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:

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.

Close:

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)

 

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