Let us pray: Dear Savior, by giving up Your life for us, You purchased us and saved us from a life without hope, joy, or peace. By rising from our grave, You renewed the gift of life given to our first parents, and cemented our oneness with The entire Trinity. Today, renew that knowledge in our hearts and bring us joy along with Your newness of life! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO LIVES!
TEXT: Ephesians 2: 4-10
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
ARE YOU REALLY ALIVE? That question might seem silly as you sit in the pew, breathing, heart beating, brain processing, and muscles slightly twitching. Pinch yourself. Do you feel it? Well, that proves you’re alive, right?
But, there is “being alive” and “being alive.” You see, humans are comprised and composed of both a body and a soul. They are joined together into one person, you. And for any human to reach their full potential; for any human to live life to its fullest; both need to function together and not apart. Sin causes our bodies to function apart from our souls. We may still walk, talk, laugh, and cry; but when sin gains the upper hand our souls die. And then we’re not really alive anymore. Lest you think I’m just spinning tales, recall Christ’s words to a group of Sadducees who had completely given themselves over to sin by negating any concept of the soul or eternal life in their lives. Christ calls them: “White-washed tombs.” That is, living tombs that look alive, but are actually dead, dead, dead. I try not to dwell much on that passage when I look at a crowd of people. I cannot read their hearts. But I sometimes wonder what God and His angels see when they gaze upon a massive crowd. Is that mass studded with headstones instead of just human beings?
There are only two ways of looking at life—from God’s perspective and from a human being’s perspective. Since humans are imperfect and limited by mere human sight, the whole panoply of the eternal, the real “Real” gets overlooked. But since God created us; since God made us eternal by putting a soul into us; and since God sees everything including whether or not we’ve been re-linked into His network of love and the fullness of life through the blood of Christ; well, His perspective is the only one that counts.
St. Paul started the church in Ephesus. Later on, he writes them this epistle, which we know as his letter to the Ephesians. Unlike most churches today, this one had no transfers, or fellow Christians from another locale who were looking for a place to worship. No, this church began with pagans, adults who knew nothing of God’s grace and first needed to be convinced that they even needed to be saved. Paul carefully preached God’s Law to them to convict them of their sin, of their need to be saved. And then he preached God’s Gospel to them to show them God’s huge, loving heart, to show them that salvation was a gift God Almighty had given to them in Christ. With that as background, listen to how the apostle begins this chapter in the words preceding our text: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air (hot air, very hot air in Satan’s case), the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
So, how are the dead made alive again? They cannot do it on their own; they’re dead. Again, dead humans cannot even see their own deadness to God and His meaning for life. Well, our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving God has overcome our deadness and our lack of total perspective. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
This sentence is not just amazing, it is reality shattering and eternally rich beyond compare! It is grace, God’s unconditional love for us Christ that resurrects our spiritual deadness, just like it will resurrect our lifeless bodies on the last day. It is God’s pure love that remakes and remolds us into the purpose for which He created humans.—Being eternally alive!
Now, Paul goes on to expand on this and apply even fuller meaning to what this new life is all about. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
When God implanted faith into our hearts through which forgiveness and eternal life come, this lifeline to God also transported us into His timeless reality. Think about what that consists of?—Total peace, total harmony, total love, total happiness. All of this has been won by Christ on the cross. And now, even right this moment, you and I possess it through faith in Jesus. And thus our purpose in the here and now is to live it, show it, share it, and drink it all in every day. Our purpose in life is: to serve as a beacon of goodness for future saints to look back on and for every saint to talk about and revel in once heaven becomes our final home.
Folks, this is heady stuff! And you need to remember it when the kids are sick in the middle of the night, when you have to scrape ice off your car and slide off to work, when the boss yells at you, and when you feel like withdrawing into a shell. During those times, earthly life isn’t much fun. But your new life in Christ transports you beyond all that because against the backdrop of eternity it’s no more than a grain of sand.
Then, just to make sure we always give credit where credit is due and don’t backslide into stroking our ego, Paul adds this comment: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Did you notice how carefully St. Paul hedged in God’s grace and the faith that grasps hold of it in order to prevent it from ever being diluted and corrupted by humans taking any credit for their salvation? God’s grace alone saves. It is made ours through faith. And faith is not something we create by our own willpower. It is not from us at all. No, it is a gift from God alone, not a work of man. And thus, no human can boast of their “aliveness” or take any credit for it.—Instead to God alone is the glory. And if all this comes from God, and it does, we can have total confidence in its reality. What’s the purpose behind all of this? To carry out the tasks that God has foreordained in eternity. To be His hands, His feet, His voice of goodness amid a world which so desperately needs it!
So, Are You Truly Alive? Well, you are now! What better reason to rejoice and embrace your newfound life? Amen