Sunday Review

7 Min Read

This morning we had the continued privilege to attend a church service with our friends at Grace Point Church. Pastor LuAnne Birkholz relayed a powerful message surrounding the passage from Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus. The title of today’s message was My Life: God’s Masterpiece, from their Back to the Basics teaching series.

As you might have surmised, back to the basics is just that. The church is revisiting what makes Christianity Christian and unique. What they believe, what they do not, what they have progressed from, and what this faith has decided to leave behind.  

And I love the title of pastor LuAnne’s sermon, My Life: God’s Masterpiece. Right there, at that exact moment, we believe the focus shifts from the Creator to the creation but in reality our worth, our intrinsic worth comes from Him. Though we are His masterpiece, in the sense that He laid out a plan to redeem us from our sins and set us apart for greater works in Christ Jesus we must understand where this idea comes from.

I want to relay the passage pastor LuAnne ministered from for context. She revisits Ephesians 2:1-10 and please, grant me your attention more so to the text in its entirety than my own words for these are words that transform lives and separate the Christian worldview from other worldviews. Polar opposites. Join me:

“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.” – Ephesians 2:1-10

Pastor LuAnne states that from this passage believers have an intimate relationship with their understanding of their own past, present, and future in Christ. 

Mind you, this grace isn’t attained by wealth, by favor, by prominence, by eminence, by excellence, by good works or merit, it isn’t attained by consistency or perfection, it is not attained by good thoughts and prayers, it is impossible to place oneself in any position worthy or deserving of this grace. This grace is God’s gift! 

Olivet Theory

I mean, come on, just look at the words Paul uses to describe our previous state, our PAST:

Dead, trespasses, following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit now at work in the sons of disobedience, lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying our the desires of the body and the mind, by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

She carries our attention to our current state, our PRESENT, praise God for this next step. She references Paul’s words from Ephesians, explaining to us how God acted in our benefit. I beg of you, reader, carefully see the choice of words Paul uses to describe God’s love for us:

But God, rich in mercy, great love, he loved us, we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace, saved, raised us up with him, seated us with him, heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 

I mean, COME ON!

Such a beautiful faith we have and the God who made this faith available to us. We were ruled by dark forces bent on our destruction, worthy of such destruction, and without hope outside of God’s grace. Mind you, this grace isn’t attained by wealth, by favor, by prominence, by eminence, by excellence, by good works or merit, it isn’t attained by consistency or perfection, it is not attained by good thoughts and prayers, it is impossible to place oneself in any position worthy or deserving of this grace. This grace is God’s gift! 

How precious a gift. How wonderful to know that our great God needn’t our help nor does He expect it. It’s His gift to us. 

And finally, pastor Luanne reminds us of our FUTURE on this world with God and beyond the grave with God. Now that we are saved by grace through faith, not by actions or works, we have a future beyond wrath and judgment. Look at Paul’s choice of words:

So that in the coming ages, immeasurable, riches of his grace, kindness toward us, by grace, saved, through faith, not your own doing, the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast, we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, good works, God prepared beforehand, walk in them. 

Past. Present. Future.

Those three words have a completly different meaning within the Christian worldview because they speak of a need for redemption, they speak of a price that was paid to set us free from bondage to sin, and now remains a future for those formers slaves to sin, turned slaves of righteousness for good works.

Slaves of righteousness!

Pastor LuAnne reminds the church of a story she read about in a Tim Keller book about a woman, who, having grown in a legalist environment (a church that believes you must earn your way into heaven by works, obedience to local leaders, rigid community standards, and unearthly expectations. There’s a transformation from without but inside people are still dead in their sins) later came to understand the liberating and saving gospel of Jesus Christ. She explains, in a conversation with pastor Keller, how she felt after reading and understanding Ephesians chapter two. 

Her response, now aware of the simplicity of the gospel, was awe and fear. She explains: 

“If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with ‘rights’ – I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace- then there’s nothing He cannot ask of me.”

By this, pastor LuAnne explains, people believe that now that they are saved there’s nothing more for them to do. All is done. Christ died. Christ rose from the grave. I’m forgiven. I’m free. And now I don’t have to do anything else with my life. 

In fact, now, as Paul reminds the church in Rome, we are slaves of Christ. We’re all emissaries set off to spread the news of this Great and Saving faith to the world. Not just that. We’re also called to serve, love, help, embolden, lift up, feed, visit, and be representatives of Jesus on earth until His return. 

Thank God for this marvelous gospel.

For by grace you have been saved through faith… for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

How beautiful. How undeserved a gift. How thankful we are to receive it. Now, we must share it, too. 

I’ll end today’s Sunday Review with one of the songs that were sung by the worship group at GPC. The lyrics are, well, gospel

O Praise The Name (Anástasis) by Hillsong Worship

Note: Anastasis – Ancient Greek ἀνάστασις (anástasis, “resurrection”).

  1. A recovery from a debilitating condition, especially irradiation of human tissue.
  2. Rebirth.
  3. (Christianity) Resurrection, especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I cast my mind to Calvary

Where Jesus bled and died for me.

I see His wounds, His hands, His feet.

My Savior on that cursed tree

His body bound and drenched in tears

They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.

The entrance sealed by heavy stone

Messiah still and all alone

Then on the third at break of dawn,

The Son of heaven rose again.

O trampled death where is your sting?

The angels roar for Christ the King

He shall return in robes of white,

The blazing Son shall pierce the night.

And I will rise among the saints,

My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face

O praise the name of the Lord our God

O praise His name forever more

For endless days we will sing

Your praise Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

Questions worth considering

  1. Have you ever read Ephesians 2:1-10? What were your thoughts?
  2. Do you believe sin is real? That it’s genetic? Generational?
  3. If you seek salvation from sin and judgment, will you rely on your own works or on God’s grace? 

RISE

Published by olivettheory

My name is Jarrel and I'm a lover of words, people, odd behaviors, theology, independent films, all-immersive RPGs, Christian metal, podcasts, and history. Not in that order. I'm a writer... in training. Let’s read and talk about things together. This is my Olivet Theory. Husband - Dad - Dude

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