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Series: Where Falling Leaves Us - Sermon 1: "Falling Under Grace"

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TITLE: Falling Under Grace SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2:1-10
DATE: October 26, 2008 A.M. LOCATION: FBC Munday, TX

SERMON POINT: Falling in sin leaves us short of God’s glory. Falling under grace leaves us saved by faith.

SERIES INTRODUCTION:

As a symbol of the season of Autumn, falling leaves can bring joy to some and sorrow to others, especially to the rakers of leaves. To some falling leaves can remind us that something new will come and grow in the Spring. But the thought of having to trudge through the bitter reality of Winter may not excite others. The joy the beauty of the Fall colors brings is squelched by the sight of barren trees and the work needed to protect our yards from the degrading of the fallen leaves. So the question is, where do the falling leaves leave you this Fall?

With a little word-play, in a spiritual sense, where does falling leave you? The answer is: it depends on what or who is doing the falling. Spiritually, falling can leave you broken or blessed. Falling can leave you humbled or uplifted. How we fall determines where the fall leaves us. How God falls upon us determines whether we will crumble or celebrate newness in Him.

Beginning TODAY, I am starting a new sermon series entitled Where Falling Leaves Us. Over the next five weeks we will look at where falling leaves us spiritually. We will ask: Where does our falling leave us? Well, it depends on where and how we fall. Where does God’s falling leave us? Again, it depends on where and how He falls.

[TR: SERMON TITLE] INTRODUCTION:

Have you ever had a dream like this? I am playing baseball and I am running to second base and my legs stop working. Either I am running to the base when my legs stop working or I have passed second base when my legs fail me. Either way, I fall down short of the base, or away from the base, unable to get back to the bag no matter how hard I try to drag myself. I then find myself being tagged out instead of being safe on second.

This is what happens to us because of sin. For the spiritually aware, heaven is goal to be reached. But, apart from Divine intervention, we are unable to get there on our own. For believers who have already be granted safe passage to heaven by faith in Jesus Christ, sometimes we leave that safety to run toward other things outside of God’s plan for our lives. In both cases, sin causes us to fall short of God’s glory according to Romans 3:23.

When we don’t recognize or when we don’t remember that we all fall short of God’s glorious expectations for us as humans and even for most of us as His children saved by the blood of Jesus, we run the risk of facing death because of our sin. For those without Christ as Savior, this death is eternal. For those with Christ as Savior, this death hurts our fellowship with God and possibly with other believers. Thankfully, God extends His grace to all of us. This grace, a gift from a loving God for those who don’t deserve it, covers a multitude of sins and shortcomings and disappointments before God for all those who accept His grace by humble faith. When we fall in sin, we are left facing death, far short of God’s glory. But when we allow grace to fall upon us, we are left with new life, saved and forgiven from our sins by faith. In other words, Falling in sin leaves us dead and short of God’s glory. Falling under grace leaves us alive and saved by faith.

BODY: Today we are going to look at Ephesians 2:1-10. In this passage Paul reminds his readers of what life was like when it had fallen in sin, and then Paul compares the sinful life to a life which has fallen under the grace of God. First let’s look at how…

[TR] 1. Falling in sin leaves us dead and short of God’s glory.

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:1 - 3 (NASB) 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins [giving the idea here of being slain or killed by their sins],  2in which you formerly walked [a word used that also means live, as in “walking through life.” Paul is describing the habitual life of sin in which his readers used to live and walk] according to [or following] the course [or the ways] of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  [But Paul says that they weren’t alone in this way of life.] 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 

I.                 We Were Dead in Sin – vv. 1-3

EXP: Paul says that at one point in time, all mankind, including himself, because of the disobedience and sin of Adam and Eve—all mankind was by inherited nature sinful and dead in sin. This parallels what he says in Romans.

·        [TR] Romans 3:23 (NIV) 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

·        [TR] Romans 6:23a (NIV) 23For the wages of sin is death, …

Being spiritually dead by nature leaves the fallen mankind not to follow after God. Instead fallen mankind, as Paul says to the Ephesians…

a.       [TR] Follows the ways of the world – v. 2a, [meaning being under the sway of the present age’s sinful tendencies]

b.      [TR] Follows the ruler of the kingdom of the air – v. 2b [Paul is saying that in the past his readers had been obedient to and under the control of THE demon spirit who was constantly working in them, causing them to live as (NKJV) “sons of disobedience,” careless, rebellious, and unbelieving, going against the purposes of God.]

c.       [TR] Follows the cravings of the flesh – v. 3a [the cravings dictated by the natural senses and dark imaginings within]

What does this sinful life look like? How does a person fallen in sin live?

·        [TR] Romans 1:29 - 31 (NIV) 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 

·        [TR] Galatians 5:19 - 21 (NIV) 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

d.      [TR] Results: Objects of Wrath – v. 3b – We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.

Here’s the truth behind what Paul is saying. In the beginning, mankind was created in the image of God. But at the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to disobedience and sin, that image of God in man became distorted. Where, because of our inherited sin nature, mankind would fall short of God’s glorious image. The result of this fall to sin not only leaves mankind short of God’s glory but it leaves man to face judgment, wrath, and the penalty of death. [TR]  Falling to sin leaves us short of God’s glory and dead to sin.

TS: Then Paul gives the good news. Paul writes to two greatest words in the whole Bible. These words express the central theme to all of Scripture and they are pivotal to the rescue of mankind from its wretched state of sin. [TR] These two words are “But God…” In verses 4-9 Paul tells his readers how…

[TR] 2. Falling under grace leaves us alive and saved by faith.

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:4 - 9 (NASB) 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  5even when we were dead [or more accurately “slain”] in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8For 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. 

II.               We Were Made Alive in Christ – vv. 4-10

EXP: Paul gives us the good news: Your were dead in sin, “But God” made you alive in Christ. How is this possible?

a.       [TR] God is also Rich in Mercy – vv. 4-5 – We deserved death but God’s mercy provided His Son to die in our place.

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:5 (AMP) 5Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He given Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that we are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation).

·        [TR] Titus 3:4 - 5 (NIV) 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 

b.      [TR] Because of God’s Great Love for us – v. 4

·        [TR] 1 John 3:1a (NIV) 1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! … 

c.       [TR] This rebirth comes through a Spiritual Resurrection in Christ – v. 6

·        [TR] Romans 6:4 (NIV) 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Why again did God do all this in Jesus for us and all mankind? Look at verse 7.

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:7 (AMP) 7He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.

·        [TR] W. Tozer (1897–1963) – “As mercy is God’s goodness confronting human misery and guilt, so grace is his goodness directed toward human debt and demerit.”

·        [TR] Romans 6:23 (NIV) 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

d.      [TR] We then can be Saved by God’s Grace through faith – vv. 8-9

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:8 - 9 (NASB) 8For by grace [God's free unmerited favor] you have been saved [delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation] through faith [meaning “your own” faith]; and that not of yourselves [not of your own doing, it didn’t come through your own striving]it is the gift of God;  9not as a result of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands or through religious activity], so that no one may boast. [Paul is saying here in v. 9 It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

e.       [TR] Results: Created to do good works – v. 10

·        [TR] Ephesians 2:10 (NASB) 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

·        [TR] Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) – “For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.”

TS: [TR] Falling under grace leaves us alive and saved by faith, and able to live for and serve God.

CONCLUSION:

As great as this good news is, how does this passage apply to believers who may have been saved for years? Many of us believe this already. The point is, although we are saved and given life in Christ by faith through God grace, we sometimes live as if we dead in sin. We fall into sin which leaves us deadened to the glory of God in us.

[BLANK] Believers in Jesus Christ have been reborn into His image—a restoration of the image of God in us but sometimes we don’t live out that image. We live following the patterns of the world. We live as if we are controlled by Satan himself like slaves to sin, a bondage which Jesus destroyed on the cross. We live controlled by our sinful cravings and selfish agenda’s.

We have to understand that Paul is writing to believers in the church of Ephesus, reminding them of what life was once like before salvation in Jesus Christ. He was reminding from whence they had come because many believers were falling again into sin leaving them experiencing death by choice.

·        [TR] Philippians 3:18 (NIV) 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

               This is what the prophet Isaiah said to God.

·        [TR] Isaiah 64:5 - 8 (NIV) 5You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. 8Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

·        [TR] Erwin W. Lutzer (1941– ) – “When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous grace.”

               We must turn from our sin and death and return to life and grace. [TR] If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior today, God wants to give you the gift of life in Jesus Christ, saving you from sin and death, and giving to you an eternal relationship with Him. If you do know Christ and yet are living like you don’t, God has grace for you today. He wants to remove the stain of sin from your life and restore your fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. [TR] Fall under God’s grace today. He will leave you alive and renewed.

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