Author: Ron Graham
Thank God that, although we became dead in sin, God made it possible for us to be "raised up" created anew in Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6,10).
This is the final and main point of our two studies about the Priceless Creation. Paul later speaks of this new creation as putting on a new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Here in our chapter for study (Ephesians 2), Paul makes three connected statements.
Of course when God created our souls in the first place, they were a priceless creation. Yet we destroyed that priceless creation through sin. We have already considered all this in the previous study. That has led us to see our need of the "washing of water with the word" which Paul elsewhere calls "the washing of regeneration (rebirth)" (Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5). We now consider how Jesus Christ can bring renewal to our souls.
It is in baptism that we are washed in the blood of Jesus because we are "baptized into his death.. buried with him through baptism into death" [meaning his death and death to sin] "so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-8). How wonderful it is that we can be raised from death in sin and be made alive again with Christ! (Ephesians 2:5).
Paul sees this new creation as "seated" with Christ "in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). This is a reference to Christ's ascension as our forerunner and present advocate and intercessor. We are not seated in heaven literally but have a guaranteed place reserved there, and are personally represented there by Christ our High Priest. We are "brought near" to the throne of grace "by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). We have "access in one Spirit to the Father through [the Son]" (Ephesians 2:18).
I must caution you not to run away, as some have done, with what Paul says in Ephesians 2. Paul is not "spiritualising away" the fact that there is a real future resurrection of the dead and a rapture in which the saved ascend into heaven to dwell there for eternity. Paul teaches us that these things will happen on the day Jesus returns, and they certainly have not happened yet (1Thessalonians 4:14-18). You may like to read a full discussion of this in the lesson The Second Coming in Thessalonians.
Here in our chapter for study (Ephesians 2) Paul uses terms of resurrection and ascension to figuratively describe how we are presently "created in Christ". They are such appropriate terms, especially as they connect our present state to our future state. Paul elsewhere uses the same kind of expression where he says, "Whom he predestined, these he also called, and whom he called these he also justified, and whom he justified these he also glorified" (Romans 8:30). Certainly we are presently glorified and seated in the heavenly places, but we must understand this to be in a preliminary way, and not the very final, future, and eternal, state of glory in heaven.
Previously, dead in sin, we had "no hope" (Ephesians 2:12). That implies that now, "created in Christ", we do have hope which Paul calls the "one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4). Paul is careful to distinguish between our present state of hope and the final state that we hope for. He uses the clear phrase, "in ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7) to show us that he has one eye on the present and the other eye on the future as he encourages us. Paul, in that Romans chapter we referred to above, speaks very plainly: "In hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with patience we wait for it eagerly" (Romans 8:24-25).
God’s work thus far in restoring our souls is a priceless creation, and yet this is only the downpayment of the even more wonderful creation to come (Ephesians 1:11-14).