Ephesians 2 divides neatly into two sections. Each presents our salvation as a problem that is solved in Jesus Christ. By far, the first half is the most familiar to believers today. Ephesians 2:1-10 tells us that we were once dead in our sins, but in Christ, we have been made alive. But Ephesians 2:11-22 presents a second way of speaking about salvation: we were once cut off from the people of God. For most this is simply a problem they do not consider at all. We must, then, attend Paul’s argument with care, so that we might have a fuller, more grateful understanding of the of the salvation we have received in Christ.
The passage I have selected for today’s message on grace is from one of the most well-known and clear attestations of the riches of Christ’s grace to us in all of holy Scripture.To help them sense the spiritual beauty of what has happened to them in Christ, he breaks open the chapter with a frank yet profound description of their condition apart from Christ.Yet we begin to feel the good news of God’s grace right away in this passage with the opening two words of v 4: But God.For there is no good news, no grace, no glorious but God, until we have come to terms with who we are apart from him. Altogether, I hope to show that no man is saved but by grace alone.
For Luther, the authority for the church was Scripture alone. This became a very important matter in the Reformation. It is not without accident that our second catechism question is What rule has God given whereby we may glorify him? The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, is the only rule to glorify God and enjoy him. This simple answerwas not in any way self-evident in the medieval church. But medieval Christianity not only denied that Scripture was the final authority in matters of doctrine and practice, it also kept the Bible from the people. To argue for the doctrine of sola Scriptura, I want to look at three books in particular. It’s not that the teaching isn’t found elsewhere, but I trust this will nevertheless illustrate that the Scriptures do, in fact, espouse that Scripture and especially the New Testament is our ultimate authority.