The Cross (02) - The Effect of the Cross (Ephesians 2)

Date: 3/11/2018
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Cross
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Ephesians 2:1–10 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in 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 as 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 so that we would walk in them.

The Necessity of the Cross (vss 1-3) - The previous chapter of Ephesians ends with an anthem of praise to Jesus, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (1:22f). This leads to verses that express the Ephesians’ state before Christ was offered to them in the gospel in familiar expressions like, “dead in your trespasses and sins,” walking according to the “according to the prince of the power of the air,” “sons of disobedience,” “lusts of our flesh,” and “children of wrath.” Each of these descriptions (and more, Rom. 1) demonstrate the necessity of God’s radical intervention through the cross of Christ. Without Christ, humanity is rightly characterized as evil, bringing self-inflicted misery, and death in a sin-drenched world of our own making.

The Mercy of the Cross (vss 4-9) - The human condition of sin and misery is described with a strong contrast. “But God” . . . God intervened and sent Jesus because of His great mercy and His “great love with which he loved us” (v 4). He raised miserable sinners into life in Himself, for there is no life outside of the life of the Triune God. It is by grace. Note how emphatic this is stated with Paul, twice (vss 5 and 8). Even more the mercy of the cross does not stop with mere redemption from sin-slavery or even resurrection life, rather, He “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (v 6). We participate in the cross, the Resurrection and in the Ascension! Paul expresses the goal of this redemption which is cosmic in nature, “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace” (v 7).  This is cumulative and progressive, thus in the Church “age” (now), as well as after the glory of the Resurrection. Perhaps the clearest and most repeated statement of evangelical religion is found in the next verses, Eph. 2:8-9. It is by grace, through faith and not as a result of works.

The Effect of the Cross (v 10) - NEVERTHELESS, grace and faith do not produce inaction, idleness, or disobedience. Accepting grace and faith as a gift call forth from believers actions. We are united with Christ and in His resurrected life, even seated with Him (positionally); therefore, we are His new creation poiema (workmanship) ordained to walk in good works. The term “walk” (peripateo) suggests a direction not perfection. Remember the “P” in “TULIP.” Persevere in good works; don’t let a sinful day make you call it quits. Paul would say later in the book, “walk as children of Light” (5:8). Practice walking in light and then keep practicing. It should be perfectly clear from this passage in the Bible that “good works” are not the cause, ground, foundation, substructure, reason, etc. of anyone’s salvation (Titus 3:5). Certainly this passage could not be clearer: salvation is “not as a result of works” (v 9).In the first century context and in the setting of this very chapter, “works” clearly have reference to Jewish “works” or identity markers (note, the whole chapter is parsing Jew/Gentile/Church issues (Rom. 2:13-15, 3:20; Gal. 2:16, 5:6). This is not merely ceremonial, it is more like a “Torah Worldview” which includes identity markers (circumcision) as well as obediences which might seem moral when abstracted from the context, but in fact are worldview-dependent. The effect of the cross is “that he might create in himself one new humanity from the two [Jew/Gentile]” (v 15,<

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more