(Listen to this sermon here)
Here are a few introductory thoughts as I study and prepare to preach on this text.
First, this section of text is basically a continuation of themes the first chapter. Paul begins in Eph. 2:1-3 by laying out the spiritual reality of a life apart from Christ. It’s pretty dark and hopeless, isn’t it? Before you hurry past these verses to get to “the good stuff” in Eph. 2:4-10, I’d like to encourage you to think about your life BEFORE Christ. What kinds of habits did you have? What kinds of things captured you attention and motivated you? Were they godly things?
Remembering where we came from is critical in understanding who we are today, especially as Paul outlines for us a beautiful picture of our new identity and purpose in Christ.
This is the New Normal for us, Church.
In Eph. 2:4 we see that it begins with the phrase “But God…” This is one of the most wonderful and concise summaries of the gospel message: But God! We see in Eph. 2:4-10 that God is the one doing ALL the work. God is the one taking the initiative in great love and mercy. God made us alive in Christ. God raised us up. God seated us with him. By grace we’ve been saved. God shows his immeasurable riches of grace in kindness toward us. Isn’t this amazing?
At this point I would encourage you to take a minute or two to stop reading this post and pray, thanking God for His role in making us alive in Christ; in saving us by His grace. Gratitude, praise, and joy are appropriate responses to this text.
As if that weren’t enough, Paul goes on and states that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) and that this is a free gift so that no one may boast. Here we see what we know to be true about the gospel: it has nothing to do with you earning it. Paul makes this very clear.
We’ve not only been saved to bring glory to God (Eph. 2:7) but we’ve also been created and saved to fulfill good works He has prepared beforehand for us (Eph. 2:10). The word for “workmanship” in the original language carries with it the idea of something hand crafted and one of a kind. This would be a unique work of art, or masterpiece. That’s you! Do you realize that? You and I were created, in Christ, as a hand crafted, unique individual for the purpose of glorifying God and “walking in” (Eph. 2:10) the good works He has prepared for us. The question then becomes: are we walking in Hisworks that He prepared, or have we strayed off the path and pursuing ourown works?
As God’s masterpiece, we’ve been created to be a representation that mirrors the goodness of God.
One Christian artist has described this process in saying: “I am not the artist; I am the canvas.”
You and I are not the artist. We are the canvas. We are simply a means to which God can create something magnificent in and through. He does this for our good (Phil.1:6), because He loves us (Eph. 2:4-5), and because he wants to bring glory to Himself through His people. Do you see your life this way?
This is another aspect of the New Normal for us, Church.
I would encourage you to be soaking in this passage this week, as well as taking time to continue to read through the rest of Ephesians. I’m praying for you all this week and look forward to seeing how God continues to transform each us into His masterpiece day by day, for the sake of His glory.
- Pastor Brett
In addition, here are some questions for personal study in this text:
1) What observations do you have after reading the passage? What is Paul contrasting? What is God’s role in the salvation process? What is your role in the salvation process?
2) Read Eph. 2:4-10. Why did God lavish His love on us like this?
3) Who is responsible for our being “made alive”? Why and how is this significant? (Gal.2:20)
4) Looking at verses 1-3, we see a picture of hopelessness apart from Christ. How should this spiritual reality influence and inform our attitude and posture towards those who are not Christians?
5) What is the relationship between God’s grace and good works? (see more in James 2:14-26)
6) Recognizing that our good works are the fruit of salvation, not the means for salvation, how are you doing at “bearing fruit” by acts of service to others? Who do you bless? Where do serve?
7) Read Eph. 2:10. If this verse is true, how are doing with joining God in the works He has prepared for you? Are you walking in them as you should? Or are you doing your own thing and blazing your own trail?
8) What does the Text dictate you do? What does the Text dictate you think differently about? What are you going to do about it THIS WEEK?