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Ephesians VII: Saved By Grace - Ephesians 2:4-10

In vv. 4-10, Paul magnifies the work of salvation by answering our what, how, and why questions. What is this gift of salvation? Vv. 4-6 answer: we are saved from death. How can this be? Vv. 8-9 answer: we are saved by grace. Why are we saved? Vv. 7 and 10 answer: to show forth the riches of God’s grace through our good works. Saved from death, saved by grace, and saved for good works. That’s the gospel. And don’t miss the repeated refrain: v. 5 – with Christ; v. 6 – in Christ Jesus; v. 7 – in Christ Jesus; v. 10 – in Christ Jesus! Your salvation is not about you, with Jesus included. Salvation is all about Jesus, and by the mercy and love of God, you are included!

As we look at the “what” of our salvation, we see in these verses how our lives follow Jesus’ pattern of resurrection, ascension, and session (that is, being seated in the heavenly places). These things are the heart of what salvation brings, but this is not simply a matter of being like Jesus or imitating Jesus; this happens because we are made one with Jesus. Because God in His mercy united you to Jesus through faith, you are alive and you are saved.

When we ask “how” God saved us, we need to put the accent on the right word: we aren’t asking how the almighty and omnipotent God was able to save us, or how Jesus accomplished salvation through His ministry on earth and His atonement. We’re asking how can we explain the fact that God saved us? How does that make sense?

Paul’s answer is to stop focusing on us, and to return our attention back to God. We can’t understand how sinners like us were saved by looking at sinners like us. There is no reason in us for God to save us. But there are plenty of reasons found in God: God is rich in mercy. God loves with a great love. God is kind. God has a predestined plan for us that He means to fulfill. These are all variations on a theme: God, in Himself, is gracious, and that’s how sinners like you and me are saved.

In particular, Paul is concerned to rule out any idea that we were saved by our own efforts. Before we can be saved, God must first graciously make us alive, then give us faith, and only then are we enabled by that faith to receive Christ and all His benefits. Nothing in that process is of any credit to us; all of it highlights the grace God has for dead sinners. And in case we missed it, Paul hammers it home: “This is not your own doing.”

The reason why this is so important is so that we don’t boast in our salvation. If the reason you were saved while your neighbor wasn’t is found in you and not in God, then you have something to boast about. But there’s no room for any human boasting before God, because no dead man ever helped God save him. Salvation is all of grace.

So why were we saved? The glory of God is the ultimate answer, but verses 7 and 10 help to explain particular ways in which God is glorified. In v. 7, we see that God gets glory by showing forth the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness towards those who are in Christ. In the ancient world, temples weren’t just worship sites, they were glory museums, where trophies and gifts were put on display. Paul is saying that God’s temple, the Church, will be filled with trophies of God’s grace, testimonies that God gives life to the dead.

But in v.10 we see that we won’t just be statues on display, but living, breathing examples of what God can do. When sin and death ruined the human race, God remade us in Christ Jesus, enabling us once again to walk in good works (2:10) instead of walking in sins and trespasses (2:1). It’s a huge mistake to think that just because good works can’t save you that good works don’t matter. Good works are not an optional part of the Christian life; they are essential, because they are the reason why God created you in Christ Jesus! He saved you so that you could stop walking in death, and start walking in good works.

This is the glory that God wants everyone to see: you were dead; but God made you alive. You were walking in sins and trespasses, but now you are walking in good works. What’s the explanation for all of this? The grace of God has been poured out on us in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Posted on Friday, June 28, 2019 by CJ Bowen