Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 2:5c “. . .together with Christ,. . .”
“Quickened together with” is the first of three “together with” words used here to correlate the salvation of believers with the resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus. What happens to a new convert spiritually is directly linked to what happened to Jesus physically after His death.
Unencumbered by limitations of time, God, at the moment of conversion, identifies the deadness of a sinner with the death of Jesus. In the instant of regeneration, God fuses, as it were, the sinner’s deadness with Jesus’ crucified body. This is a legitimate reckoning, because judicially and legally, Christ died not His own death but ours. When the life of Jesus left His body, the corpse was under the Adamic curse of death, same sentence of death all men receive at birth. Christ’s body was dead due to sin–not His own sins, but our sins put in His body on the cross by the Father.
Christ died our death. No one can be saved without accepting this truth. The miracle of the new birth begins at the cross, when the repentant sinner agrees with God in linking his own spiritual death with the death of Jesus. Once Christ’s death is identified with ours, and accepted as our very own, we are then granted the unspeakable privilege of sharing in the blessed aftermath of Christ’s death. The first effect we enjoy is new life.
When the life of Jesus was allowed to return to His body, God was in effect saying He had accepted the death of Jesus as payment for the sin of the world. Thus, when our death is reckoned with Christ’s death, we are linked to that which pays the debt for our sin, and once our sin debt is remitted, the indictment against us is dismissed, death is replaced with life.
In this way, Christ’s death becomes the death of our death. “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (RM 6:5).
God has “quickened us together with Christ.” We shared with Jesus the same death, and thus share the same life. His death is our death, His life is our life. Our lives are fused. He is the head, we are members; He is the vine, we are branches. Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (JN 14:19). “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (JN 11:26). It is as impossible for a believer to return to spiritual death as it would be for Jesus to return to the cross. A return to death is impossible because God has “quickened us together with Christ.”
Eph. 2:5d “(by grace ye are saved;)
This theme will be more fully developed in the next verses, but Paul could squelch his emotions no longer. His pen was forced to transcribe a shout of joy. Having spoken of the world, the flesh, and the devil arrayed against us (2:2-3), Paul celebrates the fact these three ravaging forces of evil are counteracted by the holy trilogy of God’s mercy, love, and grace.
Sinners being resurrected from death to life precludes any thought of merit. Nothing of value in dead corpses prompted God to act the way He did. A carcass accrues no merit from inherent goodness or strenuous effort. Salvation is rooted in God, not man.
“Grace is everything for nothing. It is helping the helpless, going to those who cannot come in their own strength” (Strauss). This is the grandest theme of all. Never stumble here. Whatever else you stammer on, be articulate in enunciating this truth: “By grace ye are saved.”
Eph. 2:6a “And hath raised us up together,. . .”
“Quickened us together” means we share Christ’s life. “Raised us up together,” in this context, means we spiritually share in the ascension of Jesus, and are lifted to a new environment. After His resurrection, Jesus was taken into Heaven. At conversion, the believer follows Christ in spirit. Salvation lifts a sinner up, and frees him from being limited only to the resources of this world.
At conversion, believers climb a “Jacob’s ladder” from their grave to glory. Jesus opens a highway from our cemetery to His celestial city.
Eph. 2:6b “. . .and made us sit together. . .”
“Quickened us together” means we share Christ’s life. “Raised us up together” denotes the environment we share with Christ. “Sit together” means we share Christ’s dignity. We are not second class citizens. Ours is a life of privilege, where Christ is always our nearby companion.
At the right hand of God, Jesus sits on a throne. We sit nearby, in the throne-room itself, and reign with Christ, a truth we often overlook.
Believers are “a royal priesthood” (1 P 2:9), “kings and priests unto God” (RV 1:6). As priests we intercede and offer sacrifices of praise, thanks, and worship. As kings we exercise authority and partake of victory.
We will someday judge the world and angels (1 C 6:2-3). Prayer is God’s way of letting believers share His kingdom authority now. We enter the deliberating process which determines the course of history.
Believers extend Christ’s authority and victory in this world. Thus, Satan hates us and stalks us. He never chooses of his own volition to retreat, but has to take flight before the prayers of kingly priests. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Rather than run and hide from the roaring lion, we rout him in the strength of Christ’s might.
Sometimes the easiest part of a given struggle is to drive away the Satanic. The hardest part is often overcoming the world, or the flesh, that awesome resistance exerted by a person’s own will.
We should learn to pray kingly prayers, and to share regal authority. Invoke your royal prerogative, “Lord, in this trying matter, let only your refining and purging work be accomplished. If the devil seeks to tempt me in this trial, rebuke him for Christ’s sake.” Plead for Satan to be sent running from your family members. If they use their awful freedom of will to rebel against God, let none of the blame rest at your feet by default.
Watchman Nee, in his splendid interpretation of our text, shows how spiritual victory always begins in our kingly seat. “Sit” is the key verb in Ephesians 1-3. “Walk” (4:1) and “stand” (6:11) come later, but “sit” is first.
The secret of Christian living is found in sitting first. Christians fail when they try to walk and stand before they sit. Our flesh craves independence. We want to do something, to take action, but this is not the first step to godliness. To succeed we must initially do nothing on our own.
At the outset, enter the room of royalty, sit in your chair next to Christ’s throne, immerse yourself in thoughts of kingly authority available to us because of Christ. Take time to honor Him. All our power is based on Christ’s finished work. We are able to sit solely because He is seated already. The power is ours, but always delegated.
This time of sitting is our way of confessing that all the power needed for victory must come from God alone. To sit means to transfer all our weight to something else. Sitting relieves relieve stress from our legs, our muscles, and puts the strain outside ourselves. To walk or stand, we burn energy, but in sitting we relax. To sit together with Christ means to put down the weight of our load, to put the strain upon the Lord. Our first move must be to transfer responsibility to God, in whom the power resides.
Faith means to trust, to sit, to rest in God. This has been God’s plan for man since the beginning. Adam was created on the sixth day. His first full day on earth was the seventh day of creation, the day of rest.
Christianity starts with the premise God has accomplished everything we need in Christ. We should begin every new spiritual experience simply by enjoying this fact while sitting beside Christ. Unfortunately, we often do otherwise. Do we labor? This usually will be needed. We sit temporarily. A person who sits is expectant, planning to get up and move on. He is resting, preparing to walk or stand. However, the sitting comes first.
Do we fast and afflict ourselves? Maybe, to help us focus and concentrate, but only later. Do we pray and read Scripture? Yes, yes, yes, but even these must come later. We begin by sitting, by resting in what has already been done, in what has been given us apart from any human effort. We dwell on the fact God has from eternity past had in His mind and plan a solution to whatever difficulty we are dealing with at the present moment.
In nothing is this truth more needed than in our warfare against our own sins. “Our deliverance from sin is based, not on what we can do, nor even on what God is going to do for us, but on what he has already done for us in Christ. When that fact dawns upon us and we rest back upon it, then we have found the secret of a holy life” (Nee). “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (RM 6:11). Reckon. Ponder. Meditate. Sit.
When no flotation device is available, it is extremely dangerous to swim into the deep to rescue a drowning man. A drowning man is stricken with panic, and in his thrashing about, will grab anything, including the rescuer, and can thus drown both. The victim often has to be knocked either unconscious or left alone until he struggles into exhaustion.
Whether we know it or not, in our own strength, we are drowning in a quagmire of sin in this world. God is able to deliver us, but often has to delay His help until our store of strength is utterly exhausted. After we cease to struggle, God does everything needed to rescue us.
Yes, we will have works to do, strivings to achieve, battles to wage, but these things come later. Sit, walk, stand–the order is everything.