SPIRITUAL HISTORY OF THE EPHESIANS . This passage corresponds to Genesis 1:1-31 . It is a history of creation, and we note the same great stages.
1. Chaos ( Genesis 1:1-3 ).
2. The dawn—the Spirit of God moving on the face of the waters ( Genesis 1:4 ).
3. The work of creation—in successive stages ( Genesis 1:4-10 ).
You also, who were dead in your trespasses and your sins. The apostle returns from his digression, in which he had shown the marvelous working of the Divine power on Christ, to show the working of the same power on the Ephesian converts themselves. The ὑμἀς is not governed by any verb going before; it manifestly depends on the συνεζωοποίησεν of Ephesians 2:5 , but it is separated from it by a new digression ( Ephesians 2:2 , Ephesians 2:3 ), on which the apostle immediately starts. While the same quickening power of God was exerted on Christ and on the Ephesians, it was exerted to very different effects: in the case of Christ, raising him literally from the dead and exalting him to heavenly glory; in the case of the Ephesians, raising them from spiritual death and exalting them to high spiritual privileges. We may observe the change from the second to the first person, and vice versa , in this chapter as in Ephesians 1:1-23 . Second person ( Ephesians 1:1 , Ephesians 1:8 , Ephesians 1:11 ); first ( Ephesians 1:3 , Ephesians 1:10 , Ephesians 1:14 ); and the two streams brought together ( Ephesians 1:18 ). The chapter closes beautifully with an emblem of the Church as the one temple of which all believers are parts. The death ascribed to the Ephesians in their natural state is evidently spiritual death, and "trespasses and sins," being in the dative ( νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασι καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ), seems to indicate the cause of death—"dead through your trespasses and your sins" (R.V.); "dead of your trespasses," etc., is suggested by Alford. It is not easy to assign a different meaning to the two nouns here; some suggest acts of transgression for the one, and sinful tendencies or principles for the other, but this distinction cannot be carried out in all other passages. The killing effect of sin is indicated. As sins of sensuality kill truthfulness, industry, integrity, and all virtue, so sin generally, affecting as it does our whole nature, kills, or does not suffer to live, the affections and movements of the spiritual life. A state of "death" implies previous life—the race lived before; it implies also a state of insensibility, of utter powerlessness and helplessness.
Spiritual history of Ephesians.
I. THE CHAOS , or original state.
1. It is a state of death , implying previous life, but present insensibility and helplessness. The element of death is "trespasses and sins "—their killing power.
2. Yet a state of unholy activity ,
3. A state of unholy indulgence ; seeking the fulfillment
4. A state of condemnation ; "by nature," by our very constitution, we are children of wrath. And this true of all.
II. THE DAWN . "But." Force of contrast. "The darkest hour precedes the dawn."
1. God ' s work . God says, "Let there be light, and there is light."
(a) his mercy;
(b) his love.
2. Results of God ' s interposition .
3. Purpose of God in this process—to "show the exceeding riches of his grace."
III. THE NEW CREATION , or salvation by grace.
1. The great change . "Ye are saved."
2. How effected .
3. Relation of salvation to works .
4. Grandeur of this work . Creation was grand; new creation is grander. To bring a world out of nothing was great; to restore a world from chaos is greater. At the first creation, God saw all that he had made, and it was good. At the new creation, he experiences even a deeper emotion of joy. Imperfection of the new creation in this life in human souls. Let us seek that in us it may become continually more complete and more glorious. It is not that we are called to work, but rather to allow God to work—to have all within us open and unobstructed for the full and free exercise of God's almighty renewing power.
The apostle sets forth the greatness of Divine power in man's salvation by setting forth the greatness of his sin and misery, represented under the aspect of spiritual death. Let us understand the nature of this death.
I. MARK THE EXPRESSIVENESS OF THE TERM . It is strange to find it applied to living men. But there are certain suggestive points of similarity between natural and spiritual death.
1. The dealt have all the organs of sense , but no sensibility . As the psalmist said of the idols of the heathen, so are the dead: "Eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not" ( Psalms 115:5 , Psalms 115:6 ). So the spiritually dead have no susceptibility in regard to the things of God; they see not the beauties of holiness; they see not God or Christ.
2. The dead drove all the machinery of motion , but the machine is at rest . So the spiritually dead have all the natural faculties of life—judgment, memory, imagination, feeling, conscience—but they are unable to renew themselves into spiritual life. The inability is not natural, but moral, and therefore sinners are responsible for it. They cannot, because they will not. "Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life" ( John 5:40 ).
3. The dead are cold to the touch . The living body retains its heat very much in the same manner as a fire retains its heat, and, in a very true sense, we are all literally burning out like the fuel that is consumed in our fires. The dead are cold as the grave that covers them. So are the spiritually dead; they have no warmth of Christian love going out either to God or man. Though intellectually alive to all purely worldly interests, they are coldly indifferent, or even hostile, to the interests of the kingdom of grace.
4. The dead go onward to corruption . The process of corruption may be arrested for a time by the skill of man, but it will prevail in the end, and man returns to the dust whence he came, as the spirit has returned to the God who gave it. So the spiritually dead are corrupt, constitutionally, in virtue of the sin of Adam, and they are still more corrupt through temptation to actual transgression. The absence of love to God interposes no check to the progress of corruption in a human heart. What a terrific picture is that of a dead soul!
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUAL DEATH . We see our dead surrounded successively by the shroud, the coffin, the hearse, the grave. So likewise the spiritually dead are surrounded by " trespasses and sins ." These two expressive terms indicate, not simply the cause of death, but its conditions and circumstances.
1. Trespasses . This term is exceedingly expressive as embodying what is involved in the original term.
2. Sins . This term points to the sinful movements of the soul—sins of thought and purpose, as trespasses seem to point to the various developments of a sinful nature. The sins are the fruit of moral corruption which has its seat in the heart, and radiates thence to every department of human conduct. The principle of sin is not merely negative, for it is a positive negation of the Divine will, putting something else in its place. The term " sins " would, more exactly than the other, include sins of omission, which are necessarily much more numerous than sins of commission. It is a solemn thought that men are "dead in sin" by every duty they omit, by every opportunity they neglect, by every blessing they despise, as well as by every positive transgression of the Divine Law. The radical significance of both terms implies a real hostility to God, which is only brought into prominence the moment the sinful spirit comes into sharp and painful collision with the pure Law of God. This dark picture of the sinner's state suggests that
The resurrection and ascension of the soul.
Paul's prayer for the Ephesians was, as we have seen, that they might appreciate the mighty power of God to us-ward who believe. This power was first manifested in the person and experience of Christ in raising him from the dead, in exalting him to the Father's right hand, in putting all things under his feet, and in constituting him Head of his Church. We are now to notice a parallel experience of power in the case of the believer.
I. CONSIDER THE RESURRECTION OF THE SOUL . (Verses 1-5.) In these verses the apostle represents our souls as by nature dead like Christ's body in the tomb. They are not sick through sin, but dead. And the death of the soul is manifested in the corruption of the nature, so that we live as the world lives, according to the devil's desires, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and becoming most deservedly the "children of wrath" like others. All this corruption of the nature is the manifestation of the death in sin. But the Spirit, who raised up Christ's body from the tomb, comes to quicken our dead souls. We are quickened together with Christ. The Father in his wondrous love works this miracle within us, so that we are raised out of death into a new life. Now, just as Jesus entered by resurrection into a new because immortal life, so we by resurrection enter into a new and immortal existence. We feel assured that we cannot die, since we have been raised into the new life with Christ. This idea of the death of the soul is found in the ancient and in the modern classics. In such authors as Plutarch, Cicero, Heraclitus, and Persius, as well as in such a modern as the poet Gautier, it may be found; but in them it is an utterance of despair. It is only Paul who can take it and show how the death can be terminated in the victory of resurrection.
II. CONSIDER THE ASCENSION OF THE SOUL . (Verse 6.) Not only is the soul raised together with Christ, but it is "made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." In other words, we are made to have an ascension experience as well as a resurrection experience. Now, when Christ ascended far above all principality and power, he must have entered a joyful experience such as this world could never afford. He would never have enjoyed such a delight had he lingered in a limited world like this. In the same way the risen soul is enabled to ascend into a seraphic experience, a joy in the Lord such as was never dreamed of. It is to be feared that many have experienced the spiritual resurrection who have not gone on to the experience of the ascension; in other words, they are living lives comparatively joyless. They do not live as if they were already within the golden gates and rejoicing always in the Lord. But the thing is not only possible, it is pre-eminently desirable. The world would be vastly the better of souls that had realized the ascension.
III. CONSIDER THE BELIEVER 'S CONSEQUENT REIGN . (Verse 6.) For Jesus ascended that he might occupy a throne. And we ascend in spirit that we may be kings of men. It is Christ's purpose that we should be kings and priests unto God and his Father ( Revelation 1:5 , Revelation 1:6 ). Now, joyful Christians cannot but influence others for good. They come to their kingdom, and others are glad to submit to their sway. They hold men by the heart and assert a proper sovereignty over others. The reign of Christ is carried out in some measure when we have learned lovingly to reign.
IV. THE PURPOSE OF SUCH SPIRITUAL GIFTS IS THAT THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF GOD 'S GRACE MIGHT BE REVEALED . (Verse 7.) For if we had never died in sin, God's mighty power in raising us would never have been appreciated. If the creatures had never fallen, who would have known the wealth of God's love and power in lifting them up again? The physical universe can only illustrate a small part of the power and love of God. It requires the moral universe as a background to set off the brightness of his redeeming mercy. It is out of a sinful world the greatest examples of Divine power shall be forthcoming. God is rich in mercy; how rich only sinners can illustrate and with some fullness appreciate. Every risen, ascended, and reigning soul is intended to be a fresh example of the exceeding riches of God's grace.—R.M.E.
Association with Christ.
The concluding thought of the first chapter was the resurrection and exaltation of Christ. In order now to bring out how they were benefited thereby, he calls up to them their original condition . He shows them the pit out of which they have been dug, the rock out of which they have been hewn. In the first and second verses he has special reference to Gentile Christians, in the third verse he includes Jewish Christians in his description.
I. GENTILE CHRISTIANS .
1. They were dead . "And you did he quicken, when ye were dead." It is a comprehensive word for the evil of their condition. There is a natural condition for plants, which they lose in their decay. There is a natural condition for animals, which they lose in their death. So there is a natural condition for rational beings, which they lose in what we call spiritual death . And, as there is nothing higher in kind than spiritual life, so there is nothing more dreadful than spiritual death. It is not extinction, but it is a condition against nature, on the ground of an immortal existence. It is not loving God with our whole soul and strength and mind, but living at enmity with him; and how wearing out to contend with our Maker! It is not loving our neighbor as ourselves, but seeking our own selfish ends; and how narrowing is this to our souls!
2. Their deadness was caused by themselves . "Through your trespasses and sins." If there is any difference between these two words, it is that the former refers more to overt transgressions, while the latter is inclusive of evil thoughts that have only been entertained in the heart. When Adam and Eve overtly transgressed in eating of the fruit, death at once passed upon them in the loss of confidence in God, of unconsciousness, of ingenuousness, of devotedness to each other. And the act was not long in bearing bitter fruit in the hate, which led Cain to take a brother's life. Overt transgression makes matters worse, in the evil that is wrought on others in the entanglements to which it leads. At the same time, it is true that evil imaginations that never find expression in words or acts have a deadening effect on the soul. They may indicate daring rebellion against God; and, even though they are only vain thoughts that lodge in the mind, they are not there without the spreading of a baneful influence over the life.
3. They were only causes of deadness . "Wherein aforetime ye walked." In trespasses and sins they walked . Their life was one continual trespassing and sinning. Their fountain was constantly sending forth bitter water. Their tree only brought forth evil fruit. And how could it be otherwise, seeing that they were corrupted at the very center of their being? There were some of their acts that were better than others, but none that were thoroughly right in principle or motive. All their acts had a fatal defect, and many of them, as the first of Romans shows, had a positive vileness.
4. They stood related to this world . "According to the course of this world." This world is opposed to the world as it should be, or the kingdom of God among men. It is the world content with itself , and seeking to be independent of God . And as the kingdom of God has an age or ages for its holy development, so this world, it is implied here, has an age for its unholy development. For the word translated "course" is properly " age ." In the mysterious providence of God evil has scope for its development. "The mystery of iniquity doth work." And when it is said here that they once walked according to the course of this world, the meaning is that their characters had not the normal form of the kingdom, but had one or other of those abnormal forms which belong to the world.
5. They stool related to the head of evil . "According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience." He is here called the prince of the power of the air . He is a prince with other evil spirits under him. Evil is divisive ; his then must be a mighty, prince-like influence that he keeps them united under him for evil ends. He is dependent on God, a mere instrument in his hand, at his absolute disposal, as it is with every creature; but he is allowed, through his emissaries, to have great power upon earth. The singular epithet is applied to him here in allusion to his surrounding us with temptation as the atmosphere surrounds the earth. As the air borders on the earth, so there is a sphere bordering on our spirits, subtle, invisible like air, through which evil suggestions can readily be conveyed to us. Or it may be that the evil spirits have an affinity to air, which they do not have to grosser matter, so that it is their haunt within this region. There is here what we cannot understand; but we can understand this—temptation being skillfully presented to our minds, against which we must invoke the skill of another, else we are taken in the tempter's meshes. He is further called the prince of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience . It is not usual to connect a spirit, or principle, with its prince. But he is undoubtedly the principal representative of the spirit of disobedience. In him disobedience takes its most virulent form. The object on which he is bent is to spite God, to thwart his holy ends. This is the spirit which he as its original source breathes into his subordinates, and which they in turn under his direction seek to breathe into men. And those in whom it finds a sphere of operation are called the children of disobedience . They stand related to the evil principle as its unclean progeny. It was from heathendom that the description here was taken. It was very much man left to himself. It was the truest representation of what "this world" is. It was Satan having his own way. It was rampant disobedience. For though the heathen world was under the Divine providence, yet it was without special helps , without special checks . Depraved human nature was allowed to bring out its own ignorance of God, its own profanity, its own licentiousness. It was from that heathen world that these Gentile Christians had been taken. There they could see what they once had been. But, lest the Jewish Christians might think that it had been better with them, he proceeds to bring them under the same description in respect of their original condition.
II. JEWISH CHRISTIANS ALSO . (Verse 3.) "Among whom we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." Especially are they classed with Gentile Christians, as having originally been children of disobedience. Among whom we also all once lived. Their disobedience appeared in their living in the lusts of the flesh . Those lusts that had their root in the flesh, or unrenewed nature, they ought to have brought into subjection to reason or the will of God; but, instead of that, they lived in them. This is further described as "doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind." Evil wishes spring from the flesh; but in order to be gratified they require the consent of the mind, and so they become desires, not only of the flesh, but of the mind. And were by nature the children of wrath , even as the rest . "By nature" is a qualifying clause. The Jews could not be spoken of in the same terms as the Gentiles without qualification. For they were different in having a covenant position, in having Divine helps vouchsafed to them, in being placed under special training. And though they did testify to depravity in their frequent rebellions, yet was there alongside a work of grace, which showed itself conspicuously in some. It could only be said, then, that by nature, that is, apart from covenant grace, they were the children of wrath, even as the rest. What a testimony is there here to universal depravity! All have the Divine displeasure imprinted on their nature. In the condemning voice of conscience there is an echo, often very faint, of the condemnation of God. Our evil tendencies, which we so soon exhibit, are tokens that God is angry with us. His righteous sentence has gone forth upon us, even in our present condition. This is unpalatable truth, but it agrees with the facts. It is well that we should keep it in mind, in order that we may be humbled by it, and in order that we may realize the forces against which we have to struggle.
III. OUR SALVATION .
1. Its explanation . "But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses." The mercy is mentioned first, as standing in closest connection with the miserable state which has been described. And as their former state was described in strong terms, so now is there set over against it the superlative quality of the mercy. He is not content with the expression," God in his mercy." That language is too bare in view of what they once were. So he applies his common epithet, "rich." "God, being rich in mercy." The mercy is a particular outgoing of the Divine love, viz. toward sinners. So he traces it up to the more general feeling, which leads him to seek the good, and nothing but the good, of all his creatures whatsoever. And to this in turn he applies another common epithet," great." "The great love wherewith he loved us." And the greatness of the Divine love is here presented under a special aspect. In the fifth of Romans it is said, "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The thought is very similar here. "Even when we were dead through our trespasses he quickened us." Stress is laid upon the moment of the Divine movement. When we were dead and could do nothing for ourselves, that was the time for the going forth of the great love of God in rich mercy toward us. And it is in this connection that we are to bring in the words within brackets, "By grace have ye been saved." For, though he has it in his mind to magnify the Divine grace further on, yet now, having the opportunity to make a point, he cannot let it pass. And the incidental way in which he brings it in shows the great importance which he attached to that doctrine.
2. Its nature . "Quickened us together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." It is set forth in relation to our previous deadness. And it will be observed that the description here is connected with a certain historical point. The idea is that we were dead up to the time when Christ was quickened. We were dead, even as Christ was dead in the tomb. Nay, more, we were dead with Christ in the tomb. For it was as our Representative that he was lying there. And when he was quickened, it was as our Representative too. He was quickened, not for himself, but for us whom he represented. And therefore it can be said that, when the life-giving power went forth upon him in the grave, we were quickened with him. And it did not stop there; but when he was raised up we were raised up with him, in the whole breadth that language can bear. And not only so, but the consummation applies to us too. It is not indeed said that we were made to sit at the right hand of God, as is said of Christ in the first Chapter and twentieth verse. But it is said that we were made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places. Even here on earth we are sitting with Christ in the heavenly places. We are sitting there in him as our Head. That is no fancy, but the actual language which is applied to us by an inspired apostle. Oh, what a glorious privilege is conferred on us! How does it become us to be thankful, and to be humbled! Let us, in our life, rise to the height of our position. Let us not be as creeping on the earth, but as sitters with Christ in the heavenly places.
3. A purpose served by our salvation . "That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The language is applicable to after ages on earth. There is encouragement to us, even now, in the fact that such kindness was shown to Ephesians who had been dead through trespasses and sins. But the language is also applicable to the eons of which the Scripture speaks beyond this life. For if there is not room there for sinners being encouraged, there certainly is room for the demonstration, the more complete realization, of the Divine grace. It will be one of the lessons of those ages to learn how much in our history on earth we were individually indebted to grace. Here again, in the fullness of emotion, he gives an ample characterization of the grace, the exceeding riches of his grace, in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The latter expression has reference to benefits conferred, viz. our quickening.
Gospel reformation great and gracious.
"And you hath he quickened," etc. This passage, though its language is somewhat obscure, sets forth most manifestly the greatness and graciousness of gospel reformation . The gospel is a reformative system; it is revolutionary in its spirit and its aim. It uproots the noxious in life, and plants the wholesome. It pulls down the corrupt and builds up the holy. It burns up man's old moral heavens and creates new ones, "wherein dwelleth righteousness." It reforms society by reforming the individual man; it reforms the individual by regenerating his spirit, and making him a new creature in Christ Jesus. It works from the center to the circumference. Observe—
I. THE GREATNESS OF GOSPEL REFORMATION . The greatness of the change it effects in mankind will be seen if we consider two things which are so prominently set forth in this passage.
1. The state of man preceding its work . There are several striking expressions in this passage indicating the original depraved condition of sinners, their condition before the gospel touches them.
2. The state of man succeeding its work . The passage teaches that they are brought by the gospel into the most vital connection with him who is the embodiment, the standard, and the medium of all human excellence , "the Lord Jesus Christ."
II. THE GRACIOUSNESS OF GOSPEL REFORMATION . What is the great, originating, efficient cause of this glorious moral reformation? The text answers the question. "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." Instrumental causes, such as the Word of God, gospel ministry, Christian example and influence, are many, but eternal grace is the cause which originates all and blesses all. The passage indicates four things concerning this Divine grace.
1. It is great . It is ascribed to the richness of mercy and the greatness of love. "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love," etc. God's love is the spring of all his activities; it is as deep as his own heart; it is as infinite as himself. "It passeth knowledge."
"O Love! the one sun! O Love! the one sea!
What life has begun that breathes not in thee?
Thy rays have no limit, thy waves have no shore;
Thou giv'st without merit to worlds evermore."
2. It is mighty . It quickens, raises, exalts, recreates human souls. It is as mighty as the power that raised Christ from the dead. How mighty is that power that thoroughly Christianizes even one soul! No power but the power of God can do that. "Not by might, nor by power."
3. It is manifestable . "In the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." The conversion of every one is designed to manifest it. The conversion of the sinner, though a good in itself, is not an ultimate end; the event has remote issues, ulterior points, bearings and relations interminable. "Ages to come;" intelligences that will rise thousands of years in the future will study and adore the infinite grace of God in the spiritual reformation of mankind. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" ( 1 Timothy 1:16 ).
4. It is unmeritorious . "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works." The expression, "not of works," does not mean, of course, that men are to do nothing. This would be contrary to the general teaching of Scripture, contrary also to the constitution of the soul and the nature of the work. Man is so constituted that no moral change can be effected in him irrespective of his own efforts. He must work. All that the expression means is that man's works are not the cause . "By grace are ye saved through faith." But if faith is required, and it is an undoubted necessity, where is the freeness of the grace? Elsewhere Paul says that "it is of faith, that it may be of grace." Two remarks will explain this.
From death to life.
1. The process . This is a history of spiritual lift. It reverses the order of natural history. Instead of "funeral marches to the grave," we have a resurrection gladness, as the soul grows upward from death to life eternal.
I. THE PROCESS BEGINS WITH DEATH . The death here referred to is not a future penalty, but the past condition of many men and the present state of all others.
1. There is a spiritual death in the midst of natural life. The body is flushed with the glow of health; the intellect is keen in worldly affairs; but the spirit is dead. The busy life of the lower nature may hide the scene of death, but it cannot destroy it, and to right-minded observers this noisy energy is painful and revolting like the revelry of a wake. Spiritual death bears all the hideous marks of real death:
2. Spiritual death is caused by sin . There are positive " trespasses ," in which men go beyond the bounds of the lawful and commit what is forbidden; and negative "sins," in which people miss the mark, fail of their duty, and omit what they ought to do. Both have fatal consequences—the one killing with the poison of bad thoughts, imaginations, and affections; and the other with an atrophy of spiritual organs that waste away for want of exercise.
3. Innumerable influences provoke to sin :
II. THE PROCESS RESULTS IN LIFE . The life is described in three stages.
1. A past quickening . "He quickened us." This is accomplished in the Christian. It is what Christ calls being "born from above" ( John 3:3 ), and St. Paul, a "new creation" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ).
2. A present exaltation . "Raised us up;" "Made us sit with him in heavenly places." Lazarus comes forth from the tomb. The Christian does not linger long among the scenes of his miserable past. He is not forever sitting on the stool of the penitents. In his new life he walks in God's sunlight, he breathes the free air of heaven, he is called to a high vocation and endued with glorious privileges.
3. A future blessedness . The Divine life is but in the germ on earth. Its fairest flowers will bloom on a happier shore and its sweetest fruits ripen in a sunnier climate. There are "exceeding riches" of grace to be revealed in "the ages to come." The life for which they are preparing is eternal. No disease will blight it, no age bring it decrepitude, no death lay it low. As it develops eternality, so will the riches of Divine love fill it in an ever-increasing abundance.—W.F.A.
From death to life.
2. The secret . What is the secret of the wonderful reversal of the order of nature that is seen in the spiritual transformation from death to life? The power is put forth by the grace of God, and the method of its influence is through union with Christ.
I. THE POWER THAT TRANSFORMS FROM DEATH TO LIFE IS THE GRACE OF GOD .
1. The power is Divine .
2. The power is put forth by the grace of God . He might leave the dead to bury their dead, and concern himself only with fresh new lives. But he has infinite pity even for the dead. Nothing but grace could inspire such pity. For we have no claim upon God after we have become" by nature children of wrath." We must look for the motive in the love of God alone. But that love is so great that it is a very treasure-house of mercy. God is "rich in mercy." Then our very helplessness appeals to his compassion. The more dead we are the more will God desire to quicken us.
II. THE MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD TRANSFORMS FROM ' DEATH TO LIFE IS UNION WITH CHRIST .
1. All through the history of the wonderful process, St. Paul traces, step by step, the progress of the Christian , in the very experience through which Christ went .
2. This experience is realized by our union , with Christ in faith . It is vain and hopeless to attempt to follow Christ by painfully attempting an exact imitation while we are going alone and in our own strength. The way is too dark, too steep, too rough. And this is not what is expected of us. But if we trust Christ our faith unites us to him, and by the influence he puts forth over us he carries us along with him; so that through him we receive the gift of life from the grace of God.—W.F.A.