Grace in Abundance

One would think that sitting in a Roman jail cell in 55AD would be enough to get anyone down, or at least dampen their enthusiasm for whatever it is they were doing that got them into so much trouble. But when Paul writes his letter to the Ephesians, he floods his listeners with a vision of the abundant grace of God, a vision so out of step with his circumstances that we can hardly connect the two. I like to think he had just emerged from days of prayer and fasting where God revealed Himself to Paul in all His glory. Because Paul can hardly contain himself as he writes this letter, almost stumbling over his words as he tries to convey how much God has done for us and how much He loves us. Here are just a few highlights from the first three chapters:

  • God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm (1:3)
  • God chose us (1:4)
  • God predestined us for adoption into His family (1:5)
  • God freely bestows His grace on us (1:5); He lavishes grace on us (1:8)
  • God redeemed us, forgave us (1:7)
  • He gave us an inheritance (1:11)
  • He sealed us with the Holy Spirit (1:13)
  • He directed his tremendous power toward us for our good (1:19)
  • He made us alive (2:5)
  • He raised us up and seated us with Christ in the heavenly realm (2:6)

And God did all these things because of who He is and how He cares about us:

  • According to His kind intentions (1:5,9)
  • Because of His great love with which He loved us (2:4)
  • Because of His kindness toward us (2:7)

No wonder Paul prayed for them (3:14-19) that they would truly "get" this — that they would grasp the tremendous love God has for us and the abundance of riches that He has poured out on us for our good. Just reading over that list is overwhelming! We have no idea how much God has done for us and how much more He wants to do in us for our good and for the good of others around us. And what makes this all the more amazing is that Paul is writing this from prison! So this is no theory he is espousing. This is God at work in him to transform his entire being from the inside out, and to renew his mind and his vision so that he sees what is good and true in the unseen world — a world that is every bit as real as the physical world that so thoroughly restrains his body and his physical freedom.

We really need to pray his prayer for ourselves, "that God would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner part of our being, so that Christ may dwell in our heart through faith; and that being rooted and grounded in His love, we may be able to comprehend the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ which surpasses all cognitive knowledge, that we may be filled up with all the fullness of God."

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