Characterized by grace and peace

Ephesians: New Life 101  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Ephesians 1:1–2 (ESV)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The introduction of Ephesians introduces us to:
God is in control You’re not just sinners anymore, you’re saints!
Christians and Christianity are characterized by grace and peace.
How do grace and peace characterize Christianity or serve as a summary of the Christian life?
According to the rest of Ephesians:
In Ephesians 2 Jesus is our peace, made our peace by the cross, and preached peace to Jews and Gentiles.
In Ephesians 4 God’s people are eager to maintain the unity of the bond of peace.
In Ephesians 2 it is by the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that we are saved
In Ephesians 4 it is the same grace that saved us that bestows gifts for ministry to each Christian.
The message of the gospel:
God made the world according to His good design
Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he made and it was good
Sin came into the world, and the world is now filled with brokenness
Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fall short…
Romans 6:23, for the wages of sin is death…
Romans 1:25, they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served something created instead of the creator
The good news, or Gospel, is there is a remedy for sin and the brokenness of the world
Because of his love God did not leave us in our sin and brokenness. Jesus, God in human flesh, came to us and lived perfectly according to God’s good design
Jesus came to rescue us and reconciles us to the Father. He took our sin and shame to the cross, paying the penalty of our sin by his death. Jesus was then raised from the dead- to provide a way for us to be rescued and restored to a relationship with God. (Peace)
We must admit our sin and stop trusting in ourselves. We don’t have the power to escape our brokenness on our own.
We must ask God to forgive us- turning from sin to trust only in Jesus. This is what it means to repent and believe.
Ephesians 2:8-9, but you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift- not from works, so that no one may boast.
God has reconciled us and restored us to recover and pursue His original good design!
When God restores our relationship to Him we begin to discover meaning and purpose in a broken world. In Christ, and by his grace we can pursue God’s design in all areas of our lives.
Philippians 2:13, for it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.
Ephesians 2:10, for we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them.
Peace is the result of God’s saving work
There are two clear ways that God gives us peace. The first is peace between us and him, the second is peace within the family of God.
Peace between sinners and a holy God
Jesus Christ is our peace. Paul says in Ephesians 1:1 that we are in Christ.
Jesus made peace by the cross, meaning he took what our sin deserves. By taking what our sin deserves he took punishment. It’s not just that Jesus died, it’s that he was killed as an act of justice for sins he did not commit.
Peace between the saints
Christo-centric reconciliation… this means the basis for a unity and relationship between saints is Christ- not some other common ground.
The basis for our unity and the foundation for our reconciliation efforts is our union with Christ. In fact, this is so central to our understanding of the gospel that impacts and influences all of our efforts at peace with other believers.
Mission Mississippi- It’s not that we need to be reconciled… we are reconciled. What we have to learn to do is live our the reconciliation that we already have in Christ. What that means is that between Christians, there is no distinction… even when there is a social or civil distinction like in the days of slavery or segregation. Let me read a story that Dr. William Holmes Borders, an African American pastor of the Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, once told:
A black man had been denied an education, political and economic opportunity, and was forced to beg for food. He rang the front doorbell of a southern mansion and the owner of the house answered. “I’m hungry,” the black man said. “Go around to the back door,” he was told. Food was prepared, and the owner of the house brought it to the black man. “First we will bless the food,” the white man said. “Now you repeat after me, Our Father . . .” The black man said, “Your Father . . .” “Why do you insist upon saying, ‘Your Father,’ when I keep telling you to say, “‘Our Father’?” the white man asked. The black beggar replied, “Well, boss, if I say, ‘Our Father,’ that would make you and me brothers, and I’m ’fraid the Lord wouldn’t like it, you makin’ your brother come to the back porch to get a piece of bread.” (English, Handyman of the Lord, 33–34)
I find this story hits right at the issue that Paul makes in the book of Ephesians and with the gospel. God has reconciled us to Himself, and all who are reconciled to Him are reconciled with one another… we just have to live it out at this point… and living it out means that we will have peace inside the body of Christ that you cannot find or that you cannot make sense of outside the family of faith.
And, this isn’t just about races, it’s for all people.
The structure of the letter is built around focusing our attention on being at peace with God and then with one another. As Paul writes the letter to the Ephesians he makes sure that they know how to be at peace with God, then later in the letter he instructs them on what it looks like to live out that peace in the community of grace.
Grace is the why and how of the Christian life
Grace is why and how we are saved from sin and made alive in Christ
Mercy is something we beg for… when you have done something wrong you can beg and ask for mercy… you may not receive it… and if you don’t it’s because you deserve the punishment that is coming to you.
Grace is something that is offered. Mercy is asked for… but grace indicates God’s initiative in reconciling sinners to himself.
You can cry out for mercy… but grace is more than simply not getting what you deserve.
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve… and that kind of gift is initiated by the giver, not the receiver. The gospel is that God comes to rescue us from sin and brokenness. He doesn’t just decide not to punish, he reconciles us and redeems us on his account and at his expense.
God makes peace between us and Himself through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Grace is why and how God sustains the saints in a world stained by sin
The same grace that saves us is the grace that sustains us…
The Christian life is lived recovering and pursuing God’s design in a broken world. James Montgomery Boice wrote about this relevant connection: He writes,
“Was Ephesus crassly commercial and materialistic? So are our cities. Was it pagan, preoccupied with sex, superstitious? So are we. What can keep Christian people faithful to God in such environments? What can enable them to be saintly continually? There is only one answer. It is what Paul speaks of in his greeting: “grace and peace,” and particularly grace, from God the Father. As the book goes on we are going to learn what we should be in this world. But from the very beginning there is no mystery about how we are to be it—by the will and strength of God, who alone can help us. We have no other strength, but by his grace we can triumph."
The help and strength that you need to live for Christ in this broken and chaotic world comes by grace.
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Christians and Christianity are characterized by grace and peace.
Are you at peace with God?
There is a huge emphasis on being at peace with yourself or even within yourself… but that won’t do you a lick of good in the end. You can settle with yourself on your looks, financial situation, weaknesses, strengths, etc… you can spend time in meditation and get quiet, still, and even find some emotional balance… but none of that will bring you peace with God.
Any attempt at peace without Christ is like trying to take a nap on the train tracks. You may take a nap, but your nap isn’t going to stop the train from coming down the tracks.
There is a sense of peace and tranquility that is present in the life of a Christian… but it comes from a well deeper than your own mind and soul, it comes from God and is the result of knowing what waits for you in death, and that impacts how you live.
Are you at peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ?
There’s no place for enmity in the body of Christ. The Bible makes it clear that those who sow division and discord in the body are to be confronted, called to repentance, and restored when they repent.
The body of Christ is a place of unity based on being in the family of God… you may not like all your siblings or cousins, but they are family and that means something… well it’s even more true when it comes to your brothers and sisters in Christ…
And honestly its one of the most impactful witnesses to the gospel- when people the world says should be against one another are together in Christ…
Not being liberal… but we are all saved from sin…and when people saved from sin are seeking to go and sin no more together that’s a powerful testimony of the gospel.
The strength you need for the situation you are in is found in the grace God.
Like it says in Hebrews 4, you can confidently draw near to God for the help you need to make it through your time of need. It’s not something you can do for yourself, but it is something he has initiated and does for those who are his.
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