February 2014

We Are Heard, 23 February 2014

Big Idea: We are heard by our Father—Daddy!

Ephesians 3:14-21

Our world is filled with noise. I don’t mean just sound, though sound is certainly a type of noise. We are daily bombarded with messages—thousands of them—from billboards to telemarketers to television, radio, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, e-mails, snail mails, …

Stop the madness!

Is it any wonder that we struggle to communicate? Are we surprised that people are misunderstood? Despite all of our communication tools, we do not always effectively use them.

This is especially true in interpersonal relationships and listening. How many times have you realized someone didn’t listen to a word you said? I’ve got great news this morning. God listens to us. God hears us. He’s with us right now, wants to speak, wants to listen, and wants to do life with us.

We are in the middle of a series called “Who do you think you are?” a study of the book of Ephesians that examines our identity in Christ. We are in Ephesians chapter three, continuing what Jonathan Hurshman began last Sunday. J.I. Packer offers some profound thoughts about those first fourteen verses of Ephesians 3, a paragraph with a particular pattern:

Paul is Christ’s prisoner because he’s a preacher of God’s plan and purpose to pagan people, Gentiles (3:1). He counts it a personal privilege to be such a preacher (8) because of his previous poor performance and the power that prepared him for preaching (7) and because of the preciousness of the Person and promise he proclaims (6, 8) and because of the pleasure and the profit produced by his proclamation. He has performed with his pen (3) and now prepares to pray for true perception of the glorious things of which he has been speaking.

We have earlier noted how the first three chapters are filled with doctrine while the second half deals with application and ethics. Much of these first three chapters is actually a prayer rather than mere information including our text for today which begins:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (14-15)

Paul was a man of prayer. He bows before the Father. Posture is important. It communicates to us, God, and sometimes others.

raise hands
lay prostrate on the floor

It’s not uncommon at the PACT Pastors Prayer Summit for people to kneel or even lay on the floor in prayer.

Paul prayed to the
Father in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ. This is a model. Jesus said:

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 16:23)

Jesus is our intercessor. He prays for us. We are to pray to the Father or Dad. I actually prefer the word “Daddy.” I love it when my kids call me “Daddy” or even “Dad” since Father seems so formal.

Paul’s prayers were brief. Jesus’ prayers were brief, including John 17 (the Lord’s prayer for us). Actually, all prayers in the Bible are brief. We need not use vain repetition.

The shortest prayer in the Bible is…Peter as he was sinking:

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (16-19)

Being a Christian is more than praying a prayer. It is to become a little Christ. Paul wants Christ to live in us. Christ is to be our possession.

New Testament scholar N.T. Wright translates verse 17

that the king may make his home in your hearts, through faith; that love may be your root, your firm foundation…

I love that. Jesus does not want to merely be an historical figure or even a living Person far away; He wants to live in our hearts. We talk about being Jesus with skin on or being the hands and feet of Jesus, but ultimately Jesus wants to live in our hearts. He wants us to be full of Himself!

This is the only place in the Bible where it says to have Jesus in your heart. He doesn’t want your heart to be a hotel where He stays occasionally but a home where He resides. He wants to live in us and work in and through us.

Are you full of Jesus? That’s His desire. He wants us full of love and power—His love and power. More of Jesus, less of me! Jesus wants to do life with us.

He wants us to know God and His love.

Only the Holy Spirit can lead us into God’s love (again we see the Trinity).

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (20-21)

God hears and answers! This is a fantastic way to conclude a prayer! Listen to these words:

immeasurably more
His power
within us
glory in the church
glory in Christ Jesus
all generations

Prayer is exciting and powerful!

You can pray for others…or yourself. It’s ok. Paul prayed three times for God to remove a thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-8).

He is able to do more than we can imagine. I love that! I have quite the imagination, yet I often pray small, weenie prayers! The book of James tells us that “we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). We need to pray big, bold, audacious prayers and see what God does in response. He’s not a cosmic genie, but He loves His children.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Present your requests to God!

Thoughts on Prayer

Are you satisfied with your prayer life? Have you ever felt guilty because you don’t pray more? I’ve heard stories about people who spent hours every day on their knees in prayer and I think I’m a loser in comparison; after all, I get paid to pray 40 hours a week, right?!

Like evangelism, helping the poor, and giving money to charity, we all know prayer is the right thing to do and we
should do it more, but it’s not easy. In fact, sometimes prayer can be work.


The key to prayer is the recipient. Who is God? If you view Him as a weak grandpa or an angry monster, prayer will be difficult!

When we pray, we’re talking to our Dad. That’s it. You don’t need to use fancy words or get formal about it. Just talk to Dad. Don’t focus on prayer but on the Father.

For some of you, you had a bad dad and have father wounds or you didn’t know your dad. Start with God and His character rather than your earthly father. He promises to be a Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5).

I’ve been blessed to have a great dad and watching his health deteriorate has been one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve experienced. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call him, only realize we haven’t had a conversation in years. Nevertheless, the time I’ve spent with my dad has shaped me into the man I am today.

Becoming a dad has helped me understand God more than anything else. God loves me even more than I love our kids, which is a lot!

I love it when our kids talk with me. With one in Delaware, one in Grand Rapids, and one occasionally at home it’s often a highlight of my day to receive a text, e-mail, phone call, or—best of all—a FaceTime call from them. On Monday I celebrated a birthday (thanks for the cake last week!) and there was a moment when I was home with Heather and Kailey and I was video chatting with Trevor on one iPhone and Rachel on another so I saw all three of our kids at the same time! It was fantastic!

They could’ve said “happy birthday” and hung up but, instead, we had a great family conversation for a while, almost as if we were all together in the same room. I loved every second!

That’s how prayer is to God. The most beautiful sound in the universe to Him is the sound of your voice.

He loves it when you praise and thank Him for things, just as I do as a dad.
He loves it when you confess, apologize, and reconcile, just as I do as a dad.
He loves it when you ask Him for things, just as I do as a dad.
He even loves it when you are just still and quiet with Him, just as I do as a dad.

Your Dad loves to be with you, hear from you, and know you!

There’s nothing like time with your kids, regardless of their age. God doesn’t need us but He wants us.

How To Pray

Jesus’ followers struggled with prayer much like we do. In fact, they finally asked Jesus how to pray and He famously said

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9b-13)

Notice Jesus said “our” Father. There’s something special about God’s children praying together. I could’ve had three individual FaceTime chats with our three children on Monday but there was something special about us all being together at once. Dad loves it when His kids get along and share their hearts together.

Individual Prayer Ideas

Perhaps you—like me—find it easier to pray with others. Maybe your mind wanders when you’re alone…or even fall asleep when you close your eyes to pray! I have a few practical suggestions for you.

Pray with others. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The Scio Soul lists various prayer gatherings that occur within Scio, including our 8:45 AM Sunday group. They would all love more participants.

Write out your prayers in a notebook or even a laptop. Some of my best prayers are done on my Mac. I don’t do it daily, but I have literally years worth of prayers that I’ve typed and they provide a great reference for me…and maybe someday my children.

Use a prayer list. This past week I realized I hadn’t looked at my prayer list in a while and discovered several prayer requests had been answered. A prayer list reminds you not only of things to pray for but also God’s faithfulness with past requests. Remember, God always answers our prayers, just not always how and when we desire.

Pray continuously. When our children are home, we talk throughout the day. We don’t have to set up a formal appointment. We may schedule a long conversation about a particular matter, but often the best chats are spontaneous and short. Talk with Dad…wherever, whenever. Sometimes I’ll turn off the stereo in my car and talk out loud as if He’s with me—because He is! It’s not uncommon for me to marvel at a sunset, pray for a friend when I see them on Facebook, or grab Heather’s hand and pray when alerted of a crisis.

Pray on the spot. Have you ever said to someone, “I’ll pray for you” and forgot? It’s embarrassing to have someone thank you for praying when, in fact, you never did! Years ago I e-mail a prayer request to a friend and he e-mailed a prayer back! I’ve done that on several occasions. I’ve also paused from activity to pray with or for someone in the moment.

Sing. Prayer doesn’t have to be just words. Praise and worship is one way to talk with God.

Listen. God speaks. It’s usually not audible, but through His Word, circumstances, the church, and prayer He is able to encourage, challenge, convict and guide us. My favorite verses in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6, tell us that if we trust Him, He will guide and direct our paths. He has certainly done that in my life more times than I can count. Prayer is not a one-way message but an interactive—albeit unique—conversation.

If there’s one thing to know about prayer, just do it! Talk with Dad. He loves you. He loves your voice. He’s listening, and your prayers—our prayers—are heard. Hallelujah!


Our Dad loves us. He wants to know us. He loves to talk with us. He hears us.

Listen to Eugene Peterson’s translation of the final eight verses in
The Message:

I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (16-20)
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (21)



Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

We Are Reconciled, 9 February 2014

Big Idea: We are reconciled to God—and one another—in Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-22


Who are you? As we continue our series on the book of Ephesians, a letter written by Paul from prison to the early church, we’re looking at this issue of identity. “Know thyself” was the famous declaration attributed to a number of ancient Greek sages.

Part of knowing ourselves is knowing others and how we are similar and different.

From the beginning of time, humans have experienced rivalry and conflict.

The differences between Cain and Abel resulted in the first murder.

The differences between Catholics and Protestants resulted in one of two Church splits.

The differences between those of European and African descent resulted in slavery.

The differences between USAmericans and al-Qaeda resulted in 9/11.

The differences between Buckeyes and Wolverines resulted in…

It’s a natural result of sin and the fall that we tend to see others as the enemy, especially if they are different (which ultimately includes every person on the planet!). Competition can lead to healthy fun and encourage growth. The Olympic games are a great example of this as athletes are motivated to train and perform knowing others are doing the same. When good sportsmanship leads to a great race, the world appreciates the dedication of both the gold medalist and those with lesser awards. Unfortunately rivalry and conflict can also lead to hostility, hatred and even death.

Differences can be celebrated and appreciated, but they must never overstep the second most important command given by God to love others.

Tragically our world is not filled with love. Sure, we see people that love their families and friends, but Jesus’ command to love our enemy may be the most radical statement in human history. Whether literally or figuratively, we have constructed walls to separate us from others.

The conflict we examine now is between Jews and Christians. Today that conflict may seem almost irrelevant. After all, when is the last time you heard about a Jew attacking a Christian? The Jewish/Muslim wall is far more visible, but the early church struggled to understand their role in relationship to the chosen ones of Israel. After all, God made a covenant with Abraham that included many special promises, including a Promised Land.

It’s impossible for us today to fully understand the depth of the hostility. Nothing in our present culture comes close. The differences between Jews and Gentiles resulted in division, pride, and tension. Many Jews believed Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. The animosity was so great that it was against the law for a Jew to help a Gentile mother in her hour of greatest need need because it would bring another Gentile into the world. If a Jew married a Gentile, a funeral was performed for the Jew since such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death. (
The Message of Ephesians by John Stott).

Jesus was Jewish while on the earth. His first converts and disciples were Jewish. Paul was Jewish. However, the church in Ephesus and other churches were in the region were composed primarily of Gentiles. You can imagine the challenges this presented, challenges that were addressed in nearly all of the New Testament letters. The obvious issue concerned the legitimacy of Gentiles that followed Yeshua, Jesus. Debates went beyond theology, however, to include cultural issues such as diet and circumcision.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (11-12)

It’s notable that the Gentiles are referred to in the negative, the “un”circumcised. Gentiles were without God and without hope.

Two thousands years later without God we have no hope. It’s no wonder people turn to drugs and pleasure and alcohol and a variety of other addictions. This is why it is so crucial for us to be filled with hope, filled with joy, and shine the light of Jesus to a dark, hopeless world. This is why God has a mission to seek and save the lost, and He has entrusted that mission—and the Great Commission—to you and me. These verses are written in the past tense to early believers, but to countless in our community there is presently no hope.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (13)

There’s another “but.” But God. But “in Christ.” The blood of Christ brings us in. I love this verse! We were far away and now we are brought near.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (14-18)

is our peace (2:14). He doesn’t distribute peace. He’s not the peace-maker. He is our peace. Peace is found in Jesus, not the opinion others have of you, circumstances, self-esteem, your finances, your health, or anything other than Jesus. Living in Him we have peace with God. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict; it’s the presence of Jesus.

Jesus has made the two became one. Where have we heard that? Marriage!

Yesterday on this stage a man and a woman became one in marriage. Each held a lit candle representing their two lives and families and brought them together to light the unity candle symbolizing their new life together. Neither individual was lost, but together a new family began.

This past week I spent nearly three days praying with 32 other pastors from Washtenaw County. It was an incredible experience, not only to spend time with Jesus but also with many so different from myself—in every way except for Christ. We came together in Christ.

On the way to the PACT Pastors Prayer Summit I was talking with my dear friend, Rabbi Allen Singer, about this passage. Allen is a Messianic Jew who embraces not only the Old Testament but also every word of the New Testament. He agreed that like a marriage, it is not the Gentile that becomes a Jew or a Jew that becomes a Gentile, but rather that one new man—one new believer—emerges because of Jesus. Through the cross we are both reconciled. Through Jesus we both have access to the Father by the Spirit, another beautiful image of the Trinity—one God in three Persons. Through Christ, Jews and Gentiles have equal access to God. We take this for granted but this was a radical revelation, especially to early Christians that were surrounded by elitist Jews who alone had special access to God before Jesus came. What this means is that through Jesus we all have access to the Father. My prayers are no more or less accessible to God than yours or Billy Graham’s. Jesus didn’t simply die so you can go to heaven when you die. He died to reconcile all—Jew and Gentile—to God if we trust and follow Him and receive by faith the gift of life that He offers.

Our status is not based upon our race, color, nationality or earthly citizenship. It is based upon our identity “in Christ.” That’s what brings us together. Reconciliation doesn’t just happen because we say some flowery words or put on a nice show. It begins in the heart and our deepest common identity in Christ. God separated the Jews from the nations which led to spiritual pride and hatred between Jew and Gentile, but now there’s peace. Now there’s true shalom.

Through Jesus we are even able to overcome church divisions that for centuries have separated Catholics and Protestants. I have often said that I have never met anyone that loves Jesus more than Father Ed Fride—and in my younger days I didn’t even know if it was possible to be Catholic and a Christian!

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (19-20)

Have you ever been in a strange place where you felt uncomfortable? Foreign countries are probably the most extreme example, especially when you don’t know the language. You quickly realize you are an outsider, and unless you are confronted with someone with the gift of hospitality, you feel like you don’t belong. Incidentally, this is true when people visit churches, too. They often feel alien until they are welcomed. Hospitality literally means welcoming the stranger.

In Christ we are not longer aliens. As we said weeks ago, we are saints. We are God’s children (1 John 2:12). David was God’s servant (2 Samuel 7:8). Moses was God’s servant (Number 12:7). We are fellow citizens. We belong to heaven now. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

The apostles and prophets were not the foundation but laid the foundation. The foundation is Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11), the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation. He is our senior pastor. He is our big Brother, and because of Him, we receive the same love and treatment and access to the Father that He enjoys.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (21-22)

Paul refers to the Old Testament temple. We are living stones put together by Christ (1 Peter 2:5). The Church is under construction today. The temple is holy because the Holy Spirit fills each believer.

J. Vernon McGee said that God placed in a human-made structure is a pagan philosophy. God is in the house because we are in the house. When we come together to worship, the Holy Spirit is present, but when we all leave the building, the Holy Spirit leaves with us.

This building is important, but it’s not any more holy than your house, your car, your school, your office, or anywhere else you find yourself filled with the Holy Spirit. The house of God is not the church building…it’s you!!!


The first three chapters of Ephesians are filled with doctrine and theology that help us understand our identity, who we are. The second half of the book is filled with practical application.

To review,

we are in Christ
we are saints
we are blessed
we are appreciated
we are saved

We are reconciled—in Christ.

Paul was imprisoned for allegedly taking a non-Jew inside the temple of Jerusalem (Acts 21:27, 29). It was his efforts at reconciliation that led him to prison where he wrote this letter.

In some ways Ephesians is not unlike Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a famous document written while imprisoned from the cause of reconciliation.

At the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games last week, IOC president Thomas Bach said

Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity.

He echoes the words of Paul, recognizing that despite our history, culture, race, income, nationality, gender, occupation or family of origin our primary identity and true unity can only be found—not in athletic competition—but “in Christ.”

We have more in common with believers of other nations, races and languages than non-believers from our own families. We are reconciled and made one in Christ.


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

We Are Saved, 2 February 2014

Big Idea: We are saved by grace. We were dead but now we’re alive. Hallelujah!

Ephesians 2:1-10


One of my many weaknesses is my propensity to see things in black and white in a world of grey. I tend to be all or nothing, going to extremes. I’ve learned this about myself and I am working to avoid the tendency but when I was younger it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to turn the volume of the radio down to 1 when someone complained that 11 was a little much, or if someone said I talked too much I would resort to silence.

Although much of life is grey, some things are clearly black or white, on or off, yes or no, Seattle or Denver!

The Wrath of God

Our series on the book of Ephesians is called
Who Do You Think You Are? This is one of the most important questions in life. How you see yourself determines how you think and act and live. We live in a culture where most people see themselves as good people, at least in comparison to the criminals we see paraded in front of us on the nightly news. People will say, “I haven’t killed anyone, I paid—most of—my taxes, and I’m kind to animals so I’m pretty good.” But they’re not. I’m not. Romans 3:23 says that

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We tend to focus on the first part, but what about the latter. God’s glory is perfection. He is holy. He is righteous. He hates sin—all sin!

I want to begin today with God’s wrath. It’s politically incorrect to discuss, but it’s real. We can deny it but does not change it. God hates sin and

“…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)

Ephesians 2 could’ve begun like this:

You are dead in your transgressions and sins in which you live, following the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also live among them, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we are by nature objects of wrath.

Objects of wrath. That means all sin will be destroyed. It’s like cancer. You wouldn’t want a doctor to remove 10% of your cancer or even 90%. The goal is to live 100% cancer free. God can only live in a sin-free environment. His wrath will come and destroy all sin…and that’s a good think—unless we are sinners. But we are! We are all sinners.

Celebrate Jesus

Today is a day of celebration. We’re not celebrating my birthday or yours. We’re not celebrating a Super Bowl championship since it is hours away. Today we are celebrating Jesus, and every day should be a celebration of Christ. Our text for today actually begins

As for you, 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 our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

It’s all past-tense because of Jesus!!!

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. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

But God. God butts in! He invades our broken planet that has been decimated by sin like our state has been invaded by snow and cold temperatures.

We were dead. Now we’re alive…with Christ. We are alive…in Christ.

Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people come alive!

I didn’t do it. You didn’t do it. Jesus did it!

We were dead and then Jesus made us alive!

I have a friend, Tony, who died six years ago at St. Joe’s Hospital. His heart was the worst the hospital had ever seen, but then a miracle occurred; he came back to life, and has never been the same since—in a good way. He was dead and now he’s alive.

What did Tony do to move from death to life? Nothing! He laid in the hospital bed and was healed in the midst of an ocean of prayer and a supernatural event not even the doctors can explain.

It’s the same way with us. We were dead and then Jesus made us alive. That’s grace!


Grace is unmerited favor. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. You can’t do anything to get it. It’s amazing!

A week ago I was DJing with a friend and I explained it this way:

If you recklessly smash your car into mine (please don’t!), justice means you pay to get my car fixed—and me, too, if I’m injured.

Mercy means I shrug it off, forgive you, and pretend the accident never happened. Who likes mercy?!

Grace means I not only refuse payment to fix my car, I offer to pay to fix yours…and take you out for ice cream!

That’s insane, right? That’s grace! That’s what Jesus offers every man, woman and child.

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. (Ephesians 2:6-7)

We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. This means we are invited to spend eternity with Almighty God. We are welcomed into His Kingdom, not because we were good, but because of grace.

Notice again the phrase “in Christ” and “with Christ.” It’s all Jesus. We’re just along for the ride. Literally.

I have a friend who owns a Ferrari. It’s a beautiful car probably worth more than my house. He has two sons and if he were to ever let them drive the Ferrari into town, it would be obvious that there is only one reason they were driving such nice wheels—their dad! They did nothing to deserve the privilege except be born.

That’s grace!

Don’t miss these next two verses. This is one of the most important passages in the entire Bible.

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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

What is our role in salvation? Nothing! It’s all a gift. Even faith is a gift of God!

We all deserve God’s wrath. You, me, Billy Graham, and—fill in the blank!

Religion has always tried to work hard to make God like us. Every religion I have ever encountered is spelled
D-O; it’s about what we do. The problem is our works compared to God are like me trying to jump from here to the moon. It doesn’t matter how much I practice or how hard I work, there’s no way I could ever jump to the moon.

What I love about the movement of Jesus is we are the only ones with grace. Grace is spelled
D-O-N-E. It’s not what we do, but what’s been done by Jesus. I’ve encouraged my three kids to check out other religions. Explore. We’re the only ones with grace. It’s amazing, it’s extravagant, it’s almost unbelievable!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

There’s so much that can be said about this verse but I want to briefly highlight a few thoughts

We are God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, His creation, His treasure. He doesn’t make junk!

We were created “in Christ.” We were created by Christ and then recreated in Christ because of grace.

We were created to do good works. We don’t do good works and then get in. We encounter Jesus and do good works as a result. Our lives are lived not out of obligation but gratitude. One of the most important works we can do is
let dead people know they are dead, and how they can become alive in Christ!

God knew us in our mother’s womb and prepared good words for us to do. He wants us to do two things: love Him and love others. When you ponder grace, don’t you want to dance, sing, and then obey whatever He says?!

We were dead. Because of Jesus we’re alive!


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

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