by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 2:1-10 – A People Made Alive | Saved by the Grace of God
In chapter 2, Paul revealed two major blessings that Christians received when they believed in Christ: The first is being made alive in Christ (vv1-10) and the second is being brought near to God (vv11-22). To understand these concepts better, we will break down our discussion of chapter 2 into two parts.
The first part, verses 1 to 10, was strategically designed. In verses 1 to 3, Paul explained the problem which is about our previous spiritual condition before coming to Christ. In verses 4 to 7, Paul explained what God did to save us from that condition. And in verses 8 to 10, Paul revealed the reason why God saved us from that condition. So as you can see, not only does it have a smooth flow of thought, but it also has a very beautiful message. Let’s dive right in.
I. DEAD IN THE TRESPASSES AND SINS (vv1-3)
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
According to these verses, every person who hasn’t come to Christ is DEAD IN THEIR TRESPASSES AND SINS. This refers to the theological condition which is being SPIRITUALLY DEAD. What is this anyway?
In the Bible, there are 3 kinds of death: First, and the most familiar to us is the physical death. This refers to the separation of the spirit from the body (James 2:26). The second one is eternal death. This refers to a person being eternally separated from God’s presence (Revelation 20:14-15). And lastly, we have spiritual death. If we look closely at the passage we’ve just read, Paul actually described what this is. According to Paul, people who are spiritually dead:
1) Followed the course of this world (worldliness)
2) Followed the “prince of the power of the air” (which is Satan)
3) Once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind (sinfulness and pleasure-seeking)
And Paul called them “children of the wrath.” Most importantly, Paul emphasized that this is the default condition of the “rest of mankind.” If we will summarize what Paul said, a spiritually dead person is someone who is living in sin and pursuing evil. From a deeper theological perspective, the state of being spiritually dead is the cause why a person cannot respond to the things of God. Going back to his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul explained that in the context of God’s words, these persons do not accept the word of God because they are “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). More or less, Paul is pointing out the same thing. People are dead spiritually. And no matter what you do, a dead person will never respond to you. For a dead person to respond to you, he must be made alive first. And that is exactly what God did.
II. A PEOPLE MADE ALIVE! (vv4-7)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
In these next verses, notice that Paul started with the word “but.” In hermeneutics, this is an indicator that what comes next to it is the opposite of what came before. So if we are spiritually dead before, Paul reveals that Christians are now spiritually alive “together with Christ.” This is the reason why Christians have this affinity for God’s words, a desire to get to know Him, a longing for His presence, and a certain kind of spiritual allergy to sin. And in this passage, Paul also revealed the ingredients why this became possible: Those are God’s mercy, love, and grace.
Most of us are already familiar with God’s love. But what are mercy and grace? and what is the difference between the two?
In verses 6 to 7, Paul revealed another blessing that Christians received aside from being made alive. According to him, God also appointed Christians to seat with Jesus in the heavenly places so that in the coming ages, God’s immeasurable grace and kindness in Christ Jesus can be demonstrated to the world. In other words, we are the example of God’s mercy, love, kindness, and grace. The unbelieving world can never accuse God of being unfair or evil because we are the evidence that God does show mercy and grace to whom He chooses (Ephesians Chapter 1).
III. SAVED FOR GOOD WORKS (vv8-10)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
In verse 8, Paul repeated for the second time that we are “saved by God’s grace.” And since grace means receiving something that we don’t deserve, then it means that we don’t deserve to be saved. And it’s true, but God did it anyways. Why?
First of all, the basis of God’s choice is not about us. God did not choose us over the others because we are better than them. God’s choice is solely based on His character and wisdom. So the question that we should be asking is not why us, but what is the purpose why He saved us. And this is exactly the question that Paul answered in these verses.
First of all, verses 8 and 9 are one of the strongest evangelical passages out there. It clearly teaches that salvation is monergistic (100% God’s work; “not your own doing”), that salvation is by faith alone and not by any human works (Sola Fide), and it is a gift of God (echoing Romans 6:23). But verse 10 is equally powerful, for it is the statement of purpose of our salvation. And according to verse 10, GOD SAVED US FOR GOOD WORKS.
In other words, God saved us so that we can serve Him. Unlike before when we pursue worldliness and our sinful desires, Christians are saved to pursue godliness and to fulfill God’s purposes. But before we continue with this, let us clarify first that good works are not the cause of our salvation; it is the effect of it. Paul stated this clearly in the passage, right? He said, “not by works, so that no one may boast.”
So again, we are saved by grace through faith alone. And once a person is made alive, he is now ready to do good works. Therefore, one of the signs that a person is truly saved is a life characterized by good works in the name of Jesus. This can refer to a lot of things. It can refer to the various kinds of ministries that Christians are involved with. It can refer to actual acts of good works no matter how big or small, or it can even be as simple as a life of personal pursuit of holiness and Christlikeness. No matter what it is, the common denominator is that it must be an act done for the glory of God. And as Paul also stated, God is the one who prepared these things “beforehand.” In other words, we are simply fulfilling God’s purpose. This is why in the end, all the glory belongs to God.
Lastly, this also acts as a reminder and a wake-up call for Christians to be proactive in their Christian life. Christians shouldn’t live a sedentary kind of spiritual life. If we truly want to thank God for our salvation, then carrying out His purposes for our lives is the way to do it.
This passage is one of the strongest and most beautiful passages in the Bible. And if Christians truly take this to heart and apply it to their lives, it can result in the most beautiful lives that ever walked this earth. And going back to the reason why Paul wrote this letter, he wants us to learn who we are in Christ and how blessed we are in Christ so that we can live our Christian lives to the fullest. And according to this passage, we will live the fullest potential of our Christian lives when we give our all to serve God. Again, that is the characteristic of a very beautiful life.
God Bless! 🙂