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,
in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace
in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
- Paul wrote these words to a troubled church. It was a great church, birthed in fire, a fire that burned books of magic spells and potions associated with the culture of idolatry in Ephesus. If someone like Paul came to your town and stirred a lot of people to receive Christ, what would be the major thing citizens would abandon or throw away as they came to faith? To ask the same question a different way, what do you believe most people in your town cry for when they feel hopeless?
- Do you know people who fixate on angels more than they fixate on Jesus? How did it happen? Why do they have so much more faith in angels than in Jesus?
- In the town where you live, do most people claim to go to church on Sunday or not? What do people in your town do if they are not in church on Sunday? Do these things fill up their lives and push Christ out? Or was Christ ever in their hearts?
- Do you observe any hint that people in your town who do not serve Christ believe that they are sinful? If people do not think they are sinful, or as Paul said it, “dead in their trespasses,” what would make them think they need Jesus?
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. Ephesians 2:8-9
- Do you personally know anyone who believes that he does not need God, or any god? What does that person say is the foundation of his personal strength? Does that person consider that there is anything in his life which he would die for? In different words, is there anything he would die rather than give up?
- Are you saved? What were you saved from? How did it happen that you became saved?
We are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- You may have heard someone say, “I hope this one counts for good stuff, because last time I think I made God mad.” What would you tell someone who said such a thing?
- Since we now know that good works don’t buy heaven, what is the point of doing good works at all?
- Imagine you had hired someone to be your right hand while you worked as a teacher and personal mentor to a dozen people over the course of a weekend retreat. You were scheduled for thirty minutes to eat some food at 8PM on Saturday evening after teaching and consulting nonstop since noon. If your assistant inexplicably brought you a beef taco and chips after you had specifically ordered chicken, would you feel entitled to complain, or would it be proper to eat it without any unpleasantness? Would it be a good work to refuse to abuse your assistant, or would it be leadership to teach him what a big error he had made? What exactly is a good work?