Salvation by Grace



A Bible Study by  Jefferson Vann

Ephesians 2:1-9 NIV “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

the questions:

Why You Could Not Contribute To Your Salvation.

1. You were born spiritually ____________________ (1).

2. You naturally followed the ____________________ in its rebellion against God (2).

3. You were naturally disobedient because ___________ was your ruler (2).

4. What you _____________________ to do was sin (3).

5. You were by nature an object of God’s _________ (3).

What God has already contributed to your salvation

1. God chose to ________________________ you (4)

2. God chose to have _________________ on you (4).

3. God chose to give you _________________________ just as he raised Jesus from the dead (5).

4. God chose to give you a new __________________, that of being in Christ (6).

5. God chose to demonstrate his ___________________ to you for eternity (7).

What is there left to contribute?

1. _______________, because you are already alive (5).

2. _____________, because you are already exalted (6).

The answers:


Why You Could Not Contribute To Your Salvation.

1. You were born spiritually dead (1).

2. You naturally followed the world in its rebellion against God (2).

“The essence of the doctrine of grace is that God is for us. What is more, he is for us who in ourselves are against him.”

T. H. L. Parker, “Grace.” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology. 257

3. You were naturally disobedient because Satan was your ruler (2).

4. What you wanted to do was sin (3).

5. You were by nature an object of God’s wrath (3).

What God has already contributed to your salvation

“…God takes the initiative in saving men. If he left men to themselves, no one would ever be saved.”

James A Nichols, Christian Doctrines. 76

1. God chose to love you (4)

“…grace is an attribute of God….It is God’s free, sovereign, undeserved favour or love to man, in his state of sin and guilt, which manifests itself in the forgiveness of sin.”

L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology. 427

2. God chose to have mercy on you (4).

“Grace is the sweet sovereign favor shown to someone who does not deserve any favor, but the exactly the very opposite.”

Will Pounds, “Salvation By Grace Alone.” jun26.html

3. God chose to give you new life just as he raised Jesus from the dead (5).

“Even faith is not some good work which God must reward with salvation. It is God’s gift.”

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology. 959

4. God chose to give you a new status, that of being in Christ (6).

5. God chose to demonstrate his kindness to you for eternity (7).

What is ther left to contribute?

1. Nothing, because you are already alive (5).

2. Nothing, because you are already exalted (6).

“There cannot be two ways of salvation for the same people. … If, then, I teach men that they can be saved by works, I have practically told them that salvation by grace is a myth, a mistake, a mischievous error.”

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Agreement of Salvation by Grace with Walking in Good Works” Online: 2210.htm

marvelous mess

IMG_20150215_100639The image that comes to some people’s minds when we talk about a church service is somber, quiet reflection on God in an atmosphere of neat, orderly worship.  But some of the services at Takanini Community Church, an Advent Christian church in South Auckland, New Zealand are anything but that.  There are games and toys and learning exercises going on all over the place. Instead of everybody facing a speaker in rows of pews, most often big kids are working on projects in small groups, or small kids are playing together or singing and dancing together, with lots of noise and a bit of controlled chaos.

A few years ago, Takanini church made the decision to really be a community church.  They have worship services, and can be quiet and somber when the time calls for it, but what really sets TCC apart is its ministry to people (not just from the church fellowship, but) in the community.  Every Wednesday, there is Noah’s Ark Playgroup, where small kids from the community come together and enjoy playing with each other within the church’s fellowship hall and lounge, and on the church grounds.  Later, the kids and their parents enjoy singing and dancing at our Mainly Music event.  It’s like a really lively Sunday School, but it’s designed for those kids and their parents who do not go to church.  It’s a way of introducing them to fellowship, wholesome fun, and Christian life without the formal structures of membership. 

IMG_20150215_104938One Sunday a month, TCC has what we call Messy Church.  This is a little bit more structured than Playgroup, and also attracts kids who are a bit older.  It still involves a great deal of activity, learning projects, fun and fellowship.  Everything is centered around a Bible lesson, and the staff teaches that lesson well, but not with a long sermon.  The kids learn through their projects, and the short teaching time drives it home.  It is more like a Vacation Bible School event than a church service.  However, like VBS, this may be the only opportunity for some of these kids to hear the gospel message.

There are many other things we at TCC do to immerse ourselves into the community.  We offer our sanctuary and other rooms to be booked for personal, social group and community events.  We invite other churches and church plants to use our property for their meetings.  Our staff volunteers for service in schools and government run programs.   The commitment is to not just be located in the Takanini community, but to be part of that community, to touch as many lives as possible, through as many means as possible.

That is ministry.  It makes an impact on people in the community with the gospel.  It also gives those within the fellowship a chance to prove their love for God and others by kind acts of service. Lots of churches are beginning to realize the potential for these kinds of programs.  We are just beginning to see that “effectiveness is not measured by what happens inside the church but rather by the impact the people of the church have on their communities.”In Takanini, Advent Christians have committed themselves to the task of serving others as a means of winning them to Christ.  It is a costly commitment, and it means getting a little messy now and then.  But it is a marvelous mess.



{Here’s Penny Vann helping some kids construct a tower.  This month’s lesson was all about the tower of Babel.}

Jefferson Vann

Auckland, New Zealand


1 Rick Rusaw, Eric Swanson, The Externally Focused Church.

what a kitchen table is for

office 001On a few rare occasions, Penny and I actually use our kitchen table for eating.  But, most of the time it looks like this.  We have not yet moved in to our office at the church, so we do most of our emails and writing and Skype phone calls from our laptops, right here on our kitchen table.  From this operational headquarters, we are setting up new accounts, corresponding with people here in New Zealand and overseas, making plans, writing sermons, doing conference calls, etc. 

So far, we have set up a bank account, tax identity, library account, got a Fly Buys account (a shopping promotional thing), bought two phones (one of which is not yet activated, and made a doctor visit).  We have had some meetings in person with actual people in ministry here, but it is amazing how much can actually be done online now. 

But that does not mean we are staying home.  We go on long walks just like we did back in Virginia, and we visit people from our church.  Although the setup process is going somewhat slowly, and is much more complicated than we expected, we are still having lots of fun, and are excited about the chance to serve the LORD here.  Thanks again for sending us, and for supporting us with your prayers.  They are felt.

Jeff and Penny Vann

Auckland, New Zealand

We’re back in New Zealand!



Penny and I are back in New Zealand as field missionaries now.  We arrived in Auckland on Sunday, 1 February.

We are gradually getting ourselves sorted out and set up in our new environment.  Just today, we applied for our IRD numbers, and we didn’t even know what that was until this week. 

We want to say a big THANK YOU to all those who are supporting our work here, and for all of you who are praying for us.  Your prayers make a difference, because God makes a difference!

Please continue praying over the next few days because setting up life in a new culture can be a bit stressful.


— Oh, and I started this new blog to replace some of my older ones (which I will soon retire).  If you want to stay up to date on our work and exploits, subscribe to this blog.  Jefferson Vann.