"Under New Management"
II. Celebrate our Present.
BY GRACE you ARE Saved. The first two words in verse 4 serve as the springboard for the remainder of our text, "But God." These two words stand between the grim picture of unrighteousness, death, and wrath and the hope of eternal salvation though Jesus Christ. God is the Initiator. God is the Creator. God is the Designer. God is the organizer of the plan of salvation.
In verse 4, Paul conveys the theme of Psalm 145:8: "The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in loving kindness." The first quality mentioned in verse 4 is "rich in mercy." Mercy is the opposite of divine wrath. Paul said in Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace."
The definition of mercy is having withheld that which is deserved. In this case, we deserved God’s wrath and ultimate condemnation. But because of His great love He made us alive. By His grace, the old life has ceased. By His grace our past has been pardoned. THE OLD MANAGEMENT HAS RETIRED AND THE NEW MANAGEMENT HAS TAKEN OVER.
Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century king of Prussia, was visiting a prison in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned, all except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence.
Seeing him sitting there oblivious to the commotion, the king asked him what he was there for. "Armed robbery, Your Honor." The king asked, "Were you guilty?" "Yes Sir," he answered. "I entirely deserve my punishment." The king then gave an order to the guard: "Release this guilty man.
You see, like this prisoner, you and I were in prison. We were in bondage to sin. We were slaves to sin and spiritually dead. And like this prisoner, we were pardoned. Did this man do anything to deserve it? No! Likewise, what God offers us is by His initiation. 8: "For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." We cannot earn our salvation. Paul makes it clear that is from God and from God alone. We have been given an everlasting gift. For that reason, we are to celebrate the present.
Not only did God save us from the power of sin, death and wrath, verse 6 says we were "raised up."
"And raised up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." God not only saved us, He has raised us up from death in sin to Life and seated us with Christ. Colossians 2:12 says, "Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
The term "seated" in verse 6 can also be translated "enthroned." Here we see a connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our having been raised up. Romans 6:5 says, "for if we have become united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection."
The author of 1 Peter writes in chapter 2, verse 9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."