“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” (Ephesians 2:4)
Man has broken the laws of God and has come under His righteous judgement. Our sentence of eternal condemnation in the divine court is duly deserved. However, there is another dimension to be considered in which there is a remedy for our situation. Man has no merit on his own account, but God does. The Apostle Paul defines the means by which our salvation has been brought about: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). What is the extent to which God loves us? It is very great, meaning a depth beyond our comprehension. His love is infinitely wide in scope. He reached out to us with His graceful offer of eternal life even though we were not seeking after Him.
“even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:5)
Our disobedience toward God made us spiritually dead and destined for His wrath. It meant certain doom for us apart from the intervention of God Himself. Paul elsewhere describes a number of ways that a person can violate God’s Law: “…the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers…” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He says twice in that same passage the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. The repeated emphasis demands our attention here. There is no one on earth who lives up to God’s perfect moral standard. So, how can we be made alive together with Jesus Christ? In 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul said of his audience to which that epistle was written, “Such were some of you; but you were washed…” We are made alive together in Christ through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We were once dead to heathen ways. Now we live a new life of holiness. Our old ways have passed away. Paul expounds further on the phrase about grace in parenthesis in Ephesians 2:8. The New Living Translation renders it as, “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.” We have been purchased by the blood of Christ to be vessels of honor to God. He initiates this transformative process of sanctification and brings it to completion.
“and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)
We have been raised together to newness of life in union with Christ. That is the greatest benefit of having been reconciled to a holy God. We have a new identity in Christ as children of God. We have a new purpose in this life which is to bring glory to God. We become partakers of His kingdom, which is a kingdom of righteousness: “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There is a radical change of heart which happens in the lives of those who place their faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul’s former lifestyle was that of a murderer, since he persecuted the church of God. He went from zealously chasing after Christians to becoming a member of that very group that he had once despised. His transformed life was one of service to God in preaching the gospel. Paul now enjoys the fullness of fellowship with Christ in heaven. He has seen Him face to face in glory, and so can we.
“so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption is the greatest expression of love made by God to us. It serves as a testimony to His generosity for eternity. The greatest demonstration of love is giving up one’s own life on behalf of others: “Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is precisely what Jesus Christ did for us when He made atonement for our sins on the cross. A creation cannot do a greater act of love than the Creator Himself. Thus, we have a biblical proof of the deity of Christ. Paul held to a high christology. The second Person of the Godhead laid down His life for us. It is God who has made the greatest possible demonstration of love. He ought to be praised forever for this wondrous deed. This act was not done because we were righteous and deserved His favor. It was solely because of God’s benevolence.