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You Were Dead . . . But God!, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2020 7:05 am

You Were Dead . . . But God!, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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October 2, 2020 7:05 am

Becoming a People of Grace: An Exposition of Ephesians

Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Grace To You
John MacArthur
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

Fame and fortune are human pursuits, but they do nothing to secure our eternal destiny.

Today, from Chuck Swindoll. We love human accomplishments, and we have awards and rewards for such. And we put their names on plaques, and we shape busts of unique individuals, and we put them on pedestals, and we honor and we revere them, and we see them all as very much alive, when in fact, if they're without Christ, they are dead people on a pedestal. According to Chuck Swindoll, there are two words in Paul's letter to the Ephesians that determine our life's destiny. In fact, Paul's communication pivots on these two small words, and our eternal security as well. Today on Insight for Living, our Bibles are open to Ephesians chapter 2, as we continue the series called Becoming a People of Grace. In this passage, Paul paints a morbid picture of our condition. Without God, he said, we are dead in our sins. Have you already identified the two life-giving words?

Chuck titled today's message, You Were Dead, But God. If you haven't already done so, I invite you to turn in your New Testament to the letter to the Ephesians. Are your pages starting to look dog-eared like mine are? I notice the corners are starting to get a little worn as we're reading it through every week, and I hope you're continuing in that discipline.

It really does help you keep a handle on where we've been and where we're going. I want to read the first, well not really half of the chapter, but a portion of the first part of Ephesians chapter 2. It's hard to stop before verse 10, so let me read down through verse 10. Ephesians 2, 1, 4, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived, in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. Don't miss that sentence because of the in-between section.

Let me read it. Verse 4, But God, verse 5, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved, and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Just to leave your Bible open there in your lap and bow with me for a few moments of prayer together before this morning's offering.

Let's just quietly sit before the Lord. Our Father, we are grateful women and men today. We find ourselves open to what we have sung and listening closely to what has been read for us. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for your intercepting us along the journey called existence, and turning our existence into real living. Thank you for doing it for us, rather than expecting us to merit your righteousness on our own, or we would have been sunk forever.

Lost and hopelessly unable to find our way back, in fact lifeless, dead in our transgressions and sins. Powerless to change things as they were, we found ourselves without hope, but you came to our rescue. And that's a major reason we find this intrinsic magnet from within ourselves to come back week after week and even day after day to your word to meet with you and to talk with you, and even more importantly, to have you talk to us. How mighty, how magnificent, how excellent is your name, therefore, in all the earth. And we, therefore, lift our voices in song and in praise and in thanksgiving. And we also, on a regular basis, look for ways to express our gratitude for what you have done for us. And we found one of those ways in returning to you from the wage we have earned and the savings we have kept, and the money you have entrusted to us. And since you own it all, Lord, and we wouldn't be able to hold a job without the health you give us, or the mental capacity you have gifted us with, or the capability of carrying on our work through the energy that you empower us with, it's only right that we say in a special way today, thank you. And we do it with our gifts in the excellent name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And all God's people said, amen. I have a very unpopular message to present today. Being God's messenger boy frees me to deliver unpopular messages when he has them to be delivered.

It isn't politically correct what I have to say today, and that's the part I like about it the most. I realized while I was flying this past week for several hours between California and Texas that life is made up of a lot of contrasts, isn't it? And while thinking that, as we were 33,000 feet above sea level, it occurred to me that in the Scriptures there are numerous contrasts. Light and dark, heaven and hell, accept, reject, love, hate, faith, works. Grace, law, spirit, flesh, freedom, bondage, life, death. And in almost every one of those contrasts, God alone makes the difference.

Think of that. Between light and dark stands God. Between heaven and hell stands God.

Between freedom and bondage, certainly between life and death, but God. While flying from California back to Texas, I was reading Kent Hughes in his fine exposition of the letter to the Ephesians. And he tells a terrific story in it of a mountain trip he took where he went to the peak of Mount Whitney. I like reading about people who climb mountains.

I don't like climbing mountains, so don't invite me, please. I have a theory that you can't fall off the earth, so I like staying real close to it, right at base level. But he was there at those 14,495 feet at the peak of Mount Whitney. And it occurred to one of the friends who was a part of his party that only 80 miles southeast rested the lowest part of these contiguous United States.

Think of it. From the highest, almost three miles high, to the lowest, almost 300 feet low, below sea level. At the peak, more often than not, are snow and ice and blizzard conditions as the wind soars and roars across the Sierra Nevadas. And as you stand there looking down, you have this marvelous perspective on lakes of indigo and turquoise in color dotted across the cascading landscape. And the streams are so pure, and the air is so thin and clear.

From that vantage point, everything you look down on. And if you travel those 80 miles in the distance, you get to the hottest place, most often in these United States. The record stands at almost 135 degrees in the shade, where the body, if it does not take in water, dehydrates quickly, and you fall victim to sunstroke and you can die.

Certainly go unconscious in just a brief period of time. From one peak to one valley, such contrast. Appropriately, it is called Death Valley. Death Valley.

And if you stay with the analogy of contrast, and if you think of Mount Whitney and Death Valley being so close, you will be prepared for an appreciation of what the great apostle of grace writes in this continuing sweep of truth through the letter to the Ephesians. In fact, when you come to the very opening line, if you are of this world and take your cues from the system, you are immediately offended in being told that you are dead. Dead.

Start there. But, God, go there. You were dead, verse 1. We were dead, verse 5. Not only were you Gentiles in Ephesus dead, we Jews in Tarsus, in Jerusalem, in our homeland were dead. Deadness was our, strange way to put it, our life. We were like zombies in our lost estate. We were dead. Hopeless, helpless, entrenched, addicted, distant, inescapably removed from any hope of ever reaching the peak of Whitney down in this valley of death.

Now, if you like outlines, I hope this one doesn't complicate things. I hope it clarifies. Verses 1 to 3 answer the question, what was life like? Verse 4 begins with the question, or answering the question, what did God do? Verse 4, what did God do? And then at the rest of verse 4, down through verse 7, why did he do it? Verses 8 and 9, how can it be?

What was life like? Verses 1 to 3, what did God do? Verse 4, why did God do it? 4 through 7, how can that be?

8 and 9, so what? Verse 10. Now, we won't get very far into verse 10, if at all, but just as a little preview of coming attractions, I will tell you that because of verse 10, we know today that we who are in Christ are poetry in motion.

That ought to tweak your curiosity. The word workmanship, we are now his workmanship. Poi Emma is at the heart of it from which we get our word poem, and we have become, because of what God has done, his poetry, his work of art, his masterpiece. He is shaping us now, having delivered us then from our deadness. But back to the offending message, you were dead. What was life like? You were dead. Dead, verse 1, enslaved, verse 2, and if that isn't enough, condemned, verse 3. That's what life was like. When I read dead, I think of powerless, unresponsive, incapable, devoid of life, unable to change things. Some of you are thinking, well, wait a minute, I mean, it's pretty bleak what you're painting. That's the point.

That's exactly the point. You say, well, I think a number of people on their own could have climbed out of Death Valley and probably have. Dead people don't climb. Unless, of course, you read it differently, unless your Bible reads that you were diseased, because diseased people can be healed, but it doesn't say that. And you were dysfunctional, doesn't say that.

And you were disabled, doesn't say that. And you were depressed and despairing and disturbed, it doesn't say any of the above. It says, let it say it, dead. My friend Ray Stedman tells the story of Roy, a friend of his who was invited by a mortician who knew Christ, and Roy had just come to Christ and was having some struggles with the doctrines of the faith. And so his friend, the mortician, brought Roy with him one evening to the mortuary and all alone.

They walked in and he opened the casket and they looked down on the body and he said, go ahead, Roy, lead him to Christ. Not only is the dead dead, lifeless, hopeless, and lost, he isn't seeking and don't let anyone tell you, you do, because you don't. And had you and I lived in our dead estate in the first century, we would have taken up a nail to drive into his hands, we would have put him on the cross, we would have said, release Barabbas, crucify him. Because dead people talk like that and think like that. And don't ever try to convince yourself otherwise or you'll miss the whole point of the delivering words, but God, which D. Martin Lloyd-Jones says really is the gospel in two words, but God.

Let's analyze it a little closer. You were dead in your trespasses, which is the result of human powerlessness, trespasses, and you were dead in your sins, which is the result of human corruption. You missed the mark completely and totally, no pun intended, this is a dead on accurate diagnosis of the human condition without Christ.

This is it, right on target. You say, well, wait a minute, wait a minute, I mean, I get along pretty well in life, I'm able to hold a job, pass a physical with my physician, a timer every other year or so, I'm fairly healthy, I exercise somewhat regularly, I eat well, I sleep well, I laugh, I cry, I make a living, I'm still learning, I'm reading, I'm growing, I'm driving, I'm in some cases going to school, finishing an advanced degree, I'm going to concerts, I'm taking vacations, I'm getting married and we're having children, I'm doing the chores and responsibilities of life, I have a fairly good memory, I'm alive. No, wait, in human terms you're alive, but is this about human terms? You've just x-rayed your makeup humanly speaking, but God isn't linked to that perspective.

That's why humanism makes such great sense to humans. We love human accomplishments and we have awards and rewards for such and we put their names on plaques and we shape busts of unique individuals and we put them on pedestals and we honor and we revere them and we see them all as very much alive when in fact if they're without Christ they are dead people on a pedestal. I told you it wasn't popular, but I long since gave up the title of Pastor Feel Good. My title is Pastor Tell Truth, I've got to live with me tonight.

Not hoping you feel real good after this, but hoping that I took the truth and didn't in any way take away from it. I think it says dead and I've checked the original and that word is the same, translated dead. So I need to know what that means. In verses 2 and 3, dead is explained, in which refer back to trespasses and sins. We're doing a spiritual x-ray of the anatomy of the human condition, not an earthly x-ray, but a heavenly x-ray. From God's perspective, in your lost condition, you were dead in trespasses and sins in which, in those trespasses and sins, three things were true.

Mark them down. In your margin, if you wish, you were enslaved to the ways of the world, that's verse 2. You were obedient to satanic and demonic influences, that's verse 2. You were driven by base desires and uncontrolled indulgences, that's verse 3. That's what it was like to be dead. You were enslaved to the ways of the world.

See how it reads? In those trespasses and sins, without Christ, you formerly walked according to, which establishes the standard of your life, according to the course of this cosmos, this world system. We're just getting started in this helpful study of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, You Were Dead, But God. You're listening to Insight for Living, and to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Just before we sign off today, all of us at Insight for Living would like you to know that we're praying this series will inspire you to become God's agent of grace in a world that's craving to feel a touch of His kindness.

2020 will go down in history as a year filled with uncertainty, fear, and even disrespect. It's all the more reason to instill these biblical principles from Paul's letter to the Ephesians so that we become a people of grace. Along these lines, Chuck handpicked a book for you to read that truly underscores the power of God's grace in troubling times. It's written by one of Chuck's colleagues in ministry, Pastor Philip de Courcy. In a day when it's easy to feel fearful and overwhelmed, Take Cover offers a clear path to finding peace in God's protection. Before becoming a pastor, Philip served as a police officer in North Belfast, Ireland.

As a result, Philip is able to address tough issues realistically while drawing courage from God's promises. To purchase a copy of the book Take Cover, go to slash store. Pastor de Courcy, who says he cut his teeth on Chuck Swindoll's preaching, is a teacher on the daily broadcast called Know the Truth. And Chuck said of his book Take Cover, Your family needs this, you need this, our country needs this, especially now. If you're listening in the United States, call 1-800-772-8888. And thanks for bearing in mind that these daily visits with Chuck are made possible through the generous gifts of listeners like you. To give a donation today, call us.

If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888. Or you can give a donation online at Thanks for generously supporting the nonprofit ministry of Insight for Living Ministries. . Most of us have been heartbroken to witness civil unrest in the public square, eclipsing the urgent medical needs imposed by the global pandemic. At Insight for Living Ministries, we believe there's never been a better time to extend God's grace to those in need.

In this emotionally charged era where shouting matches are commonplace, where people feel voiceless and overlooked and even condemned, would you be among those who give generously so that we can spread the fragrance of God's grace to those desperate for a second chance? We're looking to add more monthly companions to the team. Become a monthly companion today by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, call 1-800-772-8888. Or go to slash monthly companion. My friend, more than ever, Insight for Living Ministries is determined to serve as a lavish garden for people all around the world who long to smell the aroma of God's matchless grace, a safe place where imperfect, sinful people are forgiven, taught the truth and redeemed. To become a monthly companion, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 1-800-772-8888. Or go to slash monthly companion. Join us again Monday when Chuck Swindoll's study called Becoming a People of Grace continues right here on Insight for Living. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 07:58:33 / 2024-02-25 08:06:39 / 8

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