Posted by Daniel Sweet on June 23, 2017
“1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in 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. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:1-7
The Deadness of Death
These ten verses contain the content of pure Gospel. This section of scripture tells us both the what and the why of salvation. We were dead in our sins. We were not sick or mortally wounded or having a bad day. We were dead and in our condition of death we "lived" as dead people "live." We looked alive on the outside. The heart beats, lungs breathed, and our biological systems all seemed functional. However, on the inside, in the spiritual realm of our lives we died. Sin killed us and in that death drug us into a world of dominance by the evil and selfishness that so pervades our fallen world. Since we were dead, we were incapable of rectifying the situation. Dead people cannot save themselves. Dead people do not even realize that they are dead. The divine consequence of human rebellion set in motion the death process so that just as Adam and Eve died because of their sin, all people have been swept under that same consequence. We die because we are connected to our ancestors. Our ancestors represented us before God. Adam and Eve decided that freedom from God was more appealing than dependence upon God. In the end they chose death over life. In doing so they plunged us all into ruin. We could complain about their representation but all of us embrace their stance on the matter. All of us choose to rebel against the will of God, refusing to completely submit our wills to Him who made us. Paul says that we "were dead in our trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked." No more striking words could have ever been written concerning our life outside of Jesus Christ. Before Christ came into our lives we lived (walked) in a state of spiritual death, completely unable to alter our circumstance.
Divine Intervention, "But God..."
The finality of death is so clear in the physical world that if someone is really dead we only call a doctor to confirm it and not to reverse it. This physical reality communicates the spiritual reality that Paul wants us to consider here. If someone is dead the only way for death to be reversed is if God intervenes on their behalf. Dead people cannot revive themselves. Even living people cannot revive the dead. There is only One who has the power over death. God Himself is the only one who can give life and take it. Only God can give life back again to those who are dead. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead three days after His crucifixion, God raises spiritually dead people. We need Him. We cannot do this on our own. This is why no amount of good works, religious activities, happy thoughts, or self-denials can ever fix our plight. We are dead and dead people cannot revive themselves. "But God...made us alive." He raises the spiritually dead in the same way that He raised His physically dead Son.
Divine Motivation, "So that..."
Why would God do this? Why would God grant life to dead sinners? He does this because of the richness of His mercy and love and grace and kindness. He gives spiritual life to dead rebels so that He can show the true nature of His character. "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." When God saves you, you become God's grace on display. For the ages to come, from now until all eternity, God's grace is and will be prominently on display in your life. When we see the severity of our condition and when we can see the monumental intervention by God, God Himself looks all the more glorious. In doing things just the way that He has we understand that we are loved by the highest and greatest imaginable love. In doing it this way God's grace is seen as the highest and greatest imaginable grace. God receives great honor and we receive great love. This is the Gospel. We were dead in our sins. God intervened as only God can. He made us alive in His Son Jesus Christ. The same way that He raised Jesus Christ from the dead physically, He has raised us up from our spiritual death. He saved us because of His love for us and because of His desire to demonstrate His great grace for all of the universe to see both now and forever.
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