As part of our ongoing series “The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching” we’re encouraging the people of @goodshepherd to begin their days in the Word and not in the world. I am devoting this space to reading prompts so that we can resource the same people we encourage.
This week’s readings reinforce last Sunday’s bottom line: God is too good to be fair. As a result, we will look at a number of different sections from the letters of Paul, all of which revolve around the idea of what we call “salvation by grace.”
Today: Ephesians 2:1-10
Guess what? Another letter that Paul DICTATED to a scribe and was DESIGNED to be read out loud to a church gathering of people. In this case, the church in the ancient city of Ephesus, part of what is today Turkey.
And notice the pronouns again! 2:1: “As for YOU …” Who is that? The Ephesian Christians, Gentiles by birth. But then Paul turns it in 2:3: “All of us also lived among them …” Who is that? We Jews, headed by Paul, writing this letter. What do Jew and Gentile share according to these words? Uh oh: “we were by nature deserving of wrath” (2:3) And then following that grim diagnosis – all people, Jew and Gentile alike, are bound in sin and headed for hell – Ephesians 2:4-5 has the greatest “but” in Scripture:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
Hallelujah! You’re not responsible for making yourself alive. God does that for you. God does for you what you could never do for yourself: forgive your sin and save your soul. As you continue reading, Ephesians 2:8-9 seals the deal: “… not by works so that no one can boast.
And what is the result of all this grace pouring and soul saving? That we do the good works in his great name that he designed us for at the beginning of time (2:10).