“Not By Works” – One Year Bible Reading – September 23

Old Testament:  Isaiah 41:17-43:13

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Isaiah 41:17-43:13    No Other Savior

We move on through the “Book of Comfort.”

Chap. 41: 17 -29   In vv. 21-29, Yahweh invites the idolatrous nations to court to prove their strength.

Chap. 42: Notice in v. 3 that the Lord does not damage anything as fragile as a “bruised reed.”  God is not a bully.  He does not coerce someone against His will.  He lures us but doesn’t leverage us. He wants our affection, He does not want automatons.  Verse 7 is a description of the Messiah healing the blind, figuratively and spiritually.  Some will remain blind and deaf, vv. 14 – 25.  In verse 9 is the prediction of new things:  the church age and the Millennium.

Chap. 43:  One of my old friends shared verse 2 with me after his wife had divorced him, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.”  God’s word is a comfort and this is from the “Book of Comfort.”

Verse 11 says that there is no other Savior than Yahweh.  The New Testament renders that as “I am the Way, the Truth, and The Life, no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

New Testament:  Ephesians 2:1-22

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Ephesians 2:1-22   Not By Works

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to cover all of Ephesians 2 in one day.  Yikes.

In a nutshell, we were dead.  Not like dead body, dead.  That’s silly.  A dead man can’t even sin.  In Romans 6, Paul said we were dead to sin.  But we still sin. In Romans 6, Paul meant believers are spiritually dead to sin, meaning they now are able not to sin.  We had been formerly not been able not to sin (read that carefully!).  Paul here in verse 1 means that we were not pleasing God in any way.  In order to please God, we must be made alive to God.  Unbelievers are dead to God and at war with God (cf. v. 15 -16, “enmity,” means “at war”).  Their master is the devil, “the prince of the power of the air” (v. 2).  They “indulge” their bodies and bad emotions, “the flesh” (v. 3).  They are heading for Hell (“children of wrath,” v. 3).

God showed us mercy, in other words, He did not give us what we did not deserve (v. 4).  We deserved eternal death. Then He gave us what we did not deserve, grace, “unmerited favor” (v. 5).  Spiritually speaking, God raised us up and sat us next to Him (v. 6).  It’s a metaphor.  Are any of you seated in Heaven now?  He did this to show off His kindness (v. 7).

It is because of God’s unmerited favor that any of this can happen (v. 8).  You couldn’t do it yourself.  He did it.  We can appropriate this salvation by faith.  This salvation is a “gift of God” (the word “that” can not refer to “faith,” “faith” in Greek is feminine but the word “that” is neuter).

Never let anyone tell you that you have to “do” anything to be saved.  You don’t have to do anything!  Put like fifteen exclamation marks after that.  You only need to trust Christ.  So you don’t have to pray a prayer, walk an aisle, “clean up your life” (a heresy!), or anything else to be saved.  You can be saved in the privacy of your home and you don’t need a minister to help you.  You do have to realize that you are a sinner who sins (Rom. 3:23), that Christ died in your place (Rom. 5: 8, the meaning of “for” in that verse is “instead of,” “in place of”).  And you do have to make the choice to trust Christ personally (Rom. 10: 9b-10a).  It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that Jesus died in your place.  You must personally appropriate it.  And then you can be absolutely sure that you are going to Heaven.  There is no “fine print” (1 John 5:13).

God put us together in the first place so that would do the good deeds that He wanted done.  We can’t begin to do those things until we have trusted Him (v. 10).

We used to be far away from God’s salvation which was shown to the Jews (v. 11).  But now, though we were on the other side of the world spiritually, we have been brought near to God through the sacrifice of Christ (v. 13).  I have a friend who loves verse 13.  He says he was far from God but was brought near by Jesus’ sacrifice.  His wife violated Scripture by marrying him before he was saved.  But now he is a minister.  Don’t do that!  But he was brought near.

Though we were “at war” (“enmity,” v. 15, 16), Gentiles and Jews are now “at peace” with each other if they are believers (vv. 11-19).  In fact, non-believers are at war with God (v. 16-18, “enmity” with God).  Jews and Gentiles are reconciled to each other and, also, both are reconciled to God! (v. 16-18).

Believers are no longer “strangers and aliens” regarding God but God sees believers as perfect, spiritually speaking.  We are called “saints” (v. 19b).  The word looks like “holies” in the Greek.  We are God’s holy ones. He sees us as holy in Jesus.  Now we need to act out in our lives as holy ones.

God’s church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Himself being the corner stone that holds everything together.  The corner stone is the stone set in just the right place so that every other stone will fit securely and be stable (cf. v. 20b-21).  The church, portrayed as a building, continues to grow as believers are fitted into it (v. 22).  The Holy Spirit can live in a house like that.

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