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The Journal

God’s kindness all the way

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Dear Friends,
We continue our series on the reformation and this week we are looking at the topic of grace alone. Our morning passage is Ephesians 2:1-10. Paul has just prayed a prayer in Ephesians 1:15-22 that the Christians would know God better. Paul recognises that this spiritual insight only comes through the work of the Spirit and the power of the Gospel.Growing in your faith and understanding of God involves God’s power as He brings new life. In 2:1-3 Paul reminds us that before Christ came into our lives we were spiritually dead and disobedient. Recognising our hopeless situation that we can’t save ourselves Paul brings a message of hope that what we can’t do God has done in Christ. The whole reason that Jesus saves us is not based on anything we do or any merit in our lives. It is totally a work of God which is based on His love and an expression of His grace. The word grace is about God’s love and help towards us even though we don’t deserve it. Unless we understand how incredibly lost and dead we are without Christ we won’t appreciate the depth of God’s great love in Christ. In 2:8-10 Paul teaches us that whilst Christ has done everything necessary for salvation it needs to be received personally by faith. Notice that the whole basis for doing good works is a response to the grace and salvation we have already received. This is very important because many people are trapped in a belief that to get close to God they must do good works. This passage shows us that we can’t do good works without God’s grace received by faith. The great hope is that God saves us and gives us good works to do. God has a purpose for your life. The key purpose is to know Him and then this leads to serving Him within the church and within the world ! Our evening passage is Luke 18:9-14. It is the famous parable of the tax collector and the pharisee. It is also a story about God’s grace. The Pharisee seeks to justify himself by saying how he is better than other people whereas the tax collector knows that he has failed God and calls out to God for mercy. Humbling yourself and knowing you deserve nothing from God is a beautiful place to be. Jesus says that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. He was justified , meaning that he was accepted and acquitted of judgement by God because he humbled himself and depended on God’s mercy alone. That is grace alone ! John Calvin, 16th C reformer says that faith brings a person empty to God. Depending on God’s grace alone builds confidence and security because you look to what Jesus has done not what you do yourself.
God’s Blessing. Rev David O’Mara