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Sermon: Poetry in Action, Ephesians 2.1-10

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Poetry in Action 

How did we go from being dead to being God’s poetry in action?

Ephesians 2.1–10

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 18, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – Songs on grace, good works

Prelude

  1. Last Lord’s Day evening, 
    1. Dale Linge from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort
    2. reported on that good work.
      1. He started by speaking briefly on Ephesians 2.1–10.
      2. He made excellent points, and I want to expand on them.
        1. 2.1–3 | First, the Bad News
        2. 2.4–9 | Second, the Good News
        3. 2.10 | We Are God’s Poetry,
          1. which I have renamed based on something he said:
          2. Poetry in Action.
  2. Paul had begun the letter, saying,

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” (Eph 1.3)
    1. The reason we bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
    2. is that formerly we were not in a good condition,
      1. even if our lives had not been what the world might see as evil.
      2. We may have been living a good and decent life, but
        1. outside of Christ,
        2. we lived in a dangerous situation.
  3. Paul reminded us of that danger as he continued in Ephesians 2

Persuasion

  1. Ephesians 2.1–3 | First, the Bad News

    1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    1. Now we live, but
      1. it had not always been that way.
      2. God made us alive, because
        1. we had been dead.
        2. We may have walked in the flesh, but
          1. we were dead.
          2. How could we be dead, if we were alive?
    2. You have to know what dead is.
      1. James 2 reveals why the body dies,

        26 …the body without the spirit is dead… (Jam 2.26).
      2. We have both an outward and an inward nature.
        1. The outward we call the body.
        2. The inward we call the spirit.
          1. The spirit inhabits the body, and
          2. animates it.
            1. When the spirit leaves,
            2. the body ceases its animation
              1. it dies, but
              2. the spirit lives on,

                7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
                And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
                Ecc 12.7
    3. The body experiences death when it is without the spirit.
      1. The spirit experiences death when it is without God.
      2. Isaiah 59 shows what we experience, or
        1. rather what we do not experience
        2. when we are without God,

          1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened,
          That it cannot save;
          Nor His ear heavy,
          That it cannot hear.
          2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
          And your sins have hidden His face from you,
          So that He will not hear.
          (Isa 59.1–2)
          1. When you do not have God,
          2. you do not have two exceedingly important things:
            1. God’s ear in prayer, and
            2. God’s hand in salvation.
    4. What do we do that severs us from God?
      1. Paul said we experience death of the spirit through trespasses and sins.
      2. We trespassed (went were we should not have gone), and sinned:
        1. when we lived as the world teaches,
        2. when we lived as the prince of the power of the air teaches,
        3. when we lived in disobedience to God our Maker, and
        4. when we lived in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
          1. Those things made us children of wrath,
          2. making us subject to the wrath of God.
    5. However, God knows His wrath fully.
      1. He knows the horrors of it.
      2. He does not want one human to experience an eternity of it.
        1. Therefore, He did something wonderful
        2. in and through Christ Jesus.
  2. Ephesians 2.4–9 | Second, the Good News

    4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His 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 of works, lest anyone should boast.
    1. Every translation except the NIV, begins with those two words: “But God…”
      1. Do you not love the sound of those words,
      2. especially after what we just saw?
    2. Rather than pour out His wrath upon humanity,
      1. God desired
        1. to show the richness of His mercy,
        2. to show the greatness of His love,
        3. to make us alive,
        4. to raise us up from the dead, and
        5. to make us sit in the heavenly places.
      2. In short, He poured out His grace, and
        1. we saw what He did and
        2. we put our faith in Him, because
          1. when we put our faith
            1. in the world,
            2. in Satan,
            3. in disobedience, and
            4. in lust,
              1. it led to the death of our spirits, and
              2. made us subject to the wrath of God.
    3. We did not initiate this thing.
      1. God initiated it .
      2. Our own doing took us away from God.
        1. He chased after us,
        2. wanting to save us, because
          1. He created us,
          2. thus, making all of humanity His children.
      3. However, the only ones benefiting from His grace and kindness
        1. are those who put faith in Him,
        2. believing that He can save them,
          1. knowing that His way is right,
          2. having discovered that our way is wrong.
    4. When we attempted to do things ourselves,
      1. we made a mess of things.
      2. Therefore, the saving of our souls from spiritual death
        1. did not come about by our works.
        2. God happily gave us the gift of salvation,
          1. if we put our faith in Him and
          2. start living as He, our Maker, says to live.
    5. To say that our salvation is not of works,
      1. does not mean that He does not want us involved in works.
      2. Listen to what Paul said next.
  3. Ephesians 2.10 | Poetry in Action

    10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
    1. As you know, I typically do not bring up the Greek,
      1. which a New Testament writer originally used, and
      2. I never use it to make an argument, because
        1. if you do not know the Koine Greek of the first century,
        2. how can you tell whether I am using it correctly, or
          1. whether my argument is true?
          2. I do bring it up when I think it will add further insight to the text.
    2. Dale Linge last Lord’s Day evening
      1. pointed out that the Greek word we translate as “workmanship,”
      2. is poi÷hma
        1. from which we get the word, “poem.”
        2. The Greek word means a creation, or workmanship.
          1. If you have ever tried to create something beautiful,
          2. you will know the creative process,
            1. what you have to put into it, and
            2. just how much work it is.
        3. Try writing a poem.
          1. Try making anything from scratch and
          2. without using a template or something from you copy.
            1. When you achieve it,
            2. you know the joy and satisfaction that comes with creating.
        4. This is especially true,
          1. if you take something that had been ruined, and
          2. then make a new creation out of it, or
            1. repurpose it.
            2. It wows people!
              1. In Ephesians 5, Paul showed the contrast,

                8a …you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (Eph 5.8a).
              2. Our new purpose differs that much from our old purpose.
    3. Let me point out yet another Greek word in this verse:
      1. peripatew from peripath/swmen,
      2. meaning walk around,
        1. walk around in good works.
          1. Like pericardium,
          2. which comes from two Greek words,
            1. speaking of the sac that surrounds the heart.
        2. That now pictures our sphere of operations, our purpose.
          1. We do not trespass by going beyond the border of good works and
          2. into things for which the Lord has not recreated us.
      3. In the past, verse 2 reminded us, we walked
        1. according to the course of this world,
        2. according to the prince of the power of the air, and
        3. according to the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
      4. Now we walk according to God’s
        1. mercy,
        2. love, and
        3. grace, and
          1. that moves us to fulfill our new purpose,
          2. that of doing good works rather than evil works.

Exhortation

  1. Paul goes on to show that we do not have to remain away from God,

    11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph 2.11–13).
  2. The blood of Jesus made the whole scenario of verses 1–10 possible. 
    1. His blood raised us from the dead to a new life, and
    2. verse 6 said He raised us up together.
      1. We experienced something in which the blood of Christ touched us, and
      2. our dead spirits became alive again.
        1. Paul would say to the Colossians,

          12 [We were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses… (Col 2.12–13).
        2. I only have one question for you: Have you been baptized?
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