“Lavished With Grace”
By Ralph Gomez
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
(Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV)
I sent my notes out on Ephesians chapter 1. If you have not received these, you can visit my blog “Our Light and Momentary Afflictions” and read the notes. Or download them from Zoho at viewer.zoho.com/docs/cca2acc.
Anyway, a Facebook friend asked me about my bibliography yesterday – a good question. I’ve been using about 5-7 different commentaries, plus the excellent language tools that come with the Logos and E-Sword Bible programs. The Logos resources are far superior, but E-Sword has some very excellent inexpensive stuff which anyone can download.
So, as I was studying more yesterday, I ran across some things that I wanted to share before moving on with this sermon series on the Book of Ephesians. In particular the meaning of the word “grace” as Paul uses it in his epistles. Grace is obviously, vital to our understanding of salvation and the Christian life in general, but also it appears over and over in Ephesians. – over 12 times! So we need to understand what Paul meant by “grace” right?
This particular tidbit of “heavenly blessing” is significant. It comes from the NIV Application Commentary by Klyne Snodgrass – a New Testament scholar at St. Andrews in Scotland. Please read – it will “bless” you! Dr. Snodgrass starts from the understanding that Paul, as a Jew, is using Greek equivalents to express Jewish ideas to his readers. We must always have this in mind because it adds to our understanding of New Testament words.
“The New Testament meaning of the word grace (charis) combines elements from two Old Testament words: hen, which focuses on the mercy of a superior to an inferior, and hesed, which stresses covenant faithfulness. The basic connotation of the Greek word is whatever causes delight and rejoicing: beauty, kindness, favor. Grace, then, refers to God’s unbelievable acceptance of us. It is not something God gives us, rather, it is God’s giving us Himself.” It is His coming along side us to embrace us and work for our benefit. Grace is the Judge of the universe asking criminals to sit down to a meal in his home. The initiative always belongs to God, who grants people the gift of eternal life in Christ.”
And this acceptance is not flaky. He doesn’t turn it on or off – notice the Hebrew background to the word – “hesed.” Hesed carried the idea of a commitment to be merciful. Some even say that it is better translated “faithful love” – so that it is the O.T. equal of N.T. Agape!
As with all things, we can better understand it by seeing it in action. It is used by David in Psalm 23 to express God’s faithfulness.
“Kindness and faithful love (hesed) pursue me every day of my life. I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.” Psalm 23:6 (David Stern - the Complete Jewish Bible)
Grace is the power that works salvation – from beginning to end. It is not just about the beginning of our Christian life – the new birth or the born again experience - but all of it! This is significant because I run across believers all the time who feel as if they’ve somehow exhausted the grace of God – or that God is so mad at them that He has checked out completely. This is not the case. He saved you in Grace and continues to work in you through that same grace.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--(Ephesians 2:8 NIV)
The NIV translation does not bring out the power and timing of this salvation as well as the King James.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)
Notice the KJV translates the Greek differently - ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι. It gives it a more present sense. The NIV has more of a past sense. Well which one is it? Were we saved by grace or are we “being saved through faith.” The answer is that both are true.
The verb tense used by the writer to say “you are saved” is the Present Tense in the Greek. It describes a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer).
But, according to scholars - the emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.
So if grace was at work to bring you to be born again – it is by necessity at work now to keep you saved, and to finally and ultimately bring you to safety into the arms of a loving Father!
A little sideline.
If you haven’t read “Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent – you simply have to. There a lot of amazing stuff that Colton, who was only four years old when he had this experience, says in the book – but the most profound thing that stick to my head is a conversation between Colton and his father, Todd. Todd was sort of testing Colton’s story to see how genuine it was at so he asked Colton why he thought Jesus had to die on the cross. Colton’s answer was amazing in its innocent simplicity - “(Jesus told me) I had to die on the cross so that people on earth could come see my Dad”
Grace is at work in you.
Now, you might not be aware of that grace at work – or perhaps you don’t see what is happening in your life right now as “grace.” In times like these, I just ask God to open my understanding to let me see and understand - to recognize the season of grace that I am in. Sometimes, difficulties and crisis bear the marks of His grace, and I am unaware. What is important to understand is that His grace is at work in an atmosphere of Spiritual Warfare. Since we are Kingdom people, our very lives are battlefields between the powers of this present age, and the powers of the age to come. The Good News is that God has delivered the fatal blow to Satan at the Cross of Jesus Christ. “It is finished” – the war is over, but the skirmishes and side battles will continue until Jesus returns. We must be aware of His enabling grace and the fact that the enemy of our souls is still at work.
Also, Grace and Favor are indistinguishable. We often hear messages on the favor of God and the grace of God – as if they were separate blessings. The child of God is always walking in “favor” – His mercy and love and new every morning. Great is His faithfulness! (this is not to say that you cannot ask for more of it! I would!)
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