How God Rescues Us

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(Ephesians 2)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 4

How God Rescues Us

(Ephesians 2)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: The first time I was completely living on my own was when I began law school in Atlanta, Georgia. During my undergraduate I lived at home. The church in Atlanta was in the middle of an exciting debate about righteousness by faith. One of my best recollections from that time was when a member of the church “got it” and expressed incredible joy over the fact that he could be confident in his salvation. He did not have to worry about whether he was “good enough” to be saved. It is now about fifty years later and the topic of righteousness by faith is an old one for me. Although old, it is a topic that never fails to bring joy and happiness over what our loving Lord has done for us. Let’s dive into our study of Ephesians and reacquaint ourselves with this great good news!

  1. Bad Shape, Actually Dead
    1. Read Ephesians 2:1-2. How would you like to read your obituary? (While it would be interesting, the problem is that you are dead!)
      1. What do these verses tell us about our being dead? (We were literally the walking dead. If nothing changed we would die eternally.)
      2. Paul tells us that the path for the dead is well marked. He says that we followed “the course of this world.” Why do you think Paul reminds us that the rest of the world was at one time our example and just like us?
      3. Who else were we following? And, is this still a problem in the world? (We were following Satan. And, yes, this is still a problem for the world.)
        1. Notice the two positives by which Satan is described. Paul calls him a “prince” and one who has “power.” What does that mean as a practical matter? (Read 1 John 5:19. Even after Jesus defeated Satan at the cross, John tells us that the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”)
    2. Look again at Ephesians 2:2. Staying with the issue of Satan’s power, Paul links it to “the power of the air.” What does he mean by that? (We used to joke that our wireless microphones had problems in church because Satan was the “prince of the power of the air.”)
    3. Read Ephesians 6:12. Here Paul talks about “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” What should we conclude about these references to Satan, the air, and heavenly places? (I think this means that fallen angels (including Satan) never lost their ability to fly. This is apparently where they live - in the air above us. This also says something about their ability to move quickly.)
    4. Read Luke 4:5-6. How does Satan say that he received his power? (He says it was “delivered” to him. If you read the context, Jesus never disputes Satan’s power claims even though Satan disputes Jesus being the Son of God.)
    5. Read 1 Timothy 6:14-15. Who is the king of this world? (Jesus. That must be a reason why Paul calls Satan a “prince.”)
      1. Why is it that Satan retains power on earth after the cross? (Read Luke 13:16 and 2 Corinthians 12:7. Satan and his fallen angels were defeated, not destroyed, at the cross. Without a doubt Satan remains a powerful and evil foe even though he was defeated.)
    6. Look again at Ephesians 2:2. Is Paul calling Satan a “spirit?” I thought only God could be present in all places at the same time. (There is absolutely no evidence in the Bible that Satan is a “spirit” who can afflict numerous people at the same time. Instead, “spirit” is used in the sense of an attitude. The disobedient have the same attitude as Satan.)
      1. Why have we spent so much time discussing the power of Satan? (We must never forget that he is a powerful enemy. One that cannot be defeated outside of our allegiance to God.)
    7. Read Ephesians 2:3. What is our nature? (To follow the “passions of our flesh,” and “the desires of the body and mind.”)
      1. I think most people are like me in that I can identify a couple of areas in my life that create sin problems. I have said, “pity the man who is tempted by everything.” My view has caused me to “work” on my sin areas thinking that if I could just rid myself of them God would be better pleased with me. Is Paul saying that my thinking is wrong? (It appears my thinking is wrong. Paul is talking about the global nature of our sinful passions and desires. We should not underestimate our natural sinfulness.)
      2. Notice that this text uses the phrase “once lived,” and Ephesians 2:2 uses the phrase “once walked.” What is reflected in these phrases?
  2. Made Alive
    1. Read Ephesians 2:4-5. How did we go from “dead in our trespasses” to “alive together with Christ?” (By the grace of God which is based on His “great love.”)
    2. Read Ephesians 2:6 and keep in mind Ephesians 2:5. Notice the joint action phrases: “alive together with Christ,” “raised us up with Him,” and “seated us with Him in the heavenly places.” What do you think this means? (Read Colossians 2:12-13. This is the basis for the belief that in baptism we participate in the death of Jesus, and the resurrection to eternal life with Jesus. The idea is that we participate with Jesus in death for our sins and then resurrection from that death. Ultimately, we will literally participate with Jesus in going to heaven.)
      1. Is there a sense in which we are, right now, “seated ... in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus?” Ephesians 2:6. (We are citizens of heaven now.)
      2. What, exactly, did it mean for Jesus to be seated at God’s right hand in heaven? (Read Ephesians 1:20-22. This is Jesus’ victory over sin. His exaltation.)
        1. Do we have that same victory now?
    3. Read Colossians 3:1-3. What does this tell us about what it means to be seated with Christ in heaven? (This suggests that we have obligations that go with our citizenship in heaven. They are to seek things that are above and set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.)
      1. What do you think this means as a practical, everyday matter?
    4. Read Ephesians 2:7. How long will grace apply to us? (For the coming ages.)
    5. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Do you feel superior to others who are not as obedient to God as you? Are there members of the church who do not adhere to your high standards? (Paul says that boasting, believing that we are superior to other believers, should not exist because we do nothing to earn our salvation. It is a gift which we receive. It is not “your own doing.”)
    6. Read Ephesians 2:10. What should be the goal of your life? To simply rest in your salvation knowing that your works have nothing to do with it? (Absolutely not. We were “created in Christ Jesus for good works.”)
      1. What does it mean that we should “walk in them?” What is “them?” In what should we be walking? (“Them” is good works. Walking reflects the direction, the movement of your life. You should be walking in good works. Good works should be the goal of your life.)
    7. Friend, what great good news! Jesus has done it all for you. He saved you from eternal death, He lived a perfect life on your behalf so that you are now an official citizen of heaven. And, He gave you a mission - live a life of good works. Will you accept what Jesus has done for you and accept His mission for your life? Why not make that decision right now?
  3. Next week: Horizontal Atonement: The Cross and the Church.