God Made Us Alive

The Apostle Paul writes of the wonder of our salvation this way:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:1-5

Marvelous, marvelous words.

Calvin-2In his ninth sermon on Ephesians, John Calvin provides a twelve page discourse on these wonderful words, and then sums up Paul’s argument:

And let us not think that we shall ever yield unto God the praise He deserves, until we abhor all our own wretchedness and are come to the point of knowing that the devil reigns over us, until God plucks us out of his clutches and sets us free from his cursed tyranny.

For is there anything more hateful than to say that we are subject to the devil and that he reigns, not only over our bodies, as some worldly tyrant might do, but also over our souls and over all our thoughts?

For he is a spirit, and there is nothing in us which is not corrupted by him, and filled with his poison.

Since we know this, let us also consider that God, having found us in that plight, has nevertheless not disdained us, nor failed, for all that, to succor us (to aid or assist us).

Saint Paul employs the same reasoning, when he says that we were God’s deadly enemies at the time when Jesus Christ redeemed us (Romans 5:10). And so let us conclude that God looks at nothing but our miseries when He calls us to Himself.

He does not consider whether we seek Him or not, for how would that be possible? We pull in the contrary direction.

He does not consider whether we are able to do him any service or not, for we are high-handed rebels against Him.

He does not consider whether there is any inclination in us, for all our thoughts and desires are deadly enemies fighting against His righteousness.

What does He look at then? What moves Him to succor us? Even the infinite number of miseries He finds in us, and the horrible confusion in which we are.

So then, let all mouths be stopped, and let us not presume to bring anything on our behalf, as though we had put God in our debt, or that He found anything in us why He should show us favor, for all things must spring from Himself and from His own infinite goodness.

He sees us miserable, damned, and utterly lost, and it is that that stirs Him up to do good, and to provide the remedy not only for our diseases but also for our death. For if we were but corrupted with sin and vice, the malady were already incurable. But, besides that, there is death, even a spiritual death, which cannot be corrected by all the means and nostrums of the world.

God has to put forth His hand, and that mightily, so that it may be known that He saves us by miracle.

John Calvin, Sermon 9, Sermons on Ephesians

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