Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) – Grace to you! (part 3)
length: 64:05 - taught on Sep, 5 2018
Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) - Grace to you! (part 2)
EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful [believers] in Christ Jesus:
EPH 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Grace to you” xa/ri$ u(mi=n (charis humin).
Charis - God’s conduct towards sinful man, through Christ, in spontaneous favor without obligation on man’s part.
Fallen man can discern some good and desire it, so long as it doesn’t interfere with good for himself, meaning the desire and passion of the flesh. Because of this, he cannot see “the good” through and through and so actually know what it is.
The Greeks were content to take the word charis as far as they did and they commended themselves for the distance they traversed. God the Holy Spirit took the word and gave it its true meaning.
The golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” would be agreed with in most people in all societies. But, doing good for the sake of the good of the divine alone, is a different story.
Ask someone if they would do good in all circumstances and you will be quickly peppered with questions about what kinds of circumstances and about definitions of what constitutes good.
Cut to the quick of it, the question really becomes, “Would you lay down your life for another, and even for an enemy?” Only Christians could possibly say yes and mean it.
JOH 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.
JOH 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
JOH 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
JOH 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
1JO 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1JO 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1JO 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
That is what “good” is. Man’s watered down version doesn’t come close to it.
And we know that the Lord commanded us to love our enemies and do good to them.
When farmers were being deported from their lands with their whole families as the Communist government in Russia was hard at work confiscating their land and combining them into collective farms, these families were loaded onto carts and trucked north to a city ironically called Archangel as a holding area from which they would be transported to various wasteland exiles. It was worse if this transport happened in winter. Father, mother, grandparents and children were all taken by the truckload to Archangel. Solzhenitsyn describes it:
“This was how they lived in that plague-stricken winter. They could not wash. Their bodies were covered with festering sores. Spotted fever developed. People were dying. Strict orders were given to the people of Archangel not to help the special resettlers (as the deported peasants were now called)! Dying peasants roamed the town, but no one could take a single one of them into his home, feed him, or carry tea out to him: the militia seized local inhabitants who tried to do so and took away their passports. A starving man would stagger along the street, stumble, fall - and die. But even the dead could not be picked up (besides the militia, plainclothesmen went around on the lookout for acts of kindness). At the same time market gardeners and livestock breeders from areas near big towns were also being expelled, whole villages at a time, and the residents of Archangel themselves dreaded deportation. They were afraid even to stop and look down at a dead body.”
I share this excerpt because it is a real-life situation that hardly anyone faces, but at times in history, some people do. Who would risk their lives to take one of those dying peasants into their home and give them warmth, food, and love, knowing what they were risking?
One wonders if God allows these events in history, fortunately rare as they are, to show what is really in the heart of man, beyond what they claim to be, both the communists who killed them and the people who refused to help them.
Yet, take this example and realize that in most places and societies, including our own, it cost nothing but some inconvenience to give to the downtrodden.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
That there is no greater love means simply that it is God’s love and therefore the only love.
This is what God means by love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and graciousness. They are absolute in themselves. They are alive and could no more die away from an enemy as they would from a loved one. They are God.
Grace to you. Grace gave God’s life to the fallen world, without cost to man.
ISA 55:1 "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
ISA 55:2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
Fallen man, having something of a conscience containing the echoes of God’s image, still hold on to the good laws of God, but only by means of convenience. “We can’t allow stealing or I will be stolen from by someone stronger,” etc.
The Greek speaking world knew something of the echoes of God’s grace and they used the word to define earthly things that they considered good.
The Lord pointed this out in His Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus took “You have heard it said …” meaning the moral teachings of your instructors, and He opens the truth about each, “But I say to you.”
MAT 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'
MAT 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' (empty headed) shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
(refer to the book: Sermon on the Mount)
MAT 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery';
MAT 5:28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
MAT 5:33 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.'
MAT 5:34 "But I say to you, make no oath at all,
MAT 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'
MAT 5:39 "But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
MAT 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
MAT 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
MAT 5:45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
MAT 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
MAT 5:47 "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? [how are you extraordinary] Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
MAT 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
When Christ came, He revealed the truth of grace. He was full of grace and truth. He embodied it, walked it, lived it, and so revealed it as it is and always will be. It is the character of God.
The pagan world that spoke Greek would never use charis in regard to an enemy. They would never do good, show beauty, go above and beyond for an enemy.
Among the Greeks, such thankfulness and favor were always done for a friend or to please a crowd, but never was it done for an enemy. The New Testament applies it in this way. Jesus Christ revealed that God is exactly this way.
JOH 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
JOH 1:15 John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"
JOH 1:16 For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
JOH 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
JOH 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Charis takes an infinite leap forward as God steps off His throne of judgment and takes Calvary’s cross upon His shoulders.
ROM 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
ROM 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
ROM 5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
ROM 5:11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
1JO 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.
Now, since charis is used multiple times in our epistle, we will not delve deeply into the use and meaning of the word at this time. Suffice a definition since here in the prescript it is used as a salutation. Grace to you! Peace to you!
When I was finished with an initial definition, which is below, it did not come out, or lend itself to be, a succinct one-line definition. I take that as a lead from God the Holy Spirit. The definition of the word charis is not something we simplify and memorize. It is like divine love, heavenly and woven into the fabric of the character of God.
It should be known that this word really doesn’t have a counterpart in the OT. The closest Hebrew word is one we know, chesed. But chesed, meaning favor shown sacrificially and with love, is not connected with the redemption of sinners or judgment for sin, which charis clearly is.
We can confidently conclude that charis came to mankind with Christ, the fulness, the all in all who came at the fulness of time.
Charis finds its ultimate picture in Jesus on the cross. When man’s sin was dealt with, Jesus on the cross was the way. Charis or grace is God’s offer of salvation to His bitter enemy, the human race, and all that it implies.
All the classical meanings of charis are poured into a sacrifice made by God for His enemy, a salvation not deserved, given without any thought of return, not attained by works.
In fact, grace is the word used as the counterpart to works in the issue of salvation.
ROM 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor [charis], but as what is due.
ROM 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
ROM 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
“The word especially denotes God’s grace and favor towards mankind or to any individual, which, as a free act, excludes merit, and is not hindered by guilt, but forgives sin; it thus stands out in contrast with erga (work), nomos (law), hamartia (sin).” [Cremer]
Man’s problem before God - his inability to do any of God’s works, follow God’s law, and his ability to sin prolifically. Grace cuts through it all. No matter how sinful, lawbreaking, and useless a man is, grace stands at the doorstep of his soul and bids him to dine with God in righteousness.