Ephesians 2: 1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It’s important that we remember that this text was originally written as a letter without the chapters and verses we have in our modern Bibles. Therefore our reading today is a direct continuation and development of Paul’s statement that God’s desire is to fill everything in every way (1: 23). He immediately transitions into describing the profound transformation that occurs in our lives when we encounter Jesus.
“As for you, you were dead…. But…God…made us alive with Christ…” (v. 1, 4-5)
This is not mere behaviour modification or becoming “good living” – it is literally that we ‘come alive’ to the divine design which has always been lying dormant within us.
The Living Bible translates verse 2 like this:
“Once you…went along with the crowd and were just like all the others…”
The implication is that before you knew Christ, you just journeyed with the crowd. You were just like everyone else. You didn’t understand your uniqueness. You lived according to the pattern of this world without any wisdom or revelation that God had put a unique desire and a distinctive dream within you. Then Jesus enters your story, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we enter His story, and the unique desire that God has placed in your heart comes to birth in Him, it finds life and expression in Him. You move from passively being formed by the culture to creatively shaping the culture. Your renewed mind and revived spirit have access to all of Heaven’s resources, giving you the ability to think and create beyond any former limitations.
The best part is this: when we step into God’s story, we come alive not only to our own dreams, but we realise that God has already been busy preparing places and people where we can become part of seeing the dreams of others come to fulfilment. That’s what Paul is trying to communicate in verse 10:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Just this past week a team of five guys from CCV spent a week near Tijuana in Mexico helping a church begin building work on an orphanage. It was the church’s 41st anniversary service and the guests from the Vineyard were invited to share with the congregation about the work they were doing. As they spoke the pastor of the church began to cry. Through tears he explained to the congregation that years ago when the orphanage was still just a dream, the church had received a prophetic word that God would send helpers from half way across the globe to partner with them. This would be a sign of God’s favour and acceleration of the work. Here, in front of them all, this prophecy was being fulfilled. As five volunteers from CCV expressed the dream in their hearts through using their skills and serving selflessly, little did they know they were part of a bigger dream which God had stirred years before in the hearts of a group a Jesus followers thousands of miles away.
Today, in whatever space you step into, ask yourself:
Where is God is already at work here?
What situations, interactions and conversations might He already have prepared in advance for you?
Where might He be positioning you to shape culture through the unique dreams and desires in your heart?
THIS SUNDAY 23RD OCTOBER
We would love you to gather with us on Sunday at 9.30am or 11.30am as Alan Scott continues teaching this series: ‘Dreams that Shape the City’. Then at 7.00pm Alan will finish up our inspiring series: 2-42.