Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:2-10
Lord willing, I will be preaching on this passage this coming Sunday, January 31, 2021, for my final message at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas. I’ve served here for 16 years and continue to be thankful to God for his faithfulness and grace to me.
Early on in my encounter with Lutheran teachings, I learned of the centrality of God’s grace. It’s where we go. In fact, my son once offered a thinly veiled bit of constructive criticism. “Dad,” he said, “I notice that whatever you preach about, you always come back to Jesus.” Indeed. On purpose. God’s grace in Jesus is central to my identity as his follower. It’s central to my motivation for ministry. It’s the fuel for God’s mission to and through me.
God’s grace is glorious. I’ve been to Las Vegas: Glamorous. Not glorious. I’ve been to Times Square: Glitzy. Not glorious. I’ve been to Paris: Grand. Not glorious. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon: Great, and almost glorious, a reflection of the glory of God, its creator. Same for Mount Denali, Pike’s Peak, the oceans, and even the starry sky. All of the latter of these are a reflection of the glory of God.
God’s creative majesty and grandeur is testimony to his glory. His might, justice, righteousness, and holiness are reflections of his glory. So too, God’s sovereign power. But note here what gets the nod of praise in the eternal moment when all things are united in Jesus Christ – things in heaven and on earth. God’s glorious grace takes center stage. God’s glorious grace sets the heavens afire with joy, worship, and honor. We will praise God’s glorious grace!
We were at a church leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area. On the second night of the event John Ortberg (author of several books, including The Life You’ve Always Wanted) spoke. He had provided the 2500 of us in attendance with a 3X5 inch index card and asked that we write the following on it: You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you. It’s a quote from Isaiah 43:4, and it had a profound impact on us all. That message is a message of grace. Glorious. Praise-worthy.
Philip Yancey has written a book, What’s so Amazing About Grace?. In it he spells out how “grace is the church’s great distinctive. It’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate, and the one thing it craves above all else–for only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world.”
Max Lucado says in his book, When God Whispers Your Name, “I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment—but I’m still stunned by his grace!”
I am deeply thankful for God’s glorious grace!