Before I begin by writing today's passage, I want you guys (girls) to focus on the first two words of verse 4. It is a cry of excitement and joy following the forlorn and hopeless condition of the last three verses. What are the two words? But God. I will begin with the first three verses again to let God's Word speak.
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.
The first three verses express a hopelessness that can only be found by walking the road of destruction. This broad path will lead us to the most horrific place ever created by God (reserved for the devil and his angels). We are following the road of the father of lies to our eternal destruction. Then, the two most glorious words ever written in the Bible seem to jump off its pages... BUT GOD. But God what. But God, being rich in mercy. What is mercy? Webster's 1828 dictionary records the best definition:
1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.
Do you like that? To treat an offender better than he deserves. Mercy induces an injured person (in this case God because of our sin) to forgive trespasses and injuries (because of the cross). And to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant (in this case, God does not inflict any punishment upon us. His Son took our punishment upon the cross, which we richly deserved). It is only exercised towards offenders (we having offended God in the first place). Finally, mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being (Amen. Praise Him for being merciful towards us, while we were dead in our sins.)
God, in being rich in mercy toward us, shows us how much he loves us by destroying His Son (Isaiah 53:10) on the cross for the redemption of our sins. His mercy, His grace, His lovingkindness toward us. It is all overflowing from His heart. He loves you and me that much. Let that sink in for a moment. HE is RICH IN MERCY. Rich in pure, clean, graceful, awesome mercy. His mercy is far from ever being comprehended or fathomed. He alone is to be praised forever and ever. Amen.
Verse 4 goes on to share His great love for us...because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.
With that great love with which he loves us, he has made us alive together with Christ. Alive, not dead, ALIVE. We were once dead in the trespasses of our own sins. Locked up, chained to the ground, bound to sin; but he raised us up out of that hopeless situation and made us ALIVE with Him. That is not all. He has raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. We will be reigning with Jesus. We will be sharing, in a measure, his authority. Wow! I cannot even begin to imagine what that is like. It gets even better.
Verse 7 reads, "so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus." This verse answers a specific question. Why did God lavish such love upon his people? The answer is: So that we would marvel and be astoundingly amazed, for all eternity, over the incredible kindness and love that He has revealed to us through His Son. It will take all of eternity for us to fathom God's love for us, but even then, we would only hit the bear surface of His love for us. Is that absolutely awesome? HE IS WORTHY. I cannot even begin to express in human terms what he has done for me on the cross. He has done everything and even more than I could ever begin to imagine or comprehend. All by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Verses 8-10 sums up the climax of these divinely inspired verses, "For it is by grace that 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."
We are saved by grace. That's it. His grace alone. It is not our own doing. It is a gift of God. The most precious gift that God could have ever given to mankind...His Son. It is not a result of works, so that no one may boast. If it were a result of works, we would acclaim all the glory. It's all about ME getting into heaven. MY works give ME MY ticket to heaven. That is pretty much what all other religions stand by. They stand by getting into heaven by works. Christianity is backwards. Christianity is different. It is all by grace. Grace alone through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. There is no other name under heaven by which man might be saved (Acts 4:12). Amen.
I will close with this question.
What has Christ done for us?
More than we could ever begin to imagine, fathom, or even comprehend.