Those of you who have had the chance to read our blog over the past month have probably noticed my expositional journey through Ephesians 2. As every good sermon comes to a close with points of application, I am going to make an attempt to show you that one of Paul’s biggest themes in these epistles is in fact, Humility.
Even in the depths and wordiness of his explanations of Theology, Paul hammers this Idea in his words, and in his life; this selfless God-centered Theology that spill over in an abundance of humility. I will even argue that humility can only be understood within the context of this Theology/ Anthropology.
Let’s look at what is probably the most recognizable 2 verses in the Chapter.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
It is so crucial that we as Christians not just recognize, but truly understand the last phrase of this passage: “that no one may boast.”
Ok, here’s the logical and scriptural conclusion of the matter:
If we are radically corrupted (Rom 3: 9-20) and incapable of doing good on our own accord, (Rom 8: 7-8) then we must come to the realization that as non-Christians, we have nothing to boast in. No level of human goodness is sufficient grounds for any boasting or self glorification. Our good works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64: 6) before a holy God. We MUST understand this.
Secondly, we look at Ephesians 2 and see something else. Our salvation wasn’t us! It is by Grace! It’s not our doing! It is a gift! Not by works, so what? So no one may boast. Our salvation is a gift, from our loving adoptive Father. We owe a debt we cannot pay; we have a broken a holy Law put in place by the creator of the Universe and deserve immediate, complete and eternal destruction. Christ pays this debt on the cross for us; we do and have done nothing to deserve this free gift of salvation.
What grounds do we have for arrogance? We as Christians many times act like we have it all together. We act as if now that we have been saved, we can take upon ourselves the responsibility to daily pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and live the Christian life. This is utterly illogical and contrary to what the Bible teaches us about, ourselves, God, and his eternal Grace imparted to his children.
Until we are humble before God, confessing the reality of our depravity and the essential nature of our dependence on him, how can we expect lo live selfless lives? Look at Paul in 1 Timothy:
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life”
This is humility! It starts here, with our most important relationship. Until we understand the magnitude of God’s grace and the extent of our unworthiness, we know nothing of Humility.
God has been hammering my heart in these areas recently.
James 1 is clear that all good things come from God. All righteousness, that we posses as Christians, is from above. God sanctifies us, shaping us, molding us, hammering at our hearts of stones, making us more and more like his perfect son.
Here comes my soapbox:
We must understand that knowledge and understanding of Scripture is one of those things.
How can we think that our excitement, or understanding of the Bible and of Theology is on our own accord? This is one of the biggest issues for many of seminary bound, theologically excited, intellectually active Christians whom I have known over the years…and this is very much a place where I have struggled.
We should NEVER view any understanding of the Bible as coming from us. If we truly understand this Theology, this Anthropology, this truth about who God is and who man is, why do we so often gloat and boast in our own self glory with regards to studying the Bible? We act as if we own accord have the ability to make complete sense of God, all his attributes, and all his dealings with man.
First of all, do we really want to be serving a God that we can completely figure out? Put him in a box; confine him to what the human mind is capable of comprehending? NO! We need to let God be God! Let certain facets of his magnificence be…just magnificent! I am NOT AT ALL trying to condemn studying Theology or pursuing to know our Holy God. But do it to Know God! And Tell Others! Not just to know stuff.
This self centered pursuit of knowledge that I have been guilty of before, ultimately rests in a lack of humility; a misunderstanding of who God is, and who we are. This is a failure to acknowledge our utter dependence on Christ and to daily take up our cross and follow him. More often than not, this ultimately culminates into one of the most horrible, relationship destroying, prideful, arrogant acts that infests the church today; a complete void of grace towards other believers.
I have seen many Christians, including myself, fall prey to this. One can have a great heart for the lost, a love for God’s word, yet cannot find a sliver of grace in their hearts for fellow brothers in Christ who believe differently than themselves on minor, controversial issues. I can’t help but think of the Parable in Matthew 18:
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. “
What a terrible, illogical and selfish way to belittle the grace of God. I pray that while pursuing the absolute and immovable richness of Truth in the Gospel, we would abound in Grace and Humility towards one another, in Christ Jesus. How could we see and understand the magnitude of God’s grace towards us, yet be unwilling to show grace on issues that we ourselves are not 100% sure of. Be willing to die for the essential immovable truths of the Gospel, study and read on the finer points of Theology, and rather than letting that drive you into graceless arrogance and self-centered pursuit of knowledge, let it cause you to fall in love with God, and his Grace. And let that understanding of Grace overflow in Humility and grace towards other.
May we all be in humble pursuit of God, and may his Love overflow through us into the world.