At the start of the movie Saving Private Ryan, an old man is visiting the D-Day cemeteries in Normandy with his family. He breaks down crying in front of row after row of white crosses and finally mumbles: “Did I earn it?” It turns out, he is the Private Ryan saved by Tom Hanks’ platoon through the course of the movie. At the end of the film Hanks’ last words to Ryan are “earn it”. A high price was paid in blood for his life and Hanks character wants him to earn what was one. It’s a powerful picture of many religiosus people’s lives trying to earn the salvation they want from God.
We constantly need to remind ourselves of the Gospel. That we do not need to earn our salvation. It is a gift of grace. A gift of grace through faith. Where the faith itself is a gift from God.
Dead in sin
Firstly we need to know our need of the good news. We were dead in trespasses and sins.
We walked in them, following what the world does and following the devil who is described as the “prince of the power of the air.” We lived for the passions of our flesh, or our sinful nature which Paul goes on to describe as our bodies and minds outside of Christ. All of that makes us children of wrath by nature along with everyone else.
Those are two of the most beautiful words in the English language. God is the one who turns the whole situation round. He does it because He is rich in mercy and because His love for us is so great.
When we were dead
Highlights the fact that it is not because of anything about us or our merit. We were dead.
God made us alive. What a contrast! Just as Christ was dead and then was raised, we have been raised with Him. Not only that, although physically I am sitting on a chair in Norfolk writing this, I am also seated in heavenly places!
The reason is to show the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in Jesus. Which brings us to the most glorious verses 8-10!
We are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is an undeserved gift – grace. Which is given to us as we put our faith in Him. But wait next Paul tells that our faith is not our doing! Even the faith we put in Christ to receive grace, is a gift of God. Grace is a gift. Faith is a gift. Therefore it is not based on our doing or our works.
That makes us God’s workmanship – beautiful trophies of God’s grace.
Then Paul tells us about our good works. Not to save us, but we get to do them! Good works to walk in.
We were uncircumcision, separated from Christ, alienated from Israel, strangers to the covenant, having no hope and without God.
Now we have been brought near.
He is our peace, made one and the wall of hostility is broken down. There was a wall in the Jerusalem Temple that was a barrier from the Court of the Gentiles through to the rest. It was a wall of hostility which is broken down.
Christ has abolished the law, making us one in Christ and giving peace
We have access to the Father through the Spirit. We are fellow citizens, joined together to be a holy temple, a dwelling place of the Spirit.
What grace, what truth!