July 12th 2009

Extreme

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

I often refer to the gospel as being extreme. It is good news about God’s EXTREME LOVE, God’s EXTREME GRACE and his EXTREME GIFT.

This EXTREME LOVE of God is what makes the gospel such good news.  As Paul wrote, God has done all these good things for us “in love” and “in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  In other words, God simply wants to bless us and thoroughly enjoys doing so.

And God’s love is not limited to just a few people; it is extreme in its scope.  It includes everybody. In John 3:16-17, Jesus tells us that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to save it.  Jesus said in John 12:32 that he would draw all people to himself.   I John 2:2 says that Jesus atoned for the sins of the whole world.  And Colossians 1:19-20 tells us that in Christ, God reconciled absolutely everybody to himself.  That is extreme love, so extreme that some find it hard to believe.

Returning to Ephesians 1, Paul calls the EXTREME GRACE of God “glorious and freely given,” and it results in our being “holy and blameless in God’s sight.”

Everything God has done for us is made real “through Jesus Christ,” not through anything we can do or decide.  God took it upon himself to make us his beloved children, and did it with us and for us in Jesus Christ.  Jesus alone is our “righteousness, holiness and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us.

And that brings us to God’s EXTREME GIFT.

Ephesians 2:6 says that God “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”  Our lives are “now hidden with Christ in God,” Colossians 3:3 says.  In God, “we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28 says.

And 2 Corinthians 5:14-19 tells us that when Jesus died and rose again, all humanity died and rose with him, making humanity into a new creation, fully reconciled to God, with all sins removed.

All this means we can look ahead with joy and hope to the day spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:52-56:

“For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable…. Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Out of his EXTREME LOVE and by his EXTREME GRACE, God longs for us to turn to him in faith and accept his EXTREME GIFT.

Prayer
Great God, thank you the all encompassing extreme love and grace and gift that we receive through Jesus Christ, your Son.
Amen

 Study by Joseph Tkach

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