Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, September 30, 2008


BY is one of the smallest words in our vocabulary. Yet its meaning is significant. BY means cause even agency (if you will.) The word ‘BY’ also carries with it vehicle or route imagery (if you will.) In Ephesians chapter 2, BY is a validation that the action is not yours. BY = equals the cause of your salvation, the agency that has accorded this condition of being saved.

What is that agency; what is that cause? It is GRACE. Now grace has many different definitions to be sure.

  • What we say when we sit down at the dinner table is referred to as grace.
  • Grace is what Olympian gymnasts, Nastia Luikin displayed on the mat and what Shawn Johnson displayed on the beam.
  • It is what a cheetah in pursuit of a gazelle affords the tourist on safari - it is beautiful power and fluidity that inspires awe commonly known as grace.
  • Grace is an attitude and action presented when the heat and pressure are on but the one under this heated pressure remains calm & collected, can answer difficult questions, can stand up under scrutiny, maintains composure, remains truthful, and refrains from vulgarity or blame.

None of those things are what Paul is thinking about in this text. Here, Paul is calling to mind God’s unmerited favor; His loving kindness that is freely given to those who do not deserve it. His disposition and His attitude toward those who have rebelled/offended Him on account of what Jesus has done for us.

Let me make this clear – God is holy, and in His holiness he has no option but to be wrathful toward sin but on account of Christ, AND ONLY on account of Christ, God’s wrath has been appeased and HE now bears a different disposition toward fallen humanity – a GRACIOUS one. It is a favored view of me and you that we have not earned nor deserve but have been granted because of Christ. GRACE IS: GOD’S RICHES AT CHRIST’S EXPENSE. God’s total love and compassion for the lost because of the holy perfect life, innocent suffering & death, and victorious resurrection of Christ rendered to God in our place. This is why Christ came into the world – this is the mission of God:

  • to carry out the law in perfect obedience as required by God’s holiness,
  • to offer a sacrifice in our place,
  • to bear & absorb the wrath God has toward sin,
  • to take our place in life and death,

Christ came into the world that we might be granted a place with Him in life and through death to life eternal – that is GRACE.

YOU - this is a personal affirmation. For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. God’s love is universal but it is also individual. It is specific. God had YOU in mind when He sent His Son. God had YOU in mind when he wrought His salvific (salvific means-having the intent or power to save or redeem) plan. HIS GRACE – is FOR YOU! How often have we thought, “How could God love me?” Our closet opens in our mind, and we know that even if no one else knows, HE does. Our guilt is palpable, our frailty abhorrent to us and more than apparent to Him. “How could God love one like me?” “Forgiving them is one thing, me that’s another entirely.” With these six words Paul declares the Good News to everyone. It is declared as if you were the only one who needed it. BY GRACE WE…Paul could have used a plural pronoun but he chose not to. YOU - As if GOD has no one else to shower his love on than you. This is that particular! YOU Matter to God! YOU are the one He had in mind when He went to work on SAVING. By grace YOU have been saved.

The words, HAVE BEEN, are verification that the action is complete. God is not in the process of saving you. This is not a game of which we know not the ending. This is not a book of which the last chapter is yet to be written or read. YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED. It is an accomplished action. Paul is not the only one to say so: Jesus himself said so on the cross, “It is finished,” not it is underway. This accomplished action and certain result HAVE BEEN. What have you been? Saved!

SAVEDdelivered from an ending you have earned – death. Redeemed from a condition you have merited – guilt and rescued from a fate that you deserved – hell. To be SAVED means that God has changed your lot (so to speak); rather than death – life is yours, rather than guilt – forgiveness is yours, rather than hell – heaven is yours. You needed saving.

  • From what? God has SAVED you from – hell and the devil, YES, through the victory of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • From yourself? YES, through Jesus willingness to take your place.
  • FROM God’s own wrath – YES in His sacrificial offering and innocent suffering & death.

For by grace you have been saved. SIX JUST WORDS and when we hear them as they are meant we will never be the same – BY…GRACE…YOU…have been…SAVED.


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