Session 1 : Alive - Ephesians 2:1-10

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1 Session 1 : Alive - Ephesians 2:1-10 Rewind We can!t jump into chapter two without first reviewing the first chapter of Ephesians. As was the custom with first century letters, Paul began by identifying himself as the author of the words that were to follow. Paul made two trips to Ephesus. The first was a brief stop during his first missionary journey. The second was an extended stay during his third and final missionary journey. While Paul was imprisoned, his main concern was the spiritual health of the church. Because he had been instrumental in founding the church, he felt an obligation to teach its members the truth about God and to encourage them in their daily walk with Christ. Paul addressed the letter to the saints in Ephesus. The word saint means one who has been set apart. This is the spiritual condition of every authentic believer. Every true believer receives the Holy Spirit at the time of his or her conversion. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that believers are able to fulfill God!s purpose for their lives. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul identified the primary aim of his letter to remind believers of the spiritual blessings in Christ. He expanded upon this idea by identifying the source of our blessings God; and, the scope of our blessings the fact that the spiritual life is far more important than the material life. These themes run throughout Paul!s letter and are foundational to a believer!s personal spiritual health. Because of our adoption into God!s family, we have been made rich in ways many people don!t understand. Our wealth is derived from God!s grace and mercy. We are wealthy because we are children of the King. We are valuable because God says we are. Our eternal destination is secure because God holds us in His hands. These all are spiritual facts that elicit worship from those who really know Christ. Paul told the Ephesians that the Holy Spirit enables people to know four things. 1. They can know God. 2. They can know God!s calling in their life. 3. They can know a life based on their futures, not their pasts. 4. They can know God!s power over the circumstances of this life. These four truths set the stage for Paul!s words of encouragement in the remainder of the letter. Rethink Hetty Green, once known as America!s greatest miser, died in 1916 leaving behind an estate estimated to be worth approximately $100 million. Her behavior was eccentric. COMPELLED - 9

2 She ate cold oatmeal because it would cost money to heat it. Her son!s leg was amputated because his condition worsened while she looked for a free clinic. Though she was extremely wealthy, she lived as if she were poor. She failed to appropriate the resources she had at her disposal. Many believers live spiritually like Hetty Green lived physically. They have God!s resources at their disposal, yet they live like spiritual paupers. Why would any believer choose spiritual poverty over spiritual vitality? That!s a question with a series of complicated answers. How would you characterize your spiritual aliveness? I m thriving spiritually I m surviving spiritually I m living like a spiritual pauper Reflect [Ephesians 2:1-10] In chapter one of Ephesians, Paul described our spiritual possessions. In chapter two, he turned his attention toward our spiritual position by describing our hopeless condition before salvation and our new position following salvation. We can view this as a before and after picture of our lives. Before you were alive (vv. 1-3) Most believers quickly forget the horror of being lost. Paul said it plainly you were dead. This, of course, is a reference to being dead spiritually. But exactly what does that mean? In general, it means a person is unable to comprehend spiritual things or please God. This is man!s natural state (see Romans 6:23) and cannot be changed apart from God!s intervention. There are no degrees of lostness. Everyone falls into one of two spiritual categories dead or alive. Disobedience has consequences. This was Paul!s point in verse 2. Disobedience was man!s first sin and remains his greatest struggle. There are three powers that draw us toward disobedience the world, Satan, and our natural selves. The world puts pressure on all people by calling them to conform to its ways of thinking and acting. Paul rebuked this power in Romans 12:2. Before salvation, all people are COMPELLED - 10

3 controlled by the world!s attitudes and its values. Unbelievers can certainly engage in religion, but they can!t tap into the power that enables them to resist the world!s pressures. Satan also draws people toward lifestyles of disobedience. It is disobedience that prevents the lost from being in a right relationship with God. Disobedience also affects the quality of the relationship between believers and God. Satan!s main strategy for misleading people is his use of lies. John 8:44 tells us that Satan is a liar by nature. When people believe the lies of Satan, they view God!s truth as untruth. Therefore, they resist God!s call and cling to their disobedient ways. We also are drawn toward disobedience by our natural tendencies and desires. By nature, we are sinners. Because of our sin nature, we give into our natural desires. Life becomes all about us. So, living a life of sacrifice and humility is contrary to what we want. As long as we are in control of our lives, we will never allow God to take charge. Because we live with disobedient attitudes, we engage in disobedient actions. Outward behavior, though, isn!t a good indicator of a person!s relationship with God. Lots of people who don!t know God claim to be believers, attend church, and read the Bible. Many people believe they are Christians because they do religious things. This is one of Satan!s greatest deceptions. Before salvation we were doomed to spend eternity separated from God in a real place called hell. Without God!s intervention, we were powerless to change our eternal destination. We were the objects of God!s wrath, but never His hate. Because God is just, He cannot tolerate sin and someone must pay. We have the choice to pay the debt ourselves or accept the benefit of the payment that was made by Jesus on the cross. Those who accept Jesus! payment can view their bondage to sin in the past tense just like Paul described in verses 1-3. Those who choose to pay their own debt are still under the penalty of their sin. How have your personal priorities changed since you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? My priorities are still the same I ve added a few priorities, but kept my old priorities My relationship with God completely reoriented my life so that I am totally committed to honoring Him with my time, talent, and resources. COMPELLED - 11

4 Why you!re alive (vv. 4-7) We are alive to bring honor and glory to God. Some would say we are compelled to worship Him with our lifestyles. Remember, compel means to force or drive, especially to a course of action; to overpower. As believers, we are to joyfully accept the compelling nature of God!s love and allow that love to flow through us into those around us. We are to allow God!s generosity to compel us to be generous. We should be willing to embrace our roles in God!s plan because we are compelled to live for more than personal gain. We can!t live for God if our lives aren!t controlled by Him. If we live for ourselves, we will blindly follow the world and embrace its philosophies, morality, and lies. As a result, we will live in disobedience to God!s plan. Because God loves us, He does four things in our lives to save us from the consequences of our disobedience. Those four things are detailed in verses 4-7. First, God loves us (v. 4). Everything God did to save us from our sin was motivated by His incredible love for us. When directed toward sinners, God!s love is manifested as grace and mercy. It is His mercy that keeps Him from giving us what we deserve. Second, God makes us alive (v. 5). We are the beneficiaries of a spiritual resurrection that puts us in a right relationship with God. The power God exhibited in giving us life enables us to live for Him. Third, God raises us up (v. 6). Because of our relationship with Christ, we have a place in His kingdom. Though physically we are on earth, spiritually we already are in heaven where we can enjoy and benefit from fellowship with Jesus. Fourth, God keeps us (v. 7). Our salvation wasn!t only for the purpose of saving us from spending eternity in hell. God saved us so that our life today might have meaning. Our greatest joy in life comes from fulfilling God!s plan for our lives. When we allow our own wills to be displaced by our desire to live out God!s will, we will joyfully accomplish all God intended for us when He created us. To sum it up, the reason we are alive is God!s love which is expressed as mercy and grace. We are alive because God loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place. Because of His great love, we are compelled to live in obedience to His will. COMPELLED - 12

5 Suppose you were hooked to a machine that could determine the degree to which you are spiritually alive. What would the report generated by the machine say about your spiritual condition? Which of the four truths above is the most important to you right now and why? How you!re alive (vv. 8-10) Ephesians 2:8-9 are some of the most quoted verses in the Bible. In these verses, Paul reminds us that salvation is a gift, not something for which we work. If we did not work to receive salvation, we can!t work to keep it. Likewise, since our good works didn!t save us, our bad works don!t condemn us. Grace has absolutely nothing to do with our works. Salvation is a gift we receive, not a reward we earn. We are alive through the power of God!s Spirit living in us. Because He has made us alive, we should be naturally oriented toward His purposes. In other words, we should be compelled to serve Him. Paul said in verse 10 that we are created to do good works. Good works do not lead to salvation, but are a natural byproduct of salvation. So, the ultimate test of the authenticity of a person!s faith is his or her spiritual fruit. Are the people in your group serving, giving, going, and telling? Are you challenging people to allow God to displace their tendencies to sit and watch? What about you? Are you more concerned about keeping your group together or reaching more people for Christ? Only you know the answer to that question. Because of God!s work in us, He can work through us. But unless God first works in you, He can never work through you. COMPELLED - 13

6 What is God doing through your life? He is alive and living through me He wants more of me than I am comfortable giving I want the benefit of salvation, but will pass on living for God s purpose React Physical life is measured in a variety of ways. Your pulse, heartbeat, and respiration rate all are evidence of physical life. So, what evidence is there of spiritual life? What is your attitude toward worship, spiritual growth, serving, going on mission, and giving? Are you bothered when the sermon is about money? Do you complain when the music is too loud or the worship center too cold? These attitudes reveal a lot about your spiritual life. God made us alive to bring glory to Him. He repurposed us so that we might live a life that matters today and makes a difference in the days to come. He positioned us within a family of believers so that He can work through our gifts and compensate for our weaknesses. He gives us His life! As we fall more in love with Him, our lives are transformed and we find ourselves compelled to live so that every area of life is honoring to God. When this happens, everything changes. We will find it easier to say yes to the things that are important to God and easier to say no to the things that sadden Him. COMPELLED - 14

7 In what area of life do you need to give God more control? How can you better reflect God s priorities through your investment of time, talent, and resources? Why did God save you and make you alive? COMPELLED - 15

8 COMPELLED powered by SQUARE quick start guide session one For use with the printed curriculum notes Read Ephesians 2:1-10 and the lesson material. Identify the three things God showed you as you prepared to lead this lesson Discuss Ephesians 2:1-3 and ask: How have your personal priorities changed since you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Discuss Ephesians 2:4-7 and ask: Suppose you were hooked to a machine that could determine the degree to which you are spiritually alive. What would the report generated by the machine say about your spiritual condition? Which of the four truths discussed in this section is the most important to you right now? Why? Discuss Ephesians 2:8-10 and ask: What is God doing through your life? In what area of life do you need to give God more control? How can you better reflect God s priorities through your investment of time, talent, and resources? Close with a time of prayer. COMPELLED - 16

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