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—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10
These verses weave together a tapestry too beautiful for the eyes of sinful man. The words but God hit the dry and thirsty soul of man like a cascading waterfall, quenching the despair and anguish of sin that has so long plagued him. But God gives rise to flourishing hope where there was once only barren hopelessness. But God is a desperately needed breath of air after being drowned in the course of this world. But God is the announcement of an innocent verdict from the Judge despite the heaping mounds of condemning evidence. But God brings the dead to life. How plenteous in mercy is God to, despite all hostility aimed at him by his rebellious creation, design their resuscitation! While man was hopelessly and helplessly dead, lacking any capacity to restore his own life, God, because of his great love, made him alive! The same man, whose very sinew and marrow were infected, decayed, and rotted with condemning sin, the same man that was floating lifeless in the vast ocean of his sin, God, because of his great love, made alive to the heavenly fragrance of his immeasurable, incomprehensible love.
God’s love precedes his mercy and his grace. In other words, it is out of God’s love that flow streams of mercy and grace. There are seven truths regarding the love of God in these verses that set ablaze in fiery wonder the hearts of those whom God in his great love has raised to new life.
The love of God in not mere sentimentalism—it is an eternally fixed disposition. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…” God does not love out of a sympathetic response to our helpless estate. He loves out of a willful and determined choosing consistent with his perfect, eternal, unchanging character.
The love of God is not circumstantial or conditional—it is covenantal. “…even when we were dead in our trespasses…” God loved us even when we could not and would not love him. If God set his love on us even then, we ought to have certainty that no matter our circumstance, his love remains even now.
The love of God is not unmediated—it is mediated through Christ. “…made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” God has set his affection on us as we are in Christ. Christ alone is the mediator of God’s love to us so that what is true of Christ becomes true of us.
The love of God is not only past or present—it is future. “…so that in the coming ages…” The love God has shown us will, by the promise of God, persist into the future coming ages.
The love of God is not an abstract idea—it finds its completed expression in Christ. “…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The love of God is fully expressed in forever extending unmerited kindness to sinners in Christ. The same type and measure of kindness that the Father extends his Son will be forever ours. Such a display will throughout eternity exhibit how inexhaustible the immeasurable riches of God’s grace are as each new day a new jewel of divine kindness is given for the delight of his saints and the glory of his grace.
The love of God cannot be earned—it is only gifted. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.” The love of God levels all pretense, humbles all arrogance and silences all boasting. No one can lay rightful claim to the love of God. It is extended without merit and in spite of our merit.
The love of God opens not only an expectant future—it opens a compelling present. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The love of God is not an idea to which we assent. It is a reality by which we are controlled. The love of God is our guide in walking in works that testify to the reality of Christ and his kingdom.
May the Lord be gracious to stir up in our hearts an overwhelming wonder at and consuming delight in the great love with which he has loved us.