The Apostle Paul like many of his epistles begins Ephesians with “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2). Grace, Paul which invariably mentions first, is that free gift from God to the elect. It is by God’s grace that we are saved. It is by God’s grace that He, “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:2).
But although we are blessed and saved by God’s grace, this very same grace is something we cannot earn. You can go to Church and tithe all you want but no work or deed will earn our way into heaven.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“For by grace are ye saved.” Why? For starters we have to understand that, “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord” (Psalms 3:8). Salvation is the sole (and soul) property of God. We can’t create our salvation or earn it. Only God by his merciful grace can give it because it is only His to give.
Paul makes it clear that salvation is, “not of yourselves“ and “Not of works“. This is why grace is often defined as unmerited favor. We are sinners. Salvation through grace came to an imperfect, unmerited carnal being. Man does not warrant salvation. Only through God’s grace are we afforded it.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
But let’s not leave out the key words for man to understand in the verse, “through faith”
“When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.” John Calvin
The marriage between God and man is made complete through faith. But does God show His grace and mercy to everyone?
“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Grace and the Spiritual Cliff
If anything, this highlights the spiritual cliff in which we precariously stand on. Our salvation is “not of yourselves” and “not of works”. There is no special race, creed or breed of people that God prefers over another nor is there any good deed or works that can earn our way into heaven. God will have mercy, compassion and grace on whom He chooses. We respond to God in faith.
This is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17)
And likewise to the Colossians, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
Paul earnestly prayed that everyone would understand that God is not a “given”. Paul hoped that God would give them, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him”. Paul also knew that, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Colossians 1:21).
Man is his worst enemy. By allowing the darkness of evil in, man blinds himself to the very God that has availed himself to them. This is what Paul wanted everyone to understand. He wanted them to know that God, “put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10).
Paul knew that God’s chosen could be deaf, dumb and blind to God’s call because of sin.
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).
Not to respond to the call of God is open rebellion to Him. If you hear and see Him then you know Him. To then not choose Him is purposely choosing darkness over light.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
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