Isn’t it amazing that we can be saved by faith and not by the things that we do? In today’s post, Steph Nickel focuses on Ephesians 2, which tells us that by God’s mercy, grace, and love, we are saved by faith and not by our good works.
Saved By Faith
Ephesians 2:1-9 says,
“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.”
“But God” … they’re two of the most amazing words in all of Scripture.
Despite how bleak things look, God in His mercy and grace offers the solution. In this passage we read that we are “by nature children of wrath.” This is more than disheartening and discouraging, though it is both. It is actually terrifying. None of us want to be objects of God’s wrath.
Rich In Mercy
Thankfully, we don’t have to remain “dead in [our] trespasses and sins.”
“But God, being rich in mercy …” And aren’t we glad His is? “… being rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ.”
I’m actually writing this devotional the Thursday before Good Friday. And as I look ahead not only to the Saviour’s crucifixion but also to His resurrection, this portion of scripture jumps off the page at me. “Made us alive together with Christ” … amazing!
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. For all eternity He remains the conquering hero over sin and death. And we are given that same life when we come to saving faith.
Raised Up with Christ
The passage goes on to say that, from God’s perspective, we have already been raised up and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
I once heard a related anecdote that I will likely never forget. When a certain believer asked how another individual was doing and that person responded, “I’m fine under the circumstances,” this man would ask, “But what are you doing under the circumstances?”
According to this passage from Ephesians, we don’t have to be weighed down by our circumstances. Now it’s not that once we become a Christian, everything will be smooth sailing. It’s just that we will never have to bear our burdens on our own. And in a very practical way, it helps to remind ourselves that we have been raised with Christ and seated in heavenly places.
And something else I find particularly interesting about this passage of God’s Word: verb tenses are vitally important. Did you notice that the first few verses are written in the past tense? The author says the readers were dead and lived to satisfy their own desires. But that all changed when God graciously brought them to saving faith.
Think of it this way. Imagine you are carrying a heavy load, one that is weighing you down more and more with each step you take. Someone comes along and offers to take the load from you. At first you’re overjoyed and relinquish your burden eagerly. But then there are a couple of things that can happen.
You can try to help carry the load, which doesn’t make any sense. The One who is carrying it will never tire nor will He ever hand it back to you. Secondly, you can get the idea that you did something to deserve His help. After all, you were doing your best to carry the load in the first place.
Neither of these options is a good one. The best thing you or I can do is rejoice in God’s ability and willingness to deal with things we never could on our own. We must forever thank Him for the “but God” portion of this and other passages in His Word.
From God’s Perspective
Each and every individual who comes to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does so because of God’s rich mercy and grace. If you have not surrendered your life to the Saviour, I encourage you to do so this day.
And if you have, I challenge you to take the time to marvel at the truths in the second half of the passage. Consider how you can live out the new life you have in Christ and how you can learn to see things from God’s perspective.
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