THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE
By John C. Carpenter
 
The great apostle, Paul, wrote the church in Ephesus, but God, who is rich in mercy [tenderness and compassion], for his great love [giving, charity] wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in 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 through Christ Jesus. For by grace [benefit, favour, gift, joy, liberality] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:4-10). What is grace? Grace can simply be thought of as God's tenderness, compassion, liberality, and favour; a compassion and favour which resulted in His offering of a free gift. To better understand grace, we should ask (1) what was and is God's nature, (2) what was and is man's nature, (3) what was God's response to man's nature, and (4) why did God respond in the way He did?
 
GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY
 
What was God's original nature, and what is He like today? The authors of the scriptures clarify for us God's nature, that He is clearly full of compassion and mercy. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, wrote to them that are sanctified by God the Father: keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 1:21). The beloved physician, Luke, instructs us to be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36), while we are also instructed in the book of Hebrews that God will be merciful to our unrighteousness (Heb 8:12). Paul also teaches us about the mercy and compassion of God: he [God] saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion (Rom 9:15). Paul later clarified that God's mercy is available to every sinner, Jew and Gentile alike, when he added that God would make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles (Rom 9:23-24), for God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (Rom 11:32). God has made it clear to believers that He will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Heb 8:12). Also, Christ instructed His disciples, as well as all believers, to be merciful because our Heavenly Father is also merciful (Luke 6:36). God the Father is also full of grace, liberality, and favor. Paul instructs us that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7). We are taught that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-24). Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers regarding God's grace when he wrote, knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God (2 Cor 4:14-15). Scriptures teach us that God's abundant grace is best expressed through the faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim 1:14), and that all believers can come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16).
 
HIS GREAT LOVE WHEREWITH HE LOVED US
 
God the Father is certainly full of mercy and grace, but He is also full of love, affection, and benevolence. The apostle John expressed the relationship between God's love and affection and His sending Christ to be the savior of the world when he wrote, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:10-11). John added, we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love [full of affection, benevolent]; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:14-16). It is God who has initiated our relationship with Him, therefore, we love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Paul instructed Ephesian believers, but God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in 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 through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7), and those in Thessalonica, now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work (2 Thess 2:16-17).
 
WE WERE DEAD IN SINS
 
What was man's original nature, and what is his nature today? Scriptures plainly tell us. Paul teaches, for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:19-21). Scriptures teach us that before we came to faith in Christ, we were servants of sin, things for which we should now be ashamed (Rom 6: 20-21). Christ, Himself, taught that all men have sinned against heaven and the sight of God, and are not worthy to be called sons of God (Luke 15:21). Paul taught that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). The apostle John echoed the teachings of Paul when he wrote,if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10). Clearly, man is full of disobedience, offence, unrighteousness and sin; and the end result is death. Paul taught Corinthian believers, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).
 
By God's standards, man was and is fully disobedient, unrighteous, and sinful. So, what was God's judgement for that sin? Paul explained the answers to Roman believers: ...knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom 1:32), and “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom 5:12). Scriptures make it clear that yielding to sin results in death (Rom 6:16 and Rom 6:21). The apostle James knew God the Father's penalty for sin when he wrote Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:15). The early church fathers knew about God's judgement of sin, and the consequence of death. One of the original apostles, Matthew, wrote, The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up (Mat 4:16), whereas Luke, the beloved physician, referred to ...them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death... (Luke 1:79). God the Father's judgement dictated that the penalty for sin must be, and is, death.
 
RAISED US UP TOGETHER
 
Man was and is a sinner, but God, because of his mercy and love, and of His own sovereign volition, has provided believers resurrection and life eternal. Paul taught Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection (Rom 6:4-5). Paul later added: And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom 8:10-11). In explaining and emphasizing that believers shall be experience resurrection from death, Paul also wrote the same thing to the church in Corinth: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor 15:12-19). Paul added: Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed [made different], In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor 15:51-54).
 
THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE
 
Man has always been full of disobedience, unrighteousness, and sin; and was and is dead in those sins. However, God the Father has always been full of compassion, mercy, grace, liberality, love, and favor, and predestined that the dead shall be raised incorruptible.  So, how did God the Father reconcile man's sin and His own righteous and necessary judgment of death for sin? Even though man was destined for death in his sins, because of His abundant mercy and great love for us, God the Father provided reconciliation through a free gift, a free sacrifice and offering, the sacrifice of His own Son. The apostle John explained, Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atonement, expiator] for our sins (1 John 4:7-10). Believers are instructed to walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Eph 5:2). The author of the book of Hebrews adds, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away (Heb 8:10-13).
 
Our final question: why did God the Father reconcile man's sin and His own righteous and necessary judgment of death for sin through the sacrifice of His own Son? Paul, in our subject verses, explained the answer to that question when he wrote the church in Epehesus: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches [fullness and abundance] of his grace [liberality and favour] in his kindness [moral excellence] toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift [sacrifice and free offering] of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:4-9). God the Father provided the free, sacrificial gift of the life of His own Son because He desired to reveal to mankind the fullness and abundance of his grace, a grace which was and is reflective of His kindness and moral excellence. God simply wanted to reveal who He was and is, His nature; God the Father simply wanted to reveal Himself.  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"If ye were of
the world, the
world would love
his own: but
 because ye are
not of the world,
but I have
chosen you out
of the world, therefore the
world hateth you"
(John 15:19)



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