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The Way We Were (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 21, 2022 4:00 am

The Way We Were (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 21, 2022 4:00 am

A photo album presents a striking contrast. In those old pictures, we compare images of who we were with the reality of who we are! On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg takes us down memory lane to expose our status before and after Christ! Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg!


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Welcome to truth for today we begin a study in Ephesians chapter 2, the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church to remind them of what their life had been like before they came to know Christ and while it may be uncomfortable to be confronted by the reality of the gravity of our own sinful condition today. Alister explains why that is absolutely necessary. His message is titled the way we were Ephesians chapter 2 and verse one and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the part of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flash carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and where by nature children of Roth like the rest of mankind, but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not 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 that we should walk in them.

Amen the verses to which I should like to draw your attention are verses one, two and three of Ephesians 2 and as you turn there. We ask God's help.

Father to you along with Luke so that by the Holy Spirit. Your word may accomplish his purposes in each of our lives, to the glory of your son. In whose name we pray. Amen. I was helped in coming back to this passage by recalling a couple of quotes that we had shared with one another in the early part of our studies, they both came from the personhood once been the professor are the president of Princeton theological seminary's name was John McKay and he testified to the fact that is a 14-year-old boy he had been reading the book of Ephesians and as he read the book of Ephesians. He said that he had a spiritual awakening that Sally put it, he said, quotes Jesus Christ became for me the center of everything I had been quickened.

I was really alive always is a testimony to the invading power of Christ in his life. Not he doesn't say. I read the book of Ephesians and it was very interesting. Or I read the book of Ephesians and I learned a lot of things that was true. No he said I was spiritually enlivened 45 years later delivering lectures at Edinburgh University.

He referred again to Ephesians and did so as quotes Ephesians is the distilled essence of the Christian religion. It is truth that sings doctrine set to music. So, another was the kind of thing that I do get us up on our feet on our toes rejoicing in the goodness of God, and it was on account of that picture are those metaphors that we then began to refer to polls really long sentence in chapter 1 as a symphony of salvation.

Salvation grounded in the internal purposes of God, about which we often sing when we take the lines loved before the dawn of time chosen by my maker hidden in my Savior overdoing there is were singing about the electing love of God.

The fact that before even creation to place that God left his own from all of eternity and the ending of that chapter is on a high note, isn't it. He put all things under his feet, that is Jesus, and given his head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all, soak it in melodic terms, or in musical terms. Ephesians 1 finishes on a high note and in a major key you look at chapter 2 in the opening verses take is immediately to a lower note and to if you like a minor key, because what Paul is now doing is he's going to show them.

Sure was through the latter that the immensity of the grace of God in salvation is made all the more significant when we recognize when we are confronted by our condition before we were saved is very very important that we see the link here between the end of one in the beginning of two.

For example, if you look at verse 19 of chapter 1 where he's talking about the inheritance that is enjoyed by those who in Christ, and he extols the immeasurable greatness of his power that is the power of God toward ours, who believe they have become believers in earlier in the chapter did Herod the word of truth, the gospel of salvation.

They had believed in him and were sealed by the Holy Spirit. It was not that they had been the irreligious people and become religious but it is as per McKay's testimony that they had been spiritually enlivened and he says it is towards us who believe.

Back in verse 19. According to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly places. Now what is going on to point out is that the same power to which he refers here in verse 19 is the power that has been at work in raising these Ephesian believers from their spiritual dad and these opening verses are uncomfortable versus because they point out the gravity of our lostness and our condition before Jesus made us alive.

You may be here this morning and even terminology like that is alien to, in which case as you listen you will find yourself saying, but I can identify with that at all. While perhaps God will do a new what he did in these Ephesian believers that, as you hear the word of truth. You may actually come to believe in an old common tree. I found this somewhat archaic observation, but I was stirred by the commentator says it is a resurrection power that turns death into life. And it is a power imbued with love. Here's the picture. The love which went out towards the slaying and very Jesus. When the father stooped to raise him from the dead Easter bends over us as we lie in the grave of our sins and exerts itself with a might know, last transcendent that it may raise ours from the dust of death to sit with him in the heavenly places where the picture very straightforward. The power that raised Jesus out of the deadness of the tomb is the selfsame power that raises ours from the deadness of our unbelief and seats. As with Christ in the heavenly places in that common dreams is an old common tree owned by one of our friends Alec materia, but I think he bought it secondhand. As I look to the notes as I read that a couple of weeks back.

Now I said this is a wonderful quote and a terrific picture and whoever it had the book before me. Obviously agree because written in pencil again in the margin was just one word glory with an exclamation point and then underneath only believe and then underneath 9 November 1925 and as I said in my study of the stairs as it is not amazing. The promises of God. Never wear out over time and the reality of God is as true as it was for whoever had that common tree in 1925.

Note Paul is reminding the Ephesians all the way in which they used to walk it was true of them if they come from a Gentile background or theme come from a Jewish background. All of as you will notice in verse three all of us once lived in this way. This is true of the totality of mankind.

I save you again this is an uncomfortable section because it provides us with a grave comprehensive divine diagnosis all the way.

We were if you are in Christ. If you are not in Christ that it provides you with a diagnosis of the way you are, which will be even more uncomfortable to think about two observations I think are important incident if you want a heading for study. Let's just call it the way we were two observations I think are important. Number one, you will not acknowledge this divine diagnosis, unless God opens your eyes to see the truth of it.

The only way you understand this diagnosis and bow before it is on account of the fact that you have been rescued by Christ that you have been brought to an awareness of your need of Jesus that you have understood something of what it means when Paul says in Romans chapter 5 that we have sinned in Adam in with him and that as a result, we are both guilty and we are dead.

I just think about that statement for moment you go back into the workday place and say what is the true condition of man. Why is man the way he is. Why is our world the way it is for. Why have we just take our morning newspaper and lay it out after all this time what what was the problem with this well. The human condition is such that it cannot be fixed by legislation.

It cannot be fixed by education. It cannot be fixed by indoctrination. The only way it is fixed is by a resurrection that God in his grace raises us up from the deadness of our life's and that is what Paul is reminding these Ephesian believers that God has done religious Jews.

Some of them pagan Gentiles.

Many of them, but both in need of the same remedy and the divine diagnosis let's notice again and clearly covers all of humanity. There are no exceptions, no exemptions, no excuses and no escape. Save the escape that is provided in Jesus. One out of one dies in the day that you shall eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall surely die every physical death is tied directly to sin and ultimately if we die physically remaining spiritually dead we will die eternally and eternal death will be separation from God which the Bible of course, calls hell, that's observation number one observation number two is this that this diagnosis here in the first three verses is as is true for the person who has been brought up in a Christian home and his professed faith even at an early age. In other words, here's the person who hasn't been a Hells Angel who didn't go totally nuts. Who hasn't been a junkie didn't live in a van down by the river hasn't gone through all of those things that person is tempted to say no. Somehow or another. My salvation is inferior. I mean you got really saved junkie man, but INI was can I say that with a start know you were not know I was not there are no degrees of dead you say well how dead Izzy how dead she know dad is dead so he sitting outside of Christ.

Your dead man walking. Whether the extent of depravity has laid all in your life and taking you through all kinds of hell or whether you have not gone through all of that.

It doesn't alter the fight that the diagnosis here in the first three verses is true of all humanity. So for those of you who are tempted to say well you know I I'm not really I don't have a proper testimony limit so you have a wonderful testimony because when you read verses 1 to 3, you realize that your condition was far worse than you ever care to admit, and that your salvation is far greater than you could ever imagine. My study says the biblical doctrine of total depravity means neither that all humans are equally depraved equally dad but not equally depraved, nor that nobody is capable of any good, but rather that no part of any human person, mind, emotion, conscience, and will has remained untainted by the fall and I was the dust of death acetylene every part of our humanity. It affects everything. So our world today bears testimony to it, although it will not accept outside of Christ. Paul says we are all dead man dead women walking while the verses are fairly tightly packed. I've tried to summarize them is my first attempt at it. We may have to go back and do them again. Having heard myself in the first hour but anyway Alice just give you five words that begin with a D.

The first one is obvious. We've already mentioned it dead and you where our past tense dad. If this does not describe your safety, again just so will understand one another. There is no past tense. If it is present tense, then your logical enough to recognize that the better the Bible diagnosis as your dead.

Matt your that will you either wear or you are guided dead real life as it is not what you just think about it right now in in John in John chapter 3 where Jesus is talk about.

You must be born again, Linda, and he says are not as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Whoever believes in the son is eternal life, who never does not obey the son shall not see life, but the rock of God remains on him. So in other words, unless a man or woman comes to believe in Jesus accepts all that God has done in Jesus. Then they remain in the condition in which they are created, namely dead men walking so like Adam and Eve.

We take what God has forbidden and that we trespass we overstep his boundaries.

We failed to live by his standards.

That's what we did because we were sinners, that we were dead in our trespasses and in our sins are sins separated us from God. We were made by him. We were made for him, and yet my nature. We chose to live without him and the inevitable impact of that on our lives. I was born out in all kinds of ways. Of course we were at the same time physically alive were able to get up and go out in the morning engage in sport and commerce and academics in politics we enjoy friendship. We enjoy family and so on. But the Bible says that as we went through all of that. We did so as dead men we were able to argue about religion. We had no relationship with Jesus. We were blind to the beauty of Jesus. People talk about what a wonderful Savior.

Jesus is reset. I don't I don't get that it's all we were deaf to his voice when the Bible was taught to just rely one ear and out the other.

Or maybe not even in an era tall. We had no ability to please him.

We were even interested in pleasing him someday so will you please God lives, and I don't think so. That's the way we were attendance at church with the best account of religious ceremony get over as fast as you can.

Hopefully won't take too long or it was a chore something to endure. The songs were an embarrassment. How strange these people singing the song try to get himself so worked up. What is that fella doing raising his hands in the air.

I can't believe these people are strange group. We are, let's get out of here as quickly as we can and hopefully we won't have to come back very often that's the way we were she's unresponsive.

She doesn't hear God and you can't make her and neither can I only God can only God raises the dead easy bad cell evangelism.

It's impossible. When I go to the graveyard for my lunch, every so often here in chagrined, I might as well stand there and call people out of their tunes.

I see the names come on out. Nothing happens. I made my lunch.

I go away again the same here. I say believe I say you look at me like a cow looking over the wall. What's he on about what that's what's he getting upset about. I just don't understand it. That's the way we were dead easy.

The diagnosis of humanity is either that were sick and we just really need a doctor or that were well and we just need a few more vitamins we can fix this we can work it out. Figure what I'm saying to have to keep on speaking until I can go on, you know, we can work it out and then you say to yourself I can work it out. Why can you work it dead. Secondly, drifting, drifting.

We walked on the path that was the course of this world first to you once walked down this path. Remember, the Bible says that there is a broad road. Alisa destruction, and there is a narrow way that leads to life and what Paul is saying here is before we come to trust in Christ, we just go down the same path as everybody else. We convince ourselves that their safety in numbers. Everybody believes this or everybody disbelieves this and everybody does this. Everybody wants this art is doing what everybody dies as before we came to Christ, I use the word drifted because it starts with D and hope so because JB Phillips uses in his paraphrase, you drifted along on the stream of this world's ideas of living that helps me so I wanted my light before I trust in Christ. I am a drifter I'm a drifter any dead fish can go with the current of the river takes a life fish to swim against the current and before I was made a life I inevitably run with the current. I'm in a been as extensively bad as engages everybody else but a condition of my life before God. My soul before God was that the deadness of my life meant that I was a drifter to court the kinks shows just how old I am I was a dedicated follower of fashion.

One day he's in polkadots the next day he's in stripes because he's a dedicated follower of fashion you see can hear you sinking there. That's what the Bible says we were swimming with the stream that was secular.

We can't even begin to see your need for a Savior until God opens our eyes to the extent of our season listing the truth for like that's Alister Bragg reminding us that outside of Christ, all of us are dead men walking.

Now I don't know if you realize this or not but truthful I feel is entirely listener fund these daily programs come to you by way of many faithful listeners who are passionate about seeing others become committed followers of Jesus. So if you been listening to and benefiting from this program will you become one of our true partners today.

You can sign up partner and show our gratitude, we invite our true partners to request two books each month. Books that we offer with no additional donation necessary today were recommending a book titled seven reasons to reconsider Christianity.

This is a book that addresses some of the common doubts people have about the Christian faith and it explains why we can be certain that all that's written in the Bible about Jesus is both trustworthy and true requester copy when you sign up to become a truth partner or when you give a one time donation go to Truth for now. Are you looking for an exciting adventure. If so, we might want to consider the deeper faith 2023 Mediterranean cruise. Alister will be the guest speaker on this nine-day journey that departs out of Rome, Italy in late summer of next year. The trip takes place aboard one of the newest ships in the Norwegian Cruise line, and that includes stops in nine locations including Naples, Malta, Croatia and Venice.

Alister will be teaching the Bible along the way. You can find out more and book your cabin at deeper faith. about the pain. Thanks for listing. Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of today's message will discover the danger of being lost in all of our niceness Bible teaching of Alister Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is

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