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Intro: Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the deplorable condition of those who are unsaved. These verses remind us that the sinner is dead in trespasses and sins. Satan and the world system keep them in a constant state of deception. They are depraved in their appetites and their actions, and in that state, they have no appetite for the things of God. Their only goal is to satisfy their lusts and gratify their flesh. In that dead, deceived, and depraved condition, they are separated from God, and they are doomed to face God in judgment some day. The lost sinner is in a terrible situation today. My friend, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are in trouble! You need to be saved by His grace, and you need to be saved today!
Because the lost sinner us dead, he is trapped in his lost condition and can do nothing to deliver himself. His flesh, his mind and his will have all been affected by sin. Every part of his being is tainted by, and trapped in, sin. Try as he might, all his attempts at religious activity and self-improvement can never make him right with God. None of his self-efforts can take away his sins. Nothing he can do will ever make him fit for Heaven! Left alone, the lost sinner will never become holy. He will never seek God. He will never escape the fires of Hell.
The present condition and future condemnation of the lost sinner could not be stated in any more horrible terms than it is right here. That is where the lost person is today, and that is where we all were at one time.
What that dead, deceived, depraved and doomed sinner needs is divine intervention. That is exactly what the passage before us describes. In clear, simple language, Paul tells us that when we were lost in our sins God intervened to bring salvation to our souls!
What I want you to understand today is that salvation is of the Lord, Jonah 2:9. In fact, salvation is a divine invasion. God Almighty personally invades the dead, alien heart of the lost sinners and causes that dead sinner to become a living saint by His amazing, life-changing grace!
It is that process of divine intervention that I want to examine today as we consider the subject: But God! I want you to see the wonders that occur when God butts in on a dead sinners lost situation.
I. v. 4-5a DIVINE INTERVENTION
A. Gods Intervention Is Personal – The words But God are filled with glory, power and meaning. Those two words, just six little letters, one conjunction and one personal noun, may just be the greatest words in the Bible. Those two words tell us where salvation originates. It originates in the Person of God.
Those two words tell us who initiates salvation. God always makes the first move in salvation because the lost sinner is incapable of making the first move toward God, 1 John 4:19; John 6:44. Those two words mark the difference between life and death, between a life of turmoil and a life of peace, between a life of sin and sorrow and a life lived to the glory of God, between salvation and damnation, and between Heaven and Hell.
Ill. Take a moment to contrast the truths of verses 1-3 with the words But God Take a moment to walk through the Word of God and see where the personal intervention of God made an eternal difference in the lives of the men and women mentioned in its pages. (Ill. Abrah, Lot, Rahab, The Three Hebrews, Daniel, Elijah, Saul of Tarsus, etc.)
Praise God He took a personal interest in me! I bless the day He came calling and butted in on my life. I wasnt looking for a change of life. I wasnt looking for a Savior. I wasnt looking anything but the next good time, the next big thrill and the next sin, but I praise the name of God that He had other ideas for my life! Thanks to His personal intervention, I am saved. What about you? Can you praise Him for personally intervening in your life?
B. Gods Intervention Is Precious – Look at the next phrase: But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us. Lets take a moment to think about what Paul is saying here. He mentions the fact that God is rich in mercy. The word rich refers to an overabundance, that which is without measure, unlimited. This characteristic suggests that God possesses in an overabundant, measureless, and unlimited quantity of mercy.
The word mercy refers to goodness or kindness toward the miserable and afflicted, coupled with a desire to help them. Our Savior was marked by His mercy while He walked this earth. Many times the Bible says that He was moved with compassion as He looked upon those who were helpless in their afflictions and in their sins. On those occasions, the Savior mercy moved Him to reach out in love and do something to alleviate the sufferings of those He felt mercy towards.
He does the same thing in salvation. Look at verses 1-3. There was never a more afflicted or miserable group than those described in these verses. In spite of their wicked, fallen condition; in spite of their continual rebellion; in spite of their sinfulness and morally depraved state, He looked upon them with mercy in His heart. In His mercy, He was moved to do something to help them. And, do something He did! You see mercy has the idea of not receiving what one deserves. In the Lords mercy, He turns His wrath away from the children of wrath and He extends to them His forgiveness and His salvation. He does not give them the judgment they deserve!
The Lords mercy for the sinner flows out of His love for the sinner. Paul calls it His great love. What kind of love are we talking about here?
· Gods love is Eternal – Jer. 31:3
· Gods love is Sacrificial – Rom. 5:8
· Gods love is Unconditional – Rom. 8:38-39
· Gods love is Personal – John 15:9
· Gods love is Effectual – John 3:16
Ill. A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on The Love of God. As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the church. There was nothing else to say. How true! Calvary says everything you need to hear about the eternal, sacrificial, unconditional, personal, effectual love of God. He loves you, of that fact there should be no question!
What makes the love of God so amazing is the object of that love. Verse 4 says wherewith He loved us. The us in that phrase refers to those who are redeemed from among the lost multitudes described in verses 1-3. It speaks of the us who did not love Him. It speaks of the us who lived in constant rebellion against Gods Word, His will and His ways. It speaks of the us who deserved His judgment and eternal damnation in Hell. It speaks of the us who hated Him, but loved our sins. It speaks of the us who turned away from Him in open, unrestrained rebellion. He loved us!
When we were in the depths of our sin, we deserved nothing but His wrath and damnation. He had no reason to reach out to us and redeem us. There was nothing in us that beckoned to Him and caused Him to move in our direction. Verse 5 clearly says, by grace ye are saved.
We were like the poor man who was robbed and left for dead in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37. Religion and good works passed us by because they could not help us. But, our Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus, came to where we were. He climbed into our ditch and gave His life for us, paying everything we owed to God. He lifted us out of that ditch of death, deception, depravity and doom. He healed our sinful condition with His precious blood, forgiving all our sins. He gave us the good Holy Ghost. He set us on the road to glory; making sure that every need was already met! He did all this knowing that we did not deserve it. He did all this knowing we would fail Him continually. He did this knowing that we could never repay Him. He did it because He loved us! Thank God for His great love wherewith He loved us!
The Love Of God
Frederick M. Lehman
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
Gods love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adams race—
The saints and angels song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints and angels song.
C. Gods Intervention Is Profound – Notice when Gods divine intervention occurred. Verse 5 says it was even when we were dead in sins God did not wait until we improved our condition. He did not wait until we reformed. He did not wait until we got better. No! He set His love on us while we were still dead in our sins. He loved us in spite of our wickedness. He reached down to us when He knew that we could not, and would not, reach up to Him.
Gods love does not make any sense to our mortal minds. I cannot understand why God chooses to love us. I cannot understand why He reaches out to save lost sinners and deliver them from the bondage of sin and spiritual death. I cannot understand why He would love the likes of us, but I praise His name that He does! I praise His name that He intervenes in our lives and changes us; saving us by His grace!
Ill. John MacArthur says it like this:
If a person were driving down the street and carelessly ran down and killed a child, he probably would be arrested, tried, fined, and imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter. But after he paid the fine and served the sentence he would be free and guiltless before the law in regard to that crime. But paying his penalty before the law would do nothing to restore the life of the child or alleviate the grief of the parents. The offense against them was on an immeasurably deeper level. The only way a relationship between the parents and the man who killed their child could be established or restored would be for the parents to offer forgiveness. No matter how much the man might want to do so, he could not produce reconciliation from his side. Only the one offended can offer forgiveness, and only forgiveness can bring reconciliation.
Though greatly offended and sinned against (as depicted in the parable of Matt. 18:23–35), because of Gods rich mercy and His great love He offered forgiveness and reconciliation to us as He does to every repentant sinner. Though in their sin and rebellion all men participated in the wickedness of Jesus crucifixion, Gods mercy and love provide a way for them to participate in the righteousness of His crucifixion. I know what you are and what you have done, He says; but because of My great love for you, your penalty has been paid, My laws judgment against you has been satisfied, through the work of My Son on your behalf. For His sake I offer you forgiveness. To come to Me you need only to come to Him: Not only did He love enough to forgive but also enough to die for the very ones who had offended Him. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Compassionate love for those who do not deserve it makes salvation possible.[i]
That is profound! Thank God for His divine intervention. Thank God The Bible says, But God!
I. Divine Intervention
II. v. 5b-6 DIVINE IDENTIFICATION
Ill. Verse 4 describes a Divine Intervention. It describes God intervening in our lives to bring us to Jesus Christ by His grace. When God intervened in our lives, He brought us out of spiritual death, spiritual deception, spiritual depravity and spiritual doom. He literally took us out of Adam and placed us in Jesus. Col. 1:13 says it this way, Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. Thank God He has because, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, 1 Cor. 15:22. When we are placed in Christ, we become the exact opposite of what we were before. Everything changes, and it changes forever. These verses we will consider today describe the wonderful changes that are suggested in the word but. That word is a word of contrasts. Here, Paul contrasts what we have become in Christ with what we were before we met Christ.
Not only has God intervened in the lives of the redeemed by loving them and saving them from their lost condition, He also identifies those who are redeemed with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, when God looks upon His redeemed ones, He never again sees us like we are. He sees us just as we are in Jesus. He does not see our sins, but He sees the righteousness of His Son. He does not see us as we are, but He sees us as He is!
When God interrupted our march toward Hell and saved us by His grace, He changed our relationship with Jesus Christ. In our sins, we were separated from Him. In grace, we are placed into a vital relationship with Him. Notice these verses: with Christ, v. 5; in Christ, v. 6; through Christ, v. 7.
Because we are in Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 12:13, we are identified with Jesus Christ. What is true of Jesus Christ is true of all those who are in Jesus Christ. Where He is, they are. What He is, they are. This passage speaks of at least three areas in which the redeemed are identified with Jesus.
A. We Are Identified With Him In His Resurrection – Paul says that God hath quickened us together with Christ. The word quickened means to make alive. When God saves a lost soul, He brings them out of spiritual death and imparts to them the very resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ, Col. 1:13. That formerly lost soul becomes a new creature in Christ, 2 Cor. 5:17. That formerly dead sinner is instantly born again, John 3:3. He is delivered from spiritual death, spiritual deception, spiritual depravity and spiritual doom. He is given life and he is give it more abundantly, John 10:10.
When the sinner is saved, he begins to live a new life. His walk is new, Rom. 6:4, and he is made alive to the things of God. He is no longer dead to God, His Word, His worship and will, but he is alive to God. The things that never used to move his mind now thrill his soul. When He comes to live in us and we live in Him, the life we live becomes indistinguishable from the life He lives. Here is how Paul said it, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal. 2:20. Because we share His life, it means that tomorrow does not have to be like yesterday. Through our connection with Jesus Christ, we have not just been given any old life; we have been given His life! We have been empowered to live new lives, as new creatures to the glory of God, 2 Cor. 5:17; John 10:10!
The resurrection is not something that will happen in the future. Oh, there will be a day when the dead will rise, but that is already happening! Some of us have already passed from death unto life, John 5:24. Some have already met the Resurrection and the Life and are risen from the dead already and are living a new life for the glory of God, John 11:25-26. Just like He said about Lazarus when He brought him back from the dead, He said loose him and let him go! (John 11:44) Jesus set him free from the grave clothes of sin, and He does the same for each of His redeemed. When God sees His redeemed ones, He sees a resurrected people! Thats right! 2,000 years ago, when Jesus Christ rose from the grave, all the redeemed walked out with Him!
(Ill. But God!)
B. We Are Identified With Him in His Ascension – Then Paul says, And hath raised us up together with Him This phrase refers to His ascension back into Heaven. 40 days after the Savior rose again from the dead, He ascended back to Heaven, where He sat down at the right hand of His Father,
· Acts 1:9-10, And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel.
· Mark 16:19, So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
· Rom. 8:34, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
· Heb. 10:12-14, But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
I think you get the picture! Jesus is in Heaven. Paul says that when He ascended, those who are in Him ascended with Him. When Jesus ascended from the top of the Mount of Olives, all the redeemed ascended into Heaven with Him! I cant explain it, but in the mind of God it happened!
C. We Are Identified With Him In His Position – Then Paul says, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. When Jesus left this earth, as we have already said, He ascended back to Heaven and He sat down on the right hand of God. When He went up, we went up with Him. When He sat down, we sat down with Him!
Now, I realize that we are still in the world today, that is our physical location. But, God Who sees the end from the beginning, sees us in terms of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Where He is, we are. What He has experienced, we have experienced. When He died, we died. When He arose, we arose. When He ascended, we ascended. When He sat down on the right hand of God, we sat down on the right hand of God. When He comes for us, we will still be in Him.
I know these things are hard for us to understand. We need to remember that we serve a God Who stands outside the boundaries of time. He sees all of time at all the same time. He sees us where we are now, and He sees us where He has determined we will be when this life ends. He sees us as we live in this world, but He has so identified us with the Lord Jesus, that when He sees Him, he sees us completed in Him.
The redeemed are dead to sin through His crucifixion, Rom. 6:11. We are alive to righteousness because His resurrection life has been given to us, Phil. 3:10. We are also exalted with Him because we have been delivered from this wicked world and we have been exalted with Him. We have been elevated into Heaven already because God sees us as if we were already there!
That is why we are so secure in our salvation. Ill. Verse 5! By grace ye are saved. That is a present tense statement. It speaks of a situation that is always ongoing. The saints are saved today, they will be saved tomorrow, and they will be saved in 10 million years! Besides that, as far as God is concerned, we are already in Heaven. All we have to do is finish the trip. That is why God uses the past tense to describe our identification with Jesus. Notice, hath quickened us together; hath raised us up together; and hath made us to sit together. All these things are spoken about in the past tense because in the mind of God they have already taken place! We are as good for Heaven as if we were already there, because there is a sense in which we are already there!
Our current status is viewed through the lens of our togetherness with Jesus. We are so thoroughly identified with Jesus that all the things that have happened to Him are considered to have happened to us already. This is proven by what Paul says in Romans 8:28-39!
We are citizens of Heaven today, Phil. 3:20, and we should live like it. Yet, even while we live here, in this fallen world, we enjoy the blessings of that Heavenly world, Eph. 1:3. Through our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we enjoy the glories of Heaven today. One day, we will be home, and we will enjoy the glories of that land first hand, 1 Pet. 1:4.
Our present position is one of being quickened together with Christ; raised up together with Christ; and of being seated together with Christ in heavenly places. One day, when we finally make it to Heaven physically, we will fully enjoy and experience those present realities! Even though we cannot fully comprehend it and experience it as a present reality today, it does not change the truth that it is true! We are in Him, and where He is, we are! That will never change!
I cant make you believe this, but I can tell you that it will change your outlook on life if you will! I cant even explain it real well. All I can really say is Hallelujah! It all comes back to But God! Verse 5 clearly says, by grace ye are saved. Someone once said, When you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, you know that it didnt get there by itself. My friends, the same is true of the redeemed! We did not get here by ourselves. Our salvation rests solely in the grace of God. We were dead and could not get to Him, but He came to us! We did not love Him, but He loved us. We did not want Him, but He wanted us! It is His amazing grace the reached down into the depths of our dead, deceived, depraved and doomed condition. It was His grace that saved us, changed us and identified us with Jesus Christ. We cant pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on making a good decision. We cant look at ourselves and say, God saw some good in me and saved me. We must humbly acknowledge with the Apostle Paul, But by the grace of God I am what I am 1 Cor. 15:10.
I. Divine Intervention
II. Divine Identification
III. v. 7 DIVINE INTENTIONS
(Ill. Ladies and gentlemen, God saved us for a purpose. At least a part of that purpose is revealed in this verse.
A. God Intends To Reveal The Riches of His Grace To Us – this verse indicates that God will use the unfolding ages of eternity to reveal the extent of His grace in our lives. As it stands now, we have no true concept of what the Lord has done for us. When we arrive in Heaven, we will. He will be able to show us and we will be able to comprehend the extent of His grace. When we arrive home, we will be made able to understand the wonder of God love, the price of His grace and the power of His salvation.
How will we respond when we finally and fully grasp the extent of God grace toward us? I think the answer can be found in Rev. 4:10-11 and Rev. 5:8-10. One day, the heavens will ring with the praises of a people who were redeemed from death, deception, depravity and doom. They will fall before their Redeemer and they will vocally, verbally and victoriously praise Him for everything He has done for them.
We dont have a complete understanding of all we have and of all we are in Jesus right now. We lack a complete understanding of all that He has done for is in saving us and in blessing us like He does. If we did grasp it all right now, these bodies would not be able to stand the praise such knowledge would generate. One day, we will be home in Heaven. When we arrive there, we will be given glorified bodies. We will have bodies that can and praise Him in a manner that befits His glory.
When that day comes, we will give Him all the glory He is due and all the praise that a glorified mind and body can render. Would to God we would contemplate His glory, His gifts and His greatness today. Would to God that we would at least give Him the praise we are capable of giving Him right now, Heb. 13:15; Psa. 47:1; Psa. 113:1-3; Psa. 135:1-3.
B. God Intends To Reveal The Riches Of His Grace Through Us – This verse also seems to imply that while there are still saints of God living in this world, He will be using them to display His power and salvation to the lost. That is why Paul calls the saints of God an epistle known and read of all men, 2 Cor. 3:2. That is why Paul tells us that we are Gods workmanship, Eph. 2:10.
That is why God saves us and leaves us in this world. He leaves us here as trophies of grace. He leaves us here as living, breathing letters of His love for the lost. Every redeemed saint of God is a walking testimony to the power of God to save souls and change lives. That is why He commands us to live right, Matt. 5:16. That is why He commands us to love right, John 13:35. That is why He commands us to tell a fallen world that what He has done in us through Jesus Christ, He can do for them, Mark 16:15.
If you are saved, you are a billboard upon which God writes His love for the lost. Your life is a testimony to His saving power. Let us live like Him. Let us love like Him. Let us labor for Him. Let us do these things so that others might be drawn to Him and that they might be saved.
Conc: But God! I was lost in sin, But God! I was trapped in darkness, But God! I was separated from God and headed to Hell, But God! I was under the control of Satan and I was a prisoner to my passions and lusts, But God! I was dead, deceived, depraved and doomed, But God!
Because God intervened in my life; I am not the person I used to be. My life has changed and so has my eternal destiny. Because of what He did, I have been delivered from my wretched past, I have been identified with Jesus, and I am secure in His salvation. That is a lot to thank Him for!
Has God ever butted into your life?
· If He has not and you know you need to be saved, you need to come to Jesus today. He died to save you, and if you will come to Him, that is just what He will do for you.
· If He has, let me challenge you to love Him, live for Him and tell others about Him.
· If He has, let me challenge you to praise Him because He is worthy!
[i] MacArthur, J. (1996, c1986). Ephesians. Includes indexes. (58). Chicago: Moody Press.