The title of my message today is God’s Amazing Grace. And the text is Ephesians 2:8-10.
I’m sure almost every Christian knows some of the words to the song, Amazing Grace. It may be one of the most-recorded songs in history. And the plain fact is that God’s grace is truly amazing. We could use many superlative descriptions such as “Awesome”, “Breathtaking”, “Inspiring”, Unfathomable”, etc. and we would only touch the surface of trying to understand God’s grace.
According to Ephesians chapter 1, verse 4, God’s plan of grace started “before the foundation of the world”; that is, before creation. God loved His Son and wanted to present Him with a gift to demonstrate that love. The entire creation was part of that plan, and He chose every believer in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world to be a part of the “Bride of Christ”.
That plan never changed. It was the same plan before Christ was born, before David and Solomon, before the prophets, before Moses, before Abraham, before Noah and the flood, and before Adam and Eve.
God created the plan, and it was perfect. From the very beginning, the plan called for Jesus Christ to come to earth to die on the cross and make a way for all believers to be righteous in God’s sight. Jesus is, was, and always will be the way, the truth, and the life – no one can come to the Father except through belief in Him.
None of us deserved it. No one in the history of the world was ever good enough to deserve Heaven on their own. Please allow me to repeat that – No one in history was ever good enough to deserve to spend eternity with the creator of the world – Certainly not me!
I. My Testimony
In March 1975, I was just about to turn 23. I had been in the US Air Force for nearly 2 years, and I was lonely and miserable. I had one of the best jobs I could ever have had – a Tuba player in the US Air Force Band in Washington DC. Little did I know that God had me right where He wanted me!
One afternoon, I was alone in the breakroom with a young man from Mississippi named Buddy. Buddy didn’t come there knowing he was going to share the gospel with me. But the Holy Spirit knew, and He put Buddy there at that precise moment.
Somehow, Buddy sensed that I was unhappy and confused. Praise the Lord that he was obedient and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with me. A few days later, he did it again, and I repented of my sin and trusted Jesus Christ for my salvation. A few weeks later, a friend baptized me in a swimming pool (previously made available by the Holy Spirit). And 10 months later, Paulette said “Yes”, and we were married.
The next 40 years had its high and low points. There were times when we were very close to God. But without a doubt, the lowest point was when we lost our first-born son, Jeremy to a problem caused by his drug addiction. At one point during that journey, I remember vividly telling God I just didn’t trust Him anymore. Thank God for the 8th Chapter of Romans!
In all those years, God never forgot me, regardless of my actions [or inactions] toward Him. He makes promises all throughout His Word. Fortunately for all of us, God’s promises are totally dependent on Him – not on us, or our response. And He is incapable of breaking even one of His promises, for He is perfectly Holy, and Righteous.
In 2015, I started planning what I called “My Retirement Adventure”. January 4, 2016, was my last day at work. On January 13th Paulette and I boarded a plane for Roatan, Honduras.
And two days later, on January 15, 2016, God took over “My Retirement Adventure”! I honestly can hear Him saying, “I like this idea, so now I am going to be in charge!” And believe me, I am so glad He did! This was God’s amazing grace working in my life.
II. Introduction to Ephesians
Before we get to our text, I want to make sure we understand the context. Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church was written while he was in prison in Rome. Based on what we know, the church at Ephesus was started by missionaries – Priscilla and Aquila, a couple left there during Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul later returned on his third missionary journey and pastored the church for about 3 years. And after Paul left, Timothy pastored the church. So, Paul was very familiar with the church and its people.
As we are learning in our Wednesday morning group, the first chapter of Ephesians talks at length about God’s amazing grace. It is all about the blessings we have in Christ, redemption, our inheritance, the Holy Spirit, and other resources available to us in Christ Jesus.
III. Ephesians 2: 1-3 – Dead in Sin
In my study Bible, Ephesians Chapter 2 is titled “Made Alive in Christ”
Before we met Christ, here is what the Bible says about us.
Ephesians 2:1 says: “You [We] were dead in your trespasses and sins”.
Ephesians 2:2 says: “you [we] walked –
- According to the course of this world,
- According to the prince of the power of the air,
- Of the spirit [Satan] that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
Ephesians 2:3 continues: “Among them, we too all formerly –
- Lived in the lusts of our flesh,
- Indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
- We were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
This is certainly not a flattering picture, but the Bible says it so it must be true. Lots of movies like to portray humans as basically good people – “there’s goodness in you.” That is not what the Bible says.
We had no choice but to live the same as our earthly father, Adam because our sin-nature controlled us. There was no way we could rescue ourselves, even if we wanted to. Our state was anything but godly. We were both incapable of and unwilling to choose Christ.
And Romans 3:11 makes it even more clear:
“There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God”.
IV. Ephesians 2: 4-6 – “But God”
Against the backdrop of all that bad news, and in accordance with God’s marvelous amazing grace, we arrive at Ephesians 2:4 which begins with – “But God…”
Those are two very powerful and very encouraging words – “But God”. Even though we may be incapable and unwilling, God’s power is unlimited –
“with God, all things are possible.” Matt 19:26.
Verses 4 through 6 tell us about the power of God’s love for us –
- God is rich in mercy,
- He loved us with His great love,
- Even when we were dead in our transgressions,
- God made us alive together with Christ,
- God raised us up with Christ,
- He seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Also, Romans 5:8 tells us –
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And earlier, Romans 5:5 states –
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
V. Ephesians 2:7 – The Best is Yet to Come!
We come to verse 7-
“so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus.”
I believe God is telling us in this verse – “The best is yet to come – You haven’t seen anything yet!”
VI. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us how we are saved
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
According to this passage, as well as many others in the Bible, our salvation was totally a work of God.
- He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on a cross in payment of the penalty for our sins – all of our sins, past, present, and future.
- The above verse starts with “For by grace you have been saved”. Our salvation is God’s free gift to us, and it is the only way we can be saved.
- The above verse says that our faith is a gift of God, not of ourselves. While we were sinners, and not seeking or wanting anything to do with God, He gave us the faith to believe.
- Salvation has nothing to do with works. Not anything we or our parents did. We didn’t deserve it, and we cannot do anything to earn it.
- There is nothing for which we can take credit; nothing to boast about. We didn’t do it – God did.
- And God did it solely for His glory.
VII. Ephesians 2:10 – What Is Our Response
In light of this wonderful free gift from the Creator of the universe, “How should we then live? What should be our response? Let’s read Ephesians 2:10.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Here is the application of this message. God starts this verse by reminding us who we are, and why He leaves us here on earth rather than immediately taking us to Heaven after we are saved. Then and only then, here is where good works come in – AFTER we are saved by grace.
Yes, but which works? God even took care of that little detail. He has already prepared the works we should do. Our response to God’s amazing grace is to find the good works God has prepared for us, and then walk in them. The Holy Spirit will lead and help you find them.
My challenge to each one of us is – Find the good works God has prepared for you. Then walk in them. In other words, do them.
I believe many would refer to this as “their calling”.
VIII. Final Comments and Prayer
If you have any questions about this message or this church, how to know you have eternal life, or any other topic, please come up after the service. Also, if anyone desires to be baptized, we can arrange to do that. One of us would love to talk with you and try to answer your questions.
Thank you for your kind attention. Let’s pray.
Lord God Almighty, thank you for your grace, your free gift which we don’t deserve. We are thankful for Jesus Christ. Thank you for forgiving our sins, for redeeming us, and giving us the hope of eternal life with you.
Thank you for drawing us to you to receive this marvelous gift. And thank you for sealing us with the Holy Spirit to guide us as we live on this earth, and throughout all eternity. Help us to find the good works you have already prepared for us, and help us to walk in them.
In the wonderful and powerful name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.