The Gospel Awakes (Ephesians 2:1-10)

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  • Late November marks the month that I was called as your pastor and I started the first Sunday in December. I still remember like it was yesterday when I turned down an offer from one church, not fully knowing if SPBC wanted to progress with a young pastor without any lead pastor experience. There were several phone interviews, home and church visits (never forget calling Amanda & Abby HS students), and the standard preaching reviews at Lake Shore and then finally at SP. We started with a church-wide Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas holidays, and then the planning of a 50th anniversary year in 2010. It has been 9 years and we’re about to embark on planning for a 60th anniversary going into 2020. We are thankful to God for all He has done and is doing.
    • I say all that because sometimes it is good to look back. Looking back can help you appreciate how far you have traveled.
  • In Ephesians 2, Paul helps Christians to look back to see the depth of God’s grace.

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EXAMINE           Ephesians 2 / The Gospel Awakes

Apart from the gospel we are lost.

Paul’s letter is to the saints in Ephesus (1:1). In 2:1-10 Paul further designates his audience as all inclusive.

  • 2:1 “And you” [plural] You is you/me; dead is not just those people but us included.
  • 2:3 “among whom we all”
  • 2:3 “like the rest of mankind”
  • 2:4-10 “we” “us”

Being lost implies dead

He is describing the saints’ past – their pre-Christian status before God. And the picture is not pretty.

  • Dead in trespasses – sins of commission and omission
    • Not just in a disagreement with God.
      • When my children disagree they try to make alliances with either their mother/grandparents/aunts & uncles/or siblings. We do the same, believing we can gang up against God and over rule Him.
    • Not just in danger from bad choices.
    • Not just dying with hopes of a cure.
      • Regardless of exercise, eating habits, essential oils or vitamin drinks & pills… you will die.
    • Not just mostly dead but all dead (to quote highly astute theological work The Princess Bride)
      • Miracle Max to Inigo Montoya “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.” “What’s that?” “Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”
        Later… Westley asks “Why won’t my arms move?” and Fezzik responds, “You’ve been mostly-dead all day.”
      • Dead is not a comedy but a calamity.
    • Dead with a body aware but soul asleep.
      • Genesis 2:17/3:14-24 Adam and Eve after their sin they were aware & ashamed horizontally, guilty & camouflaging vertically, and afraid of eternal consequences. Forever, Eden would be only an echo in their hearts longing to return.  
      • Luke 15:24 “my son was dead, but is alive again”
      • Luke 16:19-30 parable of rich man dead in Hades but very aware & anguishing.
      • Revelation 20:11-15 Dead are judged to awareness of separation from God
      • Death implies a state of being in relationship to God.

 

Being lost implies depraved

  • Following the course of this world
    • Continuing the Genesis 3 pattern with a sin nature and practice from our choices.
    • Psalms/Proverbs/Ecclesiastes all talk about the path/way of man leading to foolishness.
    • Jesus references a narrow way vs a broad path (Matt 7:13-14; Jn 14:6).
    • Ephesians 4:14 children being tossed by waves at sea.
    • The course of this world is one that naturally drifts and departs from God.

“once walked” Paul reminds the Ephesians this is past tense… never forget this Christian!

  • Following prince [ἄρχων, ruler] of the power of the air,
    • the spirit that is at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.
    • The ruler of the air (or ruler of demons: Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15; or prince of this world: Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; or god of this age: 2Cor4:4) is an unholy spirit working in sons of disobedience (cf. Eph 4:27; 6:11; 6:16). Notice, humans are either adopted as children of God or to be a child of disobedience; there’s no middle ground (cf Jn 8:39-47).
      • Our depravity is both inherited and initiated by our attitudes & actions (cf Eph 4:17-5:18). Therefore, the cause of our actions are explained by human nature, world environment, and demonic influence.
      • Satan is defeated but still creating dread & destruction.
    • Paul references spiritual realm often in Ephesians (1:3; 1:20; 2:2; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).

Being lost implies doomed.

  • Children of wrath
    • Like the rest of mankind
    • The default is every person is wrath and hell, not mercy and heaven. God’s holiness must judge sin or He’s not perfect. So, God’s love is balanced with justice that is on full display through the cross. Jesus did not deserve death, but He took our punishment so justice would be served and forgiveness available.

Paul’s aim is to reflect the gravity of life apart from God and magnify the mercy of God.

What do you do when you are lost?[1]

Despite modern communications and equipment, more people than ever are getting lost in the wilderness. Cellular and satellite phones and global positioning systems (GPSs) make the world seem smaller, but the reality is, there’s still a lot of emptiness out there and it can be easy to get lost. Here are a few tips that spiritually relate to becoming found. This will lead to Paul’s answer to our deadness, depravity, and dooming judgment.

  • Stop moving. Rescue crews will find you faster if you stay in one spot. Further, moving without direction is wasted energy.
    • Admit your lost and dead in sin. This admission begins the process of becoming saved. Bible calls this repentance.
    • Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  • Become visible. Rescue crews will find you easier if you have clear markings of your position.
    • Pursue God by making yourself available to Him and His word.
    • James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
  • Find nourishment and protection. It will be hard for your body to maintain proper temperature and energy if you are not staying hydrated, eating and staying protected.
    • Spiritually refreshment comes through intentional intake of God’s word, prayer and Christian fellowship.
    • Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.”

 

– – – The ultimate bad news and good news – – –

 

Attached to the gospel, we are found.

Paul transitions from the description of life apart from God to attached to Jesus.

  • But God – – – WHAT A TRANSITION! THAT’S YOUR STORY!
    • Being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses
    • The character of God > the conduct of humanity. Salvation does not start with you but God. He is rich in mercy and overflowing with grace (word mentioned 12x in Ephesians).

 

  • Alive with Christ
    • Alive: συζωοποιέω from “zoe” abundant, spiritual life / not just bios (biological natural life) or psuche (psychological mind and soul life). C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says “bios is a shadow of zoe life, like the difference between a photo and a place, or a statue and a person; that is precisely what Christianity is about” – moving from deteriorating bios to enduring zoe!
    • Who can make life out of death?
      • Isaiah 25:8 “[The Lord] will swallow up death forever”
      • Jesus is the resurrection (Jn 5:24; 11:25; Rev 1:8)
      • D.L. Moody, “Death may be the king of terrors, but Jesus is the king of kings.”
  • Saved by grace
    • Saved – not just enhanced, upgraded, or improved.
    • Not works (Eph 2:8-9).
      • Religious
      • Relational attachments beyond Jesus cal ripken
        (Like Cal Ripken rookie card – Bob Bonner & Jeff Schneider are nice but inconsequential; only Cal makes the value).
      • Illus: Like a bird thinking it can lay on the ground with legs upward to hold up the sky from falling… all we do is futile apart grace.
    • Through faith.
      • Faith and grace are a gift, so no one can boast. “We should never think of salvation as a transaction; God provides the grace, we provide the faith. It’s all grace!”[2] Our only boast is in Christ (cf. 1Cor 1:31; 4:7; Php 3:3).
      • Faith is the means God uses for to produce His power.
  • Raised with Christ
    • Resurrection life starts now.
      • Living with certainty and confidence; hope.
      • Put off & Put away while Putting on & Walking in the Spirit
      • As baptism… you live the new life.
  • Seated with Christ in heavenly places
    • So God might show immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us
    • We have a place around the table with the family of God.
    • Practically, you are seated in Severna Park, but positionally you are seated in heaven.
    • God showing the measure of His mercy with our mess – – – God gets the glory when we acknowledge, if God can save ___, He can save anyone – – – Bu actually the greater miracle of grace is when God awakes the self-righteous heart who thinks they have no need of God!

 

APPLY/THINK

Eph 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

  • Not a works salvation, but a salvation that works; not to be saved, but because we are saved.
    • Saved from sin and saved to sanctification.
    • creeds lead to deeds,
    • Works authenticate God is with us.
  • “workmanship” ποίημα our works are a poem & story telling about the grace and glory of God.
    • Saved to be sent, telling the story of the gospel with our life & lips.

 

USA has a Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains where rain from the sky falling to the east ends up in the Atlantic Ocean and falling to the west ends up in the Pacific. Likewise, our lives are divided apart from the gospel or attached to Jesus.

 

[1] From http://www.ehow.com/how_136351_survive-lost.html
[2] Tony Merida, http://tonymerida.net/2012/october-14-2012-but-god-ephesians-21-10/

2 Comments Add yours

  1. this was a very meaningful message. I really liked it.

  2. growinggodlygenerations says:

    Thank you and God bless.

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