Lent 4 Year B 30/3/03 - Ephesians 2:1-10
Opening talk :
get 3 younger volunteers throwing balls into a bin.
The winner will get a prize ( show ).
Give second and third place twice and thrice the prize !
Second talk :
Play game. Put the words 'love', 'faith' and heaven' on the back of three volunteers so they have to guess it by asking people questions. The answer can only be 'Yes' or 'No'.
Every word is contained in today's Bible reading.
Why do we love someone ? It is a difficult question to answer.
Our answer may refer to something that we find loveable about another, but true love is a lot more than that. For example in the marriage service a couple promise to love one another for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. Love is a lot more than merely feelings.
About 1993 a mother in Loughborough saw her child crossing the road and about to be run over by a car. She rushed across the road, pushed the child out of the way and was killed herself by the car. True love is sacrificial. It cares more about the one being loved than the one doing the loving.
Verse 4 tells us that God has great love and mercy for us.
Why does God love us ?
Firstly because the Bible tells us that God is love. It is in His very nature to love. As those who are created in his image, and recreated in the image of His son we can love too.
The Bible tells us that God is our Father. A loving parent will do all that they can for their child, as we saw from that mother in Loughborough. God became a man and gave his life on a cross so that we could be saved.
Just before Christmas I wonder how many parents told their children that unless they behaved Santa wouldn't come ! Yet how many children misbehaved and still got their gifts I wonder.
A gift is something that is freely given. It is not earned, otherwise it would be called a wage.
Verse 8 tells us that faith is a gift and not earned. We do not deserve to receive the gift of faith in Jesus but God gives it to us. It shows that as well as being loving, God is also giving.
Some people think that their good works will get them into heaven. Others think that their nationality will get then into heaven. I'm English so that makes me a Christian. 72% of this country declared themselves to be 'Christian' at the last census. Others think that living the religious life will get them into heaven. "I go to church regularly... every Christmas." Or "I try to do to others as I would have them do to me."
But we go to heaven through God's grace, shown to us in Jesus' death for us. Grace means undeserved favour. You may notice that in the prayer after communion I sometimes substitute undeserved favour for grace.
Heaven isn't really a place, it is a state of being. Being in the presence of God. Verse 6 says that, 'God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.'
Christians are people who are united with Jesus.
Where is Jesus now ? heaven.
So where are we ? heaven.
Therefore, we have a new life, a new love for God and for others, and a new victory, with evil increasingly under our feet. We have new reason for living and a new way to live.
We see this in verse 10 which sates that 'we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.'
Again we see that it is God who saves us, who re-creates us. This leads us to do good works, to follow God's will . Not slavishly out of compulsion, but as co-workers with Christ because we want to.
So today let us thank God for his grace, God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
Let us go forward knowing that we are in heaven with Jesus. Let us show that truth in our lives as we worship, serve and live our lives for, and with, Jesus.