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1. Total depravity is most unequivocally taught in this verse. Depravity means being deprived. Total means altogether. “Hence, total depravity means utterly deprived of Divine life.” When God calls a man “dead,” rest assured there is no life in him. Spiritual life was lost by the fall, and is only regained in regeneration. Total depravity is only true of the human spirit, the mind and body being only partially depraved. Hence, Satan in all ages has been busy building up false religions on the residuum of mentality and materiality surviving in fallen humanity.
2. “ ...According to the age of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience. ” When the bright day of Eden went into eclipse, a dismal night of six thousand years supervened. We are still groping in Satan’s night, but anon cheered by inspiring rays of the glorious millennial dawn. Satan is generalissimo of hell’s belligerent armies, begirding the globe, and doing their utmost for the damnation of the world. These panoplied millions are all destined to retreat back into the bottomless pit, where the apocalyptic angel chains their commander-in-chief. (Revelation 20:3.)
3. Here we have a vivid description of the unregenerate living in perpetual obedience to their fallen, sensual, and diabolical predilections.
4,5. We see here, in harmony with the great inspired curriculum, that the unutterable love of God for lost humanity superinduced the redemptive scheme. “Quicken” is suzoopoieo, from zoe, life, and poieo, to create. Therefore, the regeneration of a sinner by the Holy Ghost is an actual de novo creation, as literal and unequivocal as the creation of a world out of nothing. This is in harmony with the absolute total depravity of the sinner, everywhere revealed by the word “death,” which would be impertinent if there were a spark of life in the sinner’s soul. Hence, the human spirit of a sinner is as dead as a devil in hell, till Divine life is actually created in that spirit by the Holy Spirit. Hence, the radical trouble in the and holiness Churches is not the want of sanctification, but regeneration, which always reaches out for sanctification. The rosewater gospel of the popular Churches is utterly ignorant of the Bible type of regeneration, in which the Holy Ghost comes into the dead soul with the same de faco creative power which flung worlds from the creative fiat into ethereal space.
RACE ALONE AND FAITH ALONE ANTITHETICAL
i.e., the truth of the one is the confirmation of the other. Like Siamese twins, they live and die together. The buncombe gospel of the popular Churches is alike destitute of both of these cardinal truths.
7. “ ...In order that he may shew forth in coming ages the excellent riches of his grace in goodness toward us in Christ Jesus. ” Through the flight of eternal ages, while we soar from world to world amid the splendors of the boundless celestial empire, commingling with the bright unfallen intelligence’s from millions of immortal worlds, God will put us on commendatory exhibition as miracles of his grace and wonders of his love.
8. “ For by grace ye have been saved, that not of yourselves, the gift of God;
9. “ Not of works, in order that no one may boast. ” O the transcendent clearness and boldness of apostolic preaching and Christian testimony, in contrast with the indefinite supposititious ambiguity of modern Church members! These Ephesian Christians were not simply indulging a hope to be saved when they died, but they already enjoyed the assurance of a personal salvation as a positive experience received through simple faith as the gift of God, utterly independent of their own works. While a truly justifying and sanctifying faith is always operative and fruitful of good works, we are neither justified nor sanctified by the works, but by the faith alone.
As our salvation throughout is the free and unmerited gift of God in Christ, it is essentially by grace alone on the Divine side, received and appropriated by faith alone, constituting the human counterpart of the gracious economy. When we surrender the doctrine of faith alone, we simultaneously, as a logical sequence, abnegate that of grace alone, and rob God of his glory. The Churches of the present day are full of legalism; i. e., salvation by works, which is Satan’s greased plank on which to slide the people into hell, as our works of righteousness are “filthy rags” in the sight of God, nothing but the work of his immaculate Son being competent to endure the severity of the Divine judgments. The modern maxim, “Church loyalty,” is delusive and dangerous, impressing the people that they will be saved if true to the human institutions of their poor, worldly Churches. Be loyal to God alone, and then you will be true to your Church and everything else that is right. Is faith the gift of God? Then, if he withholds it, I am hopelessly lost. “That not of yourselves, the gift of God.” In this Scripture “that” does not refer to faith (as the Greek positively reveals), but to salvation. Faith is not the gift of God in any practical sense, but the act of the creature. The simple solution is, God gives us all the power we need. to believe his word and trust his promises. Yet the act of believing is my own. I can believe, and be saved; or disbelieve, and be damned. (Mark 16:16.) The power by which we believe is the Spirit, whom the Father gives to all more freely than we give good gifts to our children, if we only ask him. (Luke 11:13.) If you have not the clear evidence of complete personal salvation, your faith is deficient. God gives you the power to believe in answer to your prayer. Hence, you have not prayed enough. Pray on till you reach believing ground, where you will be enabled to exercise faith for justification as a sinner, for sanctification as a Christian, and you will soon know assuredly that you enjoy the long-sought victory in your soul.
CREATED FOR THE END
10. “ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared, that we may walk in them. ” We do not plant two trees simply for their own sake, but for the fruit they produce. Pursuant to this metaphor, God created us for the good works we will perform in this world, and others through the flight of eternal ages. While
God’s plan is to save this lost world through human instrumentality, we must remember that this fleeting probation is but a drop when compared with the boundless ocean of eternity. When God takes me out of this world, I think it will be because he has more use for me in another sphere, where I shall adore his majesty, magnify his mercy and grace, and do his will through all eternity. Methinks he will send me away to preach to the newly-created inhabitants of newborn worlds, and thus fortify them against the liability of apostasy, and establish them in the Divine loyalty. Who would be more suitable for this great and important work than we who have passed through Satan’s flint-mills? This fleeting life disqualifies us for enterprises of illimitable magnitude. When once probation is passed, and immortality supervenes, we can deliberately launch enterprises sweeping on through myriads of ages, as we are assured of our own survival till their completion.
11,12. We now enter upon a beautiful paragraph expository of the Jewish and Gentile correlation to the gracious economy. The Christian Church began all Jews. In a century it underwent a radical somersault, the Jewish element evanescing, and the Gentile coming in, till the latter unanimously preponderated.
“Having no hope and atheists in the world,” reveals the sad condition of the whole Gentile world before reached by the gospel. Where the English says, “without God,” the Greek is atheos, atheists. When we consider the fact that the Egyptians, Hindus, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans were all intensely religious, their cities radiant with the dazzling domes and glittering spires of the gorgeous temples erected to their gods, many of which stand this day, the wonder of the world (I saw them in 1895), a sad conclusion as to the spiritual condition of earth’s millions this day supervenes. All these Gentile worshipers in Paul’s day were the apostasy of the patriarchal dispensation of the Christian religion. So Romanism and many Protestant Churches are now the apostasy of the apostolic dispensation. The legitimate conclusion follows from these utterances of the Holy Ghost, that all the people who are not personally acquainted with the true God in the supernatural birth are in the gross darkness of practical atheism.
13-16. “ ...Destroying the enmity, the law of commandments in creeds:... slaying the enmity on it. ” These verses clearly set forth the fact that when Christ died on the cross, he swept all human authority from the field.
THE CROSS SETTLES EVERYTHING
From these inspired statements we have the clear and unequivocal revelation that when Christ died on the cross, he utterly destroyed human depravity ( i.e., made ample provisions for its total extermination), eternally nullifying all human authority, as involved in the word “ordinances,” which does not mean Divine ordinances, but human creeds, decrees, opinions, and authorities, which have put a thousand heavy yokes of spiritual tyranny and despotism on the necks of all ages and nations.
The cross of Christ not only redeems the world from all sin, which is the devil’s yoke of bondage, but from all human usurpations, institutions, and authorities, sweeping forever from the field of controversy every autocrat, whether human or diabolical, and thus completely and eternally emancipating every human being in every land and climate. Therefore, there is nothing left for the vilest reprobate and the most menial vassal of Satan’s drudgery and the most cringing servitor of ecclesiastical despotism, but to look up to the cross, claim your freedom, and raise the shout of victory. There is nothing left for you to do but shout, since your Omnipotent Christ has heroically done everything else. He has braved the storms of earth and hell, conquered sin, Satan, men, and devils, leaving nothing for you to do but accept the victory and raise the shout.
17,18. We see here that the Jews, though sunk deep in dead formality and hollow hypocrisy, were nearer God than the heathen world. Though the popular Churches of the present day are in the same awful dilemma, they are nearer God and more accessible to the truth than the infidel, pleasure- seeking, worldly rabble. “ Through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. ” The Holy Ghost is the Divine personality of God on the earth, sent forth by the Father sitting on the throne of the universe, and the Son encumbering the mediatorial kingdom. He alone can reveal the Son, and through him give us access to the Father. Hence, in the nature of the Divine economy, the rejection of the Holy Ghost is the awful finale, out of which there is no retreat; i.e., the unpardonable sin.
THE CHURCH HOUSE OF THE HOLY GHOST
19,20. “ Built upon the foundation of the apostle and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. ” These are the New Testament prophets; i.e., the fire-baptized preachers who, along with the apostles, under God became the custodians of the apostolic Church. As we are living in the New Testament dispensation, Old Testament symbolism, types, and shadows, all fulfilled in Christ, having evanesced, are superseded by the glorious spiritual entities and transcendent experimental holiness of the full-orbed gospel dispensation.
21. “ In whom the whole house jointed together groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.
22. “ In whom you also are built up into a habitation of God in the Spirit. ” The Pauline eloquence here is sublime as he floats out on the wing of inspiration in his vivid and glorious description of the Divine Ekklesia; i.e., the gospel Church, built upon the inspired Word of the New Testament writers, Jesus Christ, the central pillar, supporting the grand superstructure, destined to tower forever, the admiration of angels and archangels, the inspiring theme of cherubim and seraphim, the contemplative glory of God, to the eternal bewilderment of the heavenly hierarchies. This is the glorified Church of the First Born, “without spot or wrinkle.”
The members of this Church are not joined in, but born into it by the supernatural intervention of the Holy Ghost.
This is none of your worldly Churches, as the very word for Church, Ekklesia, means the called out of the world; while hagiadzoo, sanctify, means to take the world out of you. Hence, all the members of the New Testament Church have a double reason for being unworldly; the one because they have come out of the world, and left it; and the other, because the world has been taken out of them. Hence, there is a double divorcement between them and the world. Good Lord, open your eyes to see the difference between the devil’s worldly Churches and God’s Church outside of the world, and the world all taken out of it. The ostensible and universal peculiarity of this Church is, as Paul here says: “It is the habitation of God in the Spirit; i.e., it is the house of the Holy Ghost, in which he constantly dwells. It is our privilege to enjoy that spiritual gift, denominated (1 Corinthians 12:0) “Discernment of spirits.” How awfully blind the masses of the Churches, and even preachers, at the present day! In these striking fulfillments of the latter-day prophecies, when the world is filled with fallen Churches, no honest soul enjoying spiritual discernment can fail to recognize the lamentable absence of the Holy Ghost in the Churches. No wonder; for he alone has a right to rule his own Church, his house, as you rule your own house. Hence, the rule is taken out of his hands when it is committed to a giggling choir and an unconverted Official Board, who insult God by refusing to bow the knee in his house.
Of course, amid those sad environments the Holy Ghost quietly retreats away, leaving the devil, whose servants they are, to run the machinery on the ad libium line of socials, frolics, festivals, and fandangoes. The children of God are horrified at the hollow hypocrisy, dead formality, and worldly flippancy of the so-called Churchism of the present day. When you go to a church, and do not find the Holy Ghost, by his mournful absence you know of a surety it is not the Church of God; from the simple fact here stated that the Church of God is his “habitation in the spirit.” If you are walking in the light of God, and the merest tyro in the kingdom, you can not fail to recognize his presence or his absence in these meetings. The holiness movement represents the Church of God on the earth at the present day, pursuant to the test of the spiritual presence and rulership as here specified in the infallible Word. It is beautiful to contemplate the universal Church of the Triune God, this day “girdling the globe with salvation and holiness unto the Lord.” I have traveled in forty States in the Union, and in Europe, Asia, and Africa, everywhere recognizing the beautiful identity of God’s Church, simple, spiritual, Scriptural, winning victories for Christ on her knees, and shouting the battle-cry. Satan’s counterfeit Churches exhibit an endless diversity of creeds, forms, and ceremonies. God’s Church is one and the same beneath every sky, from the icy poles to the equatorial deserts; everywhere recognizable for New Testament simplicity, and the presence of the Holy Ghost. Lord, shine on us from above, that we may ever discern between God’s genuine and Satan’s counterfeit!
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany