BIG IDEA: The world knows two ways to receive salvation: works, and grace. The Bible tells us we are saved by the grace of God through faith. The “works” have already been accomplished. Jesus Christ (God in flesh) died on the cross. Through faith we receive salvation. But to fully understand our salvation, we must first understand what we are saved from. So, what are we saved from?
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
SCRIPTURE to CONSIDER: Ephesians 1:11-14
 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
- What makes a good story? Contrast, big shifts, and rescues. We all love hero stories or stories about someone who makes a big change in their life. As Christians, we have a great story because we have experienced, and continue to experience, great contrast and big shifts as Christ daily rescues us.
- Two ways to be saved: works and grace.
- Most religions are based on the idea that we are saved by works: Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, New Ageism, Daoism, etc. It’s the idea that being a good person is enough to save, but our works don’t save us. Jesus’ works do.
- Faith: it’s not a work. It’s a gift. Faith is the vehicle through which we are saved, but it is by grace that we are saved. SO we don’t worship faith or grace, but we worship God who gives us faith and saves us by grace.
- It is God’s mercy, love, and grace that save us: we are saved past, present, and future when we come to faith by grace.
- Jesus Christ rescued us from…
- Death: not just physical death, but also spiritual death.
- Trespasses and sins: overstepping boundaries (sins of commission) and the missing the mark (sins of omission). We are both rebels and failures.
- The course of this world: we are saved from following the majority opinion.
- The Prince of the Power of the Air: Satan and his demons.
- The passions and desires of the flesh: we exchange our old desires/self with the new desires/self.
- Wrath: we were once children or wrath — sons of disobedience — but now we are children of God — sons of righteousness.
- Ask people to tell us about their God instead of asking them to tell us about their faith.
- Cry out: When you feel the forces of the world, the old self and its passions and desires, trying to drag you down, cry out to Jesus. There is no shame in crying out. It is a sign of life, not death. It is strength, not weakness.
- Let go: give up control and trust God to lead you. We must die to ourselves, be buried with Christ, and be raised up in the resurrection life of Christ. Allow him to change us.
- Whatever you do, do it unto Christ: there is no distinction between our sacred and our secular tasks. We should do all things by His power and for His glory. That is what we are called to.
- Live into this contrast: You are no longer slaves to sin. Your old story is not your new story. You have been rescued. You’ve been brought from death to life. Die to self, be risen in Christ.
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