For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh—called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:10-13
The glories of the gospel and the life which it opens are seen only against the backdrop of remembrance that apart from Christ, we are entirely hopeless and utterly helpless to partake of God’s redemption. The key to unlocking the life and work of the Christian in verse 10 is being brought low in humility, a rejection of self-dependence, a denial of self-righteousness—fruit borne by a remembrance of the gospel of grace. In other words, remembrance of the gospel is the sowing of the seeds of humble dependence upon God that grow up into the life of good works in verse 10.
There is no room in the Christian life for gospel-forgetfulness. To fail to remember the gospel of God’s grace in Christ is to sow the seeds of prideful arrogance that grow up and choke out affection for God with the weeds of self-love. The apostle Paul, therefore, labors to remind us that we were once “Gentiles in the flesh… separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” We had no status or privilege as God’s people. We had no right or claim to God’s salvation. We had no access or means commune with God. And as such, we had no grounds or reason for hope. The apostle Paul again leaves us to reckon with the reality of our deplorable condition apart from Christ. At the beginning of chapter two we are forced to know our depravity. In these verses, we are forced to know our exile—we are those who rightly stand removed from God’s promise of redemption.
What we could not do nor willed to do, God has willed and done for us, bestowing on depraved exiles the benefits of beloved heirs.
And into the hopelessness of our exile there resounds the glorious announcement of the gospel, “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Unable, unfit and undeserving to partake of the blessing of God’s presence, we are brought near by the God who, in Christ, graciously fashions our redemption. What we could not do nor willed to do, God has willed and done for us, bestowing on depraved exiles the benefits of beloved heirs. Once separated from Christ, now brought near. Once alienated from God’s people, now adopted as sons and daughters. Once strangers, now citizens. Once hopeless, now hopeful. Once without God, now God is with us.
Unable, unfit and undeserving to partake of the blessing of God’s presence, we are brought near by the God who, in Christ, graciously fashions our redemption.
This is the gospel we must remember. To assume or neglect it will not do. We must remember it. This is the only imperative given in chapter two—remember. Remember that though we are utterly depraved and exiled, God has saved us. Remember that our redemption is only and ever through the blood of Christ. We must cultivate the discipline of remembrance. It is such remembrance of the gospel of God’s grace that will uproot the weeds of self-love that flower works of self-righteousness. And it is such remembrance that will sow seeds of humility that blossom into a life of good works that glorify the God who worked our redemption.