You want a fresh start of faith in Christ Jesus? Reaffirm the foundational truths of what it means to be a Christian… EMTs often go over basic first aid practices… Mountain Rescue experts hold drills of rescue and safety techniques to stay fresh and current… as Christians in a hostile world, it is refreshing to return to the simple gospel of who we are and what Christ has done. Eph. 2:1-10 outlines the fundamental truth of what it means to be a Christian. These verses fit well into the long recognized World View questions which one way or another every thinking person has to answer:
Who am I? (where’d I come from? How’d I get here?)
What’s the problem?
What’s the solution?
Where am I going?
Sidenote: I think our society is more secular than Christian in view of the world. I also think the Christian world is impacted by secularism ~ we are reluctant to speak in terms of sin, we don’t see ourselves as spiritual beings, we get caught up in secular values of comfort and stress free living while being highly entertained and self absorbed.….
Everyone answers these worldview questions conscious or subconscious….These worldview questions help me to understand myself and others. When I get overwhelmed by the problems of the world, it helps me to gain a fresh start by being reminded who I am in Christ… I want to think and practice more and more a Christian worldview…There is a darkness in the world’s way of thinking causing way too much suicidal and self destructive thoughts ~ they see no solution and have no hope for a better future. Eph. 2:1-10 gives an answer to the worldview questions as a foundation for Christian truth and living: Who am I? What’s the problem? What’s the solution? Where am I going?
In 1979, the year I graduated from NVHS, John Stott penned words about the state of our pessimistic world. Change a few details, ramp up the pessimism, and they are wise words for us. From my 1979 perspective the most vocalized fear was endless wars, dependency on oil, and nuclear bombs ending the world. I am amazed that a few weeks ago Iran bombed the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, and I realized that supposedly from a 1970’s perspective, we have now achieved what we were looking for, oil independence with no need to go to war over it…If Iran bombed the Saudi oil fields in the 1970s the pessimistic world would be declaring doom…but we aren’t talking about war in 2019… yet we are darker and gloomier and more pessimistic than ever. When your worldview is pessimistic by nature, there are no earthly answers that will ever bring satisfaction, because something deeper is missing. Here are John Stott’s words from 1979, which is also a commentary on Eph. 2:1-10: (READ page 69, God’s New Society NOTE: not reproduced here).
The outline today is on a business card ~ to put in your wallet. Often when we think about sharing our faith we think in terms of arguing. No need to argue. Use these worldview questions just to get people to think. Listen to their answers and you give yours if they let you and walk away as friends….
A Christian Worldview from Eph. 2:1-10.
1. Who am I? Eph. 2:10 READ. “God’s workmanship.” God created us. That alone is awe-ing…You know what workmanship means. The Jubilee Bible gets a little closer: “We are God’s Work of Art…” God is an artist and we are his work of art. But not just any art work: we are his masterpiece… Victor Hugo is considered a great writer, but most people consider Les Miserables to be his greatest work… If anyone listening is discouraged and depressed, maybe the most important thing for you to hear today is that you are God’s greatest work…
There is more answer,,,~~ created in Christ Jesus, we belong to Christ… that is our identity… to do good works…. That is our purpose. It is clear in the whole paragraph good works is not how we earn salvation, but our response to salvation…
Who Am I? I am God’s greatest work of art, I have identity in Christ, I have a purpose to serve, and God planned me out from the very beginning, I am no afterthought.
For those who feel useless, for those who feel like nobody cares, for those that are struggling, Eph. 2:10 is a tremendously powerful verse that tells us who we are from God’s perspective… This is the way Christians are invited to think and be motivated…
2. What’s the problem? Eph. 2:1-3 READ. That is a problem. By nature we are not good. Humankind without God is pessimistic. Always will be. Thankfully Paul talks in the past tense: WERE DEAD.
A Christian worldview demands we think in past deadness… dead in transgressions (or trespasses) meaning we go in places we are not supposed to, we cross the line of where God wants us to go, deviate from a path towards God… “sin” means to “miss the mark” or falling short of the goal… we actively miss God’s greatest desire for us, we don’t live up to our calling of question 1, Who are we, and stray from the path of righteousness or simply fall short of it, abanding our faith in Christ, not trusting Him fully as we ought, worrying too much, taking too much into our own hands…
from perspective of many non–Christians people don’t feel dead, and in the short sight they appear healthy and full of joy, but when you take the long view, the Christian is able to find peace and contentment when faced with trials… A Christian Worldview thinks beyond what’s in front of us, we know there is a spiritual world beyond the earthly world, we know there is a future glory. We know ultimate satisfaction comes by putting Christ at the center. Life without God is a dead-end. Only Jesus Christ provides a satisfying answer to the problem of sin and evil. A lot of worldly philosophies don’t think evil exists… Deny evil and you are living in a non-existent dreamland that will lead to a dead end…
Eph. 2:2-3 speaks of being slaves to this world and craving the values of this world…. you don’t need me to spell all that out… you can preach it (and many of you have to your children and grandchildren!) the words make it clear we all fell short, we all sinned, we all strayed from God. Equally unequal. none of us deserve salvation because we all have strayed from God. “Ruler of the Kingdom of the air…” could well be Satan, but I think our problems are more than Satan, this though, in my view, is expanded in Eph. 6:12 READ. Satan, systems… don’t put your faith in politicians as if the next vote is going to solve our problems. Much depression and pessimism comes from our inability to move the systems of the world… the principalities and powers, the oppressive cultures….
The good news: there is an answer, a Christian worldview is full of hope and expectation. This is the great contrast of a secular worldview and a Christian worldview… we go from the depths of pessimism of evil to the heights of optimism with God!
3. What’s the Solution? READ Eph. 2:4-5, 8-9.
BUT… because of his great love for us… the solution has a person and purpose behind it: God’s great love. The contrast between pessimism and optimism could not be greater… underline how the solution is all about God and what he has done: made us alive, he saved us, by grace… God is motivated by love and desires…
Other scriptures go into greater detail about the cross and the forgivness of sins being the way God saved us, how Christ took our place on the cross…if you ever have the privilege of a real talk with somebody using this business card, it’s only an outline… use every bit of scripture to expand Christian truth
Eph. 2:8 underscores the grace and salvation… not by what we’ve done, not our accomplishments, but God’s.
Faith is accepting the free gift of what God has done in Christ Jesus to restore us to the original purpose of having a right relationship with God. In a pessimistic world we can live as optimists, excited about who God is and what he has done.
4. Where are we going? READ Eph. 2:6-7. We are resurrected. We are seated on a throne. We are royalty. We are reunited in Christ. Want to confound the world? Live like royalty no matter what the world throws at you. It’s called faith. Live up to the promises God has given you and his great calling upon your life.
Eph. 2:7 says READ. I think what this means in my simple understanding: our resurrected lives seated with Christ will be a testimony pointing to God. People will see in us, “the incomparable riches of Jesus’ grace”. Here’s a story I read that helps clarify what Paul is saying: a retired college president was at the unveiling of his official portrait. The retired president was so impressed with the likeness he said that in the future he believed people looking at the picture would not ask, “Who is that man,” but rather they would say, “Who painted that portrait.”
When we, through faith, allow God’s grace to transform us so that we live like royalty in a pessimistic world, may our lives cause people to say, WOW, isn’t God amazing… this is where we get the phrase “trophy of grace.” My father used to call a man by the name of Jim VanDiest a trophy of grace. As a child I only knew Jim as a kind, sweet, loving man. But I’m told in his earlier days he was not so kind and responsible in all his decisions. He was a trophy of grace…a testimony of God’s transforming power, a testimony of God’s love, a testimony of God never giving up…
This world can be so confusing as we wrestle with our own place in it and even as Christians how often we wonder what God is up to. It’s time for a fresh start. It’s time to reaffirm the basic truth of what it means to be a Christian and to live as a Christian. Reaffirm what it means to see the world through Christian faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has taken us from pessimism to optimism, from death to life.
- Who am I? God’s masterpiece.
- What’s the problem? I am a sinner.
- What’s the solution? Salvation through God’s grace in Christ.
- Where am I going? God’s trophy of grace.