The Way We Were—Ephesians 2—November 4, 2001
Good morning family. This has been quite a week with the home going celebration of Barry and all. Once again you people really shined. Adrienne and her family were so pleased with all your love and support. As Linda and I left the church Wednesday evening I said to Linda, “We have a great church the people are wonderful.” Linda’s response was “we don’t deserve such nice people. Barry’s testimony was incredible. A sixty-year-old man on his deathbed coming to know Jesus. Adrienne was his nurse and she prayed for him, he was healed, later they were married. Quite the story? I liked the fact that Pastor Gary made sure everyone knew what Barry’s life was like before Jesus. He was lost and dead in sin.
Quite a few years ago a movie was made about nostalgia and reminiscence. Maybe you remember it. It was entitled, “The Way we were.” I am sure there are many testimonies here this morning that could tell a story about “The way we were” before we came to know Jesus.
Paul begins this chapter in the same way. He begins with “the way we were.” But in this story there is nothing fond or nostalgic about that former condition.
The book of Ephesians begins with words of praise to God who has blessed his children with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. Believers possess these blessings because the blood of Christ redeems them. We have become joint heirs with him, having received the Holy Spirit as a “down payment” or “pledge” of our inheritance. Paul prayed that his readers would be granted wisdom to understand the riches of this revelation. He also prayed that they would grasp the power by which God raised Christ from the dead. It is with this same power he has raised them up spiritually and seated them in the heavenly realm. This is the believer’s position in Christ.
In this chapter, Paul is going to focus upon God’s plan of salvation. To do this, he begins by going back to look at a time when we were lost. The picture is not a pretty one. Indeed, it seems a rather callous thing that Paul does. How would you like someone to point out all of your past sins? Why does Paul do this? Aren’t all of these past sins forgiven and forgotten? Why does Paul bring them up?
It is because you can never fully appreciate the salvation that God has provided until you see the hopeless condition out of which you were delivered. If you ever forget where you WERE, then you will not be able to appreciate where you ARE.
Ephesians is addressed to a group of believers who are extremely rich in Jesus Christ, but living a beggarly existence because they are ignorant of their wealth. And because that have not appropriated their wealth, they are walking like are spiritual paupers! Paul shows the Christians at Ephesus their former ruined state, as dead in sin, slaves of Satan, and by nature the children of wrath.
Paul likens the church to a temple. He reviews the what, why, and how concerning this spiritual temple of salvation. He does not mix words, but does say it with love.
What we once were. What God did? Why did God do it? How God did it. What are we now?
I. What we once were (2:1-3, 11-12)
a. Dead in Sin vv1
Lost sinners are not simply sick people needing help; they are dead people needing life. The Son of God died that we might receive life through faith in Him. Dead in transgressions and sins means spiritually dead and lost. There was nothing in you that was connected to God.
Too many times we think of unbelievers as being spiritually sick. Give them a "spiritual pill" and they’ll get better. But the biblical picture of man’s condition is much worse than that. He is dead. He doesn’t need a teacher. Or a guide. Or a doctor. He needs a miracle. He needs a resurrection.
b. Influenced by Satan v2
Lost sinners are in bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil (vv. 1–3) and cannot free themselves.
c. Controlled by lust v3a
Lust means “strong desires.” It pertains to more than merely sensual cravings. It pertains also to the natural human desires for fame, power, and riches are meant as well (see Gal. 5:19–21).
d. Under God’s wrath v3b
e. Pagans without God v11
f. Separated from Christ v12a
g. Without hope in this present world v12b
II. What God did (2:4-6)
a. He loved us v4
It’s right there in verse four. God did what he did because of his great love for us, because he is rich in mercy.
b. Also what God did was He liberated us v5
He made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—the word says it is by grace you have been saved.
c. He lifted us v6
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. From death to life. From bondage to freedom. In Christ, you have true freedom. He gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.
Now God is working in you and through you to accomplish His great purposes. God did not give you life and leave you in the cemetery. He lifted you up to sit on the throne with His victorious Son! Out of His mercy, God gave His Son for us while we were yet His enemies. He loved us long before we loved Him. In addition to making us spiritually alive, He determined that we would sit in heavenly places with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
III. Why God did it (v7): He did it so he might display us as trophies of his grace.
The world thinks Wayne Gretzky has trophies. Wait until their eyes are open to God. How much more we would love each other if just saw each other as God’s trophies.
IV. How God did it (2:8-9, 13)
a. Through his special favour v8a
It is by grace you have been saved. The grace of God is the source of salvation; faith is the channel, not the cause. God alone saves. Salvation never originates in the efforts of people; it always arises out of the loving kindness of God.
b. Through faith v8b-9
c. Through blood v13
We who were once far away have been brought near through the Blood of Jesus. The shed blood of Jesus can bring any sinner back to their Creator.
I read about an instant cake mix that was a big flop. The instructions said all you had to do was add water and bake. The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell—until their research discovered that the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that required only water. Apparently people thought it was too easy. So the company altered the formula and changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water. The idea worked and sales jumped dramatically.
That story reminds me of how some people react to the plan of salvation. To them it sounds too easy and simple to be true, even though the Bible says, “By grace you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, not of works” (Eph. 2:8-9). They feel that there is something more they must do, something they must add to God’s “recipe” for salvation. They think they must perform good works to gain God’s favour and earn eternal life. But the Bible is clear—we are saved, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5).
Unlike the cake-mix manufacturer, God has not changed His “formula” to make salvation more marketable.
V. What are we now (vv10, 14-22)?
a. We are products of grace v10
I really like this, verse ten says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We are his workmanship. The word workmanship literally means, “a thing made”; when translated into English it means poem. The word indicates a handiwork, a masterpiece. God’s church is His “poem,” His masterpiece, His workmanship, just as all creation is. Psalm 19:1 says the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. As He is the Author of His handiwork, He should get all the credit.
1. The task v10a we have been created in Christ to do good works!
2. The time v10b this was planned before the foundation of the world.
b. We are the Partners of Israel vv10-18
1. The reconciler v14 Christ has destroyed the barrier separating Jews and Gentiles.
2. The result vv15-18 He has joined into one body, a new person, both Jews and Gentiles.
We Have Access! Vv18
The word “access” is found only 3 times in the N.T. (Rom. 5:1-2; Eph. 2:18, Eph. 3:12). These 3 passages teach us 4 things about access.
1. We have access into grace (Rom. 5:2) God’s throne is the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
2. We have access to the Father (Eph. 2:18). Though He is sovereign, we can still approach Him as a child does a father (Luke 11:11-13, Rom. 8:15).
3. We have access through Jesus Christ (I Tim. 2:5). The blood gives us boldness (Heb. 10:19).
4. We have access by our faith (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 3:12). The essential ingredient is prayer (Heb. 10:22).
- We are the people of God v19
No longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household
d. We are the pillars of the temple vv20-22
1. The foundation v20a it is the apostles and prophets.
2. The cornerstone vv20b-22. It is Jesus Christ himself.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him we too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Isn’t this good?
Worship Team. Pastor Linda.
We have access. Are you thankful? We have access to him this morning. He instructed us to have communion until he comes again. This is wonderful opportunity for each of to think about “The way we were” and what God did and why he did it and how he did it and where we are now. We are the people of God. We have access to Him