A People Called: The Story of Church from Ephesians (week 5)

Pastoral Reflections

By Grace.

Twice in last Sunday’s passage (Eph. 1:1-10), Paul used the phrase, “By grace.” The word, grace, appears 3 times within this short passage alone.

Grace is a familiar word in the English language, and common in Christian circles. In everyday life though, I wonder if we have become calloused to its power and potency. Paul was very fond of this word.

The Greek word often translated grace is charis. Depending on how it is used in the Greek, it has a range of meanings, like favor, goodwill, mercy, kindness (even loving-kindness), thankfulness, etc. Its Hebrew counterpart (khen) carries a visual notion of one who is stronger coming to the rescue of another who is weaker or helpless. A key understanding, though, is that the stronger one was not under obligation to do it. In other words, such help was not an entitlement. When the stronger offers it, it can be rightly considered a gift.

Then comes Paul’s point in this passage. The extent of grace that God has shown us in history – allowing selfishly dead people like us to share in His Son’s resurrection life and exaltation – what could be the reason for that?

Paul finds the reason, not in us, but in God Himself. He was rich in mercy and love for us. His love is so faithful that it must accomplish our rescue.

Thinking about this again this morning, I considered times I have been weak and helpless in my journey. And, often came the enemy’s taunting advice to prove myself. “Show God you’re capable – so he can keep loving you,” he whispers. The temptation is to look away from the surer path of grace. But, in this path I am reminded to cast my weak self in the hands of the God who is rich in mercy and love… the Strong One who comes to the rescue of this weak one.

I am finding that grace is not just something that happened one day in my life. It is that which keeps bringing things back to our redemptive favor, until the “immeasurable wealth of God’s grace… toward us in Christ” is fully known to all creation.

In God’s case, He didn’t just lend a helping hand. He gave Himself to us. Did I say gave? No! He gives Himself fully to us in Christ. No half measures. Never ending, until the day that Paul calls ‘the ages to come’.

To listen to the most recent sermon preached in this series, please click on sermon.