Ephesians study

3 – Earned or Free?

Break the Ice (5 min)

  • Pull out a ten-dollar bill from your wallet. Discuss how it is your money and how you got it. Earned or gift, for example.
  • What would you do with $10?
  • What does it mean for something to be a free gift?

Bring the Word (40 min)

Ephesians 2: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)

So, if I wanted to give this money away and offered it as a free gift to anyone who wanted it, they could come and take it for their own without working or doing anything for it except to just receive it? (If someone doesn’t get up and receive the $10, keep waving the money around until the money is taken.)

Did that person do anything to receive the money? Y or N

The answer is Yes because they had to actively receive it. The money was offered to anyone that would come and take it. Anybody could have received it as a free gift; so why didn’t they?

Prayer for the conversation to come. (Leader)


Part 1 Topic: The Father’s plan for the unity of all things in Christ. Ephesians 1 through 3:21

Paul’s understanding of the Father’s plan for all humanity, Eph. 2:1-3:13

  1. Sinful mankind’s need
  2. The Father’s gracious provision
  3. Mankind’s needed covenant response
  4. The Father’s plan fully revealed

Eph. 2:1-10 Have someone or several read this passage

Key points to mention by verse:

  1. The hopelessness, helplessness, and spiritual lostness of mankind (vs 1-3)
    1. Spiritual death
    2. Physical death
    3. Eternal death (also called the second death)
    4. Mankind’s three enemies are the fallen world, Satan, and ourselves (the flesh)
  1. The unmerited grace of God (vs 4-7)
    1. God loved us in the past and continues to love us
    2. Jesus action in 1:20 provided us as believers the ability come alive spiritually
    3. One of the passages that provide the basis for the doctrine of the security of the believer
    4. Another example of the redemptive process (raised us with Him)
  1. The necessary human response, faith, and life (vs 8-10)
    1. We must respond to God’s offer of grace and forgiveness
    2. He always initiates and sets the course and boundaries
    3. Our faith is initial and continuing
      1. We must repent
      2. We must obey
      3. We must serve
      4. We must worship
      5. We must persevere
    4. “not as a result of works” – Salvation is not earned or by merit
    5. “so that no one may boast” – God’s grace – See Jer. 9-23-24
    6. We are a finished product which is still in process.
    7. The Spirit forms believers through Christ’s ministry by the will of the Father. New spiritual creation is described in the same terms as the initial creation.
    8. Our lifestyle after we meet Christ are evidence of our salvation. We are saved to serve. A free salvation that requires a cost-everything response.

Eph. 2:11-22 Have someone or several read this passage

  1. God’s will has always been the salvation of all humans – Jew or Gentile, Uncircumcised or Circumcised.
  1. “covenants of promise” – Unconditional (God’s promise of grace and forgiveness) and conditional (our response and lifestyle).
  1. Reflects both God’s sovereignty (predestination) and our choice (faith, repentance, obedience, and perseverance).
  1. God’s family is no longer national but spiritual.
  1. “He himself is our peace”
    1. Peace between God and man
    2. Peace between Jew and Gentile
    3. “peace” – to restore that which was broken
    4. Mystery was that both groups were to be one – Christian.
    5. The unifying theme between the Old and New Covenants
  1. “in His flesh” or “His own body” – Emphasizing Jesus’ humanity as well as His ministry.
  1. “enmity” – removed by giving us a new heart, a new mind, and a new spirit
  1. “might reconcile” – Essentially removing the curse of Genesis 3. We are restored to the relationship God initially wanted with us.
  1. “through the cross” – Jewish leaders intended it to be a curse (Deut. 21:23) but God used it for redemption (Isaiah 53)
  1. 10. Another statement as to the truth of the Trinity (vs 18)
  1. NT Jesus as:
          1. A rejected stone (Ps 118:22)
          2. A building stone (Ps 118:22 & Isa. 28:16)
          3. A stumbling stone (Isa. 8:14-15)
          4. An overcoming/conquering stone (Dan. 2:45)
          5. Jesus own descriptions (Matt. 21:42, Mark 12:10 & Luke 20:17)

Eph. 3:1-13 Have someone or several read this passage

  1. “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles” – Imprisoned in Rome because of a riot in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-Acts 22:22)
  1. “has now been revealed” – NT believers know more about God, God’s plan, and Jesus than any OT person
  1. In Christ there is no more Jew or Gentile – fellow-heirs, fellow members, and fellow partakers of the promise.
  1. “unfathomable”, “unsearchable” – We cannot discover God, but God has chosen to reveal Himself.
  1. “to bring to light”, “to make all people see” – Only the Spirit can bring this light/revelation to man’s dark heart. English word “photo” comes from this Greek word.
  1. “eternal purposes” (vs 11) – First clarified in Gen. 1:26-27, 3:8 for fellowship, fellowship was broken by human rebellion (Gen. 3), restoration to be through Jesus (Gen. 3:15), and the Spirit (John 16:8-14)
  1. “boldness” – In Christ, we have boldness.
  1. “confident access” – See 1 Pet. 3:18, 1 Tim. 2:5

1. Are all humans really estranged from God?

2. Do humans have a significant part in their own salvation?

3. Why is the union of Jew and Gentile so significant?

4. How did Jesus make the Law “null and void”?

5. Is the Law of God eternal? How do Christians relate to the Mosaic Law and the entire Old Testament?

6. Why does Paul emphasize the building metaphor in Eph. 2:19-23?

Bring it Home (5 min)

Preparation for next week: Reread chapter 2 through 3:13. Read chapter 3:14-21. Bring any insights or questions from this week’s lesson.

Have someone close in prayer.

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