Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the status of man before an experience with Christ as Savior and Lord. Believers in Christ are reminded that formerly they were death in their transgressions and sins. Yes, dead. BUT GOD did something radical.
Boldly, verse 4 is introduced by the contrastive particle “but”- But God… (ὁ δὲ θεὸς).
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us,” (Eph. 2:4).
In addressing the former hopeless condition of man, God brought about a real transformation that totally changed the identity and position of believers in relation to Christ. To be able to understand the magnitude of what God did, we need to compare what believers in Christ were formerly as opposed to what they have become by God’s salfivic activity.
What we were and what we have become because of what God has done in Christ:
- We were dead in our transgressions and sins; BUT GOD in his great love and richness in mercy, made us alive with Christ. He is the voice that the dead hear and obey; He told Martha, the sister to Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). Thankfully, the life of God now flows through us!
- We were held hostage/captive/enslaved to the patterns of the world and its ruler and the desires of sin nature; BUT GOD out of his rich mercy and great love, raised us with Christ and made us seat with him in the heavenly places. In our present status and union with Christ, we are united with Him in his death, resurrection and ascension. In this we experience power, strength, and victory to lead victorious Christian lives.
- We deserved God’s wrath and to be in hell; BUT GOD in his abounding mercy and great love, chose to show the incomparable riches of his grace in Christ. We did not deserve love but God’s wrath. That is what mercy means, it is being denied what you deserve for your own good!
We were far away from God, BUT GOD in his grace, love and mercy brought us near. God did what only God would have done. He saved us. He saved you! Not because of what you had done but because of his grace. He saved us through faith- a gift from God.
God changed us and made us new! He did what we could not have done on our own. He did not begin by changing our destinies, he changed us so that our destinies change!
Remember these words today as you go about your daily business, “BUT GOD…” and fill in the blanks…
- Perhaps you did not deserve to live, BUT GOD made it possible that you are alive.
- Perhaps you did not amount to anything by human standards, BUT GOD elevated you and gave you favor and a name.
- Perhaps you do not have required human connections for that breakthrough, BUT GOD your Father is able to place you wherever and whenever he wants.
This idea runs throughout the Bible.
- In Genesis 3 mankind fell into sin, BUT GOD right in the garden of Eden promised a seed of a woman that will crush the head of the serpent.
- Many may have laughed at Hannah’s barrenness, BUT GOD was on his way to remember her richly!
- Rahab may have been treated as an outcast, BUT GOD rewrote he story.
- Peter may have seemed a failure when he denied Jesus three times, BUT GOD later gave him a new heart so as to be the rock of the church.
- Many despised the message of the cross as foolish, BUT GOD used it as power to save all men.
- Many may have looked at Jesus disciples as ordinary and unschooled, BUT GOD used their witness to bring the gospel to the whole world.
People may write you off, BUT GOD is able to accomplish the impossible for you!