Ephesians 2_ 1-10      Dead or Alive (in Christ)

Rev. David Holwick  ZF

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

September 22, 1991

Ephesians 2:1-10


  I. The human condition.

      A. Much pessimism in society over the problems of humanity.

      B. What Paul does in Ephesians 2:1-10 -

          1) He first plumbs the depths of pessimism about people.

          2) Then rises to the heights of optimism about God.

II. What people are by nature.

      A. We were dead.                               2:1-3

          1) Do you ever act dead?

              a) I am well-known for it.

                 Glazed eyes, numb look.

          2) Deadening nature of transgressions and sins.    2:1

              a) "Transgressions" is a false step, involving either the

                     crossing of a know boundary

                         or a deviation from the right path.

              b) "Sin" means a missing of the mark,

                     a falling short of a standard.     (bow & arrow)

              c) Sins of commission and omission.

          3) Result is spiritual death.               2:1

              a) A life without God is a living death.

              b) We don't just commit sins, but "live" (lit, walk) in them.

              c) Not just "bad" people, but all people.     2:3b

      B. We were enslaved.                  2:2

          1) Enslaved to the world.            2:2

              a) "Ways of the world" is literally "age of the world."

                  1> "This age" of evil and darkness.

                  2> "World" as society organized without God.

              b) Many surrender to mindset of Hollywood, etc.

          2) Enslaved to the devil.             2:2

              a) Ruler of kingdom of the air.  (unseen forces)

              b) Satan and "personal evil" unfashionable even in Church.

                  1> But Satanism is flourishing all around us.

                  2> He is personal - at work in individuals.     2:2

                  3> Jesus and Bible were convinced of their existence

                        and power.

          3) Enslaved to the sinful nature (flesh).    2:3

              a) "Desires".                         2:3

                  1> God made us to have desires:  food, sex, sleep.

                  2> Sin is when appetite becomes gluttony.

                  3> Zurich drug addict, hating to get a fix but compelled.

              b) "Thoughts" just as bad as body.     2:3

                  1> In Philippians 3:3-6, "the flesh" covers all forms

                       of self-confidence, even pride of ancestry,

                         parentage, race, and religion.

      C. We were condemned.         2:3b

          1) Three objections:

              a) The wrath of God.

                  1> Not like our wrath, but God's steady reaction to sin.

              b) Phrase "objects (lit: children) of wrath."

                  1> Seems unfair.  God just wants to whack us.

                  2> Jewish way of talking.

              c) Meaning of "by nature."

                  1> Doesn't mean every person is totally horrible.

                      A> But every part of us is tainted by sin.

                  2> When Adam sinned, he corrupted all of us.

                      A> "Corporate identity" of Hebrew thought.

                          1: Best meaning of "original sin."

                      B> We have a selfish nature from the very beginning.

          2) Condemnation shows the moral consistency of God.

III. What people can be, with God's grace.         2:4-7

      A. God's actions toward us are motivated by his love, not ours.

          1) Speaker at Chester Congregational - we belt out "Oh how I

                love Jesus" but are more timid with "Jesus Loves Me."

             (Being charismatic, they concluded with 14 stanzas of "Jesus

                Loves Me")

          2) God reaches us when we are still sinners.       2:5 b

              a) You don't have to reform yourself first to come to God.

      B. God gives us a new life.              2:5 a

          1) Illustration from Charles Colson's Prison Fellowship:

          Cesar Guy was a well-off Filipino who was falsely accused

             of rape.

          The case was in the newspapers for weeks.

          In the end he was sent to prison for 16 years.

             Cesar was so bitter he turned to alcohol.

          After 7 years his accuser recanted after becoming a Christian

             and asked that he be pardoned.

          Unfortunately, three days previously President Marcos had

             imposed military law and the pardon got buried.

          One cellmate, Roger Arienda, was jailed for criticizing Marcos

             and droned on about politics.

          In 1975 Roger took a Bible out of the library and became saved.

             Then he droned on about Jesus.

          But Roger's rage was replaced with compassion.

          Chinese Pastor Hao preached at the prison and wouldn't take

             his eyes off Cesar.

          He visited him personally and gave him a Bible, which he tried

             to trade for a cigarette but couldn't.

          He promised to read John 3 to get the pastor off his back.

             Nicodemus fascinated him, as did 2 Corinthians 5:17.

          He accepted Christ and looked up his old cellmate Roger.

          Cesar was released in 1982, complete with a press conference

              and a public apology from the newspaper that had defamed him.

          He now works with Prison Fellowship and gives jobs to prisoners.


      C. God gives us a new victory.           2:6

          1) God seated us with Christ in glory - right now.

          2) Evil can be increasingly put under our feet.

IV. Why God did it this way.                       2:8-10

      A. God's nature is merciful.           2:4

          1) Jesus says when we show mercy, we share in the Father's nature.

          2) God wants to show us his riches.    2:7

          3) This is the essential meaning of "grace."

      B. Everything He gives us is undeserved.

          1) Salvation through faith is a gift.     2:8

              a) Not a transaction between God and us in which he

                   contributes grace and we contribute faith.

              b) We were dead, and had to be made spiritually alive before

                   we could believe.

              c) The whole event of salvation through faith is God's gift.

          2) No room for human achievement, no room for bragging.   2:9

              a) Not by achievement (your own doing).

              b) Not a reward for good deeds (not by works).

              c) All are equal before God's throne.

          3) Controversial - most religions reject free grace.

              a) Sect out in Billy Graham Crusade parking lot.

              b) Cuts against our nature.   But Biblical.

      C. God saves us to do good things.

          1) We are God's workmanship.

              a) Workmanship = (poiema), poem, work of art, masterpiece.

          2) We're not saved "by" works (2:9), but "to do" works (2:10).

              a) Good works are indispensable to salvation -

                   not as its ground or means,

                   but as its consequence and evidence.

              b) Gratitude, not ticket into heaven.

          3) God has prepared for us to do this.

              a) Literally - to walk in.    Paragraph ends as it begins.

              b) Good lifestyle should characterize all Christians.


John Stott

  I. Resurrected with Christ.                2:1-10

      A. Man by nature, or the human condition.       2:1-3

          1) We were dead.

          2) We were enslaved.

              a) To the world.

              b) To the devil.

              c) To the flesh.

          3) We were condemned.

              a) Three objections:

                  1> The wrath of God.

                  2> Phrase "children of wrath."

                  3> Meaning of "by nature."

              b) Condemnation shows the consistency of God.

      B. Man by grace, or the divine compassion.     2:4-10

          1) What God has done.

          2) Why God did it.

Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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