These two little words that have been translated to English from the Greek words “de Theos” in Ephesians 2:4. They may seem like a small phrase but where God inspires the Apostle Paul to place these words provides a startling and groundbreaking portrait of God.
These two little words contain so much power and transformation to a soul. They are a dynamic shift in the narrative of God working in the history of mankind.
These two little words speak of the grace, gospel, glory, and goodness of this Jesus Christ, the One True Living God.
These two little words are a catalyst for us as we encounter God that breaks the molded mindset we have about the person of God. And that’s something that we need to happen in our lives… it is something for those who are called disciples of Jesus that we should actually want to happen… even thought the results could alter our comfortable pattern of life.
The wonderful thing about this transformation that occurs is that it generally happens greatly when people gather together to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. And through the revelation of God in the Scriptures we understand what it means to worship (respond appropriately & obediently) this true God. It is a “But God…” moment that alters who we are from that point forward.
You see, when the true worship of God happens… the molds of our hearts, minds, soul, and strength become broken and recreated as something better and for something better.
Note: The mold I am speaking of is not the spore or fungal bacteria that grows on decaying matter. The mold I speak of is the artistic and/or industrial hollow container used to give shape or form to molten metal or other hot liquids (i.e., wax or ceramics) when they cool or harden.
This kind of mold is made to keep the same process and product produced over a period of time.
Q: How does this relate to us in a spiritual sense?
Well, all people that grow up and develop a particular mindset due their personal history, experiences, opinions, traditions, and institutions.
But God does something incredible and gracious to who we are inside and out when the Scriptures of the Bible are opened, discovered, examined, and understood… transformation occurs as a result of the truth of God being revealed. We can be and should be thankful that these Scriptures have been preserved for us and made accessible to us.
They are indeed powerful when we open our eyes and ears them to challenge and fashion how we think, how we speak, and how we act. But they are only truly transformation and life-changing when we respond to God Himself as He makes Himself known through the Scripture and by His Holy Spirit.
Scripture breaks the mold of who we are & how we think as we see God for who He truly is.
The Bible makes known to us the revelation of God because it reveals…
- Who He Is (Has Always Been & Will Always Be)
- What He Does (Has Done & Will Do)
- What He Says (How To Know & Follow Him)
And let’s just be honest… the honest knowledge of God revealed to us can be devastating, but nonetheless, it is the message we so desperately need. And though breaking the mold may be devastating to the self, God brings in this message His deliverance by the Savior.
Over the last few weeks I have been writing about Life in Christ as our church has been studying the Letter to the Ephesians by the Apostle Paul. As we have examined the Scriptures on this Life in Christ we have been emphasizing a powerful principle found in them.
Life in Christ is this gracious identity that comes from God and which leads to the glorious outcomes made through God.
The Apostle Paul expresses in this beautifully penned letter about the why and the how God does what He does to break the mold that once held our lives and the movement of God that now draws us into this new life with, in, and through Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-22* uncovers this incredible news with a well-penned delivery. Let’s take a look and investigate it further.
*Holman Christian Standard Version
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh — called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands.
12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace.
16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.
17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.
21 The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord.
22 You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.
So, we just got through reading a whole chapter of Scripture together… and understanding it altogether could be a daunting task if let alone. That’s why I want to be of help.
I am sometimes asked… “how can I get the most out of my Bible study time?” or “how can I understand the Scriptures fully?” I must admit…I am still in the learning process myself. It takes time and we all need help along the way. It did and still does for me. But I want to be able to help others along the way…So Here goes.
First of all, I believe that to gain a greater understanding of the Scriptures starts with God and the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only those that truly know and seek to know God…will truly ever experience the awesome beauty and power of His Word…the Scriptures.
Secondly, for those that are followers of Christ…this is still not just an easy task. We must remember that the Scriptures are what we call “special revelation” from God. Meaning this…the same God who spoke the universe into all its existence…specifically shared special revelation of Himself in Words that were penned by men that were divinely inspired to write what God desired them to write.
Knowing this helps us to understand the context by studying the how, when, and why God delivered these messages. It makes an immense difference on how we can fully apply these messages to our lives as followers of Jesus.
So…to gain understanding from the Scriptures in their context that brings the greatest applications and the relevance of God’s Word to our lives…I encourage people to ask & answer 4 major questions…
- What do the Scriptures say?
This is important so that we don’t lose the details of each intentionally inspired word. My personal opinion is that this is one of the reasons for seeking a close word-for-word translation. (BTW…No English translation is perfect.)It is also helpful to look at thorough (and reputable) commentaries and/or a good Bible Study software when difficult or confusing scenarios arise. (multiple ones if available).
- What were the results of this revelation in their specific time and place?
God specifically chose the time, place, people, language, and circumstance in which He revealed His Word for a reason… If we are going to understand the relevance of His Word today, we can’t skip out on what it meant then. That is because these are inseparable for how it still applies (and is still very much just as relevant) to us in our present circumstance.
Once again… thorough commentaries and Bible study softwares are quite helpful in this cases. It is also useful to have a a group of Bible believing, Bible seeking, & Bible studying friends to grow with in your understanding of the Scriptures. This is also one of the reasons why I believe a Bible-teaching church and growing through small groups is so essential to maturing as a disciple.
- What applications are carried forward from then to now?
This is where the living and active nature of God’s Word gets planted in us not for mere entertainment, enlightenment, or encouragement…but to transform our lives in every arena. This can be tough to grasp and we will need others to help us walk through this process.
Please see again the reasons for being connected to a Bible-believing & teaching church and why resources such as commentaries, Bible-study software, and small groups can be of such help.
- What am I willing to do about what God reveals?
This means responding to who God is, what God says, and what God does. Worship is the appropriate responding of man to God. We have not truly worshiped until we have responded to Him as He is. True worship that honors God and is the type of worship that He honestly seeks (John 4:23-24) is that which is of spirit and truth.
It must originate with God, respond to God, and be honest with all that God which also exposes the truth of who we are and the motives behind how we approach Him. Worship is very much both a collective and individual response.
It starts with the response of the individual soul to what God divinely reveals about Himself, but it was never meant to be done alone. It becomes even more beautiful and glorious when connected collectively with other individuals whom God has transformed through the revelation of Himself in and through His Word. Continue reading