Ephesians 2:4

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:4. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 2:4

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy …

God loves us with great love (a more literal rendering of this phrase) and is rich in mercy.

We need to always bear in mind that it is God who is the subject of our salvation. It is God who takes the decisive action to put to rights our terrible predicament regarding sin.

The previous verse talks about how we once lived in our sins and transgressions. We were objects of wrath.

God intervenes to deal with sin. We might expect that his intervention to fix sin and to deal with the objects of his wrath wold be to pour and judgement and punishment on these sinners .

But God acts first out of his great love and his rich mercy .

The Lord takes the initiative and God the Son becomes a human being. Jesus comes into the world to effect salvation for all who put their trust in him.

God acts from love and mercy, not from judgement or vengeance. This is not to say that there is no judgement for those who remain in sin. God’s love at this time does not mean that he’s gone soft on sin. Far from it! He took the fall; He paid the price; He gave up everything in the hope of rescuing some.

God loves us with great love.

The love that God shows us is, in Greek, agape. This is love that is poured out for the sake of the person who is loved. God’s love does not wax or wane depending on our response to him. He loves the greatest sinner just as much as he loves the greatest saint.

Agape love is love that says, “ I love you regardless of what you do or do not do for me.” Agape love is the reckless love of the father in the parable of the prodigal son.

Some people infer that because God’s love is unwavering and independent of the response of its object, that this agape love is unemotional. Gods love is not subject to ups and downs in the ways human love may be, but that does not make it unemotional. God’s love Is love, not a rational, intellectual, dispassionate exercise of good thoughts to us.

The Old Testament reveals the Lord as a God whose love for his people is passionate and emotional. He describes himself as a husband who is jealous for his wife Israel .

God loves us with a great love. His love is not stingy or doled out by the teaspoonful. God’s love is lavish, immense, never ending. Nobody can tell how high or deep or wide or long is God’s love for us. The cross gives us a picture of His love in that God has laid down his own life for us.

God loves his creation, especially people whom he made in his own image. He has an abundance of love for us, love that never runs out. Even when he judges people, it will be from a position first of love.

God is rich in mercy.

We deserve to be punished for our many sins and transgressions. At one time we lived in sin. It was our lifestyle; we were unrepentant and just didn’t care. Perhaps we did not know we were sinners.

God’s mercy is seen in the way he defers punishment. He did not strike us down immediately after our first sin, not even after our first thousand sins. Although our first sin was enough to condemn us, he gave us chance after chance after chance to turn away from our wickedness. In fact, he gives every person their entire lifetime to come to a place of recognising that they are a sinner.

Gods mercy is seeing also in that the defers final judgement so that as many people as possible may be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Judgement against the world’s wickedness will come, but the Lord holds back, waiting for the fullness of his kingdom to be filled .

God’s mercy is seen also in the fact that he freely welcomes us into his family. When we repent and turn to him, the record of sin is deleted instantly. There is no qualifying period, no need to meet certain standards of behaviour.

Sometimes law courts give a suspended sentence. A person may be sentenced to prison, but it is suspended for a time period. If the criminal commits no further crimes in that suspension period, his prison term is revoked. But if any offence is committed, the full prison sentence must be served.

But God wipes away our sins immediately. We don’t have to be perfect for a year before we qualify. God’s mercy is instant and covers all of our sins, past and future.

God is rich in mercy. He has so much mercy to give away, there is more than enough to go around. When Jesus fed the 5000 people, the abundance or richness of the miracle was seen in the fact that everybody had enough to eat and there was much more left over than was present to start off with.

God has more than enough mercy to go around. Because he loves us with great love, he is prepared to forgive our sins and failures repeatedly and often. The only requirement is that we seek his grace.

Gods mercy is so rich that he forgives the sins we forget to confess. Some people obsess about ”keeping short accounts with God”, that is looking for every misdemeanour and offence they might have committed, so they can confess it all to God. We must not be afraid of overlooking something that God might hold against us.

God is rich in mercy, rich enough to forgive the greatest and least of sins, those we confess and those we forget to confess. He loves us with great love.

Key points in this verse

  • God loves us with great love
  • God initiates our salvation; we respond to him.
  • God deals with sin by paying for it Himself
  • God’s love, agape love, flows to us whether we respond or not.
  • God is passionately in love with us
  • God is rich in mercy
  • God delights to welcome sinners into his family
  • God has more than enough mercy to go around

Reflection on John 19:28-42

Scripture

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

Observation

Jesus calls out, “I am thirsty,” so someone soaks a sponge in sour wine and holds it up to His lips. Jesus then says, “It is finished.”

The Jewish leaders ask Pilate if they can hasten the deaths of the men crucified by ordering their legs to be broken. When the guards come to Jesus they discover that He is already dead.

Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. He and Nicodemus then lay the body in a nearby tomb.

Application

In Greek, the phrase “It is finished” is just one word. This word has several profound meanings.

1. John tells us just before this that Jesus knew His mission was nearly completed. The words “it is finished” can apply to this mission of redemption. Jesus has fought the battle and is now victorious in securing salvation for all who trust in Him.

2. It can mean “it is completed or fulfilled,” in this case referring to the kingdom of God being established on the earth. Nothing can stop the gospel now- the kingdom is here.

3. The word was often written across a statement of accounts when the final payment was made. The debt of sin has been fully paid, and there is nothing that can be added or needs to be added to it. Jesus is full payment for every sin ever committed.

Jesus’ death on the cross established the kingdom of God on the earth, completed the mission and achieved full payment for our sins.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for paying the full price for my sins. It is finished. I don’t have to worry about being punished or suffering your anger. Hallelujah! Amen.

Reflection on John 3:19-42

Reflection on John 3:19-42

Scripture

“Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have now heard for ourselves. Now we know that he is the Saviour of the world.”

Observation

The woman turns the discussion to where is the right place to worship. Jesus tells her that the time has already come that the Father does not care about where we worship God but that we worship in spirit and in truth.

The disciples return and urge Jesus to eat something. Jesus replies that His food is to do the will of the Father.

Many of the Samaritan villagers believe in Jesus because of the testimony of the woman, More importantly they believe He is the Saviour because they encounter Jesus for themselves.

Application

The woman believes in Jesus because she recognises He is a prophet. He told her her life story then gave a new account of a God who loves everybody and not just the Jews.

She tells her friends who come to see for themselves. They believe in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. Meeting Jesus for themselves is a different, deeper experience.

John’s story of the expanding kingdom of God is about people encountering Jesus and then taking their testimony of that experience to others who come to see for themselves who Jesus is.

Our personal testimony of Jesus is the greatest tool of evangelism that we have. Nobody can argue with our experience.

Secondly there is an invitation, “Come and see this man who told me everything I have done.” At their own meeting with Jesus He becomes more than an abstract theory but a real person.

People are not saved by hearing a personal testimony but it is a great place to start. Having shared that testimony, we need to pray that they will move on to their own encounter with Jesus,

Prayer

Thank you Lord for saving me from sin. Please help me to share my story and to invite others to come and meet Jesus. Amen.

Reflection on John 3:22-36

Scripture

“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.”

Observation

Jesus spends some time baptising people. Some of John’s disciples come to John and say that Jesus is getting more baptisms than John is. John replies that Jesus is the Messiah. He, Jesus, must become greater while John becomes less.

Jesus is from heaven and testifies about heavenly thing. John, on the other hand, is from the earth and testifies about earthly things.

Application

When people pursue spiritual gifts or ministries, there can be a tendency to forget that they are gifts or callings given by the Holy Spirit, They can run off at a tangent, chasing an experience of God rather than chasing God Himself.

John’s disciples missed the point about John’s ministry, a mistake made by Jesus’ disciples later. It was not about the number of people being baptised by their group. The point of John’s ministry was to pave the way for Jesus.

Whatever we seek, it only comes as a gift from God, whether we recognise that or not.

This apples in families and businesses also. The top entrepreneurs in the world get to be rich and famous because they worked hard and because God gave them a particular gifting.

Every good gift comes from our heavenly Father. We can do nothing unless God allows it.

So when we pursue something from God, we need to make sure the gift or ministry is not an idol, that is something that becomes more important to us than God Himself.

If we remember that everything is a gift from God, our hearts will be filled with gratitude and thankfulness- a much healthier state than the anger and sense of entitlement that mark much of our society.

Prayer

Than you Lord for every good gift from your hand. Amen.

Reflection on John 1:35-44

The Brick Testament

Scripture
Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

Observation
Two of John’s disciples meet Jesus, and John declares that Jesus is the Lamb of God. The disciples follow Him and remain with Him. One of these disciples is Andrew, who goes off to find his brother, Simon, telling him, “We have found the Messiah.”

The next day, Jesus goes off to Galilee, where He meets Philip and tells him, “Come and follow me.”

Application
There are many ways in which people find Jesus. One of them is when trusted teachers, perhaps a pastor or other father in the faith, explains that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” for us.

Another way is to be introduced to Jesus by a friend or relative. They may not have all the answers, but they know Jesus is the Messiah. In their excitement they share the Good News about Jesus,

Some people find Jesus through a direct call from Him to “Come and follow me.”

Over and over we read in John’s gospel of people testifying to their experience of Jesus, and many people come to faith as a result.

When we think of evangelism it can seem to be a daunting task. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they don’t want to listen? What if they ask questions I can’t answer?

All we have to say is “Come and find Jesus the Messiah.”

Jesus’ message was also very simple. “The kingdom of God is here. Turn away from your sins and follow me.”

We don’t need classes to do this; we just need to do it!

Prayer
Lord, many people have come to faith through a simple invitation. Help me to be like Andrew and tell people, “I have found the Messiah.” Please show me the people you are already working on, and give me boldness to speak for you. Amen.