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Nov 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 16, 2014 – Ephesians 2:8-10

The Invitation Of Grace

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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Intro: In our Sunday night meeting we recently discussed a quote by David Steindl-Rast

“. . . we never start to be grateful unless we wake up. Wake up to what? To surprise. As long as nothing surprises us, we walk through life in a daze.”

– this week we began watching the Romuald conversations, which he began with the statement, “Worship is awe”
• he listed ways that we usually experience awe:

“For example, in nature, in something that takes us by surprise . . . in something that takes our breath away.”

Because these three verses in Ephesians chapter 2  are familiar to us, they do not surprise us
– we read them and do not feel grateful, we read them and do not experience awe
• besides their familiarity, they are the condensed version of some very big themes
• Paul glides through these themes in a couple sentences that in Romans takes two or three chapters to explain
– our goal today is not to try to make ourselves feel grateful
• but maybe we can let these verses surprise us again

I’m going to begin by jumping into the heart of this

The three words, “in Christ Jesus”
– we have already observed how many times “in Christ” (or “in Him”) appeared in chapter 1
• now, glancing back to the previous two verses, we see the phrase there too (vv. 6 & 7)


Albert Schweitzer argued that “Being-in-Christ” was the most common “expression for union with Christ” and that this
“concept of being-in-Christ dominates Paul’s thought in a way that he not only sees in it the source of everything connected with redemption, but describes all the experience, feeling, thought and will of the baptized as taking place in Christ.”

– Jesus entered our flesh and blood existence to forge a spiritual bond with us
• he shared our life with us so we could share his life with him

Christian spirituality entails an increasing awareness of our union with Jesus
– it is to experience the many ways that being in him affects our everyday lives

V. 8, A huge theme is packed into one sentence

The simplest way to think of grace, is gift
– it is a gift that opens doors of opportunity and fits us to meet the challenges that opportunity brings
• grace is a gift that makes impossibilities realities
• grace in the Old Testament was also “favor” (e.g., Gen. 39:4, 21; Est. 2:9, 15, 17)
– did you ever get hired for a job even though you lacked the qualifications for it?
• that is the kind of thing grace does for us
• last week we learned that we had been “dead” but were “made alive”
◦ how did we get from our trespasses and sins to the kindness of God we will enjoy in the ages to come?
◦ God showed us favor – he extended his grace to us

What many Christians know about being “saved” is only a fragment of what the word means
– by definition, an Evangelical is someone committed to evangelism
• the evangel is the “gospel” – typically, “Jesus died for our sins to us save from hell”
• the goal of evangelism is to get people to become Christians
– but “saved” refers to the entire Christian experience
• it is God’s ongoing work in our lives
◦ it includes the healing of our whole person, the development of our character, a growing intimacy with God, etc.
• it is a process of transformation
◦ what matters is not where you are in the process, but that you are in the process
◦ God meets us wherever we are and by his grace keeps us moving forward

The big news in Romans is that we enter this state of grace and being saved by faith
– at one time, Paul believed the saved condition could only be earned, and that by keeping the law (cf. Acts 15:1)
• but in Romans, chapters 3-5, he develops and defends the case for grace
• he pretty much sums it up in this way:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand . . . . (Ro. 5:1-2)

– do you see how grace and faith work together?  God reaches down and we reach up
• God extends grace to us so we can know him and be right with him
• we accept his grace through faith
◦ i.e., trust him with all the details
• where grace and faith meet is where we connect with God
◦ we cannot assume this is as easy as it sounds
◦ it is our nature to always feel we must do something that will ensure God’s acceptance of us

V. 9, Paul works at driving this point home

What is he referring to, “and that not of yourselves”?
– it might be best to take the whole phrase — being saved by grace through faith–
• this way of being right with God
– it is all “gift” – it is given to us

What Paul does next looks redundant to me
– in fact, I’m convinced he was intentionally redundant
• he was not concerned with syntax
• he wanted his readers to experience this truth

There is a dialogue in the movie “Good Will Hunting” that has entered the ranks of classic scenes that are remarkably powerful. Robin William’s character, Sean Macquire, is a psychologist, holds a folder the details the physical abuse Matt Damon’s character, Will Hunting, suffered at the hands of his father. Referring to the contents of the folder, Macquire tells Will, “It’s not your fault.” He responds, “Yeah, I know.” Macguire says, “No. It’s not your fault.” Will nods and says, “I know.” Macguire approaches Will and gets in his face and says, “It’s not your fault.” Will starts to get defensive and at one point tells Macguire, “No! Don’t you do this,” but Macguire keeps looking into Will’s face, repeating the same message. Eventually Will breaks and begins sobbing and then the two of them embrace.

◦ why is the scene so moving? because is clear that Will’s knowledge is only cerebral
◦ what he lacks and desperately needs in order to heal and move on, is for the truth to penetrate his heart and soul
– look at these two phrases:
“not of yourselves” (Grk. ouk ex hymon) and “not of works” (ouk ex ergon)
• the New American Standard Bible adds “as a result” to the second phrase, but I think that botches the text
• the parallel is not as clear as: “not of yourselves, the gift of God, not of works”
◦ the redundancy is more clear — if it’s a gift God gives, then obviously it is not of ourselves or of works
• as a side note, by works Paul means “works of the law” (Ro. 3:28)

What is significance of boasting?
– when I boast, I take credit for something
• in Paul’s time and culture boasting was acceptable, even expected
• it was one way that people could increase their honor status in the eyes of their community
◦ but Paul doesn’t see any room for boasting except in God’s work and the cross of Jesus (Ro. 3:27; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 6:14)

V. 10, There’s another facet to this diamond

The reason we can’t take credit for what we’re becoming is because we are God’s project
– it is well known that the Greek word translate “workmanship” is poiema, the source of our English word, poem
• Paul’s language is suggestive of the work of an artist or craftsman
– we’re being made into something new (2 Cor. 5:17–“new creature” and here, “created in Christ Jesus”)
• we belong to something new – God’s new people
• we can talk about our new nature (spiritual)

Some believers may be surprised by Paul’s emphasis on “good works”
– I’m baffled by Christians who don’t think they need to be good people
• I’ve heard preachers say, “Good works are good for nothing,” but that is patently untrue
• what’s the difference between these good works and the “not by works” in verse 9?
• the prepositions: “of” and “for”
◦ the new creature is not made of works, but once I am a new creature it is for good works
– this has been God’s design all along, “prepared beforehand”
• we were not saved to bask in our savedness, but to glorify God through good works (Mt. 5:16)
– “walk” – good works are supposed to become our way of life
• I’ve heard that a good person is someone who does good deeds and never knows it

Conc: Grace is an invitation

The sun comes up – I do nothing to make that happen
– but I can choose to go outside and spend time in its light
• or I can close curtains and stay in the dark
• grace is the invitation to step into the light that you can neither create nor extinguish
◦ grace is God knocking on your door every morning and calling, “Can you come out and play?”
– the invitation to grace is hidden in every moment, every event–good or bad
• our challenge is to perceive where grace is at work in there here and now
• and once we receive God’s grace, to go in world to share it

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt. 5:44)

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