This is the second installment in the “Making Scripture Practical” series. In hopes of keeping us engaged in our Bible reading, we will try to make what we read immensely practical in our daily lives.
“But God…” is one of the shortest, but most glorious phrases in the entire Bible. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul speaks of the devastating reality that every human being apart from Christ, is dead, wrath-deserving, and sin-enslaved. But God…
But God. But God.
We were dead, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved…,” we are told in Ephesians 2:4-5.
Even though we were dead, God made us alive. There are three questions this begs: (1) Why did God make us alive?; (2) How did God make us alive?; and (3) What was the purpose of God making us alive? Let’s see…
Why did God make us alive? In verse 4, Paul gives us the answer: God made us alive because He is “rich in mercy” and because “of the great love with which He loved us.”
So the first reason God made us alive is because He is merciful. Mercy is withholding punishment someone deserves. We deserved God’s wrath (Eph 2:3), but God withheld His wrath from us, the church, and gave us life in Jesus. So, if you’re a believer, God made you alive because He is merciful.
The second reason God made us alive is because He loved us. God created us as His masterpiece, and just like an artist loves his best work and protects it and treasures it, God loves His creation.
God had every reason to send us to hell because of our sin and remain angry with us forever, but instead, He chose to love us. God made believers alive because of His mercy and His love.
How did God make us alive? In Ephesians 2:5 we are told that God made us alive “together with Christ.” Throughout Ephesians, Paul continually says that all of the blessings of God are in Christ.
In fact, the entire letter of Ephesians could be described as six chapters of unpacking union with Christ. Every blessing we have is because we are connected to Jesus (Eph 1:3). This is true in Ephesians 2:5 as well. Mysteriously, God connected believers to Jesus so that what happened to Jesus also happened to those that are connected to Him.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul says that we were “crucified with Christ”—when Jesus died, we died with Him. So when Jesus was raised from the dead, we were also raised in new life as well.
Obviously, we didn’t literally die and raise with Jesus; so Paul is saying that we are so connected to Jesus that what happened to Him happens to us, which is why he can say that we are also seated with Jesus in heaven too.
And this is all “by grace,” as Paul says at the end of verse 5; that is, we couldn’t do it ourselves. In our spiritual death as slaves of sin, we were unable and unwilling to respond to Jesus in faith. But by His powerful grace, God did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
God made believers alive by connecting them to Jesus’ resurrection life.
What was the purpose of God making us alive? In verse 7, Paul says God made believers alive with Jesus “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In other words, God made us alive together with Jesus so that He could show how awesome He is.
This is similar to what Paul says in Ephesians 1:6, that God predestined us so we might praise His glorious grace. He saved us so we might be in awe of Him, but also so that all of creation might be in awe of Him.
If you and I could go into a morgue and tell the corpses to get up and live, people’s jaws would drop in awe. But obviously that’s impossible for us.
But God came to the tomb of our dead hearts and said, “Live!”, so we and everyone else should be in awe of Him. God made believers alive; therefore, He deserves to be admired for His jaw-dropping grace.
Questions, Reflections, Applications:
- If you are a believer, are you in awe of God for making you alive? If not, take some time today to remember that you were dead in your sins, that God did for you what you could never do for yourself, and that you are connected to Jesus who sits in Heaven right now. Then pray that God would cause you to be in awe of His amazing grace.
- Paul says that God made you alive so He could show how awesome He is to the entire universe. What are some ways in your life that you don’t show how awesome God is? Who can you tell about God’s amazing grace today?