Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Study in Ephesians: Part 12, Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

You can almost hear the passion in Paul's voice here. With the connecting word "but", he is returning to the positive highlighting of God bringing glory to Himself by His grace. He also reveals another motivating factor in God saving us: "His great love that He had for us." We must be careful not to swing too far to one side or the other. No, love for us was not the sole motivating factor or even the primary one, but it was certainly part of the reason why God saved us. We were completely and totally dead in our sins, but God made us alive by His grace through the blood of His Messiah. He did this to bring glory to Himself and because of His great love towards us.

6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

It is interesting here how Paul uses what we would call in English the past tense to describe our being seated in the heavens with Christ. Though not yet completed, it is something that has always been a part of the Father's plan. There is absolutely zero possibility that the Father's plan will not come about, and to emphasize this, Paul says that we have already been seated in the heavens. It's a done deal. You can see the same thing in Romans 8:30. "Those whom He justified He also glorified." (past tense as well, though we are not yet glorified).

Why did God seat us in the heavens with Christ? This is where my previous church's sermon series title for Ephesians, "Trophies of Grace", came from. We are seated in the heavens in order to "display the immeasurable riches of His grace." Our mere existence in the heavens serves as a testimony to and praise of the grace of God. How much more when we actively praise Him with our mouths?

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

There's a beautiful symmetry in these verses about our work vs. God's work. I chose the quote the ESV here instead of the HCSB because of the rendering "his workmanship" instead of "creation". 
  • We are not saved by our own works (v. 9)
  • Rather, as saved ones created in Christ Jesus, we are products of God's works (v. 10)
  • Though we are not saved by them, we were created to do good works (v. 10)
Our works do not save us, but they are also not unimportant. God has a mission for each of His saved ones to carry out. Yes, for all eternity, we will be testifying to the grace of God. But we don't have to wait until we get to eternity to start testifying. Eternal life began for you the moment Jesus saved you (John 17:3). Go be a trophy of His grace today.