Summary: Grace, Faith, Salvation, Good Works
ONE CHURCH - One Faith
Ephesians 2:1-10 (p. 814) July 17, 2016
Paul tells us we are saved by “grace through faith.”
Let me give you a real quick definition of grace…Grace means receiving something you don’t deserve…it’s different than mercy…mercy means you don’t receive something you deserve.
Like when you were a kid and you took some of your mom’s chocolate chip cookies that she’d made for Christian Women’s Club (this is purely hypothetical you understand) and your mom says “I should give you a spanking…but I’m not.” That’s mercy!
Grace would be mom saying, “Ricky, do you want me to fix you a milkshake to wash those cookies down?” Why yes mother, yes I would.” That’s grace.
There’s a huge difference between mercy and grace…most of us as human beings have extended mercy…even though it’s not easy we don’t speak hateful words back, even if it’s deserved…we don’t hit back…we don’t return hate for hate…that’s mercy…and most of us give out small measures of mercy every day…and need small measures of mercy every day…sometimes large measures.
But grace is different…grace is a gift. And its given not because its been earned…but simply because it’s needed.
[I remember reading a story by Chi Chi Rodriguez, the golfer. He grew up in abject poverty…and one day his father caught a neighbor who had broken into their backyard and was stealing a bunch of bananas. Chi Chi watched his father give the man the bananas…but also a bag of food that amounted to about half of what their family had for the week…THAT’S GRACE.]
Most of us think “that thief” deserved a beating with a stick…and you’re right! But he didn’t get what he deserved…He got mercy…And he got what he needed instead…grace…Grace is a gift.
I. WHAT DO ALL OF US DESERVE?
EPHESIANS 2:1-3 (p. 814)
Paul’s not just telling the Ephesians that they were dead in their sin…that their former life and former choices proved it. He says “All of us also lived like this, like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath…”
Adam and Eve opened the door to sin…They would never be the same after “having their eyes opened because of their disobedience.” Their natures were changed…sin brought selfishness and death into the equation. The serpent had lied when he said, “You will not surely die!.” Adam and Eve surely would…Adam lived 950 years and then died…950 years is a long time…but it’s not forever!
And every descendent of Adam and Eve would inherit this same nature…a selfish one…a sinful one…and the consequence would be the same…death. We as Adam and Eve’s grandchildren times 100 are not responsible for their sin, but we are the recipients of their nature.
“All have sinned” according to Romans 3:23. It’s in our nature…and because of that, we deserve that “beating with a stick.” We deserve “God’s wrath.” We deserve death… “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
Until we experience this truth we cannot truly accept grace by faith.
You see we cannot be saved because we start being nicer…or start doing a bunch of good things to try and make up for the bad things…grace has nothing to do with us…it’s not from us… “it’s the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.”
[It’s so hard for us…in fact for everyone, to not put the cart before the horse…by nature we minimize our sins…by nature we forget them quickly…by nature we maximize the good things we do…we forget them…NEVER! We want to think…good people go to heaven…and because of our nature, guess how many of us think we’re good…statistics say, “1 out of 1” of us. Let’s say some Hail Mary’s, let’s put an extra $20 in the collection plate, let’s help our neighbor cut his grass, like money in the spiritual bank…We’ve earned God’s approval. It’s still selfishly about us…but we’re trying to put more good on the scale than bad so our sins don’t seem so…deadly.]
This way of thinking and living requires no gift of grace…it just requires more good than more sin…It’s almost the exact way the Pharisees lived in Jesus’ day…and it’s why they rejected the need for a Messiah.
Good works don’t cover our sins and cancel them out…the blood of Christ covers our sin and His righteousness justifies our unrighteousness. “All are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of blood - to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:24-25)
“The wages of sin is death…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
II. GOD GIVES DEAD PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED
EPHESIANS 2:4-6 (p. 814)
Silly question, but “What do dead people need?” You could say, burial…and you’d be right…but if you could give someone whose died anything, what would if be? Life right?