The Power and Message of the Cross

by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as 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 so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

Carefully read the passage above. How are we saved? Is it by our own worth? Is it by our own works? Is it by anything we do? If you say yes to any of those then try to find support for it in those verses above. You won’t find it. Instead, what you will find is that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. This is fully supported in the previous two verses that tell us For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. So with that fully in the forefront of our minds we go back and reread vv1-7. What was the mechanism that enabled this to take place since all of us without exception were dead in our trespasses and sins? 

The answer to that, of course, is the Cross. I can remember back in the late 1980’s being part of Evangelism Explosion at our Church. It had mixed results. But the main diagnostic question we asked people to get started on our gospel presentation was, “If you died today and stood before God and He asked you why should I let you in my Heaven, what would you say?” This diagnostic question was supposed to make them think and also to reveal to us where the person we were witnessing to was spiritually. However, if you take that question and apply it to what I shared in the introduction of this post don’t you see a problem? Are we saved by something we do? I have this same discussion more than you might imagine. This evening I watched the video below and was extremely blessed. It is not short, but I pray you watch it all the way through. It is a sermon by Alistair Begg. His breakdown of what I shared above and then applying to the Thief on the Cross in Heaven brought me to tears.

Soli Deo Gloria!