Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lent Words Day 34:Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

Two small words in this passage hold significant impact for us and hold the very grace of God: 

There are over 40 times in the whole Bible where these words are used together. Here are just a few:
"But God remembered Noah..." Genesis 8:1
"But God will be with you..." Genesis 48:21
"But God meant it for good..." Genesis 50:20
"But God did not give David into his hands..." 1 Samuel 23:14
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave..." Psalm 49:15
"But God raised him from the dead..." Acts 13:30
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us..." Romans 5:8

These words lead us to God's intervening grace throughout the Scriptures. 

“May I put it quite simply? If you understand those two words—‘but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.” – James Montgomery Boice

The beginning of Ephesians chapter 2 reminds us of our state without God - "You were dead in your transgressions and sin".  Then, verse 4 opens up to remind us of the words that are at the very heart of the Gospel - But God.

Let me paraphrase the beginning of  today's passage: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, made us alive with Christ - it is by His grace we have been saved. " The Greek word order shows us that we are saved first, because of God's mercy, and second because of His great love for us. God is rich in mercy because of His great love. His mercy and His love lead Him to act in grace. In His grace He saved us, He made us alive with Christ, He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms. This is the Resurrection Life! It is the life we live in spiritual union with Christ!

God made us alive with Christ, raised us with Him, and seated us in the heavenly realms with Him in order to show the riches of His grace seen in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. And thus,  it is by grace He has saved us; not by ourselves or by any works we could do. Our salvation is a gift of God. A gift that we receive by faith in Christ.

I just love this passage in Ephesians 2, as well as our other reading today in Romans 3:21-24. A reminder of God's mercy and love for us expressed in His grace to us through Jesus Christ is a great way to begin Holy Week. 

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