What God Has Done For Us
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you
formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince
of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of
disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature
children of wrath, even as the rest. 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 together with Him, and seated us with Him in the
heavenly places, 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 that no one should 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).
One writer discussed this passage under the heading "Out of the Graveyard". That's a good description. This context discusses how we were made free from the spiritual corruption and death of sin. A life without Christ is nothing more than a spiritual corpse. We were not sick; we were dead. We did not need to be resuscitated; we needed to be resurrected. We may not have been murderers or robbers, but we were just as spiritually dead as if we had been. We had sinned. We had fallen short of the glory of God. We had failed to be what we ought to have been. We were children of wrath. We were destined for condemnation by all that is righteous and just, and we were accountable for all our unrighteousness.
It was out of that hopeless state that God brought us to safety. We were lost, lost, as lost as it is possible to be. But not anymore! Our eternal prospect changed from utter hopelessness, darkness and despair into wonderful hope, shining light and joyful wonderment. It is God who has done these great things for us.
God Loved Us
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us..." (Ephesians 2:4,5). God's love caused Him to act toward us with mercy. "Love" is an attribute of God's nature and it is why He relates to us with "mercy", in the same way as God's nature is also "truth" and He therefore is "faithful" to us. The Bible says, "God is love" (I John 4:8).
God's love is not just an abstract principle. It is observable in the human course of events by His intervention in our history to seek and save that which was lost. He owed us nothing, but gave us everything; "...though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you, through His poverty, might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9). He has become our Savior and example. "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us..." (Ephesians 4:32-5:2). God loves us very much and quite simply desires what is absolutely the best for each of us.
God Made Us Alive
"...even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ..." (Ephesians 2:5). In the previous chapter, Paul had explained some things God had done for Christ, including "...Christ, when He raised Him from the dead..." (1:20). He said that this gave us evidence of God's power and might. It is by that same power that God raises us spiritually from spiritual death to give us new life. Jesus also used the physical resurrection to illustrate spiritual resurrection. He said, "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. Truly, truly, I say unto you, and hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live," (John 5:24,25).
Here, Jesus is not talking about the future resurrection of the physically dead at the end of time, though He does talk about that later (vs 28). Instead, He is talking about a spiritual resurrection that will be partaken in the very near future; "an hour is coming, and now is." Also, unlike the final resurrection where all will be raised, only those who "hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life...has passes out of death into life."
This brings us to a very important point! To be raised up spiritually, one must hear (heed) the word of Christ. Only in this way can we live. Jesus said so! One is lost if he or she does not heed the word of Christ.
God Raised Us Up
"...and raised us up with Him..." (Ephesians 2:6). Not only are we "made alive" in Christ, but we are "raised up" with Him. This does not refer to a physical change of location or exaltation, but spiritual.
"Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3,4). A part of this spiritual resurrection involves living a new kind of life, with a new and nobler standard and purpose, a higher aim and a solid foundation. Before, we had "walked according to the course of this world." But now we "walk in newness of life." This is because we are raised and confident because of the power of God which has been and is being exerted in our behalf. No one can cast down the one whom the Lord Himself has exalted as we continue to walk in newness of life!
God Seated Us With Christ in Heavenly Places
"...and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:5). This does not have reference to heaven, the final place where the righteous dwell in God's immediate presence. Rather, it has to do with a spiritual realm or plane. We are there now! It is a place of struggle between right and wrong; "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12). It is where those battles against temptation are waged in the human heart. It is where the battle is fought to a decision as to whether a sinner will repent and live or refuse and die. In the heavenly places, we have sat down with Christ in His kingdom.
God Saved Us By Grace Through Faith
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8). We have already talked of God's love and mercy. Here we find out that it is by God's grace that we are saved. "Grace" is unmerited favor. Satan works against us but God works for us. He leaves it up to us as to whom we will follow. By His doing, we as undeserving sinners are provided with a choice. Jesus died so that we might have an alternative to eternal darkness.
Salvation is not only by grace, but also by faith. That is our response, made by our choice, when we come to recognize the serious nature of sin and its consequences as well as God and His graciousness. Faith is active trust and submission unto the will of God. We are saved by God's grace through our faith.
God Created Us In Christ For Good Works
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10). Our conversion is not the end, but the beginning. Our walk, our search has not ended. we continue to walk by faith and seek out those things which make for greater and deeper understanding. "Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 9.11; November 2002