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    Prayer and fasting 21 days – Ephesians 2 

     The good news is that God showed His love (verse 3) when Jesus died so that those of us who respond to grace are raised with Him from death to life, seated with Jesus in heavenly places (verse 6).  We are rescued from the spiritual death that came from being energised by demonic spirits (which is the result of trying to live independently of God).

    As if that weren’t wonderful enough, from verse 11 Paul emphasises that the result of being rescued is that we are joined with all God’s people.  Gentiles (non-Jews) were aliens to God’s promises under the Old Covenant but under the New we, who were far off, are brought near.  Because of His blood and because we all drink in the same Holy Spirit we are one new covenant people!

    Lord, thank You for rescuing us because of Your love, by Jesus’ blood.  Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit on us.  Help us to live in the power of the Spirit, united with all Your people, especially the ones we find the most difficult because we are closest to them!

    Further reflection

    As in Romans 6 and 7, Paul describes life before knowing Christ as a deathly domination by sin.  Paul does not describes sin as a philosophical concept or a description of how we cross the line into doing wrong.  Instead, he describes sin as a spiritual force opposed to God (Romans 6:6, 12-14; 7:5-11; 17).  When we are independent from God we think we are free but in fact we are slaves to sin and led by demonic powers.

    Life when we know Him, however, is submission to His rule which is life-giving.  We are slaves either to sin or to God.  If we are slaves to sin we are dead but if we submit to Jesus’ lordship and obey Him, we have real life that starts now and will get better and last forever.  No contest – I know which I prefer!

    Salvation is a gift (v8), not the result of working to achieve it, but there are works for us to do.  Verse 10 does not mean all we do is pre-planned by God but that the kinds of works we do are what He called us to in Christ.  These kinds of works are what He intended human beings to do and what He created us in His image for.  Jesus is the perfect man and the first born from the dead.  So when we are ‘in Christ’ we have the calling and the inheritance that is promised to God’s people.

    Because we are in His image He expects us to be creative in how we work, seeking wisdom from Him and then making choices, rather than just following orders in precise detail.  Human beings are more important to God than just robots to obey Him.  We have the capacity to choose to go wrong, so that when we choose right, do good works and express love to God, it really delights Him.  Good works do not save us – there is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has done for us – but they are part of our calling; they are what we are made for.  And in the power of the Spirit we are able to do good works.

    At least half of this chapter is Paul teaching carefully about Jews and non-Jews being built together into a spiritual house for God by the Spirit.  In New Testament times this was the big issue in how Christians would live together.  But it is important for us because it is the heart of the gospel.  God is not just rescuing individuals from sin, He is building us together.  He longs for a spiritual house, a Temple, a place He can live in!  (See 1 Peter 2:4-5 )  In Acts 7:48 Stephen explained to Jews that it is a building made not by hands but by the Spirit.  In Acts 17:24 Paul explained the same thing to Gentiles.

    Reconciliation is not just a nice add-on, it is the heart of the gospel.  God draws people of all kinds and backgrounds to Himself so that in Christ we can be made into one new people.  Unity is on God’s heart.  It is what He intended from the start (Colossians 1:19-20).  This might seem an impossible challenge.  But the gospel carries the power of God!

    So let’s pray for grace and strength to live as people of the Holy Spirit, united with one another by the Spirit, honouring each other and putting each other first.

    Chris Horton, 09/09/2017