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Ephesians 2:1-10
Series:  A Letter of Grace and Life - Part Three

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
March 1, 2020

We are continuing in our study of Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus.  The big picture of Ephesians comes in two parts:  chapters 1 to 3 focusing on grace and chapters 4 to 6 focusing on life.  So - big picture:  Ephesians is... “a letter of grace and life.”


Grace coming from God - which we desperately need.  And life - what it means for us to live out what God has so graciously done for us.


So if you are able, please with me before God and His word and would join with me as we read together beginning at Ephesians 2 - starting at verse 1:


And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 


But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Leading up to chapter 2 - what we’ve seen in past Sundays - Paul has being opening up how God has graciously blessed those in Christ with every spiritual blessing.  Whatever we need to do life - not surface level - but at the core of who we are - heart and soul level - God graciously blesses us with everything we need to do life.


What Paul has opened up is astounding.


God has chosen us, predestined us to be His children, redeemed us from the bondage and condemnation of our sin, made Himself known to us - giving us life with Him now and a certain hope of an unimaginable future with Him.


And God seals us by the work of the Holy Spirit.  We’re His now and forever.  And God - being with us - blesses us with His wisdom and guidance in the day to day of our lives - giving purpose to our lives - and supplying the strength we need to follow Him through it all.  All of which is for God’s glory alone.


That’s the back fill leading into chapter 2.  God’s grace poured out on us and overflowing our lives.  Astounding.

Paul begins chapter 2 with a history lesson.  Describing
who we were apart from God’s grace.


Verse 1 - Paul writes, “You were dead.” 


Dead meaning… dead.


The theological term that describes that is... “Total Depravity”.  Which describes us before God.  Spiritually dead.  Harsh.  But true.


Total depravity means each of us is totally corrupt in every part of our nature.  There’s nothing within us that’s worthy of God’s approval. 


And in how we live life - every one of us displays our depravity as thoroughly and completely as we can.  That is who we are individually and as a race since Adam fell.


God said, “Don’t eat fruit from that tree.”  Adam - who represented all of us - yet to be born - humans - Adam made the choice to disobey God.


Adam - rather than having faith in God and obeying God - Adam chooses to act independent of God - disobeys God - and severs Himself spiritually from God and dies - spiritually.


And everyone of us - descended from Adam - is born into that hopeless separation from God and spiritual death - forever.


Total Depravity describes our standing - as descendants of Adam - our standing - who we are - before God without Christ.

Let’s be clear.  Total Depravity doesn’t mean than any one of us is any more or less sinful than anyone else.  No one gets to point fingers at anyone else.


Depravity isn’t about how much or how little we’ve messed up in life and all the horrible things we’ve done or not done.  Depravity isn’t about making us feel guilty or giving us an excuse to give up on ourselves.


Depraved is depraved.  Dead is dead.  Spiritually dead to God.  Hopeless and destined to the eternal wrath of God.  Harsh.  Hard to hear.  But true.


Paul goes on - verse 2.  Paul writes that we walked in our trespasses and sins.  Trespasses are like stepping over the line.  Living where we shouldn’t be living.


Sin is… sin.  What we do, or think, or say that’s disobedient to God - His character - His will. 


Everyone of us has - by our own sin - we just go on confirming the choice that Adam made. 


Paul writes that we walked that way - as depraved people we lived that way - following the course of this world.


The world is how the Bible talks about people.  Humanity with all of our great ideas and thoughts and philosophies and religions and discoveries and science and reasoning - our amassed extensive knowledge - our culture and laws. 


If we were able to turn humanity loose on a planet and let them create whatever kind of world we’d like to create - whatever philosophies and politics and economics and culture - whatever - the best that we’d be able to come up with is pretty much what we see going on around us.


A fallen world messed up by spiritually dead depraved people - a spiritual zombie land.  Physically living spiritually dead people.


Paul writes that the world of humanity walks - lives - following the prince of the power of the air.  Behind this near hell experience that we live in - behind all that is Satan and his minions - influencing what we see happening around us - nudging us down this path of self-destruction where evil is called good and good is called evil.  Where so many people live wounded - broken - hopeless - searching - empty - lonely - without purpose and meaning in their lives.


Where we’re slowly destroying ourselves endlessly searching for an answer.  Our - independent of God - self-driven efforts to better ourselves.  Believing that the answer is within us.  Our ability to raise ourselves out of our inhumanity.


Which is Satan’s great deception going back to the Garden.  We can live independent of trusting God like we know more than God.


Remember this guy?  Ed Norton.  If you don’t remember Ed, Google him.  History lesson in American pop culture.  Ed worked in the... sewer - and loved it.


That’s the lostness - the depravity - of this world.  Humanity living in a sewer deceived into thinking this is all good.  Not great.  But good.  We’re inherently good.  We just need to fix up a few things.  We’ll get it right next time.


Several thousand years of human history later, how’s that going? 


Then Paul writes - verse 3 - that we all once lived in the passions of our flesh.


Question:  Do you eat to live or live to eat?  One is preservation.  One is passion.


Most of us error on the side of passion.  Being passionate about gratifying our desires - doing what pleases us.


We all lived in the passions of our flesh - indulging the desires of our bodies and minds.  None of us escape that.  We’re heart level passionate about our self-gratifying sin.  We still struggle to be free of that.


And as a consequence - Paul writes - as a consequence we all were by nature children of wrath.  God’s wrath.  God’s justly deserved eternal - forever separation from God - forever punishment.  The forever endpoint of passionately following the course of this world.


Pulling all that together.  A corpse has no power - no ability.  A corpse decays.  A corpse just lays there with no hope of being anything more than dead.  Ultimately, it stinks being a corpse. 


Paul writes, “You were dead.”


On a Sunday when we’re going to be sharing communion together it is crucial that we be reminded of who we were.  It’s not pretty.  It’s a blow to our self-serving pride.


But it’s a reality check to our egos that we need.  To be reminded of the depth of our depravity and our desperate need for the unsurpassed height of God’s grace.


Paul writes, “You were dead.”


Let’s go on.  Verse 4 begins... “But God.”  That’s a total game changer. 


Everything before “but God” is who we were.  Everything after “but God” is who we are.  Verses 4 to 7 are what is now true of us because of what God - by His grace - has done for us.


But God, being rich in mercy - Mercy meaning God not giving us what we deserve.  In our depravity we deserve eternal wrath and punishment.


But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us...


“loved”  - the verb in the Greek has the idea of timelessness.


God Who is love - Who is the source and definition of what love is.  God has loved us from before creation was creation.  And He does love us.  And He will love us.  Why?  He just does.  It’s a God thing.


But God - in His over-the-top abundant mercy - because He is love - has and does and will love us - even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace - by God’s unprovoked and undeserved favor - by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


Unpacking that.  Three things that God - rich in mercy - greatly loving us - by grace - that God has done for us.


First - verse 5 - God made us alive together with Christ. 


Meaning that God - at the spiritual core of who we are being spiritually dead - when we welcome what God has done for us - trusting in Jesus as our Savior - God the Holy Spirit enters into us and takes what was spiritually dead and makes us to be spiritually alive.


Meaning that our whole relationship with God changes.  We’re redeemed and forgiven and restored and adopted and so much more.


Because of what God has done for us in Jesus - we get to experience life with the living God.  Not living as an enemy of God or living in fear of the God of wrath or seeing God as a great and terrible judge - justifiably condemning us to eternal death.

But in Christ our relationship with God is made right by God.  And like Jesus - the Son of God - we’re family.  We belong to God.  We’re His children.


Second - verse 6 - God has raised us up with Him - with Christ. 


“Raised” is about resurrection.  God raised Jesus from death.


Which is our great hope.  When we come to Jesus as our Savior we’re joined to His resurrection.  The end point of our lives is not God’s wrath and eternal death but eternal life.  As surely as Jesus is the resurrected Son of God we know that we will go on being God’s children forever.


And with that great future hope is our living raised even today. 


Someone once said that resurrection power works best in graveyards.  In Christ, God raises us up out of the sewer.


Meaning that God - by His grace - God gives us a totally different understanding of what we see going on around us.  God opens up to us the understanding that sin - with all its delusions and enticements - that following after the world - that’s a trap.  It’s living death now and the end point is forever death.


So we don’t have to keep going there.  We don’t have to live entangled in all that.  We can live forgiven and free in the redeemed life God gives to us.  We can live with a totally different perspective of life - focused on God and what God has raised us up to.


And as we trust and yield to God we learn that God is with right there with us able and willing to enable and empower and guide and gift and bless us with everything that we need to live life - now and forever. 


Third - verse 6 - God has seated us with Him - with Christ.


Seated is what happens after we work hard all day and come home and crash.  We’re done.


Seated meaning that after Jesus’ work on the cross was finished.  After His death in our place - and His resurrection assuring us of life - Jesus ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 


Meaning everything that needed to be done - to accomplish our salvation - everything that needed to be done was done.


Seated is also about where Jesus is seated.


Paul - back in Ephesians 1:20 - Paul writes that God - by His power raised Jesus - from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places - the position of power and authority in creation and beyond - far above all - not some but all - rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:20b,21)


Jesus has dominion and authority and rules over everything and everyone - now and forever. 


Which is the truth Paul is focusing on here in verse 6.  Jesus.  Work accomplished.  Seated.  Jesus reigns in divine authority over all of His creation.


So when Paul writes about our being seated “with Him”- with Jesus in the heavenly places - Paul isn’t writing about the heavenly places being some place way out there that someday maybe we’ll get there if we’re good enough at working hard enough at being a Christian and the good Lord let’s us in.


As surely as Jesus’ work on our behalf was completed and was all that was need to be done - in Christ - right here and right now we’re already part of God’s kingdom.  Already - right here - right now - each of us - in Christ - has in that kingdom a place of authority - of power - of privilege.


Jesus is seated.  We’re seated.


Pulling together those three things that God - “but God” - being rich in mercy - greatly loving us - by grace - that God has done for us.  Those three realities are a game changer in our position before God.


God changing us from being spiritually dead in our sin to being made spiritually alive before God.  Our relationship with God is made right.


We’re no longer left to hopelessly stumble through life towards an uncertain future.  But we have true hope in Christ today and for forever.


And we’ve gone from destination Hell to destination Heaven.  Hold on to the certain reality of all that for those who are in Christ.

Then - verse 7 - look at
God’s purpose for making us who we are in Christ.


Paul writes that God has made us alive - raised us - seated us - with Jesus so that - God’s purpose - so that in the coming ages God can show the immeasurable riches of His... grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


“Immeasurable” means… immeasurable.  It translates the Greek word “uperbole” which is the word we get our English word…  “hyperbole”.  Exaggerated beyond reason. 


The word “show” has the idea of giving a demonstration - displaying - visibly giving proof - evidence - of something.  In the Greek, the verb has the idea of continuously doing that.  “Showing”


“Kindness” is about Who God is.  God is kindness.  God is goodness.  God is gracious.


Meaning that God’s purpose in all His making us spiritually alive and raising us up out of the sewer of sin and seating us with Him - God’s purpose in being merciful and saving us by His grace is to go on demonstrating to us - and all of creation - Who He is by today and forever endlessly and immeasurably lavishing His kindness and goodness and graciousness on us. 


And that’s just nuts.  Isn’t it?  Who gets that?


God making us alive?  God raising us?  God seating us?  The depraved?  The sinners?  Broken?  Wounded?  Messed up and hung up? 


And yet, God purposes to go on unreasonably pouring out on us His grace and kindness on us forever and ever and ever.


That’s God’s grace.  Unprovoked - undeserved - favor towards us.


Verses 8 to 10 are familiar verses.  Yes?


In the big picture of Paul’s letter - verses 8 to 10 are Paul pulling together who we were - who we are - and God’s purposes in that.  Who We Glorify.  Which - spoiler alert - isn’t us.


We are to live testifying of God’s grace.


We’re going to unpack these verses in two parts.  Verses 8 and 9 focus on God’s gift.


Verse 8:  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. 


“gift” translates the Greek word “doron” which means… gift.


Any one like getting gifts?  Especially unexpected gifts that are really good?


(Brentwood Panini Maker)

Let’s be clear.  God’s gift of salvation by grace is way better than a “Panini Maker.”  Hopefully we’re together on that.


The gift is unexpected and undeserved.  Faith is how we receive the gift.


Faith is the means - the instrument - “through faith” - that we receive salvation.


Faith is sometimes compared to a syringe that delivers lifesaving medicine.  What saves someone isn’t the syringe.  It’s the medicine.  But without the syringe - without the faith - salvation isn’t possible.


Faith is our response through which we receive God’s graciously offered gift of salvation of the completed work of Christ on the cross.  Faith is simply trusting in what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.


Paul is very specific:  this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 


Faith is not a work.  Even faith is a gift of God’s grace. 


Faith is not something we do that God recognizes and then God gives us salvation.  Faith is our welcoming what God - by His grace - has already and completely done for us by Christ’s work on the cross. 


Paul just reminded us that we’re dead - lost - disobedient - hopelessly separated from God.  If it wasn’t for God reaching down to us we’d be toast.  Grace is the basis for everything that God has done for us.


Every ability.  Our identity.  Our hope.  Faith itself.  Everything that’s worth having and that God has blessed us with comes from God.  It’s His initiative.  His grace.  His love poured out.


We don’t get bragging rights on that.  Just in case we might be tempted to boast - or tempted to think that just a little bit of that is because we’re worth it or did something to earn it.  We can’t any credit for any of it.  We were dead.


We had absolutely nothing to do with what God’s done.  We didn’t come up with it.  Couldn’t have made it happen even if we had thought it up. 


God’s gracious gift of salvation is received when God opens our blinded by our sin - depraved - eyes to His gospel and enables us to understand and respond to its claims of what is offered to us in Christ - to accept His promise of forgiveness and life for all who believe.


Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Which is about God - not us.  To God alone be the glory.


Paul goes on - part two of our unpacking - verse 10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.


“Workmanship” translates the Greek word “poiema.” 


The only other place that word gets used in the New Testament is Romans 1:20.  Paul writing about how God reveals Himself to us:  “For His [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”


Psalm 19 - same idea:  “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.  Day to day pours our speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”  (Psalm 19:1,2)


In the same way we are the workmanship of God that declares Who God is.


Paul writes in verse 10 that “beforehand” - before we were saved - before Christ went to the cross - before creation was creation - God prepared - laid out - the good works that He has for us to do.


So that when - because of His unsurpassable grace and kindness - God by His grace purposes to save us - to make us alive - to raise us - to seat us - in Jesus to create us to be His workmanship - meaning that its by God’s artistry not our ability - created us to be His workmanship so that - as we live out the works that He has prepared for us - we would be on display in this world - to God alone be the glory.


Are we grabbing what Paul is getting at here?  Being saved from hell - fire and brimstone - eternal consequences for our sins.  Salvation is an awesome thing.


But God has purposes for us that go beyond salvation - that we should live on display for Him - God - the God our creator.  That is huge.


Do you see yourself that way - as a masterpiece of God?  Say this to yourself, “I’m a masterpiece of God.”  Share that with someone near you, “You are a masterpiece of God.”


We aren’t some paint by numbers garage sale item that God picked up for 25 cents so He could line the bottom of a drawer with us.  We’re a masterpiece that God planned - before creation - planned and prepared to proudly hang on display as a testimony of His very own character and workmanship.


God’s purpose in all this exaggerated pouring out His love on us is to demonstrate to others what it means to be loved by God - to be recipients of His grace and kindness.  Here in the sewer we are God’s masterpiece - on display - as He pours out His grace and kindness on us - so that - purpose - so that others will be attracted to the artist - to God.


Briefly processing that...


This is what?  The Mona Lisa.  The great 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo (da Caprio) da Vinci.  Have any of you ever seen this in person?  In the Louvre in Paris.


Great crowds of people file by each day to just get a glimpse of this masterpiece.  When people look at that painting - the painting is impressive.  But when people see the painting one has to marvel at the skill of the artist - at the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Mona Lisa has been stolen and vandalized.  But it still hangs as a testimony of Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic talent.


Maybe God will put us on display like Pastor Lawan Andimi who - in January - was kidnapped by Boko Haran militants from his village in Nigeria.


On January 7th, the pastor’s captors forced him to record a video from his place of captivity.  With the black flag of the Islamic State West African Province hanging behind his shoulder, Lawan said, “I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself in is the hands of God. … By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife, my children and my colleagues. [But] if the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God.”  (1)


On January 20, Pastor Andimi was beheaded.


Some of us get to hang in the greater Merced metroplex.  Some of those positions may be more noticeable than others.  Some of them not so noticeable.


God hangs His masterpieces in the strangest places - in our homes - at work - at school.  Sometimes the masterpieces get vandalized.


But we all hang for God.  Our being a masterpiece is about God’s grace - God’s workmanship - Who we are because of Him - God on display through us.  By His grace, may we hang for His glory.






1. https://www.icommittopray.com/request/1989/lawan-andimi/


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.