The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/12

Posted on | September 12, 2015 | 1 Response

scripture reading: Matthew 5:18

It’s All in the Prepositions

For from him and through him and to him are all things.           (Romans 11:36)

Having a root canal was preferable to learning those boring rules of grammar in school. The memory of the agony of diagramming a sentence still makes me ache. And of all the things we had to do in grammar class, perhaps learning about prepositions was the worst. What could be more boring that learning the function of dull little words that are so unobtrusive you hardly know they are there! I do remember my teacher’s passionate insistence that no sentence should ever end with a preposition. If I had been smart enough at the time, I would have liked to respond as Winston Churchill supposedly did when someone dared to correct him because he ended a sentence with a preposition: “This is the kind of tedious nonsense up with which I will not put.”

And yet prepositions are vital. These little words are needed to describe how things and people relate to one another. In the Bible, their importance is profound. Consider Ephesians 2:8–10.

By grace you have been saved, through faith . . . and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God . . . not by works, so that no one can boast. We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. [emphasis mine]

To miss the message in these pregnant prepositions is to miss the message altogether. It is the prepositions that make clear the cause of salvation (by grace, of God), the means of salvation (through faith, in Christ, not from ourselves, not by works), and the purpose of salvation (for good works, to walk in them).

To illustrate even further the importance of prepositions, these humble little grammatical servants have the privilege of carrying the entire message of the Bible. Yes, in just three simple prepositions the entire story of salvation can be told.

In Psalm 56:7 David said, “This I know, God is for me.” Before Christ came, there was no thought higher than this. Others knew that God was before us and over us. And many assumed he was against us. But David learned that God is for us! He’s on our side. He wants to bless us so that we can live meaningful lives. Each word is important: God is for us. God is for us. God is for us. God is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

When God sent his only Son into the world, he was called Immanuel, “which means, God with us (Matthew 1:23). The Gospel is the revolutionary announcement that the God who is for us has become the God who is with us! He is no longer a distant deity but a personal friend, as close as a brother. When Jesus returned to his Father in heaven, he sent his disciples into the world with this promise, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

As Jesus was giving his final instructions to his disciples in the Upper Room before his death, he said, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth . . . You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16–17). Amazing! The God who is for us and became the God who is with us has now become the God who is in us! The God who dwells within me is the God who gives me power to discern the truth, to will the good, and to walk in victory. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

So, the next time you read your Bible, pay close attention to the prepositions!

I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.  —Carl Sandburg

point to ponder • Salvation is by grace, through faith, for good works.

prayer focus • God is for us. God is with us. God dwells in us. Thank God for the security these three little words convey.


One Response to “FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/12”

  1. Roy Gamblin
    September 13th, 2015 @ 5:08 pm

    Stan, Interesting concept. When I was in Asbury Seminary I had a Japanese roommate. He later became president of a seminary in Japan. I would sometimes help him with his papers. The most trouble he had in expressing himself was in the use of prepositions. So often his prepositions did not express what he was trying to say. Roy

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