If you're a Christian who has tasted the depths of God, the wonders of His love, and the glories of His character in the face of Christ, you ain't seen nothing yet.
The theme of Ephesians 2:1-10 is this: We are more sinful than we could ever imagine; and yet, we are more loved than we could ever fathom. So far, we have walked through six verses. Verses 1-3 cover how we are more sinful than we could ever imagine. But verse 4 was the turning point — "But God!" — that began to explain how we are more loved than we could ever fathom. Verse 7 is the climax of our theme, for it magnifies the marvelous grace we have received from our God. Verse 7 will be the focus of this article.
I. The Grace Granted in the Gospel
Salvation has been wrought by God. He has forgiven our sins by the death of His Son, declared us righteous by the merit of Jesus, brought us into eternal life of communion with Him through His Spirit, and called us His adopted sons of the heavenly Family.
As verse six of Ephesians 2 says, God "raised us up" with Christ, which presupposes that before God acted, we were dead, yet He made us alive! God "seated us with Him in the heavenly places," meaning that we will be with Him forever. The phrase "seated us with Him" means that we will be exalted alongside Him, to reign with Him. Amazing!
The gospel is not merely that God saved us from sin. The gospel is that God saved us from sin and He saves us unto glory. Yes, He takes repentant sinners, forgives them of their sin in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and He exalts them to be coheirs with Christ in the heavenly kingdom. In other words, salvation does not stop at being forgiven; the culmination of salvation is that we enter heaven.
What marvelous gifts! If we were only forgiven of sins, that would be marvelous enough. But He goes beyond! By what means does God accomplish this? Grace. Now "grace" is a theological term meaning God's unmerited favor towards sinners. It is His condescension to work on our behalf, not because we are good but because He is good, displayed most significantly in salvation. This sermon mash up by Matt Chandler gets the point across well.
The salvation of sinners begins with God, is brought to fruition through God, and is assured by God, all because He chose to graciously love sinners. There is nothing within us that inclined His love to us; He loves us by His grace.
II. An Immeasurable Grace
Look at Ephesians 2:7. I want to focus on the word "surpassing." The Greek word translated "surpassing" is υπερβαλλον (hu-per-ball-on). It means surpassing, excelling, beyond. It is translated in ESV as "immeasurable."
In Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul uses this word to measure God's power. How great is God's power, the power that created the world out of nothing, that sustains all things, that judges the world, that uproots and plants nations at His will? Is it not immeasurably great?
In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul uses this word to measure the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ. How broad, how wide, how high, how deep is the love of Jesus? Is it not unfathomable, beyond the capacity of man's imagination, more vast than the heavens and beyond the furthest star?
In Ephesians 2:7, in our passage here, Paul uses this word to measure the grace of God. Think of what His grace has done. Every Christian is a work done by God. God has changed a rebel into His beloved. He has taken a child of wrath and made him a child of God. He has transformed a damned sinner into a blessed saint. He has rescued a hell-bound wretch and put him on the path to the heavenly Kingdom. He has brought up a peasant to be a coheir with Christ the King. We are saved! We are God's own! We have a loving Father, a faithful Friend in Jesus, the indwelling Holy Spirit!
And all of it, all of the blessings and joys of the gospel, are achieved by the grace of God. How much grace? A υπερβαλλον (hu-per-ball-on) amount. It is an astounding, extravagant , beyond-comprehension, overflowing. You cannot measure it! It surpasses!
In Luke 15, Christ uses three parables to describe the joy of God in finding lost sinners. In the first, He compares it to a man who has found a lost sheep, who joyfully brings it back to his fold and celebrates that he found that which was lost. In the second, Jesus compares the joy of God in saving sinners to a woman who has lost one tenth of her fortune, and yet with diligence recovers her coin and celebrates that she had found that which was lost. And in the final and climactic parable, Jesus tells of the joy and grace of the father who finds his lost, prodigal son.
And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’
So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
The prodigal son was a wretch. He deserves judgment, disownment, punishment. Yet, look at what his father does! When he saw him, he "felt compassion for him, and ran, and embraced him, and kissed him." Why? Because the son deserved such love? No! Because the father loved him. He loved him, with an unmerited favor towards this sinner. He loved him by grace.
The parable is clear. This father displayed grace towards his son. Our God, our heavenly Father, has a greater grace, a greater love. Marvel, Christian, at the grace and love of God for you.
III. The Best is Yet to Come
So then, within the gospel, we see God's grace marvelously. We see what He has done, and we cannot help but be thankful.
But, let's pause for moment. If you were paying close attention to the verse, you'll notice that I did not explain Ephesians 2:7 correctly. I skipped over some words. Why did God raise us with Christ? Why did He seat us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus? "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." The "surpassing riches of His grace" does not refer primarliy the grace displayed in the gospel. It refers to the grace of the gospel to be revealed, "in the ages to come." It is a future grace, a grace not yet fully known.
That means, as abundant a grace as God has already shown in the gospel to sinners, it will be surpassed by the riches of His grace that He will display in the future Kingdom of heaven. Think of it! The grace that we have experienced through the gospel, as glorious as it is, will be surpassed in the ages to come. Why? For in heaven, God will lavish upon His people the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us. In heaven, God will pour out overflowing blessings
That was the purpose of saving us here, on earth, that He would be able to pour out His grace upon us then, in heaven.
What will this look like? What will heaven be like? We don't know too much. The Lord gives us a hazy picture, flickers of light through an opaque windowpane, but the masterpiece has not yet been revealed. We strain to see fully, but we will not until the Kingdom comes. But what we do know is enough to light the imagination, fuel our hope, and light the way to heaven.
We know it will be out of the riches of His grace and kindness. We know it will be according to His abundant love and mercy. And we know that it will be better than the sum of all the best things here on earth. And all of it, all of it, will be undeserved by us, given because God is good and loves His people.
Know this, Christian: heaven is the final, glorious, grace-stuffed, grace-overflowing climax of our life. How then shall we live?
The gospel is full of amazing grace. But, the best is yet to come. There is more grace, more glorious things that God has yet to unfold, coming. Awaiting. The final destination for a believer is heaven with Christ — how great a salvation awaits us!