“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. 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
– Ephesians 2:4-10
Have you ever been to a “crossroad”? You know – where you are traveling along and the road you are on suddenly branches out into 2 roads, and you must choose between the 2? It helps to be prepared ahead of time for that crossroad!
While we were in Alaska many years ago, we learned about a crossroad which was created in 1896 in the Yukon, a stop for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They placed there one year’s supplies to prevent many deaths. They had to be prepared ahead of time for this crossroad!
God has a crossroad in our text, verse 4, “but God.” In the original that it is all it says, “BUT GOD!”. “But” is a conjunction, a joining together, a word used to connect. It is the brining together at a crossroad of thought.
There are many conjunctions in Scripture. But this, out of 43 conjunctions in Scripture, is the only one where God is at the crossroad! It is the only one in which God Himself intervenes. And interestingly, we will learn that it is not us who does the preparing for this conjunction. It is God Himself!
God describes this conjunction through the subjects of many positions the believer has in Christ. First, he has a “resurrection”, as described in in verses 4-6a. Paul talks about the riches of His mercy. Humanly speaking, there have been many people who are rich. For example, David Rockefeller (who at the time was the wealthiest man in the world) was often asked for a dollar. He instead would give dimes in order to show people the value of a dollar!
Brace yourself: God is richer than all the Rockefellers combined! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and Romans 11:32-36 talk about the depth of God’s riches as seen in His mercy and knowledge.
There is also the depths of His love, His “great love with which He loved us”. Jeremiah 31:3 says that God has personally loved us “with an everlasting love”! And how wonderful is His love? Rev. 13:8 tells us that the Lamb Who has so loved us was, in God’s sight and purposes, “slain before the foundation of the world”! Even the cross was prepared, the greatest display of God’s love. God was at this crossroad already. When? “When we were dead in trespasses” (verse 5)! Wo
The reality of this crossroad, of our resurrection, is the interaction of the Trinity! God “made us alive together” (verse 5) and He “raised us up together” (verse 6a). Who did the raising? The Father! (Look up Eph. 1:20) and The Son (John 10:18) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11) as ONE were involved in our resurrection! There’s another WOW!
Why is this resurrection important? Well, let’s imagine a violent criminal is shot and killed. The bullet which killed him is removed, BUT HE IS STILL DEAD. The cases of the crimes he committed are now removed from the record, BUT HE IS STILL DEAD. He needs a new life!
And so did we! We were dead – we didn’t need reform or religion!
We needed RESURRECTION!
So then God RAISED US UP and gave us a new SITTING (verse 6). Notice that we are sitting with Jesus “together in the heavenly places”. Because of Christ’s ascension, Christ is busy preparing a place for us, waiting to come again, and looking forward for our arrival in glory – all those preparations at the same time.
He has given us the REALITY of a position: SITTING WITH HIM! Did you notice the difference in prepositions? He says that we are “alive WITH Christ” (verse 5) but we will be sitting IN CHRIST (verse 6). Paul wrote this from a dungeon in Rome, yet he had the security of eternity now! Take a gander at Romans 8:38-39.
And don’t forget: while we are IN Christ, Christ also is IN US! (See Colossins 1:27-29). This is an important point: as a result, our sitting gives us security now to live for Him throughout our lives! Here we go again: WOW!
Did you notice also that we will be ON DISPLAY (verses 7-9)? One of the highlights of our married lives was our going on a Caribbean cruise for our 15th wedding anniversary, WAY back in 1988. I had read about the ship’s putting contest, and I looked forward to entering! Just as my dad had done many years earlier on a cruise, even so I, too, WON that cruise’s putting contest! On the last night of the cruise, there was an award ceremony, and unbeknownst to me, one of our group took a picture of my receiving my trophy. That trophy with the picture are STILL on display as evidences of a great contest won.
MORE IMPORTANTLY than a trophy for a ship’s putting contest – WAIT, what could be MORE IMPORTANT than a trophy for a ship’s putting contest??? Well, for starters, the fact that believers in Jesus are…brace yourselves…HIS TROPHIES! Verse 7 says that, in reality, the believer is a TROPHY of God’s grace! We will be forever on display, for all eternity, before all the heavenly kingdom!
And did you catch who are the ONLY ones who can be so displayed? That’s right, ONLY redeemed sinners! We must be sinners, and we must be redeemed, in order to be on His display! Here it comes…WOW!
So what do we do with this reality NOW? We serve the King of kings! Verse 10 says that “we are His workmanship”, the purpose of our new creation in Christ! The reality is that the final crossroads is our choice of obedience to the service, the workmanship for which GOD HIMSELF has created us for! We either choose the road of obedience that puts Him on display, OR we choose the road of disobedience that puts ME on display.
I read the wonderful story of a Grandma who wanted to show her love for her grandson. So on his graduation day from high school, she gave him a Bible. He was…FURIOUS! He didn’t want a Bible…he wanted MONEY! So he threw the Bible across the room and it quietly and quickly slid under his bed. Months later he was cleaning his room when his eye caught ahold of the Bible. He picked it up to give it one final throw – into the garbage can – when as he threw it a HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL fell out of it! The wise Grandma knew not only what he wanted; she also knew what he needed!
The point is deep: there are TRUE RICHES to be found at this crossroad. “BUT GOD” – He alone has prepared this crossroad, and His ultimate purpose is our obedience to Him!
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO THE CROSSROAD OF GOD’S GRACE,
HIS DESIRE THAT HE ALONE BE ON DISPLAY THROUGH YOU (AND ME!)?