Summary: What do you do when you hear God speaking to you? At the Birth of Chris, three individuals rrespond three different ways.
Before an individual comes to Christ, Ephesians tells us that he or she is dead in trespasses and sins. His or her life has little or no meaning in light of eternity. When a person comes to Christ, the Word of God tells us that the Holy Spirit quickens or gives new life to that individual. That life is received by grace through faith alone apart from any works or deeds. Coming from spiritual death, the believer now not only has life but also has a purposeful life - a life that has the honor and glory of God as its object.
I. True Salvation is by the grace of God through faith and faith alone. (verses 8-9)
A. Trusting in our own efforts to be good will not get us to heaven. This was the religion of the Pharisees. Jesus described them this way: They trusted in themselves that they were righteous (Luke 18:9). Many people have this belief today. In talking about this with hundreds of people, I have found that the vast majority believes they will enter heaven on the basis of their good works. The Bible teaches however, "There is a way that seems right unto man. But the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
B. "Man does not come to God through works -- he comes to know God by faith through grace. You cannot work your way toward happiness and heaven, you cannot moralize your way, you cannot reform your way, and you cannot buy your way. It is a gift of God through Christ. A gift that must be received in order to possess."
C. John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
D. Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
E. Stanley Hauerwas in an interview said "Salvation isn’t what liberals or conservatives in this country think it is. It’s about getting my life straight. It’s not about ultimate significance. Salvation is about an adventure that was made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, through which I am made part of a community who will tell me who I am. You are not free to make up your life as a Christian. Your life is not like a gift; your life is a gift. That is a very important grammatical point. Until you learn to receive your life gift, you are lost. And people are lost." The Door (May/June 1993). Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 6.
II. True Salvation results in changed purposeful lives. (verse 10)
A. "You are not free to make up your life as a Christian. Your life is not like a gift; your life is a gift."
B. We are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared has prepared for us to do.
C. It is important to understand God has ordained us to walk in good works. Doing good works is not an option for the believer; it is his very nature as a believer.
D. God has called each personally committed follower to a place of service in the body of Christ.
E. Ephesians 4:4-12 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"
F. The maturing and equipping of the body of Christ is that the body might perform the work of the ministry to the building up of the members of the body and the evangelism of the lost.
G. We are not here for our own benefit. We are here for the benefit of others – those already here and those who are yet to be here. The church does not exist for its own benefit. It exists for the purpose of helping people find Christ, know Him intimately, grow in grace, exercise their spiritual gifts, use their talents, share their faith, demonstrate their love, and honor God with their entire lives.