For Ministry Resources Youth Series : Ephesians

Lesson 02: Ephesians 02/03: Jesus Saves Us

Lesson 02

Jesus, rich in love, didn’t just take us from good to bad. Jesus supernaturally took us from death to life. He raised you from the dead. This is so much more than good news. This is the gospel! It’s the kind of news we want to shout from the rooftops, share with everyone we know, and reflect on every single day. As we often say, salvation is cause for celebration.



Large Group

Large Group Instructions

PREPARATION
Materials:
Leader
Note:

Download the attached script to bring with you to the podium.

  • Play: Ephesians Countdown - Countdown
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Leader
  • ILLUSTRATION: Discuss how animals can live with fatal injuries for quite some time.

Have you ever heard of zombie animals? While humans only thrive with their full nervous systems intact, some animals aren't so picky. Snakes have been known to bite their predators even after having their heads cut off. Frogs can hop around for nearly a full day without their brains. Chicken bodies have been known to run, jump, and even chase their captors after their deaths. It's both fascinating and unsettling.


While continuing his letter to the Ephesians, Paul shares some harsh language in chapter two.

His surprising words carry strong zombie vibes — not literally, but metaphorically.

Without Jesus, we aren't just directionless and purposeless, we are spiritually dead.

Sure, our bodies can move like a brainless frog, but it's all just an illusion.

We are only faking it because we are lifeless without Jesus.

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Leader

There is a book in the Bible called Ephesians. It’s a letter written by the apostle Paul to the Greeks living in a multicultural city by the coast. It was called Ephesus.

Paul wanted to help his Greek audience grasp the true distinction between God and the Greek gods worshiped in Ephesus.

Their gods were believed to help crops grow, but our God has the power to bring people back to life.

Yes, this is a serious distinction.

The prognosis or spiritual death is grim, but the remedy from God is glorious.

Let's dissect our spiritual diagnosis in Ephesians 2.

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Materials:
Leader

Just like a doctor discussing promising treatments after a bombshell diagnosis, Paul uses the same method to discuss our spiritual struggle.

"I have bad news and good news," says the Apostle Paul to his Ephesian friends.

"Let me give you the bad news first.”

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Leader

Paul begins this section with a description of their spiritual condition without Jesus. It's critical.

Before accepting Jesus as their Savior, the Ephesians were dead in their sins.

Their default setting is rebellion against God.

Paul didn't hold back in his evaluation because He knew the cure was far more powerful than the diagnosis.

Paul identifies three symptoms of spiritual sickness.

First, they follow "the ways of the world" (Ephesians 2:2a).

These are cultural beliefs that don’t align with truths from God.

In the city of Ephesus, Greeks were taught to deny Jesus and worship idol gods. While today’s “ways of the world” probably aren’t tempting you to worship ancient gods and goddesses, our culture has plenty of idols too.

Greed, lust, selfishness, prejudice, idolatry, and laziness are all cultural currents that pull us further from God. Resist them.

God’s ways are far better than our cultural trends. If it's outside of God's purpose, then it's pulling you away from God's promise.

Second, "the ruler of the kingdom of air” controlled their lives (Ephesians 2:2b). Who is the prince of the air?

Lastly, "our flesh" resists the things of God (Ephesians 2:3).

This is the enemy, the adversary, or the devil. While he goes by many names, one thing is certain. The enemy wants nothing more than to trick people into thinking they're fully alive without Jesus.

The devil lies to you, tricks you, and manipulates you into thinking you can thrive on your own.

The opposite is true because a fulfilled life is lived with Jesus.

Biblically speaking, our flesh represents our natural instincts without spiritual intervention.

These are our human and sinful desires that lead us in the opposite direction of God’s plans for us. 


That's the bad news. Without a life-giving relationship with Jesus, we are dead people walking.

Sure, we may move, breathe, and eat, but our hearts are in a spiritual casket.

However, there is good news coming, and it's the best news you'll ever hear.

Verses 1-3 are pretty dark, but they are illuminated by the universe-shifting promises in verses 4-6.

"But" is one of the most powerful words in this entire passage. It's a small word with a big meaning. Why?

It represents a shift in the tone of this passage.

Even more significant, it represents the cosmic shift that takes place when God steps into our lives.

What's the driving force behind Paul’s change of tone? It's the love and mercy of God.

Jesus, rich in love, didn't just take us from good to bad. Jesus supernaturally took us from death to life.

He raised you from the dead.

God interrupted your funeral service, put breath back in your lungs, dusted you off, and picked you up out of the casket.

We were spiritually dead but now we are eternally alive. How awe-inspiring is that?

God loves you. He wants you to live a full life and spend eternity with Him.

Thus, Jesus stepped in, defeated death, and saved us.

This is so much more than good news. This is the gospel. This is the kind of news we want to shout from the rooftops, share with everyone we know, and reflect on every single day.

As we often say, salvation is cause for celebration.

That is all great news! We were sick, but we can be cured.

Yes, the reality of our spiritual lifelessness is a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s helpful in the end.

Paul was a good leader and good leaders don’t shy away from the truth — even when it’s hard.

So, let’s follow suit and do the same thing.

Even more significant, it represents the cosmic shift that takes place when God steps into our lives.

What's the driving force behind Paul’s change of tone? It's the love and mercy of God.

Jesus, rich in love, didn't just take us from good to bad. Jesus supernaturally took us from death to life.

He raised you from the dead.

God interrupted your funeral service, put breath back in your lungs, dusted you off, and picked you up out of the casket. We were spiritually dead but now we are eternally alive. How awe-inspiring is that?

Paul wants us all to make a significant decision — how do we respond to the life-changing power of Jesus?

It’s a question we all need to answer because it changes everything for us.

Let’s say you're in near-perfect health. You will spend 80, 90, or maybe 100 years here on this earth. While that feels like a long time, it's only a raindrop in the ocean of eternity.

You will spend billions upon trillions of years in eternity. God wants to ensure you join Him.

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Leader

Jesus doesn’t just bless us (Ephesians 1), He also brings us back from the dead. (Ephesians 2).

God doesn't just bring us back to life, He gives us eternal life. Just imagine the glorious gift of eternity.

It's so much richer than floating on clouds with golden harps. It's the state of perfect union with God and God's perfect design for you.

You will never be sad; you will be reunited with your loved ones; you’ll never get tired; you'll receive rewards, and you'll love every second of it.

Eternity is going to be amazing. I want you to join me there.

When you turn to Jesus, that supernatural event becomes the first day of forever for you.

It’s not complicated to experience salvation.

All you need to do is confess and trust.

That’s the process.

There is no ten-step program.

There is no magical saying.

All you need to do is confess to Jesus through prayer and trust in Him.

PRAY: There is nothing special about any particular prayer of confession. It’s all about the heart behind the words. If you don’t know what to pray, it can sound a little like this: "Jesus, I admit that I’ve made mistakes. I’ve sinned and need your forgiveness. I believe that You came to Earth, died, and rose again so that I could be reunited with God. I declare you as my Lord and commit my life to You. I give you my past, present, and future. Please use my life to bring you glory. I give it to You. Amen.” 




Small Group

Small Group Instructions

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
Materials:
Leader
  • TALK IT OUT Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.

Ice Breaker: Go around your circle and share this week’s highs and lows. What was the best part of your week and what was the lowest part of your week?

Q1: What does the word “salvation” really mean?

Q2: Paul says that without Jesus you were “dead in your transgressions.” Why do you think he uses that phrase?

Q3: What do you think it means to be made “alive in Christ?”

Q4: What should our response be to the good news laid out in Ephesians 2:4-6?

Application: Pray and thank God for the miracle of salvation. Every day this week, ask God to make you more aware of the great gift that He has given you.

Materials:
Student
  • This reading plan includes:

    Mark 5:1-20 Psalm 22:19-31 1 John 1:2-3
 1 Timothy 6:7
 2 Peter 3:17
 Romans 5:3-4 Hebrews 12:1

    Do the following with each passage:

    ASK– God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down and inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you today.

    READ– the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

    REFLECT– on what grabs you. How does this passage personally relate to your own life and experiences?

    RESPOND– to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered.

About For Ministry Resources Youth Series

FMR develops a monthly youth ministry curriculum that is free to all local churches. Each monthly release includes a sermon series, small group series, Bible devotional, and supporting graphics packs that are original, practical, and ready to use.