Terry R. Baughman
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11–13).
Part of the majestic work of grace is the understanding of where we once were without God. Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus to remember where you have come from. Remember that you were Gentiles, without Christ, strangers without hope, without a promise, and without God, but remember what happened. Those who “were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” That was the result of the action of grace.
In the verses previous to this text Paul explained how the change occurred, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love … made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), … that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:4–5,7). He further emphasized the involvement of grace in our redemption, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Through the passage of time we are tempted to take some of the credit for our transformation. We may speak of our consecrations as though we somehow merited the special favor of God by our exemplary efforts. We may recount our spiritual disciplines, how much we fast, how many hours we pray, or what personal sacrifices we make in our commitment to God, suggesting that we were so good God had to honor us with His presence. The stark truth is we were nothing without God. We had no one to recommend us. There was nothing we could do to earn His favor or require His attention. Paul stated in another letter, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Salvation was entirely God’s idea and purely the initiative of His grace. Very simply, “He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4).
Remember His grace. When we are tempted to justify our actions and excuse our transgressions, remember the pit where He found us, the hopelessness of our future without Him. Remember His forgiveness and the refreshing of His presence that brought peace into our chaos.
John Newton captured the overwhelming beauty of grace in the words of the classic hymn, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.” It will do us well to sing the song and remember the incredible redemption we have experienced in His incredible gift of grace. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
“Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:35).