Growing in Christ - Multiplying Grace
This is part 2 of a 4-part series on Growing in Christ. This series is based on 2 Peter 1:2-4. You may also want to read part 1: Becoming Like Christ - Growing in His Knowldge
Lets jump into our study.1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
As a general rule you don't begin a sentence or new paragraph with a conjunction, much less a new chapter of a book. Well, Ephesians 2 begins with the word "And", a rather strange way to begin a new chapter. Keep in mind that chapter breaks and verses were added years after Bible times for the sake of convenience. But why break it there anyway? Context requires that we go back to Ephesians 1 to see what came before that "And".
In Ephesians 1 we see the apostle getting all excited about "the exceeding greatness of his [God's] power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead (Eph 1:19,10).
Christ was dead, then God raised him. Moving forward to the first verse in chapter 2 we discover that we also were dead - dead in trespasses and sins.
By the look of it we are hopeless from the start. There is absolutely nothing a dead man can do to save himself!
You may very well be living a better life than your neighbor, and even living a better life than the Christians that you know, but if you haven't received the forgiveness that God offers on Christ's account, you have no hope of eternal life. You are still dead! The fact is we all begin life already dead in trespasses and sins.
That doesn't mean that unsaved people aren't capable of good works. As a matter of fact, good works often become the barrier between many and salvation, because they assume that they'll be saved because of their many acts of "kindness" and abstinence from evil. The Bible however set out a different plan. One that begins with acknowledging our sinful condition, and receiving the grace which Christ's death has made available.
At the other extreme are those who claim that because we are saved by grace we are under no obligation to observe God's law, or perform good works. Nothing could be more misleading and erroneous. The very verse following the two most quoted verses on grace condemns such a perspective:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
We are saved by grace,...unto good works. When we choose to live according to our former way of life Paul says that "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
Grace never frees us from our obligation to perform good works and obey the law of God. Any one who teaches that we are saved by grace and therefore does not need to keep the law of God is either grossly mistaken or dangerously deceptive. My heart aches for those trapped in those deceptions, and by those deceivers.
It is because we have such good works to accomplish why we especially need God's grace to be multiplied. The believers had obviously experienced God's saving grace, now as they learn more about the savior there hearts are warmed because of the sacrificial love that he has shown towards them, and evidenced in His interactions while on earth. Now they become channels of God's grace to the world. Every believer fits into the equation grace*believer = graceful Christian. Talk about grace being multiplied!
We wonder why Christians sometimes show so little mercy and compassion, and the reason is that they spend so little time in God's presence learning of Christ. When you begin to grow in your knowledge of Christ His grace will abound toward you and overflow to everyone you meet.