Some sermons ‘stick,’ they really stick because of an outline, an illustration, a Spirit-guided encounter with the text being preached. I have preached on Ephesians 2 myself, but years ago some pastor preached on verses 1-10 and his outline was easily recalled. Sam Phillips, a senior saint, who left an impact on many of ‘younger set’ at High Park Baptist Church shared that outline with me on more than one occasion.
Though homiletically it might not be the most exegetical outline, it certainly captures in ‘layman’s terms’ the grand work of salvation. Here it is…
What I am by nature, What I am by grace,
What I’ll be in glory, and How the change took place!
I’ve pondered this before and ponder it afresh today as the work of salvation certainly evokes a sense of thankfulness, not only this weekend (in Canada) but every day.
I. By nature – A SINNER – Living…but actually dead-dead in transgressions and sins. I recall Erwin Lutzer taking his preaching class to a cemetery early on in the semester as a reminder to these leaders that those who hear them will only come to life as God awakens them. Paul, in writing to the entire church family, declares they were ‘dead in transgressions and sins, in which they used to live when they followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.’
This is not a ‘rare’ condition, every person born into this world is born a sinner. Now this is not the most flattering assessment, but to every achieve health we must face up to how ‘ill’ we really are.
II. By grace – ALIVE WITH CHRIST – The turning point in the passage centres on the word, ‘but.’ BUT, because of his great love for us, God….. Well did Charles Wesley write, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!” God made the dead alive. God rescued us! I recall years ago, swimming in my older brother’s pool. I was a lousy swimmer at the time, to say the least. When I was ‘rescued’ from that pool, I didn’t take credit for anything except my foolishness in swimming alone. If you are ‘saved’ today, who saved you? God did! He demonstrated His own, rich, merciful love to you and me by sending Jesus Christ to take our place upon the cross. That’s grace–undeserved, unearned favour with God.
III. In glory – GOD’s EXHIBIT – In the coming ages God will show the incomparable riches of his grace. Recently, friends of ours returned from a trip to England. Along with other purposes, they saw the ‘CROWN JEWELS,’ which have incredible value and are guarded carefully as part of the possession of the monarchy of the United Kingdom. They only had a limited time to gaze upon such amazing jewels, but the exhibit will long be remembered.
God’s plan is that in eternity, His rich grace will be exhibited for all those who dwell with Him to gaze upon. His kindness to us in Christ Jesus will be evidenced as individuals who have been transformed are placed on display. Testimonies given now are simply brief summaries of all that God has done and is doing in our lives. It will take eternity to unpack the attributes of an infinite God.
IV. How? Grace, Grace, Grace… Amazing Grace…nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
‘Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe…..’ Now that’s a hymn I can sing with fresh gratitude this weekend.