One of the things I really enjoyed when I first began attending the Baptist church with Linda, (forty years ago) was the emphasis on music—particularly congregational hymns.
After I was saved, there was one hymn which became particularly dear to me.
It is the one we just sang.
The first stanza reads:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace that is greater than all my sin.
What a wonderful hymn that is!
The fathers of the Protestant Reformation reclaimed the Gospel of the New Testament that had essentially been lost for a thousand years: The message of "Sola Gratia," or Grace Alone.
Sola Gratia meant grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord.
Salvation is either all of grace or none of it is of grace.
Adding anything to the grace of God, negates the grace of God.
The only thing sinners bring to the table of redemption is their sin!
Everything else comes from God.
As Martin Luther said, "If any man ascribes salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright."
We are justified by simple faith, trusting in the grace of God manifested in the redemptive work of Christ.
Our salvation is accomplished without any human works of goodness or human merit involved, but by faith alone, and even this faith we need to call upon Jesus is the gift of God.
We have no reason for boasting, for any boasting of man robs God of His glory.
* /"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."/
(Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB95).
One of the newer hymns of the faith is one we sang this morning: In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found).
The second half of the second stanza rings out: ‘Til on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied: For every sin on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live.
God’s grace sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for me.
It is faith in His atoning death alone whereby I am redeemed.
Are Christians to be a people full of Good Works?
But the works we do are the fruit and not the root of our salvation.
The passage under consideration in Ephesians speaks of God's marvelous grace.
It does so in a unique way.
Paul speaks of the progression of God's grace in terms of three verbs.
In the first ten verses Paul presents the past, the present, and the future of the Christian: what he was (vv.
1-3), what he is (vv.
4-6, 8-9), and what he will be (vv.
I. VERB #1: YOU BEING DEAD IN SINS v. 1
#. a children's nursery rhyme reminds us of man's spiritual condition outside of Christ
#. the rhyme goes: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the king's horses, And all the king's men Couldn't put Humpty together again
#. like Humpty Dumpty, man has had a great fall in his life
#. it took place in a garden thousands of years ago
#. the evidence of that fall is the mayhem we experience in our own lives, and in the culture around us
All too sadly, the last week illustrates afresh the consequences of mankind's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.
The result was a nature deprived of God's presence and influence.
That deprived nature rapidly digressed into a depraved nature that is at enmity with God.
Consider some of the headlines from his last week ... A sixteen year old Scottsdale, AZ teenager is arrested for two rapes.
A New York City nanny stabs to death two young children in her care.
A Massachusetts man was arrested for beating his girl friend senseless with his pet python.
He’s been charged with domestic assault and battery and animal abuse.
In New Hampshire, police are investigating cocain-laced candy being given out to children on Halloween night.
In Michigan, a pastor murdered his fiancee’s daughter to fulfill a sex-fantasy.
In Georgia a mother stabs her new-born son to death because she didn’t want the responsibility of caring for a baby.
#. like Humpty Dumpty, mankind has fallen from a lofty height, and we are helpless in putting ourselves back together again
#. listen to how the bible describes us ...
!! A. WITHOUT CHRIST A MAN IS SPIRITUALLY DEAD AND ETERNALLY DOOMED
* /"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,"/ (Ephesians 2:1, NIV)
#. in verse one Paul reminds his readers that there was a time, not too far in the distant past, when they were /dead in trespasses and sin/
#. they may have /felt very much alive/, and may have /looked very much alive/, and may have /acted very much alive/, but they were actually in a /state of prolonged death/
#. they were /dead/ and /doomed/, but were not aware of it
Off the coast of North Carolina lies Cape Hatteras.
It is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic."
It is estimated that 2,300 ships lie buried in this graveyard's sands.
Most are there by accident, but many of these ships found their death through treachery.
On moonless or stormy nights, men called "wreckers" would lure unsuspecting ships to their doom.
Legend maintains that the town of Nags Head, North Carolina takes its name from these wrecker's deploying false lights.
The Nags Head legend states that in the 1700s, wreckers would hang lanterns from the necks of mules (colloquially called "nags" at the time) and walk the animals very slowly up and down the beach.
The alleged intent was to fool mariners into believing that the slow-moving lights were ships drifting at rest or at anchor, prompting the ships to change course and subsequently run aground.
Ship's captains, mistaking the lights for beacons of safety, would steer toward the lights only to go aground and be wrecked by pounding surf.
Eventually the sands would hide the wreck, but not before every last thing of value had been taken by these men who had lured the ship to its death.
#. the world is still full of /'Wreckers"/ who seek to lure the unwary soul upon the rocks of eternal destruction
#. the Bible calls those wreckers /the world, the flesh and the devil/
#. the unregenerate man is dead in trespasses and sins
#. man's basic trouble is not being /out of harmony with his heritage or his environment/ or his /inner-self/, but being out of /harmony with his Creator/
#. his principal problem is not that he cannot make meaningful relationships with other human beings but that he has no right relationship to God, from whom he is alienated by sin
#. his condition has nothing to do with the way he lives; it has to do with the fact that he is dead even while he is alive
#. he is spiritually dead while being physically alive
#. because he is dead to God, he is dead to spiritual life, truth, righteousness, inner peace and happiness, and ultimately to every other good thing
#. the lost sinner is /a dead man walking/
Some of you are familiar with that term.
It refers to someone who is condemned and about to die.
#. it’s that fate of every sinner in the world
#. they are dead in trespasses and sin
#. /trespasses/ is a word that means to /slip, fall, stumble, deviate/, or /go the wrong direction/
#. /sins/ is a word that originally carried the idea of /missing the mark/, as when hunting with a bow and arrow
#. it then came to represent /missing/ or /falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose/
#. in the spiritual realm it refers to /missing and falling short of God's standard of absolute holiness/
#. both of these nouns are in the plural and signifies people's repetitious involvement in sin
#. taken together, the two words emphasize the /breadth/ of the sinfulness that results from spiritual deadness
!! B. REMEMBERING WHAT WE WERE HELPS US APPRECIATE WHAT WE’VE BECOME
* /"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."/
(Ephesians 2:3, NIV)
#. in verses three Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians—and us—of where they once were spiritually and what they now are by the grace of God