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Saturday
Nov242018

Faith in the Lord Jesus for Salvation

Ephesians 2:1-10.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 18, 2018.

Today we are going to begin a new series that focuses on our need for faith in this life.  Faith is an interesting thing because it is not essentially a religious thing.  I know that statement sounds sacrilegious.  To have faith is to put your trust in something or someone.  Thus everybody lives in some way by faith, but the question is this.  What do you trust in?  What do you have faith in?  We sometimes call this the object of our faith.  Even an atheist put their faith in the material things of this world and the ability of science to understand everything eventually.  However, God’s Word calls all people everywhere to put their faith in the Lord Jesus that they may be saved from this wicked and adulterous generation.

Once we were spiritually dead

In Ephesians Paul is writing to people who were not always followers of the One True God.  There are many metaphors used for people in this condition: to be blind, to be a slave, to be sick, to be lost, and here to be dead.  It is clear that we are dealing with a spiritual death in which that most vital part of us, our spirit, is separated and unable to connect with the most vital being of the universe, God.  Even though we are physically alive, even somewhat morally and ethically alive, we are not animated by God and His Word.  Rather, we are animated by the things of this world that are not of God.

Now, as an analogy, we should not put more weight upon this statement then it can biblically bear.  How can a person who is dead to God and His Word, quit being dead and start being alive?  How can a dead man believe?  The analogy does not tell us everything about the thing it analogizes.  It only gives us a glimpse.  Somehow the truth of God’s Word can put a dead man in a position to come to live again if they believe.  Similarly a blind man can see, a slave can be set free, a sick person healed, and a lost person found because of the grace of God.

Verse 1 describes this spiritual death as being “in trespasses and sins.”  The life of a person who is spiritually dead becomes filled with things that can be described by these words.  “Trespasses” refers to the many ways in which our actions and life cross the line of what is acceptable to God. The word “sins” refers to the fact that our actions, thoughts, and desires are in error, or miss the mark in regard to the things that God would have us do.  A life that crosses the boundaries of God’s will and falls short of the good that God has for us to do begins at a very young age within ourselves.  Even when kids are taught right and wrong, they naturally gravitate towards all manner of selfish desires and actions.  By the time a child becomes an adult their life is increasingly filled with these things.  This is the natural effect in those who are spiritually dead.  In this sense we are our own worst enemy.

Verse 2 says that we were walking according to, or following, the course of this world.  The course of this world could be translated as the system of this world and gives the picture of a herd mentality of the spiritually dead society.  When a child is born they drop into a system that pulls them along by the sheer force of its magnitude and the reality that the child knows nothing else.  It is as if you are plunged into a river that is following a course.  This becomes the second part of our problem.  Yes, we are our own worst enemy, but we are also caught up in a world that is leading us away from God.  This world has a great pull on our hearts and minds, pulling us away from Jesus and towards something else.

Verse 2 also says that we and the world we are in were being led by the prince of the power of the air.  The phrase that is used here refers to malevolent, spiritual powers.  Jesus referred to them as “the devil and his angels,” as well as “demons.”  These spiritual powers operate as a single force because they have a ruler over them whom Scriptures generally name as the devil or Satan.  1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  Also 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  The “god of this world” is referring to the one who is acting like a god over the lives of mankind.  He is not truly a god.  The dark sinister forces that he oversees are the enemies of all humanity.  Thus we have the final list of all our enemies: self, the world, and the devil (and his evil spirits).  Many people don’t understand that there is a malevolent, spiritual force behind all the junk that is going on in the world.  This does not absolve mankind, but it does impact how we respond to the problem.

Verse 4 starts with the phrase “but God.”  In this condition of lostness and deadness, God still loves us.  Despite the error that we embrace in our lives His great love richly offers mercy to us.  This does not mean we are okay.  Yes, God loves us and is rich in mercy; however, He will not overlook our sin as if it is okay.  Paul speaks to the Ephesians in a way that it is a done deal, but he knows that they have done what they need to do in order to receive that mercy.  While they were in a spiritually dead state, God sent His grace to them and they responded in faith, which made them spiritually alive!

When the Word of God is spoken into people’s lives today, it brings with it the hope and power to make them spiritually alive.  The Word of God is by definition the Word of Life, and where the Word of Life is there can be life, even life so powerful that it brings the dead back to life.

In all of this we should be careful not to confuse God’s love and mercy with a lack of judgment.  If God is truly good then He must deal with the trespasses and sin that is going on in this world.  In His goodness God has set a date in which all will be judged.  Until then His rich mercy pleads with all people, through the words of the Bible and those who share it who have been made spiritually alive, to believe in Jesus and put their faith in Christ.

Now we are spiritually alive

Let’s begin to focus on the spiritually alive part.  A person who is spiritually alive is no longer animated by their flesh, or the world around them, or any evil spiritual forces.  They are connected to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is His Word and His Holy Spirit that motivates and leads us.  Of course this involves remaining vigilant against those three enemies and exercising self discipline by the help of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 5 states that our spiritual resurrection is connected to the physical resurrection of Christ.  Jesus was always spiritually alive.  There was never a point that he was spiritually dead.  He did not figure the way out of sin and show us the way.  Rather, He is the source of Life and He is the way to the Father.  This spiritual life that we enjoy today could not exist without Him and His resurrection.  Our connection to Him will eventually lead to our physical resurrection, but for now it has created a spiritual life in us that could not exist without Him.  As we put our trust and faith in Jesus, His life lives in us.  He is the object of our faith, not just an example of it.  We do not just believe things about Jesus, but we are even more trusting His Words, commands, and the way that He shows us to live.  If we reject these things then we reject the life that He wants to give to us.  To separate from Christ is to separate from life itself.

In verse 6 Paul reminds us that we are not only made alive, but that we also are enabled to sit with Christ in the heavenly places.  Right now Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  When we die we will go to be with Christ there, but while we are alive we are already spiritually seated with Him.  His Spirit within us is the guarantee of our right to sit with Christ.  It is the place that has been reserved for those who put their faith in Christ.  It is our destiny to reign with Christ in eternity, but that identity belongs to us already.  We have already been raised up from a dead position of lying under the power of the wicked one, and we are enabled to walk in this first stage of being seated with Christ.

Verse 7 tells us that we are the recipients of God’s kindness in Jesus.  The first coming of Christ was a kindness of God.  He did not owe us salvation.  However, in His kindness, He makes a way.  We can receive this kindness and walk in it today.  That said, the full measure of God’s kindness will not be seen until this age comes to an end and the return of Christ occurs.  Today the world will mock the idea that we are kings and priests of God, that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and that we are spiritually alive.  At times we may even have our own doubts.  However, in the ages to come (verse 7) the full kindness of God will be made evident.  There will be no question as God demonstrates it before the whole universe.

Now verses 8 and 9 are the classic salvation verses for all evangelicals.  We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  The two-point qualification is important.  We need the grace of God.  Without it no amount of faith could save us.  It is only the grace of God that accepts anything, even our faith in Jesus.  This gift from God is freely given.  Yet, we must employ faith or trust in Jesus to accept this gift.  Grace has been given, but it is within Jesus.  There is no other means of grace and there is no other way to take hold of Christ but through faith in Him.  Even this faith isn’t from us.  If it wasn’t for the revelation of God in the Bible opening our eyes to the reality around us, and the help of the Holy Spirit, we wouldn’t have a clue regarding how we can be saved.  When we trust Jesus for salvation, it becomes the channel by which God’s grace of salvation comes into our life, making us alive.

As we close, let’s look at verse 10.  Here we see that we have been saved for the purpose of doing those good works that God has for us.    No amount of good works can save a person.  Instead we were saved in order to do good works, even more than that, to become the righteousness of God.  Thus we are God’s workmanship.  We are the good work that He has done in this day and in this generation.  May God encourage us in our faith in Christ, and may that faith lead to many good works out of thanks for the salvation of God and out of joy for the life of God that we now have!

Faith for Salvation audio