Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 2:4-10, a portion of Ephesians which reveals that we have been saved by grace to be the masterpiece of God.
Verse 4, which tells us that God is rich in mercy, begins with the words “But God.” This was the turning factor in our position. We were in a miserable situation, but God came in with His rich mercy to make us suitable for His love.
God is rich in mercy “because of His great love with which He loved us” (v. 4). The object of love should be in a condition deserving love, but the object of mercy is always in a pitiful situation. Hence, God’s mercy reaches further than His love. God loves us because we are the object of His selection. But we became pitiful by our fall, even dead in our offenses and sins; therefore, we need God’s mercy. Because of His great love, God is rich in mercy to save us from our wretched position to a condition which is suitable for His love.
God’s mercy reached us even when we were dead in offenses (v. 5). We did not deserve anything from God, but God had mercy upon us in our miserable situation.
Verse 5 says that we have been made alive together with Christ. The book of Ephesians does not consider us sinners as does the book of Romans; it considers us dead persons. As sinners we need God’s forgiveness and justification, as revealed in the book of Romans. But as dead persons we need to be made alive. Forgiveness and justification bring us back to God’s presence to enjoy His grace and participate in His life, whereas making us alive enables us, as the living members of the Body of Christ, to express Him. God made us alive by imparting His eternal life, which is Christ Himself (Col. 3:4), into our deadened spirit through His Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). He has enlivened us with Christ. God enlivened us together when He enlivened the crucified Jesus. Therefore, He made us alive with Christ.
As a parenthesis in verse 5, Paul says, “By grace you have been saved.” Grace is free. Here it denotes not only God freely dispensed into us for our enjoyment, but also God’s action in freely saving us. By such grace we have been saved from our wretched position of death into the marvelous realm of life.
Verse 6 says, “And raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” To make us alive is the initial step of God’s salvation in life. Following this, God raised us up from the position of death. To be made alive is one thing, and to be raised up is another. Consider the story of the raising of Lazarus as an illustration (John 11). The Lord firstly made him alive and then raised him up out of the tomb. In the same principle, God’s mercy firstly made us alive and then raised us up from the dead.
Verse 6 says that we have been raised up together and seated together. From our standpoint we have been raised up from our position of death one by one. But in God’s view we were all raised up together, just as all the Israelites were raised up together from the death waters of the Red Sea (Exo. 14). According to the book of Exodus, the entire congregation of the children of Israel was saved at the same time, for they passed through the Red Sea together. This is a clear type showing that we were all saved together; we were all made alive and raised up at the same time.
Again I wish to point out that the salvation in Ephesians is different from the salvation in Romans. In Romans salvation is by God’s righteousness, but in Ephesians salvation is by the divine life. The salvation unfolded in Ephesians is not that which satisfies God’s righteous requirements. Rather, it is the salvation that imparts life into us to make us members of the Body of Christ so that God’s eternal purpose to have a living Body for the expression of Christ may be fulfilled. This purpose is fulfilled not by righteousness, but by life. Therefore, Ephesians 2 emphasizes that we have been made alive together with Christ.
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