From time to time in my morning Lectio Divina I write a reflection on the Scriptures I have been reading. Lectio Divina has four parts: Read the passage, Reflect on its meaning, Respond to God, and Rest in His presence. My Response this morning is to humbly give thanks for the riches of His grace.
It is God our Father who says to us, “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” [Isaiah 43:4], “even when we were dead in our trespasses” [Ephesians 2:4]. We were loved at the very lowest point of our lives. It is there that He finds us. Those who will admit no need cannot be found. That is true of me, and it is true of all of us.”
“By grace you have been saved,” occurs in verse 5 and is repeated in verse 8. We are saved by grace, God’s unmerited favour, not by faith. It important to realize that faith is not another work, but is a response on our part to God’s grace which initiates our salvation. Faith is essential, but without God’s initiating grace it has nothing to hang its hat on.
What is said of Isaiah is true for each of us, “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” [Isaiah 49:1]. Paul repeats the same theme in Romans 8:29 “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” And note that we are individually foreknown and predestined to be part of the family of God, not to stand alone.
The focus is on God, and his work, not on us and our faith. Grace is God’s loving kindness towards us; the unmerited favour which he extends toward us. Our faith is only the connecting link, the channel through which grace flows. There is an important theological paradigm at work here: God initiates, Man responds. God’s steadfast love has been extended to you from the moment you were conceived. That is why St. Paul emphasizes that, “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Ephesians 2:4-10 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.