“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Thoughts from Amanda Cook
Behind the Scenes
Ephesians is perhaps my favorite book of the Bible. I just love this letter, written by Paul to the early church in Ephesus. I love its structure, I love the language of this book, I love the strength Paul obviously draws from Christ. But what I think I love the most is that it’s incredibly applicable. See, the words in this letter were written nearly 2000 years ago, but being inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul pens words that resonate from the dusty streets of first century Ephesus to you and me in 2021.
Paul was writing into a culture that was not all that different from our own. They struggled with a lot of the same lies, beliefs, and issues that we do today. Granted the circumstances looked a lot different, but the heart issue is very much the same. The Christians in Ephesus were surrounded by a culture built on conquering and might. The message of independence and self-sufficiency permeated all they did. (Sound familiar?)
This early, fledgling church was struggling to understand what it meant to be different than the world around them. They had to work incredibly hard to throw off the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors of their past lives and cling to the truth of God’s word instead. Heavily influenced by Rome, the culture in Ephesus was in stark contrast to the new message of peace, interdependence, love, and sacrifice. Even to the point that these ideas challenged the culture around them so much they were viewed as dangerous.
One of the areas that they struggled to understand the most is that salvation could come through Christ alone, that they didn’t need to earn it or fight to keep it, and that the blood of Christ had truly washed away their sins. They, like so many of us, had bought the lie that anything of value had to be earned, worked for, or taken. But to wrap their minds around the free gift of God was hard and contrary to everything they’d ever known.
Make it Real
In 2021 America, we can totally relate. We struggle with some of the very same things. We are surrounded by a culture that screams the opposite of what we read in the Bible. But, like the Ephesians, we have to hold tight to the word of God like our lives depend on it. Because in the end, they do!
I see this all the time, from well–meaning, God-loving Christians, myself included. The pressure to perform, to achieve, to earn. We hear that the gift of Salvation is free, that we need only reach out and take it. But so often we buy the lie that there is anything we can or should be doing to earn it. We receive grace and then continue to work. We hear the truth and then try to meld it with the lie. It’s just so hard for us to wrap our minds around salvation by grace alone.
But the unfathomable truth of the Gospel is that despite all we’ve done to push God away, through the redeeming blood of Christ, everything that needed to happen to undo what we’ve done is already accomplished. Every sin is already paid for. Every error wiped clean. There is nothing more that is needed to satisfy the wrath of God against your sin and mine.
In a world that tells you to push, strive, and achieve, God calls us to rest in His grace, not lulled to sleep but stepping out in active, faithful response to the grace we’ve received. When we let go of earning our salvation, we are freed up to act on it instead. When we own our eternal security in Christ, we can stop spinning our wheels and start conquering. The rest that comes from the grace of Christ is the fuel that propels us forward from a place of humility and calling instead of pride and striving.
This week, force yourself to slow down and really bask in that grace. Let your heart rest in the grace of Jesus. If you have never accepted that grace, today is the perfect day! God is waiting for you to find peace in His redemption.
We love you all!
End in Prayer
Thank You for being more than enough to cover every sin I have or ever will commit. Thank You that my salvation does not rest on my shoulders but on Your perfect, sinless life. Thank You for redeeming me and making a way for me to be known by You. Please help me to stop striving and start living. Help me to let go of my own way and rest in Your way.
In Jesus’ Name,