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The Riches of God

In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul presents two contrasts that demonstrate the greatness of our blessings in Christ. First, he shows that we were once dead in sins, but now we have been made alive in Christ (vv. 1-10). Next, he shows that we were "separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (v. 12). Thankfully, through Christ we are "no longer strangers and aliens, but [we] are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household" (v. 19). Thus, whereas we were once spiritually dead and utterly separated from God, now we are alive in spirit and members of God's own family. How blessed we are to be in Christ Jesus!

In the first contrast of Ephesians 2, after describing our formerly dead condition due to sins, Paul explains the reason for our spiritual resurrection through Christ Jesus in Ephesians 2:4-7:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

These four verses are packed with divine truth, but at present let us focus primarily on the riches of God that are described here. These riches are not material in nature, although God has ownership over all things both temporal and eternal. Instead, these riches are the beneficent traits that are abundant and overflowing in God's character.

God made us alive together with Christ because He is rich in mercy. The rightful and just condition of sinners is spiritual death (Ezek 18:4), but those who obey the gospel will receive mercy instead of justice. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). For this to be possible, God had to be truly rich in mercy. Every sinner should acknowledge the words of David unto God, "Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge" (Ps. 51:4). Indeed, God is absolutely justified to condemn us to eternal torment, but He forgives us in Christ because He is immeasurably rich in mercy.

The richness of God's mercy flows from the richness of His love. Every Christian knows that the greatest expression of love ever made was that of God giving His own Son as a sacrifice for the world. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). No one should ever question or doubt the love of God for all people, for His love has been indisputably and eternally proved by Christ's sacrifice. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 8:32). It was this act of love that made God's mercy possible, for Christ took the punishment for our sins (Isa. 53:4-6).

Having raised us from spiritual death, it is God's intention to show in us the "surpassing riches of His grace." Indeed, undeserving sinners made alive and adopted into the family of God are the ultimate demonstration of God's grace. What could be more gracious than the Creator of man showing overwhelming love and mercy on His own enemies who rejected Him, insulted Him, challenged Him, and hated Him? Truly, we were His enemies, for "friendship with the world is hostility toward God" and "whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). Even so, God graciously forgives us in Christ and reconciles us to Himself so that we are now at peace with Him as friends (Eph. 2:16-18) and adopted as His own children (Eph. 1:5; 1John 3:1).

The rich grace of God is powerfully demonstrated in His rich "kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." The kind blessings of God that are poured out in Christ are immeasurable. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). The greatest of these kind blessings are the spiritual blessings that are available only in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Moreover, God in His rich kindness hears our prayers, provides for us, and relieves our burdens. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1Pet. 5:6-7).

Many men spend their lives in pursuit of the riches of this world, but it is only the riches of God that will endure for eternity. His rich mercy, love, grace, and kindness are of exceeding value, and nothing in this world can compare. Surely, it is for this reason that Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:19-21). Therefore, let us be certain that we find our treasure in the heavenly riches of God.

Stacey E. Durham



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