EPHESIANS 2:4-7: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Do I understand the power of grace? Do I take the Lord’s love for granted? How do I look at those who have not received God’s grace? What is the purpose of God’s grace in my life?
Recently I watched an episode of America’s Got Talent. Invariably, each year, someone will decide to audition with the song – “Amazing Grace.” I am always amazed at the judge’s and crowd’s reactions to this famous song. It has become just another familiar song that is sung without any understanding of its meaning. To the one who has truly been saved by God’s amazing grace, it is a song that never loses its meaning!
Paul reminds us of our condition before we received God’s grace.
- “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 NKJV
A familiar phrase that is used in Christian circles is – “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Normally, when this is used it is comparing the plight of a broken life to that of our own. It can be used sincerely, but it also can be used from a position of pride and superiority. From the opening verses of Ephesians, chapter 2, I think we need to rewrite this phrase. We should more correctly say,
There, but for the grace of God, I would remain!
Paul makes it very clear when he says – “…among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, just as the others.” The only difference between a believer and an unbeliever is God’s grace! God’s grace changes us but it never brings us to a level of Pharisaical superiority over others.
Grace always reminds us of our roots!
When I think of God’s grace, His amazing grace, I am reminded that it is amazing because it saved a wretch like me. God did not pick me because I was better than anyone else. I was as wretched and lost as the vilest sinner. My life was destined for wrath and left to myself I was lost for eternity. God looked upon me with His infinite mercy and love and saved me by His grace – despite myself. Paul’s opening words to this chapter are filled with such meaning and praise as he writes,
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
We were saved only because of God’s mercy and grace. We were saved when we were dead in trespasses and sin. We were made alive in Christ solely by God’s grace. We were lifted from our brokenness and sin into a new position and destiny. We were filled with a new hope and purpose, a life filled with promise and eternal blessing in Christ Jesus. No wonder the hymn “Amazing Grace” echoes,
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved,
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Imagine, from sitting under the wrath of God – to being raised to sit with Christ in heavenly places. From a life controlled by the lusts of our flesh to a life filled with God’s Spirit. And, all of this, every aspect of this new life, is a gift of God’s mercy and grace. We have done nothing to deserve it and we can do nothing to earn its continued blessing and favor. It is God’s grace and His grace alone!
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
Not of works. Not of our goodness. Not of our place or position. Only by grace through faith! The gift of grace is the gift of God. It is offered to all, yet it must be received by faith. Faith is putting our full trust in Christ alone to save us. It is His sacrifice, His shed blood, His righteousness alone that saves us.
To trust in anything else, our works, our goodness, our standing, is to miss the grace of God!
Grace comes from God and is received through faith! There is no other way. It is His empowering and saving love freely given through faith. And, it is His power to transform our lives and to give us a new purpose and direction. It delivers us from the tyranny of this world, the enemy of our souls, and our sinful nature. It empowers us to live a life with a new purpose, power, and direction. It is not the freedom to sin and be forgiven.
Grace is the power to live in the fullness of God’s will and purpose!
- “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
So, is it any wonder why it is called “Amazing Grace?” Is it any wonder why it cannot just be a familiar song to the one who has received it? Is it any wonder why each time we think of it we are humbled realizing what our life was like, and would have continued to be, without it?
It is “Amazing Grace!”
It is the sweetest sound!
It is the only thing that saved a wretch like me!
Lord, thank You for Your great grace. Grant me the grace to live in the fullness of its purpose, power, and calling.
In Jesus’ Name!