Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
Verses 8-10 of this chapter are the most famous part of this passage, but I love how Paul explains that in advance, so to speak, talking about God’s love and mercy. And he is unable to hold himself back from blurting out what he repeats in more ordered fashion in verse 8: “we are saved by grace.” Frankly, we don’t like to accept that we are “objects of wrath,” as he says in verse three. That factor is one of the biggest hindrances to salvation the world over. If we don’t understand and accept that our actions, our ignoring and rebelling against God, have made us worthy of hell, then we aren’t going to repent of those attitudes and actions, and without repentance there is no salvation. That’s the problem with many “seeker sensitive” ministries: they never confront sin. “Hellfire and brimstone” preaching is seldom effective in drawing people to Christ, but until we understand and accept that we are dead in sins, we aren’t going to accept God’s offer of life in Christ. Some people insist that “a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell,” not understanding that it is our own choices and actions that destine us for hell, not some vindictive whim of God. The Gospel is incredibly good news, the best news in the universe, but we recognize it for what it is only when we recognize that we are lost without it.
This has been an issue for me personally precisely because I can’t remember ever not knowing about Jesus. When I was five I was proclaiming that I loved Jesus more than I loved my mother, and I was baptized at seven from a genuine desire to follow Jesus as Lord. However, somewhere along the line I got to feeling like I somehow deserved salvation, and though I had occasional times of genuine worship, in general I descended more and more into spiritual pride. It was only after I was already a married father that God tapped me on the shoulder and, when I turned, He had a mirror to show me the blackness of my own soul. In that moment I understood what it means to be “dead in transgressions,” and I repented indeed. I don’t want to discount my experience at age seven, but I am deeply grateful for that experience at age 24. I was never the captain of a slave ship, but God’s grace is just as amazing for me as it was for John Newton!
Father, thank You indeed for Your amazing grace. I ask for Your anointing to communicate that grace more and more effectively to those around me, so that more and more may repent and believe for their salvation, and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!