A Brief Meditation for the Month

September 2018

Writing to the believers in the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul reminded them of their indebtedness to the glorious grace of God. He places much emphasis upon the fact that they were saved from their sins by divine grace, (Ephesians 2:8). God’s grace had brought them into a new and privileged relationship with himself. They had previously been alienated from God in a state of spiritual deadness (2:12; 4:18), until they experienced the power of divine quickening. Now however, that new spiritual life has been generated within their souls, they can enjoy the favour and friendship of God. No longer far away from God, living in enmity, sin, and disobedience; the apostle states that they are “accepted in the beloved” (1:6). This beloved to whom he refers is none less than the Lord Jesus Christ, who while he sojourned upon earth received the testimony of his Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11). It is clearly implied in Paul’s statement that sinners can only be accepted by a holy and just God, in and through Jesus Christ. All that God requires as ground for acceptance is in Christ, the eternal Son. Paul informs the Colossians, “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Colossians 2:9). Because of this fulness it is impossible that God would require anything not found in his beloved Son.

Acceptance is something we naturally desire. We all feel more secure and confident when we know that the company we are in accepts us. God created man in his own image, with all the necessary faculties through which he knew his creator and experienced delight and joy in company with him. In his state of innocence, Adam, the progenitor of the race of mankind, was perfectly accepted by God. When however, Adam disobeyed the commandment of God, rebelling against his authority, he and the entire race in him, came under the sentence of spiritual death. Although God continued to sustain him in existence, He himself remained immutably holy, incapable of condoning, excusing, or tolerating disobedience. By an act of his own volition, Adam therefore alienated himself, and mankind with him, from a good and holy, but essentially just God, who must punish wrongdoers. God would have been perfectly justified, if he had destroyed the race of Adam immediately, but instead, in his infinite love and mercy he promised a Saviour who would be so qualified, and would possess such merit, that his substitutionary death would atone for sin, and bring about a reconciliation between offending sinners and an offended God. Paul reminded the Romans of this amazing truth when he wrote, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). The prophet Isaiah, centuries before Paul, spoke of God making his Son responsible for the sin of others when it was laid upon him. We read, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5&6). These actions and transactions are the greatest display of grace conceivable. That the holy, sinless, son of God so humbled himself to become the sin-bearer, and willingly make a complete atonement for the sin of others through his substitutionary death, is simply marvellous grace beyond our comprehension. John Newton, the redeemed and reformed slave-trader, bore testimony to the grace of God he personally experienced, as “amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me.” That grace is equally so to every redeemed and justified sinner. Is it so with you the reader?

G. G. Hutton.