7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
This passage is common in our church. It is common in my heart. It is the root of God’s salvation upon us that we must use as our foundation. I find, however, even for myself, that I tend to “skip over” verse 7. I’ve discussed before the concept of your actions putting you in a place of blessing or cursing. Verse 7 is kinda like the prologue to all that. Yesterday, Paul was talking about our position in eternity in regards to our relationship with God. It is the relationship we have with God that inspires us to act in a way that puts us in a place to receive His daily blessings and thus be an example to the world of God’s mercy and grace. However, it is important to remember that it isn’t the other way around.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. What a powerful statement. It isn’t our doing that we are saved. That’s hard to fathom. Sometimes I feel like I start to wrap my head around it, then it escapes me. Yes, we “made the decision” to follow Christ, to seek His will, yet our belief is not of our own doing, it is through God’s grace that we believe. His love allowed us to believe. It is the gift of God.
This is the main reason I have a problem with “organized religion.” I don’t want to come across as picking on one belief system or another. I try to take notice of certain rituals or “religious habits” that are instructed by certain churches. If we analyze them, we can see where the practices get their biblical inspiration. The practice that comes to mind is confession in the Catholic Church. Again, I’m not trying to pick on anyone here, it’s the most clear and prevalent example in my mind right now. We know that the bible tells us in James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” However, we fall into the habit of focusing on the practice instead of the purpose behind it. Yes, we should confess to those we trust in a manner which provides freedom such as James points out. However, we read in Ephesians that it is to be filtered through the grace of God by faith, not because it is just something you are required to do. The faith to act comes through God’s grace, so that we may be a living example of His Holy Word, not the other way around.
Verse 10 raises again the concept of Jesus the Son and God the Father as two yet one. I feel like this book is overflowing with it. Awesome. We are created in Christ for good works which was prepared beforehand. This almost doesn’t make sense, unless you think of it with “Kingdom eyes.” Paul here is explaining our Holy Purpose! God has laid out a purpose for each and every one of us. The Creator had a purpose in mind for the creation before the creation was created. It is through Christ that He reveals to us that purpose. As I mentioned before, the purpose of the creation is to serve the creator…verse 10 loops back around to verse 7. We are to show His grace in kindness. How do we do this? We first receive that grace and then act as a result of receiving it.
Many times in recovery we talk about the circle of insanity or a “vicious cycle.” I’d like to introduce a new concept seen in this passage as the “Gracious Cycle.” I think it would be much more noteworthy and beneficial not just to us, but to all if we were to get caught up in the Gracious Cycle and “get stuck” in it instead of finding ourselves trapped in a vicious cycle of insanity, fear, and insecurity.
Which cycle are you in today?