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Walking in Grace

Published: 3 months ago- 4 February 2024
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SERMON MANUSCRIPT

Big Idea: Live apart from God’s intervention leads to death, but resurrected life through Christ means we are a new creation for God’s glory.

The story is told, though unverified that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the USA (1861-1865), once bought a slave girl.

Apparently, Lincoln having won a bid at a slave auction turned to his newly acquired property and said, “Young lady you are free.”

What do you mean? the former slave asked. Lincoln repeats You are free. Does that mean I can say what I want to say? Yes. Does that mean I can do what I want to do? Yes. With tears running down her cheeks she asked, Does that mean I can go where I want to go? Yes.

I don’t know if that is a true story or an urban myth. Either way, it presents a vivid picture of a person given a new walk.

From a walk of slavery and death to the walk of freedom and life. As we think about that in the context of our series in Ephesians, Walking the Walk; walking with intent (from chapter 1)

I want to ask the question …

HOW’S YOUR WALK?

From our passage we see that there are only two walks in this world.

The Walk of Death or, cue Dire Straits, 1985, the Walk of Life

Unfortunately, they are not clearly sign posted by the authorities of this world, so Paul wants to make sure we are clear.

In our passage today Paul helps us to consider walking the walk; the walk of life.

How’s your walk? Are you walking in life? Hope now and a bright future to come.

Or are you walking …

THE WALK OF DEATH (V1-3)

Look at what Paul says about the walk of death.

Read v1-2a

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, …

Here is the Walk of Death. Death comes as a result of our walking in trespasses and sins. … dead in trespasses and sins …

Trespasses – our rebellion/disobedience against God’s rightful rule. He is our creator and sustainer, he is the Lord of glory, yet people guided by their instinct and desires reject him.

In Romans 1 Paul says they suppress the truth. We know we ought to honour and obey God and yet we reject him.

We act like the protesters at the coronation of King Charles III. Holding up placards and chanting, not my king.

We misunderstand kingship – it’s not a vote. KCIII is the king of the Commonwealth. If you are a member of the Commonwealth he is your king.

And the Bible is clear God is the King of glory, King of all creation. If you are in creation he is your king. Rejection of his rule, trespass means death.

Sins – our failures to meet God’s standard. Literally, missing the mark.

I throw a dart at the bull’s eye and I hit the wall, I miss the board completely. Repair is required.

But we are not able to make those repairs or offer any amends. We are dead in sin.

What does it mean to be dead? There is no life; no capacity; no power; no cognitive ability.

A dead kangaroo on the highway cannot wriggle out of the way of an oncoming road train.

The condition is hopeless. But it gets worse. The walk of death is deceptive in that it gives an impression of life. Read v2-3a

2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, …

Do you see what Paul is saying Feels like you are making your way in this world. following the course of this world

Finding some level of success and fulfilment. Maybe, some measure of enjoyment and fun. In the passions of the flesh and the desires of the body and mind.

In the walk of death even the things God has graciously given for our appropriate enjoyment are made into idols as objects of worship, and means to fulfilment.

God’s gifts are used to blot out, drown out the image of the Creator.

Those on the walk of death are blinded and led by Satan (v2)

… following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience …

Paul is not shy about the spiritual dimension of our existence as he writes this letter.

We need to be clear that one of Satan’s greatest accomplishments in our part of the world is to convince people he is not real. A funny red cartoon character, good for a laugh.

But he is no laughing matter. Bob Dylan, Saved: “Blinded by the devil, Born already ruined. Stone cold dead as I stepped out of the womb.”

That is the natural-born state of every human on the planet. Genetically susceptible to being deceived by Satan, minds darkened to the good news of the gospel… following the prince of the power of the air

And as such sons of disobedience. co-heirs with him, destruction and death. Satan brings nothing but destruction and death. Job 1 – Satan given free hand to test Job – Destruction Mark 5 – Legion, the demons cause distress, destruction, and disharmony in the man they possess. And death to the pigs that they are cast into. This is Satans signature.

That is the destination of all who follow him – destruction and death. He hands out lollies laced with poison. So bright and enticing and so deadly.

Notice that Paul is using the past tense in these verses.

This is what his original readers have been saved from, the walk of death.

Saved into …

THE WALK OF LIFE (V4-10)

v4 But God …

We were dead, but God. We were following the way of death, but God. We thought we had life, we thought we were doing alright, but God.

Read v4-5

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved

Being rich in mercy (v4) and because of his great love with which he loved us Brought us from death to life.

Even though (v5) we were dead because of our own disobedience and rebellion – God’s mercy is more, his love is deeper, his grace is immeasurable (v7).

Look at v8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Our salvation and our faith are the result of unmerited favour lavished (last Sunday’s word of the week) on us.

Not wages that we have earned. Not an award we won. Not a life we were able to discover or construct.

A gift which quiets all boasting.

In the farming community where I grew up, it was a big deal to be self-made. However, the boast is bigger than the reality. Less people are actually self-made than is claimed.

None are self-made in the kingdom of God (v9). Similar to chapter 1, praise God for what he has done for us in Christ.

But notice v6-7 this is our eternal delight, to plumb the depths of God’s immeasurable grace.

Read v6-7

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

In the coming ages, in the time after Christ returns to gather his people. We will be shown the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ.

The worst ad ever on TV. Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad. Heaven portrayed as a white, sterile and boring place where you eat creamed cheese on diet biscuits. It’s terrible. Certainly lacks imagination.

Christianity should take out a class action against such offence.

From v7 it seems that Heaven will be a massive and glorious treasure hunt.

Where we will continually be discovering the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness toward us in Christ.

I get the sense we will be overwhelmed by wonder and given to praise

I think that’s why eternal life is eternal. It has to be to do God justice. Because it will take that long to get the full picture of Gods grace for us in Christ, and just as long to respond in appropriate praise. The walk of life begins now. Eternal life begins the moment your eyes are open to the gospel. There is a walk of life to walk in this life.

Read v10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Put simply, it is God’s will that those who belong to the new creation should be characterised by a lifestyle which ultimately reflects his own character and action.

Lifestyle – not fad diet; lasting change comes from lifestyle.

Our praise and gratitude start now. Because the revealing of God’s immeasurable grace to us in Christ has started.

These good works are not the root of faith but the fruit of faith.

These good works, prepared before the foundation of the world for us to do are to the glory of God. These works will be expanded upon in chapters 4-6. But it is clear in these verses that these good works must direct and shape our walk of life.

We need a … Travel Plan

Those who are a part of God’s new creation are expected to walk in godly ways.

In light of the letter so far they will include Continuing faith in Jesus.

  • Being aware of the walk of life is because Jesus is at work in you. Dead people can’t find that path.
  • Giving thanks that he has given you life.

Worship – church a priority (corporate worship)

  • God’s ultimate concern is for his glory.
  • Appropriate.
  • At the centre of what we do.
  • The purpose of the church service is to worship God. To gather together and together acknowledge that God is worthy of our time, attention and praise.
  • That truth should be reflected, in the very least by being here on time to start that worship together.
  • To arrive prepared to worship.

Gratitude shown in obedience. Word and Prayer as we seek to reflect life.

Humility

  • We are not self-made
  • that we have not earned our place with God and unlike the unmerciful servant we seek to forgive as God has forgiven us. That alone is a challenge.

A heart for the lost and a gospel urgency. How can the congregation connect with the city so that they may meet people who know Jesus and, we pray, meet Jesus for themselves?

Demonstrate a changed lifestyle

  • our church community should look different to the world around us.
  • The congregation is different to the city.

We need to think that as a church we need to be engaged in good works.

CONCLUSION

The story goes that the slave girl freed by Abraham Lincoln, having understood the nature of the freedom she was gifted, having established that she could say and do and go as she pleased, responded … Then I choose to go with you.

She understood. What better place to be than in the care of the one who has your best interests at heart and who uses his power and riches for your good.

Why would we shy away from declaring the good news of the life he has given us?