The Fourth in a Series of Sermons on Ephesians
Ephesians 2:1-10 is one of those great passages of Scripture with which most Christians are well-familiar. This passage contains important and well-known proof-texts for the doctrine of sola gratia (grace alone), as well as for the doctrine of total depravity. Most of us have memorized Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Many are familiar with the opening verse of this chapter which reminds us that “we are dead in sin.” Our familiarity with this chapter is both good and bad. We may already know the details of the passage–which is good. But the downside is that we must not concentrate upon the well-known proof-texts to the exclusion of the other important points Paul is making. As we make our way through Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians we need to understand this passage as part of a larger discussion. In this section of Ephesians (chapters 1-3), Paul sets out his overall purpose in writing–to remind believers of our glorious inheritance in Jesus Christ so that we understand our role in God’s new society, which is the church of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, becomes the basis for the applicatory section of the letter, in chapters 3-6. A proper understanding of how God saves us from our sins, is the only proper basis for living the Christian life.
As we continue our series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we make our way into the second chapter as Paul continues to describe how it is that God saves us from our sins, and how we as Christians are to understand the course of human history (in general) and our place in that history in particular. In verses 3-14, Paul has already given us a Trinitarian panorama of redemptive history. Paul’s “big picture” (as we have been speaking of it) begins in eternity past when the Father chose a vast multitude of those whom he would redeem from their sins in the person of his Son. Paul moves on to recount that the Father sent his beloved son to die for all of those whom the Father had chosen. It was the shed blood of Jesus which redeems and secures the forgiveness of our sins for those given him by the Father. And then, Paul says, at a particular moment in time, the Holy Spirit called us to faith. We heard the word of truth, we were included in Christ, and we were then sealed until the day of redemption. Here we have the famous Reformed mantra–redemption decreed, accomplished, and applied. Paul has given us a redemptive historical panorama which takes us from eternity past to until that day when Jesus Christ returns to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new at the end of the age.
Whenever we look at the “big picture,” we see the love of God in saving sinners who truly deserve his wrath. We also see that Jesus not only took to himself a true human nature, but he came to earth to suffer and die to secure redemption for those whom the Father had chosen. But when God raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus ascended on high to take his place at the Father’s right hand, Paul says, it is clear that God has the power to do what he has promised. In the cross of Christ, we see God’s love and justice. In the resurrection, we see God’s power. In Christ’s ascension, we see Christ’s on-going rule over all of human history in his priestly, kingly, and prophetic offices. And this, Paul says, is the basis of our hope.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click here