The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 19 : The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the EPHESIANS

[Chapter 2-5] (Ephesians 2:1-22) We Must Acknowledge God’s Authority and Grace In Our Life of Faith

(Ephesians 2:1-22)
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
 
 
Genesis chapter 2 shows that God gave a real rest to man. And He also gave man the Garden of Eden. God wanted to be with man having fellowship with them.
What we need to pay a close attention here is that in the center of the Garden of Eden there was the tree of life as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means they were supposed to eat from the tree of the life by trusting in the Word of God. God’s order not to eat any fruits from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was given in order to remind them of the spiritual reality that they must not challenge God’s authority. God once said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). For this reason, we can admit that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed there by God for all the human races. From man’s perspective, that didn’t make much sense, but in God’s eyes the tree was more than appropriate. It was an essential tree in God’s master plan for Him to reveal His righteousness. However, in the eyes of man, we may have such question as this; “Why did God create the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? I think it would be better not to create it at all.” It was because God wanted us to acknowledge His authority.
Ephesians 2:1 says, “You, God made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” and “by grace you have been saved through faith.” From this Word of God, we need to understand God’s deep dispensation. Therefore, it is said, “For by grace you have been saved, that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
From Ephesians chapter 2 verses 9 and 10, it reads, “Not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” It is also said, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:14-19). According to this Scripture passage, it is through faith in the Word of God that we can receive remission of sins and become God’s children.
 
 
It Is by Faith in God’s Word That We Have Been Saved from the Sins of the World
 
You and I have become children of God not by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but solely because of having faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit which God gave us. Therefore, you and I have obtained new life by believing in the righteous Word of God and by being delivered from all our sins. No matter what people say, our faith is in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and we have been saved from all our sins thanks to the Word of God that dwells in us. In other words, what resides in us is the Holy Spirit. He testifies to us, “You have been saved from the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Now you are the saints of God.” The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Son of God is in our hearts and allowed us to call God the Father “Abba Father.” It is because He has delivered us from the sins of the world. People of God, who have been delivered from the power of darkness, can come to have new life now.
Before we knew and believed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we were strangers to Christ and subject to condemnation due to our sins. We used to be gentiles in the Kingdom of God. Originally our physical body was outside of Christ and we were not descendants of Abraham genealogically. We were outside of God’s covenant and His grace. Nevertheless, God delivered us with the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
To save us from the sins of the world, Jesus Christ took over all our sins by the baptism He received from John the Baptist and delivered us from all the judgment for sins by giving Himself to the Cross. He thus fulfilled our salvation once and for all by rising up from the dead and sitting on the right hand of God’s throne. God has given the sonship as a blessing to those who believe in the blessed gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is how we could become children of God by faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We have even attained eternal life by faith in the Word of God.
It is not due to our works for us to be saved. Commandments by which we just realize our sins cannot bring us the salvation from the sins of the world. We were also helpless people who could not ever keep any of the commandments of God to perfection. Through God’s commandment, we realized our sins and were able to receive salvation once and for all by believing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. You and I who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have become a citizen of God’s Kingdom like this. We are the evidence that anybody can become the children of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Even after we received salvation from all our sins and become the children of God, we can maintain our correct faith. We continue to live with the faith that Jesus remitted all our sins away by the gospel of the water and the Spirit when we had no other way but to perish because of our sins and trespasses. In other words, we came to live as the children of God by the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
We need to stand firm on this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit in these last days since only by this faith we are saved. We have been saved by the gospel of the water and the Spirit and by the faith that God has remitted all our sins. Therefore, we need to have such convictions that we have been saved from all the sins of the world regardless of our meritorious works. Just by this way, we can stand strong in the grace of God’s salvation. We should live by the faith that we now have become God’s people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
What is our duty now that we have become the children of God? It is to preach the gospel of God’s grace, the gospel of the water and the Spirit through which we have been saved. Our forth-coming mission is to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world. We are now made to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We are supposed to live in order to save other souls from their sins rather than just to live for our fleshly works in this world.
We often become entangled with our own evil behaviors and trapped by someone else’s weaknesses. Nonetheless, we are not saved by our good deeds. Nothing other than the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can bring us true salvation. The only reason God granted us the gospel of the water and the Spirit is for us to gain new life. In other words, we have received salvation by believing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We did not receive salvation by adding our good deeds to our faith in the blood of the Cross alone. If we had tried to gain our salvation with our good deeds, we would surely have failed.
Then how can you say you were delivered from all your sins? You can never do that on your own. This is why God warned us from the very beginning of His creation. While God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” Christians are trying to add their good deeds to their faith. We also had strived to revive our dying souls that had obstinately been trying to reach our salvation by seeking legalistic faith. But we must know that when we depend on our own good works we will surely die. The Law is there to help us realize our sins, and it can never remove our sins at all.
When God said that we should not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis chapter 2, He meant that we should not set our human criteria of good and evil other than God’s absolute criteria of good and evil. Only God can talk about good and evil. What is good in the eyes of God is absolutely virtuous. If God calls something good, it is good for sure; if He calls something evil, it is evil most certainly. We are not supposed to judge between good and evil with the yardstick of our own conscience. That is why God told us not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It also means we must acknowledge the Word of God, the Absolute Being. God also wanted us to accept by faith that God has given us all the rest and Heaven as His gifts. Adding our good works does not make us the wretched sinners become the righteous before God.
 
 
Our Salvation Was Predestined in Jesus Christ
 
The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” God the Father made us we who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, holy and sinless in His Son Christ Jesus. Spiritually speaking, He granted the remission of sins and the eternal life to us by having us believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Now that we have received salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all we have to do is to preach the true gospel. We just need to enjoy rest in our hearts and preach the blessings from God to others by faith.
The salvation from God and everything that we will have in Heaven are the gifts of God. God chose us in Jesus Christ ahead of time so that we might live in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. What is predestined? In the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God predestined to give us true rest by making us sinless. Put differently, He predestined us the believers of the gospel of the water and the Spirit would enter the Kingdom of Heaven and live there forever. We must therefore have faith in the gospel of the water and the blood in Jesus Christ. We should have the faith that God has given us all the good things from above (James 1:17). Even before the creation of the world, God created us and prepared the Kingdom of God for us to live in. Even before He created the universe, He predestined us the entire human race to be saved in Jesus Christ. He has already saved us from all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
What Is the Result of Being Saved from All Sins?
 
We have been given the gospel of the water and the Spirit as the gift of salvation and, as a result, we can now praise the glory of Heaven as God’s children. The Lord allowed us to praise God’s righteousness and to live a life that is glorifying to Him. That is why God saved us from the sins of the world.
It is said, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Have you received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you become children of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you been living a perfect life since you received salvation from all your sins by faith? No, we can’t. There is a difference between “We don’t live such a life although we can” and “We can’t do so because we can’t.” Knowing that we do not have the ability to live a perfect life, God told us to just depend on His righteousness. He knew that we cannot live a perfect life and therefore commanded us to live by faith. In other words, we do not earn salvation by our merits, but we can reach our salvation only by faith.
You and I have been saved once and for all by believing in the righteousness of God. That is, we have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Even the disciples of Jesus were saved from all their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They did not add any of their works to it not even 0.1% to be saved. The Apostles did not talk about legalistic duties such as “Do good. Live a virtuous life. Keep the commandments.” They also believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Thanks to them, we have been saved from all our sins and built on the same faith that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus Christ has become the corner stone for our salvation. The Mediator Jesus laid Himself as the cornerstone that is uniting us to God.
You may not understand what the cornerstone is today. Nowadays cement is used as a bonding agent for the foundation of a building, so it is hard to understand the function of a cornerstone. Since concrete is used at every corner of a building, there is no need for a corner stone. However, there were not any houses with concrete foundations in those days. People dug the ground and placed a huge stone at each corner. And on each corner stone they set a wooden or stone pillar. Therefore, cornerstones connected the whole building. For that reason alone, cornerstones are the most important part of construction. If you go to the countryside you will no doubt find quite a few cornerstone houses. This Chuncheon City also has many old fashioned houses; people put big rocks and then connect pillars on these cornerstones when they build a traditional house. So when they have to move the house frame, several people pick up the four pillars which are resting on these cornerstones.
Like this, the Mediator Jesus is connecting humans with God. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself became the chief cornerstone. Thanks to the redemption Jesus Christ fulfilled through His righteous works, we receive salvation by faith. To speak in terms of the structure of a house, you and I are all connected with each other. Those who were saved previously and those who are saved later fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord. Those who have already received the salvation from sins and are now in God and those who have not yet received salvation will join together and will finally be connected with the Kingdom of Heaven. As a matter of fact, God resides in those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
Acknowledge the Authority of God
 
What you have to learn first in the Church of God is to acknowledge the authority of God. We must accept the authorities given by God. Once people receive the remission of sins, they hate discriminative treatment the most. Those who have received the remission of their sins want to treat others in horizontal human relationships.
Nevertheless, God is the God of order. This God of order warned us in the Old Testament, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God is the Absolute God to us. Therefore, what God calls good is good and what God calls evil is evil.
This means that we must accept God’s authority. Whoever has received their salvation from sins must acknowledge God’s authority. Speaking more accurately, whether they are saved or not, everyone should submit to God’s authority. If you don’t submit yourself to God’s authority, you cannot ever receive salvation from sin. Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Do you believe that God has fulfilled our salvation as it is written in the Bible? If we acknowledge God’s authority, we can believe in this Word of God and receive salvation from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Otherwise, we will not receive salvation although God did come to this world and save us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How can someone who despises and disbelieves God’s authority ever receive salvation? Not admitting God’s authority means denying God’s existence, and therefore cannot receive salvation that was given through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Such people can never be delivered from their sins even if they have another chance to lead a new life from the beginning. Therefore, we need to submit to God’s authority. Those who submit to God’s authority can receive salvation from all their sins and receive all the blessings from God by faith. Besides, they can live out their faith with ease. As long as we receive salvation from our sins by faith, we all will become a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). The first Book of Peter says that you are a royal priesthood. So, any born-again saint can boldly come before the holy God.
By the way, do all the saints have equal status once they receive salvation from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, they don’t. It is said that there are kings and ministers in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a strict spiritual authority there. There is a spiritual order God has established in His Church. In short, we must accept such order set by God. When we submit to God’s order, leading a life of faith is so tranquil. When you submit to the predecessors of our faith, you will have authority over those who come after you.
Let’s suppose that we have someone who has just received salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If he does whatever he wants to do, not listening to you who have gone before him, wouldn’t you feel offended? You would feel very uncomfortable. If you brought your worldly knowledge into the Church and judge your predecessors with the worldly yardstick saying what is good or evil on your own, then would you be doing the right thing? No. Don’t you think such people are absurd? Likewise, what will happen if you look down on the spiritual fellowship with those who were before you? Can you and I both be teachers? If both of us try to teach and no one wants to learn, there will be a spiritual battle.
First thing God established for all human races was to establish the Law in order to teach us what sin is all about. He taught us the truth that by the Law we cannot be saved but only can realize our sins. Then He showed us how to receive salvation by faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Prior to this, God established His authority. “I am WHO I AM. I am the Absolute Being. My Word is the truth. What I declare something good, it is good; and what I address something as evil, it is evil. You are not good but evil. You should acknowledge My authority. I am your God. I am Jehovah.” God has been telling us like this.
Therefore, living out our faith after we receive the remission of our sins means acknowledging God’s authority. That is why we must acknowledge the authorities that God established. God allows us to live orderly in the Church of God. If we admit the order established in God’s Church, God exalts us. Our salvation is fulfilled through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that is, the gospel of God. We have received salvation and eternal life by believing in this gospel of God. We have become children of God by believing in the water and the blood which Jesus gave us.
Our salvation is not given through our works. It is the gift from God. That is how those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit fit together and grow into the Kingdom of God. We are living out our faith together under the authority of God. So when you join the Church of God, there are brothers and sisters who received salvation ahead of you. And you need to learn from them and have fellowship with them. It is right to be led by them. I hope you will not judge them based on your humanistic thoughts such as, “Are you smarter than I am? What is it that you are proud of? Who are you to try to teach me and criticize everything I do? It was good for me to be saved from my sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but I can’t live a life of faith with a wounded self-esteem.”
Knowing that you might think so, God said that He is the God of order. For this reason, God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.” This means you should not challenge your predecessors with your own righteousness. In other words, God warns us to submit to His authority.
Just think how hard your predecessors have been working in the Church? All you beloved servants and saints of God, how hard have you been working in the Church since you received salvation from sin? How long have you been putting up with exhaustion and sickening situations in the Church? In our physical eyes we all are equal, but from spiritual perspective, there is a clear hierarchy. In the Church of God the spiritual order exists.
However, worldly churches give high positions to those who are rich or hold high positions such as CEO’s of rich companies. Some professors or doctors are ordained as deacons or elders easily. Even if they are nominal Christians, they are given high positions in their churches if they are tolerable. Have a close look at them. You may not be familiar with such a fake world, but I know it so very well.
Such hierarchy is not given from God. Such hierarchy is built according to human power. This is clearly not right. On the other hand, saints in God’s Church are told to respect the hierarchy in the Church and to live a proper life of faith. The Bible says that the Church of God should not appoint any fleshly person to any honorable position. Dear fellow Christians, if you have already received salvation from sin, you should not look down on your predecessors in the faith. You abide in the Church of God after receiving your salvation from sin since you have constantly denied your fleshly thoughts. You cannot dwell in the Church of God unless you are following the hierarchy of God.
If someone received salvation and served the Lord in the Church of God for a year before you, acknowledge him as a senior. Try staying in the Church of God. You will find out just how hard it is to be reigned over by your predecessors and to do whatever the Church tells you to do. Then can you just ignore its order? No, you can’t. Submitting to the authority of God has enabled you to abide in the Church of God, so you should not ignore it. If you have been a member of the Church of God for a long time and have big enough faith, you may understand what I am telling you. Those who are last may come after you, but those who were saved ahead of you should have the due respect.
In the meantime, there are some saints who have just been saved but are in training to become servants of God. Some people are too envious of them to actually obey them, saying, “Oh my, that guy was not any better than me three months ago, but rose up so suddenly and started to be trained to become a servant of God. This makes me so awkward to talk to him. Now he is even trying to teach me and challenge me. Actually, he is ruling over me. This is unacceptable!”
 
 
Authority Established by God
 
If God exalts you in His Church, you will be exalted automatically. But does that mean you can abuse your authority and lord it over those who come after you? Actually church leaders are those who serve the gospel of God’s righteousness more not less; they are not insolent in the Church of God. You need to acknowledge such aspect as well. You should accept the hierarchy God has established. That way, living your life of faith becomes a piece of cake. “Since God ordained my predecessors like this, it is only a matter of course for me to submit to them and to be compliant. So when I do what I am told to do by them, I actually obey God. I do it because I trust in and follow God.” This is the upright faith before God. As long as something is right in the eyes of God, it is right to give in and to submit to do what we are told to do.
However, it is very difficult for you to be submitting to someone when you think you are being reigned over by a fellow human and not by God. In our own eyes, we all have something to pride ourselves in no matter how insufficient we might be. Of course, every human being is born equal, and there is no such thing as “You are originally better than I am.” Everybody is equal. So we should have horizontal relationships with others in physical terms. Nonetheless, in the spiritual world, all the relationships are hierarchal. Our life of faith should be subject to this truth. Do you understand?
Do not be disobedient to the spiritual order that God has established. Especially those of you, who are elderly, please do not talk about your old age in the Church. “Oh, boy! This young fellow is trying to teach me. I am much older than you. How much could you have known and how much have you studied the Bible enough to look down on me? Gosh! I have been very patient, but you really bring out my dirty tempter. I haven’t told you anything, but frankly speaking, I went through several generations and I did such and such things when I was your age. I am far better than you are except for the fact that I received my salvation later than you did.” In such a way, ego’s keeps creeping in.
The first chapter of Genesis is about God’s creation of the universe, while the second chapter is all about God giving everything to us. God gave us everything except for one thing, the forbidden fruit. God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.” In other words, God is speaking to us; “Do not challenge Me with your own fleshly judgments. Submit to My authority. You shall surely die when you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even though I created you in My own image and I planned to turn you and your descendants into my children through my Son, you shall surely die on the day you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil no matter why you did it.”
But man created by God ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, the death of both spirit and body came to be, did it not? Yes, it did. Nevertheless, did God not send Jesus Christ to us? Did He not save us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit? However, you must know that you will surely die if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil even after being saved from sin. This is true to everybody. If you boast about your physical strength, your knowledge or your past experiences, you will surely die both in body and in spirit. This is why we should keep in mind that we must submit to God’s authority. If you accept God’s authority in your heart, you will not get cranky even if they treat you harshly for a spiritual cause. You need to be submissive to the hierarchy in the Church of God for your own good because if you do this, you will learn much, grow spiritually, and receive God’s abundant blessings. The life of faith is just like this. Do you understand? Do you believe so? Teenagers, do you believe so too?
We are all equal before God. We the leaders only lead you the saints according to what God allows us to do. Therefore, if you feel as though you have been looked down upon, there is nothing unfair. No one ignored you as man, but God is trying to teach you through its leaders and the predecessors in His Church. You do not have to feel offended at all, for you are learning from God.
Living by faith is the only thing left for us to do as children of God after we have received our salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The only thing we have to do is to do good works by faith. That is our sole job.
Jesus Christ took all our curses upon Himself just as Rebecca did for her younger son Jacob. She said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son. Only obey my voice, and go get them for me” (Genesis 27:13). In this way He solved all the problems of our sins. Thanks to God’s grace we received salvation from all our sins. We must hold tight onto this grace of salvation until our Lord returns. Especially in these end days, we should stick to our faith. Since this is the last era that is rushing towards the end, we live by faith in the world full of violence, evil and lust. For this reason, no one, whether or not he is born again can boast about his deeds. No matter whom we are both the righteous and the sinners alike, we do not have anything to boast about.
It is written, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We have become His workers by believing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only because we believe in the salvation of God’s righteousness can we do these good works. The Lord has entrusted these good works to us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We live the rest of our lives by faith in the righteousness of God. Do you believe in God’s righteousness? Have you received your salvation by the grace of God? Do you acknowledge God’s authority? For whom do you submit to God? We acknowledge God’s authority for our own benefit. We have received our salvation thanks to God’s authority and His righteousness.