Ephesians 2:8-10; Know Who You Are in Christ: Saved By Grace

9-13-15 by the Rev. Bob Gochenour

 

Announcing the Great Salvation Swim to Paradise.

This is a marathon swim from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

This swim is 2,551 miles of open water swimming.

How would you do in this great swim for salvation?

Non-swimmers might get ankle deep.

Pastor Bob: I probably could swim 1-2 miles

(I swam a mile when I was a Boy Scout at the age of 12).

Lifeguards: might be able to swim 3-5 miles

(they are young and fit!)

Olympic swimmers could go 10-15 miles.

Marathon swimmers train for longer open water swims.

English Channel swimmers: 21 miles

Catalina Channel Swimmers (California): 21 miles

Around Manhattan Island Swimmers: 28.5 miles

BIG PROBLEM: Hawaii is over 2500 miles away!

None of us could make it at all.

It doesn’t really matter how far we could swim!

Because it would not be far enough.

We would all fall short!

We would all drown!

The Great Salvation Swim to Paradise may sound ridiculous.

But it illustrates the same type of foolishness some believe about Christianity.

More specifically, this is a parable of salvation.

Some people believe that good works are going to get you into heaven.

Some people think that if you work hard enough, you can earn your way to heaven.

They spend their life trying to swim their own way to paradise.

Perhaps they do not do this by jumping in the ocean and swimming—but they do this in subtle ways.

People try to earn their own salvation through Christian good works:

       Attend worship every Sunday

       Praying every day

       Spending an hour a day with devotionals

       Attending Bible studies, Sunday School, small groups

       Giving donations to their church & charities

       Going on spiritual retreats

       Helping the poor.

They do not realize that they are really bargaining with God.

The reality is that they are offering their own good works as a way to earn God’s favor.

They think that if they do enough “Good works” in this life, God will look down upon them with favor and say:

“Yes, you have done enough. Welcome to paradise.”

The sad truth: there is not enough good works we can do to satisfy God’s demand for justice, holiness, and righteousness.

Our sins are too great—just one slip up negates all of our good works.

After a life-time of good works—we would discover that we are still 2500 miles (or more) away from pleasing God.

We cannot save ourselves: we are just too far from earning our own way into heaven.

GOOD NEWS: God gives us the gift of salvation!

Paul writes:

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—and not the result of works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Grace: this is one of the key concepts in the Bible.

We talk a lot about Grace in the church—it has become one of those Christian words we preachers use a lot.

Too often, we never define what “grace” means.

Grace = the free gift of God’s love towards us.

Grace = restoring the right relationship with our Creator God through the good works of Jesus Christ.

Grace = salvation “IN CHRIST.”

Paul makes the point that “this is not of your own doing.”

You have no wisdom, no experience, no intelligence, academic degree, spiritual awareness, specialized knowledge, or even a high-power boat that will save you from the ocean of struggles.

There is nothing you can do to swim to Hawaii with your own strength.

Paul emphasizes this point: “not the result of works.”

You are not strong enough to swim to Hawaii by yourself.

You need outside help: or you will drown like every one else.

You have no reason to boast!

What sense does it make to boast:

       I swam 1 mile!

       I swam 10 miles!

       I swam 21 miles!

       I swam 121 miles!

The truth is, no matter how far you swam: you still failed!

In your own strength—you are still as much of a failure as everyone else!

Paul writes: “it is the gift from God.”

God does not require you to swim to Hawaii in your own strength.

God does not require you to earn your salvation through good works.

God is a God of love and mercy, steadfast faithfulness and abiding grace.

God provides you the Ship of Salvation as a free gift.

God has a ship waiting to pluck you out of the ocean and sail you to paradise—the ship of salvation is free for all passengers.

This begins to approach the meaning of the term GRACE.

God loves you so much that he made a passage for you.

God knows that you could not make it in your own strength—so he paid for your passage through the good works of Jesus.

Jesus Christ came to be the perfect man—he is the only One who could actually swim all the way to Hawaii in his own strength.

As an obedient & righteous Son—Jesus paid our fare by taking our sins upon himself when he died on the cross.

Grace = God’s great love for us demonstrated in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

The only thing that we must do is have faith in Jesus.

It is up to you whether you get on Board the salvation ship.

God has already made provisions for you—paid your ticket.

Some wait until they are helpless in the seas before they cry out for help.

Some spend all their lives trying to pay the ticket price to board.

The truly faithful (non-swimmers and children who know they cannot swim all the way to Hawaii by themselves) get on the ship at the shoreline and enjoy a life time of God’s grace.

Sadly, others drown.

There is still much more to say about GRACE.

Our salvation comes through God’s grace.

Grace is a free gift from a generous God.

Grace is much more!

GRACE= the work of the Holy Spirit for our benefit.

Too often, we miss this divine reality in our lives.

The Holy Spirit works mysteriously in our religious experiences to bring us the power of God’s grace.

As we examine the scriptures, we see the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s grace.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—sent Jesus to die for us on the cross.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—raised Jesus from the dead.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—ascended Jesus to the right hand of God the Father.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—that applies Jesus’ work to all of humanity.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—that worked in your life to give you faith.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—allowed you to receive new life through Jesus.

Grace of God through the power of the Spirit—that brings you on the ship of salvation—sailing safely to paradise.

John Wesley further defined the power of faith as he described the theological meaning behind our experiences of salvation.

We may have different experiences of salvation, but Wesley defines the theological meanings of grace that was and is working on our behalf.

Prevenient Grace: The Holy Spirit works in the life of the non-Christian preventing them from going too far away from God before they have a chance to say “yes” to God.

Prevenient = preventing. This is the initial stage of faith.

Some have called these people: “seekers.”

But it also includes children and youth who are still learning about God, the Bible, the great love of God, and the meaning of grace.

In our secular world: the ministry of Prevenient Grace becomes more and more critical.

We need to continue to teach God’s love, invite others, and welcome all people into God’s salvation ship.

God empowers us through the Holy Spirit as God woos people to Himself—trying to win them for Christ.

Justifying Grace: This is what God does for us through the faith in Jesus Christ.

This is also the work of the Holy Spirit working in our life: God draws us to this experience/realization that God saves us.

As we trust in God—Jesus Christ credits to us His righteousness.

We are given the precious gift of Christ—his righteousness becomes our own righteousness.

In God’s eyes: we are hidden in Christ.

When God looks at us—all God sees is Jesus’ good works.

Wesley called this “imputed righteousness.

It is a relative change in our hearts—we are simply turned around and facing in the right direction for our future journey through life.

Through Justifying grace we are seated IN CHRIST in the heavenlies.

At this moment in our journey—we are given the gift of new birth.

Through justifying grace, God creates a new spiritual reality in us.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit: we become new creatures.

Paul defines this change in Ephesians 2:10

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to our way of life.”

Paul says we are created IN CHRIST JESUS.

Jesus Christ works within us to make us a new creation.

Wesley called this “a change of our inward nature…from earthly and sensual, to heavenly and holy affections…”

This is a beginning of a real change: the Holy Spirit makes us life Jesus Christ.

Wesley called this “imparted righteousness.”

This is where the Holy Spirit makes us holy from the inside out.

We are transformed into the holiness of Christ—we begin to develop a righteousness of our own.

God has re-created us to make us just like Jesus: holy and pure.

 

Grace = “You have been saved, through faith.”

Paul encourages you in this passage:

KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS: SAVED BY GRACE!

As you grow in faith:

       Trust in God’s love;

       Believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection;

       Apply Christ’s death to your personal life;

       Accept the gift of God given to you.

If you have this kind of faith:

       You have been saved;

       You are being saved;

       You will be saved.

If you do not have this kind of faith:

       Good news is for you;

       You can stop struggling in the seas of life.

       You can stop trying to earn your way to heaven.

       God has prepared you for this moment to say “YES.”

You can receive your boarding pass today: get on the salvation ship.

Allow the free gift of God make you a new creation.

All you must do is call on the name of Jesus Christ.

God calls you to be saved by Grace through faith.