For this post I am going to use an excerpt from my journal on Ephesians that reveals God’s great love for us and gives us a reason for living.
Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Almighty God, our Creator, is an amazing Being. His defining characteristic is love.
1John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Nothing about our God is small or limited in any way; He is rich in every attribute. His love is great and His mercy abundant. Beyond my understanding, His love toward every sinner is “great”—so great that He determined to provide for our spiritual rebirth through His Son, Jesus Christ, before He created anything. God loves every sinner with the greatest love even though He hates their sin. It’s by His grace, His gracious loving influence on our heart, that we are saved from His wrath, the just judgment of our sin.
I never get tired of repeating the precious old adage that grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
God has created man to think in reference to time. “The ages to come” is a reference to what we would call broad segments of time. Because the context is in reference to our sitting in heavenly places, I believe this is a reference to eternity. I don’t think one can discount the evidences of the richness of God’s grace towards His children in this life, but scripture seems to indicate that these riches are nothing compared to what is to come.
1Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
We are going to be blown away and greatly humbled as we consider how little we evidenced our gratitude in this lifetime for such provision.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
“By grace” – God’s divine influence upon your heart
“are you” – the sinner
“saved” – delivered from the wrath of God to restored fellowship with Him
“through faith” – implicit belief in God’s truth and authority
“and that not of yourselves” – Absolutely everything necessary to provide our
salvation is done by God.
“it” – your salvation
“is the gift of God” – an undeserved present from God the Father that only needs
to be accepted
“not of works” – There is absolutely nothing we can do to add to the value of
God’s gift. His gift alone is sufficient to redeem us.
“lest any man should boast” – It is God’s purpose for man to recognize that his whole life is dependent upon God. Nothing man can do is a basis for bragging or considering himself deserving of glory. ALL glory belongs to God.
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another….”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
I love the way the NLT expresses this verse: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
God is the master of everything He does, and it stands to reason that His workmanship produces only work of the highest quality, a masterpiece. I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “A Picture of Grace” by the Gaithers.
Who painted this picture of me
He saw with the eye's of a master
How beautiful my life could be
Where once was a portrait of gloom and despair
This masterpiece hangs in it's place
It's signed with his blood and it's framed with his glory
This beautiful picture of grace
Because we have been created anew in Christ Jesus, we have been imputed His righteousness and declared of the greatest value to God the Father.
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
John 16:27 “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
Each person that places his/her faith in Christ Jesus as Savior has been created to follow His example and do good works. In fact, it is only in Christ that we can do “good” works—works that have eternal benefit. Any actions men perform on this earth that we classify as “good” I think is better classified as kind. It may bring temporary benefit to the flesh for the recipient, but has no eternal benefit unless it leads to salvation, restored fellowship with the Lord or encouragement and edification in the body of Christ. It has no eternal benefit to the “doer” unless done “as unto the Lord.”
“God hath before ordained” – Again, this goes back to God’s omniscience—an attribute I can define, but I can’t really comprehend. God knows everything there is to know and has always known it. I know that there have been many in Christendom who have denied that God could have known every choice we would make, reasoning that such knowledge would deny man’s ability to choose since what God “knows” is locked in, so to speak. I strongly disagree with that reasoning. In my thinking they are limiting God’s abilities—not man’s. They are reasoning with man’s logic and labeling God with the same limited reasoning ability. Not so. His ways and understanding are far beyond our capabilities to understand.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”