Going Deeper 03.11.2021

The second reading for Lent 4...  Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.  But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Pretty much all Protestants--and certainly Lutherans--would point to this section of the Scriptures as teaching the theology of grace which is at the very center of our faith.  And as center would imply, there is something which comes before and something which follows.  What comes before grace is REPENTANCE, and what follows grace is TRANSFORMATION.

As repentance is our focus during this season of Lent, our attention is drawn to the opening verses, to the place where we come to understand and confess that we have been "dead through the trespasses and sins" which have been part of our life.  As you have heard me say with consistent redundancy, grace isn't really so amazing if there isn't a lot of sin for it to cover!  Repentance is the process of diagnosing our terminal illness.

Which prepares us for the incredible experience of coming to understand that our guilt and all of its consequences have been done away with by God's grace.  Our terminal illness gives way to eternal life... beginning immediately.  This is not something we achieve by cleaning up our act and making up for our sin by good works.  This is all God's doing!

But we must not stop there!  The goal is for sin to be left behind, as Paul emphasizes by referring to it in the past tense.  Our goal is to experience grace in such a way as to have it transform us.  Using present tense language, Paul teaches that we are now "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."

Yes, this does become a process.  Not all of our sinning becomes past tense, giving way to nothing but good works.  But it is very, very important for us to keep moving forward... even if at times it's two steps forward and one step backward.  We are called and empowered to keep growing throughout our journey.

With You on the Journey,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"