Summary: We are saved by God’s amazing grace.

Amazing Grace: How Sweet the Sound!

Ephesians 2:1-10

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind but now I see.

There are no better known or more powerful words in all of Christian hymnody. Wherever the words are sung, or the tune played to this old hymn, everyone sings because everyone knows this song. It is the most sung Christian hymn in the world. We sing the words and hear the tune, but do we ever stop to think about the meaning? What is the idea behind this amazing grace that we sing about?

To capture a deeper understanding of this amazing grace we sing about, we have to go to what has been called the magna carta of God’s grace, Ephesians 2:1-10. In this passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesians of the great work God has done in their lives. Listen to Paul:

[1] Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. [2] You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. [3] All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God’s anger just like everyone else.

[4] But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, [5] that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor (grace) that you have been saved!) [6] For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms—all because we are one with Christ Jesus. [7] And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus.

[8] God saved you by his special favor (grace) when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. [9] Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. [10] For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Paul’s words tell us that grace is the centerpiece of God’s salvation. There are five words that are key to understanding the Christian gospel. They are grace, truth, faith, love, and hope. Paul says that grace is the key ingredient. All God’s salvation is for us begins in grace. Everything else in the gospel flows from and builds upon our understanding of grace.

So what is grace? Webster defines grace with such words as “unmerited divine assistance, approval, favor, mercy, pardon, and privilege.” Those are all nice words, but it doesn’t quite ring the same when we say “we are saved by God’s divine assistance,” and it leaves something left unsaid, because if we are saved simply by God’s assistance, that communicates that we help God in the saving act, but that is exactly what Paul says isn’t the case. He says that God is the actor—it is all God. Grace as Paul shares the concept means the completely undeserved, loving commitment of God to us. For some unknown reason that is rooted in the nature of who God is, God gives himself to us, attaches himself to us, and acts to rescue us. Because of His mercy and love, God saves us, and that saving is a result of God’s grace. Paul is clear—wrath should have come, but grace comes instead.

If grace is God giving Himself to us without any preconditions or complaints, then we are given significance, and find our value in God’s relationship to us. But listen, the attention is not on us, but upon the One who loves us so deeply. So grace moves us to worship and humility.

Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker both had churches in London in the 19th century. On one occasion, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon’s orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit. The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town. People flocked to Parker’s church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. "I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering here instead." The crowd was delighted. The ushers had to empty the collection plates 3 times. Later that week there was a knock at Parker’s study. It was Charles Spurgeon. “You know Parker, you have practiced grace on me. You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed.” Grace is so amazing, and sounds so sweet because with God’s grace we don’t get what we deserve. We get what we need—God’s salvation.

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Bruce Lee

commented on Sep 28, 2014

An excellent sermon. Thanks for sharing.

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