Ephesians 4:4-6, One Spirit – Common and Efficacious Grace.

Class Outline:

Sunday November 30,2020

Common grace: the entire work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the unsaved world - restraining and revealing the gospel.


The work of the Holy Spirit revealing the gospel is an aspect of a larger program of God in dealing with a lost world.


It is vital that the Holy Spirit do both things: restrain the power of Satan and his hatred of the gospel and truth and to make the gospel understandable to man’s natural incapacity. All men are born spiritually dead and remain that way until they are born-again.


In view of the power of Satan and his hatred of the truth and the gospel, it must be the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit that explains the freedom of Christianity and missionaries in much of the world. And in fact, in nations like China and Iran, where Christianity is seen as an enemy and is heavily persecuted, still the church grows there.


God is calling out His church in this age, and that is common grace. It cannot be stopped by man or Satan.


Therefore, when we see the persecution of the gospel and of missionaries, evangelists, and teachers in this age, we need not despair. Certainly, we don’t rejoice over it either, and pray for the strength and conviction of faith in those ambassadors for Christ, yet, nothing is going to stop common grace in this age for it is the work of God.


Due to the fall, man is unable to comprehend the truth of God. This is an obvious problem.


1CO 2:9

but just as it is written,


"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,

And which have not entered the heart of man [a human agenda gives no place to it],

All that God has prepared for those who love Him."


Human love of God is motivated by the experience of God’s love.


No one has loved God because they are told they should, nor even if they are convicted that they should. We find out soon enough in life that love doesn’t work that way, even baser and more shallow human love does not. Yet human love reveals to all the possibility of an eternal unconditional love that every human heart craves at some level.


1CO 2:10-16

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural [psuchikos - immaterial part is soulish only, unspiritual] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.


Contrast is set by psuchikos (soulish only) and pneumatikos (spiritual) in the immaterial part of man.


These are both mankind, but one is old and the other is new. One is inherited from Adam to the entire human race, not when they first sin, but when they are born. The other, the new man, is a gift from God enabled by the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ in which the man becomes born-again. It alone is the greatest gift that anyone could receive. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”


“For to us” (vs. 10); things freely given to us by God (vs. 12), things which the eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor could we imagine in our minds (vs. 9), things which can only be taught by the Holy Spirit (vs. 13) - they are gifts.


The contrast between soulish man and spiritual man is that the former is fallen mankind who have either rejected a gift or where not given a gift and the latter is redeemed mankind who have received a gift.  


1CO 15:45

"The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.


“Life-giving” - it is a gift. We may imagine that Adam gave us a terrible gift, but it is more so that we were all born in Adam (ROM 5:12). Christ did give us a gift. He gave us Himself.


ROM 5:12-15

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned —  13 for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.


1CO 1:17-19

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void.


18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,


"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."


“to us being saved” (passive participle) - it is a gift.


Cleverness of speech would put power in the way the words were strung together to impress the hearer. The gift(s) don’t come from man, but only from God. The power of the gospel is in Christ’s Person and work.


ROM 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."


Due to that reason, to the perishing, they who reject Christ as able to save, the gospel is foolishness. We who believe it, adore it. For the gospel is the power of God to save us from death, sin, the world, and ourselves.


1CO 1:19

For it is written [ISA 24:19],


"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."


Paul’s quote of ISA 29:14, which in context speaks of the so-called wise men who thought their statecraft would avoid any negative consequences of Assyrian invasion, Paul uses as an example of the wisdom of the wise throughout all human history making similar claims.


Our wisdom, our reason and intellect is a gift from God as well, and it should be exercised properly, but within the boundaries that God has set it. Israel thought they were wise enough through deal making and treaties to deliver themselves from the Assyrian threat, but the Assyrian army was to be upon them as a result of their own idol worship and rejection of God’s Law. Pride in man says to him that he can deliver himself without God. Pride in man also says that he can determine the unrevealed counsels of God. Humility, on the other hand, trusts in faith or faith rests.


All good that we possess is a gift from God.


EPH 4:1-10

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says [PSA 68:18],


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)