Summary: Let’s take a look at God’s amazing grace that transforms lives. Grace has been defined as God’s unmerited favor—the full expression of His mercy and love. Let’s allow Paul to show us the ABC’s of grace in an unexpected way. By grace we are ARRESTED, BOUND
LIVING IN CHRIST – Prisoner of Grace
Ephesians 3:1-13 NIV
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Opening Illustration: Shawn is a believer, but has struggled to live his life in full obedience to Christ. As a result of some poor choices Shawn ended up in prison. Yet within those prison walls God’s grace has made a transformation in his heart and life. His desire is to share the freedom that he has found in Christ in the most unexpected of places with others.
Let’s take a look at God’s amazing grace that transforms lives. Grace has been defined as God’s unmerited favor—the full expression of His mercy and love. Let’s allow Paul to show us the ABC’s of grace in an unexpected way. By grace we are ARRESTED, BOUND and CHARGED.
I. Arrested by Grace.
Ephesians 3:1 NIV
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.
1. Paul was the prisoner of Christ Jesus.
a) Paul is Christ’s prisoner; he is not held captive to Nero but by Christ. All of Paul’s life is lived according to God’s will because he lives daily “in Christ.”
ILLUSTRATION: Paul, first known as Saul, was arrested by grace on the Damascus Road. His life was forever changed because he was confronted by the risen Christ—“Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”
b) Paul’s imprisonment is for the benefit of others—“for the sake of you Gentiles.” Ultimately Paul knew that he was a prisoner of Christ Jesus—that he had been arrested by grace and was held captive in the arms of his loving savior Jesus. But Paul also knew that it was also his commitment to share the gospel with the gentiles that landed him in prison. The Jews might have left him alone if he had not insisted that salvation was by faith alone in the risen Christ whereby both Jew and Gentile stood on level ground before the cross of Christ. Paul’s willingness to accept the Gentiles as brothers caused the Jews to hate him.
2. Paul was Christ’s prisoner because he was made alive in Christ and made a member of God’s forever family.
a) “For this reason.” Paul is making reference to what God has done “in Christ” from chapter 2. We are no longer separated from God but have been brought near and in Christ have been given peace whereby we are members of God’s family.
b) Look what has happened for those who have been arrested by grace:
>> We had been dead in their transgressions and sins,
>> We had been following the ways of this world controlled by the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
>> We had tried to satisfy the cravings of their sinful nature,
>> We had been objects of God’s wrath,
>> BUT GOD has made us alive in Christ Jesus,
>> God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms,
>> We had once been separated from Christ, without hope and without God in the world,
>> But we who were far away have been brought near to God through the blood of Christ Jesus,