By Grace Through Faith Made Alive in Christ Jesus / Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Season Of Lent / Sunday March 11th 2018 - / Ephesians 2:1-10
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday March 11th 2018: Season of Lent / Ephesians 2:1–10 "By Grace Through Faith Made Alive in Christ Jesus"
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— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Have you ever tried to wake a teenager from sleep … let’s say to call them to get ready to go to school? Or have you ever called someone to the supper table? Have you ever had to call someone for help? Even though they may be slow to action, even though they may ignore you, or even say no to your call generally speaking they all have the capacity to come when you call. Have you ever called out to your lawnmower to cut your lawn and bag the clippings and put them in the composter or in the garbage? Have you ever called into the kitchen to your sink and faucet to wash your dirty dishes after supper? Have you ever called out for help to your bed or book case or bench for them to come and lift you up off the floor if you’d fallen down? You may have had sharp words for the chair or bed leg after stubbing your toe but you don’t regularly call out to inanimate objects for help because they cannot hear you and they cannot act on their own. Maybe one day they will have all your household objects motorized and ready to do your every command, but that day is not this day. Your washing machine may wash clothing, it might even be on a timer, it likely has little sensors in it to help with its work but it will not desire to wash your clothing it won’t out of love for you pop down to the store and pick up more laundry detergent to keep your clothing clean. Your washing machine has no life in it, no life of its own, no ability to act, it simply sits lifeless until someone comes with a load of laundry to put in it, until someone pushes its buttons.
In our Epistle reading St. Paul is speaking to the early Christians of Ephesus about another kind of lifelessness: Spiritual lifelessness. This affects every person at some point in their physical life. Not simply lifelessness but as Paul puts it, death, he says, “And you were dead in [your] trespasses and sins,” essentially disobedient atheists towards God, worse than that actually for an atheist has spiritual thoughts and feelings be they hostile or indifferent. The truly spiritually dead are incapable of any action, any thought, any movement toward or away from anything. “Therefore in spiritual things man is worse than a stick or stone that can neither desire something nor do it.” In fact, “we were unable to do anything about the fact that we were born into this world, and as fallen people, we can do nothing in our own new creation, in the changing of our hearts of stone, in our own being born again. As little as a person who is bodily dead can contribute to [their] becoming a live bodily, so little can an unconverted spiritually dead person contribute to his becoming alive spiritually. A person cannot convert [themselves] or contribute to [their conversion] in the least. [A Man or Woman] is awakened alone by God’s power and grace, enlightened, brought to faith, and converted,” therefore as St. Paul writes, “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.” This sounds a lot like our Gospel reading today where we hear the comforting and familiar words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” At the beginning of the Gospel of John we hear how it is that “in [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus would later speak of Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” that apart from Him there is no way to the Father, no way to be part of the kingdom of God, no way to enter heaven, without this Truth there is no life with the Father, no life in His kingdom, no life along the road as Jesus who is Way, Truth and Life says “no one comes to the Father but by Me.” This is the Jesus that the Father has given for this purpose.
And because we cannot do it for ourselves, because we cannot know this Truth, walk this Way, live this Life, God does it for us; make it possible in His Son Jesus. St. Paul says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Dead men may have monuments built to boast of their worldly achievements, these days you may even be able to find audio recordings or film footage of great men of the last century speaking of their greatness, but it would only be a recording. Physically dead men and women can say nothing of their works. The spiritually dead will have nothing to say of their works on The Last Day because they will have no words, and the spiritually alive person will know that they only have Life because of grace and as such they won’t be able to take no credit for their works, for all their works will be the result of Jesus’ action, Jesus’ work. This is why Paul says, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God [Himself] prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” What did we sing before the sermon? “Forbid, it Lord, that I should boast Save in the death of Christ my God; All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”
The spiritual and religious life of a Christian is not an easy one even when we have been made alive in Christ Jesus. For the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, the prince of the power of the air, is also gunning for us, in fact he hates us most, for he wants us to return to the land of the spiritually dead, he does not want us to live lives of repentance, lives turned towards God, lives in service of our neighbour, the devil and his evil forces want us to be turned in on ourselves, to be selfish and dead in our trespasses not just for today but for all eternity, to go down into the abyss with them into eternal darkness, “into hell ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” The prince of the power of the air fights to tempt and pull you away from your baptism, away from the promises you received there by grace; the blood of Christ shed for you at the cross on Good Friday. This spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience will gang up against you along with the rest of your enemies, along with Sin and Death and the World and even with the passions of your own flesh to tempt you to abandon your faith and the gift of grace, to entice you to carry out the desires of the body and the mind, a path that will lead to sorrow and heartbreak, sadness and destruction, the death of family, the divorce of marriage, the ruin of friendships and personal pain and deadness.
In the hard days remember that God is rich in mercy; remember that His love is great, that His forgiveness is for you, that He is the one who makes the dead to be the living. His joy is resurrection and Life. He gives you the ears to hear these words; He gives you the heart to act on them, the life to live them out in Christ Jesus. He knows what is before you and He knows what is behind you. For what is behind He has forgiveness, for every step in which you will stumble and fall as you walk ahead the blood of Jesus is already there with His forgiveness. Fear not; take heart, no matter how dark the future may look from where you sit today in that darkness by the grace of God you have the Light and Life of Christ Jesus. Jesus is the Life and Light of men. “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience however dreadful he might be, his furry is limited, his days are numbered, his defeat at the cross is an eternal defeat, and his darkness is doomed in the light and life Christ Jesus.
This may all sound epic but it happens all around you. In your life you were rescued from spiritual death when the waters of baptism poured over your head and the command and Word of God poured over your eardrums. You receive the very Light and Life, who is Christ Jesus your Lord, in every communion wafer and sip of wine at His table, when you hear spoken to you the words He first spoke to His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed before His Crucifixion, and on days like these when you’ve heard the call of the Holy Spirit and you’ve listened to that call and as a new creation in Christ Jesus you’ve gotten up out of bed and been dragged here to this place in the hands of the angles to sit on a hard pew and sing the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, to listen to the proclamation of His excellence, His eternal brilliance, on days such as these you can be counted as one of His people. For “Once [when you were spiritual dead] you were not a people, but now [because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, He has made us alive together with Christ and because of this] you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” This great goodness is not only for today, it is for every day, every day of your Life in Christ Jesus, in the book of Lamentations we hear how, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;” His faithfulness is great, greater than ours and the writer of Lamentations says, “The LORD is my portion,” … “therefore I will hope in Him.” You have this hope because He's the one who saves through Grace alone. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 God Grant It, Daily Devotions from C.F.W. Walther, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Pg. 256
 John 3:16
 John 1:4
 John 14:7
 Mark 9:47–48
 John 1:5
 1 Peter 2:9–10
 Lamentations 3:22–24