From Death to Life (Ephesians 2:8-9)

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg | July 1, 2012


2012-07-01 From Death to Life | Ephesians 2:8-9

2:1 ¶ And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–

 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.


4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,


7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 (Eph 2:4-10 ESV)

In chapter 2, verses 1-3 told us from what we are being saved: spiritual death, bondage to the world, the flesh and the devil, and God’s wrath at the final judgment.

Verses 4-6 told us that, because of God’s great mercy and love, even when we were dead in sin, God made alive with, raised us up with and seated us with Christ in heavenly places. This tells us what God has done.

Today we take up two other questions regarding salvation – how it is accomplished and why it is accomplished. This passage, I suggest, tells how God saves people, and for what purpose God saves people.

We should note briefly the tense of the verb “saved” in verse 8 here as we begin. We saw it last time also in verse 5 as a parenthesis. In both cases it is in the perfect tense and it is a perfect intensive which indicates a completed act whose focus is on the resultant state. What this means is if you are in Christ, your salvation is fully secured.

Most versions render this phrase “you have been saved,” which indicates the completed action, but the KJV keeps the focus on the resultant state when it is rendered in the present tense “by grace ye are saved.” The perfect tense tell us that both are true. If you are in Christ, you have been saved in the past with the result that you are still saved in the present. Your salvation is fully secured.

But this passage tells us not only that we have been saved and are presently saved, but also

  1. How salvation is accomplished in us, by what means our salvation is accomplished, or how God works out his plan of salvation.

Let’s begin with


How it is not accomplished


The passive voice of the verb “you have been saved” tells us that it is not something we have done. Rather, it is something done to us or for us. It is not “you have saved yourself,” but rather “you have been saved.”

Second, we are told directly in verse 8 it is not a gift we give to ourselves but rather it is the gift of God.

And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Have you ever given yourself a birthday or Christmas present? Maybe you’ve gone shopping and decided you liked something and instead of asking the person you are with or going home and asking your husband or wife or children to give you that item, you simply give it to yourself. You have the resources, you like and you get it for yourself.

Some people believe they can make a contribution to their own salvation. They believe God does a major part, but they add something to the equation the process themselves. They might say it this way, “God helps those who help themselves.” However, we saw earlier that we were dead in trespasses and sins. One who is dead cannot help himself or contribute anything to his resuscitation.

John Calvin illustrates the fallacy of the belief that we can contribute something to our salvation with the story of a homeless man who is taken in by an innkeeper for the night. Perhaps it was a very cold night or a very wet night and the innkeeper sees the man sitting on the sidewalk outside his business. The man is invited into the dining room where he is given a hot meal. After the meal, he is taken down the hall and ushered into a private room where he is afforded a clean, warm bed for the night. And in the morning after breakfast, to preserve the man’s self-respect, the innkeeper out of his own pocket, gives the man enough money to pay the cost of the meals and the room when he checks out at the front desk.

Now if the man goes back out on the street and tells his friends that he paid for the meals and room, would he be telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? No, because the innkeeper not only provided the meals and the room. He also provided the money to pay for them. The homeless man had nothing to contribute to his night at the inn. He was given a gift from start to finish – the meals, the room, and the money to “pay” for the room.

If we believe we contribute something to our salvation we deceive ourselves and others. The Apostle Paul dealt with this in several of the churches he planted. So-called Judaizers, taught that a Gentile first must convert to Judaism and be circumcised before becoming a Christian. They taught that the act of circumcision made one worthy of >>>>>>>>>>>>.

However, if we believe we do not contribute anything to our salvation we can rest. “In repentance and rest is your salvation….”

In modern times, some, in order to preserve absolute free will, believe that man must freely choose God in order to be accepted…………..

We will say more about salvation as the gift of God later.

Finally we are told in verse 9 it is not a reward or payment for work we have done, and therefore nothing of which we can boast.

 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

A reward or a payment is what is due to a person who works. If a person finds a neighbor’s dog and a reward has been offered, the person is due the reward. If a person contracts to do, say a landscaping job, and does the work properly, the person is due his pay. We can say that he “earned” it because he worked for it. However, that person, having done the work, may also boast about it. “See what a wonderful person I am? I found this man’s dog for him!” Or, “See what a great landscaper I am? I did that job all by myself, in only one day!” He’s liable to break his arm patting himself on the back!

This verse tells us salvation is not a result of our works. And therefore, we cannot boast. …..

Basically, he is saying the same thing in the negative – salvation is not a result of something you do – but adds to it a reason – that no one may boast.

To return to Calvin’s illustration, if the homeless man, in addition to lying about how he paid the innkeeper, bragged about it, he would be worse than before. We would not only be a liar but also a prideful liar, full of ourselves.

What do we know intuitively about the person who brags on himself? He thinks too highly of himself or he thinks too lowly of himself. So feels compelled to build himself up. There’s a difference between “building yourselves up on your ….”

If we believe we have done some work to earn or merit salvation, we deceive ourselves out of pride. We wish to boast in what we have done or contributed rather than boasting in God who has done it all. We want some of the credit because we have not accepted the completeness of our fallenness. The doctrine of total depravity tells us not that we are as bad as we could possibly be, but that ever part of our being was affected by the fall. In Adam, all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive (Rom 5?)

Total depravity is like a person who died and the autopsy report says that every bodily system failed. Every system was not as bad as it could possibly be, but that….

This doctrine humbles us completely, and honors God completely. Can we say with the psalmist, “I am worm…..” The person who says this does not have a low view of man, he has a high view of God – and a realistic view of man in relation to God. I suggest our view of God is too low.

Can we agree with Paul who says, “let him who boasts boast in the Lord” ??? If you’re going to brag, brag on God. Get a higher view of God and a realistic view of man so that…

How it is accomplished

-By grace

This section begins in verse 4, “But God, who is rich in mercy (4a), love (4b), grace (5,8), kindness (7)…

Grace in Greek is charis, most often translated favor and sometimes credit in the OT, and in the Gospels, but translated as grace in the Epistles.

ESV  Luke 1:30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luk 1:30 ESV)

ESV  Luke 2:52 ¶ And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luk 2:52 ESV)

Gift in Greek is doron, most often translated as a “present, gift or offering.” God’s gift of salvation is his present to us.

ESV  John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (Joh 4:10 ESV)

GRACE AND GIFT APPEAR TOGETHER BELOW – CHARIS AND DORON (as an adverb meaning without cost modifying justified)

(Rom 3:22-24 ESV) For there is no distinction:  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

“Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve and Grace is what God does give us even when we don’t deserve it.”

Grace here is the unmerited favor of God on those who have broken his law and sinned against him.

The foundation, the ground of our salvation.

GRACE IS THE WELL. It is the well from which God draws elect some for favor from before the foundation of the world.  It is the well from which he draws election from before the foundation of the world, effective call, regeneration, repentance and faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification.


-a by grace you have

Act 15:11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

-b through faith

1Pe 1:5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

-c the gift of God

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living

7 – It is underserved blessing that comes from God’s kindness

WCF 10.2 Effectual call. This effectual call is freely made by God and is entirely an act of his special grace. It does not

depend on anything God foreknew or foresaw about the person called, 7 who is completely

passive. God himself gives life and renewal by the Holy Spirit.8 He thereby enables each person

to answer his call and to accept the grace he offers and actually gives.9

  1. 2 Tm 1.9, Ti 3.4-5, Eph 2.4-5, 8-9, Rom 9.11.
  2. 1 Cor 2.14, Rom 8.7-9, Eph 2.5.
  3. Jn 6.37, Ez 36.27, Jn 5.25.

Henry Morehouse illust

-broken pitcher

-try to put pieces to gether

-bought new pitcher

-M’s favor unmerited

-Through faith (in Christ – object of faith)


Faith is a confident trust and reliance upon Christ and is the only means by which we can gain salvation.

Faith is the channel, the means, the conduit through which the grace of God flows. Its object is Jesus Christ.

Faith is our means of access to God’s gift, exercise of faith in X through the work of the cross.

Misunderstandings of faith – boice

-subjective feelings



Faith is


-heart response


-see marriage illustration – courtship, falling in love, verbal commitment

ESV  Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

WCF 11.1. Justification. Those whom God effectually calls he also freely justifies.1 He does not pour righteousness into

them but pardons their sins and looks on them and accepts them as if they were righteous—not

because of anything worked in them or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone. He does not

consider their faith itself, the act of believing, as their righteousness or any other obedient

response to the gospel on their part. Rather, he imputes to them the obedience and judicial

satisfaction earned by Christ.2 For their part, they receive and rest on Christ and his

righteousness by faith (and this faith is not their own but is itself a gift of God).3

  1. Rom 8.30, 3.24.
  2. Rom 4.5-8, 2 Cor 5.19,21, Rom 3.22,24-25,27-28, Ti 3.5,7, Eph 1.7, Jer 23.6, 1 Cor 1.30-31, Rom 5.17-19.
  3. Acts 10.43-44, Gal 2.16, Phil 3.9, Acts 13.38-39, Eph 2.7-8, Jn 1.12, 6.44-45, Phil 1.29.

-a not as a result

Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

2Ti 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

-b no one may boast

1Co 1:29 so that no man may boast before God.

This. Points to the whole process of salvation by grace through faith as a gift of God, not something we can do ourselves


-As a gift


By grace you have been saved

Verse 8 is the second time we’ve seen this in chapter 2. Paul slipped it into verse 5 earlier as a parenthesis. In both cases it is in the perfect tense which indicates a completed act and whose focus is on the resultant state. Most versions render it “you have been saved,” which indicates the completed action, but the KJV keeps the focus on the resultant state when it is rendered in the present tense “by grace ye are saved.” So both are true. You have been saved and you are saved.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Vv 8-9 give us the answers to these questions, but first I suggest we should look at what are we saved from????

  1. Why salvation is accomplished – what is salvation’s purpose, its result, its outcome?

7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

WITH RESECT TO OTHERS To show the riches of his grace to future generations (7)

7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


-a riches of His grace

Rom 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

-b kindness toward us in

Tit 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,


WITH RESPECT TO BELIEVERS THEMSELVES To enable us to live a new manner of life (10)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


-a created in

Eph 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

Eph 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Col 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him when

-b Christ Jesus for

Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

-c good works

Tit 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

-d prepared beforehand so that

Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

-e walk in them

Eph 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

ESV  Galatians 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Gal 6:15 ESV)

Because of his mercy (4a), love (4b), grace (5,8), kindness (7)

Salvation is not only resurrection from death but also creation out of nothing

God as creator – poiema, not same as works ergon

creation, re-creation

Works as a consequence or result or evidence of salv

Walk in them – Hebrew idiom – manner of life
Formerly walked in tres and sins – two manners of life

Chapter 16

Good Works

  1. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruit and evidence of a

true and living faith.3 By them believers show their thankfulness,4 strengthen their assurance of

salvation,5 edify their brothers in the Lord,6 and become ornaments of all those who profess the

gospel.7 Good works in believers silence the criticism of the enemies of the gospel.8 They also

glorify God9 by showing that believers are the workmanship and creation of Jesus Christ,10

because their aim is that holiness of living which leads to eternal life.11

  1. Jas 2.18,22.
  2. Ps 116.12-13, 1 Pt 2.9, Col 3.17, 1 Chr 29.6-9.
  3. 1 Jn 2.3,5, 2 Pt 1.5-10.
  4. 2 Cor 9.2, Mt 5.16, 1 Tm 4.12.
  5. Ti 2.5,9-12, 1 Tm 6.1.
  6. 1 Pt 2.15.
  7. 1 Pt 2.12, Phil 1.11, Jn 15.8.
  8. Eph 2.10.
  9. Rom 6.22.
  1. We cannot, of course, by our best works deserve to be forgiven for our sins and to receive

eternal life from God. There is that great disproportion between our best works in this life and

the glory which is going to be revealed in us, and there is the infinite distance between us and

God, who does not profit from our best works and is not satisfied by them for the debt of our

previous sins.16 When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty and are

unprofitable servants.17 Since the goodness of our best works in fact proceeds from his Spirit18

and since, insofar as they are done by us, our best works are defiled and mixed with our

weakness and imperfection, they cannot therefore even stand the scrutiny of God’s judgment.19

  1. Rom 3.20, 4.2,4,6, Eph 2.8-9, Ti 3.5-7, Rom 8.18,22-24, Ps 16.2, Jb 22.2-3, 35.7-8.
  2. Lk 17.10; see citations under 15 above.
  3. Gal 5.22-23.
  4. Is 64.6, Gal 5.17, Rom 7.15,18, Ps 143.2, 130.3.


Tit. 3:4-7 (ESV) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  

Categories: 2012, Ephesians, Sermons

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