Today, we’re continuing in our message series Live Out God’s Purpose. We’re learning about God’s purpose for our lives from the book of Ephesians. Our message today is entitled “Transformed by Grace.”
What is grace? In the Bible, grace means the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. Grace really is what the Bible is all about, from Genesis to Revelation. Let’s watch a short video about grace called Grace 101. The students all failed the final quiz, yet the teacher gave what they didn’t deserve, an A. That gives us a picture of what grace is all about.
Let’s turn to the Bible to get a birds eye view of grace. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to sin by disobeying God. The result was that their relationship with God was broken. That broken relationship caused spiritual death which would ultimately result in their physical death. The sin of Adam and Eve has resulted in each one of us being a sinner.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
If we stopped there, this would be a very sad story. But there is good news.
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God loves each person that He has created so much that He didn’t want them to be separated from Him. So, He sent Jesus into the world, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus died and rose again so that sinners, like you and me could have eternal life. God’s grace is offered to every sinner on the planet as a free gift. Yet, God’s gift of grace must be accepted in order to be effective. God’s grace gift is accepted by believing in Jesus. Only those who believe in Jesus receive the grace gift of eternal life. Grace is not just for salvation, it is for all of life
Titus 2:11-12 (ESV) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
It is by God’s grace that we as believers are given the power to live godly lives pleasing to God. As we have received God’s grace, so God helps us to share His grace with others. Today, we’re going to look more closely at how we can be transformed by grace.
Ephesians 2:5 (ESV) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
This chapter starts out with the words “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” This statement applies to every person who has ever lived. In verse 5, Paul writes that “we were dead in our trespasses” including himself. Every person who is not a believer in Jesus is spiritually dead. To be spiritually dead means that they have no relationship with God in this life. And if they remain in a spiritually dead condition when they die, they will experience spiritual death in hell for eternity.
Paul is writing to believers whom God has made alive with Christ. As Christ was raised from the dead, so believers are made alive, spiritually raised from the dead. We are made alive through God’s grace. How do we receive God’s gift of grace?
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 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.
This verse makes it clear that the way a spiritually dead person receives God’s grace is through faith. Even though God’s grace is freely offered to everyone, everyone does not receive it. This faith that is required to receive God’s grace is faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Faith involves committing your entire life to Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Salvation is a gift from God, not a reward or payment for any work that we have done. If we had to do some work to receive salvation, we could boast about it. The truth is that no matter what we’ve done in life, no matter how great our sins, through faith, we can receive God’s grace. Why does God save us?
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God initially created us alive as human beings to walk with Him, but because of our sin, we died. When we are saved, we are recreated, born again into the family of God. We are saved for a purpose, not simply to go to heaven when we die. We are saved for good works, that is a life of serving God.
God has prepared the good works that you are to do from before the creation. He has equipped and impowered you to accomplish things for Him through your life. That is God’s purpose and plan. That is why God has saved you and made you alive by His grace.
Many people think that different religions are simply different ways of reaching God. Nothing could be further from the truth. True Christianity as taught in the Bible, is a unique religion, different from all others. In every other religion, other than Christianity, you must do some work in order to be saved, go to heaven, nirvana or any other after life.
In some so-called Christian churches, it is taught that you must do certain works in order to be saved. True Christianity is the only religion in which you are saved simply through faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, Christianity is the only religion in which we worship a living founder, Jesus Christ risen from the dead. What makes Christianity different? As we saw in the video, simply God’s grace.
God’s grace made a way for sinners like you and me and everyone else to be saved. Despite the fact that we don’t deserve it. The reality of God’s grace should encourage everyone of us. And it should motivate us to reach out to those around us who need His grace. Now, let’s turn to some of the results of God’s grace at work in our life. Not only are we headed for heaven, God’s grace transforms us in this life.
Ephesians 2:19 (ESV) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Those who are not saved, who have not been transformed by God’s grace are strangers and aliens to God’s family. But when a person is saved by grace, they become children of God, members of God’s household. People who are saved become citizens of the kingdom of God. In facts they become saints, which is a name for every believer, not just a select few.
When a person is saved, it is not just a relationship between them and God that has begun. It is a relationship between God and the rest of God’s family, the church. In this passage, the family of God, the church is described as a holy temple.
Ephesians 2:20 (ESV) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
This holy temple or church is built upon a solid foundation that was laid at its beginning. This temple has as its foundation, the Spirit-filled apostles and prophets who wrote the revelation of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Jesus Christ was and is the cornerstone, the massive stone that holds the entire foundation together. As Jesus Christ is still alive, He still serves as the cornerstone of the holy temple. The teaching of the apostles and prophets remains and in every age, God raises up apostles and prophets to provide the foundation of His church. The foundation of this temple will not change, it is built upon the eternal word of God.
Ephesians 2:21-22 (ESV) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
What is built upon the foundation of God’s holy temple? Each believer is then laid down as a living stone on this foundation and cornerstone. God places every believer in the proper place to effectively function in His household. Each believer is joined to others and to Jesus. This holy temple is not static. It grows both in size and in power as it is built by God.
What is the purpose of a temple? The purpose of a temple is to be a place for the presence of God to dwell. This holy temple that you and I as believers are a part of is being built for God to live in by the Holy Spirit. Just as God desires for every believer to be filled with His Spirit, so He desires to fill His church, His holy temple with that same Spirit. God’s grace unites believers as one holy temple.
Let’s think a little more deeply about the foundation of the church. Jesus taught that we are to build our lives on the rock or foundation of obedience to His word, the word of God. The foundation of the church never changes, as it is based on the inerrant word of God. Jesus Himself is the Word of God. In order to have unity in a local church, we must believe and base our lives on God’s Word. The more that we study, understand and put into practice God’s Word, the more unified we will be.
In order to have unity between churches, they also must be based on the same Word of God. The more unity, the more that God’s Spirit can work, in our church and between churches. All 370,000 Assemblies of God churches in the world are unified because we hold to the same fundamental beliefs based on God’s Word. When we’re talking to another person about spiritual issues, how can we resolve differences? Simply by using God’s Word and His grace as the foundation of our discussion. The Holy Spirit will help you to explain God’s Word and bring unity by His grace. Not only does God’s grace provide salvation and unite us in His church, it enable us to
Ephesians 4:22 (ESV) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
It would be great if we became perfect when we’re saved, but it doesn’t work that way. Paul in writing to believers here, instructs them to put off their old self. The old self was the old you that lived a life of sin and has sinful desires. The old self does not automatically disappear, as we all know. We must, by God’s grace, put off our old self, stop following its wrong desires. How do we put off the old self? The first key is to …
Ephesians 4:23 (ESV) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
The way that we think influences both our attitudes and our actions. How can we be renewed in the spirit of our minds? The simple answer is to choose to obey God’s Word in every circumstance. That involves resisting temptation with God’s Word and repenting when we sin. Through studying God’s Word, prayer and being involved in the church, the way that we think will be renewed. When our minds are renewed, our desires will change to doing God’s will. This is not a easy fix, but a long-term process of becoming more like Jesus. So, we choose to put off our old self, become renewed in our minds and …
Ephesians 4:24 (ESV) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So we put off the old self, like an old set of clothes. And we put on the new self, like a new set of clothes. What is the new self? This verse says that it is in the likeness of God. The old self is corrupt through sinful desires. The new self is righteous and holy.
The new self is to be like Jesus. And how can that happen? It happens through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. As we yield to and are filled with the Spirit, we put on this new self. When the new self is on, we leave the old self behind. This is not a one-time operation, but a continual lifestyle. How can we have the strength to embrace our new lifestyle to be like Jesus? Through God’s grace.
There are many areas of our lives that these principles apply to. The last part of Ephesians 4 gives us instructions in many areas of life on how to put off the old self and put on the new self. For example, verse 25 tells us to put away falsehood and speak the truth. Verse 26 tells us to not let the sun go down on our anger. Anger has to do with relationship issues. So, rather than staying angry, we are to seek reconciliation and forgiveness rather than letting anger and bitterness fester.
Verse 30 tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit. When we keep on acting like the old self, it hurts the Holy Spirit. We please the Holy Spirit when we put on the new self. The new self is kind to others, forgiving and speaks the truth in love. Putting off the old self and putting on the new can only be done by God’s grace.
Some people think that they have to put on a new self in order to be saved. But you can never be good enough to be saved. Salvation comes, not through doing good things, but solely through faith by grace. When you are saved, God’s Spirit gives you the grace to put on that new self. Doing the good works that He has planned for you are the evidence that God has saved you by His grace. Embrace a new lifestyle.
Jesus came that you and I and many others could be transformed by God’s grace. God has made us as believers in Jesus, alive by His grace. It was not that we were good enough or special in anyway. He simply loved us so much that He offered His grace gift to us and to everyone. Those who believe in Jesus open that grace gift and are born again.
God’s grace then unites believers into the church, His holy temple. We are built together on the foundation of God’s Word and Jesus Christ. The church is the place where God’s Spirit dwells in a special way. God is calling us to reach many others with His grace. Those who are believers embrace a new lifestyle that affects their whole lives.
No longer do we live for ourselves, but we live for Jesus. We put off our old self and put on the new self, to become more and more like Jesus. Our good works don’t save us, but they are the evidence that we are saved. May God give us opportunities and the power to see many more transformed by His grace.