Journal Eph 2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath (like the rest of mankind).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us (even when we were dead in our trespasses), made us alive together with Christ—(by GRACE you have been saved)—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, SO THAT in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by GRACE you have been saved through faith. And this is NOT your own doing; it is a gift of God—not a result of works—so that no one may boast.” Eph 2:3b-9
Observation: Unilateral decision by God to exercise Grace. The above is the very clear description of what Sovereign Grace looks like—and the only exercise I get to do is exercise faith— (which is enabled by the Holy Spirit but that is another post…).
Analysis: You know I write this for me, right?
I must write this stuff—because I want to remember the Gospel and I am prone to forget. It doesn’t take long to wander down another path, to fall off the horse…and climbing back in the saddle takes more effort for me than staying there in the first place.
Also, I break up the Scripture reference in ways that make sense to me in sentence structure (syntax). If I don’t, I tend to read in a run-on monotone—not at all like people think or talk. Paul’s a passionate guy; therefore, I should put some passion in the passage.
So far, I think I see the “before” and the “after.” The before: “…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh…”. But, in the context of the letter to Ephesians, this is not a statement that ends the discussion of “over and done with or not” concerning pursuing the flesh or pursuing the Spirit.
The after: “…being rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ.” These are the two issues I want to remember.
Grace is difficult to define. In God, Grace is a noun; sometimes it is a verb (giving grace). The Microsoft office Thesaurus shows these descriptions: favor, mercy, benevolence, clemency, blessing, dignify, honor and others. What I am learning is that Grace, as related to anything concerning the Trinity, is fully more (to the umpteenth power) than I could ever imagine defining.
Therefore, when I refer to the Grace of God saving me through faith, it is far, far, beyond in depth of anything that I could hope to have a definition I could fully relate to. It is the WONDER of the Gospel engaged.
What isn’t beyond doubt is the next phrase: “…and this is NOT your doing; it is a gift of God—not of works—so that no one may boast.”
Grace is unilateral; Grace is sovereign. Grace in salvation, adoption, atonement, etc., is only by God—NOTHING I can do will make me more acceptable to Him. Only the blood of Jesus….
You know how hard that is to accept? Unconsciously little things happen every day that I think “ah, this will draw me closer to the Mercy Seat.” “I did [this], and I did [that], and I did [the other thing] …and I can puff my chest out and feel pleased with myself on increasing visible holiness. “I hope that other folks saw that; it would be a witness on what to do…” While that doesn’t seem “off”, this kind of thinking can become “off” so very easily.
How can I stay true to the Gospel? That is the daily question…
Prayer: Lord, I am learning more of what Grace means daily. I am learning that it is difficult to search You and Your ways while battling the old man, that creature of sin trying to regain rule in my life. But (and this is what I recall daily), Your mercies are new every day. Your Grace permeates everything I see and I (if I take notice) I see your sovereign hand everywhere.
Clear the fog of the familiar from my eyes that I can see You. AMEN