“Overwhelming Victory” ( 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5, NEB ) by Carley Evans

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy gives us new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! The inheritance to which we are born is one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither. It is kept for [us] in heaven.”

Our inheritance which is the gift of God through His Son’s death and resurrection is “one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.”

“In Christ [God] chooses us before the world is founded, to be dedicated, to be without blemish in His sight, to be full of love; and He destines us — such is His will and pleasure — to be accepted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in order that the glory of His gracious gift, so graciously bestowed on us in His Beloved, may redound to His praise.” (Ephesians 1: 4-6)

God’s plan to save us is infallible. Our inheritance is guaranteed via the gift of His Holy Spirit. We “become incorporate in Christ and receive the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; and that Spirit is the pledge that we enter upon our heritage, when God redeems what is His own, to His praise and glory.” (Ephesians 1: 13-14)

Nothing can separate us from Christ once we are His. “What can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or hardship? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, or the sword? — in spite of all, overwhelming victory is ours through Him who loves us. For I am convinced that nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths — nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-36, 38-39)

After all, God’s great mercy saves us — “such is His will and pleasure.”

“By God’s Own Act” (Galatians 3: 28, NEB) by Carley Evans

“You all put on Christ as a garment,” writes Paul. “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus. But if you thus belong to Christ, you are the ‘issue’ of Abraham, and so heirs by promise.” (Galatians 3: 27 – 29)

We become God’s ‘sons’ by putting “on Christ as a garment.” “To prove that [we] are sons, God sends into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ [We] are therefore no longer slaves but sons, and if sons, then also by God’s own act heirs.” (Galatians 4: 6 – 7)

Christ purchases our freedom with His own blood. Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus frees us from subjection to the law so that “we might attain the status of sons.” (Galatians 4: 5) And this is God’s gift to us; a gift He manufactures without our assistance; a gift He freely gives us so that we might have eternal life with Him. And not only that, but that we might have abundant life here and now. Life is not only for some remote future; it is here and now. Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus tells a man on the Sabbath to stretch out his “withered arm” so that He might heal him. Jesus refuses to send away the five thousand and four thousand men (not to mention women and children) but feeds them all beyond their imagining. He gives abundant life, now and in eternity.

“He Seeks Us” (John 4: 24, ESV) by Carley Evans

At Jacob’s well Jesus tells the woman of Samaria that “the Father is seeking such people to worship Him;” people who worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” God seeks people to worship Him in spirit because He is spirit. He seeks people to worship Him in truth because He is the truth.

Jesus seeks out this woman who has had five different ‘husbands.’ He seeks her out by asking her, “Give Me a drink.” (John 4: 7) She knows how odd this is, that a Jewish man would approach a Samaritan woman. Jesus tells her pointedly that He is the “gift of God;” that He is “living water.” He tells her: “the water that I will give [you] will become in [you] a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14)

Jesus tells her that it is not the location where we worship that matters — whether “on this mountain [or] in Jerusalem.” (John 4: 21) Instead, we worship God in the heart, in the mind, in the spirit because God dwells within His people.

Jesus’ disciples “marvel that he is talking with a woman, but no one says, ‘What do You seek?’ or ‘Why are You talking with her?’

What is Jesus seeking? Why does He speak with this woman — with this Samaritan woman?

“You worship what you do not know,” He tells her. (John 4: 22) Yet, He says, the day has arrived when “the true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4: 23)

You, He tells her, are a true worshiper if you accept this truth I give to you: “I who speak to you am He [the Messiah]” who “tells you all things.” (John 4: 26, 25)

“The Gift Of God” (Ephesians 2: 8 – 9, NIV) by Carley Evans

What is clearer than Paul’s extraordinary statement of truth — that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

That faith itself is a gift of God is clear — yet is also one of the stumbling blocks of the Christian walk. The concept that God gives us our faith in His Son causes great consternation. How is it that God gives us this gift? Why does He give it to some, but not to others? How is this fair? Paul asks and answers these questions in his letters to the Romans.

“No one can boast.”

This is ultimately the truth we should find in the Word of God. No one is able to stand in the presence of God unless God Himself has willed it. Job’s friends try to discover Job’s secret sin, the cause of all his suffering. Job continues to protest that he is righteous and has done no wrong. In the end, God challenges Job to explain the universe and to recognize that God has every right to do with His creation whatever He wishes.

God is the potter; we are the clay.

“No one can boast.”

In the end, Job repents in dust and ashes.

Paul adds, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10)

Not only has God created us, given us faith in His Son; but He has also created the good works we are to do while we are alive on this earth. God has a plan, like any exceptional craftsman. He knows His work; He has an end result in His creative mind.