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Faithlife

The Main Thing

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Text:  Ephesians 2:1-10

Title:  The Main Thing

Textual Theme, Goal, Need:

Theme:  Christians are saved by God’s grace.

Goal:  to encourage Christians to recognize their salvation comes from God’s grace

Need: many people deny God’s grace.  Either they believe they are saved by the law, or they believe there is no need to be saved.

Sermon Theme, Goal, Need:

Theme:  Christians are saved by God’s grace

Goal:  to encourage Christians to recognize their salvation comes from God’s grace.

Need:  We deny or forget about God’s grace.

Textual Outline:

Vs 1-3  How sinful we are

  1. you were dead in your sins
    1. in which you used to live
    2. following the world
    3. following the lusts of the sinful nature
    4. following the evil spirit, the ruler of the kingdom of the air
  2. All of us lived in sin
  3. Like the rest we were objects of wrath

Vs 4-9  How great God is

  1. God made us alive with Christ
  2. God raised us with Christ and seated us with him in heaven
    1. So that he can show us incomparable riches of grace
    2. Grace and faith are gifts of God so we can’t boast

Vs 10  We are the workmanship of God created to do good works.

Textual Notes:

Ways of the world describes the sinful structures of the world and value systems that corrupt.

Ruler of the kingdom of the air:  Evil spirits were pictured as dwelling in the air.

Objects of wrath:  God is going to pour down judgement on the wicked.  See Hebrews 10.  Zeph 1:15; and Rev. 7 bowls.

Vs 2 “lived actually means “Walked”  Parallels the good deeds we are prepared to “walk in” found in verse 10.

Sermon Outline:

Begin with a top ten list of reasons we wouldn’t come to Trenton church.

Introduction:  Keeping the main thing the main thing.  Don’t let the minor things bog us down or draw our attention away.

I.  We are the scum of creation in some ways.  Can be seen all over the US and Canada.

II.  God is the glorious savior

III.  He prepared us to do good things.

Conclusion:  We need to focus on the main thing of Christ’s salvation for us.

Sermon in Oral Style:

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          Ang and I are so happy to be back with you here in Trenton.  For those of you who may be visiting or don’t know our situation.  I served here for a year as an intern last year.  After graduating and finishing up the year long internship, my wife Ang, our son Cory, and I went back to the States for six weeks, back to where we are from originally.  While we were away, the church decided to call me back as a full-time co-pastor with Pastor Jake.  And that began the time of prayers to God to help us understand what he wanted us to do.  And we weighed the pluses and minuses of coming back to Canada and to the church here in Trenton.  Obviously, since we are back, the pluses outweighed the minuses.  But, I thought I would share with you some of the things that discouraged us from coming back to Canada.

5 -      No Caffeine.  This can’t be my Mountain Dew.

4- Too many u’s.  Flavour, Saviour, Colour, Neighbour, and Honour are not supposed to have u’s in them.

3-  Every year I have lived in Canada, the hockey season has been canceled.

2-  Its tough to drink milk directly out of a bag.

1- Stars I can handle, but I still have no idea how to draw a maple leaf.

Now, these are just silly examples, but can you imagine if I decided they were major issues.  This just goes to show how silly it can look when we confuse the minor things with the major ones. 

There is a saying, that goes: “We have to keep the main thing the main thing.”  And this is exactly what the church in Ephesus is struggling with when Paul writes this letter.  And that is what we some times struggle with.  Some of us focus a lot on the other things in life and over look faith completely.  And others who come to church regularly find a pet peeve that distracts them from the main thing.  Ephesus is one of the seven churches written to in Revelation and Christ is angry at them because they have forgotten their first love.  They have not let the main thing be the main thing.

          Ephesians 2:1 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”  Paul starts us off with the Problem.  It’s the main problem we all face.  We are dead in our transgressions and sins.  Dead. 

Death is not a light thing.  For some of us, death is a very recent thing in our family or in our circle of friends.  When you see a body lying in a casket, it just doesn’t look right.  It isn’t right  Bodies are not supposed to stop living.  Friends and family members are not supposed to die.  Death is violently opposed to the natural way God intended for things to be.  And we are dead in our sins.

          Now, in life we are told it is good to have options, well we have options for sin as well.  We have the option of either transgressing or sinning, according to Paul.  We have transgressed, crossed the line that we weren’t supposed to.  And we have sinned, or missed the mark, not doing things the way we were supposed to.  Our problem is that we did what we weren’t supposed to, and we didn’t do what we were supposed to. 

          And there are three options for forces that lead us into sin.  Verse 2 says, “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 the sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.”

          So where does this sin come from?  Force 1 is the world.  The world likes to tempt and it always has.  Every generation has had its own disco inferno and sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Its not a new thing.  And it’s not going away any time soon either.  You can’t turn on the TV without seeing how glamorous it is to gamble, how necessary it is to have the best vehicle on the market, and how hip and trendy it is to promote the homosexual lifestyle.  Giving in to this world kills.

          And where else does this sin come from?  It says it comes from the “ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in the disobedient.”  So the spirit at work in the disobedient.  We know that he is talking about Satan.  Force 2 is Satan. Our sins also come from Satan’s own tempting spirit, like when Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden or Jesus in the wilderness, he is tempting us in the same way.  “Hey Jimmy, if you slam that guy at work in front the boss, you might get the promotion instead of him.”  Satan’s got you.  “Hey Janie, if you put your sweater on over that new shirt in the changing room you can walk out of the store without paying for it.”  Satan works his magic.

          And it calls Satan the ruler of the kingdom of the air because that was the place that people back then believed all the evil spirits lived.  Somewhere between the flat earth down here and the big dome called the sky, the demons did all their conniving.

          And in verse three we find Tempting Force 3.  It says, we all have given in to the desires of our sinful nature, its thoughts and its desires.  Just think about it.  God wants us to eat, but not be gluttons.  God created sex for us, but outside of marriage?  You are killing your soul.  God covered Adam and Eve with garments outside the garden of Eden, but some of us have allowed ourselves to get carried away by materialism, greed, and vanity.  That’s the work of our sinful nature.

          Three forces tempt us.  And we are guilty of being pulled in by all of them and disgustingly dead in sin.  Verse 3 ends by saying, “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”  As we are by nature, we had better look out.  God is mmh, oh so angry at us, not just for the sins we commit now, but for the sins we are guilty of with the rest of humanity all the way back to Adam and Eve.  We are, by nature, objects of his wrath.  Not just a slap on the hand.  God’s wrath is aimed at our sinful selves.

          But wait.  Is that the main thing?  Is our own junkiness the main thing?  Definitely not.  We are disgustingly dead in sin, but that just makes the main thing even more impressive.

          Verse 4 says, “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.”  Who are we?  What are we like?  We are tempted.  We are dirty.  We are sinful.  But GOD!  God is full of great love for us.  God is rich in mercy.  God is everything that we could not possibly be.  And God is so full of great love for us that even when we were disgustingly dead in sin, he reached down plucked us up and washed us clean by his grace.

          While I was away on holidays I picked up a couple of new CD’s.  One of the CD’s is by the group Reliant K.  The song “Be My Escape” has a line that says: “And this life sentence that I’m serving, I admit that I’m every bit deserving, But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.” Think about that.  Grace.  The main thing.  It actually makes life not fair.  Grace is getting something that we don’t deserve and that thing that we don’t deserve is forgiveness.  So the next time you hear someone say “life’s not fair.”  You say, “Absolutely.  Thank you, God.”  If life was fair and if God was fair, he would give us exactly what we deserve.  But by his grace, he is not fair.  He is loving and rich in mercy.

          And Paul doesn’t just stop at being made alive with God’s grace. It gets even more unfair for us. Verse 6 says, “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.”  If you have given your life to Christ you already share in all the different parts of Christ’s life.  You died with Christ, you already rose with him, you already ascended with him beyond this sinful world so that he can shower you with the incomparable riches of his grace. 

          And just in case any of us might get a little cocky about how well we can control ourselves, Paul reminds us, You have nothing to do with that control.  It is completely from God.  Verse 8 says, “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.”

          And let’s read the last part of the passage again.  Verse 10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

          I want to introduce to you Cell Phone Bob here.  As you can tell, Bob is quite the normal cell phone with the numbers, the screen, the antenna.  Bob was designed to make phone calls. 

But one day when Bob was out on the work sight, he saw how attractive it was to be a hammer.  Bob liked the way the hammers seemed to get all the attention during the day.  So he asked his owner if he could do the work of a hammer for a little while.  His owner didn’t like the idea, but let him work as a hammer for a little while, getting bumped a broken and never really succeeding at being a hammer.  He wasn’t designed for that. 

So Bob realized that he would be better suited for the work of a trowel smoothing out cement.  His owner let him try that for a little while, but when he was covered with drying cement and the cement still wasn’t smooth, he talked to his master again.  “What should I do?  Everything I try hurts or gets me all messed up.”  The owner said to him, “why don’t you do what I bought you for, what you were designed to do.”  Bob agreed.  His owner cleaned him up and fixed the scratches and dents and made a phone call.  Bob worked perfectly when he did what he was designed to do.

          People of God, you were designed by your creator in Christ Jesus to do good works.  God didn’t design us to be sinners.  God didn’t design us to follow this world, the devil or our own sinful natures.  God designed us to do good works, always.  It is built in us and it is the way that we work the best.  No question about it. 

          So where have you tried to be a tool of the devil instead of a tool of God the way he made you.  You know the answer.  You are God’s workmanship.  He made you just right to serve him and care for all parts of his creation.  Where have you gone astray?  Where are you walking in the way of the world or your sinful nature instead of ruling over them with Christ?  Where have you denied God’s gift of grace?  That is the main point after all isn’t it?  We are sinners who are saved by grace.  We are designed for good and God has made it so we can do that good. 

          People of God, as I join with you here more permanently now, I hope we can continue to focus on the main thing.  God has saved us by his unfair grace by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.  Jesus saves.  In the preaching, whatever style, Jesus saves.  In the worship, who cares what style?  Jesus saves.  In Sunday School, whichever class.  Jesus saves.  In small groups, whatever type.  Jesus saves.  And in your life, wherever you go, whatever you do.  Remember Jesus saved you from being dead and has already raised you to eternal life with him.

This is God’s will from his word.  And all God’s people say, AMEN.

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