The book of Ephesians is powerful and life-giving in so many ways, but mostly because of Paul’s bold instructions for Christian living and for its message of grace.
The Lord has used His Word and His people to teach me a lot about grace over the last year. It all began with a little book called Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian (who happens to be a CIU graduate and Billy Graham’s grandson.)
In his book, Tullian stresses the importance and practice of grace in our Christian lives. Because, after all, it is by GRACE we are SAVED! It is by GRACE we are ABLE to mature spiritually. Not because of our constant striving or working or doing. It is by GRACE we are able to become holy, sanctified, and righteous before God. Tullian explains this kind of grace by saying, “When gospel grace grips your heart, life becomes all about gospel grace. When the gospel reorients how you think and feel and live, all of life becomes about the work Jesus accomplished for us, not what we can accomplish for him – or anyone else for that matter. We’re liberatingly decreased while Christ is gloriously increased.”
Learning about true, gospel grace has set me free from climbing the proverbial ladder to heaven. Understanding true, gospel grace has taught me that it’s not about me or how good I can be… it’s about Christ and what He has already done.
Studying Ephesians the past couple of months has only driven that point home even further. Paul tells us in 2:8-10 that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I have always understood that accepting Christ as Savior and believing that His atoning sacrifice for my sin is what grants me eternal life. But am I living in His grace by constantly “checking spiritual boxes” in my mind and by being enslaved to the notion that I must always “measure up?” No. Because that's love of self, not love of God.
Martin Luther sums up our plight best by saying, “The sin underneath all our sins is the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and that we must take matters into our own hands.” Learning to rest fully in God’s grace is a life-long endeavor, but I am thankful that no matter how often we take matters into our own hands; His grace knows no end.
God’s message of grace has transformed my life in every way. I hope and pray that you, too, will be awakened to “the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Tullian Tchividjian shares about grace and his forthcoming book on his blog as he writes, "Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people—prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’s day receive his most compassionate welcome." To read more of Tullian's blog, click here.
The free gift of God's grace cannot be earned. Spend some time reflecting on His grace today and on Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."