Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Faith, Hope & Love
Ephesians 1:15-2:10 (ESV)
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Belief, in Christianity, is greatly clarified when we grasp how “through faith” we have a faith that:
2:1 “following the course of this world…”
2:9 “so that no one may boast”
2:4,5 “but God…” “even when…”
1:17-18 “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation… having the eyes of your heart enlightened…”
1:19 “his power toward us who believe”
2:8 “it is the gift of God” 2:5 “together with Christ”
2:10 “good works… that we should walk in them”
2:9 “not a result of works”
2:10 “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works”
Questions for Reflection
Do you feel fully in control of your own life? What are some outside influences that are at work to shape and guide your desires and decisions?
What things do you want to boast in? What do you respect, admire, or aspire to, and how do you believe these things posture you better in the world? How can these betray you?
What vulnerabilities do you feel in social settings? What strengths do you try to rely on? Are you held back by fears, feelings of inadequacy, weakness? How does this show what you hope in, or what you really trust in?
What is appealing about grace? Is there anything about grace that is hard for you?
How do we avoid the pitfalls of focusing on faith itself? What happens when we look at faith, rather than looking with faith? How does faith take hold of the God of grace, and hold onto the God of grace?
What about life with Christ brings rest? What does God show us about his future plans and purposes that helps us today when we remember and believe what God has shown us? How do you trust God as a regular way of being?
What is a healthy and proper way to understand the role of good works in the Christian life? What is the distinction between “not by works” and “created for good works”?
How can grace motivate you to be excited about doing good? What role does faith play in this? What safeguard does avoiding boasting provide?
Prayer of Confession
Our God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, the one who gives the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation: we confess we have lacked the faith to follow Christ. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. In foolishly seeking rest outside of you, we have developed a restlessness that we cannot overcome. Forgive our misguided efforts to prove ourselves by our works. Forgive us for our attempts to save ourselves. Forgive us for focusing on our own faith, rather than focusing our faith on you. Show us the immeasurable power of your greatness towards us. We look to you, who are rich in mercy, because you give generously to the undeserving. Thank you for grace. Amen.