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Five reminders from the Apostle Paul

PowerPoint from sermon (PDF 94kb)

The title of my message today is “Five reminders from the Apostle Paul”. I am continuing my series of messages from the Book of Ephesians.

In my first message titled, “Chosen, redeemed and sealed” from Ephesians 1:3-14 we saw four things…

  1. God chose us and adopted us
  2. We are redeemed by God
  3. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit
  4. Our salvation is all about God

In my next message we looked at “Paul’s heartfelt prayer for the Ephesians” that looked at Ephesians 1:15-23. We saw six things…

  1. Paul prayed for Spiritual Insight and Wisdom
  2. Paul prayed they would understand the confident hope
  3. Paul prayed they would understand the greatness of God's power
  4. Paul prayed they would understand that Christ is above all things
  5. Paul prayed they would understand that Christ is the head of the church
  6. Paul prayed they would understand that we are Christ's body

In chapter one we see that Paul really set the scene of who they are in Christ, what they have and who Paul prays they will become.

In chapter 2:1-10 Paul gives the church five reminders for the Ephesians that I think can encourage us today.

Bible Reading - Ephesians 2:1-10

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil--the commander of the powers in the unseen world. 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 passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much,
5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)
6 For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by His 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 we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Message Points

Today I have five thoughts I would like to share. As usual they will be on the screen.

1. Paul reminds us of our old way of life

Verses 1-2 says - Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil--the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.

These two verses tell us of our condition without Christ. We were dead because of our sin and we followed the ways of the devil.

Paul wanted to remind the church that now as Christians we are alive in Christ. We have a new life in Christ, and we are a part of a new Kingdom. However, he doesn’t want them to forget where they came from.

As Christians today we need to remember where we have come from and what Christ has saved us from. Romans 3:23 tells us we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death. Before Christ we followed the ways of the world, not the ways of the Kingdom.

So, Paul reminds us of our old way of life.

2. Paul reminds us of God’s intervention

Verses 4-5 - But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)

We were sinners, but God intervened because of His mercy and His love.

Two of the greatest words in the Bible are “but God”. I did a search on my Bible software for the phrase ‘but God”. It appeared 64 times. It says things like…

  • but God heard their prayer,
  • but God did not let them get harmed,
  • they meant it for harm, but God meant it for good,
  • but God knew what would happen,
  • but God formed the earth by His power,
  • but God raised Him from the dead (about Christ)
     

As Christians we can never forget who we are and where we have come from. We can never forget that for salvation to take place there are three things – a need, a provision and a response. We need to be saved because we can’t save ourselves from our sin; we have a provision of Christ’s death on the cross for us; and we need to respond in faith – we need to believe in Jesus and accept what He has done for us.

Paul wanted to remind the Ephesians church and by extension us today, that we were alone and utterly helpless, but God intervened and brought us salvation in Christ. We can never forget this.

3. Paul reminds us of our new seating in Christ

Verse 6 - For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus returned to heaven He was seated at the right hand of the Father. That is the highest place of honour in the whole universe. There is no greater place than being seated next to the Father.

If you are in Christ Jesus (that means walking in relationship with Him, trusting Him for your salvation, and have received Him as your King) then you are spiritually seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! You are spiritually seated with Him in the highest place in the universe! I will just let you soak that in a bit!

Because of this great news you no longer have to walk around with your face pointing to the ground or your shoulders hunched over. You and I no longer have to feel unworthy. We have high standing and high honour with the King and Creator of the universe! You and I are seated with Christ.

Paul wanted to remind the Ephesians where they were seated.

4. Paul reminds us of God’s grace

Verses 8-9 - God saved you by His 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.

Grace may be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. One of the best descriptions of G.R.A.C.E. is - God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

To learn the definition of God's grace, it helps to understand the Greek and Hebrew words behind this term. A prominent Old Testament word describing God's grace is Chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation through God's grace and Christ's work on the cross.

As I was preparing this week, I felt God speak to my heart. He said, “God’s grace saved us, and God’s grace keeps us when we stumble”.

We know that we were utterly helpless to save ourselves and God intervened. We saw in the passage from Romans 3 we shared in communion and in my first point about our old way of life. But God’s grace also keeps us in the palm of His hand. We all stumble at times. We do the wrong thing, we think the wrong thing, we say the wrong thing, or we don’t so what we know we should. But rather than caste us aside, God always welcomes home the repentant heart. Just like the Father welcomed home the prodigal son. This is both sides of grace in action.

Paul wanted the Ephesians and us to remember God’s grace.

5. Paul reminds us of our new purpose

Verse 10 - For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

In Ephesians 2:10 it tells us two great truths. You are God’s masterpiece. God didn’t just slap you together quickly. You are His masterpiece. Like the world considers the Statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a masterpiece, God considers you a masterpiece that He knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 119:13).

The second great truth is that God made you with a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says God made you a masterpiece, He created you anew in Christ Jesus, and He has a wonderful purpose He planned for you long ago.

Imagine God having you on His mind before the foundation of the world. You are not here by chance. You are here with a good purpose to make an amazing difference in this world. Each one of us here is called, gifted and sent out to make a difference. You are good, and your purpose is good. Because both were created by God.

In chapter 1 of Ephesians Paul talks about God choosing us before the foundation of the world. In chapter 2 it says God chose us before the foundation of the world for good works. We are chosen for salvation and chosen for good works.

Paul wanted to remind us of that today.

Closing summary

Today we looked at Ephesians 2:1-10. We looked at five things the Apostle Paul wanted them and us to remember. They were…

  1. Paul reminds us of our old way of life
  2. Paul reminds us of God’s intervention
  3. Paul reminds us of our new seating in Christ
  4. Paul reminds us of God’s grace
  5. Paul reminds us of our new purpose

Amen
 

By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSIONAustralia.org

 

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