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EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 22
Verse 22. In whom. In Christ, or on Christ, as the solid and precious foundation.
Ye also are builded together. You are built into that, or constitute a part of it. You are not merely added to it, but you constitute a part of the building.
(1.) We were by nature dead in sin, Eph 2:1. We had no spiritual life. We were insensible to the calls of God, to the beauty of religion, to the claims of the Creator. We were like corpses in the tomb, in reference to the gay and busy and happy world around them.—There we should have remained had not the grace of God given us life, just as the dead will remain in their graves for ever, unless God shall raise them up. How humble should we be at the remembrance of this fact! how grateful that God has not left us to sleep that sleep of death for ever!
(2.) Parents should feel deep solicitude for their children, Eph 2:3. They, in common with all others, are "children of wrath." They have a nature prone to evil; and that nature will develope itself in evil for ever, unless it is changed—just as the young thorn-bush will be a thorn-bush, and will put forth thorns, and not roses; and the Bohon Upas will be a Bohon Upas, and not an olive or an orange; and as the lion will be a lion, and the panther a panther, and not a lamb, a kid, or a gazelle. They will act out their nature, unless they are changed; and they will not be changed, but by the grace of God. I do not mean that their nature is in every sense like that of the lion or the asp; but I mean that they will be as certainly wicked, if unrenewed, as the lion will be ferocious, and the asp poisonous. And if so, what deep anxiety should parents feel for the salvation of their children! How solicitous should they be that, by the grace of God, the evil propensities of their nature may be eradicated, and that they become the adopted children of God?
(3.) The salvation of sinners involves all the exercise of power that is put forth in the resurrection of the dead, Eph 3:5. It is not a work to be performed by man; it is not a work of angelic might. None can impart spiritual life to the soul but he who gave it life at first. On that great Source of life we are dependant for our resurrection from spiritual death; and to God we must look for the grace by which we are to live.—It is true that though we are by nature "dead in sins," we are not in all respects like the dead. Let not this doctrine be abused to make us secure in sin, or to prevent effort. The dead in the grave are dead in all respects. We, by nature, are dead only in sin. We are active in other things; and indeed the powers of man are not less active than they would be if he were holy. But it is a tremendous activity for evil, and for evil only. The dead in their graves hear nothing, see nothing, and feel nothing. Sinners hear, and see, and feel; but they hear not God, and they see not his glory, any more than if they were dead. To the dead in the grave, no command could with propriety be addressed; on them, no entreaty could be urged to rise to life. But the sinner may be commanded and entreated; for he has power, though it is misdirected; and what is needful is, that he should put forth his power in a proper manner. While, therefore, we admit, with deep humiliation, that we, our children, and friends, are by nature dead in sin, let us not abuse this doctrine as though we could be required to do nothing. It is with us wilful death. It is death because we do not choose to live. It is a voluntary closing our eyes, and stopping our ears, as if we were dead; and it is a voluntary remaining in this state, when we have all the requisite power to put forth the energies of life. Let a sinner be as active in the service of God as he is in the service of the devil and the world, and he would be an eminent Christian. Indeed, all that is required is, that the misdirected and abused energy of this world should be employed in the service of the Creator. Then all would be well.
(4.) Let us remember our former course of life, Eph 4:11,12. Nothing is more profitable for a Christian than to sit down and reflect on his former life—on his childhood, with its numerous follies and vanities; on his youth, with its errors, and passions, and sins; and on the ingratitude and faults of riper years. Had God left us in that state, what would be now our condition? Had he cut us off, where had been our abode? Should he now treat us as we deserve, what would be our doom? When the Christian is in danger of becoming proud and self-confident, let him REMEMBER what he was. Let him take some period of his life—some year, some month, or even some one day—and think it all over, and he will find enough to humble him. These are the uses which should be made of the past.
1st. It should make us humble. If a man had before his mind a vivid sense of all the past in his own life, he would never be lifted up with pride.
2nd. It should make us grateful. God cut off the companions of my childhood—why did he spare me? He cut down many of the associates of my youth in their sins—why did he preserve me? He has suffered many to live on in their sins, and they are in "the broad road"—why am I not with them, treading the path to death and hell?
3rd. The recollection of the past should lead us to devote ourselves to God. Professing Christian, "remember" how much of thy life is gone to waste! Remember thy days of folly and vanity! Remember the injury thou hast done by an evil example! Remember how many have been corrupted by thy conversation; perverted by thy opinions; led into sin by thy example; perhaps ruined in body and soul for ever by the errors and follies of thy past life! And then REMEMBER how much thou dost owe to God, and how solemnly thou art bound to endeavour to repair the evils of thy life, and to save at least as many as thou hast ruined !
(5.) Sinners are by nature without any well-founded hope of salvation, Eph 2:12. They are living without Christ, having no belief in him, and no hope of salvation through him. They are "aliens" from all the privileges of the friends of God. They have no "hope." They have no well-founded expectation of happiness beyond the grave. They have a dim and shadowy expectation that possibly they may be happy; but it is founded on no evidence of the Divine favour, and no promise of God. They could not tell on what it is founded, if they were asked; and what is such a hope worth? These false and delusive hopes do not sustain the soul in trial; they flee away in death. And what a description is this! In a world like this, to be without hope! Subject to trial, exposed to death, and yet destitute of any well-founded prospect of happiness beyond the tomb! They are "without God" also. They worship no God; they confide in none. They have no altar in their families; no place of secret prayer. They form their plans with no reference to the will of God; they desire not to please him. There are multitudes who are living just as if there were no God. Their plans, their lives, their conversation, would not be different if they had the assurance that there was no God. All that they have ever asked of God, or that they would now ask of him, is, that he would let them alone. There are multitudes whose plans would be in no respect different, if it were announced to them that there was no God in heaven. The only effect might be to produce a more hearty merriment, and a deeper plunge into sin. What a world! How strange that in God's own world it should thus be! How sad the view of a world of atheists—a race that is endeavouring to feel that the universe is without a Father and a God! How wicked the plans which can be accomplished only by labouring to forget that there is a God; and how melancholy that state of the soul in which happiness can be found only in proportion as it believes that the universe is without a Creator, and moves on without the superintending care of a God!
(6.) The gospel produces peace, Eph 2:14-17.
1st. It produces peace in the heart of the individual, reconciling him to God.
2nd. It produces peace and harmony between different ranks and classes and complexions of men, causing them to love each other, and removing their alienations and antipathies. The best way of producing friendship between nations and tribes of men, between those of different complexions, pursuits, and laws, is to preach to them the gospel. The best way to produce harmony between the oppressor and the oppressed, is to preach to both of them the gospel of peace, and make them feel that they have a common Saviour.
3rd. It is fitted to produce peace among the nations. Let it spread, and wars will cease; right and justice will universally prevail, and harmony and concord will spread over the world. See Barnes "Isa 2:4".
(7.) Let us rejoice in the privileges which we now have as Christians. We have access to the Father, Eph 2:18. None are so poor, so ignorant, so down-trodden that they may not come to God. In all times of affliction, poverty, and oppression, we may approach the Father of mercies. Chains may bind the body, but no chain can fetter the soul in its intercourse with God. We may be thrown into a dungeon, but communion with God may be maintained there. We may be cast out and despised by men, but we may come at once unto God, and he will not cast us away. Further.—We are not now strangers and foreigners. We belong to the family of God. We are fellow-citizens with the saints, Eph 2:19. We are participants of the hope of the redeemed, and we share their honours and their joys. It is right that true Christians should rejoice; and their joy is of such a character that no man can take it from them.
(8). Let us make our appeal, on all doctrines and duties, to the Bible—to the prophets and the apostles, Eph 2:20. On them and their doctrine we can build. On them the church is reared. It is not on the opinion of philosophers and lawgivers; not on creeds, symbols, traditions, and the decisions of councils; it is on the authority of the inspired book of God. The church is in its most healthy state when it appeals for its doctrines most directly to the Bible. Individual Christians grow most in grace when they appeal most to this "Book of books." The church is in great danger of error when it goes off from this pure "standard," and makes its appeal to other standards—to creeds and symbols of doctrine. "The Bible is the religion of Protestants;" and the church will be kept pure from error, and will advance in holiness, just as this is made the great principle which shah always govern and control it. If a doctrine is not found in the "apostles and prophets"—in some part of the Bible it is not to be imposed on the conscience. It may or may not be true; it may or may not be fitted to edify a people; but it is not to be an article of faith, or imposed on the consciences of men.
(9.) Let us evince always special regard for the Lord Jesus, Eph 2:20. He is the precious Corner-Stone on which the whole spiritual temple is reared. On him the church rests. How important then, that the church should have correct views of the Redeemer! How important that the true doctrine respecting his Divine nature, his atonement, his incarnation, his resurrection, should be maintained. It is not a matter of indifference whether he be God or man; whether he died as an atoning sacrifice, or as a martyr; whether he be the equal of God, or whether he be an archangel. Everything depends on the view which is held of that Redeemer—and as men entertain different opinions about him, they go off into different systems as wide from each other as the poles. Everything in the welfare of the church, and in the individual peace of its members, depends on proper views of the Lord Jesus.
(10.) The church is designed as the place of the special residence of the Holy Spirit on earth, Eph 2:21,22. It is the beautiful temple where he dwells; the edifice which is reared for his abode. How holy should that church be; how pure should be each Christian to be an appropriate habitation for such a guest! Holy should be the heart where the Spirit dwells. With what anxious care should we cherish the presence of such a guest; with what solicitude should we guard our conduct that we may not grieve away our friends from our dwellings! Should an illustrious guest become an inmate in our abode, how anxious should we be to do all that we can to please hin, and to retain him with us! How much more anxious should we be secure the indwelling of the eternal Spirit! How desirous that he should make our hearts and the church his constant abode!
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