Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” [Eph. 1:1, 2*].
“Grace be to you.” We owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Not because we first loved him, did God love us; but “while we were yet sinners” [Rom. 5:8], Christ died for us, making full and abundant provision for our redemption. Although by our disobedience we have merited God’s displeasure and condemnation, yet he has not forsaken us, leaving us to grapple with the power of the enemy. Heavenly angels fight our battles for us, and,
co-operating with them, we may be victorious over the powers of evil.
Grace for the Unworthy
We should never have learned the meaning of this word “grace,” had we not fallen. God loves the sinless angels, who do his service, and are obedient to all his commands; but he does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it, for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We ourselves did not seek after it, but it was sent out in search of us.
God rejoices to bestow this grace upon all who hunger for it, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we shall receive this gift.
“And peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Every man’s experience testifies to the truth of the words of Scripture: “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. . . . There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” [Isa. 57:20, 21]. Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest. The masterful passions of the heart no human power can control. We are as helpless here as were the disciples to control the raging storm.
Grace Brings Deliverance
But he who spoke peace to the billows of Galilee has spoken the word of peace for every soul. However fierce the tempest, those who turn to Jesus with the cry, “Lord, save us,” will find deliverance. His grace, which reconciles the soul to God, quiets the strife of human passion, and in his love the heart is at rest. “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven” [Ps. 107:29, 30]. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” [Rom. 5:1]. “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” [Isa. 32:17].
Whoever consents to renounce sin, and open his heart to the love of Christ, becomes a partaker of this heavenly peace. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife, and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men can not be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmisings will find no room there; hatred can not exist. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven, and will diffuse its blessed influence on all around. The spirit of peace will rest like dew upon hearts weary and troubled with worldly strife.
Grace Brings Peace
Christ’s followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin, and yield his heart to God, is a peacemaker.
And “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” [Matt. 5:9]. The spirit of peace is evidence of their connection with heaven. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus. “Every one that loveth is born of God” [1 John 4:7]. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” [Rom. 8:9]; but “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” [Rom. 8:14].
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the apostle continues, “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” [Eph. 1:3]. What is there left for us to ask, that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of his presence. If we keep ourselves in close union with the common, cheap, sensual things of this earth, Satan will interpose his shadow, so that we shall fail to discern the blessedness of the promises and assurances of God, and so shall fail to be strengthened to attain to a high spiritual standard. Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power.
Grace for Holiness
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” [Eph. 1:4]. There can be no misunderstanding here, unless there is wilful blindness. We are to be holy and without blame before him in love. The condition on which we receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon the light we already have. If we would find, we must go on continually seeking; if we would receive, we must ask; if we would have the door opened, we must knock.
“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” [2 Thess. 2:13]. In this text the two agencies in the salvation of man are revealed,—the divine influence, the strong, living faith of those who follow Christ. It is through the sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth, that we become laborers together with God. God waits for the cooperation of his church. He does not design to add a new element of efficiency to his Word; he has done his great work in giving his inspiration to the Word. The blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the divine Word, are ours. The object of all this provision of heaven is before us; and it depends upon us to lay hold of the promises God has given, and become laborers together with him.
Sanctification is the work, not of a day or of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a life-long struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.
Paul’s sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said, “I die daily” [1 Cor. 15:31]. His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God’s will, however crucifying to his own nature.
God Leads Us to Holiness
God leads his people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy, and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
There is a science of Christianity to be mastered,—a science as much deeper, broader, higher, than any human science as the heavens are higher than the earth. The mind is to be disciplined, educated, trained; for we are to do service for God in ways that are not in harmony with inborn inclination. There are hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil that must be overcome. Our hearts must be educated to become steadfast in God. We are to form habits of thought that will enable us to resist temptation. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right, the children of God are to seal their destiny.
Accepted in Christ
God has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” [Eph. 1:5, 6].
The word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The glory that rested upon Christ is a pledge of the love of God for us. It tells us of the power of prayer,—how the human voice may reach the ear of God, and our petitions find acceptance in the courts of heaven. By sin, earth was cut off from heaven, and alienated from its communion; but Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory. His love has encircled man, and reached the highest heaven. The light which fell from the open portals upon the head of our Saviour, will fall upon us as we pray for help to resist temptation. The voice which spoke to Jesus says to every believing soul, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”
With Him, Like Him
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” [1 John 3:2]. Our Redeemer has opened the way, so that
the most sinful, the most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find access to the Father. All may have a home in the mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare. “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; . . . behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it” [Rev. 3:7, 8].
—The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 15, 1908.
*Bible texts in this reading are from the King James Version.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND SHARING
1. What ideas in this reading impress you the most? Why?
2. Ellen White refers to the “science of Christianity” in this reading. What does she mean by these words?
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) was one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Adventists believe that she exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This article was published September 23, 2010.