Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ephesians: All of grace (1:7a)

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace"

*I remember getting into the car with Mom, wondering where we were going, and being told that she had some stamps she wanted to use. In those pre-teen years I didn't know what a redemption store was, much less what S & H Green Stamps signified. It would be years before I understood that the stamp redemption store, and the ubiquitous pawn shop are the two best secular examples of the basic meaning of 'redemption.' The word means to buy back, to release from bondage, and, in the days of the Roman Empire when the book of Ephesians was written, redemption was illustrated in the process of buying a slave, and then giving him/her complete freedom.
The spiritual application is strong.
Praise to His Name, the Lord Jesus paid with His sinless life the ransom God required for the freeing of elect sinners from sin's bondage!
In contrast to the world's definition of freedom (doing what you want, when you want, and how you want to do it), genuine freedom is the ability to do what you ought. Only the blood-bought believer has this spiritual ability to do that which is pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). This freedom is our calling (Galatians 5:1), grace-given and irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
So let the redeemed of the LORD say so! (Psalm 107:2)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

All of Grace: Eph. 1:6

"to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved"

*A dictionary definition of truism is succincted stated as 'an obvious truth'. And surely there are few, if any,more widely-accepted ones than this: God helps those who help themselves. It epitomizes the world's perspective. It so naturally fits and expresses humanity's common sensical stance on life in general, and religion in particular, that to question it one might as well go ahead and cast doubt on breathing as beneficial to life.

In stark contrast to this false assumption stands the biblical truth of salvation by grace. Diametrically opposed to the notion that somehow we can spiritually help ourselves, and thus deserve God's help, Scripture declares that the non-Christian is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), and all his efforts to please God are worthless (Romans 3:10-12). The one who has been changed by the Lord Jesus, however, has been placed "in the Beloved," and is viewed by God with the same love as He has for His Son. Such love must be of grace, for it could never be earned nor deserved. Who could force the hand of almighty God to unwillingly love?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:5)

"In love He predestined us..."

* In spiritual matters of an eternal nature, describing activities which occurred before we were born, as well as what will transpire after we are gone, the Bible is the Christian's objective source of revelation. And in all such matters, we have but two choices: revelation or speculation. Had God decided to conceal the truths we have in Scripture, we would be left to guess regarding His nature and character, His interaction with our world, and His will toward us. Praise to His Name for breathing out His Word by His blessed Spirit, revealing His heart of justice and mercy!
Of course, those who reject His revelation seem enamored with their speculations... one of which de-personalizes God as a cosmic Force. Only the Lord knows how widespread this erroneous perception has become, especially with the popularity of the Star Wars movies. A holiness-hating society embraces an impersonal Entity which (not who) has no Son, no cross, no resurrection, because man really has no sin (!). And, best of all, no judgment or hell. No wonder it's so popular!

But I serve no Force, but a loving Father! He (not it) predestined me to salvation, not out of brute sovereign power, but in love. In fact, it was "according to the kind intention of His will." I might have guessed that was the case, but how gracious He is to reveal this truth, sinking deep in my soul the security and spiritual safety that comes from embracing such love. Reminds me of that old saying, "the world didn't give it to me, and the world can't take it away." Praise, praise to His Name!