Advent: December 13
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 flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving 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 is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Under the Law, we are destined to fail. The Law, which was instituted by God for his people Israel as they grew into a nation, made clear to them the nature of sin and its price, making provision for acts of sacrifice as payment for sins they had committed or fallen into. Israel had an open and ongoing account with sin, and payment seemed ever due for something. Our righteous and holy God was appeased by infringement offerings, but people were not free from sin.
(Another strand of Paul’s teaching is revealed in the first verse above – this world is infected with other spiritual powers that have a serious measure of influence. Read about spiritual armour here, paying attention to the introductory words.)
Paul knows all too well that God is merciful and gracious. Grace is in God’s name. He is not “The Lord, the Avenger, Slayer of the ungodly” or anything like that, but “..the compassionate and gracious God..”.
Paul tells us that we, not just the church at Ephesus, were born into a worldly existence. God gave us Jesus, who died for us to take us out of that world into his kingdom. Paul links God’s grace with our faith to believe in Jesus.
I have heard more than once the question, “Why did God go to all that trouble, and not just make a world where we all obeyed him and there was no death or suffering?” It’s a fair question, but do you know, and are you convinced of the answer? It’s to be found in the verses above.
Why would God want to save a wretch like me?
How does the world get to know about God’s saving grace?
Father God, by your grace this child of darkness has been brought into your family of light and truth through the redeeming work of my Lord Jesus. I will never understand the heights of your love, the depths of your compassion, the wonders of your grace. I can only stand in awe of you, and worship you as my Father. Amen.