Ephesians 2:7
The salvation of these Ephesians was to stand out as a remarkable monument of "the exceeding riches of God's grace ' to all succeeding generations. It was in this sense that the apostle regarded himself "as a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Timothy 1:16).

I. IT WAS TO ENCOURAGE THE GREATEST SINNERS TO HOPE IN GOD'S MERCY THROUGH CHRIST. Sinners often, when pressed with the urgent calls of the gospel plead that they are too wicked to be reached by it. The examples of salvation in the Scriptures - those of the Ephesians, the dying thief, Lydia, the Philippian jailor, the Apostle Paul himself - are all designed to meet the difficulties that men interpose in the way of their receiving Christ, as if any worthiness could attach to the persons thus described. It is a great comfort that what God did then he does now and will do till the end of the world. His mercy and grace are not exhausted.

II. IT IS IMPLIED THAT SALVATION IS NOT OF WORKS, BUT BY GRACE. This fact cuts up by the roots all theological systems which imply that man has any power to save himself.

III. IT IS IMPLIED THAT THERE WILL BE A CHURCH ON EARTH THROUGH "ALL THE AGES TO COME," in spite of all the malignity, the ungodliness, the unbelief of men.

IV. IT IS IMPLIED THAT THE SCRIPTURES ARE TO CONVEY THE RECORDS OF GOD'S GRACE DOWN TO THE LATEST GENERATIONS. We could not know of God's gracious work at Ephesus but by the Scriptures. How much we ought to prize such records!

V. THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH SINCE THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES proves how God has fulfilled the design involved in the dispensation of mercy. The stream of grace has flowed more or less freely and fully in every age.

VI. MARK THE TRUE SUBJECT OF PREACHING. Not mere moral counsels, not mere philosophizings, but "the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Jesus Christ." A noble text for the pulpit of all ages!

VII. THE ULTIMATE DESIGN OF GOD IS TO MANIFEST HIS OWN GLORY. Not the mere glory of his power and wisdom, but of his abounding grace and mercy.

VIII. IT IS IMPLIED IN THE TEXT THAT THE APOSTLE DID NOT EXPECT, AS SOME AFFIRM, THAT THE END OF THE WORLD WAS AT HAND. There were ages to come in which the exceeding riches of his grace could he shown forth in the salvation of sinners. - T.C.







That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
1. The end of all God's grace and mercy towards believers in Christ, is for the manifestation of His glory, and praise of His name. This must teach us, that whatever good things God has bestowed upon us, we make God known by it.

2. All the saving graces of God are most worthy the consideration of all Christians in all ages. If we be God's children, let us show it by bringing forth eternal and immortal fruit to His glory.

3. The special favour of God consists in the giving of Christ. (1 John 4:9; Romans 5:6).

4. All God's kindness, and the fruit thereof, must come to us through Christ.

(1)No room for presumption.

(2)No room for despair.

5. All our blessings are treasured up in Christ.

6. In all things Christ hath the preeminence.

7. From hence note the stability of all the blessings given to the faithful. (2 Timothy 1:12).(1) This is full of comfort. If one had earthly treasure, we are glad when it is so bestowed that we may be sure of it, and so be free from care. Well, Christ is in heaven, our true treasure, where neither thief, nor moth, nor canker can come; this is our happiness, that He keeps our treasure; it is out of the reach of devils and men; were it in our own hand, we should soon betray it; if we are set in heaven with Christ, Christ may as soon be pulled out of heaven, as we disappointed of our inheritance.

(Paul Bayne.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
Salvation is a term inclusive of all the benefits enjoyed by a penitent believing sinner through the mediation of Christ.

I. ILLUSTRATE IT UPON LEADING SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES. The whole scheme of redemption is traced up to its source in the Divine benevolence — "God so loved the world," etc. It means a principle of love, proving its reality by gifts; love to sinners, fraught with kindest volitions, costly blessings. This love was self-moved, not necessarily excited by any external cause. There was no excellence to provoke, but sin to prevent its exercise. Hence its freeness is made to appear distinctly — "Not that we loved God, but that He loved us." Hence, too, the sovereignty of this love appears. He has placed mankind under a dispensation of forbearance.

II. ILLUSTRATE IT BY A REFERENCE TO FACTS AND DOCTRINES BELONGING TO CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.

1. The declared depravity of human nature.

2. The doctrine of justification by faith.

3. The blessing of sanctification.

4. The prospects of the Christian eminently involve the grace of his salvation.Let us observe from these remarks —

1. How completely the gospel meets the wants of sinners, their ignorance, their guilt, their pollution, their destitution. It represents God to be full of compassion, salvation to be an act of unqualified grace, while its proclamation is made to all, not excepting the most guilty.

2. How awful to abuse this grace.

3. How dreadful the character and prospects of unbelieving, ungodly men! They not only break the law of God, but despise the grace of His gospel.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

Two interpretations are given of this verse.

I. By ages to come, some understand the times that were to succeed the apostle to the end of, the world. And then the sense of the verse is — That God poured out the exceeding riches of His grace upon the. apostles and churches of old to be encouraging examples to the end of the world. Which they are —

1. As to the characters of those whom He has saved. They were sinners. They were the chief of them. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation," etc. (1 Timothy 1:15, 16). They were all sorts. "And such were some of you," etc. (1 Corinthians 6:11). "Who will have all men to be saved," etc. (1 Timothy 2:4). "For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed," etc. (Romans 10:11, etc.).

2. As to the blessings given to them. They were sought out. Quickened, justified, adopted, sanctified, preserved, glorified.

3. As to the grace given them, suited to their trials. To Abraham, faith. Job, patience. To Daniel, integrity. Paul, zeal.

II. By ages to come, some understand future glory (Hebrews 6:5). Then the sense is — That God bestows various and inestimable blessings upon His people here, that they may see them more perfectly in glory (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

(H. Foster, M. A.)

I. DESCRIBE GOD'S KINDNESS TO MAN IN CHRIST.

1. In the assumption of our nature (Hebrews 2:16).

2. In His obedience and sufferings for us (1 Peter 3:18).

3. In the resurrection of that nature (Romans 6:9),

4. In taking it up into glory (Psalm 68:18).

5. In His intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

6. In finally bringing us to glory (John 17:24).It is also further manifest that God's kindness is experienced by the Christian in —

1. The personal remission of his sins (Ephesians 1:7).

2. In the donation of the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:16).

3. Uniting us to His person (John 17:21).

4. Bringing us into covenant relation with Himself (Genesis 17:7).

5. Justification of our persons (Psalm 32:1).

6. In the renewal of our nature (1 Peter 1:3).

7. In adopting us into His family (1 John 3:1).

8. In giving us victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:57).

9. In our final glorification (Psalm 73:24).

II. THE OBJECTS OF THIS GRACE OR KINDNESS. As creatures.

1. Frail creatures (Isaiah 40:6).

2. As worthless worms (Job 25:6).

3. As less than nothing (Isaiah 40:17).As fallen creatures.

1. As impotent creatures (Romans 5:6).

2. Impoverished creatures (Revelation 3:17).

3. As enemies to God (Colossians 1:21).

4. As dead to all good (Ephesians 2:1).

5. As being Satan's children (John 8:44).

III. How God's KINDNESS IS SHOWN IN CHRIST JESUS.

1. It is in Christ meritoriously (Ephesians 1:3).

2. God's kindness to us flows through His kindness to Christ (Ephesians 1:6).

3. Given to us through Christ (Romans 6:23).

4. Dispensed by Christ (Acts 5:31).

5. As Christ includes all God's kindnesses (Colossians 3:11).

IV. THE REASON FOR SHOWING THESE RICHES.

1. Because God's nature is love (1 John 4:8).

2. To exalt man, His chief creature (Titus 3:4).

3. And for His own glory (Psalm 106:8).Inferences:

1. There is no cause of boasting in ourselves (Romans 3:27).

2. Meditate frequently on God s kindness and grace (Isaiah 63:7).

3. Prize that gospel that reveals this great kindness (Romans 1:16).

4. Pray truly to believe it (Mark 16:16).

(T. B. Baker.)

There is a story of Mithridates, a celebrated king in Asia, which illustrates this part of our subject very well. This king became interested in an old musician who had taken part in the music performed at a feast in the royal palace. On awaking one morning, this old man saw the tables in his house covered with vessels of silver and gold; a number of servants were standing by, who offered him rich garments to put on, and told him there was a horse standing at the door for his use, whenever he might wish to ride. The old man thought it was only a dream he was having. But the servants said it was no dream at all. It was a reality. "What is the meaning of it?" asked the astonished old man. "It means this," said the servant, "the king has determined to make you a rich man at once. And these things that you see are only a small part of what he has given you. So please use them as your own." At last he believed what they told him. Then he put on the purple robe, and mounted the horse; and as he rode along, he kept saying to himself, "All these are mine! All these are mine!"

(D. L. Moody.)

Men fail because they try to do too large a business on too small a capital. So with Christians; but God has grace enough and capital enough. What would you think of a man who had one million dollars in the bank, and only drew out a penny a day? That is like you and me; and the sinner is even blinder than we are. The throne of grace is established, and there we are to obtain all the grace we need. Sin is not so strong as the arm of God. He will help and deliver you, if you will come and procure the grace you need.

(D. L. Moody.)

Rowland Hill tells a story of a rich max and a poor man of his congregation. The rich man came to Mr. Hill with a sum of money which he wished to give to the poor man, and asked Mr. Hill to give it to him as he thought best, either all at once or in small amounts. Mr. Hill sent the poor man a five pound note with the endorsement — "More to follow." Every few months came the remittance, with the same message — "More to follow." Now that is grace. "More to follow" — yes, thank God, there is more to follow. Oh, wondrous grace!

(D. L. Moody.)

There is something very impressive and admirable in that long look ahead which distinguished the worthies of old. None ever lived so sympathetically in the present as they did. None ever lived so far away from the present, and so far ahead of it, as they did. They fed their Souls upon the visions of ages to come.

1. We need just such a forelooking. The condition of the human race as it now exists is not a theme for pleasurable meditation. To those who believe in the moral government of God and in the active administration of affairs in this world and in nature by the Divine mind, the actual condition of the race seems inexplicable.

2. The condition of the Church itself leads one to rebound from the present, and to seek comfort in looking into "the ages to come."

3. Our knowledge of God in the present state of things, with all that has been done to winnow the wheat from the chaff, is exceedingly incomplete and unsatisfying.

4. The "ages to come," will reveal a personal experience in us of which now we have but the very faintest trace in analogy.

(H. W. Beecher.)

We are quite certain that what we are cannot be the end of God's design. When I see a block of marble half chiselled with just perhaps a hand peeping out from the rock, no man can make me believe that that is what the artist means it should be. And I know I am not what God would have me to be, because I feel yearnings and longings within myself to be infinitely better, infinitely holier and purer, than I am now. And so it is with you; you are not what God means you to be; you have only just begun to be what He wants you to be. He will go on with His chisel of affliction, using wisdom and the graving tool together, till by and by it shall appear what you shall be for; you shall be like Him, and you shall see Him as He is. Oh! what comfort this is for our faith, that from the fact of our vitality and the tact that God is at work with us, it is clear, and true and certain, that our latter end shall be increased. I do not think that any man yet has ever got an idea of what a man is to be. We are only the chalk crayon, rough drawings of men; yet when we come to be filled up in eternity, we shall be marvellous pictures, and our latter end indeed shall be greatly increased.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We cannot at present form a conception of perfection in the elements which constitute character. You never can tell what the ripe is from looking at the green. If an unknown seed be brought to you, and you plant it in the ground, and it sprout, and grow for five years, only throwing out leaves, and for five years more, still only throwing out leaves, can you tell how its blossoms are going to look? You never saw them. The tree is a new one. You have seen the root, the leaves, and the bark, and you have cut into the wood; you know its habits for the first ten years; you know when its leaves appear in the spring, and when they fall off in the autumn; you know everything about it as far as it has gone during those ten years; but you cannot guess whether its blossoms are white or yellow. You cannot tell whether they will hang in racemes, or rise up in circles. You cannot tell whether they will stand out in spikes, or be pendant. You cannot tell whether they will be early or late. You cannot, if the shrub or tree be unknown, find out the prophecy of the blossoms. But at last the blossom comes out. Now tell me what that blossom is going to produce. Look at it. Is it going to put forth a pod, or is it going to be a fruit? Is it going to be a seed, or luscious food? You cannot tell from a blossom what the fruit is going to be, except by analogues; and I am now supposing a new plant of which there has been no congener within your knowledge, and that you are attempting, from a lower state, to conceive of the higher. Now, in regard to human beings, there is nothing in the unripe state of the mind which is a fair interpretation of what ripeness in it is going to be. You could never have told, except by seeing it, what the human reason was competent to do. Consider the force of reason, by which the whole physical universe is being now unbarred; by which the most distant orbs are being searched, weighed, analyzed; by which we are unwrapping the sun, and taking off coat after coat; by which we know more about the sun itself than oftentimes men do of the province in which they live on earth. What an education! What an outstretch of thought! What development of the reasoning, searching power of the mind! Who Could have suspected it in the days of barbarism? No man could then have told that. And who now can fortell what new development the human reason is capable of? As from the lower stages you could not suspect the higher, so from the present stages you cannot anticipate those which are yet to come. Now we think; but in the higher forms of thinking there is the intuition, the jump, as it were, the flash of thought, with which our present thinking is not to be compared. We call it intuition, we call it inspiration, we call it names; but names are not things. There is evidently the hint of a wondrous disclosure of power in the direction of reason "in the ages to come." We do not see it here. We cannot know it. We can only know what is the perpetual suggestion of it. Says the apostle St. John: "We are the sons of God; but it doth not yet appear what we shall be."

(H. W. Beecher.)

The kindness of God in Christ Jesus is a phrase expressive of the manner in which grace operates. His grace is in His kindness. Grace may be shown among men in a very ungracious way, but God's grace clothes itself in kindness, as well in the time as in the mode of its bestowment. What kindness in sending His grace so early to Ephesus, and in converting such men as now formed its Church! Oh! He is so kind in giving grace, and such grace, to so many men, and of such spiritual demerit and degradation; so kind as not only to forgive sin, but even to forget it (Hebrews 8:12); so kind, in short, us not only by His grace to quicken us, but in the riches of His grace to raise us up, and in its exceeding riches to enthrone us in the heavenly places in Christ! And all the grace in this kindness shown in the first century is a lesson even to the nineteenth century. What God did then, He can do now and will do now; and one reason why He did it then was to teach the men of the present age His ability and desire to repeat in them the same blessed process of salvation and life.

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

During the ministry of the Rev. Ralph Erskine at Dunfermline a man was executed for robbery, whom he repeatedly visited in prison, and whom he attended on the scaffold. Mr. Erskine addressed both the spectators and the criminal, and after concluding his speech he laid his hands on his breast, uttering these words — "But for restraining grace I had been brought, by this corrupt heart, to the same condition with this unhappy man."

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