by Scott Lawton
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~Eph. 2:4-7
This is one of those “But God” passages that Brad Beals mentioned in a devotional several weeks ago. Here, Paul has been elaborating on how hopeless and helpless we were apart from Christ. We were dead in our sins, sons of disobedience, children of wrath. There was nothing good in us, no spiritual life. “But God.” With those two little words, everything changed. Death has been replaced with life; wrath with kindness.
Five things strike me in these verses. First, the lavishness of God’s actions toward us. Listen to the phrases Paul uses. Rich in mercy. Great love. Immeasurable riches. This was no small turn of events. God didn’t just start us over with a blank slate and the opportunity to earn his favor. There was nothing half-hearted in what he did. The change was drastic and total. From completely dead to immeasurably rich.
Second, this change is possible because we have been united with Christ. God “made us alive together with Christ.” He “raised us up with him.” He “seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” He will show “kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Every good thing that God has done for us in these verses has been done with Christ or in Christ.
Third, this was God’s work from first to last. God made us alive. God raised us up. God seated us in the heavenly places. God will show us the riches of his grace. As Paul says in verse 8, “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Fourth, the work is already finished. God “made us alive.” He “raised us up.” He “seated us” in the heavenly places. Past tense. These are all realities for the Christian now. You are alive today. You are raised up today. How is that possible? Because of our union with Christ. These things are all historical realities for Jesus. Since we are united to him, they are realities for us, too.
Fifth, the goal of our salvation is the full experience of God’s grace and kindness. We have already seen what God has done and how he did it. But did you notice why God has done all of these things? “So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” We have been redeemed so that God can spend the rest of eternity showing us the “immeasurable riches of his grace.” His grace is so vast that there will always be more of it for us to experience! There is always more kindness for him to show us.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)