From Death to Life
1 In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins.2At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God.3Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger.
4But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great,5that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved.6In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world.7He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus.8-9For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.10God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.
Lord, teach me through your Word.
There’s a story in these verses, and it’s very important to put all the events in the right order. It’s a love story, actually—the saga of our relationship with God.
(1) God creates people.
(2) People rebel against God.
(3) God loves people anyway and gives us his Son.
(4) People respond in faith and good deeds.
This chapter starts in part 2 of the saga, our rebellion. We’re described as “spiritually dead.” You might picture the human race as a bunch of zombies, walking around with a kind of life, but not really alive—not the way God intended. And since we’re “dead,” we have no power to rescue ourselves from this bleak situation.
But God has that power. And his love for us is so strong that he’s willing to save us in spite of our rebellion. We have willingly hurt him, but he still shows us mercy and grace. Those are two very religious words with lots of meaning. Mercy means we don’t get the punishment we deserve. Grace means we do get the blessings we don’t deserve. Our response to both is faith—saying yes to what God is doing. We’re not pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps—we can’t; we’re “dead.” We’re just receiving God’s gift.
But that last verse mentions “a life of good deeds.” That’s the end of our story and also the beginning. From the start, God created us for goodness. The Greek term for “made us what we are” indicates the work of an artist—a poem, a sculpture, a painting. We are carefully crafted, designed by our Creator to live lives that honor him and bless others. After all our rebellion, God restores us by his grace—and he enables us to do the good deeds he intended all along.
The Scripture is clear: we don’t earn God’s grace with good deeds. Salvation is a gift. But good deeds are our way of saying thank-you, as we try to bring pleasure to the one who loves us more than we’ll ever know.
Reflect: Have you ever not received a punishment you deserved? Describe the situation and people involved. How did you respond?
Respond Grace is receiving blessings that you don’t deserve. Pay attention to a way you experience God’s gift of grace today. Take a moment to acknowledge this gift and say, “Yes Lord! I receive what you are doing in my life.”
God, thank you for making me fully alive through your mercy and grace. Let my actions reflect my gratitude for your unfathomable love.
Good News Translation® (Today’s English Version, Second Edition) © 1992 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.
Bible text from the Good News Translation (GNT) is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by American Bible Society, 1865 Broadway, New York, NY 10023 (www.americanbible.org).