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Grace in Operation
We know of no Scripture which more beautifully sets forth God's grace than Ephesians, chapter 2. The chapter begins with what we were in our sins. Six things are stated. The chapter follows with a threefold consideration of what grace does for us, when it quickens, raises, and causes us to sit with Christ in the Heavenly places. The third thing is the revealing of God's mercy, love and grace, as it becomes effective toward us in Christ Jesus. The final view of grace takes us into the eternal ages where God's "riches of grace" will be shown to us.
We will now discuss the low estate in which grace found us; or, the poor material upon which grace operated (Ephesians 2:1-3 ).
The picture of the sinner, in his sins, is divided into two parts; first, there is the Gentile sinner in his sins; secondly, there is the Jewish sinner in his sins,
1. The Divine portraiture of the evil heart of the Gentile sinner in his sins. This story is set forth under several statements. Here they are:
(1) "Dead in trespasses and sins." It seems that this should be presented last, not first. Death is the climax, as we think of it, not the cause; the end, not the beginning. However, when God found the Gentile sinner, he found him dead.
God's statement to Adam and Eve was, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." This was verified when they ate; and God, having pronounced the curse, drove them out of the garden dead in trespasses and sins. No son of Adam has ever been spiritually alive from that day to this, in his natural estate. Here is the way God puts it, "So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." "The wages of sin is death"; therefore since all have sinned, all have died, and are dead.
(2) Walking according to the course of this world. The unsaved are "this worldly"; saints become "other worldly." Sinners walk according to the course, the swing, the current, the sway of this world. Their hopes, their aspirations, their treasures, are all of this world. They so walk because they are dead.
(3) Walking according to the prince of the power of this world. Satan is that prince. He the prince of whom Christ said, he "hath nothing in Me." Back of the world, therefore, is the power of this aerial prince. Accordingly the Spirit said, "The world lieth in the wicked one." Satan is Scripturally described as the one who "maketh the world to tremble."
The unsaved are dead to God, but alive to and under the sway and power of this "prince."
(4) The spirit that worketh in the sons of disobedience. Satan's power is an energizing power. The sons of disobedience are the ones who fall under his sway.
Think of the word: "Sons of disobedience." When Adam and Eve sinned they disobeyed the plain command of God. God said, "Thou shalt not eat," but they both ate. From that day to this, every son of Adam has shown himself to be a son of disobedience. "We have turned every one to his own way"; this is the story of the unregenerate.
2. The Divine portraiture of the evil heart of the Jews in sin. Paul did not place the Gentiles alone under sin. He said: "Among whom also we all," bringing himself, and his race under sin's condemnation. There are three things said of the Jew in his sin.
(1) His conversation is in the lusts of his flesh. It is out of the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaketh. The reason, therefore, that the Jew spoke evil, was because he was evil in his heart.
(2) His desires are of the flesh and the mind. He sought after the things of the flesh, not after the things of God. He walked in his mind, after the reasonings of his own heart, and not after the "mind of Christ."
(3) He is by nature the child of wrath, even as is the Gentile. It is by grace, and grace alone that either Gentile or Jew is the child of favor and of peace. To all, sin brings wrath. Men may ridicule the wrath of God, but yet that wrath is revealed against ungodliness of men. Thus, we have seen how the likes of Gentile and of Jew, in sin, are the products of these "dead in sin."
I. "BUT GOD" (Ephesians 2:4 )
1. "But God" is thrown over against the sad picture of man's sinful self. "We were, but God." Here is where grace begins its matchless work. Back in the beginning God saw an earth "without form and void," and "darkness was upon the face of the deep." It was then "But God" stepped in, and God said, "Let there be light; and there was light."
Thus, did God also step in, when man was lost in sin. Man's life was wasted and his heart was void of God's love; darkness shrouded his soul: then "but God" became operative, and God, in matchless grace, said unto the believing sinner, "Let there be light: and there was light."
2. "But God" is the only hope of a sinner in his sins. Had God never stepped upon the scene, man had never known salvation from his sins. There is nothing in one's sinful self, that can by any means work out a righteous self.
Every human effort of a race to redeem itself has failed. A bitter fountain cannot bring forth sweet water; a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. The leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiopian his skin; neither can he who is evil, learn to do good.
It is possible for men to patch up the old man. It is impossible for them to create a new man. It is possible for man to put robes of color over a polluted sore a heart, corrupted in sin. It is impossible for them to heal that sore and to change that heart. "But God," is the only hope of a sinner dead in his sin. God alone can raise the physically dead, and He alone can quicken the spiritually dead.
II. THE VISION OF THE GOD WHO SAVES (Ephesians 2:4-5 )
We have spoken of the fact that God came onto the scene, as man lay lost in trespasses and in sins. We now seek to show the basis upon which God came to seek and to save that which was lost. It is stated in our text under three headings:
1. God rich in mercy. If God had not been a merciful God, He had not been the God who saves. Hidden away in the word "mercy" is the word "compassion." It was the compassion of God, which quickened His mercy and made it potent. Mercy means far more than forgiveness. Mercy suggests that God, in His omniscience and His omnipotence, sought out and found out a way whereby He could be just, and yet the justifier of him who believes.
When we think of the mercy of the court, we think of a judge passing over the guilt of the condemned. When we think of the mercy of God we think of Christ bearing the guilt, sustaining the law in all of its majesty, and yet, saving the guilty. God saves the guilty not because He is sorry, but because He has found a substitute, Christ; because, upon that Substitute is placed the punishment due the sinner, that in mercy He might redeem the sinner.
2. God, and His great love. It is written: "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He loved us and washed us from our sin; therefore, He loved us while we were yet sinners.
He did not love us because we were sinful, but in spite of our sins. He loved us because we were His creation a creation fallen, blighted, and broken; and yet, a creation capable of a recreation, capable of becoming beautified and glorified through Christ Jesus.
3. God, and His grace. Over against the picture of a man's sin, we have found God rich in mercy; we have found God great in love; now, we find God and His grace. Grace is unmerited favor; grace is the kindness of God toward the guilty.
"Grace 'tis a charming sound,
Melodious to the ear;
Heaven with the echos shall resound,
And all the world shall hear."
III. GRACE AND THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:5 )
Over against the picture of death, God throws a picture of life. "We were dead," "but God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, * * hath quickened us together with Christ."
From our window in the hotel in Calgary, Alberta, we saw a beautiful rainbow skirting the clouds. From out the window there was radiant sunshine, back across the horizon, however, there was a tremendous array of blackness and of night, made by one of the darkest clouds we ever saw. The sun shining through the mists that lay somewhere between our sunshine, and those darkening clouds, placed before us in full review the seven roseate hues of that wonderful and gorgeous rainbow. Above the rainbow which circled the lower horizon, was a reflected second rainbow plainly visible. Both rainbows stretched from earth to earth athwart the vaulted sky.
As we think of it now, that rainbow pictures to us the sevenfold glories of the grace of God, which God so perfectly wrought in Christ, when He said unto us: "Live, live." On earth the rainbow of His grace still shines in resplendent glory. Higher up, in Heaven itself, the glories of that grace are reflected. As we think of that rainbow, God seems to say: Over against the dark background of a world in sin, I have placed the promise of the cessation of wrath, and of judgment: out of death, shall come life.
Did Jesus Christ not say: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life"?
Jesus Christ is the Life. Therefore, He is the begetter of life. He can say unto the dead: "Come forth." He can break the bands of death spiritual, and of death physical, and the dead can come forth quickened, shouting praises unto the Giver of life and of light.
IV. GRACE AND THE NEW LOOSING IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:6 f.c)
God, who is rich in mercy and in love, did not only quicken us, but He raised us up.
How do we know that Christ, Himself, rose from the dead? He, doubtless, could have come from the tomb without rolling the stone away. That stone was not gone, however, in order to let Him out; but in order to let us in. He was not there. The graveclothes were there, intact, even as He left them when He slipped out from their wrappings. The napkin was there. He Himself had taken it from His brow, and had folded it and laid it at the head of the tomb where He had lain. He, Himself, however, was gone. The empty tomb and the graveclothes proved Him gone risen indeed.
Thus it is in the new birth; there is not only a quickening, a new life, but there is a release from the old life. We are raised, that is, we are brought forth from the pollution and disintegration of the grave. Sin can no longer hold its sway and power over us, for we are raised to walk in newness of life.
Lazarus had been dead four days. When Jesus Christ stood at his tomb He said, "Take ye away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said: "By this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." Jesus said to Martha: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Then they took away the stone, and Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth" and he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes and his face bound about with a napkin."
Jesus saith unto them: "Loose him, and let him go."
Thank God, that Christ not only quickens us, but He raises us up together with Himself.
When the Children of Israel were under the blood and the power of a new life, they were brought out of Egypt. When we come into the quickening of God, and receive our new life, we are then raised, brought out of the old life. Old things pass away, and all things become new. Therefore it is written: "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
V. GRACE AND THE NEW FELLOWSHIP (Ephesians 2:6 , l.c.)
The part of the verse to which we call your attention reads this way: "And made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
The sinner, of old, sat in the seat of the scornful; the believer, quickened and raised, is made to sit in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
1. How great the contrast between the old and the new. Of old, we walked according to the course of this world.
Now, we are lifted to another world. Our treasures are there, not here; our affections are there, our hope is there.
Once, we walked according to the Prince of the power of the air: now, we walk according to the Prince of Glory, the Prince of Peace. Once, we were the children of disobedience, having our conversation with them; now, we are the children of God and our conversation is in Heaven.
We were afar off, but we are made nigh by the Blood of Christ. We were children of wrath, we are children of peace. We were enemies, we are friends. We were aliens and strangers, without hope and without God in the world; we are citizens and comrades, under covenant with hope and with God.
2. How blessed and rich is our Heavenly heritage. The first chapter of Ephesians tells us that God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places. Some of these blessings are enumerated:
(1) We stand before Him in love, holy and without blame.
(2) We stand before Him having received the adoption of children.
(3) We stand before Him accepted in the Beloved.
(4) We stand before Him redeemed, forgiven, according to the riches of His grace.
(5) We stand before Him having obtained an inheritance.
3. How wonderful is our new fellowship. We are made to sit together with Christ in the Heavenly places. Did not the Apostle pray that we might know the exceeding greatness of the power of God toward us which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set us at His own right hand in the Heavenly places? This power is toward us, because we are led in the train of His triumph. Even now, while we are yet in the body and upon the earth; potentially, we are risen, raised, ascended and made to sit with Him in the glory.
"I have a Friend so precious, so very dear to me,
He loves me with such tender love,
He loves so faithfully,
I could not live apart from Him,
I love to feel Him nigh,
And so we walk together,
My Lord and I."
VI. THE FAR-FLUNG VISION OF GRACE (Ephesians 2:7 )
1. Everything of God climaxes in the things beyond. When we think of grace we are half minded to limit its functioning to the Cross, and to that happy day when, at the Cross, our sins were taken away.
We need to remember that when Christ went to the Cross, He saw not merely our redemption, but our glorification. It was a far-reaching vision which led Him, when, found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.
Christ's vision saw us as having received the adoption of sonship. He saw us as raised, and seated at His own right hand, inheriting the eternal city. He saw us as in the ages to come, under the ever unfolding blessings of the riches of His grace. Yea, He saw us reveling, with unspeakable joy, in the exceeding riches of His grace forevermore.
2. The present vision of the believer is a circumscribed vision. "Now we see through a glass, darkly"; now "we know in part, and we prophesy in part."
God has, however, given us a few certified visions of Heaven, of the New Jerusalem. We know they are all real, for God is real. If these things were not so, He would have told us. The city with its streets of gold, its towering walls of precious stones, its massive gates of pearl, its river of water of life, its fruit-bearing trees, and above all, God and the Lamb; its marvelous light, all, yes all is real.
However, our present vision is still circumscribed. We know not what we shall be, although we know we shall be like Him. We know not the eternal riches which are exceedingly marvelous beyond human ken, although we know that God in the ages to come will reveal them unto us. Only Heaven itself, only the ages to come, themselves, can unravel to us the hidden things which God hath in store for those who love Him.
VII. THE CLIMACTERIC OF GRACE (Ephesians 2:8-10 )
1. Grace eliminates everything that concerns the works of the flesh. When God made the statement, "By grace are ye saved"; He was including not only the first steps of saving grace, but grace in finale; grace through the ages to come.
God, at once, granted that His grace was operative only through the faith of the believer. However, the Holy Spirit would not in any way take from the glories of God's grace, as though anything in and of our old life saved us, for grace ends the very moment that any worth upon our part begins. Thus, when God said, "By grace ye are saved through faith," He added that even the faith was not of ourselves, but was the gift of God.
The human heart in its sin is full of unbelief and is overshadowed with doubt. Saving faith is all foreign to the natural man, and is the gift of God. We could not have believed, except He had given unto us the power to believe.
Grace not only eliminates a self-gendered faith, but it adds, "Not of works" lest any man should boast. If salvation is by anything, which we are, or which we have done then we could be boasting our own power. It is true that we may, and should do everything that becomes a Christian, but we can do nothing to become one.
2. Grace exalts God's workmanship in creation. Ephesians 2:10 is our great climacteric! It says: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." We could not give ourselves life, but having received life, we can live for the One who gave us life. We could not do the work of creation, but we can render the good works of service. God creates us, creates us with power to serve. Therefore, immediately that we are created in Christ Jesus, we pass out of the realm of grace, so far as our service is concerned. The completion of God's creation in Christ Jesus finds, as we have already suggested, its full fruition only in the ages to come, when the exceeding riches of His grace will be unveiled. Grace is always operative.
However, we are created unto good works which God hath prepared, mapped out, for us. As we fulfill this God-given mission as servants, we will find abundant rewards, based upon our faithfulness in serving, and not included in God's plan of grace. Anything which we receive from Him as a reward, for our own works, will be given us as true servants, receiving their hire. Everything we receive by redemption is given us by virtue of Christ's death, resurrection, and exaltation.
Therefore, it is all in Christ Jesus, and, by grace are we saved.
"And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:24 ). A collier came to me at the end of one of my services and said: "I would give anything to believe that God would forgive my sins, but. I cannot believe that He will forgive them, if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap." I looked at him, and said: "My dear friend, have you been working today?" "Yes, I was down in the pit." "How did you get out of the pit? Pay?" "Of course I didn't pay anything. I just got in the cage and was pulled to the top." "Were you not afraid to trust yourself in that cage"? Was it not too cheap?" "Oh, no." he said, "it was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink the shaft." Then the truth broke upon him, and he saw that he could have salvation without money and without price. It had cost the infinite God a great price to sink the shaft and rescue lost men. G. Campbell Morgan, in Moody Monthly.
A God-Planned Life
Ephesians 2:8-12 ; Romans 12:1-3
We read of Epaphras that he prayed for the saints that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
The will of God toward us should ever be the chief quest of our lives. What does God want me to do, and what does He want me to be? that is the supreme question for each of us.
On one occasion certain ones told Christ that His mother and His brethren sought Him. The Lord said, "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? * * whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven."
Of Himself, Christ said, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God."
The will of God should be our chief delight.
There are some people who imagine that God's will is to be dreaded. Shall we imagine that a loving, Heavenly Father would seek the undoing of the obedient and yielded life? God forbid. God said, "Oh that My people had hearkened unto Me, * * I * * should have fed them with the finest of the wheat."
We need to be like Habakkuk, who said: "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me." Along with these words from the Prophet we need to link the words of Mary, which she spoke to the servants at Cana of Galilee, concerning the water pots, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."
When David Livingstone was found by Henry M. Stanley, he was far from civilization, in the heart of Africa. Stanley pled with him to return to England, where great honor from royalty and from the masses awaited him. Livingstone is refuted to have said, "I would rather be in Africa in the will of God, than to be feasted and feted by royalty in England."
Let the chief quest of our life, then, be God's precious will.
The Lord is all my life, and light,
He leads me through the darkest night;
His will is mine throughout each day,
My will, to please Him ev'ry way.
In Him I find my greatest joy,
My riches are without alloy;
I know no pleasure, but His will,
I seek His orders to fulfill.
I am for Him, He is for me,
In Him, my all in all, I see;
I seek the favor of His face,
My highest joy, His smile, His grace.
I. GOD, THE CREATOR OF THE BELIEVER'S LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:8-10 )
1. By grace have ye been saved. As we think of what we were in sin, and of what we are since we are saved, we can say that God by grace hath saved us. There is nothing that we could have done which could have wrought the change. We had never come to God except love had sought us, except the Blood had bought us, and except grace had brought us to the fold.
2. Through faith are ye saved. God's grace became operative in us only as our faith accepted the Calvary work of Christ in our behalf. There is a passage in Hebrews which reads: "He that cometh to God must believe that He is."
Salvation is through faith, but even that faith is the gift of God.
3. Not by works are we saved. It is not by anything which we could have done that we found Christ. Before we were saved our works were dead works, unacceptable with God. Even our righteousnesses were but filthy rags in His sight.
"Could our tears forever flow,
Could our deeds no respite know;
All for sin could not atone,
Christ must save, and He alone."
4. We are His workmanship. Our redemption was purposed by the Father, made possible by the Son, and perfected by the Holy Ghost. The new man is God's workmanship, because the new man is created by God in Christ Jesus. It is impossible for us to create anything.
We read, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." We are a new creature, because we are a new creation. It is for this cause that we read again, "Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Let us remember first of all that we are God's workmanship, God's creation.
II. THE BELIEVER IS CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS (Ephesians 2:10 )
1. Good works could not save us. We would not tarry here long. This was plainly set forth when it was stated that we were saved, not by works. We would emphasize, however, this needed message.
From many sides do we hear the words, "I am doing the best I know"; or, "I am doing all I can." Some say that they are trying to be Christians, or, that they are endeavoring to love everybody. They think that if they pay their debts and go to church, and do unto others as they would be done by, that they are saved. All such hopes are vain.
2. We are saved unto good works. We can do nothing to become a Christian. We should do everything that becomes one. Before our salvation our works were dead works, evil works, unacceptable to God. Since our salvation we are called to good works. We are taught that we should walk in them.
The harvest fields are calling for laborers, and we are God's husbandry.
There is a significant Scripture which we wish to quote. It is short, but vital: "To every man his work." Let no one think that he has nothing to do. God has called us into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, we are called into partnership. These words may be summed up thus: God has called you into business with His Son. This is the opening thought of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. The words are found in the ninth verse of chapter one.
Let us pass now to the last verse of chapter fifteen, which reads: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Thus, the call of the first chapter of Corinthians is a call into business with Christ; the call of the fifteenth chapter is a plea to give attention to business.
III. THE BELIEVER IS CREATED UNTO A SPECIFIED WORK (Ephesians 2:10 )
1. Our work is a work which God hath afore-ordained. Perhaps you noticed the words which are in the key text, "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained." These words carry us back into the eternal ages past. They suggest God to us as a great Architect, planning out the details of His marvelous and far-reaching creation.
No Christian is created with a hit and miss life before him. The Great Architect planned the work of your life to fit in with the work of every other life. If the service of one life is broken and incomplete, the whole picture must be more or less marred thereby.
The human architect who plans the great skyscraper has in his mind the whole building, even down to the minutest detail, before the first spade of dirt is dug, and the building is begun. He draws his plan, putting his thoughts into concrete form. He shows just how the building will look when completed. He gives to the contractor specifications of where each timber is to be placed, each steel girder is to be erected. He even specifies with marvelous exactness the amount of all material needed.
Did God know less about our life than the architect knows about his building?
2. The work which God fore-ordained is a specified work. God has made a plan which He reveals, telling to each one, step by step, what he is to do, where he is to go. We read, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Are we not all sent of God?
The Lord said to Jonah, "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." God said unto Jeremiah, "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."
We are all willing to grant that John the Baptist, and Jonah, and Jeremiah, and all preachers have a special call, to a special city, with a special service, but are we willing to grant that every believer has a similar call?
IV. THE BELIEVER'S DEDICATION TO HIS TASK (Ephesians 2:10 )
The last words of this remarkable verse linger with us. They read, "That we should walk in them." When God first spoke to Jonah, he went down to Joppa, and took ship to Tarshish. We all know the result. Let us make this our first thought:
1. Punishment awaits the life that refuses God's plan. God sent forth a great storm after Jonah. Then God prepared a great fish, and commanded it to swallow up Jonah. It was only after an experience of deep anguish, when the weeds were wrapped around Jonah's neck; and, after Jonah had prayed from the belly of the fish, that God finally spake to the fish to vomit up Jonah upon the dry land.
Think you, that you can trample God's plan for your life under your feet, and prosper?
2. Blessing awaits the life that undertakes God's task. Abraham, the ancient seer, implicitly obeyed God. Therefore God said to him: "Because thou hast done this * * in blessing I will bless thee."
A rich merchant was asked, by the queen, to go on a mission for the crown. He demurred, urging that his absence would wreck his business. The queen is said to have replied, "You attend to my business, and I will attend unto yours." He went, as she requested. She, in turn, sent tremendous orders in to those who sold his goods.
Let us come to God determined to walk in His will and to do His work. Have we not remembered the promise of God, "Go, and I will go before thee"? Are we willing to undertake for God? Are we ready to walk in His fore-ordained work?
Moses demurred, when God called him to go, saying that he was slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. Then God was displeased, and said, "Who hath made man's mouth? * * have not I the Lord?" "Go," and "Certainly I will be with thee." Let us go forward, even as God hath spoken, and God will work for us.
V. THE BELIEVER'S RATIONAL SERVICE (Romans 12:1 )
We now turn from our first Scripture, to our second. Our verse suggests three things
1. The mercies of God. The word, therefore, as a rule, demands a backward look. Paul says, "I beseech you, therefore." Paul, in the Spirit, is turning his face back on the "mercies of God" which have so wonderfully been outlined for us in the preceding chapters of Romans. When, we think of how we were sinners, helpless in our sins, and all undone; when we think of how God sent Christ that we might be justified freely by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; when we think of how, by faith, we were saved; and of how the grace of God super-abounded unto our eternal life; when we think of how God delivered us from the power and dominion of sin, and gave us victory in our daily walk in the Holy Ghost; then we are constrained to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God.
2. The presentation of our bodies. Why is it that we are asked to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly, acceptable unto God? It is because the body is the implement of our service.
Miss Havergal wrote, "Take my lips," "take my voice," "take my hands," "take my feet," "take my heart," and she put these thoughts into beautiful poetical form. She was wise in this, for God needs the members of our body, that with them He may serve the multitudes.
3. The rational service. The Bible speaks of our "sacrifice," and of our "consecration," as a reasonable, that is, a rational service. We are not requested to do a rash thing, but a rational thing. How could we do less than to give our bodies unto Him? Did Jesus Christ not give His body, in the anguish of death, for us? He said, "This cup is * * My Blood, which is shed for you," and, "This is My body, which is broken for you." Then let us bring our bodies to Him.
VI. THE BELIEVER'S NON-CONFORMITY (Romans 12:2 )
1. "Be not conformed to this world." If we are going to walk in the will and work of God, we dare not follow the voice of men. In the world we shall have tribulation. The Lord has said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
He also said, "The world hateth you." We are familiar with the words, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." If, therefore, we would seek to do the work of God, and would yield ourselves wholly unto Him, we dare not be conformed unto the world.
We should not conform ourselves to the world, because the world by wisdom has not known God. Its ways are not our ways. Its thoughts are not our thoughts. Our citizenship is in Heaven, not in the world; our treasures are there, not here. We are tent dwellers down here; we are strangers and pilgrims. We are living, looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. Let us therefore be not conformed to this world.
2. "Be ye transformed." In II Corinthians we read, that as we, with open face, behold the glory of the Lord, we are, "Changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
The word "changed" which we have just quoted, carries with it the same thought, as the word "transformed" in our key verse.
Mark you, if we are conformed to this world, we can never be transformed by the renewing of our mind. If we would be transformed, we must behold as in a glass the glory of our Lord.
When Jesus Christ was on the mount with Peter, James, and John, Moses and Elias appeared with Him in glory. Then we read that Jesus was transfigured. His face became radiant with glory, and His raiment was white and glistening. This is what we want. We want to be transformed, that is, transfigured.
"In the secret of His presence,
How my soul delights to hide;
Oh, how precious are the lessons
Which I learn at Jesus' side;
Earthly cares can never vex me,
Neither trials lay me low;
For, when Satan comes to vex me
To the secret place I go."
This poem would not be complete did it not carry another verse which says:
"And whene'er you leave the presence,
Of that hallowed meeting place,
You must mind to bear the image
Of the Saviour in your face."
3. That ye may know. Now we have come to the place where we can learn God's good, and acceptable, and perfect will. It is the pathway, on the one hand, of non-conformity to the world; and, on the other hand, of being transformed by the Spirit.
We have sought to cluster our message round the general theme of The God-planned Life. If we would know the plan of that life we must obey the injunction of Romans 12:1-21 , and present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God, unconformed to the world, and transformed by the Spirit.
Are we willing to make God Lord in our lives?
"Choose you this day whom ye will serve."
"In Acts 10:14 we read: 'Peter said, Not so, Lord.' Have you ever thought of what a contradiction in terms we have there? You have either to drop the words 'Not so,' or you have got to drop the word 'Lord.' I spent two hours yesterday with a lady in this tent over these words, and then I wrote them down in the margin of her Bible at the bottom of the page. I handed her the Bible and the pencil and I said, 'The time has come for you to make the decision. Are you going to score out the words, "Not so," or the word "Lord"?' There was a great struggle in her heart, and through tears she scored out the words 'Not so.' I said, 'What have you got left?' and she said, 'The Lord.' Is not the Lord enough?" W. Graham Scroggie.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14