Original photo by Ian Sane
Daily Reformation, Ephesians 1:3-14
From the Reformer
16. Human reason neither fears God nor believes him, but is utterly ignorant of him and despises him. We know this from Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Luke 16:31) “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Here Christ points out that the human heart does not believe the word of God. This madness of the human heart is what Solomon railed at in the whole book of Ecclesiastes as can be seen from ch. 8:11: “Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil.”
17. Because the human heart is utterly ignorant of God, it turns aside to its own counsels and desires, and sets itself up in the place of God.
18. When God confounds the human heart through the law with a sense of sin, it does not yet know God, that is, it does not know his goodness and therefore hates him as if he were a tormentor.
19. When God comforts and consoles the human heart through the gospel by showing it Christ, then finally it knows God, for it recognizes both his power and his goodness. This is what Jeremiah 9:24 means: “But let him who glories glory in this, that…he knows me.”
20. The heart of him who has believed the gospel and come to know the goodness of God is now fortified so that it trusts in God and fears him and consequently abhors the thoughts of the human heart.
21. Peter said very fittingly in Acts 15:9 that hearts are cleansed by faith.
22. Mercy is revealed through the promises.
23. Sometimes material things are promised, and at other times spiritual.
24. In the law, material things such as the Land of Canaan, the Kingdom, etc. are promised.
25. The gospel is the promise of grace or the forgiveness of sins through Christ.
26. All material promises are dependent on the promise of Christ.
27. For the first promise was a promise of grace or Christ. It is found in Genesis 3:15: “He shall bruise your head.” This means that the seed of Eve will crush the kingdom of the serpent plotting against our heel, that is, Christ will crush sin and death.
28. This was renewed in the promise made to Abraham: “By your descendants shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:18).
29. Therefore, since Christ was to be born of the descendants of Abraham, the promises added to the law about the possession of the earth, etc. were obscure promises of the Christ who was to come. For those material things were promised to the people until the promised seed should be born, lest they perish and in order that in the meantime God might indicate his mercy by material things and might thereby exercise the faith of his people.
—Philip Melancthon, Loci Communes Theologici
Pulling It Together
God’s intention is not the fulfillment of promises for you but that through the promises you will come to know him. God will use most anything so that you will know him: walks in the garden, banishment, sickness, health, promises, patience, exile, and death. These things are not grace—nor are his promises. These are the things God uses to move you forward, closer to the truth, into his grace, at his side.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers