THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 3-23-03
LESSON TITLE: THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS: "CHAPTER 2 - SAVED BY GRACE, THROUGH FAITH"
Thank you for joining us today for the Living Word Program. As always, it is our privilege to have you with us, as we commit this time to the things of God. It is further our prayer that we may all praise God this morning, as well as that we may all be encouraged in this joint offering to Him. What better way to start this Lord's day, than to give this sacrifice to Him. Will you bow with me now in prayer!
One of the great topics of the Bible is the hope that we have because of the Love of God. Whenever I talk about hope, I am reminded of a verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, where Paul said, "But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation." Isn't it wonderful to know of the hope of salvation that we have through Jesus Christ. Now let's sing a song this morning that reminds us of the great hope we have through Jesus, as we sing together, "May Hope Is Built On Nothing Less."
(SONG # 1)
If I were to ask you what is the hardest thing to control in life, what would your answer be? Maybe you would say it is hard to control my kids - that's a big problem in our society today, isn't it? Others might say, "well it's hard to control my wife!" Watch out you might get in trouble with that one! The fact is, there are many things in life that are hard to control, but again, what is the hardest thing to control?
Well, according to the Bible, it is our thoughts! Think about that for a minute. No one sees our thoughts, no one hears them, and no one really knows what's on our mind at any given time. I believe that is why is it so hard to control our thoughts. We can think about anything or picture anything we want in our mind and again, no one knows it. When was the last time you had bad or ugly thoughts against someone you didn't like? Did they know what you were thinking? When was the last time you had bad thoughts about that person who pulled out in front of you, did they know what you were thinking. I've got bad news for you. Even if they didn't know, God did! Jesus understood that God knows everything when He said, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts," Luke 16:15.
Isn't this why Paul said in Philippians 4:8, that we need to think on good things. There he said, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things." So, our thoughts must be good, because we want to be pleasing unto God.
On the other hand, we must have good thoughts because they make us who we are. Solomon said, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he," Proverbs 23:7. In other words, we will eventually be what we think. If we have bad or evil thoughts we will eventually participate and do that which is evil. However, if our thoughts are good and righteous, then we will only be perceived as being of God.
So, what do you think about in your everyday life. Is it pleasing to God as it must be. Is it making you a good person before this world in which we live. As commanded, let's all strive to think more on those things above.
This morning we will continue our discussion from the book of Ephesians. Our specific lesson today will cover, "Chapter 2 - Saved by Grace, Through Faith." Please stay with us for this exciting discussion, after our next song together, and at that time I will return with the study of the day. Now, won't you join in with the congregation, as we sing our next song together - the name of this hymn, "O To Be Like Thee."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thanks for continuing with us again today as we have a chance now to go to the Word of God and look again to the book of Ephesians. So far, we've had a good study together. We've looked at the introduction and have been able to find that Paul was writing to a very faithful congregation there at Ephesus. He was encouraging them to continue on and to keep on keeping on as far as the many great things that they were doing. You might even remember that last week as we looked in chapter 1, around verse 15 that he talked here about the great faith and the love that they had for Christ and how that he continued to pray for them because he was so proud of them and happy about the good work that they were doing.
But now as we continue today, we want to look at chapter 2 and we'll be focusing more specifically on that we are saved by grace through faith, a verse that is found there, verse 8 in fact, and really this is building on top of what we've already seen in the first chapter where we focused primarily on the idea that through Jesus Christ, redemption was offered to all man. In other words, through the shedding of blood according to the eternal plan that God had. That is even before He created the world, He had chose that someday His own son would come, leave heaven, become a man, would live, He would die after suffering on the earth. He would be buried in a grave and then rise again and after the shedding of blood, through that blood He would offer a redemption to man, a forgiveness of sins, a price that had been paid, in fact the ultimate price that had been paid so that you and I today might be saved and so that we might receive as we talk about today the grace of God that certainly will offer us the greatest rewards of this earth and the great final reward once again of heaven.
You might notice then there in verse 2, or rather verse 1 of chapter 2, that it says there that "you He has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins." Now as you can just imagine as he's already been discussing the great redemption that was offered by God and commending them for their faith and then reminding them that Jesus Christ is the center of all of it, that He is the head and that all things are under Him including the church being His body and a part of the body and the fact that really all things are under Him and fit in Him and He feels all in all, as it says there at the end of chapter 1. Then he begins in chapter 2 by saying that "He has made you alive, that you are now alive and you have escaped the trespasses, the sins and the problems of past life." In other words, the old man. That's exactly what Paul was saying to the brethren at Rome if you'll look back at Romans chapter 6, as he was talking there about the need for really baptism and the significance of baptism and how that when an individual is buried in water, he's buried in a watery grave as Christ was buried in His grave and as Christ rose from the dead. In other words, out of the grave, the literal grave. We in a figurative way, out of the water rise also from the dead. But what's the death there? The death that we die to is the old man and that's exactly what is being discussed there in verses 5 and 6 if you'll read with me in chapter 6 again of the book of Romans. He says there, "If then we have been united together in the likeness of His death certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Verse 7 says, "For he who has died has been freed from sin."
Now with that in mind, as we go back over to our text of the morning, we want to look in the book of Ephesians chapter 2 and we see there Paul making a similar statement such as that "He has made us alive (that is Christ) who were dead to sin and trespasses." Well that explains it very clearly. When we become obedient to the Will of God and we have done that which God has asked by making the great confession and repenting and then symbolically being baptized, buried as He was baptized, dying to the old man and rising a new creature, a new individual just like in the Corinthian letter, he again talks about becoming a new creation, special, Christ-like, striving to live as God would have us to live. Well that's exactly again what He is stressing here to the Ephesian church, the faithful brethren there to remind them that certainly they are alive only because of Jesus Christ and it only again is because of that great redemption and the shedding of blood that they are able to leave the old behind, the sin and the transgression and the problems of the old man. Why? Because the old man is dead. The old man has died and they now were new creatures, new creatures in Christ. What you and I would refer to as, even our own selves, as Christians.
If you'll look at verses 2 & 3, he really describes this a bit more in detail. In fact, he gives almost an explanation or example here as he says, "In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of the flesh, the fulfilling of the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were natural children of wrath just as the others."
In other words, he says, "At one point, we were in these sins. We were in these transgressions. We were guilty of following Satan and the evil one or as it says specifically here being a son of disobedience." But what is it again that caused them to be made alive, that caused them to be different, special and the unique people, "a royal priesthood," as Peter says. What it was was the plan, the scheme of redemption, the great sacrifice of Jesus and the price that was paid there of the greatest sacrifice that could have ever been made, God in the flesh, the son of God Himself shedding His blood so that we might be saved. Oh how precious a gift. What a wondrous gift. Nothing greater could have been done. Nothing more wondrous could have been required than the shedding of blood from the son of God Himself, Jesus. But the price was paid. The redemption was made. And therefore, we no longer are walking as children of wrath as he says here, but rather we have been made alive.
Now in the following verses beginning with verse 4, we see here that again Christ is emphasized as being the center of the plan. In other words, what it is all about, the essence as we talked about in the past of the gospel that Christ has given us. Christ did come and He did live and He did die. He was buried in the grave and He did rise from the grave on the 3rd day. The heart of the gospel that then encompasses the will that He has given us also concerning the kingdom and the things that we must do and the lives that we must live as faithful children of God. Certainly that is exactly what he is talking about here as he expresses the great Jesus as the heart of the plan of redemption who has made all man alive. Read with me if you will verse 4 through 7. It says there, "But God is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places that in ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus Christ.
Here, we have given again the great love of God, the great mercy, the grace that has been extended to us. In what way? In Christ Jesus' sacrifice. In fact, there in specific words, it says in verse 5 that "He has again made us alive through Christ, the grace."
Again, what is that concept of grace? It is that undeserved favor or blessing from God although we are not worthy as mere men. There's nothing that I will ever do or that I have done or ever could accomplish in this life that could somehow make God owe me grace or somehow say that He owes me blessings or the promise of heaven. But it's again that grace through the redemption, the blood that was shed on the cross, that Christ cared enough according to the plan of the Father to make me alive. That's the heart again of that which gives me great strength, great riches as it says in verse 7, that is not only making me alive but allows me to know that the riches in Jesus Christ are His grace and the great knowledge that even we looked at in chapter 1 of salvation that then is found according to the grace of God.
Then we have the all familiar verse there in verse 8. We'll look at verse 8 and 9 together as he says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God and not of works lest anyone should boast."
Very quickly here, Paul reminds these faithful Christians, as I remind you, of the grace of God and how that God did all of these things although we're not worthy and He extended these things to us. But notice now our response that is mentioned here in relationship to the plan of redemption, the plan of the grace that is offered, the gift that is laid out there. You know when a gift is offered, it has to be received. If I buy somebody a gift for their birthday and they take the present, until they've opened it and they've accepted it and they're happy about it, it has really not been received. Once I've bought it and it's hiding in my trunk, it has really not been something that has been received although it is a gift, something that has been offered. But now think about that in relationship to grace. He has offered the gift. He has laid it out there, until we do our part to receive it. What is our part? He says, "By grace you have been saved through faith." If we have to get to grace here and we have to do it through faith then there is something necessary to receive that grace. Faith is our part. Faith is what we must do. And then very quickly he says here, "Not of works anyone should boast." It's the gift of God. Grace is something that's offered without being able to pay the price to say it was worthy to have been paid such as the death of Christ. But here as we look in verse 9, it says, "Not of works." We don't want anyone to boast. In other words, there's not enough that we could do but still that doesn't negate or say that we have no need of faith, because it says here that it is through faith that we have that grace. In other words, God has laid it out there and those who respond to that redemption, that redeeming blood, by becoming obedient to faith or through faith again, then automatically receive that predestined grace that which has been offered, that which has been laid out for anyone to take.
Then the wondrous part is as is mentioned in verse 10 that because of this, because of this grace being offered and our response to it showing that truly we love God, he says there in the next verse, verse 10, "Thus we are His workmanship created in the image of Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." There again we have it that we are His workman.
Genesis chapter 1 and verse 6 says that "we were created in the image of God." We are formed spiritually in that essence of God that which God wants us. We have a soul and thus God is in us. Therefore again, as God is with us, we are His special creation, His workman, the ones as it says here that even before the world even began or long before, He made plans as to what our good works would be so that we might walk in them. Notice here again that as it talks about how we are His workman there's something we have to walk in. What would that be related to? Faith. Faith again. In fact, you can go to many places. The Hebrew writer, Hebrews 11 talks about how that faith must be there or we can't please God. In fact, verse 6 says, "it is impossible to please God without faith." And every example in Hebrews 11 gives us the proof of faith by the individual through the things that they did. So as it talks about being a workman that walks in the things of God, he is certainly suggesting here that that is the faith through which we receive the grace, the things that we must do, the things that we must participate in to be what God has asked us to.
Then he again reiterates after that saying that we are children of God and that we through grace have that salvation. He again reiterates the great blood that was shed in verse 11 that was for all. In fact, he states these things, I believe, beginning in verse 11 so that he might mention the Gentiles, the uncircumcised, as well as the Jews. He begins now addressing to the Ephesian brethren how that Christ Jesus and the plan of redemption was for all man no matter whether you were Jew or Gentile.
We looked at last month the book of Galatians. We were looking at a verse in chapter 3 where it says, "We are all one. There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female, nothing in Christ Jesus. We all are one. Here again, he says the same thing and he tells us that we are no longer aliens, whether we are Gentiles or Jews. We are all now one. In fact, he says in verse 12. He says that no longer are the Gentiles, or those who are not Jews, outside of Christ or without hope not knowing God, but he says, "Now because of Jesus Christ, you who were afar off have been brought near (notice by what) the blood of Jesus Christ." You see how the plan fits together. The redeeming blood that was shed, the plan of redemption is that which now brings anyone who is alive, any man, any human of this earth to God no matter who they are, no matter where they are from, no matter what color they are, no matter what class they are in. All are one in Christ Jesus. That's why he goes on then to say that certainly we are of one body, "both being made one," as verse 16 says, "we have been reconciled..." Through who? "...Jesus Christ." "He has torn down that wall, a partition (verse 14) that which was dividing us, (the Jew and the Gentile) and keeping them separate." Jesus Christ, by dying for all man and shedding the blood, the redeeming blood, has brought all together who was afar off. So that anyone again who was afar off as mentioned there in verse 17 can "be brought near as one before the Father, as one in the spirit." That's again what he says in verse 17.
Then he ends the book, or rather with the verses there in chapter 2 by reiterating this great foundation, that is Jesus Christ, the one who is the redeemer, the one who brought the plan of redemption into effect and saw it through as He died on the cross, the one as we've just seen who has broken down the wall of division between Jew and Gentile and anyone else and made all one in Christ Jesus as he says there in verse 19 that "therefore we are no longer strangers or foreigners or citizens, but we are all members of the household of God." In verse 20, it says, "Because we have all been built of the same thing, the apostles and the prophets and Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone." "And the whole building..." it says there in verse 21, "... is fit together perfectly as the dwelling place for God and His spirit." (verse 22)
So there we have it. Jesus Christ, the foundation, the chief cornerstone that all else is built on so that you and I today through that cornerstone and the sacrifice made by Him, that great foundation might have that redemption again through the blood shed on the cross and redemption no matter who we are, no matter where we are from but redemption so that we might be one in Christ Jesus, putting to death the division and enmity and bringing all together in the face of God, in the family of God, in the body of God, in the church of God, because that's where He adds the saved to.
So I encourage you to realize that certainly in the family of God we have been saved by grace, yet it is through faith.
(SONG # 3 - "Sweeter Than All!")
We praise God that you have put Him first this morning, by choosing to give this time to Him. It is always wonderful to have you with us. We invite each of you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit this time to God's service!
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May we all do more to demonstrate our true faith in God, so that His grace can truly save us in the end!