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How We Are Saved

Matt Carter    /    Apr 13, 2014

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Matt Carter teaches on how we are saved using Ephesians 1:8-10

Series: Raised to Life

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forgiveness

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Sermon Transcript

We’re continuing our verse-by-verse look at the Book of Ephesians where we’ve specifically been talking about our salvation in Jesus. Last week, Halim talked about what it is we receive, what God gave us, at our salvation.

 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace… Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

 

The “what” of our salvation was redemption and forgiveness. We received redemption through His blood; there was a guilty sentence on our life due to our sin, but through His blood Jesus paid the penalty. We’ve been pardoned through the person of Jesus. We’ve also received forgiveness of our trespasses; through the blood of Jesus our sins, the ones we’ve already committed and the ones we will commit, are forgiven. Now, through Jesus, the Lord looks at us and we are completely blameless and righteous in His sight.

 

Today, we’ll talk about the “how” of our salvation. How did God accomplish salvation in us, giving us redemption and forgiveness?

 

If you’re a Christ follower today, believing and trusting in the gospel, there was a moment in your life when you believed, a moment when you came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul shows us what was happening in that moment.

 

God Is Rich In Grace

 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

 

The words according to mean “because of”. You’re saved because of God being rich in grace.

 

Paul doesn’t say you’ve received forgiveness of your sins and redemption through His blood because you asked for it, or prayed for it, or because you repented and He gave it to you. All those things are true, but he says we received forgiveness and redemption because of the richness of His grace.

 

Grace is one of those words we hear all the time, but we’re not quite sure what it means.

 

I have a massive wallet people make fun of me for all the time. I have it to hold my badge. Yes, I have a badge. I’m a chaplain of the Austin Independent School District Police Department. They gave me the badge when I became chaplain and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It also comes in handy when you get pulled over for speeding, which happened to me last week.

 

I was driving home from the Hill Country on a big four-lane highway. I thought I was alone, but I wasn’t. A cop pulled me over and said, “You were going 82mph in a 75mph area, did you know that?” I said no and apologized. He then asked for my license and proof of insurance. I pulled out my wallet strategically showing the badge while doing so and held it out to him. We talked a little about my role as chaplain and then he let me go with only a warning and told me to slow down.

 

Did that guy give me grace? No. What he actually gave me was mercy. Mercy is when you do not receive something that you deserve. I deserved a ticket for speeding, but he didn’t give it to me. God is rich in mercy. He’s rich in not giving us things we deserve. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we deserve hell and eternal punishment. But God doesn’t give it to us through Jesus.

 

If mercy is not getting something we deserve, then what is grace?

 

Grace is when we do receive something that we do not deserve. If the cop told me there was a gas station a ways up the road and told me he wanted to fill up my tank with his own money. Not only that, but will also give me an escort all the way back to Austin so I don’t get pulled over again. That would be grace, him giving me something I do not deserve.

 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

 

Paul is saying we received our salvation because our God is rich in giving us things we do not deserve.

 

Some of you hear that and wonder what it means we don’t deserve our salvation. To understand why our salvation is something we didn’t deserve, we have to understand the condition of our hearts before God was rich in grace and saved us. The Bible describes the conditions of our hearts before God saved us by four things.

 

1.     Deadness.

 

Our hearts were stone cold dead.

 

2.     Lostness.

 

I’ve only been lost once, on a huge ranch while deer hunting. A fog came in and I was lost for hours. I had no idea where I was. They had to come find me. That’s the picture of your heart before God comes and saves you.

 

3.     Hard.

 

Our hearts were hard and calloused.

 

4.     Enemies of God.

 

The Bible never says we’re ambivalent toward God, on a middle road with Him. It always says that we’re either for God, belonging to Him or against God as an enemy. Before Christ comes into the picture, we are enemies of God.

 

How does a spiritually dead, lost, hard hearted enemy of God all of a sudden decide they love Jesus, want Him to be their Savior and follow Him for the rest of their lives?

 

This happens because our God is rich in grace, in giving us things we do not deserve. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7 ESV).

 

The Moment You Believed

 

In the next two verses, Paul gets very explicit in what happened in the very moment you believed.

 

which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will… Ephesians 1:8-9a (ESV)

 

The word known means “revealed”. He revealed to us the mystery of His will. Every time you see the word mystery in the Bible it’s never describing something that’s confusing, but rather something that was hidden and couldn’t be seen, but now can be. God made known, He revealed to us, the mystery of His will. He did it; He showed us. We find out that the mystery is Jesus and the Gospel. He’s talking about the truth that because of our sin our relationship with God was shattered and we needed reconciliation with God. Instead of somehow making us get there on our own, God sent Jesus. Jesus, the Messiah, came and lived a perfect life, the life we could never live and then died in our place the death we should have died. So if we trust in Him, we can be reconciled to God and have eternal life. That is the Gospel! It is the Lord that revealed that to you.

 

Jesus clearly says this in the story of Peter’s confession. Jesus came up to His disciples and asked, “Who are people saying that I am?” They responded saying some people thought He was John the Baptist, or Elijah or another prophet. Jesus looked at them and asked, “Well who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “Jesus, you are the Christ and the Son of the Living God.” He got it right.

 

17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:17 (ESV)

 

Jesus told Peter he was blessed for getting the right answer, but it wasn’t some person that revealed it to him. Nor did he figure it out on his own. But His Father in heaven did. God is doing the revealing. Peter was able to say Jesus was the Christ, because the Father opened his heart and gave him the ability to do so.

 

We also see it in the story of the Parable of the Sower. A guy came and scattered all these seeds. The seeds responded and grew differently in different types of soils. Jesus told this story in the presence of the Scribes and Pharisees who hated Him. The disciples were there also. Nobody had a clue what it meant. Jesus took the disciples aside and privately told them what it meant. They asked Him why He didn’t just explain it plainly to everyone. His response was really interesting.

 

11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. Matthew 13:11 (ESV)

 

Jesus did the revealing to His disciples only.

 

We can also see this in the story of doubting Thomas. I always had it in my mind that Thomas believed because He put his hands in Jesus’ hands and side where He was pierced. But if you read it carefully, you learn that’s not why he believed.

 

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. John 20:24 (ESV)

This was after the resurrection. Peter, John, James and all the disciples had seen Jesus and were freaking out as they realized He was exactly who He said He was. But Thomas wasn’t there. So the disciples were telling him they had seen the Lord.

 

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25 (ESV)

 

Until Thomas had done these things, he refused to believe. But watch how Jesus responded. It’s a beautiful picture of how Jesus comes after us in our disbelief.

 

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas… John 20:26-27a (ESV)

 

Jesus walked in the door and gave peace to everyone, then called Thomas out and said He needed to talk to him.

 

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” John 20:27 (ESV)

 

That is a command in the Greek. He wasn’t holding His hands out asking Thomas to please believe. He looked at Thomas, held out His hands and before Thomas had a chance to reach out, Jesus commanded him, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” This is the same language used in Genesis when God spoke into the darkness where there was no light and commanded there to be light.

 

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28 (ESV)

 

Who was doing the pursuing? Jesus. Who was doing the revealing? Jesus.

 

That is grace.

 

That is how we got saved too.

 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ. Ephesians 1:7-9 (ESV)

 

If you’re a believer and have trusted in Jesus for your salvation, this is true not because you’re an intellect, or a better decision maker, or because you’re better or more holy than people who aren’t saved. You are a believer because God is rich in giving you stuff you don’t deserve. When you were dead in your trespasses and sins, He made known to you the mystery of His will. Which is why in Paul says:

 

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)

 

Application

 

The first group of people I want to talk to are those who doubt their salvation. You believe, but you struggle with your salvation. I’m in this group.

 

The longer you walk with Jesus the more you realize your sinfulness. The more you get a picture of His holiness and how amazing He is, and how much you don’t measure up. Over the years, as I’ve seen this to be true. Instead of trusting more into His grace and love, I have a tendency to let it crumble me up into despair. I think of how I’m a sinner and messing up in all these ways and it makes me question how I can be saved. I look at the slowness of my sanctification and the amazingness of God and I don’t understand how God could love me.

 

What I’ve learned through these scriptures is to stop and ask myself, “Do I believe the gospel? Do I believe Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the Living God? Am I trusting in the cross and Jesus’ resurrection to save me? Do I love Jesus and want to follow Him the rest of my life?” I can answer yes. Today’s passage teaches me that I did not produce this belief in me. God did. Scripture promises that if God started that in you, then He is going to finish that faith in you.

 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

 

If you are believer in the Gospel and trusting in Jesus, you are saved. You have forgiveness of your trespasses and redemption through His blood. You are confident your salvation is not in your ability to endure, but rather in God’s ability and promises that if He started it in you, He’ll be the one to finish it in you.

 

The second group I want to talk to are the people who are not believers, those of you who have never trusted in Jesus. I’m not going to convince you of the existence of God. I think we just learned I couldn’t do that. Flesh and blood cannot reveal that to you. I do want to tell you my story though.

 

I was a freshman at Texas A&M and running like crazy from God. I didn’t darken the doors of a church my freshman year. I was a cliché, the guy that was trying everything in the world to find what would make me happy, but I was miserable. I was dating a girl from SFA and she invited me to go on a ski trip from a church in Amarillo over Christmas break. So I went. I didn’t know anybody. The second day there my girlfriend broke up with me. So I’m at the top of a mountain, I don’t know anybody, my girlfriend is skiing with another dude and I was sipping hot chocolate watching my life fall apart. This guy named Brett Storsiff came up to me. He started loving on me and asking me about my story. He never really left my side the rest of the week. At the end of the trip as we arrived home Brett invited me to attend a bible study with him. I remember thinking I wasn’t going to. But sure enough Brett came and picked me up and took me. We walked in the door, I sat down in a pew and we began singing,

 

“Lord, You are more precious than silver;

Lord, You are more costly than gold;

Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds;

And nothing I desire compares with You.”

 

I remember thinking in that moment that this is what I had been looking for my whole life. I believed. I told the Lord I would follow Him the rest of my life. As I look back, I wasn’t looking for God. God was looking for me. I didn’t find my way back to God. God found me. Because He is rich in mercy, He forgave my sins and made me His son.

 

If you’re here and not a believer, know that God is looking for you. Why in the world do you think you’re here today? Would you trust in Him as your Lord and Savoir? As you believe, know that He did that in you.