Our passage this morning is a continuation of the great doxology that commenced in verse 3. Even though your Bible might have a period at the end of verse 6 we are continuing in our praise to God God.
The period is added because there is a shift in thought. In this passage we begin to praise God for his grace.
That’s what grace is. It is God's undeserved favor. Or, to put it another way, it is an act of kindness that is beyond what is truly due or deserving.
Some people say that, as sinners, we deserve nothing. That is not exactly true. I appreciate the sentiments of such a statement, but it is not particularly accurate. As sinners we do deserve something. We deserve damnation and eternal agony. Because we have transgressed God’s law we are liable to the just penalty of the law. And the just penalty of defying a holy and infinite God is itself infinite in its measure.
But the Lord is just as gracious as he is just. And the more we contemplate the juxtaposition of these two great attributes the more we will celebrate the glory of them.
And here in this passage we see the Apostle Paul celebrating the graciousness of God. And as we probe what this passage says about God’s grace, we should be made to join in the Apostle’s jubilation.
So this morning I want us to celebrate the gift of God’s grace. And we should celebrate because God’s grace is given for a great purpose.
I. It is given for a great purpose [7a, 10b]
God’s grace is for the purpose of salvation. Grace is what makes salvation possible. If it were not for grace, we would not have salvation.
And we see here that salvation is the main goal of grace. As a matter of fact, salvation is spoke of in 4 different ways in these few short verses.
The first way it is described is in terms of a financial exchange. Look at verse 7. It says, “In him we have redemption.” Redemption is a word that comes from the marketplace.
In ancient times people were perhaps the most common commodity. People were bought and sold as slaves on a daily basis. When you went to the store in the ancient times you could pick up some bananas, applesauce, and a few slaves at what amounted to the Super WalMart of the time.
But slaves had the ability to be redeemed. A slave could save up his money and purchase his freedom. Or a friend or family member could buy him back. Once that price was paid, he was completely free and under no obligation to serve that master anymore.
And here we learn that we are freed from sin and death by Christ. The Lord saves us by paying the price of our redemption. Death no longer has mastery over us and we are not under the dominion of sin because the Lord has made the full payment so that we may be free to serve Him.
This of course leads to the second image for salvation that is used here, which is atonement. The price that was paid for our redemption was the blood of Christ. You’ll notice that it says, “In him we have redemption through his blood.”
The Lord didn’t simply swipe a credit card or fork over a roll of cash to redeem us. The only way that we could be freed from death is if someone died in our place. The shedding of blood is an important factor because without it God’s wrath cannot be appeased. This is what atonement is all about. Atonement is all about appeasing of God’s wrath through a blood sacrifice.
You see, sin provokes God’s anger. We should not see God as a settled or peaceable deity; at least not when it comes to sin. Most people today envision God in largely pacified terms. But this is not so. God is greatly agitated over sin. The breaking of His law enflames him and ignites his anger. He demands that justice be served. And the only way to assuage the passions that are roused within him is by carrying out the just penalty that is due for it.
And this is what grace has produced for us. Grace has produced a perfect substitute. Our sins can be atoned for because Jesus has shed his blood on our behalf.
But our salvation is not just depicted in terms of a financial obligation or atonement, it is also depicted in terms of forgiveness of our sin-debt.
Look at verse 7 again. After mentioning the fact that we have redemption through his blood, it defines for us exactly what that means. And it says that it is “the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
Why is this put in here? It reminds us that God, by his grace, has pardoned the debt that has accrued as a result of our evil deeds. When it comes to our relationship with God, we have a clean slate because he has forgiven them.
I remember when Katelyn was first born. It was a crazy time in our household. We, of course, had the birth. Then the transition back into the house. Then we had family coming through at different times. With all of the hubbub I forgot to pay my credit card bill. I received a notice that we were going to receive a rather stiff penalty for having missed the due date. So I called them in order to explain our situation. And I asked them if they might forgive my debt. The lady that I spoke to was very kind and said that since we were reliable customers they would indeed cancel the penalty. Then with a couple clicks of a keyboard, the debt that I had acquired was completely erased.
That’s what forgiveness with God is like. The only difference is that we are not reliable customers. But that just shows how gracious God is. He is willing to erase all our trespasses.
The purpose of God’s grace is salvation. And we see this salvation depicted in one more way in this passage. It’s not just described as redemption, atonement, and forgiveness. It is also described in terms of its consummation.
Look at verse 10. Paul says that the purpose of his grace is to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
A lot of what we have said so far has referred to the initiation of our salvation. But here in verse 10 it is talking about the completion of our salvation. The word “unite” is a very long word Greek word (it has 9 syllables). But it means “to sum up or to bring together in a conclusion.” For instance, at the end of this message I will have a conclusion where I hopefully sum things up and bring the message to a close by showing how everything is united.
That’s what is being referenced here. The purpose of grace is the salvation of God’s people. And one day all God’s people will be united as one body. All of the saints who are already in heaven and all of the Christians who are still here on earth will be a united body. There will no longer be any of the fractures that are caused by sin.
I like how John Gill puts it. Christ will reduce us all to one denomination. Someone asked me the other day at the Ashland Fair, “Why is it that we have so many different denominations and different interpretations of Scripture?” I said, “It’s because we are dumb, ignorant, and sinful.” One day Christ will remove all those obstacles and we will be united together with him to live with him forever.
When you consider the numerous things that are said here about salvation, you can’t help but say that grace really does has a wonderful purpose. And that is a cause for celebration.
But the wonder of God’s grace is not just seen in the purpose for which it was given. It is also witnessed in the proportions in which it is given.
II. It is given in great proportions [7-8]
In verses 7 and 8 it is almost as if the Lord attempts to quantify his grace for us so that we may understand just how great his grace really is. Look at the end of verse 7. You’ll notice that it says that our redemption is according to the “riches of his grace.” It is not just according to his grace, but according to the riches of his grace. Paul adds this word to help stress the excessive proportions; the sheer opulence of his kindness towards us.
Then, in verse 8, he compounds the abundance of grace by saying that God has “lavished” it upon us. Or, as the KJV puts it, he made the riches of his grace “abound toward us.”
But even that doesn’t exactly capture the sheer volume because the Greek word for “abound to us” actually means “having a superabundance of something.” To have something in abundance makes you think of having your arms full. Perhaps you are having a little trouble carrying in the groceries because you have an abundance of items that you purchased.
But having a superabundance adds to the picture. There’s so much you can’t possibly carry it all. It is almost like you are being buried in it. It is like a dump truck being backed up and pouring out all its contents.
The Lord lavishes his grace on us in that manner, and you must think of it in terms that are in keeping with this idea of super abundance. Remember that God is infinite in his being, and as a result every attribute of his is infinite in degree. So God is infinite in his love. He is infinite in his kindness. He is infinite in his wisdom. And he is infinite in his grace. So when it talks about the riches of his grace which he lavishes on us, we must try to wrap our minds around the immensity of it. The proportions of his grace are such that there is an infinite deluge of overflowing favor that pours down upon us.
It is widely known that Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. This year his net worth came in just under 80 billion dollars. That amount of money is a little hard to imagine. It is said that if Gates stopped earning an income it would take him over 220 years to spend all his wealth…and that’s with buying 3 Ferrari’s every single day.
Perhaps you’ve seen the videos that try to explain how big the national debt is. 18 Trillion dollars is just an unfathomable amount of money. One video showed money stacked up like the World Trade Center building; the money had the same length and width. The only difference was that the national debt was almost double in size of the WTC.
If thinking about God’s grace in financial terms doesn’t suite you, perhaps you’d better visualize its proportions in terms of the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls. It is said that over three thousand tons of water flows over Niagara every second. This accounts for all three sections of the falls and the 750,000 gallons of water that rush over those clefts every second. So think of 525 elephants rushing over the brink every second. That is an amazing amount of water. And what’s even more amazing is that isn’t even all of it. There are hydroelectric plants that keep a good deal of water from going down stream.
I don’t think we can really wrap our minds around the volume of water that pours over that water fall each day.
And yet those vast quantities, be they the financial or the aquatic, do not even come close to matching the riches of God’s grace; the riches that are lavished upon us; the riches that super-abound towards sinners like us.
That should make you think about where you stand with the Lord. What kind of sins do you have? Do you have Ferrari sins? Are they sins that are costly or sumptuous? It doesn’t matter how great or plentiful they are. God’s grace rushes over them in monumental proportions; like the flood tides of Niagara Falls they are washed away.
I wonder if someone here today has never thought of God’s grace in this way. I wonder if you’ve ever thought that the Lord would never accept a sinner like you. Perhaps thinking about the rich proportions of God’s grace is making you think again about whether it is possible to be forgiven and have a true relationship with the Lord. The Lord wishes to assure you do not have to face his wrath and curse. If you turn to Christ you can be assured that he will be gracious to you and all you sins will be forgiven.
All you have to do is trust in the richness of his grace.
When it comes to God’s grace, we have seen that it is given for a great purpose and in great proportions. But we should also note that it is given through great planning.
III. It is given through great planning [9-10a]
At the end of verse 8 it says that the riches of his grace is lavished upon us “in all wisdom and insight.” Now, there are some commentators who take this to mean that along with God’s grace God lavishes upon us wisdom and insight. So, in their opinion, when God sheds his grace upon us He also gives us spiritual understanding.
I do agree that we gain wisdom that is not of this world when we meet with grace for the first time. But I do not think that this passage is teaching that. It is my opinion that the wisdom and insight that is being talked about here is not what God gives so much as it is what God has. He lavishes his grace upon us in wisdom and insight, in that God has wisely determined who should receive this grace and when in their lives they should personally experience His grace.
So I take the wisdom and insight spoke of here as pertaining to God’s decree of election. It is the wisdom that God exercised long before the world began as he laid out who exactly would be saved and how this great plan of salvation would be accomplished.
And I think that fits with the rest of the sentence. If you look at verses 9 and 10 you see that he heaps up phrases that all have to do with predestination. First, in verse 9, he goes on to talk about the mystery of his will that he is making known. As I said a couple of weeks ago, if you are making something known, it means that you must have known it beforehand. And that’s the way it was with God’s will. It was made up a long time ago.
Then again, in verse 9, he adds the fact that this was “according to his purpose” which again points to the fact that he had laid out his intents previously.
And finally in verse 10 he uses the word “plan.” It was a “plan for the fullness of time.” The idea that you get is that God was acting much like an author of a book. Before the world began he was mapping out the course of events and deciding exactly how the story would flow. He made a plan and determined the course of events. He thought about all the characters that would be in the story and he specifically appointed some of them to be the special recipients of his grace.
And all of this planning was done “in all wisdom and insight.”
A friend of mine was once being questioned as to his Calvinistic beliefs by a coworker of his who was not friendly to the Calvinistic framework. After going back and forth for a while the guy asked my friend, “Well, when you get to heaven, what would you say to God?” My friend responded by saying, “Why me?”
It is the puzzling. Why would God choose you? Why would he choose me? It seems like a foolish thing on God’s part. But this passage boggles us by reminding us that it was not an accident or something that happened on a whim, as if history was rolling along and God said, “O, well, I guess I’ll take that one too.” The Lord has chosen you in all wisdom and insight. From the very beginning He look upon you and said, “He’s mine.”
And to think that you, poor foolish sinner that you are, are a part of his all wise plan of lavish grace, should cause you to say, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.