God's Kingdom Ministries
Serious Bible Study



Chapter 6: Enthroned with Christ

In chapter 2 of his epistle, Paul enlarges upon the difference between the believers’ former life and the new life that they now live.

Eph. 2:1, 2 says,

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

As naturally-born descendants of Adam, they had inherited death (mortality), the iniquity by which all men sin. They were trapped in their trespasses and sins, knowing no other course in life. They had walked out their lives “according to the prince of the power of the air,” which operates “in the sons of disobedience.”

This was a life of death. Their legal position before the divine court was a state of death, because the judgment for Adam’s sin was, “You will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Death is more than the end of natural life. Death includes everything pertaining to mortal life.

On the other side of the coin, we see that life too is more than just the point where we come into immortality. Life includes our present manner and quality of life that we live even while we are yet mortal. The lifestyle of believers is very different from the lifestyle of unbelievers. Our baptism signifies that we have died with Christ and have also been raised with Him to “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

We are no longer “sons of disobedience.” This is a Hebrew idiom for those who act in a disobedient way. Jesus said in Luke 7:35,

35 Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

Wisdom is personified and is said to have wise children, but obviously, such children are not begotten and birthed through natural childbirth. Elsewhere, Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.” Jesus was not questioning their physical genealogy. He was referring to the well-known idiom that a son does the work of his father—or, in the case of wisdom, their mother.

Paul uses the same idea in discussing the children of Abraham. Gal. 3:7 says,

7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

In other words, those who have Abrahamic faith are the sons of Abraham, regardless of their physical genealogy.

Hence, when Paul spoke of the “sons of disobedience,” he was referring to the Ephesian believers in their former life. The Ephesians had changed fathers, not physically, but insofar as their legal status in the divine court was concerned. We know, of course, that all who are begotten by the Spirit by the seed of the word are the children of God.

Paul continues in Eph. 2:3,

3 Among them [the sons of disobedience] we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

To be an unbeliever is to live according to the will of the flesh, that is, the desires of the flesh and of the soulish mind. In other words, it is to live “as the rest” of humanity lives—in a state of death.

But God

Eph. 2:4-7 says,

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in 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.

The love of God is the source of His mercy. It is manifested in the fact that “even when we were dead in transgressions,” He raised us from the dead “with Christ.” He then adds the parenthetical statement reminding us that this was “by grace.” In other words, it was done by “the counsel of His will,” not according to our own will.

Dead men can do nothing to overcome death. It requires an outside Source, acting by the power of His own will, to give life to the dead.

As we have seen already, grace is defined as something God does by His own will, not by the will of man or by the will of the flesh. We were saved, not because we decided to follow Jesus, but because He chose to save us and to reveal Himself to us. Our response to His act of grace did not save us; it only gave evidence that God had indeed exercised His will in our lives in order to save us.

No one is saved without evidence of a changed life, a change of thinking, a new direction that is taken that departs from “the rest” of humanity. If there is no such change, then we may conclude that God has not spoken a creative word in regard to that man or woman, for he or she is yet dead in trespasses and sin. So James 2:26 says, “faith without works is dead.”

Having said that, we should not conclude that believers are perfect. We must remember that believers are still mortal and corruptible in their essence, even though they have adopted a new lifestyle.

As I wrote earlier, life is manifested in two ways: immortality and lifestyle. Paul makes it clear in 1 Cor. 15:52-54 that we must yet receive immortality at the resurrection of the dead and—in the case of those who are alive at that moment in history—be changed without dying.

Meanwhile, as believers, we have been resurrected with Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places. Our legal position is vastly different, even if we are yet weighed down by mortality, infirmity, and weakness. Evidence of our heavenly position is seen in the changes of lifestyle, along with the exercise of spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit works through the faith of imperfect people.

This is made possible because it is based on the will of God, not on the will of man. If salvation were based on man’s will or man’s decisions, then it would require men to fulfill his vows before he could be saved. Such is Old Covenant salvation—which is an oxymoron, for there is no such thing as salvation by the will of man.

If man’s decision to follow Jesus truly saved him, then he would lose his salvation the moment he sinned again or fell short of the glory of God. Such on-and-off-again salvation, proposed by Arminius, is not what the mercy and grace of God has imparted to us.

The Ages to Come

Eph. 2:7 speaks of God’s grace being continually revealed “in the ages to come.” We have little comprehension of the manner in which this will be manifested. We do know, however, that there are yet “ages to come” before the end of time.

Most people are unfamiliar with the doctrine of the ages (aion), because they overfocus on timeless eternity and thus overlook the ages of time in the divine plan. There is an age to come between the second coming of Christ and the great White Throne judgment. Rev. 20:4-6 says that it will last “a thousand years.” Whether this is literal or not is not our concern here. The point is that it is a limited time period and will have a beginning point and an end point.

But since Paul speaks of multiple “ages to come,” there must be still another age beyond this “millennium.” Indeed, it will be an age of judgment in “the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14), which is a metaphor for the judgment of the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2, KJV). The “fire” is not literal, but an application of the judgments found in the law of God itself. These judgments are designed to burn the flesh, even as the baptism of fire is designed to burn “chaff” (Matt. 3:12) from the nature of all believers.

See my book, The Judgments of the Divine Law.

Paul emphasizes once again that grace is the basis of our salvation and all the benefits that come with it. Eph. 2:8, 9 says,

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that [faith] not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In other words, we have been saved by a sovereign act of God through His will. When He spoke to our hearts, faith was born, and we responded with evidence of what God had just done in us. This faith was “the gift of God, not as a result of works” (i.e., not of the will of man). We cannot take credit for our faith, for man’s will can only result in positive thinking. Abrahamic faith is God’s gift to us, “so that no one may boast,” saying, “Look at my faith that has saved me!”

The Potter’s Workmanship

Paul then concludes in Eph. 2:10, saying,

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them [those good works].

Perhaps Paul was thinking of Jer. 18:1-10, where God was pictured as a Potter making clay vessels. God is the great Workman, and man is His workmanship. Wet clay has no power to make itself into a jar. Isaiah 45:9 explains this further, although most translators try to avoid the obvious statement about the sovereignty of God.

9 Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—an earthenware vessel among the vessels of the earth! Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” Or the thing you are making say, “He has no hands?”

Clay has the right to argue only with other clay—not with the Potter. The clay ought not to question God or to claim that God is handicapped or incompetent. Man must know his place as part of creation. He is a vessel made of clay. He is not the Potter. God has Potter’s Rights. Man has the rights of clay vessels.

This is the basis of grace in the New Testament, and it means that “we are His workmanship.” God has created us in His image. We are not to create God in our image (Gen. 1:26). As vessels of honor, we were created and “prepared beforehand” for good works. His use of the term beforehand is meant to point us to the example of Jacob, who was chosen before he had done anything good or bad (Rom. 9:11).

Jacob was God’s workmanship as well. It took 98 years to form his “clay” and to turn him into an Israelite (after wrestling with the angel). Yet we see that God took personal responsibility over him. As a Potter, God shaped him until his faith was fully matured, recognizing the sovereignty of God.

Then his name was changed to Israel, “God rules,” so that he could bear testimony of God’s sovereignty.