The Gift of Grace
Topic: Grace Scripture: Ephesians 2:1–2:10
John Newton was a scoundrel. He was a well-known slave trader whose life was so marked by sin that he shocked even fellow slave traders. During a raging storm in 1748 he clung to the helm of his ship, took stock of his life, and surrendered his life to Christ. Eventually he repented of his despicable profession and devoted himself to become a minister, never forgetting the amazing grace he had received. While many do not recognize his name, they know his famous song, “Amazing Grace.” The message is true, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” God’s grace changes men like John Newton, and it continues to change lives today.
Some aspects of the message in Ephesians 2:1-10 may be hard to swallow, but it is a message of amazing grace. Paul states that nonChristians are not merely “spiritually lost,” but instead, clearly exclaims, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” The gospel is not merely need “better directions” to help nonChristians get back on track, it is a proclamation of God’s rescue and resurrection of sinners who were dead in their sin. Again, in v.3 he writes, “by nature [we were] children of wrath.” This is terrible news because sin always brings death, and we have all sinned. But the gospel is good news. The gospel is a message of hope and new life. Because of God’s great love we “have been made alive in Christ Jesus” (v.5).
The apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear that the Christian’s salvation is entirely the work of God. Since dead men can’t resurrect themselves, God reached down and rescued us. As he says, “For 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 can boast” (v.8-9). There are zero reasons for the Christian to be arrogant; everything he or she has is a gift of grace. Joy flows from the heart who fully acknowledges the severity from which he was saved. A small view of sin leads to small joy, but recognizing that we were “dead in sin” leads us to great rejoicing in God’s abundant grace.
Paychecks are earned and birthday presents are expected. But God’s gift of grace was truly shocking and unexpected. A savior who died on the cross looked like a failure until he rose from the grave. But his resurrection broke the power of sin and put death to death. No longer are we “dead in our sins and trespasses.” Instead, because of the amazing grace of God, we have been made alive by faith in Jesus Christ.
- What difference does it make to consider the gospel a message of resurrection for the spiritually dead rather than “better directions” for the spiritually lost?
- What would it look like for your life to be a display of God’s love, grace, mercy, and kindness because of your faith in the gospel?
- Do you find it easy to take God’s amazing grace for granted?
- Do you live with the realization that God has gone before you and prepared good works for you to do (v.10), or do you live like the results of your life and ministry depend on your ability to perform?