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First Baptist New Orleans

By Grace You Have Been Saved

This text is printed on the back of your devotional guide for the summer. I know that some of you are working on memorizing all ten verses. That’s just one verse a week.

So this is the story of us. “As for you,” this paragraph begins, and then proceeds to explain about you and me.

Grace Raises Us Up:

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive." — Ephesians 2:4-5

Not everyone wants to hear this. Grace leaves us limp-handed. We experience the impotence of our true position.

It took me awhile as a boy to figure out what was going on in verse 1 in the KJV: “And you hath he quickened…” The word “quickened” was not a part of my vocabulary, not a word I heard anywhere. I didn’t know for a long time that it meant “made alive.” Dad was pretty much a King James Version guy with the Scofield notes. It was a big breakthrough for him when he decided to read the Living Bible. He loved it!

  • I met Val at Jefferson Healthcare last Wednesday. She was carrying her Living Bible. I mentioned to her that my father loved to read that paraphrase of the Scriptures. She said, “My father gave this Bible to me.” Fathers do want to pass on the “living word.”

“Made alive” is in the passive voice. It is something that is done to us. And this is consistent with death as we all know it. Dead things don’t do anything—can’t do anything.

I realized early on that in some sense I had been “dead in trespasses and sins.” The you was right there staring at me—“you hath he quickened who were dead…” And I knew what trespasses and sins were even as a boy. I had lied about some things just to save my own skin. And I had stolen just because I wanted something that wasn’t mine.

But the “you” seemed to me to be a personal address from God to me. God had observed my condition. He knew my history. And he did something about my biggest problem.

Despite the complications of “wherein” in verse 2, I could understand it as well. Here is how this death walk of transgressions and sins” worked out for me:

  • It was something I used to do, my former way of life. Paul was writing to Christians, and he was describing how they used to be. Every single follower of Jesus has a former way of life, a “walk” before they met Christ. I was familiar with the “desires of the flesh.”
  • “According to the course of this world” I already got as a boy. We had been taught about the world that was set against Christ. We were in the world but not of the world. The world did not know God. So the death walk of sins is about the “course of this world.” If I looked around I could see the death walk going on everywhere—persons who were trapped in their sins and did not know God.
  • “According to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit than now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Here we have a reference to the devil, and I understood that as a boy, also. Satan was the prince of darkness. We wrestle against “principalities and powers, the ruler of the darkness of this world,” as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6.
  • So I have three spiritual enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. These three summarize the spiritual struggle I experience in my heart, in my world, and in the larger spiritual realm.
    • You have an internal struggle that is just about you and your own brokenness and moral failure.
    • You have an external struggle because you do not conform to this world. The world wants you to line up and hold all their cultural values as your own. The world does not want any challenge at any point because it brings conviction of sin to them.
    • You have the hand-to-hand combat with the personal force of evil in the world, the aggressive evil that initiates conflict within and without. You are fighting the enemy of our souls, the devil. And he wants to devour you.

Grace Puts Us On Display:

"in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." — Ephesians 2:7

But God: “But God, who is rich in mercy” (v4).

  • Our condition is desperate. And this fatal condition moved the heart of God. That is why you have this word in verse four, “But God.”
  • God intervened to address our terrible spiritual situation. That he would do so is a complete surprise. We did not deserve his help. We did not even ask for it. And here he is, stooping down to lift us up out of the pit into which we willingly threw ourselves.

Paul wants his readers to know God better. And here he is explaining something about our amazing, good God. We all need to hear and understand this truth.

The problem of our spiritual condition should be obvious. We are a mess.

The goodness of God, though, may be a shock. Through and with Christ Jesus our Lord, God:

  • Quickened us together with Christ
  • Raised us up together with Christ
  • Made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ 

In Order That: “in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us” 

  • This is how the verse begins in the NIV. The idea here is that God has done all of this so that he might display his kindness for all eternity. 
  • We do not save ourselves. We get no credit for our salvation now or forever. It’s all about God and his grace.

Grace Puts Us To Work:

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." — Ephesians 2:10

How does grace jive with works? Paul brings it up in this passage because he knows it is the eternal question. 

  • Grace is not a “sit and do nothing” experience. When you truly receive grace and understand what has been given, you want with all your heart to honor that gift.
  • God did not complete his work in the instant of your transformation. God is still at work in you.
    • A child asked if we still sinned after we were saved.

We are saved “to do good works.”

  • Grace is no lazy man’s way out of doing. It is an eternal assignment of service to the one who rescued us.
    • If I take a hundred volunteers and multiply them by 40 hours of work for VBS and CAC, I come up with 4,000 man-hours just to pull of the week just past. What prompted such an outpouring of volunteerism? GRACE did.

In grace we don’t feel like God owes us at the end of VBS. We feel blessed that we were allowed to be his workmanship, doing good works in response to his grace in us.

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