Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-11
Sermon Title: The Dead Made Alive (part 2)
Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
Truth #1 – The Universe is Created for God’s Glory
Truth #2 – But God. God Imposes His Will to Save us by Grace
Truth #3 – Christ’s Riches are an Unlimited Treasure
Truth #4 – God Seeks for His Glory to be Praised
So What – Applying these truths
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Paul begins the letter to the Ephesians by telling the church of God’s great work of salvation in the life of the saints. He continues by telling the church how he has been praying for them to know God; know the hope of His calling, know of riches inheritance He has for them and how God is working all of His power to make their salvation happen.
From the prayer, it appears that Paul wants the Ephesians to understand fully the promises of God’s belong to them. The Apostle Paul reveals in the letter the rich promises of Abraham belong to both Gentile and Jew who are in Christ. We now enter into the beginning of Paul’s teaching of this truth.
Let’s read our text together.
1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course 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. 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. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead 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. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
To understand this text fully, it is helpful to take a step back and to zoom out and view it with a big picture outlook. To guides us in our thinking, we have four “Truths” to overlay on the text to help us grasp it more fully.
Truth 1: The Universe is Created for God’s Glory
The Bible begins by telling us God is the Creator of the Universe. This is the foundation of all truth. God is the Creator, and we are created by Him and for Him.
Scripture tells us God created the universe for His glory. The stars are placed in the sky to declare the wonders of His power and the depth of His wisdom and knowledge. The seasons reveal God’s understanding of time, order, and the unfolding of life. God has us live in a setting that reflects God’s majesty, goodness, omnipotence, and sovereign control.
Man originally made to reflect God’s glory
When God created the universe, God created man and woman. Like the rest of God’s creation, the man and woman were created to reflect God’s glory. However, unlike the rest of God’s creation, God made man in His image. Man’s role upon the earth is to be an image-bearer to reflect the glory of God.
God is sovereign over creation, and God granted Adam dominion over the earth. Most importantly, God gave man spiritual life. The living spirit of man is given so man will reflect God’s goodness and righteousness. God is good and righteous in overseeing the entire universe and man’s spirit is to reflect God’s goodness and righteousness as he oversees his dominion.
Man is deceived by the enemy of God’s glory
God has an enemy named Satan. The enemy hates God’s glory and seeks to usurp God and take control of God’s creation. The enemy of God’s glory deceived the man. The enemy attacked God’s image-bearer and tricked Adam and Eve into rebelling against God and instead follow Satan’s influence.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they and their descendants, suffered spiritual death. Because of being dead spiritually, mankind is no longer capable of having dominion in the way God designed. We are no longer good, righteous and just. The dead spirit of man does not yield good fruit, but only yields the fruit of sin, iniquity, and transgression.
We see throughout history how spiritually dead men do not reflect the glory of God. Instead, in the path of man we see the fruit of man’s labor: war, pollution, devastation, corruption, deception, and utter destruction.
Scripture records how civilization after civilization is totally depraved. We read of the sins of the Sodomites, Canaanites, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans. We witness how the depravity continues into our age with the Germans, Koreans, Ugandans, Russians, and the Americans.
People are just as Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1-3. People are dead in their trespasses and sins. They walk, not according to the goodness of God’s truth, but according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is working in the sons of disobedience. The enemy of God’s glory still deceives man because the spiritually dead are unable to choose good.
Spiritually dead people are not the apple of God’s eye, but they are the object of God’s wrath. Man is hopelessly dead and rightly destined for God’s judgment and wrath. Because man is spiritually dead, there is nothing man may do to become alive to righteousness.
The Universe is created for God’s glory. Sadly, mankind does not reflect God’s glory, but only reflects death and destruction.
Truth #2: But God - God Imposes His Will to Save us by Grace
Verse four begins with two important words, “but God.” These two words proclaim the Gospel. God intervenes and imposes His will upon creation. He does not ask permission to exercise His will. He is the sovereign Creator, and He answers to no one, therefore, at any moment and in any place, He may say, “But”.
God imposing His will upon the earth is only a problem if God is a dictator or a tyrant. The good thing about God imposing His will upon creation is that His will and purpose is what creation needs. God’s will is the perfect solution for this broken world.
Motivation - Great Love
We may know the motivation for God to impose His will from verse four. God’s motivation is that He is “rich in mercy and because of His great love with which He loved us”. God imposed His will because He is gloriously rich in mercy and He has great love.
aWhen God showed Moses His glory, He walked past Moses and declared, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness.” It is God’s glory to be merciful and forgiving. God imposed His will upon mankind, not because mankind is deserving, but because God is abounding in lovingkindness; He is rich in mercy.
God loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions (v.5). Paul is reminding the Ephesians what he taught them when he shared the gospel with them.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God (here is that phrase again!) demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
What this text is saying is that God’s love is not like ours. We might die for a good person; it is rare, but it happens. But God’s love is beyond our understanding. He gave His Son to die for us while we were not good people, but His enemies.
After speaking of God’s mercy and love, Paul inserts a parenthetical phrase; by grace, you are saved. God is rich in mercy, which means we do not get the punishment we deserve. But, God’s love goes far beyond mercy. God’s love is full of grace. Though we do not deserve it, we receive God’s unmerited favor. Not only do we escape the punishment of God’s wrath because of His mercy, but we receive the riches of Christ, because of His grace.
In these verses, Paul reminds the Ephesians twice that they are saved by grace alone. Grace is always at the forefront of all of Paul’s communication with the Body of Christ. Paul begins all his epistles by bestowing Grace to the readers. “Grace to you.” Paul ends all his letters with, “Grace be with you.” Paul wants the reader's mind to be centered upon grace at the beginning of his letters, and He wants the reader's mind to continue thinking about the grace of God, grace be with you, after they finish the letter and they go about their lives as children of God.
We can never overemphasize grace. Grace is the foundation of the Gospel. To understand the Gospel is to have “understood the grace of God in truth.”
It is because of God’s mercy and love that He bestows upon us His grace. Or should I say, God imposes upon us His grace. After all, can dead people walk around and look for the cure for their death? Can dead people speak and ask to be revived? Do we have a big sign on us that says, “if found dead, please resuscitate and bring to life”? When people talk about their salvation experience, I can’t help but wonder what part of being dead do they not understand?
No, we didn’t ask for God’s grace. God imposes His grace, and He does so for the sake of His glory (more on that in Truth #4).
Out of grace, God chose a remnant
Because of God’s mercy and love, and because God will not allow His glory to be trampled underfoot by Satan or mankind, God chose to send us a Savior. In the very same breath, God pronounced the spiritual death of man, God pronounces salvation will come.
God imposed His will and chose a remnant from which a Savior would come. God chose Abram and named Him Abraham and told Him from His seed all the nations would be blessed. From God’s choosing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a nation named Israel was born.
God’s choosing of Abraham and his descendants is not because they were good. Abraham didn’t believe God would provide him a son, so he slept with his wife’s maid, basically saying God is not true to His Word. Jacob was a deceiver who cheated his brother Esau out of the birthright that was rightfully his. None of the people God chooses is worthy of being chosen. The Israelites, were as Paul writes in verse three, living in the lusts of their flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest of the nations.
But God. God used the nation of Israel as His chosen means to unveil His glory to the nations. God raised up prophets to proclaim His truth and judgment. God raised up kings and warriors to show His power and sovereignty. God chose the Levites to be His priests so as to demonstrate forgiveness and mercy through a blood sacrifice.
The primary reason God chose a remnant in Israel is so He may bring to the world the embodiment of His glory in what the Scripture calls, the Second Adam. From Israel came the Messiah. He is the one who is called the Prince of Peace, the Rose of Sharon, the Alpha and the Omega, and the Lion and the Lamb.
Every person since Adam was born spiritually dead. Adam’s seed has no spiritual life. God chose a virgin so the Messiah would not be born as the rest of mankind. The Messiah is the Holy Offspring of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus Christ the Messiah is God with us, Immanuel.
The Messiah was not born spiritually dead, but He was born spiritually alive. He was born completely righteous and holy. He was the Second Adam who Satan, though he tried, could not deceive like he had deceived the first Adam. The Messiah battled, and won, against Satan, the enemy of God’s glory.
Immanuel, God with us, is the Lamb of God who died and gave His blood as a sacrifice.
Truth #1 – The universe is created for God’s glory
Truth #2 – God imposes His will to save us by His grace, “but God.”
Truth #3: Christ’s Riches are an Unlimited Treasure
The incredible love of God is revealed in the depth of His gift of Christ to the church.
God sent a rich treasure to show His love. God looked around at the resources at His disposal; He didn’t send gold, or precious jewels as a gift. He didn’t send an angel. God didn’t give us the moon or even an entire galaxy. God sacrificed His beloved, most precious, Son. God said my love for you is so great, I will give you my absolute very best; I give you Christ, My anointed.
Not only did God send us His richest treasure, but God also spent the treasure completely. Not one ounce was withheld. Jesus gave His all. We sometimes give of our time for people. We sometimes give our resources. We sometimes give of our energy, our backs, or our thinking. We all have given some. But, one thing I know for sure, not one of us has given completely by emptying the treasure chest out. We have never died for someone else. Jesus Christ gave it all.
And, in giving us the treasure, we receive all the riches of Christ. We receive Christ’s righteousness, justice, forgiveness, wisdom, and inheritance is an unlimited treasure.
The treasure we have in Christ is gloriously inexhaustible.
With the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ, God is revealing the depth of Christ’s glory.
- The treasure of Jesus Christ satisfies God’s judgment and absorb all of the wrath of God which we deserved.
- Christ extends forgiveness for every sin we have committed or will ever commit.
- Christ imputes to us His righteousness so that each and every one of us may stand before the throne of God blameless and above reproach.
Remember where we came from. Hopefully, all of us spent time this week contemplating the truth that we were all formerly children of disobedience and the object of God’s wrath.
Alive, Raised and Seated with Christ
We are with Christ when we put our faith in Him. We are in union with Him. We are joined, not at the hip, but at the neck. He is the head, and we are the body. Because we are in union, we share all things with him.
The Apostle applies the Greek prefix of syn, which means with, to three words. In English, it sounds like this: with-alive, with raised, and with-seated. In Christ, we are with Him alive, we are with Him raised, and we are with Him seated.
Apply verses 4-6 to our previous condition as a descendant of Adam’s race described in verses 1-3.
- In Adam, we were dead. --- In Christ, we are made alive. We are resurrected from the dead in Christ.
- In Adam, we were walking according to darkness and the course of this world. --- In Christ, we were raised up into the light and walking according to righteousness. We are ascended from this world with Christ.
- In Adam, we were the children of disobedience and the object of God’s wrath. --- In Christ, we are seated at God’s right hand and the object of God’s favor. We were once destined to be in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, the objects of scorn and ridicule. But now, we are at God’s right hand. The weeping and gnashing is replaced with pleasures, and the scorn and shame is replaced with honor and power. We go from the lowest place of shame in the universe and spiritual dominion to the highest place of honor! We are seated, exalted, with Christ.
Notice how all this is spoken in past tense. We have been made alive. We have been raised, and we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. We enjoy all this now. Today, we enjoy this in a lesser measure than how we will enjoy it in the future. Nevertheless, we are presently able to enjoy the blessings of being alive in Christ. Because God is faithful, we have complete assurance in knowing our future is certain. We know not because of who we are, but because God is faithful and true.
Christ is our Inheritance
Paul is telling the Ephesians that the promises of Abraham are for them. Paul was praying that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened, so that they will know they have hope, that the riches of the glory of Christ’s inheritance belongs to them, and that God is working His power to make them alive, to raise them up, and to seat them with Christ in the heavenly places.
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
All the promises of God find their Amen in Christ.
Truth #1 – The universe is created for God’s glory
Truth #2 – God imposes His will by using His glory to save us by His grace, “but God.”
Truth #3 – God glorifies His Son by having the riches of Christ be the unlimited treasure. Jesus is our all in all.
This leads us to truth #4, which is:
Truth #4: God’s Seeks For His Glory To Be Praised
7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
God saves us by His grace so He may show His grace. God is putting His grace on display. God knows His grace is beautiful and worthy of being valued and praised. Three times in the opening of the letter, Paul writes of God’s grace and glory being praised as God’s chief end.
- God predestined us to adoption so His grace would be praised (v.5).
- We obtained an inheritance to the praise of His glory (v.11).
- And, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as a pledge of our inheritance, and with a view of being God’s own possession, to the praise of God’s glory.
The praise of God’s glory is tantamount to all God does. It is important for us to understand because this truth should completely direct our life.
Not hum-drum, but joy
Praising God’s glory is not a boring existence of endless renditions of the hymn, “To God be the Glory.”
We are created to enjoy God. God opens our eyes so we are no longer blind. He makes us alive so our senses may taste and see that the Lord is good. We are alive to look upon His glory and find satisfaction for all of our needs. Enjoy God and, in doing so, we bring Him glory.
God made us to enjoy things which bring us wonder. We enjoy hearing about great athletic feats and our eyes are opened to see God is all powerful. We enjoy hearing about people with great intellect, and our eyes are opened to see God is all knowing and all wise. We enjoy looking at beauty, and our eyes are opened to see the wonders of God’s work. We watch movies and are moved emotionally when we see people making great sacrifices for others, and God opens our eyes to see the sacrifice of His Son upon the cross for our salvation.
We will enjoy the wonders of God forevermore. We will enjoy God stretching our imagination and allowing us to glimpse all of His beauty and strength.
God’s glory is our benefit
We praise God’s glory because God’s glory is for our benefit. We prosper because of the glory of God. God’s glorious power defeats all of our enemies eternity. God’s glorious mercy forgives our sins. God’s glorious grace makes us alive God’s glory is the eradication of sin. Because of God’s glory, we will no longer have to live in the presence of injustice, corruption, and decay. All things will be new, and all things will be right.
When we rightly understand God’s glory, we realize praising His glory is a joy. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness because we are the blessed recipients of the goodness of God’s glory. God desires His glory to be praised above all else.
Jesus wants nothing more than to have us be with Him so we may enjoy His glory forever. There is nothing distasteful or unattractive about God’s glory.
Praise God’s glory and riches of His grace. Make much of Christ. It is because of His love and sacrifice that we are able to enjoy His richness.
So What – Applying these Truths
The intent of preaching these truths is not that we will have more information. The intent of preaching these truths is that the information will take root in our heart and affect our lives.
MAIN IDEA: Allow the truth of salvation by grace alone to permeate your life and direct your thoughts, words, and actions.
Here are ten ways in which we may apply these truths.
- Study and meditate upon these truths. Memorize verses 1-10. Let it sink into head and heart. This way, it will impact our life. Meditate on these verses day and night so we may be like the man in Psalm 1, like the tree planted by the river, yielding fruit in its season, its leaves do not wither, and in all that he does he prospers. These truths are able to sustain us.
- Christianity is not about us; it is about God imposing His will. When we share the Gospel, we should include our original condition of being dead and we should include the words, “but God.”
- Don’t look with disdain at those who are dead. God showed compassion upon us when we were dead. The spiritual deadness of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and relatives should not be a joke, but should be cause for weeping. There but the grace of God go I.
- Be humble. If we don’t feel worthy of the promises of Abraham, that is because we are not worthy. Nobody is worthy of the riches of Heaven. There is nothing we have done to deserve God’s favor. We should continually remind ourselves of God’s grace. There is no room for self-righteousness in the life of the Christian.
- To whom much is given, much is expected. We should be people who reflect God’s glory of showing forgiveness, mercy, love, and grace. We are to be God’s restored image-bearers. We need to love justice and mercy and to walk humbly with our God. We are no longer dead, but alive in Christ. We are to live as those who are alive.
- Jesus prayed to the Father, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:16-18). We are not of this world; we are raised with Christ and seated with Him. Though we are not of this world, we are sent into the world for the sake of declaring the truth. We are ambassadors for Christ, and we are to speak the life-giving words of truth. The truth cleanses us, so we are sanctified and walk worthy of the gospel. And, Jesus desires for us to glorify Him by proclaiming the truth of His grace to the world.
- The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ. There is no other way which people may be saved. Dead people cannot discern, pray God will give them faith. Speak the Gospel, let God quicken the spirit of the dead.
- Because Christ is a rich treasure to satisfy our every need, we need to be careful not to be deceived by walking in the course of this world to find satisfaction in false treasure. Be wary of pursuing material goods, the prestige of work, and the applause of men. Run from the vices, such as gossip, gluttony, lust, or lying which provide temporary joy, but only lead to destruction.
- We need to proclaim the riches of Christ. He is the treasure for all of our needs. The work of the cross is sufficient to reconcile any broken marriage. The richness of Christ is sufficient to carry us through the deepest of life’s tragedies. The richness of Christ is the reason we give an answer for the hope that is within us. Make much of Christ.
- Grace was at the forefront of Paul’s ministry, and grace should be at the forefront of ours. We can never speak too much about God’s grace. We can never show too much grace to others. Grace is to be our praise. God’s grace is sufficient.
MAIN IDEA: Allow the truth of salvation by grace alone to permeate your life and direct your thoughts, words, and actions.
- God created the Universe for His glory. We are created for Him.
- God imposes His will to save us by His grace.
- Christ’s riches are an unlimited treasure for us to draw upon for all of our needs.
- God seeks His glory to be praised. The praise of His grace should be continually upon our lips. This is why He save us by His grace.