SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#6 GRACE

When Paul tells us that God has adopted us as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and his will [Ephesians 1:5] he goes on to say that this is 'to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves' [verse 6].

We commonly think of 'grace' as the attitude or even the feeling of God towards us - grace instead of payment of rewards or penalities, or as the vehicle or means by which salvation comes to us  - 'saved by grace not by works'. We thus tend to think of it as something that exists alongside of our salvation, rather than as part of that salvation. Here, however, Paul writes of 'grace' - this attitude of God, and this means by which we are saved - as something that is given to us in Christ, as one of the spiritual blessings of salvation that he has set out to describe in Ephesians 1:3-14.

What does Paul tell us here about this 'grace'?

[1] It is 'glorious' [verse 6] - it is as awesome as God himself. It cannot be anything else, for it comes from God, who is the Lord of Glory, and is found in Christ, who was full of glory.

[2] It is given to us freely [verse 6] - it is not determined or conditioned by anything of ours, good or bad. We do not merit, earn or deserve grace. Nothing we are or do attracts grace to us; nothing we are or do can drive it away from us. It is freely given.

[3] It is focused and found only in Christ, the One God loves [verse 6; 2:7] - it does not come to us as a stand-alone gift from God, but always in and through Jesus Christ whose incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection made it possible. To receive Jesus Christ, is to receive this grace. To reject Jesus Christ is to reject this grace.

[4] It is rich [verse 7] - it is multi-faceted, of great value, of complex application, totally sufficient, more than sufficient - super-abundant.

[5] It has been lavished upon us [verse 6] - over and above our perceived needs of forgiveness and reconciliation, over and above any of our human expectations or hopes of what God might do, way beyond any outcomes we could possibly imagine.

[6] It is in keeping with God's understanding and wisdom [verse 8]. We, in our pitiful ignorance of the depth and extent of our sin, and of the greatness of our own spiritual destitution and debt,  in our pitiful ignorance of God's sheer holiness and absolute justice, have no idea of the extent of that destitution, have no concept of the utter abhorrence of our sin, have no real concept of how terrible our predicament in the presence of this perfect, holy, just God. Yet God knows and understands it all fully. He knows how great is our sin debt; he knows how incapable we are of ever paying that debt; he knows how pure his holiness is, how perfect and unbending his justice. And with that understanding, with that wisdom,  he has lavished his grace upon us - grace that is more than sufficient to cover even our darkest, most secret sin, even to cover those sins which we ourselves neither realise nor admit, and more than adequate to satisfy his holiness and his justice.

[7] It is incomparable: There is nothing like it in terms of richness and abundance [2:7]. It is beyond description. Beyond comparision. It stands alone. Nothing in the ideologies of men, nothing in the religious of men, comes anywhere near it. It is unique. It is, like the God from whom it comes, one of a kind: holy.

[8] It stands as an eternal demonstration of his kindness towards us [2:7]. Commonly the world accuses God of being heartless, of being unloving. Grace, Paul says, this grace of salvation found in Jesus Christ, demonstrates the incredible, unexpected kindness of God.

When we stand in awe of this amazing grace, when we praise this grace of God freely given us in Christ, the One he loves, when we, through this grace, glory in him instead of wallowing in our guilt, God has, in us, achieved his purpose [Ephesians 1:6,12,14].

 Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017.