Chapter 2

“Once people grasp that the events of the Messiah’s death and resurrection have transformed everything, and that they are now living between that initial explosive event and God’s final setting right of the world (when God is “all in all”), then everything will change: belief, behavior, attitudes, expectations, and not least a new love, a real sense of belonging, which springs up among those who share all this. That is what so much of Paul’s writing is about.” N.T. Wright

Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.” (Isaiah 29:22-24)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

“I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” C.S. Lewis

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10-12)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:12-13)

“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9-10)

Ephesians 2:10 shows that while salvation is not FROM good works, it is FOR good works. For Paul, the joy that comes from the knowledge of God’s loving grace propelled him to live a life reflective of such joy. “The faith discussed in 2:4-10 is a faith worth having, for it is relational. The gift it brings ties us to the Giver so that grace becomes a power within us. The gift takes possession of us and brings change.” (K. Snodgrass)

“Ephesians is full of staggering good news. In it, Paul asks the grandest question of all: What is God’s overall purpose for this world? He raises the sights far above his own circumstances to bigger issues, cosmic issues. And when he cranks up the volume to express God’s plan of love, not one low, mournful note sneaks in. If you feel discouraged, or wonder if God really cares, or question whether the Christian life is worth the effort, Ephesians provides a great tonic. It prescribes the ‘riches in Christ’ available to all.” Philip Yancey

‘Faith’ is defined as a “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Paul says it is by God’s grace that we are able to be saved through our faith. But we shouldn’t ever confuse faith with the absence of questions. As Barbara Brown Taylor notes below, faith (trust) isn’t conditional on evidence or convincing arguments, the knowledge beyond a shadow of doubt. No… “faith is the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), and trust in things we can’t always prove.

“…I had arrived at an understanding of faith that had far more to do with trust than with certainty. I trusted God to be God even if I could not say who God was for sure. I trusted God to sustain the world although I could not say for sure how that happened. I trusted God to hold me and those I loved, in life and in death, without giving me one shred of conclusive evidence that it was so.” ― Barbara Brown Taylor

“The distinction in ‘love sinners, hate sin,’ is ultimately impossible to maintain because it excludes the will to embrace. People are seen first as ‘sinners.’ That’s the fatal mistake that happens right out of the gate…. When we start by viewing people through their sins – or any other label – we lose track of their humanity. We’ve expelled them from the circle of our affections, and the process of dehumanization has already begun.” ― Richard Beck, “Stranger God”

“It’s a scary thing, a life-changing, paradigm-shifting thing, to honestly ask yourself this question: Am I moving with God to rescue, restore, and redeem humanity? Or am I clinging fast, eyeteeth clenched, to an imperfect world’s habits and cultural customs, in full knowledge of injustice or imperfections, living at odds with God’s dream for his daughters and sons?” ― Sarah Bessey

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Paul frequently refers to believers as saints, people who – together – make up one body of Christ. Today on All Saints Day (Nov 1), let’s remember in prayer all the saints – past, present, and future. “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer)

Love this!! Paul’s powerful preaching from Ephesians 2 captured by The Message:

“You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”