Ephesians 2:1-10 - Radical Grace
Not only do we not merit salvation, but we deserve something else entirely.
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Read Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 60
Q. How are you right with God?
A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.
Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned
against all God’s commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.
All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
In Ephesians 2:1–10, Paul rehashes what we have covered so far in following the structure of the Heidelberg Catechism, which begins with humanity’s failure, caught up in sin and rebellion. In v4, Paul turns dramatically to the good news of God’s intervention, who saved His people through Jesus Christ. The passage then ends with doubling down that this is all a divine act of grace, and gives a clue to where the Heidelberg will later lead: a new life of obedience in Christ.
This is the point where we want to flip things around. We understand earning fair wages and getting rewards for good behavior. We even appreciate giving gifts to friends and loved ones for special occasions or “just because.” Around Christmas time, you’ll also hear songs about how Santa Claus delivers his presents based on who’s naughty or nice. But Paul just explained how radical God’s grace is. Ephesians 2 speaks of grace as being more than God’s “undeserved favor,” stating that it is given to those who have done nothing but ear demerits. Children of wrath (v3) are not on the nice list!
The outlook for sinful humanity is nothing but destructive patterns, death, and wrath. Then comes the sweetest turn in the Bible:
“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” (vs. 4–5).
With the way Paul starts with humanity’s dire state and moves into God’s love in action, can you begin to see how amazing this grace is?
Many people today don't think they think they are all that sinful. The concept of sin is becoming foreign to many modern Americans. The good news will not sound like good news to those who do not know the initial bad news. It would be like telling someone you paid off all their loans, and they replied, “Oh, I didn’t know I had any debts.”
But if you tell someone who is all too aware of their debts and struggles to make payments every month, wondering if they’ll ever see the end — their reaction might be slightly different since they know how much they owe and have been overwhelmed by it.
The first sentence of answer 60 might seem too easy. Only faith? Isn’t there something left for me to do? Yes, you can thank God for doing it all for you. But what can you do to merit right standing before God? That's something a sinner could never do themselves.
That is why it is a gift of grace to be received by faith. You can do nothing to earn salvation because it has already been accomplished for you. As Jesus himself said from the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: A gracious God rich in mercy and love;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will gladly do the good works that God prepared in advance for you to do.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Romans 16