Go

Apostles Church | NYC

And you...But God

Ephesians 2:1-10. So far in the letter we have seen no imperatives. Oriented on what God has done for us in Jesus. Identity shaping declarations – chosen, adopted, forgiven, free, love and grace lavished upon us, past forgotten, future carved out, destiny, new power. Paul prays in 1:15-23 that we would have eyes to see all of this. As we see it, our identity is formed. We stop trying to achieve an identity through our works, accomplishments, possessions, promotions and receive this identity based on Christ’s work to make us what God says we are and will be forever. Identity inspires. 2:1-10, a passage that reminds those of us who trust and follow Jesus Christ, who we were without him but what God has done to radically alter our identities and destinies.  Salvation. If you are a X-follower, hear how God has saved you and what it means for you. If you are not, hear God’s assessment of the human condition and what he does to rescue us from it.

Salvation is a universal need. Our Spiritual condition: Dead. Dead implies lifeless. We are lifeless when it comes to God – left to our own, our hearts do not respond to him. Our hearts do not give him first place and eagerly respond to his every prompting, gladly submit to his will. Sin has killed our desire for God and moves us to resist any sense of duty to God, so we are unresponsive to him. We are alive to so many other things. We naturally pursue so many other things – we are alive to and naturally pursue entertainment, sex, food, drink, internet, shopping, comforts and any and every pleasure. But we are not naturally alive to God, open, responsive and pursuant of him. We are dead.  Enslaved. We are not willingly under the controlling influence of God, but we are voluntarily under the controlling influence of other things that dominate our lives. The World. Course of this world means the atmosphere of the age, the mindset and practices of the dominant culture that is hostile to God or at best indifferent to him. We breathe the cultural air and naturally take on the shape of the culture. Humanity walks in the course of this world intoxicated with consumerism. Illus: What Would Jesus Buy - American stores could fit every man, woman, and child in North America, South America, and Europe inside of them; 60% of Americans are in long term debt on credit cards; Now spend under 1 hour a week on spiritual or religious time and over 5 hours per week shopping. If it is not consuming possessions it is consuming sexual experiences. In our natural condition, the world dominates our mind and heart. The Devil. Following the prince of the power of the air – Satan, the Devil. In our natural human condition, people live their lives under the controlling influence of the devil. Not demon possessed. Deceived, tempted, blinded to spiritual need and the beauty of Christ, word snatched away… The Flesh. Walk in sins and trespasses, we love them. Following the passions of our flesh, carrying out desires of body and mind. If it feels good, do it. Satisfy every urge and every curiosity. The Myth of Freedom. We are not free. We are dominated controlled by the world, the devil, and our own sinful desires and impulses. Condemned. Children of wrath – people who are under the just displeasure of God. We have his wrath rightly resting upon us. The wrath of God is God’s settled disposition to judge all sin.
    That is our natural spiritual condition. Bleak. At the deepest part of our lives, our core, we are dead to God, but alive and responsive to this world, the devil, and our own passions. We are under God’s condemnation. Yet in that condition, verse 4, “But God.” Rich in mercy, loved us with a great love, gives grace, and lavishes kindness. Our only hope: that God in his great love and mercy and grace and kindness would save us from that condition. This is why Jesus came.

Salvation is in Jesus. Three statements: made us alive with him, raised us up with Him, seated us with him. This is speaking of the death and resurrection of X, the ascension of X and the reign of X over every authority and power. Christ came to bear our sins and pay their penalty. He came to die for all the guilt we incurred by walking in our sins and following the ways of a God-indifferent culture, living out the desires of our flesh and submitting to the deceptive influence of the devil. All this sin and rebellion made us children of wrath. But God in his great love and mercy sent Christ to bear his wrath against sinners and Christ died to satisfy God’s just demands. God raised him from the dead with new life.  Only with him, in union with him do we benefit from his death and resurrection and ascension. Only in Him are we given life where we were once dead. Only in Him are we raised out of and freed from our slavery to sin and Satan and only in Him do we who were once children of wrath, become sons and daughters of God who are free from condemnation. Salvation is in Jesus.

Salvation is by Grace alone through Faith alone. Salvation is a gift. Grace provides this salvation. God designed it out of his great love and mercy and kindness. Grace also applies it.  God made us alive together with Christ. God by his grace brings us alive and gives us the conviction to trust Jesus and gives us the capacity to treasure Jesus above all things. That is salvation – when you are dead in sins and God makes you alive and responsive to Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Regeneration is an act of God where He makes you alive to Him by grace and gives you a heart to know and love Christ. Your heart was dead toward God and now it’s beating for him. It is God making your heart beat with conviction to trust Jesus and a giving you a new capacity to treasure Him above all things. Where your heart is convinced that Jesus is Savior and Lord and your heart is capable of desiring him and loving him as your Savior and Lord. This is God’s doing. He makes you alive. He not only provides this salvation, he supernaturally applies it by doing a hidden work in our hearts to make us alive to Jesus. Illus: Morgan Spurlock 30 days. You can’t make yourself a Christian for 30 days. Not external. He makes you alive. Experienced Differently. For some this is sudden and experienced as an instant moment.  John Piper contrasts Augustine and CS Lewis. Augustine Read Romans 13:13-14: “In an instant as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.” Made alive and believed in Christ. Lewis describes his conversion as not emotional or dynamic. Bus ride. “It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.” Illus: 9 months exploring – I believe this. For some it is a light that breaks upon them; for others it is like a flower that opens slowly. God brings about that experience, but you experience it as your experience.  God’s grace saves you. He makes you alive. He gives you the conviction to trust Christ and the new capacity to treasure Christ. 2:8 It is all his doing, not our own. And he does it not because of anything in you, but simply out of grace. But you play a role in it. Your immediate response to this work of grace is faith – the act of trusting and the act of treasuring Christ. It is responding to him. The entire process is all God’s doing, even our response, but it is our response.  Salvation is by grace received through faith. Not by works. That’s why the Reformers would say, “Soli Deo Gloria.”  Salvation is to God’s Glory Alone. We do not save ourselves, we are saved by God’s grace. We can’t boast in our efforts, our accomplishments. What do you boast in? What do you find your identity in? When you experience God’s salvation, all boasting stops. And for eternity, you will boast only in the grace of God that saved you and gave you meaning and identity.

Salvation is unto Good Works. Being made alive is a real experience and it brings about a real difference in our lives.  New Affections. Love God rightly, love others.  Illustration: Augustine, “It is not I.” New heart that loves what God loves and hates what God hates. You have a growing appetite for the word, worship, serving, giving.  New Community. Together. We are made part of people who are alive to God. New Mission. 2:10 walking in good works. We are not saved by Good works, but we are saved to Good works. There are things God has prepared for us that we are called to walk in. Not a mission of community but a community on mission. Sent into the world to serve and heal just as Jesus came to serve and heal.

Close: Two words. Walk. 2:1 and 2:10. Identity and Praxis. Before Christ you walked this way. But now that God has done this decisive work in your heart to make you alive with conviction to trust Jesus and capacity to treasure him above all things, and given you a new identity, you are called to live in a new way. Who we are charts out what we do. What practices do you have in your life that are not keeping with your identity as one who is made alive with a new heart, new community, and new mission? Believe. Helpless to save ourselves. God saves us in that condition and saves us out of that condition. If God is moving on your heart, giving you the conviction to believe in Jesus and the capacity to treasure him then respond to that work with faith.

 

Read More