“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
God’s word is very clear that no matter who we are or where we come from we are all people who are in a very desperate situation. Our attitude towards God has been one of disobedience and our condition before God is spiritual deadness (2:1-3).
Thankfully this is not the end. What we see is nothing other than the most wonderful turning point in history where God intervenes. People who are dead, disobedient and desperate are brought back to life through the perfect gift given by God himself.
We see Paul explaining to this local church in Ephesus that what has taken place in their life is nothing to do with them; they have not earned God. Doing things has not merited his attention or affection. It is all to do with the lavish outpouring of God’s grace seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is by grace that we have been saved by trusting in Jesus.
This is such good news isn’t it. Yet throughout history this has been so quickly forgotten or misunderstood. Take the period of the reformation as an example. 500 years ago Martin Luther challenged the establishment about how ordinary people came to a saving knowledge of God. Instead of indulgences he pointed to grace. Instead of people he pointed to Christ.
What is even more challenging than people forgetting or choosing to neglect this wonderful truth of the gospel is that there are many millions of people who have not even heard of God’s abundant grace. Across East Asia and throughout East Asia’s peoples the concept of merit making is prevalent. So much time, money and effort is poured out to earn the acceptance of the gods or to appease the spirits. Further still there is no guarantee, no assurance, that the good which has been offered will make the correct grade.
It is for this reason we turn ourselves once again to God and praise him for our wonderful saviour Jesus Christ and his great grace towards us. From praising him we come before him pleading for the peoples of East Asia. We cry out to God to awaken hearts and reveal his glory across Asia so that many more people would know that they are free from earning god or appeasing the spirits; that salvation, truly knowing God, is possible through faith in Jesus. As I write this I cannot help but feel a great sense of urgency as we press on in the task unfinished. May the Lord bless the work!