Here is a devotional thought for a familiar passage in Ephesians.
“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), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7, emphasis mine)
At verse 4, we come to a transition in this section and Paul begins to describe God’s display of mercy to dead sinners. This is a strong emphasis on God’s mercy and God’s love. His nature, character, and attributes are now stepping into the picture.
In verse 5, Paul uses the first person plural to include himself in this. He wanted them to know that this was not just for his readers, but it was a reality for him too. This portion describes a radical change. God made us alive together with Christ. And when He was made alive, we were all made alive together with Him. Furthermore, he gives a parenthetical statement that shows a durative idea, “by grace you have been saved.” But the durative sense sounds more like this: “You are in the state of having been saved.” It means that believers have been saved sometime in the past, and they are still in the state of being saved.
Paul then explains how believers have been raised in Christ (v. 6). They have also been seated together with him. As far as God is concerned, though we are physically seated here on earth, we are positionally seated with God in the heavenly places.
As he gets to verse 7, Paul gives the bottom line. He is giving the purpose for why God raised believers, why He made them alive, and why He seated them in the heavens. Ultimately, it gives the reason for why He saved such wretched, filthy believers. That purpose is to show the exceeding riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. The term riches is described as “exceeding” or “transcending” riches. It shows how incomparably rich God’s grace is. Paul attempts to put into words what cannot be fully explained to the human mind, the depth of the riches of His grace.
When God saves sinners and raises them to new life, He is displaying the abounding riches of His grace. In other words, we are trophies of God’s grace in His heavenly exhibit. Such a wonderful truth! In one sense, the church being the bride of Christ would also signify us to be a kind of “trophy wife” (but in a good way). God puts us on display in order to show the entire universe that we are reflecting His grace through our salvation.
This demands self-reflection. We must realize the humility that accompanies a truth like this. Why would God save the sons of wrath and disobedience? Why would He cleanse such depraved wretches? Here is a simple answer. When we are on display, He is on display. He glorifies Himself through the glorification of sinners saved by grace.
Let this be an encouragement to you as you remember your existence as a trophy of God’s grace.