This sermon, “Saved by the Gospel: Becoming Trophies of God’s Amazing Grace” (Ephesians 2:1-10) , was originally preached on Sunday, June 7, 2009 at North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church-Melville Mission in Richmond Hill, ON. (Sermon is in English with Cantonese translation.)
In chapter 1 of Ephesians, we have already seen how God blesses us so that we could bless him. The Father has graciously chosen us to be adopted to be his own sons and daughters, through His Son Jesus Christ He has redeemed us, and by His Spirit He has marked us out as his own people with his seal.
In the last half of chapter 1, God has shown us his power by raising Christ from the dead, and putting all the cosmic powers under his feet. Jesus thus now reigns over all things as Lord, and he’s given to us as the head over the church and all believers.
And now, in this famous passage—Ephesians 2:1-10, about salvation by grace through faith–the Bible tells us how undeserving sinners become trophies of God’s amazing grace.
So let us be amazed this morning by two things: 1) Our desperate condition: we were spiritually dead! (vv.1-3)
In what we did:
You were spiritually dead in what you did. You are very much physically alive, but you are “following the passionate desires and inclinations of your sinful nature”. And so your spiritual walk before conversion is simply this: completely unable to do anything holy or good in God’s eyes. You were spiritually dead. Your lifestyle followed the standards of the world; you lived like the Devil was ruled your life; you only did what you naturally were inclined to do—sin and disobedience.
In who we were:
Who you are is also characterized by spiritual deadness. The end of verse 2 says that you were “sons of disobedience”. Before God saved you, you not only did not trust God, but you actively defied God! For disobedience is rooted in unbelief. And the end of verse 3 says that you “were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” In other words, because of our nature, because of our natural sinful condition inherited from Adam—we are subject to God’s condemnation and punishment as children of wrath! All of us, whether you’re a Christian today or not, without God everybody is a child of wrath. And when unbelievers sin, we actually have a closer relationship to God’s wrath than to God himself!
2) God’s decisive provision: He gives us life! (vv.4-6)
Why? Being rich in mercy, because of God’s great love for us.
How does God show us He loves us? He demonstrates it in 3 ways:
First, he makes us alive together with Christ. (v.5)Having been spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins—God crushed his Son on the cross in our place for our sins… and we died with Him spiritually when are united with Jesus in His death. So that since God has first made Jesus alive, God thus makes us alive with Jesus to walk in newness of life! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Second, he raised us up with Christ. (v.6a) Christ was raised from the dead physically (1:20), and we also were raised together with him spiritually. This is not talking about our future resurrection. Colossians 3:1-2 says that “If you have been raised with Christ, [He gives you the power & ability to] seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 [and to] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Third, he seated us with Christ in the heavenly places. (v.6b) God puts us into a place of spiritual benefit!—that we might share in Jesus’ heavenly status, and heavenly power to overcome sin and temptation, here and now!
How is this all possible? (vv.8-9)
A) By Grace:
It is only because of God’s grace that you and I are saved from God’s wrath; and it is only because of grace that we can do the good things he has planned for us to do (v.10). Grace: God’s undeserved favor towards us, specially demonstrated through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. It is not a reward for the good things we have done; we cannot take credit for it!
Grace = Objective Cause: Salvation and regeneration is totally a gift from God; it is the work of God alone! (Because we were spiritually dead; totally unable to do anything) So God’s grace is the objective cause of our salvation, since salvation didn’t come from yourself!!
B) Through Faith:
Faith= Subjective Means: But do you see also the subjective means? The subjective means by which we are saved is “through faith”. This is how God’s saving work gets applied to us: When we fully trust and confidently rely on Jesus’ accomplished work on the cross, and not on the things we can do to earn it.
Putting your faith in Him is not a work… faith itself, the text says, is even a gift of God, along with grace!! Knowing and believing in Jesus is simply pointless if you’re not willing to trust, and sit, and dwell, and live in him—in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Lamb of God, the Lord and Savior of the world—who is completely reliable and trustworthy; who is mighty and able to save you—and He has saved you! This my friends, is how undeserving sinners become trophies of God’s amazing grace.
So next time, when you fall into a hole on this road of life, let us remember our desperate condition—how we were spiritually dead. And be reminded of God’s decisive provision—how God has made us alive in Christ! May you call upon Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. And may you delight yourself in God’s mighty act of salvation, and be empowered by his grace to live triumphantly by faith.