Title: A LOVING GOD MET OUR MOST DESPERATE NEED
Text: Ephesians 2:1-9
Only 80 miles apart are America’s lowest and highest places in the lower 48 states. It’s a breath-taking climb from Death Valley (282 feet below sea level) to Mount Whitney (14,494 feet). From a suffocating 134 degrees in the burnt, desolate shade to crisp mountain air with lush grass, trees and snow in the shade…all in span of 80 miles. What a contrast!
But that can’t match the contrast of the transformation that takes place in just 4 verses in our text. Christ has rescued us from the deep pit and exalted us to the spiritual heavenlies. Read Text.
1. 2:1 When do you recall “waking up” and realizing you were spiritually dead? Do you think the average unbeliever has any idea he/she is walking around dead?
Insight: Though outwardly they look very much alive, inside they are cut off from life because they are cut off from God, the Author of life. Sin is the quicksand beneath their feet…sucking them downward no matter how hard they try to resist it’s pull.
2. 2:2-3a “Walking according to the course of the world.” Do you think the average person thinks they are charting their own course in this world? What do you think?
Insight: The truth of the matter is that if we are walking apart from God, we are actually walking in Satan’s lurid company. There’s always a spiritual being at your side…but you can choose your company…either you have the prince of the power of the air walking at your side (Satan), or you have chosen Christ, who then promises never to leave you or forsake you.
3. What do you suppose Paul is trying to convey with the term, “prince of the power of the air”? (The air that encircles the earth is metaphorically speaking of his domain, his kingdom.) Notice who Paul says he is working in - the sons of disobedience.
Insight: It’s a chilling thought to see the words in Scripture – Satan is working in those who have not chosen Christ. They may not see it…they may not recognize it…they may not admit it…but he is at work in them! The masses are walking along and don’t even think about the present threat that is clinging to their shadow.
4. Where does Satan and his demonic world lead us?
Insight: Into disobedience of God – into a life dominated by our own selfish, willful desires and greed. Satan’s encouragement is to grab what you want, no matter the cost…and the ultimate cost is terrifying. In contrast, where does Jesus’ rule lead us?
Insight: The law of His kingdom is love, where we care about others and actively work for their best interest.
5. 2:3b What does this verse tell us is the ultimate end of living under Satan’s domain?
Insight: The unredeemed stand condemned to experience God’s wrath. As guilty prisoners with too many charges to count, they wait before the Judge of the universe without hope.
Notice Jesus’ words to describe this place of wrath. Matt. 8:12; Mk. 9:43-44
Insight: The first time we sinned, it was a thrill. After that it becomes a tyrant, a heartless slave driver. You don’t use sin to satisfy yourself…it uses you to fuel Hell’s fires! The worm that does not die is an image of the endless rotting of the corrupt soul; the fire is the image of the agonizing awareness of receiving God’s wrath; the outer darkness is the image of being cut off from God; and the gnashing of teeth is the image of the painful loathing of our foolish choices.
6. What can dead people do to help themselves? Rom. 7:27 What did God do to rescue us from sin, death, and condemnation? Eph. 2:4-6
Insight: Talk about a change of altitude! In two words we moved from a spiritual Death Valley to the top of Zion’s mountain… “But God!” This is the universe’s biggest interjection…the biggest interruption…God acted!
7. What’s the only way spiritually dead people can have a relationship with God? (They have to have a spiritual resurrection.) Ezek. 37:11-14; Jn. 3:36; Ps. 51:1; Zeph. 3:5
Insight: J.I. Packer said, “Between us sinners and the thunder clouds of divine wrath stands the cross of the Lord Jesus.” He is the one who bore our sin and took our place when God’s wrath had to punish sin. Praise the Lord! Jn. 5:24; Col. 2:13-14
8. According to Eph. 2:6, what is the new position of those to whom God has breathed into their spiritual nostrils the breath of new life? (He has seated us next to Christ in heaven.)
Insight: Notice the Bible says we are currently seated there. We have a permanent citizenship in Heaven that gives us hope and helps us live for God during the remainder of our days here on earth. Notice the contrast: We were dead, but God made us alive. We were mired in sin, but God raised us to Heaven. We were helpless to do any of this, but God did it all through Christ. When Christ rose from the dead, our sins did not…they are buried forever in His grave! Praise God!
9. I have only one question to ask: Why?! Why would God go through all that to rescue dead, sin-entrenched people?! Eph. 2:4a
Insight: We who are in spiritual poverty are loved by a God who is rich in mercy. When we have been so sinful, how can a holy God abound in tender compassion that overflows with merciful kindness? Praise God His heart’s desire is to give us what we need rather than what we deserve! What kind of love is this?
10. Not only is God rich in mercy, but what does Eph. 2:7 say He is rich in also? (The riches of His grace in kindness toward us.)
Insight: If all the earth’s treasures of gold, silver, diamonds, rubies and emeralds were heaped in one pile…they would not compare to the riches you currently have because of God’s grace and kindness!! You…the redeemed…are a testimony of God’s marvelous grace towards those who believe!
11. According to Eph. 2:8-9, how did God do all this?
Insight: Through a tiny mustard seed of faith when we first believed, God moved us from death to life as a gift. The helpless and destitute were granted salvation…not by any accomplishment of our own. He initiated it…He implemented it…and thus He receives all the glory for it! No wonder grace spells God’s riches at Christ’s expense!
What an incredible message from the Lord! Is your heart fully open to receive it? In two words, but God, we changed altitude from our own death valley to pass through Zion’s gates and ascended to God’s holy hill. In His eyes you presently hold a place seated next to His Son who is seated at the right hand of the Father.
But what about all those we know who are back in the blistering desert, living in a spiritual bondage? They may look happy and fulfilled, but in their soul they desperately need the life-giving touch of God’s grace. How will He do it? How can He use you? By being a spiritual ambassador that reflects His grace to the world…especially in the way we treat others. We can draw them to the Lord by showering them with grace…just as He did with us. We can become the face of God’s grace when they look into our eyes.
Reflection questions: Can you recall your ugliest sin that God showed His rich grace towards? How did His kindness change your relationship with Him? Did it motivate you to trust Him more…to step out in faith…to commit more of your life to Him?