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Ephesians bible study series Taken from the sermon library of pr Enoch Kategaya, Preached at University Baptist church

July 2008 My goal in this message is quite lofty and cannot be accomplished without the help of the Lord. I would like to recover the doctrine of Grace and re-enshrine it in our hearts. I pray that as we think about these foundational truths we will once again lift up Gods grace and place it where it belongs in the throne room of our hearts. To that end I propose to say four things-and four things only-about the doctrine of grace.

The Need for Grace

We begin with the most important point-the need for grace. Miss this and you miss everything! Nothing else I say will matter unless you understand why you personally stand in desperate need of the grace of God. Why do we need Gods grace? Because all men and all women are by nature spiritually dead and separated from God. We must begin at this basic starting point for biblical theology. Lets pay close attention to the analysis found in Ephesians 2:1-3. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. This is Gods indictment of the entire human race apart from his grace. Its what he says about you and me as we stand before him in our natural condition. Three things are true of you without grace: You were dead (v. 1). You were enslaved (v. 2). You were under the wrath of God (v. 3). Think of that. Dead enslaved and under the wrath of God. Could there be a more helpless, hopeless condition? Dead! Enslaved! Under the wrath of God! This is what God sees when he peers down upon planet earth. Dead men, enslaved men, men under the wrath of God

The Meaning of Grace

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 Please circle three words in these two verses-love, mercy, and grace. Love is that in God which causes him to reach out to his creatures in benevolence. Mercy is God withholding punishment. And grace? Grace is the unmerited favor of God. These two verses offer three words, which answer the desperate state of mankind: Love Mercy Grace Heres a good way to remember the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve-Judgment. Grace is God giving us what we dont deserve-Salvation. There are two thoughts behind the truth of Gods grace:
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You deserve eternal punishment for your sins. You do not deserve Gods grace and can never earn it by anything you say or do. Let me illustrate this. When God looks down at the human race, what does he see? Imagine if you will that while you are walking down the street you happen upon a corpse. While you stop to ponder who this is, someone drags a second corpse next to the first one. This puzzles you but before you can ask any questions, three more corpses are thrown on the first two. Suddenly from every side corpses are being tossed on the pile. Old and young, rich and poor, black and white, man and woman, they seem to be coming from every direction. You step back and watch as the pile grows before you eyes. In a matter of seconds, it becomes a mountain of stinking corpses. Soon the mountain reaches to the skies with more dead bodies being added by the second. According to Ephesians 2, that is what God sees when he looks down from heaven. Not our good deeds, not our vaunted achievements, not our fame or our wealth. God sees death on every side. He sees dead men walking. Now suppose you ask, which one deserves to be brought back to life? The answer is, it doesnt matter, they all stink. Dead is dead is dead. That leads to an important truth. God is not obliged to save anyone! Or show mercy to anyone! Or forgive anyone! God would be perfectly justified in letting the dead stay dead.

The Implications of Grace

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:6-9

Now we discover the effect of grace upon men and women who were dead, enslaved, and under the wrath of God. Circle these three words in the text: Raised Seated Saved That says it all. He takes dead men and raises them. He takes enslaved men and seats them with Christ in heaven. He takes condemned men and saves them from judgment. Grace is thus Gods total answer to the moral ruin of the human race. It is such a complete answer that nothing else could ever be added to it. Our Judge Becomes Our Savior Here, then, are several crucial implications of grace: 1. Salvation is a work of God from first to last. It starts with God, continues with God, and ends with God. Anything we do is in response to what God has first done for us. 2. Nothing you have done or ever could do can contribute in the least to your salvation. That includes water baptism, whether as an infant or an adult. That includes the baptism you receive at University Baptist Church. I can hold you down so long that youll come up singing Amazing Grace, but that wont make you a Christian or forgive even one of your sins.
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3. As long as you trust in your own good works to any degree, you can never be saved. The reason is clear. Those who trust in themselves will never truly trust in Christ. Its not Christ plus your good works. Its faith in Christ, plus nothing and minus nothing. 4. Through grace our Judge has become our Savior. The face of God is changed from judgment to mercy through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. The One who would condemn now becomes our Savior. 5. This truth, once understood, takes away our terror of Gods judgment and replaces it with joy and boundless peace. This is why we sing, we pray, we praise, we rejoice. This is the only ground of our hope. This is the reason for our assurance. Gods grace gives us peace and fills us with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

The Demands of Grace

For we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Now we face the main objection to the teaching of this sermon, which is that grace produces careless living. Many people fear grace because they think it leads to a who cares attitude. Im saved so now I can whoop it up like the people of the world. To which I reply that anyone who uses grace as an excuse to sin shows they have never understood his grace in the first place. But it may be fairly asked where do works fit in. If they dont save, what difference do our good works make? Verse 9 tells us that salvation is not by works, while verse 10 tells us that we are created for good works. Perhaps this little comparison will make it all clear. We are saved by grace and not by works. We are saved by grace unto good works. Grace is the source of our salvation. It is also the motive for living the Christian life. Good works are not the ground of salvation, they are the result of salvation One final word and I am done. Gods grace is the guarantee of our salvation. This is a wonderful truth. Some people believe in getting saved by grace and staying saved by works. Thats patently impossible. What God starts, he finishes. We are not saved because we hold onto Gods hand but only because his almighty hand holds onto our tiny hand. He holds us, we dont hold him. Grace found us, grace will keep us, grace will not let us go. Those whom God saves, He saves forever. Not one of Gods children will ever be lost. All his sheep will eventually find their way home to heaven.

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