Have you ever found yourself listening to a preacher give a gospel presentation and found yourself thinking, “This is good. I hope unsaved people are listening!” Or perhaps you looked around and thought, “Why is he preaching about how to be saved? everyone here has already been saved.” We tend to think that the good news of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection on behalf of sinners is needed for those who have to accept Christ. But Paul gives us one of the clearest presentations of the gospel anywhere in the Bible in Ephesians 2:1-10, and yet the whole passage is intended for. . . believers?
Apparently, Paul thought that believers needed to hear the gospel as did unbelievers. Paul talks in generic terms about all that God has done for believers in the longest single sentence in the Greek New Testament (1:3-14). This beautiful hymn of praise extols the greatness of God in all that he has done for us. Then he goes on to share with the Ephesian believers that he is praying that God would open their eyes so that they would really get what God had done for them. At the end of that prayer Paul concludes by praying that believers would know how powerful the God at work within them really is. How powerful? Powerful enough to raise Christ and give him all authority, making him head over the church.
Paul picks up this theme of the church and begins by giving a history lesson on how God is building the church. It begins in 2:1-10 by talking about what God has done individually to build his church, then goes on for the rest of the chapter to describe what God is doing corporately to build his church.
Reminding us what God did for us when we were saved is crucial for our growth in the body of Christ. Reminding us of our past behavior, character, authority, and destiny ought to make us cringe, yet telling us of our current and future position in Christ should make us rejoice. Meditating on how all of this was brought to us, by grace through faith and not works, should humble us and drive us back to our gracious God for help rather than our own strength. Unbelievers need the gospel, but believers need it too!
Food for Thought
"Gospel" is quite the buzz word today, which is great except that when we use words all the time sometimes we forget what they actually mean! What is the gospel?
Why is remembering what Christ has done for us on Calvary so critical for believers? How does doing so fight despair? How does doing so fight pride? What other areas does meditating on Christ's work for us combat?
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers . . . that you may know. . . what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:16-18
What makes God rich? Have you ever asked yourself that question? What does someone who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, who owns both heaven and earth look to as his treasure, his inheritance? This passage makes a startling claim along these lines: God views us as his inheritance!
While it might be tempting to see the word inheritance here as referring to what God will do for us, it's actually describing what God views as his riches and the glory of his inheritance. The God who is filthy rich views us as his greatest treasure (compare with Deuteronomy 9:29, Isaiah 47:6, 1 Peter 2:9) . While it is true that God intends to overwhelm us with his rich goodness (Ephesians 2:7), the emphasis here is on the fact that God looks forward to the day when we will stand complete in Christ as his perfected people. God delights in and looks forward to full fellowship with his saints!
Why would Paul want believers to know this? Remember, in Ephesians 4:1, Paul commands the Ephesian believers to walk worthy of their calling. After all God has done and will do, believers ought to be ready to live for God. Understanding God's view on our lives and the important part we play in his eternal drama ought to motivate us to live for him.
Food for Thought
What difference will it make in your relationship with God when you realize that he values those who are in Christ to the point of viewing them as his inheritance?