Posts tagged ‘God’

Ephesians 2:8-10 – Salvation by grace through faith

Paul presents a very clear presentation of the Gospel in these three verses. He include grace, faith, salvation and even good works. He doesn’t leave any doubt that salvation is not anything we can earn but a gift from God.

v.8-9,“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Obvious these are very familiar verses and most believers have memorized them. I prefer the version I memorized as a child NIV: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Paul is repeating himself from v.5 and elaborates on it by adding the two words I underlined. He says “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” “Grace”, again is God’s kindness towards undeserving humanity without them having merited it by their actions. God was not required to offer sinners salvation. He would be justified in condemning all people to eternal separation from himself.Salvation is a personal act from a personal God to sinners. “Grace” is the method by which we are saved. So the means by which salvation is appropriated, the means by which we are brought into a saving relationship to Jesus Christ, is “through faith.” We are save by grace though faith. There is a total absence of any consideration of merit. The source of our salvation is the grace of God. And the instrumental cause by which that salvation is appropriated is faith. “You can’t take credit for it” or in the NIV “this is not from yourselves” is referring to the idea there is nothing we as sinners can do to save ourselves from spiritual death. Another way of saying this is “not on the basis of works you can do.” Paul adds this phrase just incase anyone thought “faith” was a necessary work that people must perform in order to receive salvation. He uses the words “this” and “it” to refer to all of he has just spoken of … “saved”, “grace” and “faith.” They are“not from yourselves” and are a “gift of God.” Paul is very clear that nothing is of our own doing, not salvation, not grace, not even faith that is exercised to receive salvation, everything is a “gift of God.” And to make sure the believers understand what Paul is saying he adds “salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done” or in the NIV “not by works, so that no one can boast.” Paul wants the believers to realize they can do nothing to earn their salvation, and a person’s faith itself is not to be considered a “work” or a reason why anyone “can boast.” Paul was including in the the word “works” the “works of the law” which he refers to in Rom 3:20 and Gal 3:10. The believers needed to know that there was no effort on their part to earn their salvation, even obedience to the law. And if they were successful, their efforts would lead to boasting, bragging and spiritual pride which Paul wanted the praise to only go to God (Jer 9:24) not to man.

v.10,“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Paul doesn’t want there to be any misunderstanding as the believers read these verses so he adds one more affirmation here before moving on to the next topic. Paul has already stated that salvation is not the sinners achievement or a reward for anything we can do or have done. Here he goes one step further to leave no doubt. He states “we are God’s masterpiece”  can be translated “we are the result of God’s activity.” Paul is talking about salvation and new life are God’s work, humans didn’t cause it but are recipients. Salvation is God’s masterpiece, work or art, new creation. If we could earn our own salvation we would not be a work of God, we would be a work of our own selves.“He has created us anew” is important language because only God can create. He created the universe from nothing (Rom 1:20), now he creates old, dead, sinners into new, alive, new creations (2 Cor 5:17). This new creation take place “in Christ Jesus.” This new creation is based in Christ’s resurrection, he is the source of this creation. “So we can do the good things [good works AMP] he planned for us long ago.” Sinners become Christians through God’s undeserved favour (grace), not as a result of any efforts, merit or acts or good deeds. Even though no good work can help us to obtain salvation, God’s wants our salvation to result in acts of “good works”, service or kindness to serve Christ and build up the church (other believers). Good works don’t produce salvation but are the evidence of salvation (Jam 1:22; 2:14-26). “He planned for us long ago” meansGod had prepared a path of good works for Christians to do even before we were born. These good works will be done along life’s way while believers walk by faith. This means that God does a good work through us (not we do it for him) as we are faithful and obedient to him. Everything that is good that is done through us will be recognized as his work and not our own.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? We were sinners, spiritually dead and doomed for eternity without God. God extended his grace toward us to save us from our sins and eternal separation from God. And he accomplish this through his Son Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, without our help. Salvation was a gift from God (including God’s grace, our faith, and Jesus’ sacrifice). There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, not even our own faith—it is also a gift from God. As well Paul wants all sinners to understand that salvation is also not a reward for anything we have done because he doesn’t want us to have pride in any part of our salvation. It is only from God through Christ! Lastly Paul reminds the believers that salvation or new life in Christ is God’s masterpiece, work of art and produces good works in us which God had prepared before we were born. All the good that is done through us will be recognized as his work and not our own.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  There is more to salvation that just “getting saved.” Though accepting Christ into my life is the beginning of my life as a believers, that is not the end. I must realize that God has created me to live a life of faith that is demonstrated in good works. That is serving my fellow believers at church. That is serving those in need, the poor. And being kind, loving, supportive and giving to anyone in need. My good works should be the outcome of my salvation, not they are my salvation!

June 21, 2020 at 6:45 AM Leave a comment

Ephesians 2:4-7 – God’s action plan for humanity

In the first three verses of chapter 2 Paul gives the bad news about humanity. Here in the next few verses he gives the good news which is God’s action plan for humanity.

v.4,“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.” After what seemed like a hopelessness for all humanity in the first three verses, Paul starts this section with “but God.” With these two simple words Paul lays out an amazing plan that God puts together  how sinful humanity is not left to hopelessness which ended in death. God acted on behalf of humanity because he is “rich in mercy.” “Mercy” is sometimes referred to as God’s compassion or lovingkindness towards people even though they don’t deserve it (ex. Ps 51:1, Jonah 4:2). The word “rich” means that God is bountiful in mercy, he has an inexhaustible storehouse of it. He also acted on behalf of humanity because “he loved us so much.” I love this translation, it really makes us realize that God chose to help sinful humanity because of his deep love for us. “Love” in the Greek is agape it means selfless love that seeks the best for others. Sinful humanity can’t even approach a Holy God, but God extended his love to them because he alone can give them salvation. This love is beyond human understanding. This love was directed toward “us” which means Jews and Gentiles, everyone!

v.5,“That even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead (it is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Paul repeats himself from v.1 and reminds the believers “even though we were dead because of our sins…” Now Paul finishes his thought from v.1 “…he gave us life.” Another way of saying this is God “made us alive” NIV which means to be “saved.” Unbelievers were dead in their sins, but they were made alive because of what Christ did on the cross, he died for their sins and God “raised Christ from the dead.” The only way spiritually dead people can have a relationship with God is to be made alive. God is the only person who can accomplish this, which he did through his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ defeated sin and death by is death and resurrection to give sinners (spiritually dead) a chance to be made spiritually alive (Rom 6:8-11, 8:10-11, Gal 2:20, Col 3:12-13). “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!” Paul is going to expand on this phrase in v.8 but here he says a quick thought so that the believers know it is only because of God’s grace (unmerited favour) they are able to be saved. The Greek is only three words “you are saved” in order to convey the idea that salvation is accomplished and its effects are continuous upon the believer. And salvation is by grace alone, not by anything we sinners can do to save ourselves. Paul will explain further in v.8 and v.9.

v.6,“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” From 1:20 we learned Christ was raised from the dead and this was only accomplished by God, himself. As believers, God “raised us from the dead.” Both physical resurrection, in the future, and the new resurrection life from the moment they believe (Col 2:12). As Christ was raised from physical death, believers are raised from spiritual death, and they are assured of resurrection from that death and eternal life with God. Also as believers, God has “seated us with him in the heavenly realms.” Again back to 1:20 God has seated Christ in a place of honour at the right hand of God the Father, indicating Christ’s finished work and his victory over sin and death. Here, Paul makes it clear that “us” believers’ seating in the heavenly realms is not a future event but a here and now. Believers share in the victory now. The best way to describe this is as a statement of God’s purpose for his people (believers). A purpose which is going to happen no matter what, that it can be spoken of as if it has already happened (Rom 8:30). Believers, who are heirs with Christ, are spiritually exalted from the moment of conversion. They (we) have a citizenship in heaven, no longer just the earth (Phil 3:20). The power that raised and exalted Christ to a place of honour, is the same power that works daily in the believers’ lives. Helping believers to live and work for God during this time on this earth. “United with Christ Jesus” refers to the fact that all believers by virtue of their union with Christ actually share in Christ’s resurrection, ascension and exaltation.

v.7,“So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” In v.4 Paul starts simply with because “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much”, which is the first reason why God put his action plan in place mentioned in my commentary on v.4. Then in v.5-6 he lays out his plan…making us alive, raising us, and seating us along with his Son (Christ) in the heavenly realms. Here in v.7, Paul gives one more reason for God’s action plan on behalf of humanity. God wants to “point to us…as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us.” In the NIV the word “show” is used instead of in the NLT “point to us.” “Show” actually means display. In the same way an artist might display his painting to reveal his skill, so God displays his church (believers) to the universe to demonstrate his grace and kindness. This is the same grace and kindness that is demonstrated in Christ death and resurrection for the whole world. By raising and exalting believers (the church) God displays “the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness towards us” which he will continue to do “in all future ages” and on throughout eternity. Believers are a living evidence of his grace and kindness where believers will point people away from themselves and to him who they owe salvation. And the evidence of his grace and kindness towards us is “as shown in all he has done for us” which is of course he resurrected us and exalted us to the place of honour with his Son.Again this was accomplished only for those “who are united in Christ Jesus.” Without Christ’s sacrifice, there would be no hope for a relationship with God (Jn 3:16).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God has put together an action plan because of humanity’s hopelessness. This action plan is done because of his love, mercy, grace and kindness and was done so that we as believers could be a display of God’s grace and kindness to the world. His action plan is to make us alive in Christ, raise us from the dead and exalt us with his Son in heaven.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I am also thankful because of God’s love, mercy, grace and kindness he put together an action plan for my salvation. I want to point my unsaved friends and family to Christ and be a shining display of God’s grace and kindness no matter how they react to the Gospel and me.

June 14, 2020 at 3:12 PM Leave a comment

Heart attack

I was looking over my old post I wrote while in the hospital and I never really came out and said it. What you ask? Well, that on Feb 8 around 8:30am I had a heart attack!

My cardiologist wouldn’t say the word until just before my second procedure. That was when I finally asked him, “what happened to me? Did I have a heart attack or not? Or was it something else?” He finally said it was a “small” heart attack with very little damage to my heart. Which by the way is very good news, but not what anyone wants to hear. He could have told me it was stress, a panic attack, even hyperventilating, but NO it was a heart attack.

Not sure what you think when you hear those scary words, but I feel weak. I don’t know what to say. I often think about how young I am and how in the world can this happen to me. Isn’t this something that happens only to old people? I also get scared that it could happen again.

But after all the over thinking and anxious thoughts in my head I remember the most important thing, God is in control of my life. He has allowed yet another trial into my life. And he only knows why, so I need to trust him. Trust him like I did when I was a teenager battling cancer, when I was a young adult trying to have children and now with heart issues. I cling to my life verses once more,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

And I hope that when you come to a trial or an uncertainty in your life, instead of worry about it or getting angry, why not trust God that he has allowed this trial into your life for your good. I know if it wasn’t for the cancer in my life I wouldn’t be serving him today. So, like me, trust him with all your heart because he is the only one who is trustworthy.

February 21, 2013 at 2:28 PM 7 comments

Day 78…1 Corinthians 10:1-11

I Corinthians 10:1-11: Learn from others’ mistakes

Paul now switches gears from using himself as an example of a mature Christian to now in chapter 10 uses the children of Israel as an example of spiritual immaturity, hoping we can learn self-discipline from both.

v.1, a perfect example of believing the false notion that one can be saved and then live a faithless, God-less life can be seen in what happened to Jews’ “ancestors in the wilderness long ago.” The book of Exodus contains the records their miraculous escape from Egypt and how God guided them by “a cloud that moved ahead of them” during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. These two guides where referring to God’s presence. When they came to an obstacle in their way like the Red Sea, God brought them through as “all of them walked through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14).

v.2, this next verse seems very difficult to understand because Paul uses the word “baptized” but not the way we are used to understanding it, immersion in water. He uses it to suggest identification and allegiance with their spiritual leader of their community: “Moses.” “In the cloud” represented God’s presence and glory, indicating his protection. “In the sea” represented God’s salvation of his people through the Red Sea as they crossed safely to freedom to escape the pursuits of the Egyptians. “All” of the children of Israel experienced this “baptism” but the common experience did not keep most of them faithful to God in the days to come.

v.3-4, Further miracles along the children of Israel’s journey sustained them, like the “spiritual food” or manna from heaven. Paul said it was spiritual because God provided it for them. The “spiritual drink” referred to the water Moses obtained for them from a rock, another provision from God. Paul refers to “Christ” as the “spiritual rock that traveled with them,” meeting their needs for them wherever they went.

v.5, the children of Israel got to experience so many miracles performed by God, setting them free from slavery, guiding them through the Sea, and giving them food and water in a barren wilderness. After all this, “most of them” rebelled against God and “God was not pleased” so“their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” Only Joshua and Caleb lived long enough to enter the Promised Land.

v.6-10, Paul then gives a warning to the believers in Corinth, “these things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did.” Paul didn’t want the believers in Corinth to fall into the same trap as the children of Israel did. Paul goes on to give them a few more examples from the life of the Israelites: v.7, worship of the golden calf while Moses from receiving the Law on Mt. Sinai, v.8, men engaged in immoral sexual activity with Moabite women and 23,000 died in one day. v.9, When people complained against Moses and God about the hardships in the desert and God punished them sending poisonous snakes where many were killed that day, v.10, they complained against the leadership of both Moses and Aaron and God punished them with a plague that came from the angel of death.

v.11, All of “these things happened to them [Israelites] as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” Paul wanted us all (first century believers and believers today) to remember when the Israelites disobeyed, they rec’d punishment, likewise, when we as Christians sin with no repentance, no desire to change, we too will be punished.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  The most vivid thing I want to take with me from today’s study is I am no different than the Israelites and the Corinth believers. So I need to heed the warning Paul gives and the examples of what happened to the Israelites because they complained and disobeyed. I want to remember all the amazing things God has done for me like life and health (being a cancer survivor), food, family, my ministry and of course friends. And be grateful for those things he has provided for me instead of complaining about the things I don’t have and want.

January 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM Leave a comment

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