Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Is God’s Grace Still Amazing?

Ephesians 2:1-10

Is God’s grace still amazing? Hearing songs like Amazing Grace, Wonderful Grace of Jesus, and Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord, and knowing what they meant to their authors, I have wondered if we have lost that sense of wonder that these authors of the past had?

Paul communicates this same sense of wonder to the Ephesians. Yet the history of their church demonstrates that a sense of wonder at God’s grace was something they lacked. They were a doctrinally sound church, they seem to be doers of the word and not hearers only, and they had an understanding of God’s grace and yet they seem to have lacked an appreciation for God’s grace.

Consider the evaluation Christ gives this church in the book of Revelation:

NKJ Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘ These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. 6 “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ‘

The fault Christ finds with the Ephesians was that they had lost their first love; their original FIRE was gone. I believe the same problem is a problem for many churches in America today, even more than it was a problem for Ephesus. The Wonderful, Amazing, Marvelous Grace of God is something we take too much for granted! It is too much old hat for us! Even compared to other doctrines maybe it is not as exciting, because we think we know it.

Now there is knowledge of the grace of God, that is a sort of head knowledge, and then there is a knowledge of the grace of God that reaches the very depths of our being. Consider Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, which he shares with them toward the end of chapter one:
NKJ Ephesians 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

What is Paul praying for when he prays that the eyes of the Ephesians would be enlightened? He is not praying for their salvation.  He acknowledges they are already saved.  He is not praying for mere head knowledge, they seem already to have that and more! I believe he is praying for a deeper, more powerful understanding on their behalf!  He wants them to understand and FEEL the exceeding greatness of God’s power! He wants them to appreciate what God has done for them, and what He can, and will do for them.

Do we not need the same today? Have we also lost our first love, our first zeal? How do we get it back? How do we regain, or find for the first time, a proper appreciation for the grace, which God has extended to us?

1st, By considering seriously the pit (ugly situation) which God has delivered us from!

We see this in Ephesians 2:1-3

NKJ Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

What were we when God found us?

1.We were dead spiritually!

Dead as a door nail. What does this mean?
A. We were helpless!
B. We were hopeless!
C. We were useless to God!
D. We had no power in ourselves to change this situation or even to respond to God’s calling.

2. We walked in this course!

Making us spiritual zombies! What is a Zombie?

1 usually zombi a : the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body
b : a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated
2 a : a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead; especially : AUTOMATON b : a person markedly strange in appearance or behavior
3 : a mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice zombie like -b*-*l*k adjective

3.Course described: It is a worldly course referring to this world in rebellion against God

According to the Prince of the power of the air, Satan! Referring to an ethereal kind of power Satan has in this world, spiritual forces that we cannot see, but that control and rule things in this world.

NKJ Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Who now works in the sons of disobedience;  Sons of Adam who transgress the law of God, us, controlled by:

* Lust of the flesh

* Desires of the flesh

Children of wrath, even as others
The way we lived:
According to the lust of our flesh!
According to the desires of the flesh!

These verses fly in the face of false notions of free will!  Now I do not deny that we have a will, an ability to chose. Yet our will is NOT FREE!  It is NOT FREE FROM OUR SIN NATURE!  These verses tell us that we walked and lived according to our sin nature and were dead to God! One way to explain this is with a wolf.  Set before a wolf, a large bowl of leafy vegetables, and a large bowl of fresh meat, which will the wolf go for? The MEAT, every TIME!  Why? Because of the wolf’s nature, it is a carnivore.  Set before unsaved human beings a way of godly righteousness and a way of sinfulness, which way will we choose?  The way of sinfulness, it is our NATURE!

NKJ Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.

NKJ Romans 3:10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

Destination of this course, it’s end – children of wrath, even as others
Wrath = orgy
Unbridled passion wild sex
Unbridled anger, a full blast of WRATH, God will not hold back in the punishment of sinners!

NKJ Revelation 14:10 “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

2nd, How do we improve our appreciation of God’s grace toward us?

By considering the manner in which God delivered (and is delivering us) us from our ugly state and situation!

NKJ Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Now when Christ came into our sinful world, did He come with us READY to MEET HIM, GREET Him, and give Him great respect as God and as creator of our world and as our Savior? Did cheer Him, laud Him, and honor Him? Did we hail Him as King? Did we celebrate His arrival?

NKJ John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

NKJ Isaiah 52:13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;

So how did we treat Him? We spat in His face! Railed Him and nailed Him to a cross, where He was hung up to die a criminal’s death!

What can we liken our salvation to?

Think of this:
A young man foolishly gets himself trapped in enemy territory. The enemy tortures him, drugs him and messes with his brain so he forgets who he is and no longer discerns right from wrong.   A group of soldiers goes in to rescue this man, all die but one in the effort.  Yet this one is not greeted by a prisoner happy to see him, but the crazed prisoner spits at His face, mocks him, rails at him and when He lovingly tries to pull him out of his dungeon the prisoner grabs an unseen machete and wounds his helper’s arm. Still the soldier is undaunted in his loving efforts and carries the deluded foolish man out of his prison, through a dangerous jungle, past many ruthless foes, and to his own glorious home where He works to nurse him to health so he might be a helper in a mission to save someone else!
Christ did this for us, but so much more! Yes, He took the venom of man’s rejection when He died on the cross. Yet, He also took upon Him the righteous, furious, WRATH of God that we deserved for our sin! He made Himself a Lightning Rod for the great thunder bolt of furious wrath that we DESERVED!
Even now as He has saved us, we still sin against Him and fight against Him as He works to save us more thoroughly from our sin, Scripture even says as much!

NKJ Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

NKJ Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

This salvation as Paul says in Ephesians is NOT of us! It is due to His grace toward us from start to finish!

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

John Newton 1725-1807 (stanza 6 Anon)

3rd, this leads to our last point, (How do we improve our appreciation for and wonder at the wonderful Grace God has shown us)? By realizing the wonderful place and state God’s grace has brought us and is bringing us!

Made us ALIVE.

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

God awaked us from the dreadful zombie state we were in were alive we see, we understand, we respond to God –

God loved us – NKJ John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

NKJ Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Made us sit in Heavenly places. I dare not even try to describe these!

NKJ 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

In Christ Jesus, God treats us as Christ would / should be treated, as Sons, He got what we deserved on the cross, by grace we share in His rewards.

We are His workmanship well-crafted beautiful poem or work of art!
Created for good works, which He has prepared.
All beautiful, good things that Christians do, are due to Him!

Pastor Arnold Brevick