(Part 2) 2020 Resurrection Sunday Message:
Raised Up With Christ
By Pastor Robbie Casas
The passage we will look at is Eph 2:5-7: “5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Paul wrote this epistle (1:1; 3:1) from prison (3:1; 4:1; 6:20) during his 2nd imprisonment.
He founded the church in Ephesus during his 2nd missionary journey when he stayed there briefly. In Acts 18:19-21, we see Paul leaving Priscilla and Aquila who were with him to handle the new church there. In his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 19:1ff), he later returned for an extended stay (some 3 years, Acts 20:31), further establishing the church. During this period, he most likely pastored this church.
The tone of Ephesians one of encouragement. This may be why here we find, in what is my personal opinion, two of his greatest prayers as he prayed for these believers (1:3-14; 3:14-19). But the major point of his encouragement was his reminding them of their riches in Christ (1:3-14; 3:6, “… the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”)
Paul clearly wrote to the believers at Ephesus (1:1). They very well may have looked at Paul like their spiritual father, having founded the church there and having pastored them. To catch a glimpse of the closeness he had with them, see Acts 20:17-36, where Paul summoned the Ephesian elders to come to him in the coastal town of Miletus and there, through a very poignant address which deeply affected these elders, bid them a final farewell.
This church was later pastored by Timothy (1Tim 1:3) after Paul left Ephesus for good.
The city of Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor (now modern-day Turkey). One of its great attractions and source of pride was the great Temple of Artemis (Diana) being located there (Acts 19:28, “‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”). If you would recall in Acts 19, during Paul’s extended stay there, “God was performing extraordinary miracles” through him (v. 11). Many became believers, renouncing their heathen practices (like sorcery), even burning their books (vv. 18-19). And we are told in v. 20 that “… the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” It was only a matter of time that all this would have an impact on the whole city: many began to renounce their idolatrous worship of Artemis, seriously and badly affecting its idol-making industry, resulting in a huge riot incited by a silversmith named Demetrius (19:23-41).
Although there does not seem to be any particular issue or problem being addressed in the letter, it is seems that the Ephesian believers had to battle the influence of their old ways and the culture around them (4:17, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk…”). This indicates to us the influence of their pagan world was still very strong. (See exhortations from 4:18 to 6:10.)
Paul’s purpose for writing was basically to remind the Ephesian believers of their spiritual riches in Christ (1:3-14) which he used as the reason and motivation for them “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (4:1), and so that they would “walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk” (4:17). He did this also by reminding them of what their past was before Christ (2:1-3, 11-12).
The theme of this letter is “Our Riches in Christ Jesus (Who Are and What We Have in Christ),” highlighting that salvation is by grace through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9).
It is highly significant therefore to note the number of times the ff. phrases appeared just from 1:1 – 2:10 alone: “in Christ” or “in Christ Jesus” – 8x; “in Him” – 6x; “with Him” or “with Christ” – 3x.
This presses upon us an important truth: WHO ARE AND WHAT WE HAVE AS BELIEVERS IS BECAUSE WE ARE IN CHRIST.
The first three chapters are highly doctrinal, addressing central doctrines of the Christian faith. The last three chapters are more applicational, describing the kind of life that believers are to live based on who they are and what they have in Christ. This tells us that who we are and what we have in Christ (Chs. 1-3) must result in the life that is characterized by what Paul describes and teaches in the last three chapters of the letter.
THE TRUTHS OF GOD THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES ALWAYS EXPECTS A TESTIMONY OF A LIFE CHANGED BY THOSE TRUTHS. No wonder James also says in Js 2:26, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”