Radical Grace

We are into our second week of the church-wide study of Radical by David Platt. This week we have been considering the radical nature of grace. If you’ve been in church for any time you have heard the word used in relationship with salvation – “God’s saving grace.”  We might say it this way: God’s Riches AChrist’s Expense. Ephesians 2:1-10 is perhaps the best, condensed passage that describes our need, God’s work and our response to God’s grace:

2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10, HCSB)

Ray Pritchard suggests that the whole gospel message can be seen in just six words in this passage: You were— 2:1; But God— 2:4; Through faith—2:8. 1 [1]

“You were” dead in trespasses and sins. Because in Adam all have deviated from living according to what was revealed as the proper way of living and have failed to reach the mark of the true purpose of our lives, we all were (or still are) spiritually dead. A Scottish expositor related the event of a stranger in the county of Ayrshire dying and being buried in the church parish’s graveyard. It so greatly distressed the people of the parish that they posted a sign outside the cemetery that read:

“This graveyard is reserved exclusively for the dead who are living in this parish.” [2]

There are dead people walking all around you today (and you don’t have to have a “sixth sense” to see them.) Just as Adam was physically alive after he had sinned, yet spiritually dead, many around you are alive physically but dead spiritually. Note Paul says “you were.” Every individual must personally acknowledge his own sin and rebelliousness before God…admit that he is dead in his trespasses and sins. However, the “were” is good news for those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Our spiritual deadness is a thing of the past only because of the next phrase.

Thus, “But God” made us alive with Christ. Never has such a conjunction meant so much. When I looked up the conjunction “but,” I found this definition: a conjunction is a joiner, a word that connects parts of a sentence. There is no truer definition than this, in that God connected us with Him through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are joined with Him as together with Christ we have been raised and seated in the heavens! And why… that for all eternity we might be on display as evidence of the immeasurable riches of His grace shown through the kindness of Christ Jesus’ substitutionary atonement. Nothing we did or could do merited such favor…it is all because of His mercy, love and grace.

Finally, “Through faith”  speaks of our response. Saving faith has been explained as “trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.” [3]   It is not merely belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save.

Chuck Swindoll gives an excellent illustration to point out the difference between belief in facts and personal trust. Ann Seward, a resident of Portland, Oregon, was asked to co-star with high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who gained fame by crossing between the World Trade Center buildings. Petit was to walk on an eighty-foot wire between the Portland Center for the Performing Arts and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall with Seward on his back. High above the street, Seward placed her ninety-one pound life on the back of Petit and he successfully performed his high-wire act. Seward said that her performance had a lesson for those who watched from the street. “I think that one of the most beautiful things about the performance was that it took a lot of trust—absolute trust—to do that. I think in the world that is a very profound issue….Here it is—I’m putting my life in someone else’s hands and trusting the whole crowd not to do anything to distract him.” Swindoll gives this closing application:

Many of those who witnessed the performance “believed” that Petit could successfully complete the performance with someone on his back. But their belief was merely intellectual and did not feature the absolute trust and total commitment exhibited by Ann Seward. She expressed her belief by placing her very life in the hands of the artist. This is the kind of “belief” referred to in the words of Paul, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This belief is not merely head knowledge; it is the response of a heart to the person of Christ saying, “I trust Your redeeming work to deliver me from sin and carry me safely to heaven.” [4]

What about you? Are you able to say with certainty that you were, but God and as a result of His grace, through faith you have placed your very life in Him? God’s amazing grace has the ability to take the deadest of sinners and make them alive for all eternity!

YOUR RESPONSE:

  • Have you trusted in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to take the penalty you deserved to pay?
  • As you consider your daily sphere of life, who do you know who is currently walking in spiritual deadness? Pray that God will give you opportunities to share the Good News of salvation with them, so that through faith they can experience salvation from sin and the certainty of eternal life with God.

________________________________________________________

1  Pritchard, Ray from sermon “Amazing Grace”

2  Johnson, S. Lewis, from sermon “His Power, Our Salvation”

3  Grudem, W.A., Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. p. 710.

4  Swindoll, Charles, Zuck, Roy, Understanding Christian Theology, Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2003, p. 240-241.

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