Lesson 2: Why Is Grace Necessary? How Do I Receive Grace?
Read Ephesians 2:1-9
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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– 3 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. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
1. Can you identify the change that occurs between verses 3 and 4? How does it lead to Paul’s conclusion that no one can boast?
Scripture says that humanity is spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins. Before Christ we walked according to Satan and this world, the pleasures and focus of self and the lusts of our flesh. We were willfully rebellious and deliberately disobedient and driven by the uncontrollable, insatiable demands of our sinful appetites.
But in verse 4, Scripture says that despite the sinfulness of humanity, we can become spiritually alive through Christ. This is the Gospel! The Gospel is that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again (1 Cor. 15:3-4). God made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ’s death and resurrection can make us alive spiritually through faith. This is not of ourselves – it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Salvation by grace through faith means that we have no human ability to pull off our own salvation. We can’t measure up to God’s perfect standards. Our hope is not in our ability to somehow outwit the scales of God. Do we think that somehow our good works will outweigh our sins? Our good acts are not going to outweigh our sins. If that were true, Jesus would have never invaded history. At the core of our hearts, we desperately needed Christ to come and rescue us, and He did.
2. What are some typical ways people attempt to minimize their sin and maximize their goodness in order to be saved?
In Luke 18 Jesus tells an amazing story about two worshippers, 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Ed Underwood will further explain the contrast between the religious person and the tax collector.
3. What do you think distinguishes you as acceptable to God? Are you like or not like the tax-collector that proclaims, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”?
4. Have you received the gift of salvation by grace through faith? Why or why not? What questions do you have about God’s love for you?