In the Grace of God Part 2

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

Of all the gods that man has chosen to create for himself none have the inclination to save him into eternal life and none love man. The Apostle Paul uses the words in this section of Scripture “but” and “because.” Paul uses these words to present the reason that God desires to reconcile man to Himself. It is that God has compassion towards man and therefore has mercy towards his sinful condition.  That alone is reason for man to be in constant thanksgiving towards God. “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:1 KSV)

Unlike the gods of men the God and Creator of the universe is a God of love. God loves His creation and all was created for His glory. God’s love for man is the design of His eternal purpose to bring man into intimate fellowship with Him, as it was in the Garden of Eden. God’s love is not the weak love that man has but is a divine love that is at the core of everything that God is. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The love of God is agape which is the highest form of love. Agape is the love that is charitable and full of affection, a heart of benevolence towards the object of the loved one. The reasons then for God’s mission to reconcile man unto Himself is His mercy and love towards and for man.

When we get close to a light more is revealed of the environment. When we draw closer to God and His holy righteousness we see the vast chasm between us and Him. We see that we have fallen way short of His glory and honor. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Clarke describes our nature state in this way. “As they were corrupt in their nature, and sinful in their practice, they could possess no merit, nor have any claim upon God; and it required much mercy to remove so much misery, and to pardon such transgressions.” Many of the gods of this world do not have mercy and love for their subjects. Truthfully the gods of this world have no feelings towards man at all. The gospel of God’s salvation for man offered through Jesus is the fact of His mercy and love shown towards us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Man gives no reason to God for the mercy and love that God has shown towards man. The mercy and love of God is found within Him. There is many a person that we have experienced and feel there to be no way that we could have mercy or love towards them. Yet knowing how God sees us as we are lost in our depravity, sill His mercy and love is so great that He loves us as we are. We try so hard at times to make ourselves lovable to God, but this is a futile adventure to try. God is perfect and to be in His presence we too must be perfect. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) We must accept this great mercy that God has for us knowing of our unworthiness to receive it, this is faith in His Word. This is the magnitude of God’s grace throughout our Christian life.

“Even when we were dead in our transgression.” God does not wait until we are lovable creatures before His loves us. God loved us as we were dead in our transgressions. God could not show His mercy and great love towards us if we were not dead in our transgression and had no need of Him for salvation. Jesus came to seek that which was lost and needed to be found. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Those who do not realize their need for a savior cannot be saved. Those who do not realize they are dead cannot be brought back to life. We are not only dead in our sins but we must be dead to the false belief that we can justify ourselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)

It is not just a friendship with Jesus Christ. The relationship with Jesus is a close intimate relationship the same as marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman. When the two become as one. “And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8) Christ took the old man and crucified it upon the cross with Him. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) The repented sinner has been given a new nature by God and the old way passes and all things become new. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It is God’s grace, His favor towards the sinner that he is saved. It has nothing to do with man’s lovability or the merit of his actions. Salvation from spiritual death is the work of God given by His mercy and great love towards the undeserving. That is more than enough to enter into His courts with praise and thanksgiving and shouts of jubilation. Only God is worthy of our praise. “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)

We have become seated in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is the present position of the Christian. Our place of living is in a realm of existence. The Christian is not as those who dwell in the world but already have citizenship in the Kingdom of God. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

We are not sitting in the heavenly places with Jesus just yet but we are in the heavenly places in Jesus. Our identity is in Christ and as He sits in the heavenly places so do we. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21) Clarke tells us this in this way. “And now we sit in heavenly places – we have a right to the kingdom of God, anticipate this glory, and are indescribably happy in the possession of this salvation, and in our fellowship with Christ Jesus.”

God will continue to show His grace towards us in the future and deal with us based upon His grace. The untold riches of God will continue to unfold for us throughout eternity. The work of God in us reflects the glory of God and His work through the Church is on display throughout the Church age.  “From this verse it is clear that Paul fully expected the gospel of the grace of God to be preached in the ages to come. He had no notion of a temporary gospel to develop into a better, but he was assured that the same gospel would be preached to the end of the dispensation. Nor this alone; for as I take it, he looked to the perpetuity of the gospel, not only through the ages which have already elapsed since the first advent of our blessed Lord, but throughout the ages after he shall have come a second time. Eternity itself will not improve upon the gospel.” (Spurgeon)

One way to know the proof of God’s grace is to see how he continues to offer His grace to man. If we are to offer a gift to someone and they refuse it then we will retract the gift. But this is not the action of God when we refuse His mercy. By His sufficient grace God persists in His grace begging us to receive it.

When Paul speaks of God’s great mercy and love for man he cannot help by state that the grace of God is His free gift to man. The grace of God is giving that which man does not deserve. We are saved by grace not faith, as faith is an action on our part. Faith is the conduit that brings the grace to us. Without faith in God’s grace we could not receive it. Therefore we are saved by grace through faith.

Our salvation is not because we are lovable, it is not that we could buy it or could work for it, and it is not something we could accomplish on our own. The work of salvation is a gift from God. Only God robed as a man in the person of Jesus Christ could have been the perfect Lamb of God to sacrifice for the sins of the world. There is no other sacrifice that would satisfy the Word of God.

The conduit to God’s grace, faith, is also a gift of God. We could not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ unless God does a prior work in us. The reason is because of our prior rebellion to God’s Word we have been given over to our sinful lust. The god of this world, Satan, has blinded our minds that we cannot understand the truth that we have so long rejected. “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

This truth shows the importance of prayer for the lost. God initiates salvation and we should be in prayer for the lost and blind that God would open their heats to the truth of the gospel that they can be saved. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44)

If salvation was the work of man, then what I wonder would we be saved to? Salvation is God’s gift to man and no man can boast of anything that he has done to reach this glorious position. It is God’s plan of salvation and it began with the promise of Genesis 3:15. Salvation is God’s work alone and He alone receives the glory.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 13, 2017

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