Summary: INTRODUCTION: This week begins our three week study through the book of Ephesians called “A soldier in God’s Army”

This week we are studying:

(1) Proper recruitment into Christianity, which is our having passed from death in sin to life in Christ

Illustration: “Back from the dead: Part I”

Have you ever seen the television show ER? It is a television show that portrays events happening in a county emergency room. Every week for an hour at a time, Americans watch to get a peek at what life must be like for life saving doctors in the ER. And it is always a pleasing sound to hear one of the doctors say, “We got him back!” after performing emergency CPR on a person who had been clinically dead.

This week we are going to discuss a different kind of life saving moment

Not many of us have been on the brink of physical death, with our life in the hand of a doctor giving us CPR

But the Bible says that we have all experienced ‘spiritual death’ which is separation from God

The Bible makes many metaphors for the salvation experience, but none so appropriate as the passing from death to life

In fact, probably the greatest analogy in the New Testament concerning our own salvation is the picture of Jesus Christ rising from the dead (which we will be celebrating soon at Easter)

He defeated death by coming back to life after being murdered on the cross

And He now offers to us, who are dead in sin, a chance to be resurrected to a new life

***But there is a problem in the church today:

The necessity of passing from death to life has been dropped from our creeds

Even though Jesus said that we must be ‘born again’ [symbolizing this new life], many who call themselves Christians do not consider this necessary

Listen to this stirring statistic from George Barna’s Research Group:

Quote..“Nearly 1/3 of all born-again Christians stated that all good people will go to heaven, whether they have embraced Jesus Christ or not.”

That is basically saying that 33% of Christians believe that a person can stay ‘dead’ apart from Christ, yet still be saved

Illustration: “Back from the dead, Part II”

Go back to ER for a second and imagine Jesus is the doctor. He stands over a person dead in their trespasses and sins. He administers the life saving treatment of his blood to their heart and they are then made alive because of His work –

Without the life saving work of Christ, much like without CPR, the dead would remain dead

Properly coming into God’s family or as the sermon title suggests the ‘proper recruitment into His army’ requires that we pass from death unto life by the blood of Jesus Christ

Ephesians chapter 2 gives us some great truths concerning our passing from death unto life:

I. Our New Life is Granted Because of God’s Grace

A. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith…”

i. Now, what is God’s grace?

ii. The simplest explanation of grace I have ever heard is, “the receiving of something we do not deserve”

iii. And when God allows us to come to Him in faith and receive salvation, we are receiving that which we eternally do not deserve

B. For most Christians though, they find that grace is not that important

i. They think that, while the Bible says we are sinners, they aren’t really that bad

ii. Just ask anyone, “Are you a good person?”

iii. I can tell you from experience most will say yes (i.e. never killed anyone, robbed a bank, etc.)

C. In fact the idea of considering yourself to be a sinner is looked down on by most psychologists

i. Their reasoning being that it produces a ‘negative self image’

ii. Quote: They say, you should always think the best of yourself, even when your actions and thoughts are not in line with proper behavior

D. But only when we experience a broken heart over our sins will God’s grace become important to us

i. Think about Jesus’ parable of the ‘Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple’ from Luke 18:10 (one of my favorites)

ii. The Pharisee said, “Thank you God that I am not a sinner like other men who are robbers, thieves and adulterers, that I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of my income, and that I am not like that tax collector…”

iii. But the tax collector wouldn’t even raise his face to God, but beat his chest asking for God’s mercy on he who was a sinner

E. Notice the difference between the two men

i. The Pharisee had a ‘positive self image’ that produced an arrogance inside him that resulted in an I problem (Look God, I DID THIS)

ii. But the tax collector, knowing his faults, threw himself upon God’s mercy

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