STUDY TEXT FOR THIS WEEK'S LESSON: EPHESIANS 2:1-22
CENTRAL TRUTH: SALVATION BY GRACE UNITES ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST.
KEY VERSE: EPHESIANS 2:8 By grace yare ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (KJV).
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this, it is a gift from God (NLT).
new life in christ
LET'S GET STARTED
Jesus came to give His life so that we could experience everlasting life in His presence. Without Christ, we are without hope and cannot be the kind of people that God desires us to be. The Gentiles that Paul wrote to in Ephesus were new believers. Thus, they had experienced dramatic changes in their lives. As we examine new life in Christ, we can rejoice in what He has done for us, no matter what we have done in the past. In this lesson, we will see how that plan works out, on an individual basis. The Jewish people had always felt that they had an exclusive relationship with God. Paul explained that this thinking was not true. God's desire is for all people to align with His plan and to be part of His family. We, too, must set aside our prejudices to be a functioning part of God's family. This week's lesson will help us do that more effectively.
PART 1--SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Once Dead- Ephesians 2:1-3
Most people who have not accepted Christ would probably not be willing to say they are followers of the devil. Yet they are certainly following in his way. The followers of the devil live in rebellious against God. They chase after their fleshly desires regardless of future consequences. Even the apostle Paul at one time thought he was living a righteous life, but in reality he had a prideful mind and trusted in the Law to save. Believing he was a child of God, he was instead a child of wrath. Only when he had a life-changing encounter with the living son of God did he become the God follower that he thought he already was. Everyone who has not submitted to God through faith in Jesus is an enemy of God. It is not that God chooses to be an enemy, but rather it is the choice of the person who rejects the gift of salvation, which is freely offered. Before we accept Jesus, all of us are among God's enemies.
REACT ? Looking back, in what ways did your life demonstrate that you were an enemy of God before you were saved ?
Now Alive- Ephesians 2:4-10
We can rejoice that God is merciful to those who have committed offenses worthy of spiritual death. Mercy does not deny the fact of an offenses, but instead chooses to withhold the past consequences of that offense. God's mercy is based in His love for us. A sacrifice was needed to atone for the sins of humanity, and Jesus, the divine Son of God himself, was the only suitable sacrifice. Every Christian who identifies with Jesus through faith shares in the blessings he has obtained through His sacrifice. salvation is a gift to anyone who believes in Jesus. But this belief is more than mere mental assent. faith is the firm conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, and that His death and resurrection makes us right with God. Obedience to Him, then, is the proper response to such faith.
REACT? What are some privileges you enjoy as a result of being a follower of Christ?
PART 2 -- ONE BODY IN CHRIST
Once Divided- Ephesians2:11-12
In Old Testament times, the gentiles stood outside of the camp of Israel. They could follow God only if they renounced their own heritage and followed the way of the Jewish people. As
aliens living outside the citizenship of the people of Israel, they did not know of the covenant promises God had given to His people (Ephesians 2:11-12). As an outsider, or an alien , the Gentile did not have spiritual privileges that came from association with God. The covenant with Abraham, Moses, and David were of no benefit to them. They were separated from God. Likewise, we were in a hopeless state before we met Jesus. But now that we have received salvation, we must never take God's gift for granted or forget that we would have been lost if it were not for God's love for us, seen in the precious sacrifice of Christ.
React? How is a non-Christian today like a Gentile in Old Testament times?
Now United: Ephesians 2:13-18
In Ephesians 2:13-14, Paul used an image of a person who had once been pushed away but is now drawn near to described the Gentiles becoming members of God's family. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave so that all who would follow Him could experience everlasting life. Paul used the word "peace' to describe the newfound condition of the Gentiles believers. Such peace reminds us of the Hebrew word shalom, which carries the idea of a right standing with God. Living with peace, we have nothing to fear or worry about. This peace is based on trust in God's care. this peace also applies to the unity of the Gentile and Jewish believers. Both Jew and Gentile were out of spiritual alignment with God and needed to be reconciled to Him through Christ's sacrifice. Now both had access to the father through the Spirit.
React? How have you experienced God's peace in your life?
PART 3-- CITIZENS OF GOD'S HOUSEHOLD
We Are fellow Citizens - Ephesians 2:19-20
Once alienated from God, now the believing Gentiles were no longer strangers. They had full citizenship in the kingdom of God, just like the redeemed Jews. Gentiles could be counted as family members within the household of God. Shifting his metaphor from a household to a physical house, Paul focused on the foundation of the house, made up of the apostles, the prophets, and Jesus. Paul tell his readers how God used the apostles and the prophets, along with the evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to build up the Church. Leaders in the church are important, but they are no more important than other parts of the church. The discipleship process, which leaders are wise to employ, helps Christians discover their gifts and the role that they play in the function of the Church.
React? What are some ways that prejudice manifest itself in the Church today?
We Are a Dwelling Place for God-Ephesians 2:21-22
Paul emphasized the importance of unity by using the image of a well-constructed building that was held together rather than being torn apart. He then went on to state that God desires to dwell in a unified Church. Furthermore, those who are in Christ are led by the Spirit are the habitations of God--the place where God finds residence. The holy temple is no longer an external fixture that priests must enter to encounter God, but now the Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian.
React? What causes Christians to divide and try to live out the Christian life solo, or in their own like-minded groups, rather than as the Church?
WHAT IS GOD SAYING TO US?
We must examine ourselves to see if we hold prejudice within our church or within our hearts. There is only one Church, and all those who believe in Jesus must see themselves as spiritual brothers and sisters.
Living It Out
- View those who hold different doctrinal beliefs with love and acceptance if they are in "in Christ" and seek to be led by the Holy Spirit.
- Identify areas of prejudice in your life and seek to remedy this attitude.
- Give priority to God's Word in your daily life.
Monday: Sin's Consequence. Genesis 3:14-19.
Tuesday: Unity Invokes Grace. 2 Chronicles 30: 13-20
Wednesday: Forgiveness for Transgressions. Psalm 32:1-11
Thursday: Be Born Again. John 3: 3-8
Friday: One In Christ John 17: 20-126
Saturday: Unity in Christ's Body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
See You In Sunday School Next Week!!!!