Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by His blood — the total cancellation of our sins — all because of the cascading riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7 TPT
This rendering also makes it clear that this is an act of God in His generosity and not something that could be earned in any way by us. He has decided to act on our behalf, and to pay the price required for our freedom. It is a high price – paid for in the blood, meaning the death, of His son Jesus Christ.
This sweeps away as a stroke the religiosity that is part and parcel of practising Christianity within a church tradition. Evangelicals put a high value on God’s grace, but can easily erode it by adding to it a legalism of how you belong and how you attend and how diligent you are in observing the things that matter in that tradition. This is man-motivated, not Spirit-led.
The liberal and Catholic traditions lean away from personal salvation through personal choice and put more emphasis on a kind of conferred holiness through belonging to the church and participate in its rituals. So belonging to God and living in His salvation becomes not a result of my personal choice and surrender, but is received by proxy, through belonging to the holy institution of its church. Of course, that opens up the debate as to which of the institutions can truly claim to be his church and what our status is if we belong to one of the other ones. It also raises the fundamental question of whether the body of Christ, the living stones of believers built together to be the place of his presence, is the same thing as a man-made hierarchy and system of rules with buildings in a particular style, and following a defined worship order in an approved book. The assurance of our salvation becomes a distant hope when the path is so convoluted.
The Bible knows nothing of such complication since Jesus did away with the complexity and legalism of the understanding of the old covenant that he encountered.
It’s not that he did not come to replace one outdated system with another system. He came to remove a rule and ritual-based religiosity to attempt to please — or even appease — God. He replaced it with a relationship with the Father through Him where we could know the Father's pleasure in us as His children.
Growing in our knowledge of God through trusting relationship and seeking His order in our lives and community is a lot different from supporting an institution because it tells us we ought to!
The verse we have in focus speaks of that kind of relationship and its essential simplicity. We are free to know God and to respond to His love because of who we have become in Christ Jesus, His gift to us.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.
Ephesians 1:7 NIV
Back to beginning: Part 1: Changing Our Identity