Wednesday, May 1, 2013

justified by faith

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
Today's reading gives us two really important and related theological points. Don't get intimidated by the word "theology;" all it means is knowledge or study about God. For Paul, especially, but for us too, theology is always personal. It's not abstract, academic thinking, but thinking about the God we trust and who loves us. The first point Paul makes here is the heart of the protestant reformation (though the difference between Catholics and Protestants on this has always been a difference of emphasis, not an actual disagreement.) Paul says we are justified by grace through faith, not by our works. What that means is that God saves us because he loves us, not because we have earned it. There's nothing we can do to earn salvation, and nothing we need to do. Jesus already did everything necessary for our salvation.

The second part is that once we know God through Jesus, we're normally filled with gratitude for what Jesus did for us. We're also often filled with love for others because we know how much God loves us. Those two things, gratitude and love, lead us to want to help others. Our faith leads us to do good works, and those good works usually strengthen our faith even more. God loves it when that happens, and God is always happy to provide us new opportunities to serve and grow in our faith.

God bless,

Ephesians 2:1-13
You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. 

11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

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