Ephesians 2:1-10 Saved by God’s Grace

Salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Prepared and preached by Rev. Steve Rhodes for Bethel Evangelical Friends Church on Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crazy story, a woman is searching for a doctor who believes all treatments are the same. Listen to this:

OAK PARK, IL—According to sources, local Universalist Paula Wilson is searching for a physician who shares her belief that all treatments will eventually lead to the same cure.

Wilson, who was recently diagnosed with pneumonia, told sources it is very important that her doctor share her values of openness and acceptance that all medical paths will bring her to wellness. She hopes to find a physician who is not so arrogant as to insist there is only one way to cure her illness.

“This audacious doctor told me I ‘need’ some antibiotics,” Wilson told reporters. “These doctors just blindly follow people like Alexander Fleming, who was a great medical teacher, but just because his discovery of penicillin has saved millions of lives doesn’t mean his way is the only way.”

“Who are they to tell me there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to solve my problem? How dare they try to force their beliefs on me!” she declared, in between fits of coughing.

Now, that story is satire, but shows how ludicrous we can become in our thinking.

Do you think that all roads lead to God? Do you believe that all religions are the same and there is no such thing as absolute truth?

You see truth in its very definition is exclusive. The Truth is we need Jesus. We are dead without Jesus.

My theme today is that we are saved by God’s Grace. We need God’s grace.

My application: Trust in Him, surrender to Him. Pray for others to trust in Him.

Today, I will not read the whole passage to start. Instead I will reference the text within the sermon. The text is Ephesians 2:1-10: I am using the New American Standard Bible today

  1. Verses 1-3 are about our state of spiritual death. This is our spiritual separation from God. Let’s briefly talk about this as this part shows us why we need God’s grace; why we need God’s favor.
    1. Look at verse 1: You were dead in your trespasses and sins. This verse uses two nouns to define the wrong things we do. They are basically synonyms and so they are repetitious. Many times we use, and the Scriptures use, repetition to add emphasis.
      1. But a key point in this verse is the word “dead.” This is an adjective describing our state spiritually before and without Christ. This is not literally death. This is spiritual death.
      2. That is quite an image, isn’t it? Dead. It is as if we are walking around dead. It is as if many people are walking around dead. But, it is true. All without Jesus are living dead. All without Jesus are living physically, but dead spiritually.
  • You know what it is like when the power is out in your house? A few years ago a hurricane came through Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus and probably up here as well. This was September 2008 and the hurricane was the remnants of a hurricane that hit New Orleans, but not Katrina, this was hurricane Ike. There were people without electric for weeks. Our power was only out for just  over two days. You know how good it was when the power came back on? I heard the freezer kick on, the refrigerator kick on, the ceiling fans kicked on, the lights came back on.
    1. Without Christ the power is out spiritually. Why is the power out? This is because of trespasses and sins. But people don’t realize the power is out because they have never had this power on. Some of us don’t realize the power is on because it has been on so long.

Look at verse 2:  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

  1. Verse 2 gives more detail about how we live. Without Christ people are disconnected from God. Technically, sin is anti-God, so sin separates us from God and without Christ we cannot come back to God.
    1. Paul says they formerly lived in these sins and trespasses and in this spiritual death.
    2. I notice that word: formerly. Remember that; remember that because to often we give license for Christians living in sin, living in the world.
      1. No, those are former ways, former ways not to be condoned.
  • If you are dead spiritually because you don’t have Christ, that means you are living for the world and the Bible calls that the devil’s domain.
    1. Paul says, “The Prince of the power of the air.” That is the devil.
    2. Listen: I have preached on spiritual warfare and will again; there is more out there than you, and than we, regularly imagine. The devil is influencing us towards sin. There is nothing the devil wants more than for you and me to live anti God.

Verse 3:

 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

  1. In verse 3, Paul emphasizes that we also once lived in this way. But again, the key word is “formerly.” Now, what happened? Grace is what happened.
  2. Now, why is God’s grace; God’s favor unmerited? This is because we couldn’t earn God’s favor. We needed help. We were spiritually dead. When the electric is out can the electric turn itself back on? No. When we are dead to sin God must take the first action. If we could earn salvation Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross.
  3. We try to sanitize our sin too much. We need Jesus because we sin. We cannot help ourselves. An article made light of the way we try to sanitize our sin, it reads: NAPLES, FL—According to multiple sources within Revival Church, Pastor Kent Snider utilized 78 different euphemisms for the biblical concept of sin in one 18-minute sermon this past Sunday, obliterating his own previous record of just 28 substitutes for the term. Snider’s message, titled “Breathing Life Into Our Brokenness,” opened with a short video clip from Rocky III. But as Sylvester Stallone’s powerful voice faded out, Snider was out of the blocks at a lightning-quick pace and well on his way to a world record. “Jesus died for your hurts, habits, and hangups. For your failures and foibles. For your oops-a-daisies and your boo-boos,” he reportedly declared before refreshing himself with a sip of his beverage stationed at the foot of his lectern. “And you know, the Hebrew Scriptures suggest to us that we all might have had moral oversights, bounced spiritual checks, and bashful blunders. So we sometimes don’t quite live up to our God-given potential. That’s right in the book of Romans.” Gayle Clarke, spokesperson for Guinness World Records, spoke to reporters Wednesday about the feat. “It’s really quite remarkable. That’s well over four SEPM—sin euphemisms per minute—an unthinkable rate just fifty years ago. The strides we have made in doing language-defying backflips in order to sugar-coat the concept of transgressing against a holy God in recent years are a real testament to the human spirit.” Sources close to Snider are also confirming that he will attempt yet another astounding feat this Sunday—this time attempting to preach on Romans 1 without mentioning God’s wrath by name a single time.
  4. We need Jesus because we are dead in our sin.
  1. Verses 4-10 are about God’s great grace bringing us back to life.

Look with me at verses 4-6:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

  1. Verse 4 has two amazing words; they are: “But God.” God took action. Our salvation is all about God and that is grace because God gifts us with salvation without a cost.
    1. Verse 4 emphasizes God’s great love for us. You know what? Verse 2 was about the devil and how sin is serving him. You know what? There are actual religions of devil worship. The devil doesn’t love you. How does sin love? In Galatians 5 we have the fruits of the world and the fruits of the spirit listed. Paul writes that there is no law against the fruit of the spirit. This is because what we do by God’s Spirit is good. But the wrong things we do, called sin, hurt other people.
    2. God loves us and so He stepped in.
  • Grace is a free gift from God’s love. God stepped in; Good took action. You don’t have to earn it. You can’t earn it.
  1. We may have to earn a relationship with an employer
  2. We have to earn a relationship with subordinates, even family but not God
  3. God’s love is grace. God’s love for you is a free gift. You can’t earn it.
  • God loves us and we don’t have to earn it. Not at all.
    1. Some of you know this, but you are living as if you must earn God’s approval. We don’t. God loves you and nothing can separate you from God’s love:

Romans 8:39: neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (from New International Version)

Being a parent is about grace. Many times, hopefully, all the time, we love our children, so we freely take care of their needs. They don’t pay us back and many times can’t pay us back.

  1. Verse 5 sums it up nicely: we were dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ. The power was turned off, but God turned it back on.
  2. Then there is this amazing parenthesis: “By grace you have been saved.”
    1. Again, what does saved mean? It means to be saved from something. You are saved from the eternal and temporal consequences of sin. Our sins have an eternal consequence called hell.
      1. By grace, this means unmerited, unearned favor, we are saved from hell.
      2. Do you ever try to pay someone for a gift? Maybe, but then it wouldn’t be a gift. Grace is a gift. Our salvation is a gift from God.

Randy Alcorn’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox says this:

“During a British conference on comparative religions, scholars debated what belief, if any was totally unique to the Christian faith.

Incarnation? The gods of other religions appeared in human form. Resurrection? Other religions tell of those returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. The scholars posed the question to him.

‘That’s easy,’ Lewis replied. ‘It’s grace.’

Our Babel-building pride insists that we must work our way to God. Only the Christian faith presents God’s grace as unconditional.” (page 68 more explained on page 69: Christianity offers forgiveness and Divine intervention. In Judaism and Islam, men earn righteous status before God through doing good works. In Christianity, men gain righteousness only by confessing their unrighteousness and being covered by Christ’s merit. Every other religion is a man working his way to God. Christianity is God working His way to man.”)


Now, let’s get back to the passage at hand:

  1. Look at verse 6: God not only made you alive in Christ, He has seated you in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
    1. Now, this is deep. This is hard to understand. But I believe this is the idea that when we are saved, when we believe, accept and commit to Christ, Jesus joins our life and spiritually we are in Heaven with Jesus.
      1. This is the picture of eternity. As a follower of Christ our eternity is in Heaven with Christ. This is a free gift from God. You can’t earn it; otherwise this wouldn’t be by grace.
      2. Also, if salvation is about God and God is the one who saves you, you need not worry about losing salvation.
        1. Christians will joke about karma. In Eastern religions, Karma is the eternal weight for good or bad of what you do on earth. What you do on earth affects your next life by reincarnation. But you know what? You can’t affect your eternal destination. Only God can, and He does this by His grace. There is no such thing as karma.

Verses 7-9: 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  1. Verses 7-9 show us that this is about God. Our salvation is all about God and we can’t boast about it, we can’t brag about it. This is a gift from God.
  2. Then verse 10 wraps this up quite nicely: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
    1. Our good works are a result of our salvation. Good works flow from what God does in us.

What is the take home for each person?

  1. We all must realize that salvation is about God. God gifts us with salvation. Grace means it is a free gift.
    1. Since salvation is about God, what are you afraid of? There is no reason to fear the spiritual forces of evil. You must not worry about bad Karma, no such thing.
    2. Since salvation is about God, be encouraged. Be encouraged that God chose to give us salvation. God chose to save you. God chose you.
    3. Since salvation is about God, worship God. Wow! You are saved, even though you rebelled against God. God didn’t rebel against you. God rescued you. He rescued all of us. You are loved by the creator of the world. You were created by the creator of the world. Read Psalm 139 and see the detail which God created you with. I emphasize this because many people need love; many need love that they don’t need to earn. God loves you and He has gifted you with His love.
  2. God saved you for good works. Notice that from verse 10. God has prepared good works for us.
  3. God is in control, again, don’t fear

Let’s go further with applications:


  1. We must worship the Lord recognizing what we are is because of Him.
  2. We must give all the credit to God.
  3. We must recognize the spiritual war as Paul did in verse 2.
  4. We must recognize our ways without Christ are dead.
  5. We must recognize our ways with Christ are full of life.
  6. We must recognize our state with Christ is raised with Him in the Heavenly places (verse 6); therefore, we will not live in fear.
  7. We will recognize that our salvation shows God’s great love for us.
  8. We must do good works recognizing that God planned these before creation.
    1. We must submit and surrender to God’s sovereignty (verse 10)
  9. We must not even begin to brag about salvation.


When I was in kindergarten I was passing the baseball with my older brother. It was about 7:30 PM in the spring and I was facing the sun. Through the sun blinding, or some other circumstance, I missed the ball and it hit me in the eye. I don’t remember much pain besides feeling as if I was poked in the eye. I do remember my dad telling my mom to call the ambulance. I remember repeating, “I don’t want to go on the ambulance! I don’t want to go on the ambulance.” Neighbors later said they heard me scream when the ball hit me in the head. As we got on the ambulance, my dad told me he would rather that was him instead of me. Things turned out okay in the end, but I will never forget those words from my dad. My dad couldn’t switch places with me. That was impossible. But God did take our place. Jesus took your place when He died for your sins. Jesus took my place when He died for my sins.

Do you know Jesus as your savior? Jesus died for your sins. He died on the cross for the wrong things you and I have done. He died on the cross and rose again. The wrong things we do have a penalty and that is hell. Jesus paid that penalty for us when He died on the cross.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


Eph. 1:15-23: Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians

Ephesians 1:15-23: Paul’s prayer of Thanksgiving

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 16, 2017


Do you know those light switches that control the lighting from soft and dim to full strength. They are called rheostat because they control the energy level. I was reading for this sermon and John MacArthur made the illustration that many Christians are like those switches. They barely get past the “on” part in terms of output. And they have no idea the remaining power that can bring such tremendous light. It seems like most of the church today has the rheostat at the lowest position possible, doesn’t even understand what yet is available to them.

We have so much in Christ. We have so many spiritual benefits. I like what Barclay wrote:

The Christian life could be described as getting to know God better every day. A friendship which does not grow closer with the years tends to vanish with the years. And it is so with us and God.” [Barclay]

It is necessary that we let our friendship with Jesus grow closer. We must grow in our relationship with Jesus. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul shares a prayer with the church at Ephesus or the churches in that area. In this prayer we hear the richness of who we are in Christ. Paul desires that they understand their great salvation.

Theme: My theme today is that I will explain Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus.

My application for you: Pray for others and pray like Paul. Pray with great worship. Be Amazed by Jesus.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-23:

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

  1. Paul prays that they will grow (look at verses 16-17).
    1. Notice in verse 15 Paul says “for this reason.” Some translations translate that as “therefore.” This goes back to the previous section. Paul had been writing about their salvation in Christ.
    2. Paul now writes that he has heard of their faith in Christ.
    3. He has heard of their love for all the saints.
      1. We could have some interesting thoughts on saints. I read a lot of articles, usually they are called blogs and I subscribe to more scholarly blogs because I want to know the source. I read Dr. Tennant’s blogs, he is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary. I read Dr. Witherington’s blog he is a professor at Asbury. I read John Piper and John MacArthur and Dr. Albert Mohler, he is the President of Southern Seminary. Most of these are emailed to me and I will read them on my iPad or iphone. Often times these articles are Theologically, or about leadership, or book reviews. Many times I save them in my application called Evernote. Then for about four years I have received articles from Churchleaders.com. I receive several a day and read them digitally. Anyways, on the churchleaders.com articles one can comment. I very rarely comment. But one time an article really bothered me. I forget what it was but I think they were dealing with sin lightly. I don’t like dealing with sin lightly. People commented back to my comment in disagreement. But one commented in agreement and said, “We are never called sinners in the New Testament once we are saved.” We are always called “Saints.”
      2. Think about the power of that. We are not saints based off of what we have done. We are saints based off of what Christ has done and our trust in Him.
  • Based off of sanctification and justification you are declared righteous in God’s sight. You are made holy. You are set apart for Him.
  1. 1 Cor. 6:11 says it all: Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
  1. Now, verse 16: Paul continues to pray for them.
    1. How much are we praying for our brothers and sisters in the church?
    2. How do we pray?
  • Pray like Paul. Pray spiritual prayers.
  1. Verse 17: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
  2. Paul prays for them and us to have knowledge of Him.
  3. Paul prays that they would have a spirit of wisdom. This is likely not meaning the Holy Spirit. They have the Holy Spirit already. This is likely a spirit meaning an inner attitude of wisdom, or quality of wisdom, or demeanor of wisdom.
  4. Paul prays that God would “reveal” the knowledge of Him.
  5. The idea of “revelation” has the idea of “pulling back a curtain and showing what is behind it.” You know it is like the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals the wizard. Paul is praying that we have the revelation from God and this shows us the awesome knowledge of Him.
  6. Notice the powerful words in this verse: “Father of ‘glory.’” God is the God of all glory. He is awesome!
  7. There is more that could be talked about here. I could talk about each of the words, but I must move on.
  1. In verse 18, Paul goes into what knowledge he prays for them: I pray thatthe eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
    1. Paul wants them to know the “riches” of their calling. The calling is from God.
    2. What are the riches of the glory of the inheritance?
    3. Whose inheritance?
    4. We have an inheritance in Christ.
    5. But this says that we are God’s inheritance. The church is God’s inheritance. The church is Jesus’ inheritance. The church is the bride of Christ.
    6. Paul thinks this is a big deal and he launches into worship and doxology.
  • In verses 19-23 Paul worships: “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These arein accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
    1. The strength of God’s might.
    2. God brought about our salvation in Christ.
    3. He raised Him from the dead.
    4. Seated Him at the right hand in the Heavenly places.
    5. He is above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every name.
    6. All things are in subjection under His feet.
    7. He is the Head of the church.
    8. There is a lot of cross reference with this which I can give to you in writing. You can get them on my blog but here they are: Christ’s position of authority is described four ways (v. 21): (1) above all other thrones or powers (evil forces; cf. Col 1:16); (2) over every other name (cf. Php 2:9-11); (3) all things are under His feet (see Ps 8:6; 1Co 15:27; Heb 2:6-9); (4) He is head, that is, ruling authority, over all things for the benefit of the Church (HCSB), His body (v. 22; cf. 1Co 12:12-27). The second part of v. 23, which says the Church is Christ’s fullness, probably refers to divine power and glory (see Col 1:19; 2:9) and here is passive. That is, the Church is what He fills with His glory and power.
  1. Let me be more specific with application. These are in the first person as I apply them to myself.
  2. I must pray for other people and churches.
  3. I must pray spiritually.
  4. I must pray for spiritual needs and not merely physical needs.
  5. I must pray giving thanks for others (verse 16).
  6. I must pray that God gives wisdom (verse 17).
  7. I must pray that God reveals Himself (verse 17).
  8. I must pray that we know Jesus better and deeper (verse 17).
  9. I must pray for enlightenment, that God enlightens us so that we may know His riches and glorious inheritance in us (verse 18).
  10. I must pray that we know His power and strength (verse 19).
  • I must praise the Lord (verses 20-23)
    1. He raised Jesus and sat Him at His rights side.
    2. Jesus is far above all rule and authority.
    3. God placed all things under His feet.
    4. Jesus is the head of the church and the Church is His body.


We have full power in Christ. We have a full salvation in Christ. Are we following Him? Are we pursuing Him?

Talking about pursuing Christ John MacArthur shares:

A noble Puritan pastor certainly had this in his heart, a man by the name of Thomas Vincent who lived in the mid 1600’s. And he wrote a wonderful little book. The title of it is The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ. What a magnificent thought. The true Christian’s love to the unseen Christ. And he built it on Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen you love.”

Listen to some of the things he said. “The life of Christianity consists very much in our love to Christ. Without love to Christ we are as much without spiritual life as a carcass when the soul is fled from it is without natural life. Faith without love to Christ is a dead faith. And a Christian without love to Christ is a dead Christian, dead in sins and trespasses. Without love to Christ we may have the name of Christians but we are holy without the nature. We may have the form of godliness but are holy without the power.”

Then he went on to say this. “If Christ has their love, their desires will be chiefly after Him. Their delights will be chiefly in Him. Their hopes and expectations will be chiefly from Him. Their hatred, fear, grief, anger will be carried forth chiefly unto sin as it is offensive unto Him. He knows that love will engage and employ for him all the powers and faculties of their souls. Their thoughts will be brought into captivity and obedience unto Him. Their understandings will be employed in seeking and finding out His truths. Their memories will be receptacles to retain them. Their consciences will be ready to accuse and excuse as His faithful deputies. Their wills will choose and refuse according to His direction and revealed pleasure. All their senses and the members of their bodies will be His servants. Their eyes will see for Him, their ears will hear for Him. Their tongues will speak for Him. Their hands will work for Him. Their feet will walk for Him. All their gifts and talents will be at His devotion and service. If He has their love, they will be ready to do for Him what He requires. They will suffer for Him whatever He calls them to. If they have much love to Him, they will not think much of denying themselves taking up his cross and following Him wherever He leads them,” end quote.

I hope we are all encouraged by our faith and trust in Christ. I hope we can pray spiritually like Paul. I hope we are so amazed by God that we cannot help but follow Him and share Him.


Ephesians 1:3-14, Praise God for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Praise God for His spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

During WWI German U-boats were sinking as many as 50 ships a week. So, something had to be done. You could not camouflage a ship because the background is always changing. So instead, they tried to make the ship stand out in a confusing way. They would make it so you could not tell which side was the bow vs the stern. They call this Dazzle Camouflage. This is the Zebra idea. The torpedoes took as long as 3 minutes to get to their target and this messed up their aim as much as 60 degrees.

The point is sometimes you just have to think creatively out of a problem. God had a plan for our salvation. God had a creative plan and the devil could not figure it out or thwart it.

As we look at the next eleven verses in Ephesians we see Paul praising God for our awesome salvation.

My theme today is: In Ephesians 1:3-14 we see Paul praising the Lord for our great and awesome salvation.

My application is: Pray like Paul and Jesus, Pray with praise, Praise God!

Let’s open our Bibles and read: Ephesians 1:3-14:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insightHe made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

  1. Paul starts with blessings we have from the Father (3-6)
    1. As I look at this passage it is difficult to think of what not to explain. Explaining this text could take weeks and weeks. So, I will focus more on applying.
    2. I would explain that verse 3 says it all. That is the summary. Verse 3 says Blessed bethe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. The rest is explanation and detail.
    3. I would explain that this is all one sentence in the Greek.
    4. I would explain that this is a doxology and a Psalm.
    5. I would explain that chapters 1-3 may all be a prayer.
    6. It is as if Paul cannot contain Himself.
    7. These are often called a doxology
    8. This is Paul reciting what God has done and is an expression of worship and honor to Him
    9. Starts with blessings we have from the Father (3-6) then that come through the Son (7-12) then the Holy Spirit (13-14)
    10. Jewish people used the word bless to express God’s kindness to us and our thanks and praise to Him
    11. Heavenly realms 5x’s in Ephesians: things that are happening are in those realms
    12. Christians have already been made beneficiaries of every Spiritual blessing that belongs to and comes from the Heavenly realms
    13. Verse 4: chose: divine election a constant theme in Paul’s letters
      1. He chose us
      2. He predestined us to adoption. We are part of the family of God.
  • We were also chosen
  1. Having been predestined before the creation of the world: holy and blameless
  2. Holiness the result not the requirement
  1. We could go deeper into predestination, God’s choosing and election. Scholars have debated how this works for centuries. What is clear is that we have a great and awesome and sovereign God who is in charge. He is so great that He can give us some element of freewill, yet still be in control. Some say that this is referring to God’s corporate election, that election is not about individuals but about the church. Another view is that God has elected certain people to witness to others. This is like Israel was elected, chosen and predestined but they were expected to evangelize. That is what Jonah is about.
  1. In verses 7-12 Paul praises God for the blessings through the Son (7-12)
    1. I would love to particularize these and I will more in the application part of this message.
    2. I will say that we have redemption.
    3. The redemption comes through His blood.
    4. When they thought of redemption they would think of buying back a slave. There was a price in redemption.
    5. There was a price in our redemption. Our redemption came at a high cost which was from Jesus.
    6. We have forgiveness.
    7. This is all from grace.
    8. Praise God.
    9. He made known to us the mystery of His will.
    10. That is amazing in itself.
    11. We have an inheritance in Christ. This goes along with adoption.
  • Then Paul praises God for the Holy Spirit (13-14)
    1. I was with Baptist churches and there are unfortunate Jokes about Baptist Churches and their lack of focus on the Holy Spirit. One such joke came out recently: the Holy Spirit is asked to leave.

CEDAR HILL, AL—The Holy Spirit arrived in power at Hope Baptist Church Sunday morning, but was asked to sit in the overflow room as He was making many church members milling about before the service uncomfortable, sources confirmed.

The church immediately activated its contingency plan, designed to cover unexpected appearances of the Holy Spirit.

As the third Person of the Trinity arrived in the foyer, ushers took a strong defensive formation, redirecting Him from the main service into the side overflow room, where He was handed a program and welcomed to watch the service on the wall-mounted TV.

“We have nothing against the Holy Spirit, as long as His arrival is submitted to the church secretary for inclusion on the bulletin by Wednesday at 3 p.m.,” head usher Gary Wall told reporters during the after-service coffee fellowship. “But He can’t just waltz on in here and expect to be given a prime spot in the back row or something. That would be chaos!”

After confining the Spirit in the room, the Baptist church reportedly posted ushers on either side to ensure He didn’t try any “funny business” at any point during the service (http://babylonbee.com/news/holy-spirit-appears-baptist-service-asked-sit-overflow-room/).

That is meant in humor, but there is a sad reality of a tacit way of denying the Holy Spirit. Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God addresses this.

  1. What we see in this passage is that the Holy Spirit secures our salvation.
  2. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a pledge of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is like earnest money in buying a house.
  3. When I asked Meagan to marry me we went to a park and I pulled out a ring and asked her to marry me. I gave her the ring as a promise of my faithfulness.
  4. The Holy Spirit given to us is like an engagement ring.
  1. Some applications under the overall application of praising God.
    1. This is a prayer. We must pray like Paul.
    2. We must pray with praise. Our Father who is in Heaven, holy is His Name. His will be done, His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.
    3. We must praise God for He chose us before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless (verse 4).
    4. We must praise God that He included us (verse 4).
    5. We must praise God that He predestined us for adoption (verse 5 and 1 John 3:1).
    6. We must praise God for His love (verse 4).
    7. We must praise God for His sovereign will (verse 5).
    8. We must praise God for His grace (verse 6).
    9. We must praise God for His forgiveness and redemption in grace (verse 7).
  • We must praise God for grace as His forgiveness, redemption, adoption, love, predestination, election, choosing are all free. We are not given a bill.
  • We must praise God for making known to us the mystery of His will (verse 9).
  • We must praise God for the inheritance (verse 11).
  • We must praise God for the sealing of the Holy Spirit (verse 13-14).
  • We must trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.
  • We must trust that Jesus has given us an embarrassment of riches in Christ.

The German U-boats missed these camouflaged boats and Germany eventually lost the war. The devil will also miss us. The God of the universe is so much more awesome and great and wise and powerful than the devil. God created the devil. God cast the devil to earth like lightning (Luke 10:18). The devil could not figure God’s plan. God loves us and saves us. Worship Him.

Do you know how much God loves you? Do you realize how awesome His love is for you? Do you realize because of His love for you how rich you are in the Spiritual realm? Do you realize that because of God’s great love for you, you are saved or can be saved for absolutely free? You are all eligible for this free gift of salvation. Saved from what? The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush, we are saved from the eternal damnation in hell. Hell is a punishment for our sins. Beyond that God has abundantly blessed us with spiritual blessings. We have spiritual blessings such as adoption, prayer, knowledge, and many others.

My theme today is: In Ephesians 1:3-14 we see Paul praising the Lord for our great and awesome salvation.

My application is: Pray like Paul and Jesus, Pray with praise, Praise God!

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


Some really good new articles

This devotion from Swindoll is really good:


This Desiring God article about crying and emotions is really good as well:


Enjoy and God bless, 

Pastor Steve

An Introduction to Ephesians (Eph. 1:1-2)

An Introduction to Ephesians, God’s Letter of Encouragement in our Salvation in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-2)

Prepared and preached by Rev. Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Evangelical Friends Church in Poland, OH

Sunday, July 2, 2017


It is good to be here. It is wonderful to begin my pastorate with you on this day. Pastor Bobby has served faithfully as your pastor for twenty-nine years, wow! He was about my age when he was called as your pastor, maybe a couple years older than me. When I retire as your pastor I will be about his age as well. I hope to serve as your pastor a long time. I praise God for Pastor Bobby’s many years of service. To put it in perspective I think I was seven years old when Pastor Bobby was called as your pastor. I look forward to serving the Lord alongside Pastor Bobby and building a close relationship with him. I look forward to serving the Lord alongside all of you.

Today, I wish to introduce Ephesians to you.

Think about the freedoms we have.

In the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA, there’s a special display for a rickety, home-made aluminum kayak. This tiny, makeshift boat seems oddly out of place in the midst of displays for impressive Navy vessels and artifacts from significant battles on the sea. But a bronze plaque tells museum visitors the story behind this kayak’s heroic makers. In 1966, an auto mechanic named Laureano and his wife, Consuelo, decided that they could no longer live under the oppression of Cuba’s totalitarian regime. After spending months collecting scrap metal, they pieced together a boat just barely big enough for two small people. Then Laureano jury-rigged a small lawn mower engine on the back of the kayak. After months of planning and on a moonless night, they set out into the treacherous straits of Florida with only their swimsuits on. They had enough food and water for two days. After 70 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued the couple just south of the Florida Keys. Was it worth the risk? Laureano said, “When one has grown up in liberty, you realize how important it is to have freedom. We live in the enormous prison which is Cuba, where one’s life is not worth one crumb. Where one goes out into the street and does not know whether or not one will return because the political police can arrest you without any warning and put you in prison. Before this could happen to us, we thought that going into the ocean and risking death or being eaten by sharks, is a million times better than to stay suffering under political oppression.”

The Los Angeles Times reported several years ago the story of a man and wife who died in their fifties and they found them dead in their apartment and the autopsy revealed they both died of malnutrition. What was interesting was that when the police found their bodies, which had already begun to decay by the time they were discovered, they searched the apartment and found in the closet a whole pile of little paper bags and they opened the little paper bags and found a total of $40,000. It’s a little ridiculous to die of malnutrition, and have $40,000 in paper bags in your closet.

Understand that you are all spiritually rich. You are wealthy in Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Savior and He has blessed us with spiritual wealth. Ephesians teaches us of our awesome salvation in Christ.

 My theme today: Paul writes Ephesians and encourages us about our rich salvation.

I have an application for you: Be encouraged by your salvation, surrender to the Lord and share Jesus with others.

Read with me Ephesians 1:1-2:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Let’s talk about the passage.
    1. The passage begins with “Paul.” Paul is the sender. He is the author. Some more recently have challenged his authorship for various reasons, though they do not hold any water. It is very clear by Biblical Scholars that Paul wrote this letter inspired by the Spirit. Some people say that Paul did not write this letter because he does not talk about specific people and issues. Some say he did not write this letter because he acts like he does not know them.
      1. One of my sources addressed that:
      2. The Gospel spread so he would not have known everything about the groups it spread to in modern day Turkey. The question of Paul’s apparent unfamiliarity with his readers can easily be explained. The ESV Study Bible says: Ancient archaeological evidence has shown that Ephesus controlled a large network of outlying villages and rural areas up to 30 miles (48 km) from the city. Also, Acts 19:10 reveals that reports of Paul’s preaching during his stay at Ephesus had radiated out to “all the residents of Asia.” Hence, Paul would not have been personally acquainted with newer pockets of believers in the Ephesian villages and rural farms that had sprung up since his stay in the city a few years before the writing of this letter.
  • Moreover, many have suggested that Ephesians in its present form stems from the Ephesus copy of a circular letter to several Asian churches that Tychicus was delivering in the course of his journey to Colossae, along with the letter to the Colossians (Col. 4:7–9). Therefore, the absence of personal greetings is no cause for surprise.
  1. The passage continues, “Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus…”
    1. As an application Paul was an Apostle of Christ Jesus (verse 1), this means we must take this letter seriously.
    2. Paul was an Apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will (verse 1), this means that he writes with authority over the church.
      1. As an apostle, which means “one who is sent,” this can mean that one is sent in a general sense, like a missionary. This can also mean, and in this case it does, that one, Paul, is sent in an authoritative position over the church.
      2. This behooves us to listen to these words.
  • Verse 1 also means that God has a will.
    1. This verse combats deists and open-theism. Open theism teaches that God does not know the future.
    2. Deists believe that God set up the world like a watchmaker who winds a clock and lets it go. The Bible teaches the opposite. God has a will. God is intimately involved in His creation.
    3. If God has a will then we must seek Him and seek His will.
  1. The passage continues: To the saints who are at Ephesus and who arefaithful in Christ Jesus: Paul wrote this letter to saints. It is encouraging to know that we are saints in Christ Jesus.
    1. In the New Testament we are always called Saints, not sinners, after salvation. As Christians, or, as I prefer to say, Christ-followers, our trajectory is towards Jesus, not sin. We are called to follow Jesus. We will miss up, but hopefully we are growing in Christ Jesus. Hopefully, the pattern is towards Jesus.
    2. How is that working out, let’s help each other out.
  2. Paul calls them faithful. You know as I read that and I think about an application, I hope I can be faithful in Christ Jesus. I will pursue faithfulness.
    1. Notice, we must be faithful to Christ Jesus. Faithfulness to family, to work, to our spouse, to our neighbor all fall under faithfulness in Christ. Jesus is our most important relationship. We must not make an idol of our job. We must not make our spouse our idol. We can do that. Jesus wants us to be faithful to our spouse, but He is first and most important.
  3. The passage continues: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    1. Paul gives them grace and peace. This is from God, who is our Father, and the Lord, Jesus Christ. We are in a father-son, father-daughter, relationship with God, that is encouraging. We are family. Jesus is our Lord, this means surrender.
    2. We are so loved by God that He invites us into his family. This is called “adoption.” We have privileges of family. See 1 John 3:1).
    3. How awesome is it to be saved. As we get into Ephesians we see that the first few chapters are all about our salvation. Ephesians is rich in what is called “soteriology.” This means the study of salvation. Don’t miss this. We make many errors in Theology, like heresy errors, because we do not care to understand our salvation.
      1. I know, sure, some would say, “I don’t care how I am saved, as long as I am saved.” I can understand some truth to that. But, then how do we know we are saved?
        1. How do we know how to lead others to salvation?
        2. Do we know if we have to do anything to saved?
  • Do we have to do anything to stay saved?
  1. Do we have to be concerned of losing our salvation?
  2. What are we saved unto?
  3. What is our relationship with our Savior?
  1. Ephesians gets into these topics, not completely, but in many ways. The first three chapters of Ephesians are ripe with wonderful, glorious Theology. They are ripe, like a beautiful garden with our salvation.
    1. You know what it is like when everything is dead in the winter, no life in the trees, or the grass, yet no snow either. But then comes spring, everything is green and blooming and colorful and vivacious. That is Ephesians. Ephesians is blooming with salvation which means it is blooming with life.
    2. How many of you have seen the Sound of Music? Remember the beginning when it shows all these beautiful images of The Swiss Alps? That is Ephesians, it is rich, beautiful, wonderful!
  2. Mercedes, my five, almost six-year old daughter was with me looking at a newly paved parking lot and she said, “This parking lot is beautiful.” She had seen the old terrible parking lot at Wal-Mart and now she saw the new, fresh parking lot and just thought it was beautiful. Ephesians is beautifully written about our new life in Christ.
  3. We learn about our free gift of salvation.
  4. We learn that this gift is opened to everyone.
  1. Grace is a gift. Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about our gift of salvation in Christ. By God’s mercy we are saved. We must share this salvation and we must also be encouraged to live for Christ.
  1. Let’s talk briefly about the location:
    1. The date: Because Paul mentions his imprisonment (3:1; 4:1; 6:20), this letter should be dated to c. a.d. 62 when Paul was held in Rome (Acts 28)
  • Let’s talk briefly about the overview of the book/letter
    1. Chapters 1-3 are Theology
    2. Chapters 4-6 are practical church matters encouraging unity and godly living and unity
    3. Constable writes: Norman B. Harrison considered Ephesians, Philippians, and Colosians as written to the spiritual man, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians as written to the carnal man, and Romans as written to the natural man
    4. There are many themes but I wish to name a few: One scholar in Christ shares: For example, chapter 1 verse 7 talks about the riches of His grace, at the end of the verse. Chapter 3 verse 8 talks about the unsearchable riches of Christ. Chapter 3 verse 16 – the riches of His glory. So you have the riches of His grace, the riches of His glory and the riches of His Son. In other words, God is unloading all of His riches in the book of Ephesians. The word grace is used 12 times. And the word grace means God’s unmerited, undeserved kind­ness and favor. Grace is behind all of this lavishness that God pours out. So the word grace is used 12 times.
    5. The word glory is used 8 times. The word inheritance is used 4 times. The word riches is used 5 times. The words fullness and filled are used 7 times. And the key to everything is the phrase “in Christ” which is used 27 times. It is because we are in Christ that all of the fullness of all the riches of the inheritance of the glory of His grace is ours. Do you see? Because we are one with Christ in His church, because we are redeemed, this incredible fullness is ours. Maybe the sum of it all is in chapter 3 verse 20 – “That you might be filled with all the fullness of God.”


There was a lady known in American history known as Hetty Green. Hetty Green was called “America’s Greatest Miser.” When she died in 1916, this is a long time ago, when she died in 1916 she left an estate value at $100 million. That’s a lot of money in 1916. But Hetty Green was so miserly that she said she ate cold oatmeal because it was too expensive to heat the water to warm it. Her son had a severe leg injury and it was so severe that she was delaying trying to find a free clinic where it could be treated and she delayed so long it had to be amputated. In fact she got apoplexy one time and hastened her own death by arguing the merits of skim milk because it was cheaper than whole milk. Now that’s a strange lady, folks. To die with $100 million in your estate and your son loses his leg and you actually encourage your own death and eat cold oatmeal all your life – that’s really not understanding how to use your resources.

Remember in Jesus you are rich. Understand and be encouraged by your great and awesome wealth in Christ.

But, don’t forget your first love. The church at Ephesus forgot their first love: listen:

Rev. 2:1-7:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

 How are you doing with Scripture memory? I propose we memorize this short letter together. Between now and the end of October I think we can do it.

Let’s learn Ephesians 1:1-2 in the next week.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)