“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
If you were to compare all the religions in this world, there are actually only 2 types:
1) Those that teach that Salvation comes by works, or
2) those that teach that Salvation is by grace.
Salvation by works means you get to heaven by your own merit. You discipline yourself by meditation, philosophy, yoga or other restrictions imposed by some human teaching. You do good works such as charity, financial contributions and other things that make you feel you can be accepted.
The reality is this…., if heaven can be attained by such means, I suggest to you that it is not worth going. Because you are going to find a lot of people there who are so proud of their achievements. Some of us may already feel embarrassed because we don’t even have the possessions that our neighbour has.
On the other hand, there is salvation by the free grace of God. Heaven is such a wonderful place because Jesus Christ – the God-Man who is without sin is there! And none of us sinful creatures deserve to be there! And if we ever get there, it is because God has graciously opened our eyes to see how unworthy we are. And in spite of our unworthiness, He paid the price required to bring us there. Jesus gave His life to pay for the sins that we have committed. (Check out this sermon to understand the required redemption for our sins). And He lived a sinless life – which is the requirement for anyone to get into heaven. And all these are accorded to us when we believe in Jesus Christ…..That’s grace – totally unmerited salvation! You can’t do anything to achieve it – it is totally a gift from God! This is the gospel of grace!
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV)
Earlier, we saw how the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians in Eph 1:17-21. It did not end there. He continues his supplication for them. From Ephesians 3:14-19, he bowed in prayer asking for the following 3 things for the Ephesian Christians:
- that God would grant them…to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
- that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith;
- that they…..may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Are these what we ask for in prayer as well? Let us learn to turn our prayers from “petitions for earthly outcomes” to supplications of heavenly desires, that our minds may be set on things above and not things on the earth. May God teach us how to pray.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21 NKJV)
How do we pray? What should we pray for? What does your church pray for during prayer meetings? For Jane’s recovery from illness, for Jim’s job, for Jenny’s travels, for Jack’s studies, etc? Don’t get me wrong. God is interested in every detail of our lives. But observe the 5 things that the Apostle Paul asks for in his prayers for the Ephesians in Eph 1:17-21
- that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ …may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (v17)
- that “the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened” (v18);
- That “.. you may know what is the hope of His calling” (v18)
- that you may know “… the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (v18)
- That you may know ..”the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” (19)
Why does the Apostle Paul ask for the above 5 things for the Ephesians? Because when we have the above 5 things, our perspective towards God, prayer & everything in this life will be totally different. Our petitions will not be man-oriented but God-centred. Our motivations will be “for His glory” and not ours.
Isn’t this how did our Lord Jesus taught us to pray? …”Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s all about God and not us. When we have sorted out that priority, we will also understand what Jesus meant when He told us “..seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto us..” May God teach us how we should pray.