Ephesians 2:4
It is interesting to observe the variety of terms here employed to describe the source of all the blessings of salvation. It is no longer a question of power, as it was in the first chapter (Ephesians 1:19, 20), but of love, mercy, grace, and kindness.

I. OUR SALVATION IS OF GOD'S MERCY. "God who is rich in mercy." There is a distinction between mercy and love, for love is the foundation of mercy. God is called the "Father of mercies" (2 Corinthians 1:3); mercy is his delight, for "he delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18); he betrotheth us to himself in mercies (Hosea 2:19); he begets us again "according to his abundant mercy" (1 Peter 1:3); and we are led to pray, "Lord, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions" (Psalm 51:1). Believers are therefore well described as "vessels of mercy" (Romans 9:23).

II. OUR SALVATION IS OF LOVE. "According to the great love wherewith he hath loved us." The apostolic saying, "God is love," supplies us with the best Christian idea of God, as welt as with the right key to explain all his actions. God's love is more than kindness, which is, indeed, one of his attributes, but love is, properly speaking, the nature of him who unites all these attributes in himself. The incarnation of the only begotten Son is the greatest fact of the Divine love, but is not disjoined from the deep humiliation and suffering to which it enabled him to descend. The love of God to sinners is

(1) a great love (Ephesians 2:4), "a love strong as death" (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7);

(2) an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);

(3) an unchanging love (Malachi 3:6);

(4) an invincible love (Romans 8:39);

(5) it is like the Father's love to the Son, "As thou hast loved me" (John 17:23).

III. OUR SALVATION IS OF GRACE. "By grace ye are saved."

1. It is not of works, but of grace (Ephesians 2:8). It is "of faith, that it might be of grace" (Romans 4:16).

2. We are accepted by grace (Ephesians 1:6); our calling is by grace (2 Timothy 1:9).

3. We have a good hope through grace.

4. Our election is of grace (Romans 11:5).

5. The grace of God abounds in faith and love (1 Timothy 1:14).

6. We are under a reign of grace (Romans 6:14); we have our standing in grace (Romans 5:2).

7. It is the greatest of all concerns to establish men's hearts in "the true grace of God" (1 Peter 5:12).

IV. OUR SALVATION IS OF GOD'S KINDNESS. (Ver. 7.) "The word here," says an old writer, "implies all sweetness, and all candidness, and all friendliness, and all heartiness, and all goodness, and goodness of nature." Scripture speaks of God as kind (Psalm 36:5; Luke 6:35), and of his "loving-kindnesses" (Isaiah 64:7). It is made the root of mercy in God (Titus 3:4); for the apostle here speaks of his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Thus our salvation, first and last, is attributed to nothing in ourselves, but to love, mercy, grace, and kindness in God. - T.C.







But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us.
1. God is a God of rich mercies.(1) Let us acknowledge His mercy to us.(2) Let us imitate it in our dealings with others.

2. It is the love of God which procures His mercy toward us.(1) This may assure us of God's favour towards us. If a man out of love have sought the friendship of his enemy, and used means to be reconciled to him, is it not likely that he will be constant in his love to him to the end? However this may be with man, it is certain that God will not change (John 13:2; Malachi 3:7).(2) This teaches us our duty to God and man. He has loved us first, therefore must we love Him again, His love must constrain us; and our love is a reflection of His to us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 John 4:11).

(Paul Bayne.)

I. THE MOTIVES OF THE DIVINE MERCY.

1. The promotion of His own glory. To show mercy is the most sublime work, and, emphatically, a Divine action.(1) Never despair of the boundless mercy of God; to doubt is to dishonour Him.(2) Show mercy also to others, that God's Spirit may be made manifest in you.

2. His holiness. God, by His love of all that is good, and by His hatred of all that is bad, is moved to extirpate what is morally bad. This design is best accomplished by the conversion of the sinner, because if he were to die a sinner, that which is bad would be and would remain permanent in him. Hence the long suffering of God, His attempts to save the sinner, His readiness to forgive, that sin may be abolished.

3. The love of the Father for His Son. Jesus has purchased and redeemed mankind by His death. By losing one soul, He loses a most dear property, the price of His own precious blood. Therefore, the Father is moved by love to save the redeemed and to recover the lost soul (John 6:39).

4. His infinite benevolence.

II. THE IMMENSE GREATNESS OF DIVINE MERCY.

1. Like all the Divine perfections, it is as great as God Himself. "Thy mercy is above the heavens."

2. It extends to all sins.(1) Despair not because of their number (Isaiah 1:18).(2) Nor on account of their hideousness (Romans 5:20). Have not the saintly penitents obtained forgiveness of the most hideous crimes? "A murderer is the first stone God made use of in establishing His eternal kingdom," says .

3. It embraces all sinners without exception.

4. It lasts till death.

III. THE WONDERFUL MANNER OF ITS MANIFESTATION.

1. Before the sinner is converted. This love is manifested(1) By graciously sparing him who, a criminal as he is, has forfeited every right to temporal and eternal life. When all nature is in arms against the sinner, God restrains it.(2) By incessantly seeking, inviting, urging, with such tender solicitude, as if the Shepherd had forgotten all His faithful sheep.(3) By ardently longing for Him.

2. Whilst the sinner is converted.(1) By receiving him kindly and meeting him graciously.(2) By forgiving and forgetting all offences.(3) By rejoicing exceedingly at finding again him who was lost.

3. After the sinner is converted.(1) By granting His efficacious graces.(2) By recalling to life the merits which in consequence of mortal sin had died away (Zechariah 10:6).(3) By admitting the penitent to a participation in the sacraments and ordinances of the Church.(4) By receiving him into His everlasting joy and happiness in heaven.

(Querico Rossi.)

Mercy is the aspect of God which the sinner first and most needs. Dare I approach His awful throne, all wretched and guilty as I am? The apostle answers, He is rich in mercy! But let us contemplate the riches of God a little more generally, and see how His bounty meets and supplies all our wants.

1. We are creatures who have test all — have nothing and need much; and to meet this God is rich in goodness (Romans 2:4). He is good — that is, He is God; for the name God is derived from His goodness. The earth and the heavens, the laws of the moral and physical worlds, are conceived and established out of pure goodness. His fulness overflows, and worlds and boundless systems of worlds arise to manifest and enjoy His goodness.

2. Are we impotent and incapable of procuring the Divine favour? Then, says Paul, He is rich in grace (Ephesians 2:7), which is the same nearly as "the rich in mercy" of my text. You need no merit — you require no preparation in coming to God.

3. But wherein is this riches of mercy seen? It is seen in the degradation and ruin from which it delivers us; it is seen in the glory and blessedness to which we are raised; it is seen in the number and heinousness of the sins which it forgives; and it is seen in the greatness of the number of the saved.

4. But there is still another aspect of the human character, which the riches of God meets. We long for power, for fame, for glory and immortality. We would be great, and the aspiration is not in itself wrong, but it is often misdirected. We find ourselves in this world bounded on every side by insurmountable barriers, baffling all our efforts of knowledge and of power. But are we satisfied? No, no; the soul longs for complete knowledge, pines for the possession of power, seeks to wing her flight through the sparkling stars and circumambient worlds, up to the empyrean throne itself, from whence proceed such manifestations of wisdom, beauty, and strength. And God meets this longing of the soul by that other word, "the riches of His glory" (Philippians 4:19). He is rich in goodness, He is rich in grace, He is rich in mercy, and He is rich in glory. Here, honourable ambition may expand itself; and the soul, enlarged and purified by the Spirit of God, may drink deeply and more deeply forever — may approach forever and for evermore, in love, wisdom, knowledge, and power, the character of Him who loved us, and whom we love.

5. Mercy is nearly allied to pain or misery, and the ideas are in most languages connected. It is not impossible that "eleos (mercy) may come from the Hebrew chil," to be in pain, as the English word is from misericordiae, the pain of the heart, the sorrow which goodness feels at the sight of wretchedness and woe. It is this feeling (if we may apply it so) in the heart of our heavenly Father which is the fountain of redemption.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

Not as the world loves doth God love. They love today and hate tomorrow; wearing their friends like flowers, which we may behold in their bosoms whilst they are fresh and sweet, but soon they begin to wither, and are laid aside. Whereas the love of God to His people is everlasting, and He wears them as a signet upon His right hand, which He will never part with.

(E. White.)

The signs and tokens of love are four.

1. We think of those whom we love. Love begins in the heart, and leads away the thoughts over seas, rivers, mountains, and all kinds of impediments, to its object. Such is the love of God. Its dwelling place is His own bosom; and before all worlds His delights were with the sons of men.

2. But love seeks fellowship with its object; and God visited us in the person of His Son that He might woo our fond hearts from the world to Himself.

3. Then, again, true love willingly suffers for its object, if need be, and the affection which abides not this test is not genuine. God cannot suffer, but His incarnate Son did, and all the fountains of the great deep of Divine sorrow were broken up on the cross.

4. Love seeks to exalt its object; and so God, having taken our nature into union with His own, did exalt and glorify the Son of man, our Eider Brother and Head, with His own right hand, in heavenly places, far above all principality and power.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

I asked, in New Hampshire, how much it took to make a farmer rich there; and I was told that if a man was worth five thousand dollars he was considered rich. If a man had a good farm, and had ten thousand dollars out at interest, oh! he was very rich — passing rich. I dropped a little farther down, into Concord, where some magnates of railroads live (they are the aristocrats just now), and I found that the idea of riches was quite different there. A man there was not considered rich unless he had a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, in pretty clear stuff. I go to New York, and ask men how much it takes to make one rich, and they say, "There never was a greater mistake made than that of supposing that five or six hundred thousand dollars make a man rich. What does that sum amount to?" I go into the upper circles of New York, where millionaires, or men worth a million dollars or over, used to be considered rich; and there, if a man is worth five or ten millions it is thought that he is coming on. It is said, "He will be rich one of these days." When a man's wealth amounts to fifty or a hundred millions he is very rich. Now if such is the idea of riches in material things, what must riches be when you rise above the highest men to angels, and above angels to God! What must be the circuit which makes riches when it reaches Him? And when yon apply this term, increscent, to the Divine nature, as it respects the qualities of love and mercy, what must riches be in God, the infinite, whose experiences are never less wide than infinity! What must be love and mercy, and their stores, when it is said that God is rich in them?

(H. W. Beecher.)

The Rev. John Davies says, "A certain man had a wayward son; his conduct brought down his father to a premature grave. On the day of the funeral the son was present, saw unmoved the pale face of his father in the coffin, and stood unmoved on the brink of the grave. The family retraced their steps. Their father's will was read; in that testament was the name of the undutiful son. As his name was read his heart heaved with emotion, his eyes were bedewed with tears, and he was heard to say, 'I did not think that my father would have so kindly thought of me in his will.' In the family of Christ some of us in reading His Testament, and thinking upon His great love and marvellous gifts, feel our unprofitableness and unworthiness, and are filled with love and wonder."

When Dr. Arnot was in this country — he is now in heaven — I heard him use in a sermon an illustration that impressed me. He said: "Have you not been in a home where the family were at dinner, and have you not seen the old family dog standing near and watching his master, and looking at every morsel of food as if he wished he had it? If his master drops a crumb he at once licks it up and devours it; but if his master were to set the dish of roast beef down and say, 'Come, come,' he would not touch it — it is too much for him. So with God's children; they are willing to take a crumb, but refuse when God wants them to take the whole platter." God wants you to come right to the throne of grace, and to come boldly.

(D. L. Moody.)

I have seen the lifebuoy spun out to a drowning man, and, amid the crowd on the pier that gazed in horror, there was none, as they watched its course over the roaring waves, but wished in his heart that it might reach its mark. Nor is it only that God is "willing that all should come to Him, and live." What mother but would open her door who heard the knocking, and recognized the well known voice of some poor, fallen child, that had sunk down there amid the winter drift, and cried, with failing breath, O mother, mother dear, open and let me in. And who thinks so ill of God as to believe that when He hears such a cry at the door of mercy, He will not rise to let us and to welcome us in!

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I. First, then, we are to notice THE RICHNESS OF GOD'S MERCY AND THE GREATNESS OF GOD'S LOVE. There appears to me to be a difference in the terms which are used here, and that this difference is intentional — that the mercy, in fact, refers to man in his fallen state, and that the love refers to the manner in which that mercy is manifested. And taking it in this point of view, it will be necessary to dwell upon the two expressions separately — the mercy which is called rich, the love which is called great.

1. This mercy appears to be called great on account of the amount of mercy which is dispensed. But when we look at the inspired Word of God, we see at once the amount of mercy which is being dispensed to the world, for God has been pleased to reveal Himself as "plenteous in mercy." "He keeps mercy for thousands." I put these two facts together, and I read that for backsliders there is a willingness on the part of God to manifest His rich mercy. I look at the history of Matthew the publican, sitting at the receipt of custom, one of a whole body famed for their extortion; and I look into the world, and I see the mammon hunters of the day, and feel myself privileged to press upon them also the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; because I see that for the extorting Matthew there was converting grace, there was God's rich mercy.

2. On this verse, then, we may speak of the mercy of God being rich; but you will perceive the apostle speaks also of the love of God, of the "great love" of God. And why should not that epithet be used, when we remember that it is the love of a great God to great sinners?

II. But we must pass on to inquire, in the second place, HOW THIS LOVE IS MANIFESTED. And keeping to the text before me, I read that it is by quickening us, by giving us of His spiritual life — "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, hath quickened us" — hath given us spiritual life. But this is connected, indeed, with the next expression in the text, which speaks of God having "raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Here, of course, reference is made to the resurrection and the glorified state, when there shall be rest from our labours, when there shall be eternal pleasure, and when we shall enter into the joy of our Lord. But notice, in the next place, when this mercy was manifested. The Scripture describes the manifestation of this mercy to have been "when we were dead," when we were dead in our sins.

(M. Villiers, D. D.)

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