Ephesians 2:4 is one of the most positive verses in the Bible. Set against a dark background (verses 1-3), the light of God shines forth. "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us." God comes on the scene and against that dark background makes a new focal point of something glorious. It is God who lifted us out of the graveyard of sin up to a very high place indeed.
Notice in verses 4-7 the repeated usage of the word "us": "he loves us," "made us alive together with Christ," "raised us up with him," "seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," and "the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Those pronouns are like footprints across the muddy flats of sin, rescuing us out of the graveyard and seating us at God's right hand in Christ. Is that not something to shout about?
Raising Lazarus from the dead
God was too concerned about us to leave us as we were. God loved us, quickened us, raised us, gave us seating, and showed his kindness to us. I'm joyful that I'm tapped into his plan for my life. He was concerned for me, and so he did magnificent things for me. He lifted me out of that desperate, depressing, dark background of the graveyard into the graceyard -- a place of light and love and life.
Let's go back and look more closely at each of these steps. First, he has great love for us (verse 4). He loved us when we were unlovable, when we went in the direction of this world, when we were following the dictates of Satan, when we were dominated by the flesh. Read More
I might have titled this study "The Case for Grace," because Paul gives his proof of the need for grace. "I do not set aside the grace of God for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21). And then he writes, "O foolish Galatians!" (Galatians 3:1); a wonderful statement! J.B. Phillips’ translation says, "You dear idiots."
I had a man working at my house one time and he had this wonderful saying every time something went wrong. He spoke to himself and said, "You melon head!" -- and that is the impact of the term here. The Galatians knew better. They were not ignorant people as most of them knew the Old Testament scriptures like the back of their hand, but they didn't act on them. And so Paul is saying to them, "You dear idiots" (Phillips) or "You crazy Galatians" (Message). The word means "senseless." This is a different word than Jesus used for "fool" in Matthew 5:22. Read More
I remember the slogan from my youth. "When you are in a fix, look up Philippians 4:6," so just do it! Here is the command: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (ESV).
The Message Bible says, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns." "When you are in a fix, often the fix is in you" (Ashok Kallarakkal). And since Christ is in you, I can go along with that.
Using the artful aid of alliteration, the precept is to worry about nothing. The prescription is prayer and petition with thanksgiving to God. The promise is peace (verse 7).
The precept is not lengthy or difficult to understand. We all have challenges, problems, difficulties in our earthly life. The command is short and to the point: "Don't fret or worry." Just stop worrying; that's the imperative in the prohibition. As a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20), the King will always look after us wherever we are, unlike some modern countries some of us live in. So remember who you are. Read More