God’s Triumph

Ephesians 2

This is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. It begins by describing the condition of moral death in which we were in our unregenerate nature, and at the end shows us ourselves, saved by the grace of God, fitly framed together with all who are saved by that same grace, growing into a holy temple in the Lord and even now builded together a habitation for God by the Spirit. No one will deny that an infinite distance lies between the two, or that a power of surpassing greatness must have operated to produce this miracle.

And you, who were dead.” How inexorable is death! Human love can do great things to serve and save its object as long as life lasts, but when death has done its work it can do no more. And what is the most tragic, the most oppressive, the most heart-breaking thing in death? It is the unresponsiveness of the dead. Love might gather all its treasures and pour them out in the death chamber: they would avail nothing. It might plead and agonize for one word from the silent lips—nay, for but one flicker of the still eyelids in response to its yearnings: it would be in vain. The silence is absolute the breach is complete, love is beaten and death is the victor. But is it thus with God’s love? His love is GREAT LOVE—is it greater than death? We shall see.

We were dead! Without a pulse of life towards God; we did not recognise His claims, and were unresponsive to the appeals of His love. We were the liegemen, the faithful vassals of the prince of the power of the air, God’s great adversary. He had wrapped us in darkness and bound us in the fetters of disobedience, and we were glad to have it so. There was enmity in our hearts against God and the corrupting desires of the flesh and of the mind worked in us. We were children of disobedience and children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins—dead and corrupt. Could we have delivered ourselves from that condition even if we had desired it? As soon might a corpse that had lain it its clay bed for a century rise up and change itself into the form and life and parity of an angel.

“BUT GOD.” How wonderfully those two words break in upon the gloom of our death and corruption. Let us stand still and see what He will do. He is “rich in mercy,” an infinite wealth of pity moves Him towards us in our poverty and death, and for “His great love wherewith He loved us”. He has undertaken out salvation. For the satisfaction of His own great love He has stooped down to the depths of death where we were and quickened us together with Christ. And not that only; He could not be satisfied with only delivering us from dark and unresponsive death but He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That is the height of His favour, the measure of His immeasurable grace; it is unsurpassable!

How poor are the aspirations of a man in the flesh, how empty his highest ambitions when compared with this; his hopes are all shattered by death, the most eloquent eulogy that can be poured out at his open grave avails him nothing; his day is done; he is gone, is buried and will soon be forgotten. But not so those whom God has quickened together with Christ; the present grace by which they are saved is to issue in glory to come; for in the ages yet to come God will show the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward as through Christ Jesus.” The consummation of the purpose of God in regard to us will be worthy of the great love wherewith He has loved us, and the power and rich mercy that has raised us up.

It is by grace that we are saved, and grace is more than unmerited favour; it is what God is for us according to His own thoughts about us; it is His love in its mighty activities working to bring us into full reconciliation to Himself. Thus He has saved us, and we must not lose the sense of the greatness of this salvation through familiarity with the word as it is commonly used. God’s glory is in it; it is the display of the exceeding riches of His grace. His great love wherewith He loved us is behind it, and the power that raised up Christ from the dead has accomplished it.

How great is God’s salvation! He has saved us from our former condition of death and corruption and raised us up to have part in a holy temple in the Lord; He has saved us from our former association with children of disobedience and wrath to be fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God; He has saved us from our past practice of the lusts of the flesh and the mind and created us in Christ Jesus unto good works; He has saved us from or former place of “far off” from God and has made us nigh by the blood of Christ—and we shall never forget the blood—the precious blood of Christ—the price of our salvation and our title to every blessing that God has to bestow.

The great love wherewith God has loved us cannot be dissociated from the death of Christ. We see Him in the depths of death in this Epistle (Eph. 1:20) and in Eph. 4:9, “Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” Why? because we were there, He died because we were dead, He descended to where we were, identifying Himself with us in death under God’s judgment that we might be raised up with Him and share His life. It is God’s great love for us that gave Him and sent Him, love commended to us in the death of Christ, and now shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us. “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”

J. T. Mawson