Net Questions

1. Ephesians 2:5 says, "God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." What was your life like before you were saved?  (Galatians 5:16-21 provides the characteristics of a life without Christ).

2. "Why would a loving God send people to hell?" People often ask this question regarding God's wrath.  What is your answer to this question? (See Romans 1:18-26 and the discussion in sermon notes under "Receive Wrath")

3. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Share your story about how God saved you (When you first had faith in Jesus).

4. Choosing to Live Alive [In Christ] means that we will experience sanctification (becoming more like Christ) for the rest of our lives.  How have you become more like Jesus since you were saved?


Chosen to Live

by Andrew Ogea
Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
Date: 04/29/12

Outline

I. Introduction
   A. God has given us life
       1. Physical Life
       2. Spiritual Life
           a. Two Choices in response
 II. Choice 1: Live Dead [In Sin]
    A. Follow Satan
    B. Satisfy Flesh
    C. Receive Wrath
III. Chosen to Live [A Divine Intervention]
    A. God Provides Salvation
        1. Why? His Love and Mercy
        2. How? His Grace through Jesus
        3. Result? New Life in Christ
IV. Choice 2: Live Alive [In Christ]
    A. Accept Salvation
    B. Experience Sanctification



Introduction

Good morning!  My name is Andrew Ogea, and I am the Community Outreach Pastor here at Northshore.  Bro. Larry has given me the opportunity to preach here today, and I consider an honor and privilege to do so.  I hope that each of you had a great week.  But, if for whatever reason, you had a difficult week, I pray you feel the presence of God as we worship him with one another this morning.  He is to be praised both in season and out of season; whether the time is favorable or not.  To God be the glory, Amen?!  

We are right in the middle of the series Church Defined.  We are taking a journey through the book of Ephesians, which Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus roughly two thousand years ago.  In his letter, Paul help us to define what the church is, Christ as the head, with us, the individual believers, as his hands and feet.  Specifically, we are looking at a set of verses which describe how God has called and chosen us to be the church.  Over the past two weeks, our pastor, Larry, has done a phenomenal job in rightly dividing the first chapter of Ephesians and helping us understand that we are Chosen to Choose.  God has chosen us to be his people, but gives us the opportunity to choose him.  We also learned last week that we are Chosen to Know.  God has given us access to him, so that we can know him and be known by him.  If you missed those sermons, you would be very blessed to go to our website and listen to them on our podcast.  

Today we will learn from the Scriptures that we are Chosen to Live.    

God has blessed us with the gift of life, both physically and spiritually.
 Physically
 We have a heart pumping blood through our veins
 Our lungs take in oxygen
 We live, we move, we breathe.
 Physically, we had no choice whether we receive this gift or not.  God made it happen and we were the recipients of life.
 Spiritually
 If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. (1 Corinthians 15:44-45).

Today we are going to talk about two choices that we have to respond to God and his gift of life.  Spiritually, you have two choices in how you will live your life.  Before we read the text and talk about these choices, let’s pray and ask God to speak to our hearts today.

Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:1-10)
Live Dead [In Sin] (1-3)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (v. 1)

This verse implies that there was an old way of living that has been transformed.  The old has gone and a new way of living has begun for the church at Ephesus. Paul uses this before and after imagery in other writings as well to reference a past account of living dead.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (Col. 1:21)

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. (Col. 2:13)

Paul is reminding the Ephesian believer of the life that he or she lived before they experienced a transformation.  They were dead in their sin.  Scripture is clear that because of sin and evil, we may be living physically, but we are living dead spiritually.

What does it mean to live dead in sin?  The next verses answer this question.  
To live dead in sin is to follow Satan.

Follow Satan

2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Eph 2:2)

The ruler of the kingdom of the air is Satan. We all know who Satan is, right?  He the little red fellow that has horns and tail and carries a trident.  He is usually the one sits on your shoulder opposite from God, right?  Is this who Satan really is?  Well, what does Scripture say who Satan is?

Who is Satan?
Accuser of our brethren, Rev. 12:10
Adversary (1 Pet. 5:8)
Angel of the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:11)
The devil (Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:2, 6; Rev. 20:2)
Enemy (Matt. 13:39)
Evil spirit (1 Sam. 16:14)
Father of lies (John 8:44)
Gates of hell (Matt. 16:18)

Great red dragon (Rev. 12:3)
Liar (John 8:44)
Lying spirit (1 Kin. 22:22)
Murderer (John 8:44)
Old serpent (Rev. 12:9; 20:2)
Power of darkness (Col. 1:13)
Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)
Of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2)

Ruler of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12)
Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5)
The god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
Unclean spirit (Matt. 12:43)
Wicked one (Matt. 13:19, 38)

Scripture gives us the accurate description of Satan.

How does Satan work?

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Satan Steals -

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. (Mark 4:15)

Satan is always looking for ways to steal what will save you.  To steal what gives you life.  To steal what gives you joy.

Satan Kills-
9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).

By serving lies and stealing what will ultimately gives life, Satan kills people spiritually.

Satan Destroys

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

Just like a lion destroys his prey, Satan is looking for every opportunity to destroy you.
This is who Satan is and how he works, but to live dead in sin is to follow Satan.  How do we follow Satan?

You might be thinking that following Satan does not apply to your life based upon your own ideas of who he is.  A person who follows Satan is someone who goes to certain cult meetings, wears a specific type of clothing and I don’t dress like.  I’ve even heard they sacrifice animals in their meetings.  I’ve never done that.  I’m no Satan follower, right?  Folks, Satan is much more cunning and deceiving than that.  The next point that Paul makes about living dead in sin answers the question, “How do we follow Satan?”

Satisfy Flesh

3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. (Eph 2:3a)

Now, when you hear the words satisfy flesh, we are not talking about sitting in a hot tub or getting a back massage.  There is a much deeper and tragic meaning that.

Galatians 5:16-21 provides us with an in depth description of what it means to satisfy the flesh.

17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Did any of these look familiar?  Are any a reflection of your life?  This passage makes following Satan look like a reality of our lives and not just the person who is in a cult.  It says here that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who satisfy the flesh are living dead in sin.
Now before we get to some good news, we have the worst news of all to discuss.  The last aspect of what it means to live dead.  To live dead in sin is to receive God’s wrath.

Receive Wrath

Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Eph 2:3b)

The wrath of God is, for good reason, something we do not like to talk much about.  Now, we probably have all heard the sermon with the Fire and Brimstone and Turn or Burn terminology.  But, for the most part the wrath of God is something we do not even want to talk about because we are all deserving of it.  The Scripture says, “we were by nature (sinful nature) deserving of wrath.  What a grim truth to behold.  So, we need to take a look at what the wrath of God is before we can move on.  Now, please pay attention as I read this Scripture because many people get this topic wrong about God, and we simply cannot afford to.

Romans 1:18-26 says
“18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.

They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

On the topic of God’s wrath, I have been asked on numerous occasions, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?  
Let’s not be mistaken, God’s anger burns against immorality.  He hates sin, because his character is perfect.  So to sin is to go against his character, and it goes against what he originally intended for his creation.  But what about this question of sending people to hell?  The scripture repeatedly says  that the creation exchanged God for something other than God.  They exchanged his glory for idols, his truth for a lie, and obedience for sin.  

The scripture is clear that God doesn’t just flippantly send people to hell.  It says three times in this passage that God gave them over to their sinful desires. He is basically saying, “If that is what you really want, these things over me, then I will not stop you from choosing them.”  So, let’s be careful when we say, or respond to others who say, that God wants hell for people and happily sends people there, when in reality, the people who continue to live dead are choosing hell for themselves.  In God’s righteous wrath, he allows it to happen.
In his book, Erasing Hell, Francis Chan answers the questions this way,

“Love, in other words, is essentially wrapped up in the character of God.  Though God acts in ways that seem unloving by our standards, they are not unloving by His standards--and His standards are the ones that matter.  We must also understand the love of God in light of His other characteristics.  

God is love, but He is also holy and just, and He frequently pours out wrath toward sin.  In fact, God sometimes withholds certain attributes in order to exercise others.  For instance, God withholds his wrath to exercise mercy.  God withholds justice to pour out his grace.  Of course, God could choose to to withhold his wrath toward everyone.  But the Bible doesn’t support this.” (Francis Chan, Erasing Hell).

This situation makes me think about a common story of an addict.  Whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, or whatever it may be, the addict usually has a few instances of use followed by a long period of abuse, which causes chaos in their life and the lives of those who love them.  If the addicts are blessed to have a family and friends who love them, you see an incredible display of love  where the family intervenes.  

During the intervention, the family and friends share how much they love the addict and how much it hurts to see them destroying their life. If only you would turn from your ways, you will not experience the kind of destruction that is coming your way.  You are destroying your life, your family, your relationships.  Please turn from your what you are doing.  We are pleading with you.  Let us help you.  We have treatment center lined up for you.  Please go!  It may be a few months, but it’s worth spending that time to save your life, right?  We can’t force you to change though.  It has to be your choice.
 
In the same way, God looks upon our situation of hopelessly living dead in sin, and he comes to us.  He sees the pain, the struggle, the road of destruction ahead, and he says, “my heart hurts for you.  I don’t desire for you to live like this.  I created you for something better.  I know you cannot overcome sin on your own and so I have done everything necessary help you.  But I cannot force you to accept my help.  What kind of relationship would that be?  Me forcing love upon you, and making you love me back.  That is no relationship at all.  

Here in our text today, in the middle of the struggle of living dead in sin, we find out exactly what God has done to provide help for us.  In the next two verses, God shares with us that are Chosen to Live.  He has performed a divine intervention and has done everything necessary for us to escape a life of death.   What did he do?  God provided us with salvation.

We Are Chosen to Live [A Divine Intervention]

God Provides Salvation (4-5a)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Eph. 2:4-5)

God provides us with salvation.  With Rescue.  With deliverance from sin.  Why?  Because of his love and mercy (v. 4)

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. (Titus 3:4-5a)

“The darkness of our hopelessness and desperate need serves only as a background to make the love and grace of God shine more brightly.” (Ralph Martin).

God’s love and mercy shine immeasurably greater than our sin. That’s why he did it, because he loves us.

How does he provide salvation?  By Grace Through Jesus

Despite being dead in our transgressions, He makes us alive with Christ.

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5b-7)

And what is the result of this salvation? We have a new life.  We are born again into new life with Jesus.

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (v. 6-7
 
This sounds completely different from the God who the world miffed at because they believe that he unfairly sends people to hell.  That is incredibly far from the truth, when the maker of the universe, of you and me, has shown incomparable grace and kindness to us by sending his son Jesus to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

13 For he [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves [Jesus], 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14).

Our God has chosen to give us spiritual life.  We have two options in the way we respond to his gift of life.  As you have heard, we have the choice to live dead in our sin.  Or, we can respond to amazing act of love by living alive with Christ! How do we live alive we Christ?

Live Alive [With Christ] (8-10)

Accept Salvation (8-9)

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast (v. 8-9).

“You have been saved” means that salvation is complete.  Salvation has been accomplished for you and me through what Jesus did on the cross.  But, it also says that it only is applied in our lives through faith.  To be saved we must accept the salvation God offers with our belief in Christ Jesus.  

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

You call on God because he is the only one who can save you.  The verse says it is not done by works, but it is a gift from.  If someone gives you a gift, you have two options: you can either accept it or reject it.  This Scripture is saying that have faith (or believe in Christ) is to accept his gift.  The opposite must also be true, that to reject the gift is to not believe in Christ.  No other work can be done to save yourself.  You either accept his gift of salvation and live alive in Christ or reject it and live dead in sin.
If you choose or have chosen to accept Christ, you expect that something amazing will happen in your life.  You will experience sanctification for the rest of your life.

Experience Sancification

Sanctification means to become more holy.  We become more and more like our God whom we follow. Every single day we become more and more like Jesus.

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

You are a masterpiece of God, saved and set apart to accomplish his purposes on earth.  As we are growing in our sanctification as believers, we do good works that he has prepared for us in this world in response to the amazing work that God has done in our hearts.
So the challenge is simple today.  We are chosen to live.  The question is which kind of life to you want to live: dead in sin or alive in Christ.  If you want to live alive in Christ, don’t let today pass you by without responding to God by accepting his salvation.  

We are about to enter a time of response.  You can come and speak with one of the pastors at the front of the stage and we would love to pray with you as you accept Christ and receive salvation.
I recently heard a quote from a pastor friend of mine.  He said, “You can only say 2 things in life: I wish I had, or I'm Glad I did. I wish had followed Christ or I’m glad I did follow Christ.  Don't be the person saying the First.”