The "old homeplace" is a southern tradition. Families were large in past generations, and as the children aged and started families of their own, they periodically trekked back to their "family home" to see friends and kin. It is a phenomenon that is gradually passing off the American scene as families today are transplanted from house to house and town to town.
Though the concept of 'home" may be diminished in today's culture, it is still alive and well in bible doctrine. Ephesians 2 deals with the family home. The chapter can be divided into two parts. Verses 1-10 reveal Our Home in Christ. Verse six tells us we are "...in Christ Jesus." At salvation, we take up residence in Him. In the next message we will examine Christ's Home in Us, which we find in verses 11-22.
Chapter One of Ephesians dealt with the possessions of our salvation. Chapter Two deals with the position of our salvation. In Chapter One, we examined the Family Holdings, while here we observe the Family Home.
I. A PAST DEATH v. 1-3
you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Paul takes us back to the beginnings of our salvation. Beginning with verse four, Paul describes the mountain tops of of eternal life. But to get there we must pass through the valleys of everlasting death. He puts on display the awful past that we all have in common.
1. We Were Dead in Sins. (v. 1) The word "dead" in verse one is nekros. It means "a corpse." This is not very flattering to the religionist, the free- thinker, and those who believe that man is "inherently good." The lost person is not sick, misguided, or misunderstood. He is spiritually dead!
2. We Were Disobedient in Satan. (v. 2) The unbeliever is a pawn of his own flesh and the Satanic pull of the "spirit that now worketh." Notice that Paul makes no distinction concerning the outward works of these people. No doubt some were religious sinners, possibly leading clean and pure lives. But their "past death" is no different than that of the hardened sinner. All unbelievers walk "according to the course of this world," no matter their behavior or deportment.
3. We Were Desirous in Self. (v. 3) Again there is no distinction of behavior with sinners. It matters not if they are moral and clean in their lifestyle, sinners are selfish, angry, vengeful, and hateful in their very nature. Notice that the text says that they fulfill the "desires of the flesh and of the mind." This means that both the body and soul of the sinner is corrupt.
II. A PERPETUAL DESIGN v. 4-7
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
What two greater words could be written at this point in scripture? Verses 1-3 have revealed the utter degradation of the entire human race! These verses have stripped us of our man-made righteousness before God and humankind! What hopelessness! What despair! Then verse four tells us, "But God!"
There is great power in those two little words! There is encapsulated in that phrase the entire plan and design of God! Isn't it amazing that God has a plan for His fallen creation? Notice too, that all four of these verses are about Him, not us. Verses 1-3 describe people without God. Verse 4-7 describe the plan of God for those people. The word "but" is a contrasting word. It means "however" or "nevertheless." It points back to verses 1-3, and then overshadows those verses with the attributes of God.
1. His Rich Mercy (..who is rich in mercy...) The first great attribute of God that overshadows man's degradation is His mercy. God mercifully withholds our due punishment when He saves us. He is rich in this mercy. That is, He is wealthy, abounding, and abundantly supplied with mercy. He has more than enough to save every sinner who ever lived!
2. His Royal Love (...for his great love wherewith he loved us..) We are now in a place of unfathomable depths. No language can adequately express the thought of this phrase. Every word comes up short. Every thought is incomplete. Mercy and grace are attributes and qualities of God. Love is the very essence of God. It is the love of God that brings His grace and mercy to us.
3. His Renowned Grace (...by grace ye are saved...) Grace is an outworking of God's love. Songs, poetry, and prose have been written about the grace of God, yet it has never been explained fully. It is the grace of God that Christians long to comprehend. How could He love us? How could He allow His Son to be sacrificed for sinners such as we are?
Resurrecting Power (...hath quickened us ...hath raised us up...)
Reflected Glory (v. 7) We are limited in our knowledge
of eternity future. We cannot understand the bliss and beauty that
awaits us. I have heard preachers try to explain what the Church's
role will be in Heaven. This verse gives us an idea of part of our
duties as Christ's bride. God will use the church as an object lesson
to demonstrate His "exceeding riches." The church will reflect Christ's
kindness and His glory.
III. A PRESENT DECREE v. 8-10
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it
is the gift of God:
These verses are some of the best in scripture in explaining salvation. They are also some of the best known. Many times we quote them without really thinking about the significance of them.
1. The Means of Salvation (...by grace...) It is the goodness and favor of God that brings salvation. This truth is difficult for fallen man to grasp, and difficult for religious people to accept. It is the nature of the flesh to want to "do" something to attain salvation. It is by grace, that is, by the pleasure, joy, and delight of God. When I was a child, I continually asked "why." When my questioning became too much for my mother to handle, she would answer, "because I said so!" Salvation is "by grace" because God said so! It is not our place to figure out God's designs but only to believe and accept His plan.
2. The Method of Salvation (...through faith...) Though salvation is by grace, it is not dispensed haphazardly. Salvation is received through faith. the word "through" means "by means of." Faith is the currency that gains salvation. Faith is "a conviction and trust that a thing is so." True faith is based on the word of God. It is not a groundless, hope-so faith. It is simply placing trust in God that He will do what He says.
3. The Marvel of Salvation (...it is the gift of God...) A gift is an expression of affection. We don't ordinarily give gifts to strangers or enemies. But God offers the gift of salvation to those who hate and despise Him. It is the result of His affection and love for us. A gift is also a sacrifice. We judge a gift by how much it costs the giver. God's gift of salvation was the costliest gift He could possibly give. How much must He love us!
4. The Mystery of Salvation (...not of yourselves...not of works...) One of the greatest truths about salvation is that is is foreign to the nature of man. We are prideful, self-sufficient people. It is impossible for the flesh to abandon it's willfulness and desire to somehow "help" God. There will be no boasting of good works or special abilities when it comes to God's salvation. We must surrender our pride and human wisdom before we can come to God. Most religious people today, even those calling themselves Christian, never understand this truth. They continue to hold to the doctrines of works and law. They believe they can somehow attain heaven through the works of the flesh. It is the blindness of man that causes this. It is not the fault of God.
5. The Majesty of Salvation (v. 10) We are His workmanship, that is, His design, or His special project. The Greek word that is translated "workmanship" is the same that we get the English word "poem." We are God's poem, his special inspired creation!
Salvation works on the inside, in our hearts. God changes us by giving us a new nature, a God-consciousness. This verse teaches us that there is also a change on the outside. We are created unto "good works." God has prepared and made ready the Christian walk for us.
Conclusion: Old folks in the south may long for the days of the the front porch swing and the "old homeplace," but Christians have something better. Through the cross, God has moved us out of our sinful habitation, and allowed us to share in a common "homeplace." We are at home "in Christ."
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