymn #517   I Will Sing of My Redeemer (Stz.1 & 4)

**Pastoral Prayer

Special Music: 

Scripture:  Ephesians 2:8-10

Sermon:  “God’s Handiwork” 

* Hymn of response #492                          At Calvary (Stz.1 & 4)

*Benediction

* Recessional Response #235       Take the Name of Jesus (1st vs.)

Leave to Serve

ANNOUNCEMENTS

TODAY:

  • Morning Worship Service                                     9:00 A.M.
  • WEDNESDAY:
  • Zoom Bible Study (Daniel 4)                                7:00 P.M.                                 

NEXT SUNDAY:

  • Building Fund Offering
  • Sweet Valentine Candy Bar

LOOKING AHEAD:  

  • February 24 – Zoom Bible Study resumes          7:00 P.M.
  • February 27 – Newsletter 
  • February 28 – Special Offering/Kingdom Extension Com.
  • March 14 – Building Fund Offering
  • March 16 – Official Board Meeting                      7:00 P.M.

Statistics:  January 31, 2020

                           Attendance:  Worship Service – 28

                                                                    Zoom – 6

                                                                Offering – $832.00

                                Special Offering (Care Net) – $55.00

Bible Study:  See Pastor for Zoom meeting number and ID.  

There will be no Ash Wednesday Zoom worship service.

“Believing Jesus died, that’s history. 

Believing Jesus died for you, that’s salvation.”

PRAYER CONCERNS

  • Donna (Julie from Twin Pines, on rehab floor and can’t seems to turn the corner.  Mother could finally see her)
  • Jon (Bill Schaeffer is over covid and in rehab)
  • Jon (Grandson in DE tested positive for covid)
  • Laura (will see the doctor for the mass on knee)
  • Ardella (Students and schools/disrupted year)
  • Jon R. (2 friends who have Parkinson’s)
  • Judy (kids today and world events/fear)
  • Hannah Bossler (Type 1 diabetes/retaining fluid)
  • Those battling cancer:

Grace, 5 year old with leukemia Mike

Bob Kramer Tim McMillen Mrs. Powell

Jake Wolfe           Rick Fidler Jay Newswanger    

  • Military:  Keith Gillespie                 Lois’s grandson, 

          Ashley Somers, Navy     Caleb Reiter 

  • Nursing home/Assisted living residents

               Grace Kimmel   Nancy Wildsmith          

  Edgar Bennett Norm Delp 

PRAISE: 

  • Lois (Song, “God Will Take Care of You”  reminded her of Warren Heinbach who worried over his wife/but God will take care of all our worries)
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  • Week Day Church School
  • Joe Toy (Street ministry in Philadelphia)
  • Jamie and Anita Farr (Wycliffe in Florida)
  • Robert and Bettina Schaeffer (L.I.F.E. Ministries in NY)
  • Wagner’s & Stoltzfus’s (Rift Valley Academy in Africa)

Sermon Notes • February 7

Ephesians 2:1-10

In Ephesians 2 we have details on the character of God who is described as a God of love, a merciful God, a kind God, and a gracious God. We also have details that help us understand what God has provided for us. Because of who God is, He has given us life, raised us up with Jesus, and allowed us to be with Jesus in heavenly places. That details the privilege that is ours to be spiritually alive and have fellowship here and now with God. They also assure us that we will ultimately spend eternity with our Lord in heaven. 

First, we need look at the big picture Paul presented in the opening verses of Ephesians 2. In verses 1-3 we are described as those who were characterized being dead, following Satan and doing that which was evil. By the time Paul got to verse 10 the big picture appears. We are now described as alive, following God, and doing good works. That is the big picture. We were dead, evil, and following the wrong one, we are redeemed so we are alive, doing good and following the one who created us in His image so we can have fellowship with Him. The big picture contrasts two different individuals, one dead and one alive. It contrasts two lifestyles, one evil and one good. It contrasts two masters, one the devil and the other God. What a picture.

Keeping the big picture in view, let’s look at some more of the details that make that picture possible. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. To explain what made the big picture possible Paul used 3 key terms. Paul wrote about being saved, noting that two elements are essential to salvation, namely grace and faith. 

Paul had already defined what he meant by being “saved” or salvation. Salvation is the term used to describe the transformation that changed us from being dead to being alive with all the benefits and blessings of that transformation. Grace means that the transformation provided by God was not something we deserved or, earned. Faith is our response to the offer of salvation. While that is straight forward, faith is not easy to define

A description of faith is complex. First, faith requires a body of information that one must accept as true. Saving faith, therefore, has an intellectual dimension. Saving faith accepts the facts that God exists, that the individual is a sinner (Romans 3:23) and that God will punish sin. Saving faith also accepts the fact that God has made a provision for our sin (John 3:16 and Romans 5:8). Those are facts that one must believe are true. Christians may legitimately differ on many of the peripheral issues of our faith but there is a basic body of truth that is foundational to saving faith.

But there is more than acknowledging the truths taught in the Bible. There is a second element to genuine faith. Read James 2:19. Saving faith goes beyond intellectual acceptance and includes the fact that an individual must personally depend on what in his mind he knows is true. There must be the additional element of trust in those truths. 

A common illustration of how the two fit together is that of a chair. One can have a chair and thoroughly studying it can determine that it is designed to be sat on. Then based on an examination of the materials, one can determine that the way the chair is made it will support him. That is agreeing with the facts, but it is not a chair for that individual until he sits in it. Saving faith is not only agreeing with what the Bible teaches, but also trusting one’s daily walk and eternal destiny to the truths those facts teach. There is a huge difference between believing that and believing in. Believing that can be nothing more than an opinion whereas believing in is a conviction that we stake our lives on. Read Romans 6:17. 

Paul was deeply concerned that the Christians in Ephesus understood there was an additional aspect of saving faith, namely that it comes to us because of the grace of God. It is not the result of anything we do to deserve it or earn it. Paul made that clear when he wrote verse 5 and amplified in verse 8-9. Note the way Paul emphasized it. He wrote, “by grace,” “not from yourselves,” and “not by works.”

Read about Paul and Silas’s experience as recorded in Acts 16:16-31, noting especially verses 30-31. Believing is accepting as true for you the truths you already understand from God’s Word.  Saving faith includes the personal acceptance of what the Bible says as being true. 

Too often we stop at that point in our understanding of what is involved in saving faith. The Bible, however, goes on as Paul expressed the next step in verse 10 of Ephesians 2 where he noted first that we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus,” and second that we have been saved so we can, “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Two additional aspects of saving faith can be seen in that verse. The first is that salvation changes us from under the rule of Satan to being in Christ Jesus. Recall that the big picture contrasts two lifestyles, one evil and one good. The change of rule is described, theologically, as repentance. Repentance is an inward commitment to literally turn around. There are activities in the life of a non-Christian that do not belong there because God has declared them wrong or sinful. When one is dead, one follows Satan and sees no problem with such activities, When, however, one is made alive in Jesus, one realizes that he should not continue in some of the activities he once saw as being acceptable. One cannot make a genuine saving faith commitment to God and have no change in how he wants to live. That does not mean we live the perfect life, nor does it mean we easily kick habits that we know we should not have. It does means that under the lordship of Jesus we recognize the lifestyle expected and make a legitimate effort to live accordingly. Read Acts 26:20. 

Incidentally, one of the realities of moving from dead to alive and the lordship of Satan to the lordship of Jesus is that Satan is not content to simply let us go. He will do everything he can to maintain control over us. Temptations will continue to come and if he thinks we have yielded one activity to Jesus he will seek to lead us in some other direction. That means there is the continually need to evaluate our daily living to see if there are activities or attitudes that must go or if there are new activities that need to be incorporated into our new life in Jesus. The good news is that the moment we make a life saving commitment to Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit. Among other things, the ministry of the Holy Spirit includes making us conscious of things that must change and then giving us the strength to do that.

One additional note on this passage from Ephesians 2. Paul wrote in verse 10 that, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” If one reads Ephesians 2 very quickly it may appear that Paul has contradicted himself. In verse 9 he wrote that our life saving conversion is “not by works” while here he wrote of being created to do good works

What we need to remember is that while works are never a part of the reason we are made alive, once we have been made alive the evidence of that new life is seen in repentance and in doing good works. We are not saved because of our works (Ephesians 2:9) but we are saved so we can do them. The Christian life is not a passive one whereby we commit to attending church when we can and giving to the support of the church. It is an active life in which we commit to doing the things God has designed for us to do. 

In I Corinthians 12, Paul detailed the truth that God has given to every believer a spiritual gift that is intended to be used for His glory. Every Christian has at least one and most have more than one that we are to use as representatives of God in this sin cursed world. Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus and told them it was their responsibility to use their gifts to do good for God’s glory.

Paul’s thesis in Ephesians 2 is that saving faith means a radical change. We who were dead are now alive. We who served Satan now serve God. We who once lived under the control of Satan have repented and now seek to live as God wants us to live. We who once thought we could be saved by our works know we are saved by grace so we can really do good works for Jesus. What an exciting change in our lives! Rejoice in what it means to be a Christian and live each day as  one who is genuinely alive in Jesus.

Sermon Notes • January 31

Ephesians 2:4-10 United with Jesus

Did you ever make up a word to describe something or someone that you just couldn’t find the right word for? Most of us have. The early church found itself needing to redefine or even invent new words to describe what they were learning about God and the salvation He provided for us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

For example, the early church could not find an adequate Greek word to describe God’s love. So they took a word that was almost never used “agape” and poured into it new meaning that described as closely as a word can what it means to describe God as love.

In our passage for today, Ephesians 2:5-6, we find that Paul literally made up three words you will not find anywhere in Greek literature before he wrote them in his letter to the Ephesians. Read Ephesians 1:19-20. Paul declared that God has done a similar thing for us and has done it because when we are saved, we are united with Jesus and partake of His victory. 

So, Paul took the Greek prefix “syn” that meant “together with” and combined it in a way that had never been done before with the Greek words meaning “make alive,” “raise up,” and “sit down” and used those new words in Ephesians 2:5-6 to declare, “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Then he declared “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” The thrust of those new words was to say that in some way Christians have been united with Jesus in being made alive, being raised up and being seated with Him. 

Jesus alluded to the union of believers with Him in verses such as John 17:22-23. Read those verses. Jesus declared a similar truth in John 15:4-5. Read those verses. In those and other verses Jesus alluded to the union His followers would have with Him, but before His death and resurrection it was impossible to understand all that implied. Following those events, Paul was able to present the depth of meaning that God intended when Jesus spoke of oneness and union.

It is not easy to understand that. The closest I can come to a parallel that may help us understand the union that takes place when we accept Jesus as our Savior is the description Paul gave to the church in Corinth of our union with Adam and Eve.

In I Corinthians 15:22 Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” The essence of that is that when Adam and Eve sinned all of humanity was somehow united in that sin. We are all born with a sin nature. We act on that sin nature, so we seldom think about the fact that we are guilty of sin because somehow, we were united with Adam in his disobedience. The second half of that verse presents the truth that Paul was expressing to the Ephesian Christians. Just as somehow when Adam sinned, we are all somehow a part of that even though we are born centuries later. In some way, although we are living 2000 years after Jesus was raised from the dead, ascended to the Father and was seated at God’s right hand, we are united with Him. 

That does not fully explain it but here are many things we cannot fully understand. John 3 opens with John recording that a man named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus and called Him good. The discussion moved on and, with Jesus saying to Nicodemus, according to verse 3, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” That blew the mind of this biblical scholar, so he asked Jesus how in the world that was possible. Jesus then said to him, according to verse 6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Dixon paraphrase of that is “You really can’t understand it because while you can understand to some degree the physical world in which you live, there is a spiritual world, and it is beyond your ability to understand that.” Jesus went on to say that while we try to understand the world we can see, understanding the world we cannot see is another story. Jesus then gave an example in verse 8 which reads, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Jesus said there are spiritual things that we just cannot understand. 

Not being able to understand it all does not mean we are not obligated to understand all we can, so we continue to read and study the Word. Little by little, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our understanding gets deeper and the wonder of our faith grows.

While we cannot understand really the spiritual dynamics of being united with Jesus in His resurrection, ascension, and seating, we can begin to understand in part what each means to us as Christians.

At the heart of what Paul was presenting is the provision of God’s love, mercy and grace which is, according to Ephesians 2:5. Read that verse. The verb form Paul used here means that something that happened in the past, i.e., we decided to invite Jesus to be our Savior, but it has implications today, i.e., we are alive. Because we are alive in Jesus, we can “be raised us up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Today we are alive in Jesus and can enjoy all the benefits of that life. There was a time when we were dead because of our transgressions but today we are alive in Jesus. Being dead in our transgressions meant in part that we were dead spiritually with implications for eternity. Being alive with Jesus means that we are now alive spiritually with implications for eternity. 

When we present the challenge of the gospel to someone we talk in terms of where one will spend eternity if they do not make Jesus their Savior. In a sense, that is the most glorious part of the salvation Jesus provided. The new life provided by Jesus assures us that when we die, we will go to be with God in heaven and will be given new glorified bodies. But Jesus did not die just so we can spend eternity in heaven. Jesus died so we can be alive spiritually today. Salvation is not a place called heaven; it is fellowship with God. Salvation is a fellowship with God that will continue for all eternity in a place we call heaven. At its core it is fellowship with the God in whose image we were created. 

Too often when we think of the provision of Jesus on the Cross, we rejoice in the fact that He bore our sins. We rejoice at the fact that He paid the price of our disobedience and shed His blood in place of ours. That is truly majestic and to be celebrated. But the redemption story did not end on Good Friday with our penalty of sin paid in full. The redemption story does not really end until 40 days later. The redemption story includes both an empty tomb and an ascended Savior who sits at the right hand of God the Father.

Think about this. A criminal is pardoned so allowed to go free. How foolish would it be for that person to shout from his cell “I’m a free man” and continue to live in prison the rest of his life. That is similar to a Christian who has been made alive by faith in Jesus but continues to live as if he were still in a dead place. 

Satan doesn’t like it when we talk about salvation, but he is at least glad if when we do, we talk about it only the future aspects of it. I suspect that Satan sighs when he catches us thinking about our salvation but smiles a bit when we allow our minds to think of it primarily as a future place. I doubt that Satan is happy when we think about heaven as a place with no cancer and with the streets of gold, but I suspect he is at least glad that we fail to realize that heaven is living in intimate fellowship with God.

The salvation provided by Jesus is intended to not only declare us no longer responsible for our sins but to release us from our cell where dead people live and move us into the glorious presence of God. We are made alive with Jesus to have immediate fellowship with Him. 

Paul’s message is clear. Because you are a Christian you are already alive spiritually and that means you can continually have fellowship with God. The only thing that remains is for us to leave our death cells and walk out into the light of His love for us.

Sermon Notes • January 24

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God!

Ephesians 2:4 beings with the simple declaration of “but” and clarified that by almost immediately adding “God” to his statement. In the Greek, the two words are not separated so it literally reads, “But God.”

But God” is one of the truly great phrases in the Bible. It is used to describe a major option to a situation that would otherwise be hopeless. In the case of Ephesians, it takes the hopeless situation described in Ephesians 2:1 as, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” and turns it into “But God in love, mercy and in grace made us alive” in verse 4. 

But God! Hopeless and helpless because of our sin, God stepped in acted on our behalf. God stepped in and provided a way that we might be made alive, a way for us to be alive spiritually and a way for us to be made alive physically as we are promised a new, glorified body that will have no decay and will never die. When God stepped in, He made it possible for us to spend eternity alive with Him in His home which we call heaven. But God!

In Ephesians 2:1-3 we have the picture of what we deserve because of our choice to follow Satan and to sin. In Ephesians 2:4ff we have the picture of what the love, mercy and grace of God has provided for us. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes God’s justified judgment on sin while Ephesians 2:4ff describes God’s gracious provision for that sin.

Ephesians 2:4ff details what God has done for us. In verses 5 and 8 Paul declared that by grace you have been saved.In verse 5 Paul wrote that God has “made us alive with Christ.” In verse 6 Paul wrote that God has “raised us up with Christ.” Then Paul wrote in verse 6 that God has “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” 

Paul used several different words to explain why God chose to offer life even though we deserved death. In verse 4 Paul described God as loving and merciful. In verse 7 Paul wrote about God’s kindness. Then, in verses 5 and 8, Paul described God as being gracious. Paul stacked one after another the key characteristics of God to describe what it took to offer us life. 

In verse 4 Paul wrote about God’s “great love for us.” God loved us and then that He made us alive with Christ. Too often Satan tells non-Christians that they need to first get their act together so God can love them and then they can ask Him for forgiveness. The Bible is clear, God has always loved us and there is nothing we can do to gain more love. Our responsibility is to respond to His love and what it offers us. Read Romans 5:8. His love us does not negate His justice so our sin will be paid for, either by us or Jesus. 

Paul described God’s love as being “great.” Read Ephesians 3:18 and 19. 

The biblical description of God’s great love for us needed a totally different word. In Greek that problem is solved using various words to describe the difference between brotherly love, erotic love, and God’s love. Paul was describing God’s love that moved Him to provide salvation from the death sentence we were under.

God has provided salvation because He is loving. John recorded in I John 4:8 that God is love. See also John 3:16 and I John 3:1. God’s gracious provision of salvation from the death that sin caused begins with His love. As deeply as God hates sin, He loves the sinner and wants him to return to Him. The parable of the Prodigal Son returning home pictures the Father running out to him and throwing His arms around him and shouting, “My son has come home.” Love responds that way. Read what Jesus said about a sinner returning to God in Luke 15:10. 

God provided salvation because He is love and directed that loved to us. He also provided salvation because He is “rich in mercy.” Make note of the fact that God is rich in mercy. In verse 7 God is described as rich in grace, which is, according to that verse “incomparable.” Read Ephesians 3:8 and 16. A rich, loving God has provided a rich redemption for us. God is rich so He is not limited in what He can shower upon those He loves and who belong to Him.

God chose to provide for our salvation because He is “rich in mercy.” Mercy is the act of withholding deserved punishment. Read Psalm 86:15. In the context of Ephesians, the punishment deserved is eternal separation from God, but God is love and He is merciful. God rich mercy flows from His love. Deserving of death, God in mercy reached out and offered us that which we did not deserve. He mercifully offered us life.

In verse 7 Paul used another term to describe God. Paul said that God is kind. In Ephesians Paul presented a slightly different picture of God’s kindness. Here, Paul wrote that one of the goals of providing salvation was to allow God to bless us with kindness. The Greek word that Paul used denoted one who had a sympathetic concern for others. Read Romans 2:4 and Ruth 2:20. 

In Paul’s letter to Titus, he did connect God’s kindness with salvation when he reminded them, as he reminded the Christians in Ephesus, that before they were saved, they were living in sin, and deserving of judgment. Then Paul wrote, according to Titus 3:4-5, But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Here in Ephesians God’s kindness is associated with His desire to shower blessings on the redeemed day after day and then for all eternity. When we talk of the characteristics of God we generally talk of His love and mercy and grace, but we need to remember He is also kind. His kindness impacted His desire to redeem the lost and like all His characteristics, it impacts His desire to shower us with blessings.

One important thing to note is the connections between the attributes of God spoken of here and the characteristics Christians are expected to display each day. God is loving and so should we be loving. God is merciful so we should show mercy. God is kind so we should seek to demonstrate kindness in our interactions with others. God is gracious and so too should we be gracious. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the characteristics the Holy Spirit seeks to develop in us and there can be no doubt that they are those same characteristics of God enumerated here. Read those verses and then Colossians 3:12. 

Paul added that God who is great love and mercy is also gracious. God is gracious because, like all His other attributes, it is who He is. Read Exodus 34:6. To be gracious means to show kindness to one who does not deserve it. Isaiah 30 presents an interesting picture of God’s graciousness. The chapter begins with God saying to Israel, “Woe to the obstinate children.” The chapter goes on to detail the sins of the nation and what it is costing them. It peaks in verse 18 that reads, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.” When Paul refers to God as being gracious in Ephesians. he is specifically referring to all the undeserved blessings God has promised to shower upon believers. Specifically, he was referring to God’s desire, because He is gracious, to make “us alive with Christ,” raising “us up with Christ,” and promising to seat “us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” It is ours via grace because we, as Paul so clearly stated, there is nothing mankind can hope to do to earn or deserve it. 

I would encourage you this week to think again about the truth that without the salvation God provided through the death of Jesus you would be dead in sin. 

Think about the nature of God who loved us, who is rich in mercy, who is kind beyond our imagination and encompasses grace and know that every one of those characteristics are still available to us today as we seek to live as those who have been redeemed. 

Sermon Notes • January 17

Ephesians 2:1-3

In Ephesians 1 Paul described of the past, present and future aspects of God’s plan for redemption. He wrote about God’s determining to redeem a lost humanity, of Jesus coming to provide for that redemption, and of the ministry of the Holy Spirit sealing those who make a commitment to Jesus. Paul then noted at the resurrection of Jesus God seated Him in heaven. Read Ephesians1:20-21.

In the first 10 verses of chapter 2, Paul presented the past, present and future of the believer. In verses 1-3 we have what the believer was before committing to Jesus. Verses 4-6 and 8-9 picture what it means now to be a Christian. Verses 7 and 10 picture what we look forward to as Christians. Collectively they present the best summary found anywhere in the Bible of what it means to be a Christian. Collectively they note that we who were dead in trespasses and sins (v.1), have been “made alive with Christ (v.5), and God has, “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (v.6) so that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (v. 7)

Read Ephesians 1:1-3. That was our condition before making a commitment to Jesus. Apart from God’s provision of a Savior that is not only what we were but what we would forever be. The message of Ephesians 2 is that God also has the power to raise dead men and women who were dead in sin to a new life in Jesus. 

Verse 1 declares, “you were dead.” It would be easy to pass over this with a simple, “That’s what we might have but let’s move on to a study of all we have in Jesus.” The problem with that is we cannot appreciate what we have if we do not understand what we did not have. In addition, we will never grasp the seriousness of witnessing for Jesus unless we understand their real condition outside of Jesus.

Ray Stedman, in his study of Ephesians, looked at these verses as a commentary of every culture and in particularly ours today. He wrote, “In these verses we find Paul’s great analysis of our problem. We are not a little misguided. We are not culturally deprived or misled in our thinking. The solution to the human condition is not better education or a social program or enhanced self-esteem. No, our problem is more fundamental and hopeless than that. Our problem is that, apart from God, we are dead.” Our Riches in Christ,loc 1077.

There are the various ways mankind has evaluated himself over the years. Pundits have swung from extreme pessimism to extreme optimism. Historically, many have seen mankind doomed to an ultimate self-destruction because of his evil tendencies. Currently the prevailing view of humanity is extremely optimistic. Many, while acknowledging that we are far from perfect, declare we are moving forward in the right direction. The Bible evaluation is very clear. Without the life giving, life changing work of Jesus in an individual he is dead in transgressions and sins.”

To understand Paul’s analysis of our condition of being dead outside of Jesus we should review the biblical definition of death and the various deaths that the Bible describes. The root meaning of the biblical word for death is “separation” and the Bible describes three aspects of death. There is a “spiritual death”, “physical death” and “eternal death.” Spiritual death is separation from the Holy God caused by our sinfulness. The fellowship intended in creation is lost. We are unable to enjoy time Him. We are told that in the Garden of Eden God spent time with Adam and Eve, described as walking with them. Sin separated and that experience is no longer possible.

Physical death is separation of the body and soul. While modern man want to see mankind as simply a physical animal, the Bible sees him as complex with not only a physical dimension but a soul or spirit. Genesis records the creation of man as a part of God’s overall creation but notes in 1:25 that God created man in His image. Read Genesis 2:7. When a man dies the soul or spirit that God breathed into him separates from the body. The body decays and returns to the dust from which it came. The soul or spirit, however, continues to exist.

Eternal death is separation from God forever. Eternal life is living forever in the presence of God. In contrast, eternal death is being forever separated from God, dwelling in what the Bible describes as hell compared to the heaven prepared for believers. 

Paul’s depiction of man before redemption as being “dead” is important to note. Paul did not say they were in danger of being dead, but they were in a state of being really, totally dead. Current thinking on man’s condition is that all we need is a little more learning and the desire to just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. The problem is spiritually dead people can’t do a thing. Dead people can’t grab their boots and pull themselves up. Dead people can’t learn anything. Mankind is dead in sin and no amount of learning or motivational thinking or sensitivity training is ever going to change that.

The term that Paul used implies absolutely or totally dead. It is not a figure of speech but a picture of what we really are. When Paul called those outside of Jesus dead he was suggesting that they were behaving as if they were dead, they were actually dead in the biblical sense of the word. Outside of Jesus mankind is dead spiritually, will die physically and will be eternally dead

In Ephesians 2:1 Paul wrote that mankind is dead in his transgressions and sins. Sin separates and that sin is described as being in the form of transgressions and sins. Some commentators see a difference between the two terms, seeing the first as unintentional sins and the second as intentionally doing what we know God has forbidden. It is not clear that Paul had those specific differences in mind but overall, the point is that we sin, and sin separates from God, a separation identified as “being dead.”

Being dead spiritually is a problem for all mankind. The “you” in verses 1-2 refers to the Gentile church in Ephesus but later Paul included himself as a Jew. Paul wrote in verse 3, “All of us”. Paul made that truth abundantly clear in Romans 3:23. Read that verse. 

Why do we have that condition?  Read Ephesians 2:2. Here Paul spelled out the truth that one is either a follower of God or of Satan. There is no other option. We may describe Satan in many ways but in the end, it is either God or him. We can give Satan the name of another god such “Buddha”, call him “scientific enlightenment”, call him “coming of age” but it comes down to either God or Satan. 

Paul described the condition of a spiritually dead person as following the ways of this world. The word translated here as “world” is used 186 times in the Greek New Testament, and in almost every instance has an evil implication. Literally Paul was declaring that before we were given spiritual life through faith in Jesus, we were captive to the ethical and social system of the present evil age.

The reason this world is evil is that Satan, described here as “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” is ultimately the one who directs every aspect of it. Of course, the ruler of the kingdom of the air is not going to make it obvious that his ways are opposed to God and therefore evil. He knows how to hold the line, so he seems acceptable. Satan presents his evil ways as popular, fun, enriching, freeing etc. In the end it is all dead and leads ultimately to eternal death or separation forever from God.

The picture of mankind outside of Jesus is not a pretty one. We are dead in sin, cannot help ourselves and therefore, according to verse 3 “we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

For the Christian that is not the end of the story. Read Ephesians 2:4-5. Let us never take that for granted. We did not deserve the redemption offered by Jesus.

Don’t jump ahead without once more remembering what you were before you made Jesus your Savior. It is in remembering what we have been saved from that we can fully rejoice in what we have.

And do not forget those folks you know who have never made a commitment to Jesus. They may live exemplary lives compared to others but without Jesus as Savior they are dead, dead spiritually and they will ultimately be dead eternally. Read Romans 10:14. Each of us can be the someone who shares Jesus so they who are dead can be raised by the power of God to life everlasting. What an exciting opportunity that presents to us.