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Sermon #26 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: God’s Operations of Grace
Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
Subject: God’s Operations of Grace
Date: Sunday Evening — December 6, 2015
Readings: David Burge and Mark Daniel
Open your Bibles to the 2nd chapter of the Book of Ephesians, Ephesians 2:1-10. The title of my message is — God’s Operations of Grace. — God’s Operations of Grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). Obviously, I cannot declare all God’s mighty operations of grace; but I do hope to show you from the Word of God some of our God’s “wondrous works in the land of Ham” (Psalm 106:22). Oh, what wondrous works and operations of grace our God performs in the saving of his elect!
Jehovah’s wondrous works we see
In the earth and sea and sky;
Our God in sov’reign majesty,
Rules from His throne on high!
The raging storms and waves are calmed,
When He commands, “Be still!”
For troubled souls, how sweet this balm —
All things obey His will!
He made all things by His command,
Weighs mountains great and high;
Measures the oceans in His hand,
And spreads the lofty sky.
Our God, our Savior’s in control,
Who bought us with His blood!
His grace, abounding in the soul,
Brings joy and peace from God!
Let’s read about God’s Operations of Grace in Ephesians chapter two.
(Ephesians 2:1-10) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Proposition: God’s mighty operations of grace for and in his elect bring salvation. — Grace is not the offer of salvation, or of an opportunity to be saved. — Grace is the accomplishment of salvation.
Divisions: Now let me show you how God’s grace is described in the Scriptures and what it is said to do. Follow along with me through the Word of God. I am going to show you seven things the Word of God reveals about God’s Operations of Grace. The Bible shows us that God’s grace is...
1. Covenant Grace!
2. Prevenient Grace!
3. Regenerating Grace!
4. Justifying Grace!
5. Sanctifying Grace!
6. Sufficient Grace!
7. Keeping Grace!
1. Covenant Grace
The first operation of grace, by which we are saved, is set forth in the Word of God as a Covenant of Grace (Ephesians 1:2-6; 2 Timothy 1:9).
(Ephesians 1:1-6) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: (2) Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel:”
Salvation is the result of a covenant made between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity before the world began. In that blessed, firm, and everlasting covenant of grace four things happened...
· A people were chosen unto salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
· A ransom was found for the redemption of the chosen (Job 33:24; Revelation 13:8).
(Job 33:24) “Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.”
(Revelation 13:8) “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
· A seal was pledged. — “Hurt not the earth till we have sealed the hundred and forty and four thousand” (Revelation 7:3; 2 Peter 3:9).
(2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
· The salvation of God’s elect was accomplished and secured in divine predestination (Romans 8:28-30).
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Saving grace is covenant grace. You cannot understand what the Bible teaches about grace unless you begin in eternity, in the everlasting covenant.
2. Prevenient Grace
Second, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation” is set before us in this Book as an operation of Prevenient Grace. Preachers do not talk about it much anymore because preachers, for the most part, know nothing about the grace of God; but a common theme of meditation and preaching in earlier times was God’s Prevenient Grace.
(Psalms 21:1-5) “The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! (2) Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. (3) For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. (4) He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. (5) His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.”
The word “prevenient” means preceding. Prevenient grace is the secret operation of grace that precedes and prepares the way for God’s saving grace. Prevenient grace is illustrated in many ways in the Word of God. I will call your attention to just three aspects of it. Prevenient Grace is...
· Formative Grace (Galatians 1:15; Jeremiah 1;5; 2 Timothy 3:15).
(Jeremiah 1:5) “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
(Galatians 1:15) “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.”
(2 Timothy 3:15) “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
· Restraining Grace (1 Samuel 25:13-26; Genesis 20:6) — “Hitherto shalt thou go and no further!”
(Genesis 20:6) “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.”
(1 Samuel 25:13-26) “And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. (14) But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them. (15) But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields: (16) They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. (17) Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him. (18) Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. (19) And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal. (20) And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert on the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them. (21) Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good. (22) So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. (23) And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, (24) And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid. (25) Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. (26) Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.”
· Overruling Grace (Philemon 15).
(Philemon 1:15) “For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever;”
(Hosea 2:8) “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”
(Psalms 76:10) “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”
Illustrations: The Prodigal! — Peter!
How I rejoice and give thanks to God for his free Covenant Grace and for his secret Prevenient Grace. It is this prevenient grace that keeps and preserves his elect throughout their days of rebellion unto the day of their calling (Jude 1).
(Jude 1:1) “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.”
Prevenient grace gives the angels their charge (Hebrews 1:14).
(Hebrews 1:14) “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
3. Regenerating Grace
The third mighty operation of God’s grace by which we are saved is regeneration. Oh, how we bless our God for his Regenerating Grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). The new birth is a regeneration, a resurrection from the dead, a new creation. It takes something more than the choice and decision of your free-will to accomplish that! It takes the grace of God. Ephesians 2:1-10 describes God’s Regenerating Grace.
· Verses 1-3 show us the condition of man.
(Ephesians 2:1-3) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
· Verses 4-6 talk about the call of God.
(Ephesians 2:4-6) “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
· Verse 7 demonstrates the cause of mercy.
(Ephesians 2:7) “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
· Verses 8-10 display the character of grace. It always operates alone! It is always effectual!
(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The grace of God does not offer eternal life. It produces it! The grace of God does not advise sinners to be born again. The grace of God is that by which sinners are born again!
4. Justifying Grace
Fourth, the grace of God by which sinners are transformed, saved, and made to be saints is his mighty operation of Justifying Grace (Romans 3:24).
(Romans 3:24) “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
I realize that justification was accomplished long before regeneration is experienced.
· We were justified in the purpose of God eternally (Romans 8:29) in the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
· We were justified by the purchase of blood at Calvary when our Savior died for us and paid our debt.
However, in our experience of things, justification comes to us and is known by us after regeneration, after we are born of God, as the result of our faith in Christ’s blood atonement (Romans 3:24-28).
(Romans 3:24-28) “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
All who trust the Lord Jesus Christ are justified freely by the grace of God, without the works of the law. That means three things:
· We are completely forgiven of all sin by the blood of Christ in Effectual Redemption.
· The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us in Free Justification.
· We “shall not come into condemnation!” We are “accepted in the Beloved.”
Thank God for that grace that freely justifies helpless, guilty sinners!
5. Sanctifying Grace
Fifthly, sanctification is another mighty operation of God’s saving grace, another of Jehovah’s wonders performed here in the land of Ham! God’s grace is Sanctifying Grace (1 Corinthians 6:11).
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Many are sadly confused about sanctification. Many who really appear to believe that salvation is by grace alone, when they come to the subject of sanctification, make it to be a work of God and man together! However, the language of the Bible clearly declares sanctification to be a work of grace alone. God’s sanctifying grace is threefold. We are sanctified...
· By The Decree of God from Eternity (Jude 1).
(Jude 1:1) “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.”
· By The Blood of Christ in Redemption (Hebrews 10:10).
(Hebrews 10:10) “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
(Hebrews 10:14) “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
· By God the Holy Ghost in Regeneration — By the Imparted Righteousness of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13). — “Made partakers of the divine nature!”
(2 Thessalonians 2:13) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
Like every other aspect of salvation, sanctification is...
· By grace alone!
· In Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:30).
You will search the New Testament in vain to find a solitary reference to partial or progressive sanctification. Sanctification is never referred to as something we do for God. It is something God does for and in us!
However, though our sanctification in Christ is perfect and complete, not partial and progressive as many imagine, sanctification is a continual thing that causes every believer to...
· Grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18).
(2 Peter 3:18) “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”
· Serve Righteousness (Romans 6:18).
(Romans 6:18) “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
· Consecrate Himself to Christ (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
(Romans 12:1-2) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and Ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
6. SUFFICIENT GRACE
Sixth, God’s grace operates toward and in us effectually. It is always effectual. That means that the grace of God is Sufficient Grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10) “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
There is an infinite, super abounding, overflowing sufficiency in the grace of God to meet all the needs of all his people forever. No matter who you are, no matter what your needs may be, no matter what circumstances you are in, if you are a believer, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God says to you — “My grace is sufficient for thee!” And I am here to tell you it is so!
· His grace is sufficient to sustain you in your trials (Isaiah 43:1-5).
(Isaiah 43:1-5) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee.”
· His grace is sufficient to uphold you in temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
(1 Corinthians 10:13) “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
· His grace is sufficient to enable you to do his will. Someone said, “The Spirit of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not keep you.” — “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it!”
· His grace is sufficient to uphold, sustain, provide for, and protect his servants and to make their labors effectual to the souls of men. — “Our sufficiency is of God!”
· His grace is sufficient even for, no, especially, for his fallen saints (Psalm 37:23-25; Mark 16:7).
(Psalms 37:23-25) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (24) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (25) I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
(Mark 16:7) “But go your way, tell his disciples AND PETER that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
· In your last hour, when you come to the swelling of the Jordan and are about to cross over to the other side, you will yet hear him say, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
I have been talking to you about the grace of God. I have been trying to show you how the Bible defines, describes, and illustrates grace. God’s saving grace is...
· Covenant grace!
· Prevenient grace!
· Regenerating grace!
· Justifying grace!
· Sanctifying grace!
· And sufficient grace!
7. Keeping Grace
Now turn to 1 Peter 5:10 and understand this one last fact about God’s saving grace — God’s grace bestowed upon us in Christ, God’s grace experienced in this world operates effectually toward us, for us, and in us as KEEPING GRACE.
(1 Peter 5:10) “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where my Savior I shall meet.
The grace of God is grace that cannot be altered, destroyed, or taken away, not even by anything we may do. — So that every true believer should be able to confidently sing with Augustus Toplady...
“A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing:
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offering to bring.
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete:
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Not all things below or above
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palms of His hands,
Eternity will not erase:
Impressed on His heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven!”
If you are a believer, God’s keeping grace is as sure to you now as his covenant grace was before ever you were born (Philippians 1:2-6).
(Philippians 1:2-6) “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, (4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now; (6) Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Application: The grace of God alone is that which distinguishes one sinner from another (1 Corinthians 4:7).
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
(Hebrews 4:16) “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”