Reflection on the Word in our Worship
"But God, being rich in mercy," is the phrase that opens the fourth verse of Ephesians 4. It is the hinge in this bad news/good news section of Ephesians. John Stott encapsulates and clarifies the bad news that applies to all people without reservation, all people who are then the objects and purpose or God's saving mercy in Jesus Christ.
Before we look in detail at this devastating description of the human condition apart from God, we need to be clear that it is a description of everybody. Paul is not giving us a portrait of some particularly decadent tribe or degraded segment of society, or even of the extremely corrupt paganism of his own day. No, this is the biblical diagnosis of fallen man in fallen society everywhere. True, Paul begins with an emphatic you, indicating in the first place his Gentile readers in Asia Minor, but he quickly goes on to write (verse 3a) that we all once lived in the same way (thus adding himself and his fellow Jews), and he concludes with a reference to the rest of mankind (verse 3b). Here then is the apostle’s estimate of everyman without God, of the universal human condition. It is a condensation into three verses [in Ephesians] of the first three chapters of Romans, in which he argues his case for the sin and guilt first of pagans, then of Jews, and so of all mankind. Here he singles out three appalling truths about unredeemed human beings, which included ourselves until God had mercy on us.
-John Stott, The Message of Ephesians
The Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)
(click below to listen to Incarnation's Playlist)
1 I was glad when they said unto me, *
“We will go into the house of the Lord.”
2 Now our feet are standing *
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city *
that is at unity in itself.
4 For there the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, *
as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.
5 For there is the throne of judgment, *
even the throne of the house of David.
6 O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; *
they shall prosper that love you.
7 Peace be within your walls *
and plenteousness within your palaces.
8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, *
I will wish you prosperity.
9 Indeed, because of the house of the Lord our God, *
I will seek to do you good.