Alive with Christ

Alive with Christ

Home Church Service 10/9/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;”

                                                         (Ephesians 2:1-7 & 13&17 NASB 95)

This week has been a bit of an object lesson for this message. I have heard people talk about jet lag before but never really experienced it…until this week. Coming back from Phoenix it has been difficult at best to readjust to my normal routine and schedule. Most of the week I felt absolutely dead on my feet. It seemed all I could do to make it through the day.

But something happened when I sat at my desk and started preparing for this message. I felt a surge of energy that pushed me through my studying, note taking and mediation on the passage. As I studied it struck me that the two extremes where a picture of life without Christ as I experienced the drain of trying to readjust my schedule and routine to being Alive with Christ during my time in preparing this message. 

Once we were dead in our trespasses and sins, living according to the world and the prince of the power of the air, indulging the desires of the mind and the flesh. Even while we were dead, God in His mercy and great love for us made us Alive with Christ, saved by His grace and seated with Christ in the heavenly places. He came preaching peace to both the near and the far and by the blood of Christ we have been brought near.

Once we were enemies of God, living by the ways of the world and under the influence of the enemy, pleasing our evil thoughts and desires. Yet while we were still His enemy, God loved us and showed us mercy, making us Alive with Christ, seated in heaven, saved by grace. We are now part of one body that shares the riches of God’s blessings, members of His family through the blood of Christ.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How has the Christ follower been made Alive with Christ?”

As Christ followers, we have been made Alive with Christ through the riches of God’s mercy and great love for us.

1). The Christ follower has been made Alive with Christ while we were living by the ways of the world and under the influence of the enemy.

Once we lived as disobedient children pleasing our minds and evil desires.

Last week we learned that part of Paul’s prayer was for all Christ followers to understand the greatness of Christ’s power. This is, specifically, the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is the same power that is at work in us even today. In today’s passage, Paul opens with a right hook, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…” Paul here describes our days before Christ, our life without Jesus. These days are marked by the influences of evil forces – the course of this world, indulging the desires of the mind and the flesh and the power of the prince of the air.

That’s just the first three verses of this chapter – so, it would certainly seem as if the deck has been stacked against us! By their very nature, these three influences made us children of wrath – disobedient children. In saying that we were dead, Paul uses a Greek word to describe our state of being lost and under the dominion of death. This describes our spiritual death and describes a state of alienation or separation from God. Our sin kept us from coming close to God and His blessings – we were far away from God. 

Most Jewish people believed that Satan, the prince of the power of the air, controlled the entire world except Israel. It was commonly believed that evil spirits ruled or dominated the lower realm of the heavenlies, that is the atmosphere around us, far below the heavens that contain God’s throne and the angelic realm. So, the title “prince of the power of the air” is appropriate for the domain of Satan. This also meant that most people believed all sin was the result of demonic activity. Paul, however, feels that sin is present because the devil’s less direct influence has spread throughout the world.

Verse 4 begins with two words that change the direction of not only the passage but the entire chapter; verse 4 begins with “But God…” How do these two words change the direction of this passage? At first it appears as if the deck is stacked against us. We were dead in our trespasses and sin; we lived our lives according to the ways of the world; and we were under the influence of Satan – all of this making us disobedient children, enemies of God. But God! God is rich in mercy; God has a great love for us: God loved us when we were His enemy; God made us alive with Christ; God seated us with Christ in heaven; God showed us the riches of His grace for God saved us by His grace!

God showed us His mercy by not destroying us while we were His enemy. He extended His grace allowing us to experience His great love for us – all while we were still living our lives by the ways of the world, under the influence of Satan – the enemy of our souls. Without mercy, grace and love, freely and generously shared by God, we would never know of our need for Christ and without Christ we would always be in bondage to and under the influence of the enemy of our soul and his evil forces.

What an incredible transformation of our condition! Dead in trespasses and sin we are now made alive in Christ. Living as disobedient children we are now seated with Christ in the heavenlies, that is, on His throne. Under the influence of the enemy of our soul we have now experienced the greatest love known to humanity – the unconditional love of God the Father. Once we were destined to experience eternal separation from God and now, we know the riches of His grace. We were saved by grace while we were still disobedient children – enemies of God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you remember a time when you were being a disobedient child – an enemy of God? As you look back on that time, how does it make you feel now? Ashamed? Embarrassed? Wishing you could do better?

How does Satan, the prince of the power of the air, still influence you today?

How did the phrase, “But God…” change things for you?

How have you experienced the mercy, grace and love of God this week? 

As Christ followers, we have been made Alive with Christ through the riches of God’s mercy and great love for us.

2). The Christ follower has been made Alive with Christ having been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly places.

We have been brought near to God, members of His family through the blood of Christ.

We have seen how our domain has changed, moved from the ways of the world and the influence of the enemy of our soul to the throne of Christ in the heavenly places. But there is yet another sense in which we must understand being raised and seated with Christ. In Christ we have been brought near to God, having full access to the Father and His blessings, full members of His family. Our new domain is in heaven as part of the family of God. Not only do we participate in the resurrection of Christ, but we also share in His exaltation and victory of the powers of evil.

Last week we learned how the incredible power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives and works in us. Paul applies the power that raised Jesus and gained victory over evil to his readers – that’s YOU and ME! No longer do we live under the influence of ‘the prince of the power of the air.” No longer do we live according to the ways of the world. No longer do we live to please the mind and the flesh. We now live under the rule and reign of Christ Jesus, empowered by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!

This power is available in the here and now as we live out our days in this world. It is there to help us take our stand against the schemes of the enemy and it is there in our spiritual warfare against the forces of evil. The fact remains that we must conduct our lives in this world, and we have not yet experienced our full and final salvation in Christ, that day will come at the return of Christ, until then we need all the help we can get. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today!

Having raised Christ from the dead and seating Him in the heavenly places, God has begun a new creation through Christ. Because we have been raised and seated with Christ, we too are part of that new creation. What is this new creation? This new creation goes beyond the individual personal new creation we experience in Christ. This new creation is the bringing together of those near and those far away. This is the bringing together of the Jewish people, those who are near to God, and the Gentile nations, those who are far away from God. This is the bringing together of the body of Christ under one headship – under the control and influence of Christ Jesus.

A dramatic change has occurred. In contrast to our former position as Gentiles who lived without God and away from Israel, we are now brought near to God through the sacrificial death of Christ. Having come to know Christ we are now near to God, having full access to the Father and His blessings. Having come to know Christ, the Messiah, we are part of God’s saving purpose being worked out in Christ. The idea of the near and the far comes from Isaiah 57:19 and was originally applied only to Israel and in particular to Judaism where to bring near was to make a person a proselyte, thus bringing them near to God and His people.

Paul, however, sees that this Old Testament text has reached a new level of fulfillment. Christ first came to those who were near, the Jewish people, preaching peace that the world could not understand and could not give. Christ hints before His death that this same peace will be preached to the Gentile nations – those far away. This proclamation of peace came through His death on the cross – both Jews and Gentiles now have peace with God. And with this peace comes a new creation, the creation of one body, His body, made up from those who are near and those who were far away. Jesus did not start a new religion, He created a new body – the change comes in peace with God, which serves to underscore the vertical dimension of the peace we find in Christ.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Today, do you feel near to God or far away from God? How so?

Knowing that you no longer live under the influence of the enemy but under the rule and reign of Christ, how will that change the way you live out your days on earth?

How are you or how have you experienced peace with God this week?

As Christ followers, we have been made Alive with Christ through the riches of God’s mercy and great love for us.

My week this week seemed to be an object lesson as I prepared my message. Most of the week I was dead on my feet as I struggled to get back into my normal routine and schedule.

But something happened when I sat down and began to study, pray, take notes and meditate on this passage. It seemed as if my days were a picture of life without Christ and being made Alive with Christ.

So, what does this means for Christ followers going forward? First, remember your identity. You are no longer an enemy of God; you are a child of God with full benefits as a member of His family. You have the power you need to stand firm and defeat any temptation the enemy brings against you. Second, remember to whom you belong. You have been bought at a price as a prized possession of the Father. You are part of His inheritance! You belong to the King of Kings – a son or daughter of royalty!!

Third, the barriers have been broken. You now have full access to the Father and all of His blessings. You have been bought through the blood of Christ and made a member of a new creation – the body of Christ. Finally, we are united in and centered on Christ. He is the One who is above all things and fills all things. It is through His shed blood that we find our eternal salvation. It is His blood that has brought both the near and the far peace with God the Father. He is our peace, in Him we have life, find strength and grace to live boldly through the same power that raised Him from the dead.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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