Mercy, Love, & Grace
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. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
But God. Could any two words better sum up the love story of redemption than these? I’m reminded of Romans 5, where Paul writes,
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
The words “but God” are so glorious because the preceding truths that open Ephesians chapter 2 are so devastating. We can reason that NO ONE sacrifices his life for a scoundrel. MAYBE someone would give his life for a worthy person or cause, but never for his enemy.
And that’s just who we were. Yes, we were captives of that murderous liar from of old, the devil, but we were willing captives, murderous rebels who put to death the Rescuer who came to release us from our captivity.
But God did the unreasonable. While we reveled in the passions of our flesh, by our very nature children of wrath, God showed His love for us by sending Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin.
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for through His Son, God condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, his enemies.
God brought us near. He is rich in mercy to the unworthy. He doesn’t punish us as we deserve. However, God’s mercy cannot cancel His justice. Although He is a merciful God who feels compassion for sinners, because He is also just, He cannot simply smile away our vile nature and sinful deeds. There is no backdoor into heaven. And so, due to His great mercy, He provided for us a Savior who justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Why did God do this? Why does He show mercy in such an extravagant way as to put His own Son to death in order to make His enemies alive in Him? Because He loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16)
God’s love for us moved Him to show us mercy and send a Savior to redeem us from our captor. God saw the anguish of the Son He sent to save us, and the justice of God was satisfied, for Jesus bore our iniquities, and His righteousness is credited to our account.
Mercy and justice have kissed at the cross where God demonstrates His love for us, and He extends His grace to save us.
Do you remember how Paul’s salutation to the Ephesians began in chapter 1, verse 2? “Grace to you.” Paul’s words are a faint echo of the grace of God, the merciful and loving God who commanded, “Let light shine out of darkness.” For He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
We are saved by the grace of God. His salvation is a gift to us — not one of us can boast in it, for our salvation is not our own doing. Salvation is received by faith, which means that one trusts in what God has already done for us by sending His Son to die for our sins on the cross.
We are not only saved by His grace, but we live by His grace! We were born again to this new identity in Christ, no longer a child of wrath, but a redeemed people for God’s own possession, zealous for good works. By His grace, we walk in the good works He has prepared for us beforehand, eagerly awaiting that coming age when we live forever with the Lord, a loved and cherished trophy of the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
PS If you want to read more from Amanda, head over to www.blessyourheartandhome.com.
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PPPS I’m still in Colorado. It has been a beautiful week. We’re headed back to Mississippi tomorrow. Excuse the bottom left, it’s hard to take pictures in gloves 🙂