One reason why I really love my church is how much everyone looks out for each other. This was a major thing as a first year looking to join somewhere new. My friend had the worst experience of it all, 6 months of being a regular, she was still getting pamphlets inviting her to the newcomers events.
One-to-one bible studies offered by St. Helens are neat, they’ve really got me digging into the bible and today, I thought I’d spice up my prep by turning it into a blog post as today’s study is on one of my favourite bits of Ephesians – 2:1-10.
I love this passage because it’s almost like the entire gospel condensed into a paragraph. It opens up with Paul painting a picture of us, how truly fallen we were. “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked“, “[following a] spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience“ “children of wrath“. Pretty bad. And he tells us how this is happening, by living in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of our bodies, not God’s. I think he does mean to be graphic here, for what does dead mean but lifeless? No longer as self sufficient as we’d like to think. Helpless. Dead. It’s a real bleak situation.
“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 in Christ Jesus, …[that] he might show us the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us”
This is the gospel, this is the good news! We don’t deserve even a fragment of this, having purposefully turned our backs on the very God who created us and followed our own way into death, Christ takes that wrath that we were destined for. Like in the well known story of the prodigal son, whilst we were still a long way off, our father runs towards us, throws his arms around us and lavishes us with the immeasurable riches of his grace. He doesn’t hold a grudge, but seats us up with him, I can’t really grasp this concept because it’s so alien to give so much to someone who has taken so much from you.
And because he knows what we’re like as people, as human beings, we suck at taking gifts, there’s always got to be a catch, a hidden fee. No. It’s “not a result of works, so no one may boast”. The whole point of grace is that it’s undeserved, unmerited favour. All we have to do is accept his gift.