From Knowers to Learners
Ephesians 2:1-10, wherein Paul describes both the dark past and the bright future of every believer, was intended as an illustration of the power of God on behalf of believers, exercised (it seems almost needless to say) in perfect love.
We might summarize it this way: How great is that power? So great, that it can reach down and save even those who languish in the grip of the prince of "the powers of the air," and then so great again that it can place these same "in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus." Paul deploys all his rhetorical firepower in order to help the Ephesians understand more vividly, more accurately, the immeasurable greatness of God's power and grace toward them.
This is a point I want to investigate further. Apparently, when it comes to knowledge of God and the things of God, there is knowing, and then there is knowing. We may know the grace of God, but then again we are not finished learning it. Truly the Christian is a student in the school of grace, a school from which we will never graduate. There is always more to learn. His grace, you see, is immeasurable, and therefore to speak of knowledge of his grace is necessarily to speak of knowing in part. Let us not be satisfied, but let us grow in the knowledge of his grace.
It is Paul's mission--it is one of his epistolary purposes--to convert his readers from knowers to learners. To show them that, where their knowledge of God and the things of God is concerned--his grace, his power, his love--they have as yet only scratched the surface. This is why Paul prays for the Ephesians that they have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and for the Colossians, that they would "increase in the knowledge of God." [1:10] To know and assent to certain fundamental truths concerning God (such as, for example, the doctrine of grace) is only the beginning. A spirit of wisdom and revelation is necessary because, concerning the things of God, we know only in part. God wants us to increase in knowledge!
Now, we are not speaking here of new knowledge or of secret wisdom, but of a keener, richer, deeper knowing of that which has already been revealed to us. Let's go back to Ephesians 2:1-10. In verse 1 through 3 Paul paints a picture of the old life of the Ephesian believers--who they once were--and then in verses 4 through 10 of their new life and their new destiny in Christ. It is in verse 7 that we find the purpose statement:
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.Think of this. Paul has already said that God's ultimate goal was to unite all things to himself. [Eph 1:10] Now he says that in that new age God will show us the immeasurable riches of his grace. I don't take that to mean that we will thoroughly understand the full measure of his grace--how can we know the immeasurable? What I think Paul is saying is that we will see at last that his grace toward us was indeed immeasurable, and needed to be. We were immeasurably lost, and needed an immeasurable "kindness" to save us.
In heaven we will at last be apt pupils of god's immeasurable grace, receiving moment by moment an increased knowledge of its depths and riches. And we will never reach the point of saturation. We will never cry, "Enough!" We will have a holy hunger for more, we will be continually more amazed, more thankful, as we grow more aware of the sheer indefatigable bounty of his grace.
God, help us even now to receive a foretaste of that heavenly blessing, help us to be receptive students in your school of grace, growing daily in the knowledge of your strong love for us.