|Vol. 15 No. 4 April 2013||
Mark N. Posey
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Paul declared that the Ephesians had been saved by grace through faith. By learning what the Ephesians did to be saved by grace through faith, we too can be saved by grace through faith. Consider the following.
The Ephesians Heard the Word of Truth: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth”(Ephesians 1:13). Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, according to Romans 10:17. We must take heed what we hear (Mark4:24), how we hear (Luke 8:18) and whom we hear (Matthew 17:5). We must be “swift to hear” the Word of Truth (James 1:19).
The Ephesians Believed What They Heard: “In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians1:13). Faith is composed of belief and trust. There is belief in the facts of the Bible; Christianity is a factual religion (“unless you believe that I am He”). There is also the act of giving oneself over to those facts—trust (“whosoever believes in Him”). Thus, we believe that Jesus is, and we believe in Him.
The Ephesians Repented: “Testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks repentance toward God”(Acts 20:21). The Ephesians demonstrated their repentance by burning their magic books (Acts 19:19). The books were valued at fifty thousand pieces of silver, the value of which today has been estimated at anywhere between $1 million and $5 million. Furthermore, Paul told those in Titus’ area that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” was a grace instruction (Titus 2:11-12).
The Ephesians Confessed: “And many who had believed came confessing”(Acts 19:18). Many of the believers confessed their participation in demonic arts, which is a confession against their wrong actions and an admission of their desire to do right. The Great Confession is here implied. As a result of this action, the demonstration was powerful; the work in Ephesus continued in a remarkable way.
The Ephesians Were Baptized: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”(Acts 19:5). Twelve Ephesian disciples heard from Paul the message about Jesus, believed and were baptized. They submitted themselves to the saving power of Jesus’ blood. John’s baptism, while preparatory in nature, was not sufficient in applying the lifesaving blood of God’s Son. Thus, they were told—there’s power in the blood! They complied with the message.
Thank God for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus! May we always live in such a way to honor all we have been given in Him!
I remember seeing a poll that said 92% of Americans believe in God, 85% in heaven and 71% in the devil. It also said most Americans think religion plays too small a role in people’s lives today (69%), with only 15% saying it plays too large a role and 7% saying “about right.” The poll also said 37% attend church, synagogue or other places of worship at least once a week, 13% almost every week, 12% about once a month and 19% seldom attending. Just 3% said they only attend on holidays, and 15% responded they never attend.
Of course, the issue seems to be, if so many people in our nation are so religiously minded, why do we see all the problems that beset us? Why is divorce so rampant among us? Why is abortion still accepted as a form of birth control? Why are immorality and homosexuality still portrayed as favorable lifestyles in the print media and television? If these numbers are anywhere near accurate, how do we account for the rampant problem with sin we still face?
I believe there are probably numerous factors we could mention, but consider these two. First, while this poll reveals there is still a lot of God talk going on around us, there are other belief systems that are accepted equally as well. For example, 34% of Americans also believe in ghosts, 29% accept the validity of astrology and 25% view reincarnation as real. Ours is a pluralistic society, and the concept of objective truth has been discarded for subjective experience. So, a person can accept a host of conflicting values today without discerning the contradiction it poses to do so. If you accept the authority of Scripture, then God and astrology are mutually exclusive belief systems. If you just use the language of Scripture, anything is possible. So Paul warned, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
This ties in with the second matter we should consider. There has seemingly always been a discrepancy between knowing truth and living by it. Jesus told us His truth will set us free from sin, but only if we abide in that truth, live by it and integrate it into our thought processes and lifestyles (John 8:31-32). Even we in the Lord’s church have a problem at times trying to incorporate the knowledge we have of God’s will into everyday living. That is because Satan will always try to deceive us. We must be ever watchful and ever thoughtful of where we stand in relation to God’s will for us (Hebrews 4:12-13).
I am glad many in our nation still speak of God in a positive way. It offers a point of commonality with which we can talk to them about the authority of Scripture, about the truth of the terminology they use. We need to make sure, on our part, we live consistently with what Scripture says, that our testimony will be clear and unmistakable as to what talking about God, and living for God, means. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).