“A Summary of the Gospel”
Sermon on Ephesians 2:8-10
Rev. Paul E. Capetz
Christ Church by the Sea (United Methodist),
Newport Beach July 14, 2019
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
Last Sunday I said that a minister has to be a preacher, a teacher, and a pastor and that a minister needs faith, intelligence, and love in order to fulfill these responsibilities. But since the minister is merely an authorized representative of the church’s ministry as a whole, what is true of the minister is also true of the church’s ministry. Hence, as a congregation we need faith, intelligence, and love in order to fulfill our mission as the gathered church in this time and place. This morning I am going to speak about the content of what we preach, teach, believe, and strive to live out as Christians: the gospel of Jesus Christ. And as I did last week, so this week I am turning to the apostle Paul for guidance.
A few years ago, this short passage from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians that was just read aloud caught my attention as an especially clear and succinct statement of what Christian faith is all about. In the margin of my Bible I wrote this note: “the best summary of the gospel in the entire New Testament.” A good summary takes a complex of ideas and distills them into a brief, compact form that is easy to remember. For this reason, a summary is also a good teaching tool. If we can memorize it, we will always have the main points immediately at our disposal. This is what Paul does in Ephesians. He articulates the main points of the gospel in such a succinct manner that we can easily remember them, preach them, teach them, and—most importantly— live by them.