The book of Ephesians, written by the Apostle Paul and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, touches on the beautiful and spiritual force of grace in the life of the saved.
Paul makes it crystal clear that the gospel, which is activated in a believer’s life by grace through faith, empowers our relationship with God and produces the glory of God through a transformed life. A transformed life is the working out of Christ in us. The Orthodox Church called this ‘theosis’ and is vital to an understanding of our spiritual destiny and identity.
This brings us to one of the main purposes of the church. It is to articulate and present the gospel to produce Christ-like people who are joined together in the community. It is to reveal the nature and character of God the Father through holy living, righteous relationships, and divine service. The community or household of God then becomes a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
Paul is emphatic about the role of grace in this transformative process. He states clearly that it is grace that saves us and it is grace that perfects us. It is grace that calls us and it is grace that empowers us to fulfill our calling. It was grace that enabled Paul to know the mystery of ‘Christ in me, the hope of glory’, and grace led him to reveal that mystery through suffering and pain. It was grace that was sufficient for Paul even when Paul felt he was at the end. We have said that when faith fails, God’s grace is sufficient to carry us through. I would rather live at the mercy of God’s grace than at the mercy of my own faith. Faith is often man-centered, particularly in the religious climate of our times. But no one can take credit for God’s grace on display and working deep within the heart of the redeemed!
Grace empowered Paul to deliver the gospel and the power of grace is the power that undergirds each component of the gospel. The gospel is the good news of what Christ has done to free man from sin and eternal death. Each component of the gospel is seen as the release of God’s transforming grace.
Through the INCARNATION, we see that grace empowered Christ to leave heaven and enabled Him to humble Himself to an earthly existence. It was grace that supernaturally worked in the virgin birth and the virtuous life of Christ.
Through the CRUCIFIXION, we see that it was grace that compelled Christ through the travail in the garden, the trial before Pilate, the torture at the hands of the Roman soldiers, and the tragedy of death for God’s Son on the cross of Calvary. Grace was the force behind it all!
Through the RESURRECTION, it was grace that rushed through and into that garden tomb entering into the body of Jesus causing life to return. Grace was the power of God that exploded with such power in that tomb that it was equal to the same power that caused the universe to come into existence. Can you imagine?
Through the ASCENSION, we see that it was grace that lifted Christ from this earth and positioned Him where He belonged – upon the throne of heaven and earth. The grace behind the ascension assures us that this same grace will raise us to sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Through the CORONATION, we see that Christ is not waiting to be King but that He was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords having completed His assignment by grace to redeem those who would respond to this same grace that calls us to the gospel. It is this assurance that grace has crowned Him King that I am also ruling with Him and have an eternal dimension to my existence. I am a new creation being perfected to inherit the new creation to extol the glory of God for all eternity through righteousness and justice.
The point is that grace is behind it all! The grace of God is the power of God that not only enables me to do what I am naturally incapable of doing but also empowers all things that pertain to life and godliness. II Peter 1:3 says,
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”