THE CHURCH—GOD’S NEW SOCIETY
Deserving Nothing—Gaining Everything
Jerry A Collins
v Do we have a major or minor spiritual problem?
v What is our spiritual condition before redemption?
v Do we have any hope of rescue and deliverance?
If you want to determine if something is true we often say ‘look at the evidence’. What does that tell you? What can you learn from that? We can learn the facts and sketch together the truth. Parents do this with their children. Right now they are trying to determine the truth about Michael Jackson’s death with yet another autopsy. There will be further questioning of the doctor responsible for the doses of medicine and drugs Michael was taking. All of this effort is to evaluate the evidence to get to the truth of the situation. What will that evidence finally say is the question that the media is asking? Paul wants us to look at the evidence about unbelievers. What do we learn about the truth of their spiritual condition? What do their actions reveal about them from God’s point of view? He paints a bleak and dark picture of a person without redemption.
WE WERE IN DESPERATE NEED BECAUSE OF OUR SIN 2:1-3
The fact is, before we can grasp the significance of God’s grace toward us, we have to understand the desperate and inescapable need we had for that grace. That is, we were dead. We are cut off from God. Sin killed us. This is the state and condition we were in before God took action. We were lost and need to be found. We were dead and need to be made alive. There is no communication or relationship but alienation, separated, and spiritually dead. We are:
(1) Guilty by association with Adam. The guilt is not because of what we did but who we are. It is sin transmitted to us in relationship with Adam.
(2) Guilty by natural capacity. We have our own sin nature—that bent and capacity to act on our sinful impulses. We also receive this impulse from Adam and Eve.
(3) Guilty by personal sin. This is sin we personally commit that I cannot blame on you. It comes out of my own alienation from God and I choose to portray this sinfulness personally. This is why I express my sinfulness. So I was not just making mistakes. I was willfully choosing and consciously deciding against God’s holiness. So this action placed me in jeopardy. This is delineated in 3 ways.
1. We did what everybody else did. That is expressed by formerly walked according to the course of this world 2a. I lived by the temporal values of this world. I went along with the fashionable and acceptable not out of step with the rest of the world. Just temporal values—not eternal ones. Today that includes tolerance, diversity, and moral relativism. As an unbeliever I would not question that.
2. We did what the devil wanted 2b. This world system—it’s philosophy--tolerance, it’s priorities—wealth, it’s ambitions—pride, are all governed by Satan. He has set this up. It is under his control. He is at work in the spirit of the unregenerate. These are called ‘sons of disobedience’. This comes from unbelief for the person is convinced not to accept or rely upon whatever God has provided. It is not that they just do not trust God but have defiance against God—the same as Satan. They accept the pressure of the world system instead.
3. We enjoyed sin doing what pleased our flesh and thoughts 3a. We could satisfy the impulses of our flesh without conscience. Our cravings for revenge, hate, greed, pride could be indulged. Our passions for selfish gratification could go unchecked. Our sinful condition perverted our judgment. Appeals to our fleshy senses motivated us. We enjoyed the sin we did. We acted on the wishes of our flesh. Wee accepted it’s reasoning. We were deliberate and premeditated in the activity of our flesh and mind. The outcome, because of our ancestors, we are children of wrath as well as sons of disobedience. It is our natural endowment inherited from Adam that brings with it ‘wrath’. So unbelievers have a closer relationship with God’s wrath than they do with God. And it is clear that we were not the only ones but all the rest of humanity has the same title and destiny ‘as even the rest’—a horrible dilemma.
GOD’S GRACE DELIVERS US FROM OUR HORRIBLE PREDICAMENT 3-6
The unregenerate are in an impossible and jeopardizing condition. God’s gracious act of deliverance is the only remedy.
1. God made us alive 4-5. The subject abruptly changes form sin to God ‘But God’. God steps right into the dilemma. And it is God’s compassion or pity on the sinners who are suffering the calamity of sin—not something undeserved—and extends his mercy. It is a rich mercy not shriveled. This emphasizes the character of our God in the Bible. He is a God who is rich or inexhaustible in mercy. And what was the cause of this rich display or mercy? God’s love. It is not only ‘rich mercy’ but ‘great love’. The ultimate manner in which He loved us was the crucifixion of His own Son. God chose to make us spiritually alive, to save us from His wrath, to rescue us from eternal damnation, by His inexhaustible mercy motivated by His great love. It is almost as if God could not help Himself.
A) We were dead in sin when simultaneously God was being rich in mercy 5a. We could not clean ourselves up first. Religion is about cleaning your self up—making yourself presentable to God. But that is impossible!
B) We were given spiritual life—a new life at conversion in Christ. God gave us what we needed and He did it all in Christ based on grace 5b. So God’s response to our sinful dilemma is one of mercy, motivated by love, on the basis of grace! It is the exact opposite of what we deserved.
2. God raised us in Christ 6a. First, we are made alive from the dead and then we are resurrected with Him. We have come back from the dead. As Christ was raised physically we were raised spiritually. This new resurrected life we have demands new values to live by and new ambitions to pursue. Col. 3:1-2 tells us these are eternal ones. The former way was temporal but the new way is eternal in it’s daily dynamic.
3. God has made us citizens of heaven 6b. We are seated there because of our association with Jesus Christ and no longer Adam. It is our union with Christ that gives us the right to be there. We remain on earth to live a resurrected life in connection with our vital union with the resurrected Christ. We are now bonded to Christ and one day will be fully so with new bodies and no sin.
GOD BONDS US TO CHRIST TO DEMONSTRATE HIS GRACE IN THE COMING AGES 7
1. God wants to show the cosmic audience His gracious generosity. Successive ages—both past and then future will be exposed to this display. Ultimately, it will be fully reveled in, in eternity when it’s full force will be understood.
2. It is the extraordinary grace of God, which will be on display. We are His trophies and it will take eternity to expose the grace behind the redemption.
3. This grace was delivered to us in the sphere of God’s kindness. This describes the entire work of salvation. God would have rejected our own efforts, but we are accepted because of the kindness of God toward us in Christ.
1. All spiritual understanding & thinking must begin with the realization that people without Christ are dead—locked into—sin, following Satan’s system, destined for the wrath of God.
2. God’s mercy was received because He loved us not because we could do anything. Only the kind intention of God.
3. One reason God saved by grace to demonstrate the riches of His grace. So we should see ourselves as eternal examples of that grace every day.
(An unedited version to be used for your personal study and discipleship ministry)