“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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 might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Let us examine the grace and mercy of God by breaking this magnificent portion of Scripture into a biblical outline highlighting the Apostle Paul’s major points. Please know that this examination is just a brief overview and in no means does this section the justice it deserves.
First, what were we without God’s grace? Ephesians 2:1-3 says that we were spiritually dead because of our trespasses and sins. Living rebelliously against God was our normal way of life. We followed the course and pattern for life dictated to us by a fallen and godless world system of thought and philosophies. Additionally, whether we realized it or not, we were slaves and servants of the devil (Romans 6:15-19). Like many before and after us, we lived for the fulfillment of bodily passions and lusts and carried out what we thought about in our minds. Consequently, we were objects of God’s wrath.
Second, what did we become because of God’s grace? Ephesians 2:4-9 says that God, being rich in mercy because of His great love for sinners like us, made us spiritually alive. This was God’s work of grace and mercy. We contributed nothing, in and of ourselves, to our spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). It was solely a work by the Holy Spirit, based upon the sovereign grace of God through the substitutionary atonement found only in Jesus Christ.
God also made us citizens of heaven. This spiritual realm is where our spiritual blessings are (Ephesians 1:3), where our inheritance is (I Peter 1:1-4), and where our affections should be (Colossians 3:1-3). We are objects of God’s immeasurable grace and kindness and merciful displays of the same.
All of this is because of God’s grace, which is personally accessed to each believer by God given faith. Faith is trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It requires repenting of your sin and trusting in Jesus Christ and receiving His righteousness as your own. However, the ability to repent and believe, both aspects of what is called conversion, is only possible by the God given faith from God.
Grace is grounded in God alone. Grace is grounded in God’s rich mercy. Grace is grounded in God’s great love, with which He (God) loved us (sinners). Grace is grounded towards sinners dead in their trespasses. Grace is grounded in God making dead sinners alive in Christ. Grace is grounded in God seating saved sinners in Christ Jesus in heavenly places. Grace is grounded in God’s immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward sinners in Christ Jesus.
We can boast of nothing and, independently of God, we contribute nothing to our salvation. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Although men are required to believe for salvation, even that faith is part of the gift of God, which saves and cannot be exercised by one’s own power. God’s grace is preeminent in every aspect of salvation (cf. Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16).”
Finally, what are believers to now do by God’s grace? We are to now serve the Lord. God calls us to be His workmanship created for good works. Our good works do not produce our salvation but rather give evidence of our salvation (John 15:8; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2; 14; James 2:16-26). Like our salvation, our good works were ordained to be a reality before the creation of the world.
In which category do you presently belong? Are you without God’s grace? Have you received God’s grace? Are you living a life in honor and glory of God’s grace? Your answers to one or all of these questions are a matter of life and death and indicate whether you are truly living a life as God intended for you to live.
Consider these questions very carefully. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Soli deo Gloria!