In our last study, we learned that Jesus Christ is both the Foundation and Cornerstone of Christianity.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
In today’s study, we’ll look at the next spiritual basic of ‘knowing’ Christ — knowing His great love, rich mercy and amazing grace.
The Human Condition
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone 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
This is one of the most extraordinary descriptions of the human condition in the writings of the Apostle Paul. After explaining God’s eternal plan for the redemption of members of the human race, Paul included himself in the statement that all humans were “dead in trespasses and sins,” dominated by the world, Satan and their own flesh, and were “by nature children of wrath.” That’s the bad news every human being needs to know, understand and accept as a fact.
The good news is that God is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” Paul went on to write that God loved us had mercy on us “even when we were dead in trespasses.” Even in that terrible spiritual condition, God made us alive together with Christ, raised us up together, “and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” That is good news indeed!
A BIG question people might ask at this point is WHY. Why would God love us? Why would He have mercy on us? Why? Paul explained “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Show who?
The Spiritual Condition
Something is going on here that is beyond our ‘natural’ ability to see, hear, taste, smell or touch. That something is spiritual. Something happened before the creation of the world that brought about the need for God to express His great love toward human beings. Jesus addressed that ‘something’ many times.
“Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” Mark 1:12-13
“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Mark 4:14-15
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:17-19
“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:43-44
The existence of Satan and those angels who followed him in rebelling against God are the ‘who’ God is going to ‘show’ His great love, rich mercy and amazing grace. This is spiritual warfare at the HIGHEST level.
“… that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:18-22
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:8-12
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
The clarity of Paul’s case is extraordinary. Humanity’s problems are spiritual and supernatural, NOT physical and natural. People are dead in trespasses and sins, dominated by the world, Satan and the flesh, and by nature children of wrath because of spiritual warfare. God has made us alive together with Christ and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus because “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
Our Eternal Hope
What process does God use to save us and ensure that we will continue to be saved and safe given the great spiritual warfare raging around us? Paul wrote – “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9) and “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
God thought of everything. He left nothing up to chance. He chose us from before the foundation of the world according to His eternal purposes, saves us by grace through faith, seals us with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until He receives us into eternity, and shows us off to the principalities and powers in heavenly places to demonstrate His manifold wisdom.
That is our place in God’s plans and we say with the Apostle Paul, “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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