God’s work of grace

Small Group Material: 
Week Commencing: 
31 Jan 2010
Bible Base: 
Ephesians 2:1-10

Week 3 Ephesians 2:1-10 God’s work of grace – following sermon on Jan 31 (David Jeans)
1)      This is an amazing passage. It begins in verses 1-3 by describing the reality of the condition of his Gentile readers before they became part of the people of God through God’s act of grace. Make a list of what is being said here. How much hope does it hold out for them if God had not acted first?
2)      In this place where there was no hope, what are the first two words of verse 4? What do those two words say to us about any situation that we may find ourselves in?
3)      What does God do in verses 4-7 and why?
4)      ‘Grace’ is about God acting first. Share your understandings about what grace is and what your experience of it is.
5)      What do verses 8 and 9 say even about our faith? What does this suggest about prayer for our witness and for our preaching?
6)      For groups that want to think about this more deeply – the followers of John Calvin were so convinced about the fact that they could not have been saved without the grace of God (a conviction which I share!) that they made a theological system which effectively said that God’s love was restricted to those he had chosen and that there were a limited number of these. They were opposed by others (Arminians) who said that God’s offer of salvation was open to all. It is probably not helpful to get into great discussions about this, but I offer these thoughts of the great Anglican preacher/ evangelist of the 19th century Charles Simeon who said that (a) theological systems were usually correct in what they affirmed (eg God’s grace is essential for us to respond in faith; or that God’s offer of salvation is open to all), but wrong in what they denied (eg that God does not love everyone); (b) that on his knees before preaching he was a Calvinist asking God to bring people to faith; but in the pulpit he was an Arminian offering God’s salvation to all and asking them to respond. I would also offer the thought that it is arrogant folly for us to try to put God into the box of any theological system!
7)      There used to be arguments in theological circles about whether you are saved by faith (what you believe) or by works (what you do). What according to Paul is the place of works in our salvation? We will be seeing in later studies what these works are for which we have been saved.
8)      It would be misusing this passage to label others as beyond the reach of God (and to congratulate ourselves as being part of the people of God). How does it help us (a) to avoid the sin of pride and (b) in our vision for evangelism? Who is beyond the reach of God’s grace? (We also need to recognise that God’s grace is not confined by the church – so that God may well be acting in and through people beyond the walls of the church).