Made alive, the practical results:
The early Ephesian church was made up of a diverse group of Christians including ‘born again’ Jews and Gentiles. Paul teaches them about the work God had done in them through the Lord Jesus. Though from very different backgrounds, these former enemies had been made ‘one’ (v.15). In grace, God had done three things for them:
Made them alive (v.5)
Regardless of their background, they were all previously ‘dead in sins’, but now had been made alive ‘with Christ’. When God in His great power raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, He established the way He gives new life to people dead in sins: their new life is linked with the resurrection of Christ. Because the Ephesian Christians had been made alive, they had been saved from the terrible condition of being ‘dead in sins’. This salvation was all of God’s grace: ‘by grace you have been saved’ (v.8).
Raised them up together (v.6)
Because their new life was based on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the believers shared His blessings. They were linked with a perfect Man in heaven who had defeated sin and death.
Made them sit together in heavenly places (v.6)
Although this encouraged them to look forward to heaven, the tense indicates that positionally it had already been completed.
All this is the outcome of ‘the exceeding greatness of His [God’s] power toward us who believe’ (Ephesians 1:19).
The Ephesians were being reminded of the great difference between what they used to be in their sins, and what they now were in Christ. As a result of the new birth, they were all one in Christ and empowered to live for Him. Knowing that they were already ‘together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6) would stimulate godly living, practical fellowship, and heavenly aspirations.
Important Personal Applications
We began by considering the amazing outcome of physical birth. But the new birth is even more wonderful.
In God’s dealings with Israel as recorded by Ezekiel we see that regeneration involves a spiritual cleansing, the giving of a new heart, and the indwelling of God’s Spirit. To transform the filthy, the hard-hearted, and the dead into people who are clean, soft-hearted and alive requires nothing less than the power, grace and love of God.
The instruction Nicodemus received from the Lord Jesus – ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7) – indicates the necessity of the new birth. Nicodemus learned that new birth was not physical, but a spiritual work of God. It involved cleansing from sin and receiving eternal life from God.
Paul called on Titus to teach Christians about their salvation, reminding them of the change that had taken place in their lives. The new birth was explained as the ‘washing of regeneration’ (Titus 3:5), teaching that God implants a new life principle in them. But there was also an ongoing divine work within each believer, described as ‘the renewing of the Holy Spirit’ (Titus 3:5). Every believer has an ongoing responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to work within him.
The Ephesians learned about the amazing practical results of the new birth. Once dead in sins, they had been made alive. Former enemies were raised up together to enjoy the blessings of being linked with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Having considered the new birth from various passages of the Bible, an important personal challenge remains.
Have you been born again? It is the most vital question you will ever consider, as it signals your response to God’s way of salvation, your response to the grace and love shown to this world through Christ. Have you looked to the cross and the suffering the Lord Jesus endured to pay the price for sin so that you personally may be cleansed and receive eternal life?