Posted by: lepages | November 8, 2010

God’s grace to us!

My preach from a couple of weeks ago – the first of a series of three at Rutland Road Church. You can listen to all three on the church website.

It was a preach where I felt really moved as I reflected on God’s grace to us as I prepared for the preach – on the day, I didn’t feel as though I’d delivered it as well as I’d have liked…. strangely enough though, someone who wasn’t present and listened to it online later reckoned it was the best he’d heard me preach… which all goes to show, at the end of the day, it’s all down to the Holy Spirit and his ministering through us. I trust as you either read through my notes or listen to the preach that God will bless you with the abundance of his grace.

God’s grace to us Ephesians 1:1-14 & 2:1-10

Introduction
Are you ready to be overwhelmed??!!
Today we’re going to be thinking about God’s grace to us.
Grace is a phenomenal word and a phenomenal act!
I thought I’d check out the word ‘grace’ online, and at ‘Dictionary.com’ I was amazed to find not the usual 2, 3 or maybe 4 definitions for the word, but 12!! These are just some of them with the text reduced a bit!

‘Grace‘ noun
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
3. favour or good will.
4. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.

Further down the list comes 4 subheadings under the theme of:-
Theology .
a. the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God.
b. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
c. a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
d. Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God’s favour or one of the elect.

Grace is all of those things and more and our scripture readings this morning have an overwhelming description of God’s grace to us, of his ‘freely given, unmerited favour and love.’ of his Spirit’s working in our hearts to bring us to new birth, to strengthen and restore us, of the Christian graces which transform lives for the better, and of the wonderful state of grace, of what it means to be in God’s favour, of what it means to be one of the chosen.

I think Paul must have been pretty much overwhelmed by God’s grace as he wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus, because the analogies to God’s grace come tumbling out again and again, but he doesn’t just talk about the abundance of God’s grace being poured out, but also of how it is poured out – as a gift, and more than that he then talks of why this incredibly abundant gift of grace is poured out, poured out for a purpose, so we’re going to try and touch the surface of our readings this morning by thinking about God’s grace to us in 3 ways, firstly of how it is:-

poured out in abundance

Secondly of how it is:-

poured out as a gift

And thirdly, of how God’s grace is:-

poured out with a purpose

So let’s begin with:-
poured out in abundance

There’s an old song ‘New York, New York, so good they named it twice’.
The whole theme of grace here is like that. Everything seems to be repeated at least twice, or its repeated and expanded on and a fresh dimension is brought to it.
Sometimes its great to receive something more than once.
It’s my birthday on Tuesday and there’s a small gift I’m really hoping I receive, in fact I’d be really delighted if two people were to give me it!
When it comes down to grace – it’s extended to us twofold! (In the event I didn’t receive the small gift even once, but I did receive some great other gifts, and some money so I was able to buy some new running socks!)

If you’ve not got your Bible open at our passages from Ephesians, please turn to it now – Ephesians 1 p1173 in the church Bibles.

Paul begins his letter in the statutory way of the time. Instead of signing off with your name, you started with it, so that the recipient knew who they were hearing from – I guess we’ve headed back that way today – we receive a phone call on the mobile and if it’s someone we know their name is likely to come up on the screen before we answer, or we receive an email and we see who it’s from before we open it.

He greets the people he’s writing to and says:-
“To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”

God’s grace doesn’t come to you just once, it’s sent to you twice – from your Father in heaven, and from your Saviour, the Lord Jesus.

‘Grace, grace, so good you sent it twice’

This grace is poured out abundantly – it’s not just enough to get us by – it’s an abundant grace, it’s an abundant blessing.

In v3, Paul, having just referred to God’s grace, bursts forth into praise – and if anyone feels they want to burst forth into praise at any point this morning, you just go for it – and he says, v3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ “

God’s grace doesn’t just bring to us ‘a spiritual blessing’ – it brings to us ‘every spiritual blessing’.

God doesn’t want us to have an impoverished spiritual life, he doesn’t want us to have an ‘I can get by’ spiritual life. He wants to pour out every spiritual blessing in Christ in our lives.

I went into Queens Park Lower school, as a Governor the other day, and it was a young lad’s birthday and he had a big box of Celebration’s chocolates and he was going round offering a chocolate to everyone. Another Governor said thank you very much to him, wished him a happy birthday and jokingly said, ‘shall I take the whole box?’ – to which the boy said, ‘No, just one!’

God doesn’t do that. He wants to give you the whole box, every spiritual blessing in Christ.
In fact, he doesn’t only want to be generous with his grace, he wants to lavish it upon our lives.

READ v7,8
“In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

In fact, in the light of that, the illustration of the box of Celebration’s is inadequate – a box of Celebration’s would be generous for one, but it wouldn’t be lavish – perhaps more lavish would be the giving of a Thornton’s chocolate shop in it’s entirety!

And why does he want to lavish his grace on our lives?
Why does he want to bring us to every spiritual blessing in Christ?

Because of his “great love for us” 2:4

God’s grace is all about his love.
“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son” – the most translated sentence in history says.

God loves you and he loves me in spite of who we are.

READ 2:4,5
“But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

This is the remarkable thing. Our spiritual life is all about God. It’s not about us. It’s not about you and it’s not about me.

Until God makes us alive through Christ, we are spiritually dead, dead in our sin, in the wrong stuff in our lives that messes us up.
But God in his grace – the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God – as the online dictionary puts it, because of his great love for us, reaches out to us and makes us alive with Christ.

That is abundant grace, poured out on, lavished on, people who don’t deserve it, measured out to the fullness of the full, every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Why?
Because God not only has great love for you and for me, but v4, he is “rich in mercy.”
The idea of a stingy God, who out of his miserly kindness gives occasional blessings to people, is not the God of the Bible, he’s not the God I know.

The God I know is full of love and mercy, loves to abundantly pour out his grace on people’s lives, loves to lavish them with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He looks at you now and he says ‘I want to lavish my grace on your life.’

How does he do it?
Does he say come here and get it?
It’s there on the side if you want it.

No, he doesn’t
He pours it out as a gift.

poured out as a gift

Go back to chapter 1.
We’re going to pick up some of the things that this wonderful gift of grace which God wants to lavish on our lives brings as it is poured out on our lives.

READ v5
“In love he (God) predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”

God’s gift to you is to make you his son. To adopt you as his own.
In the Greek it is always as ‘a son’, not a daughter. Some modern translations where it has ‘sons’ in Greek will put ‘sons and daughters’ in translation, to fit with our world of equality. The New Living Translation puts v5 like this:-
“His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.”

Why does it say ‘sons’?
Because at the time when the New Testament was written it was only sons who received an inheritance. And as a son of God, adopted into his family, the Bible teaches us that we are joint heirs with Christ, we stand to receive every spiritual blessing in Christ!

This incredible gift of God’s grace is v6 “freely given” – and that’s not just because God is a generous God, it’s in accordance with his pleasure and his will v5.

God’s generous giving of every spiritual blessing in Christ as a gift brings him great pleasure and its in his will and purpose.

What does this gift bring to us?

In v7 it tells us it brings us redemption – it buys us back into relationship with God, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his blood being shed to deal with the problem of our sin, the wrong stuff in our lives; it brings us forgiveness of sins.

When you are hurt by somebody, sometimes the hardest thing is to forgive them, but its what God chooses to do to people who have lived their lives in rebellion to him – its what he does to you and what he does to me.

God’s gift of grace brings us redemption, it brings us forgiveness and it brings us the gift of his Holy Spirit v13

READ v13
“..you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…”

God doesn’t just give a gift of a change of status, he gives us the gift of his presence in our lives by his Holy Spirit coming to live in our lives – and he is there as a deposit, as our guarantee of the inheritance we shall receive as co-heirs with Christ.

Get your head round this! Ch2:6
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus….”
That’s some status to be raised to. You, as a Christian believer are seated with Christ in glory – you don’t need to be ‘saintified’ – if you are a Christian you are a saint!

But, there’s a gift that comes before all of these gifts as part of God’s grace to you – it’s the gift of faith ch2:8

READ 2:8
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

Sometimes I hear people say ‘I wish I could have enough faith for this or that’ – as if they might be able to conjure up a greater level of faith and belief – we can’t do that – faith itself is a gift of God “…you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

It’s God who gives faith to people. It’s not what we’ve achieved, its what he’s given to us as a gift. ‘I wish I had your faith’ people sometimes say, as if we’ve somehow got enough faith in and of ourselves to believe, but we haven’t – without the gift of God’s grace we are still dead in our transgressions and sins (ch2:1)

This gift of grace is
poured out with a purpose

Time has gone so I’m just going to read a list of some of the purposes that God pours out his gift of grace in our lives for.

1:4 This gift of grace is poured out that we might be holy and blameless in his sight – he chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to transform our lives so that he might
v9 reveal to us his will and his good pleasure
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.”

And he poured out his grace not just to manifest his grace to us in our individual lives, but to reunite the whole of creation with himself v9,10
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

He has chosen to pour out his grace to bring about his eternal plan v11
to bring Christ praise v12
to be his possession v14
to make us alive 2:5
to reveal the incomparable riches of his grace 2:7 (we will be an exhibition of his grace!)
and finally, to do good works 2:10

Conclusion
God’s grace poured out on our lives transforms our lives, it reveals his will and purpose to bring a people back to himself, to bring creation back to himself. The result of this work of grace in our lives is that we want to bring him praise, we want to live for him, we want to be his agents of blessing others. Lets praise this great God for his abundant grace.

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  1. […] week when we thought about God’s grace from Ephesians 1&2 then have a listen online or have a read of my blog notes – you will be blessed in reflecting on God’s […]


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