Edward F. Lundwall Jr.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NASU
Two words have functioned as keys that open future possibilities. The great two are, "I believe."
Action words will accomplish only according to the context of what is said or embraced! When Satan tempted Eve, she fell into sin affecting all their children from then until now. When she considered Satan’s deceit, she was persuaded saying in her heart: “I believe!” In so doing she was saying: “I disbelieve” to God and rejected His warning! As long as her attitude towards God was: “I believe,” the paradise of the Garden of Eden was her home! When she in her actions said: “I believe” to Satan to become her own little god, she found her home was the desert and Adam, her husband became a disinherited, worn out farmer.
When Adam and Eve said to God: “We’re naked!” God responded by giving them animal skins for clothing. The animal’s life was taken thereby, and became a prototype of animals being used as a means of reconciling man to God for the forgiveness of sins and worshiping God. Therefore, the reason Abel’s animal sacrifice was accepted by God, and Cain’s rejected. For “. . without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Because the result of sin is death, the death of the sacrifice animal was their substitute (Heb 9:22). Abel learned from their parents, but Cain was self- centered and so substituted his works, i.e., fruit of the ground.
In prophetic type, the sacrifice animal was picturing Christ as the Lamb of God. So as a God given type, Able was demonstrating faith in Christ and His sacrificial payment for his sins and sin nature. Even the mentioning of the offering of the fat portions was speaking of reliance on the reserve energy of Christ to carry through what was begun in His death to finish the reconciliation started in His sacrificial death.
While Able typlified believers of all ages who would say those key words to God: “I believe!” Cain typlified the ones who want reconciliation with God on their terms, i.e., by what they do. Thereby they reject God’s provision and suffer the consequences. In the New Testament days, the Jewish teachers were like Cain, they substituted their traditions for God’s Word’s instructions and provisions. Thereby they died in their sins and the nation they lead went into captivity for 2000 years! In the times before the Babylonian captivity, their self will and religious passion substituted idols and other gods for the LORD. Then they only suffer captivity for 70 years, Why? They crucified their Messiah and refused the re-offer of the Kingdom!
When religious traditions become authoritative, they minimize and often replace God’s Word and are like Cain’s offering the fruit of his hands. But instead of adopting a graven or molded idol, they in effect went back to Satan’s exhortation to Eve to take on intellect instead of God’s Word, in effect making herself and themselves their own god! This is what intellectual atheists do in our times, in their intellectual reasoning, they make either themselves or the intellectual community their substitute god!
The foolishness of this is illustrated by a story my Dad used on these types of persons. “ The intellectual atheist scientist was conversing with God on his idea of the faulty construction he saw in nature, God’s work. He boasted that he could do a better job. God said prove it by making just a little speck of dirt! The Atheist scientist said, ‘OK, all I need is something to make it out of!’ God said, ‘Why? I didn’t have any!’” For He created the universe out of nothing else than His decree!
The basic premise of this discussion began with these words: “Two words function as keys to accomplishment when used to direct future experience. Action words will accomplish only according to the context in which they are said or embraced!”
When Eve said in her heart to Satan’s solicitations to acquire forbidden wisdom to use to make her life according to her desires: “I believe!” The consequences were: first, her spiritual death and that of Adam, her husband and their children.
In Ephesians 2:1-3, the nature of this spiritual death is described:
1. Their state was death in sins and trespasses that alienated them from God Who alone posses immortal life.
2. Natural human life had its lifestyle dominated by Satan in the worldly culture that appeals to them, so becoming “sons of disobedience!”
3. Without redemption, the result of human lusts changed their personalities into children of wrath. These not only no longer resisted the sinful desires of their fallen natures, but would cultivate and pursue their fulfillments thus were like fish on Satan’s nets. They had “no hope” of avoiding God’s wrath and eternity in Satan’s future home of hell fire!
But then, the almighty two words were given in the face this hopeless doom! “But God!” (Eph 2:4a). The richness of these two word is briefly stated after those wonderful two words: “But God!”
“. . who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7 NKJV). But all this is conditioned on the two life changing words that each must emphatically say in one’s heart!
It is in accord to what God is and how they are united to Christ!
How can a person say those required words, if they do not conceive God as infinitely “rich in mercy!” How “rich in mercy” is He?
He is “rich in mercy” according to the love that sent Christ into the world in human flesh to die a humanly agonizing death climaxed by His divine suffering under God’s punishment for all people that have lived and will live, that is, our Hell suffered in a few minutes.
This was so severe that Jesus cried out the words of agony: “My God, my God, WHY have you forsaken Me !” (Matt 27:46). All humans have the answer: It was to give provisional forgiveness to all, even those who will not give those two key words with all their hearts! This love is how great God’s mercy is to hopeless children of disobedience and wrath!
But this is only begins His redemptive mercy and love! It is compounded by the future in the richness of being in Christ. They are not only delivered from the wrath due them, but with these unspeakably wonderful words of the eternal future realization:
“. . raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, . .” (Eph 2:6, 7 NKJV). While there the experience will be: “. . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:7 NKJV). But it will only begin to be appreciated after Christians get there!
All this and more is contingent upon each person saying to God those crucial words with all their heart: “I believe!”
Why is this true according to this Scripture? “For by grace you have been saved through faith,. .” (Eph 2:8 NKJV). The vehicle of grace, God’s mercy, is personal faith, i.e., the “I believe!”
The “I believe!” is not only the key to receiving God’s mercy for us, but is God’s key to His work in us, so that we become “His workmanship” that continues through a life of faith: “. . through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8, 9 NKJV).
This faith is not just an arbitrary gift of God that just appears without the instrument of our choice. For God created us in His image as accountable sovereigns.
Faith is a God given gift through the means He makes available to us! Jesus reveals this means as the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 2 Peter 1:4). For as we respond to the stimulus through both blessings and trials, we are matured and changed (James 1:2-4). For the salvation and transformation experience of faith comes from Christ’s description of being His by “ . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, . .” (John 10:27, 28 NASU).
This life continues as we keep our focus on Him by the Holy Spirit’s work: “. . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
(2 Cor 3:18 NASU).
As Hebrews12:2 describes this responsive sanctifying walk of faith: “. . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” This is the consistent result of saying to God and His promises: “I believe!”
In this way of obedience of faith God’s promises and purposes to and in us our experience can like Paul’s:
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-15 NASU).
Just remember and apply those two key words that changes everything: