Ephesians 2:8-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 19, 2006



After twenty years of shaving himself every morning, a man in a small Southern town decided he had enough. He told his wife that he intended to let the local barber shave him each day. He put on his hat and coat and went to the barber shop, which was owned by the pastor of the town’s Baptist Church. The barber’s wife, Grace, was working that day, so she performed the task. Grace shaved him and sprayed him with lilac water, and said, “That will be $20.” The man thought the price was a bit high, but he paid the bill and went to work. The next morning the man looked in the mirror, and his face was as smooth as it had been when he left the barber shop the day before. Not bad, he thought. At least I don’t need to get a shave every day. The next morning, the man’s face was still smooth. Two weeks later, the man was still unable to find any trace of whiskers on his face. It was more than he could take, so he returned to the barber shop. “I thought $20 was high for a shave”, he told the barber’s wife, “but you must have done a great job. It’s been two weeks and my whiskers still haven’t started growing back.” The expression on her face didn’t even change, expecting his comment. She responded, “You were shaved by Grace. Once shaved, always shaved.”

:8 For by grace you have been saved

been savedsozo – to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction; perfect participle

What does this mean?  What is salvation?

In the Old Testament the word “salvation” sometimes refers to the idea of being delivered from your enemies.  It referred to victory in battle.
But in the New Testament it refers to something much bigger than a single battle.  It has eternal consequences.
The Bible warns us that we have a problem.  We are sinners.  All of us.
(Rom 3:23 NKJV)  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Why is this a problem if we’re all sinners?  Because sin has consequences.  God is holy and just.  That means that He always does the right thing and that He will bring justice to everyone.  Justice has to do with making things right.  It involves judgment and punishment.  We like the idea of judgment as long as it’s being applied to someone else that we feel deserves it.  I’m sure there will be a sigh of relief in the universe when Adolf Hitler stands before God and is punished for his wickedness.  There is a penalty for sin:
(Rom 6:23 NKJV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The problem in our minds isn’t the judgment that Hitler deserves, it’s with the punishment that we deserve.  And the truth is that we all deserve punishment.  We’ve all broken the laws of God.  All of us have at times shaken our fists at God in rebellion.
And the punishment is death.  The punishment is hell.  The punishment is forever.
And that’s what we need saving from.  We aren’t saved from our enemies, we’re saved from our own just punishment.  We are saved from an eternity in hell and allowed to spend eternity in heaven instead.


The Meaning of Grace

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favor
The basic idea of “grace” is that of a gift.  An undeserved gift.
This verse is saying that God gave us some sort of a gift that brought about our salvation.  What was that gift?
God gave us His Son.
(John 3:16 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
How could God giving us His Son bring salvation?  Salvation came when Jesus gave His life for us on the cross.
(Heb 2:9 NKJV)  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
He died in our place.  When we were the ones who deserved death and hell, Jesus died for us.
He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.
We are saved by God’s gift.  We are saved by grace.


The Plan of Grace

Grace is not a New Testament concept.  It’s woven throughout the entire Bible.
Two of the most significant people in the Old Testament were Noah and Moses.  And we read of both of these men:
(Gen 6:8 NKJV)  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
(Exo 33:17 NKJV)  So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."
Before Jesus was born, we have an interesting story:
There was an old priest named Zecharias who had no children with his wife Elizabeth.  One day while he was doing his ministry in the Temple, an angel appeared to him.
(Luke 1:13 NKJV)  But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Zacharias had a hard time believing this, and as a result the angel said that because of his unbelief, he wouldn’t be able to speak until these things came to pass.
(Luke 1:57-64 NKJV)  Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. {58} When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. {59} So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. {60} His mother answered and said, "No; he shall be called John." {61} But they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name." {62} So they made signs to his father; what he would have him called. {63} And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." So they all marveled. {64} Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
This baby would grow up to be “John the Baptist”, the fellow that got the nation ready for their Messiah, the one who came to point to Jesus.
Why the big deal over the name of a baby?  Zecharias isn’t a bad name.  It means “remembered of Yahweh”.
But the name John is a little more applicable.  It takes a little work to understand the origin of our English name “John”.  It actually comes from a Hebrew name.

John is a shortened form of the Hebrew name “Yeho-hanan”.  The first part, “Yeho” is a form of God’s name, Yahweh.  The second part, “hanan”, is the Hebrew word for … “grace”.  The name means “Yahweh is gracious”.

In contrast, the name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew word “Joshua”, or, “Yashua”, which means “Yahweh is salvation”.
Can you understand why the angel was so particular about John’s name?

Before salvation comes, there is grace.  We could not have been saved until Jesus demonstrated God’s grace by dying on the cross in our place.


The Life of Grace

Grace isn’t the starting point.  It’s the whole point.
I remember as a teenager coming across a group that taught that when you receive Jesus, that all your past sins are forgiven.  And now you have to live the rest of your life perfectly.

They taught grace for the past, but works for the present.

But God’s desire is that we receive grace through our whole lives.  God’s desire is that we continue to learn to receive from Him all that He has to give to us.
(Rom 8:32 NKJV)  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Paul knew that God’s grace didn’t stop at salvation.
(1 Cor 15:10 NKJV)  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

God’s grace worked through Paul as he worked for Jesus.

Paul found God’s grace to be the thing that took him through difficult times:
(2 Cor 12:9 NKJV)  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We too can find God’s grace in difficult times through prayer.
(Heb 4:15-16 NKJV)  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Want more grace?  James says,
(James 4:6 NKJV)  But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
In the early church, they found that as they received more and more of all that God had for them, that it changed the way they lived.
(Acts 4:31-37 NKJV)  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. {32} Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. {33} And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. {34} Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, {35} and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. {36} And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, {37} having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Great grace was on them.  They continued to receive God’s grace.  They also became gracious, learning to be givers, meeting the needs of those around them.

:8 through faith,

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, it means to “trust” something.

This is our part of the transaction.  God has done everything for our salvation and all we have to do is to trust Him.

Faith isn’t the thing that saves us.  Grace saves us.  Jesus’ death on the cross saves us.  But faith is the thing that causes the grace to work for us.

Faith is the hypodermic that injects the medicine of grace into our sick soul.

What are you going to do with your sin?

Some people will do nothing except to enjoy their sin.  They could care less about the outcome.  They’re like the party on the Titanic, unaware that soon their ship will sink.

Other people are very aware of their sin and they try all sorts of things to get rid of it.  Some people seek out counselors to deal with their guilt.  Others are unconsciously punishing themselves for their sins.  Others feverishly try to do good things in order to atone for their sins.  But none of it will work.

God’s way is for you to trust Him.

God’s way is for you to trust that Jesus has paid for your sins and that in God’s sight you are forgiven.

The Bible says,

(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The blessing of forgiveness comes when we learn to trust that He will forgive us, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what He’s done.  He will forgive us because Jesus died in our place.

:8  and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Does this refer to salvation or faith? 

I’ve often thought (and probably even taught this) that this was referring to our faith.  The idea would be that even the faith we have to trust Jesus doesn’t come from ourselves.  Even that is given to us.

Not quite.  The word “that” is a neuter gender.  There are different forms of this word, masculine, feminine, and neuter.  If it were a feminine form of the word, then it would to “faith”, which is also a feminine word.  But because it is “neuter”, it is referring to the act of being saved.

Our salvation does not come from us, it comes from God.  We do not save ourselves, God saves us.

:9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.


Making It Rich!

A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy fingered his worsted wool vest and said, “Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents. The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 pm for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I’d accumulated a fortune of $1.37. Then, my wife’s father died and left us two million dollars.”

When we are in heaven, there won’t be a single person who will say, “Look what I’ve done!”

Instead, we will be saying, “Look what God has done!”

It’s important that we keep the spotlight where it belongs.  Too often we want to jump into the spotlight and get all the attention.

Sometimes when a person is sharing their testimony, their story of how they became a Christian, you hear all about the dramatic changes that THEY had made in their life.  You are told about all the things that THEY’VE done as a Christian.  And the attention is completely on them.
But in truth, the things that have happened to us as Christians have always been all about Jesus.

:10 For we are His workmanship

Salvation isn’t based on our works.  It’s based on God’s works.  And we’re a part of God’s works.

workmanshippoiema – that which has been made; a work.

This is the word that comes into English as “poem”.

The word comes from the verb “to make” (poieo) and the suffix “ma”, which means “a work of”.  It’s a bit redundant, but it means “a work of making”.

But we’re not a work of our own making, we’re a work of God’s making.
God is the one doing the work.  And salvation isn’t the only work.  God is continually at work in us, molding us, shaping us, guiding us.
(Phil 2:13 NKJV)  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Moses was born a beautiful baby.  He would be the one that would set Israel free from the bondage of slavery in Egypt.  For forty years he grew up in Pharaoh’s palace with the best the world could offer.  He was really something.  Until he murdered a man and ran for his life.  Then he spent another forty years tending sheep in the wilderness, becoming a “nobody”.  At last he was usable to God, and God called him from a burning bush.  God’s work in him made him ready for the next forty years of his life, where Israel was delivered and he shepherded an entire nation.

:10 created in Christ Jesus for good works,

We aren’t saved by our works (verse 9).  But after we’re saved we find that God has “works” for us to do.  Good works.

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honorable

:10  which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


God’s plans

There’s a phrase from the old booklet “The Four Spiritual Laws” that says, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”.
This is one of the verses that speak of the plans that God has for your life.
“Works prepared beforehand” speaks of design.  It speaks of purpose.
God has things for you to do, things that He has designed specifically for you.
If you take an engineer to his finished product and ask him why he has two screws placed here and a hole over there, he’ll tell you exactly why.  There’s a purpose.  There’s design.  There’s a reason.
Sometimes God’s plans will involve the difficult things in our life.
Now engineers sometimes make mistakes.  But with God being the engineer, I don’t think we need to worry about mistakes in His design.
God has a reason for you.  God has a reason for all that’s happened to you.  He doesn’t make mistakes.
You may wonder why you’ve gone through this difficulty, or that tragedy.  But what if it wasn’t a mistake?
Joseph found himself sold as a slave to Egypt, then sent unjustly to prison.  Could any life seem more of a mistake?  Yet God had him in just the right place at just the right time, and Joseph ended up basically saving the world, including his own family, the Israelites.
Sometimes God’s plans will involve the special things that you’ve been blessed with.
Esther was part of the Jewish people living in a distant land during the Babylonian captivity.  She was told by her cousin to keep quiet about her nationality because it could be dangerous.  She entered into a beauty contest, won first prize, and wound up as the Queen of Persia.  Yet as events in history unfolded, a horrible plot was uncovered, a plot to wipe out the Jews.  Her cousin Mordecai came to her to remind her of God’s purposes for her life:

(Est 4:13-14 NKJV)  And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. {14} "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

God has plans for you:
(Jer 29:11 NASB)  'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.