As a young man in college I thought I had everything going for me. My parents had provided me with a wholesome family upbringing. All of my physical and financial needs were met abundantly. I always had clean clothes to wear, plenty of food to eat, and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Through grade school and high school, my parents also provided me with the best spiritual education they knew of through a major denominational church. I was thankful for all of these things. I was a “good” person living a “good” life, but there was one thing I was lacking. I was unaware of my need for salvation.
During my senior year in college, two believers from The Way Ministry invited me to their home for a fellowship meeting. Seated with a handful of young people in a small apartment near the campus, I heard someone give a simple but powerful teaching from the Bible. From that moment forward my life began to change. I knew that the people in that room had access to a new kind of knowledge that I was totally unaware of.
I started fellowshipping faithfully and began reading as many ministry publications as I could get my hands on. I registered for the first Foundational Class that became available. Empowered by the class with keys to reading and understanding the Bible, I learned of God’s love and grace. I also learned about God’s mercy and His magnificent plan of salvation for my life. God’s mercy plays a vital role in meeting mankind’s need for salvation.
The Book of Ephesians reveals our need for salvation and the role God’s mercy plays in meeting that need. We learn in Ephesians that all men are born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
Everyone born into the world is born dead in trespasses and sins. Although it is not outwardly obvious, since the fall of Adam and Eve people are born dead spiritually because they have no spirit. To be quickened is to be made alive. A person is quickened, made alive spiritually, when he or she is born again of God’s spirit, confessing Jesus as lord and believing in their heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9 and 10). By way of the new birth we have spiritual wholeness, which is the foundation for being made whole in every other category of our lives.
Verses 2 and 3 of Ephesians, chapter 2, tell us that when we were spiritually dead we “walked according to the course of this world…fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath….” We were born into the world as “children of wrath,” not because we sinned upon entering the world at birth. Rather, as descendants of Adam we inherited the sin nature of Adam (Romans 5:12), being born of flesh and blood only. We were born spiritually separated from God, without a means to fellowship or communicate with Him. Legally we belonged to the adversary, and we walked according to the worldly standards of the adversary’s kingdom. But God did not leave us in this hopeless state. Continuing in Ephesians 2, we arrive at this wonderful truth.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.
Our attention is now being shifted from mankind’s spiritual condition to God and His rich mercy. God’s mercy extended to those who are born dead in trespasses and sins is a remarkably refreshing response to those in such dire need. In verse 4, the emphasis is no longer on mankind’s sin nature but on God’s rich mercy and His great love. “Mercy” is defined as “the withholding of judgment when judgment is deserved.” God withholds judgment when it is deserved because of His great love. He is rich in mercy, meaning His mercy abounds. Even when we were dead in sins, God withheld merited judgment; He made it available for us to be alive together with Christ. He reached out to save us by His grace.
Even when we were dead in sins [dead because God’s spirit was not within], hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).
Verse 5 establishes the truth previously stated in verse 1, that we were dead in sins but God quickened us, made us alive spiritually, when we were born again. This miracle was accomplished not by our works but by the works of Jesus Christ.
When I first started attending home fellowship meetings, the songs we sang from the Sing Along The Way songbook made a deep impression on me because they complemented what I was learning from the Bible. The words to the songs were rooted solidly in God’s Word. A song that I enjoyed very much initially and which continues to be one of my favorites today is “At Calvary.” Some of the words to this song remind me of the learning I received about God’s love, grace, and mercy and His plan of salvation for my life.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at His love I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty,
When we were dead in trespasses and sins, God made salvation available. God didn’t save me because I was a good person. God didn’t save me when I had done enough good works to deserve salvation. The new birth is so magnificent—one moment I was dead in trespasses and sins, and the next moment I was made alive, quickened, spiritually. That’s God’s mercy. What an amazing truth! No one is, was, or ever will be capable of “saving” himself or herself. It is impossible. It was God Who devised the plan of salvation….
This is an excerpt from the March/April 2007 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2007 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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