The Light of His Grace

I want to back up some today to hit a certain topic a little harder, so to speak.  Ephesians 1:6 says, “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”(NIV)  That glorious grace is the light of grace.  I want to take a specific look at the Light of God, His Glory.  I want to do so by taking you back through the awesome journey I had today.

I was reading in II Timothy today for my personal reading time and I came across this verse, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”(II Timothy 3:5a) 

The term “power” caught my eye because of what we are studying in Ephesians together.  I went back to Ephesians and began to read chapter 1 into the first part of chapter 2.  As I read the Glory of God, His Light, His Brilliance just popped off the pages at me. 

The word “glory” or a form of it appears throughout the chapter.  It hit me that godliness IS powerful and that godliness is letting the glory of God or the light of God shine in us.

What a leap, right?  Let me explain my leap.   God is light (I John 1:5) and Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory (light)”(Hebrews 1:3) and Jesus in the Light of the world (John 8:12).  When Paul speaks of his conversion in Acts 22:11 the KJV says that he (Paul) “could not see for the glory of that light”.  And as we all know Jesus was that light he saw. 

Going back to Ephesians, back to the prayer in chapter 1, do you remember?  It is light of God, the glorious Father, or the rays of His light (“enlightened” meaning to shed rays) that Paul prays God will give or shed upon His people.  Why is all this important?

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”(NIV) 

It is the rays of His light, of His Glory, that He sheds on us that lights our lives.  Just as Jesus is the radiance of the Father, we are the radiance of the Son.  “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”(Colossians 1:13).  In the light of Jesus the Father wants us to “shine like stars in the universe”(Philippians 2:15).  “For God , who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”(II Corinthians 4:6)

There is even now a battle between the realm of darkness and light and we are a part of that battle.  At the end of Ephesians Paul speaks of putting on the armor of God to fight the darkness, but in Romans 13:12 he calls it the “armor of light”.  It is the light that pushes back the darkness, it is a powerful light.  He is the Powerful Light.  In Him there is no darkness (I John 1:5). 

We must see to it that there is no darkness, sin, in our lives.  The darkness is the way of the world that Scripture makes many lists of, among them are hate, strife, division, factions, envy, doubt, bitterness, fear, sexual immorality and many more.  Those are the schemes of the devil, those are opposed to the light of life.

The light is the way of the Spirit and in His ways we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  These are the things we need in our lives and only these things.  Or as Paul says it in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” 

God’s light brings righteousness, holiness and godliness (godliness with power).  We are His children (adopted into His family), children of light (I Thessalonians 5:5).

So let us fight with the power of His light, that He has shed on us, and put in us by giving us the Holy Spirit.  Let us push back the dominion of darkness with love, righteousness and truth, clothed in His armor of light.  We must be good soldiers, fighting to the good fight, standing strong in the grace of our Messiah, His glorious grace, that He lavished on us.

Now in light of all this, let’s go back to Ephesians chapter 2.

EPH 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(NIV)

This passage starts out with reminding us that we were once a part of the dominion of darkness and disobedient, gratifying our sinful desires. 

Likewise, those in the world who are still living in disobedience are still a part of the dominion of darkness and therefore subject to wrath as we once were.  But because of God’s great love for us, in accordance to the pleasure of His will, which He purposed in Christ Jesus, God reached down and made us alive with Christ even while we were still dead in our sins He gave us His Son. 

He gave us His Light, a light we did not deserve.  He resurrected us in His power from the dead, to eternal life and did this with His glorious grace.  His glory burst onto the scenes of our lives and filled us with His light and made us a new creation in Him.  He says, “Let there by light!”  We were rescued from darkness by His grace and brought into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Son He loves.

Not only did God resurrect our lives from death to life, but also “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms”.  Now, this spiritual reality has not yet been seen, but one day it will be sight and we will live in His light.  For in the New Jerusalem there will be no sun or moon but “the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp”.

God did this so that He could show us His super (hyper) riches of His grace, riches found in His “glorious inheritance” in the saints upon whom He has shed His grace.  God expresses this out of His kindness in Yeshua the Messiah.  Remember that part of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness.  Yes, God is kind.  He did all these things in kindness and will bring us together (both Jew and Gentile)  with each other and Him in His kindness.

Again Paul says we have been saved by grace, by His glorious, light giving grace, through faith.  Just so his readers don’t become conceited Paul states very plainly that this faith to believe and follow Him is not from us. 

We were dead in our trespasses and sins when He saved us.  We were still a part of the dominion of darkness and were not capable of seeing the Light.  It was Him who reached out for us behind enemy lines and brought us out.  We were not capable of such faith on our own. 

Even if it were possible for us to have intellectual assent to who He is and what He has done for us there is still No Way we would have had the strength to follow Him in godliness and life.  One cannot live in the light while still in the dark.

This faith is a gift, an undeserved gift.  The ability to follow Him is a gift.  The Holy Spirit in us to teach us, guide us and be the down payment of our inheritance a gift, a gift of God.  We do nothing to earn or deserve this gift. 

We did not flag Him down and cry out, “I am over here, come get me”.  No, He came in and got us when we were in the dark capable of nothing.  Jesus said in John 15:5b that “apart from [Him we] can do nothing”. 

He does not even want us to have this boast at our disposal.  Our boast is to be in Christ Jesus and Him crucified.

Now get this.  God has made us His “workmanship” meaning His masterpiece. 

We are His finest work of art.  He has put His light, His glory, His Spirit in us.  He created us in Christ Jesus, the light of the world, to reflect Him.  We are His greatest masterpiece because when people see us they really see His Son. 

They see the light in our life and it is His light they see.  In the movie The Lakehouse a father and son are talking about great works of architecture and the statement is made, “it’s all about the light”.  You see when you have a masterpiece the first thing you do after hanging it is shine light directly on it. 

He created us this way to do good works.  But what good works?  We have been implying it all along.  To shine His light on others as stars in the universe, not hidden under a bowl.

We cannot hide in our comfortable air conditioned homes watching our TVs or even in our beautiful, godly looking, churches. 

No, we must be about His work, to make disciples, to let the world know that He sent His Son so that we can be one with each other and with Him.  This is the work that God prepared in advance for us to do.  It was always His plan for His light to shine through us into this dark world.

Live the life that is worthy of our calling!  I say that to myself, as well.

In His Light,

Vicky

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The Hope to Which You are Called

 Ephesians 1:15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

This is an awesome prayer that is great to pray over ones personal life and family. Paul commends the believers on their faith in Yeshua/Jesus and also in their love for all the saints (whether Jew or Gentile).  Their priorities are just what God the Father would want them to be and this is commended by Paul.  Their love for all the saints is essential to everything we are talking about.  It is because they have faith in Jesus our Messiah that they know obeying His command to love one another must be followed, and follow it they do.  Because of this evidence of faith that Paul continually gives thanks for them and expands his prayers for them.

The prayer of Paul in this chapter is amazing when you take a close look.  He begins with a very interesting statement, “I keep asking”.  This is not a one time prayer for Paul on their behalf.  If is one he prays for them time and time again.  Therefore, one might say that this is very much on his heart for these believers, not just a casual thought now and again. 

He asks the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – that’s right Jesus worshiped, honored, obeyed, prayed to, praised, and glorified His Father during His earthly life, God the Son did all these things in regard to the Heavenly Father – for the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and revelation to the believers.  He offers this prayer so that they will know God better and thereby so that they would be able to properly acknowledge their God.

In this knowledge and acknowledgement of Him, as they gaze at His glory and brilliance, Paul asks that the God would shed His rays of light on them.  In other words, “that the eyes of [their] heart may be enlightened”.  Or to put it another way, as the believers looked upon God’s light that God would share that light with them or reflect it upon them.  Our glory is not our own, it is merely a reflection of His.  We would do ourselves a great service to remember this. 

Paul asked for this reflection of God’s glory in their lives for three reasons: 1) that they would know the hope to which they were called 2) that they would know the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and 3) that they would know His incomparably great power for all (Jew or Gentile) who believe.  Let’s break them down one at a time.

The first one, that they would know the hope to which they were called, reveals the foundation of their faith.  The hope that Paul speaks of here is a confidence, not wishful, in the promised expectations.  Knowing that they can fully rely on the promises of God with joyful anticipation and steadfast confidence.  This hope is unshakable.  This hope or joyful and steadfast anticipation is firmly imbedded in their calling or God’s invitation in their lives.  God’s invitation to wholeheartedly follow Him in all His ways.  Just as Jesus called the disciples.  He did not just say, “come”, He said, “come follow me”.  We come to God through Jesus and then proceed to follow Him.

The second reason God reflects His glory on us, making us more like Him, is so that we can know the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.  These riches are the abundant life in our Messiah.  As we know the abundant life is not just for the here and now, but also for eternity.  It is the life lived to the full forever.  A life lived to the full, think about that for a moment.  To know this life that can only be lived with His glorious inheritance that He has placed in His saints.  This refers back to the love He has commanded to have toward one another and ahead to the power of the Spirit in our lives.  However, for this particular point it is important to note that the whole of the saints are in view here, not individuals.  We, as the saints of God, can only live the life to the full, the abundant life, or experience God’s glorious riches in our lives when we live within the whole of the body of Christ.  We cannot forsake the assembly of ourselves together as the writer of Hebrews to eloquently put it.

Lastly, on this list, is to know the power and not just a little power, but super dynamite power for us who believe.  To say it another way, a super-duper magnitude of power for us who come and follow.  Power that goes beyond anything that you and I can comprehend and yet that is the vastness of power that He has placed in His people.  It is also not an arbitrary power, but it is His power.  Then just to make sure his readers understand the true magnitude of this power Paul describes it.  And what a description. 

A power that is according to God’s mighty strength, or strength strength, or power power, or might might.  The two Greek words used here could have easily been translated this way.  They are two different words with very similar meanings.  In other words, Paul was driving home the enormity of God’s power, strength or might.  It was this power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead and to seat Him at His right hand.  No small task to be sure.  Again to be clear, Paul explains the powerful seat of the Messiah.  Yeshua is above all and not just a little above them, but far above or super-duper above.  It is the same Greek prefix used above on “immeasurably”, it is the “hyper” prefix.  So Jesus is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  Needless to say, that is a High Seat. 

Paul does not stop at just how high that seat of power is, but also let’s us know what God placed under His (Yeshua’s) feet.  He placed everything or “the whole” under His feet.  He is the head, the One to take hold of, of the church or the “assembly” of His saints.  He was given this position by His Father, to say it another way, this position was committed to Him by His Father.  He is our head, He is the One we take hold of, in everything – absolutely everything – that concerns His people.  He is our Rock, our Firm Foundation, our Anchor, our Cornerstone and He is the One who holds us steady in any storm.  He has absolute supreme authority over His body.

What a body it is, it is what He died for – it is of utmost importance to Him.  His body, His people, are the fullness of Him – the One who fills everything in every way.  WOW, the fullness of Him.  That is who we are.  Do not let that escape you.  The whole of the body or bride of Christ is the fullness of Him.    We were given His fullness when He gave us His Holy Spirit.  We lack nothing in Him.  Everything we need for life and godliness has been given to us.  We are His reflection to a lost world.  Let us live a life worthy of that calling!

According to His Power That is at Work in Us Who Believe,

Vicky