Title: Salvation is for God’s Glory
Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
Before we get started:
In light of the great privilege and blessing it is for us to be called the Children of God, let us look to his word. If you have your Bibles turn with me to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
It was November in 1931 and Hollywood had just created one of the worlds most famous monsters from the adaptation if a 1918 book written by eighteen year old Mary Shelly. That movie was called Frankenstein and if you were to ask for a synopsis of the movie you would get something that sounds like this:
Dr. Henry Frankenstein wants to build a man in his own image, using the body of a dead man. He and his assistant Fritz dig up a freshly buried coffin and steal a body. When they realize the head and the brains of the body are severely damaged, they decide to steal a brain from Dr. Frankenstein’s former teacher Dr. Waldman. When Fritz accidently drops the glass jar with the label "good brain" on it on the floor, he decides to take the glass jar with the label "bad brain". Using some kind of mysterious ray that Dr. Frankenstein discovered, the body is brought to life during a thunderstorm, and the monster of Frankenstein is born. The movie centers on this monster and his struggle in this 'life after death'.” – this is an actual summary from an on-line service for movies.
I can tell you that I have never read the book Frankenstein, which I understand is quite different from the movie, nor have I seen the 1931 movie on Frankenstein but I know about it. I’ve heard the story and I understand the premise of the movie. The idea of Frankenstein is not entirely unfamiliar to me but what I know most about this story is - I know that it is fiction. It is untrue.
I know that the dead do not come to life and that the assemblage of parts from “posthumous donors”, is not something that is currently possible. Even in our time of advanced medical discoveries when the transplantation of organs and tissues are successfully completed routinely, what is dead cannot be made alive.
At least I know it doesn’t happen in the natural world. Man, though he has been trying and at times is certain that he is very close, is not able to take what is dead and give it life. When man does what is said to be bringing life from death, it is usually the resuscitation of what was already alive or of what was once alive, which has ceased in its lively functions but there has never been to my knowledge the creation of life from completely dead matter. Man is simply not able to take what was never alive and make it alive. For man this is an impossibility, but as I say this, listen to the words of Jesus from Mark 10:27 – “With man it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” The interesting thing about this quote is that it is in the context of addressing the question of who can be saved. Who can know salvation? It is the response of Jesus to the apostles after the encounter with the rich young ruler. While the verses context does not have direct applicability to our passage today, the truth it states is still valid. What is impossible for man, is possible for God. While God is able to take clay, form it into a man and breathe life into it, man is not able to do the same.
And, just as impossible as it is for men to make physical life, it is impossible for men to gain spiritual life apart from the miraculous working of God’s grace. Yet this is precisely what God does when he saves a person. He takes what was once spiritually dead, completely and thoroughly dead spiritually. Unable to respond to stimuli of any sort and he gives it life. And this is what our passage is about today, so turn with me to the book of Ephesians, the second chapter and read along with me the first ten verses.
READ TEXT – Ephesians 2:1-10
The entire point of this passage is to demonstrate the glory of God when he saves a person from their sins and gives them eternal life. This passage clearly shows that: We were once dead in sin, but God made us alive in Christ for the purpose of demonstrating the richness of God’s grace. And so our goal today is to show how God, by his marvelous grace, has taken those who were formerly dead in trespasses and sin, and made them alive in Christ by his great grace.
As chapter 2 begins it follows on the heels of Paul’s expression of amazement and wonder over what God has given to those who are in Christ Jesus. He praises God for the greatness of his blessings given to believer’s in Christ (1:3-14) and prays that the Ephesians might know the depths of the riches in what God has given them in Christ (1:15-23). Having praised God for the riches that are ours in Christ and praying that those riches will be realized by the Ephesians, Paul begins to discuss the miracle of God’s grace which takes place, whereby God takes men who are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins and makes them spiritually alive granting them salvation in Jesus Christ.
Paul’s words are expressive of utter amazement and this same sense of wonder and amazement should be ours as we considered what God has done for each and every believer in Christ, taking us from a point of spiritual death and granting us eternal life. We who should have been objects of God’s wrath and condemnation are miraculously and wondrously made into trophies of God’s grace.
To help us understand all that God has done Paul begins by discussing our former condition before we came to know Christ.
A. Dead in trespasses and sins - 1-3
a. Spiritual Deadness is - A Universal Condition
Verse 1 could not be any clearer in its meaning. It is a simple declaration: And you being dead in your trespasses and sins. The “And” which begins the passage is a coordinating conjunction tying what follows to what has preceded it.
Here Paul addresses his audience and lists the spiritual condition of this audience when “God quickened them.” This was their condition when God found them - They were dead.
It seems strange that this would be unclear to some people, but there are actually many who seem to think that Paul doesn’t mean dead, but that he means they were somehow impaired or comatose. But the language is clear here, the point that Paul wants to express here is, this is the spiritual condition of man without Christ– he is dead.
They were not only dead, they existed is an ongoing state of deadness or said another way, they could be characterized by their dead condition. This is what Paul means when he says – “and you being dead”.
This was the condition of the Ephesians before they met Christ, it was the condition of Paul before he met Christ, and it was our condition before we who call ourselves Christians met Christ. We like they, were characterized by being in an ongoing state of being dead in trespasses and sins.
The word used for death is (νεκροὺς is) a predicate adjective meaning that it is a descriptive word. These of whom Paul is speaking were in the state of death, literally what Paul is saying is that before Christ, they were spiritual corpses. They were not impaired, not weakened, not sick, not infirmed but dead. They were dead
With all the implications that physical death implies - they were equally dead spiritually. It is clear and unambiguous, and this is what Paul is saying.
There is a failure on the part of many to see man as spiritually dead and this failure to see what Paul so clearly states has caused many errors both in theological thought and practice. Paul is not ambiguous, men are dead. Though they may have healthy bodies, lively minds and even have attractive personalities —their souls are dead apart from Christ. They were completely and utterly unable to respond to God.
But how are they dead?
They are dead in trespasses and sins. “(in) your trespasses and sins.” Interestingly here, Paul uses two words that have similar basic meanings. “Trespasses” is defined as a “side-slip, a lapse or deviation. It may be an unintentional error or a willful transgression. It can also mean to fall, to fault or to make an offense. This usage is fairly consistent throughout the New Testament. The second word Paul uses is the most common word used for sin.
The words are basically synonymous so we must ask ourselves; what could Paul’s purpose be in using two words with similar meanings? It could be a matter of literary style, but I think more likely it is a matter of emphasis.
Some have suggested that Paul’s emphasis is to draw attention to the fact that all men are dead in sin, whether these sins be deliberate or unintentional and in an effort to draw a distinction between these two words, Paul uses the two different words.
Whatever Paul’s intent, what is given is what has caused the spiritually dead condition of all men. The words serve as the reason for man’s deadness. Trespasses and Sins are the cause and spiritually deadness is the effect, so Paul’s explanation for the deadness of men is – they are dead because of their transgressions and sins.
The Bible is consistent and quite clear that there are none who are exempt from this:
Romans 3:23 – reminds us “that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:10 reminds us that “there is none righteous, no not one.” – quoting from Psalm 14 and 53.
Sin is a universal condition that not only caused our death but affected the way we live our lives. Paul continues in verse 2 talking about how we lived when we were in this state of spiritual deadness.
2 - in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world, according to the rulers, the authorities of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience.
“in which you formerly walked.” is a Hebraism often used for one’s ethical conduct or for describing one’s way of life. This ethical conduct usage is common in the New Testament with Paul, and is also seen in the Epistles of John where John uses the way a person walks, as a test of whether one is truly saved -1 John 1:6 asks how we can have fellowship with Christ while walking in darkness.
1 John 1:7 tells us to walk in the light as he is in the light;
1 John 2:6 tells us if we claim to be in Christ then we ought to walk and he walked.
Each of these verse has to do with how one conducts themselves. And here, it is not the physical act of walking to which Paul is making reference but the way these believers formerly conducted themselves and lived. They conducted themselves in a way that was characterized by trespasses and sin, and they did so because we all have a natural propensity towards sin.
b. Sin is: A Natural Activity
Paul suggests that there are a number of forces that come into play that contribute to our propensity to sin. He says there is the influence of the times and the influence of an opponent.
i. The influence of the times
We see this everyday. It’s funny to me to hear people some of them in their late teens and early 20’s express “We never did things like that” or “I would never be allowed to do that” when speak to or of those who are younger . They say these things because there is a societal trend that seems to be more permissive, that is more tolerant or less restrictive. I remember a young lady at a place I once worked sharing pictures of her vacation in Hawaii with an older gentleman and he said of one photograph of her in her bathing suit, that in his day that picture would have been pornographic. She was shocked.
This increasingly permissive cultural phenomenon sadly impacts the church as the church tends to follow society as it drifts ever further and further away from the Bible and the standards that God has established for men. I’m sure no matter what decade you spent your teen years in, your parents expressed to you that whatever you were doing, would not have been acceptable when they were your age. We see this phenomenon in the way we dress, in the entertainment we seek and even in the way we speak one to another.
This is in part what Paul is talking about as he says - “according to the age of this world.” Harold Hoehner the famous commentator says that the use the word translated “according to” indicates the standard by which the Ephesians had walked before their regeneration.” Not to belittle the issue of human responsibility but, the former lives of the Ephesians, and that of all people who are without Christ, is characterized by influences that are truly beyond their control. The first influence given here that causes men to walk in a way characterized by trespasses and sins is the influence of the times.
But a second enemy is also at work: There is the influence of an opponent.
ii. The influence of an opponent
Paul makes reference to a second influence that feeds our natural propensity to sin when he says - “the rulers, the authorities of the air,” – I confess that this is a disturbing thought that there would be rulers and authorities in the air. The Ephesians, Paul points out walked not only under the bondage, influence and temporal values of the times- this evil age, but also under external personal oppression by the ruler of the realm of the air.
The Greek culture in Paul’s day “considered the air as the abode of evil spirits.”  With the understanding that the realm of the air is where the evil spirits dwell, there is a ruler over this realm. This ruler or prince as some translations say, is determined almost universally to be Satan (cf. 2 Cor 4:4). So in addition to the influence of the times is also a supernatural spiritual force that also works against us.
Paul gives further clarification to the “the rulers, the authorities of the air,” and he calls this ruler - the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience. “It is a spiritual kingdom which the devil governs, an empire of spirits over which he presides.” All of these negative influences feed our natural propensity to sin and result in A Hopeless Enslavement that alienates us from God.
c. A Hopeless Enslavement
3 - Among whom we all also formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the will of our flesh and mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.
Notice all that Paul says about believers before they meet Christ. He says:
i. We formerly lived in the lust of flesh
ii. Doing the will of our flesh and mind
iii. Resulting in our being by nature children of wrath
Though we all are responsible for our own actions and are accountable to God for what we do and what we do concerning Christ, sin has left us – naturally loving and desiring to do sin. It has left us under the influence of an evil dictator and it has left us seeking to fulfill the lusts of our flesh and of our minds. The result of this is that we are separated from God and because of this we will incur his just wrath.
If we were left in this condition, not only is it depressing because its hopeless, but we see and learn nothing of God’s grace in this. His holiness can be known and his justice can be known, but nothing of mercy or grace can be seen in God’s judgment of sin as each man receives what he justly deserves because of his sin and his status as a child of wrath.
It is because of this hopeless and helpless condition that Paul is moved to ecstatic praise towards God as he speaks of God’s great grace in verses 4-6. The section running from verse 4 through 6 marks possibly the best news that one who is dead in their trespasses and sins could ever hope to hear in their spiritually dead condition. God, miraculously and for his own good purposes, takes what is dead and gives it life.
4. But God, being rich in mercy on account of his great love for us with which he loved us 5. and us being dead in trespasses he made alive in Christ – for by grace you are saved – 6. and raised us up and seated us with Christ Jesus in the heavenlies.
We transition from being dead in trespasses and sins, to being made alive in Christ in verses 4-6.
B. Made alive by God’s grace - 4-6
As you look at verses 4-6 look at what great praise has captured Paul’s heart and soul. It is as though he cannot articulate a complete thought as one thought runs into the next:
It has been said often that the two greatest words in the Bible are given here in v. 4. “But God.” Without those two words the hopes of man are futile as man in his state of death is both unwilling and unable to desire or to do anything to effect his own salvation. God is the one who must work and beginning here in v. 4 this is precisely what Paul points out that God does.
Beginning in v. 4 Paul returns to the thought that he began in verse 1 before he became sidetracked explaining what it means to be “dead in trespasses and sins.” He begins v. 4 with but to contrast the grace and work of God that he is about to speak of with the condition of man of which he previously spoke.
i. Notice the greatness of God that Paul praises:
· He praises God because he is rich in mercy
· He praises God for his great love for us
· He praises God that he loved us in spite of our sin
Of all the things that Paul could have listed about God, he lists God as being characterized first of all by mercy. Paul further elaborates on God’s mercy speaking to the riches of God’s mercy as he states that God is “rich in mercy”. The Old Testament is filled with examples of God’s mercy. A few representative passages are: Ex 34:6; Deut 7:7-9 – which speak to the richness of God’s mercy. Ps 103:8 speaks of God abounding in mercy and in Psalm 103:17 says that God’s mercy is never changing. Micah 7:18 speaks of God delighting in mercy. Paul’s depiction of God describes a quality in God that allows him to be able to look past the sinfulness of man which was laid out in verses 2-3. God is not only merciful, but he is rich in mercy. It is abundant, it is overflowing, it is inexhaustible.
But what is Mercy? Mercy can be defined as kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them. Mercy is God’s goodness manifested toward those who are in misery or distress with the emphasis of God’s mercy being the recipient’s great need.
The idea of mercy in the OT is often translated as ‘steadfast love” or “loving kindness” where it is often used in connection with Yahweh’s mercy of forgiveness upon unfaithful Israel. God’s mercy is more than mere emotion; it is emotion that leads to actual assistance.
“on account of his great love for us with which he loved us and us” – God’s mercy comes to us through no merit of our own and is a motivating factor in his choosing to save men since we are in fact, deserving of his wrath, however, God who is love in his essential character (1 John 4:8, 16), because of the greatness of his love with which he loved us, he gives us his mercy. This is almost too much for Paul to comprehend as in verse 5 he says:
5. and us being dead in trespasses he made alive together with Christ – for by grace you are saved – This is basically a restatement of verse 1 as Paul gets back to making the point he originally was making. In this sentence Paul changes his use of pronouns from verse 1 where he had said “you being dead” to here where he says “us being dead.” A second change made by Paul is the omission of “sins” from the statement “in your transgressions and sins.” Though he makes these changes the sentence here doesn’t cause this or the previous sentence to lose any meaning or emphasis.
But in addition to praising God for the greatness of his mercy and love, Paul also praises God for what we’ve been given in Christ.
ii. His gracious gift to us
— he made alive together with Christ – for by grace you are saved - Although we were “dead in trespasses and sin,” were “sons of disobedience” and “by nature, children of wrath” because of God’s richness in mercy and the greatness of his love we are now made partakers of his grace with several amazing benefits not the least of which is that we who were dead are now made alive in Christ.
This great miracle is a work of God’s grace so Paul states clearly – “for by grace you are saved.” It is a concept that Paul will find great importance in so it is inserted parenthetically here and will be repeated in verse 8. God’s grace theologically is defined as “God’s unmerited favor.” It has a particular emphasis upon the fact that the recipient is undeserving. Hence, the grace of God is God’s goodness manifested toward the ill-deserving. Salvation is a work of God’s grace. It is an amazing thing that God’s response to those who are “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” should be mercy, rooted in God’s great love, granting us grace resulting in our salvation. (To God be the glory!) There is no human agency involved here, it is all of God. God alone is the agent and man is merely the recipient of this gracious action. Salvation is nothing less than the work of God. It is not in words or actions that we might hold God to, but in his character, nature and his own gracious actions. It’s not what we have done, it’s all about what he has done.
But God’s goodness to us doesn’t end there, for Paul continues in his praise saying that God also- raised us up and seated us with Christ Jesus in the heavenlies.
It is interesting that just as Paul had used words with synonymous meanings earlier (sins and trespasses) he does so again with “made alive and raised up” the words are indeed different in meaning however, they are very similar. To make alive and to raise up both have the picture of death (or the absence of life) being a former condition and being brought out of that condition into a new one - a living one.
Unquestionably Paul’s choice of words are deliberate and they are to express his amazement that God would take men who were worthy of only judgment and wrath and make them alive, raise them up and seat them with Christ. Verse 6 with “and seated us with Christ Jesus in the heavenlies”. One commentator describes God’s actions in this way: “The ultimate honor and dignity for those, who were the most undignified.
Verses 4-6 are the cries of highest praise to the one who has taken those who were most unworthy and given them all things in Christ. Paul’s heart is so full he can barely contain himself but Paul understands what this is all about. He knows that the response of his heart is exactly the right and most appropriate response.
O’Brien says, “In thus lavishing his mercy on sinners, giving them a share in Christ’s risen life and in his exaltation, God has a further purpose – namely, that they should serve as a demonstration of his grace to all succeeding ages.” “The flow of thought begun in vv. 4 and 5, with its focus on God’s mercy in making us alive with Christ, is brought to its conclusion and climax with this final clause.” In verses 7-10. 
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
C. To live as trophies of his grace - 7-10
God’s choice to save us has little to do with us and everything to do with him. God saves us, not by any merit or because of anything wonderful or worthy in us, he saves us in spite of all we are. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – reminds us that God did not call “many wise, or many noble, he chose the foolish things to shame the wise…” The purpose of God in our salvation though it results in our good is not purely about our good. It is about God’s glory and so that he might demonstrate “the surpassing riches of His grace”. God saved us to be living trophies of his grace. God saved us so that he might receive glory for his grace.
i. We are Saved for His glory
Having stated that man’s salvation is for the purposes of God’s displaying his grace Paul offers a time marker as to when God will demonstrate his kindness. - in the coming ages. The word used for “coming” is purely a modifier to – “ages” and it can refer to both specific limited time or unlimited time. Hoehner suggests that “God is going to continually demonstrate his kindness in the succeeding ages. Ultimately it is in the future age that this grace will be fully appreciated. At present time, we are limited because of our sinful and human limitations and we take for granted the abundance of grace that God has given.” Said another way, we are presently incapable of fully appreciating God’s grace. We presume upon it, we take it for granted but mostly we undervalue it and don’t appreciate it as we should.
ii. We are Saved by His efforts
Because our salvation is all about God and has nothing to do with us, other than our being the recipients of what he has so freely given. Our salvation comes not as a result of our own efforts, but in response to his.
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not from works, so that no one might boast.
Verses 8 and 9 represent two of the most well known verses in the Bible, possibly only less well known than John 3:16. They are filled with truth and controversy as they are used as proof texts for different theological positions concerning salvation. Verse 10 while very much a part of this passage is less well known and highly neglected. It would appear that men love the idea of God’s salvation but are less in love with the obligation it brings upon those whom God has saved. It is all a marvelous truth and it is the capstone to what the apostle has been speaking of from verses 1 through 7. Through the first seven verses the apostle has been expressing the wonder of God’s grace and his amazement that God would extend his grace to those who were dead in “trespasses and sins”, who “were by nature children of wrath.” The greatness of God’s mercy, love, grace and kindness all come together for his glory in these verses. Man’s salvation is rooted in God’s grace. This fact which has been the apostle’s point, removes all suggestions that the change from spiritual death unto life and exaltation in Christ has its source in man. Salvation is the work of God and it is a work that culminates in a purpose. Key in these three verses are grace and faith.
8 · For by grace you are saved through faith- What had burst out of Paul earlier in verse 5 as a parenthetical thought now receives the full force of his attention. What had interrupted his train of thought is now the subject of his full attention.
Salvation is by grace! There is no human effort involved. The great mercy and rich grace that Paul had been speaking of concerning God and the reason for its demonstration are brought together here.
Paul is clear to point out that neither the grace nor the faith to believe comes from man. They are both the gift of God and when exercised, they result in salvation.
There is a huge conflict over what the “gift of God” is. Some say that it is “grace” and others say that it applies to “faith” very often preferring one over the other for the purposes of validating an already held and fairly well entrenched theological position. The problem is understanding what the “this” refers to. To get a little technical, which is probably of little value, it is a neuter case demonstrative pronoun and differs in gender from both “faith” and “grace” which makes it difficult to attach it as referring to one object over the other. Many want to apply the “this” to faith alone and this is not unreasonable as it is the word that most closely precedes it but it is probably best to see that what Paul has in mind is that the entire salvation process is a gift of God. He goes on to say:
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God this is the first of two negative statements used by Paul to demonstrate that salvation is by God’s grace alone and through faith. The second is found in verse 9 not from works, so that no one may boast. The first clause, which emphasizes the divine initiative and activity and the second that salvation is not the result of human initiative. “If salvation is not because of human initiative (v. 8), then neither is it a reward for good deeds, or the consequence of a good choice. And since there is no room for human merit, there can be no grounds for human boasting.” 
This has tremendous implications, for if we did nothing to gain our salvation, there is also nothing we can do to lose our salvation. It is a work of God and it is he who gives it and it is he who preserves and sustains it. I don’t know about you but that is a tremendous comfort to me.
Verse 10 closes this section with the purpose for which we were saved: For we are his creation created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we might walk in them.
According to verse 10 we have been saved to do the works which God prepared beforehand that we would do.
iii. We are Saved to do His purposes
“Since salvation is seen as a creation in Christ for good works, such works cannot be the cause of their salvation. Likewise, since salvation is God’s creation, there could be no human works prior to that creation to which it could be attributed.”
“The work of grace which has transformed those who were spiritually and morally dead into new men and women, alive with the resurrection life of Christ, is God’s work from the first to the last….If those, those who belong to the new creation are characterized by good works, works performed not to secure salvation but as fruit of salvation. God we are told, ‘prepared’ these good works ‘in advance,’ that they might mark his people’s way of life. They are good works which reflect the character and action of God himself.” 
Good works do not secure our salvation but serve as an evidence of it. James 2:17 reminds us that “faith without works is dead faith.” Our opportunities to do good works are divinely arranged opportunities that God has designed for us to walk in. God has created the opportunities; we just need to be faithful to do what he has prepared beforehand.
So what are we to do with what we have heard today? Let me offer a couple of comments to shape your thoughts:
If you are a believer:
1. And have been born again being brought into a saving relationship with God because of the work of Christ, you, more than anybody should be one who is filled with praise for all that God has done, because we all were naturally God’s enemies and the objects of his wrath.
2. Because of this, we should honor one another as fellow believers as there was nothing special in us and we ought not act as though we were superior to others whom Christ also saved. 1 Corinthians 1:26 reminds us that not many of us were wise, noble or mighty.
3. We should also seek out the good works which God has prepared for us and we should exercise those works as they are intended to reflect God’s glory and his character through us.
But maybe you are not a Christian. You are not a believer. If you are an unbeliever or you say I don’t know that I have ever been made right with God, I don’t know that I have been converted from an object of wrath to one that is to display his glory, but I’d like to be, let me encourage you to come and let someone pray with you.
We opened our time speaking about Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. When you envision the Frankenstein monster typically it is tall and large, bluish-green, full of stitches and maybe even a couple of bolts coming out of its neck. Though it may be alive, it’s a hideous creature.
When God takes what was once dead and gives it life he makes it a completely new creation. 2 Cor 5:17 says that if anyone be in Christ they are a new creation – they are not reanimated parts from “posthumous donors”. They are also not hideous creatures because for the very first time they are now beautiful to God as they reflect his glory and his son.
I pray that each of you know the life that God gives and that you are now a creation after his making, praising him for all he has done, and doing all that he has prepared for you to do, to his glory.
 Eadie 120
Knowles, A. 615
 Lincoln 94
 Hoehner 310
 Hoehner 312
 Eadie 129
 Cf. Eadie 145
 Bruce 288
 O’Brien 172
 Hoehner 338
 O’Brien 176
 Lincoln 113
 Bruce 290