Here are three of the keywords of the New Testament: “grace”, “saved”, “faith”.  Once, these terms were strange and new.  Now, they are old and threadbare.  Once, they were like lava, glowing and cast up from the central depths.  But it is a long while since the eruption, and the blocks have got cold and the corners have been rubbed off them.  I am afraid that some people, when they read such a text, will shrug the shoulder of weariness and think that they are in for a dreary sermon.

But, the more familiar a word is, the more likely are common ideas about it to be hazy.  We substitute acquaintance with the sound for penetration into the sense.  A frond of seaweed, as long as it is in the ocean, unfolds its delicate films and glows with its subdued colors.  Take it out, and it is hard and brown and ugly, and you have to plunge it into the water again before you see its beauty.  So with these well-worn Christian terms: you have to put them back, by meditation and thought – especially as to their bearing on yourself – in order to understand their significance and to feel their power. – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), commenting on Ephesians 2.8.

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