By Luke Johnson | May 26, 2015
Have you ever built something before? Put something together that was a lot of work? Created or invented something?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10
What popped out to you? Does anything sound weird / exciting / like a huge mouthful?
Look at verse 1: How does Paul describe people who don’t belong to Jesus? What word does he use? (“dead”)
He doesn’t say they’re “incomplete” or “unfulfilled”. Why do you think Paul would use such a strong word (“dead”) to describe people who don’t follow Jesus?
According to Paul, what do ‘dead’ people do? (Look at vv. 2-3)
According to Paul, what do ‘dead’ people deserve? (Look at the end of v. 3)
Why do you think ‘dead’ people would fall under God’s wrath?
Look at verse 2 again: Do you notice any ‘battle lines’ that Paul points out? (Anything that shows whose side someone is on?)
- “you followed the ways of this world” - instead of following the ways God teaches
- “you followed . . . the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (satan) - instead of following the ruler of the kingdom of heaven (Jesus)
- these people are “disobedient” - to whom? to God!
So, Paul is saying that “following the ways of this world” is about a lot more than just developing bad habits, or needing to learn to be nicer to people. By choosing to obey “the cravings of our flesh” and “its desires and thoughts”, we’re directly disobeying God, which causes us to be his enemies. (That’s a scary place to be since God is the king of the universe and not just some moody old guy under a bridge.)
What God did
Look at vv. 4-7: Paul tells us about the crazy thing God did to bring us back to himself. Paul describes this in a lot of ways in vv. 4-7. List as many as you can find, and try to put them in your own words.
(E.g., acted out of love and mercy, v. 4; made us alive with Christ (resurrection), v. 5; saved us by grace, v. 5; raised us with Christ, v. 7; seated us with him in heaven, v. 7; will show us even more grace in ages to come, v. 7; expressed kindness to us, v. 7)
Look at vv. 8-9: Paul says, “it is by grace you have been saved” -- we hear this a lot in church. How would you say this in your own words? What is “grace” and how does God use it to save you?
Think back to v. 3: What do ‘dead’ people deserve? (God’s wrath) So why is God giving grace instead?
Why do you think Paul points out that this grace is “the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast”?
How might our relationship with God change if we were able to ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ God’s grace?
Look at v. 10: Paul is saying a lot of things in this one verse. Try to summarize what Paul says here.
This is Paul saying, “The people who follow Jesus are at the centre of God’s new creation.” God is working relentlessly in the world, waking people up to the fact that he is alive, and making himself King over everything. Paul is saying that, as people who follow Jesus, we share God’s work. By belonging to Jesus, his mission is our mission. God is out to make everything new, and he wants us to join him.
Do you think Paul is talking about general things that all Christians are supposed to do, or things that God has for you personally to do?
What kinds of ‘good works’ do you think God has prepared for you to do?
Paul says, literally, “For we are God-made, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he has prepared ahead of time, in order that we might live into them.”
By following Jesus, we enter a weird time warp where the age to come is already here. By raising from the dead, Jesus makes real resurrection life available to anyone who comes to him. This isn’t about being nice or trying to be a better person -- it’s about joining Jesus in his death so that we can join him in his life as well -- it’s an invitation to live in a bigger world where Jesus is King. Jesus is working to bring creation (and everyone in it) to God. Following Jesus means his mission is your mission.