Friday, October 16, 2015

Rich in His Kindness (Ephesians 2:6-7)

“and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6–7, NASB95)

In working through these verses I took a break to listen to a CD that one of my sons brought home from Creationfest Northwest this year. It is an album by Peter Furler (who was co-founder and former lead vocalist of Newsboys). The first song on the album is titled “I’m Alive.” As I listened to it my mind was brought right back to these verses.

Out there alone and left to die
Cut off from You, my sole supply
You shed Your tears for me and then
You took my hand and raised me high

I'm alive, I'm on fire
And my spirit burns with desire
You set me alight, bright eyed
And with no way to hold it inside
I wanted to thank You
Thank You, thank You

Paul wrote in verses 6 and 7 of chapter 2 of Ephesians that God being rich in mercy … raised us up with His Son and seated us with Him in heavenly places. This is so much more than a human rescue. It is a rescue from God Almighty who not only pulled us from our bondage in sin, but who gave us a relationship back with Him and a rich inheritance with His Son who gave Himself for us. Looking to tenses used in these verses we see that some of it is a done deal—being past-tense and speaks to the fruit of what was already done. If we are saved we have been “raised” and “made.” These are accomplished already. As one commentator said, this “indicates that these are immediate and direct results of salvation. Not only is the believer dead to sin and alive to righteousness through Christ’s resurrection, but he also enjoys his Lord’s exaltation and shares in His pre-eminent glory.” (John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible)

There was nothing we could do to earn this. It is a 100% pure and absolute gift of God who loves us and who mercifully sent His Son to die for our sins and to give us new life through His resurrection. In Christ we have been made righteous and joint heirs with Him, called as His beloved children. As I listened to the song I was moved by the joy in Peter’s voice as he sang about how he had been made alive. It was as if a fire were raging in him that he could not contain and could only result in giving thanks to God; overwhelming and repeated thanks. This song was a song of appreciation to God for what He had done and a great thank you for giving something we did not deserve and doing so far and above anything we could ever imagine.

This kind of joy-filled appreciation is really the object of verse 7, where Paul said that in the ages to come God might demonstrate the “surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Think of it…. Not only did Paul know this assurance, and not only could he write of this assurance to the Ephesian believers, but so do we nearly 2,000 years later know that same assurance with the thousands upon thousands who came in-between and only He knows how many after. And for every single person who was called by God to be saved by His Son this being “raised” and “made” is totally true. We are still looking forward to just seeing in eternity what this all means, but there are so, so many who have gone before us who have realized God’s promises kept in His presence.

Even in my forty one years of being a Christian I can hardly count or remember how richly I have been blessed and His kindnesses to me. There is probably countless things that passed without me even noticing or even recognizing as being from Him. I know there have been days when I have even struggled to sing, and have been heavy hearted. But there are also and even far more times where I can clearly look and see and give thanks. And to be honest, most of these are the times when I have seemed the weakest or things may have seemed the most difficult or hard to bear. It is easy to go through the day when the days are smooth, but having gone through the difficult ones in the past I can surely and repeatedly join with Peter in saying, “Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.” Oh, to have eternity to know His kindness and sing His praises.

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