Carried So Far

I run regularly as part of my plan to be physically and mentally fit. Typically I’ll run a route somewhere around the communities near my home. If I’m going to run five miles, I run a route that is five miles long, with long stretches in one direction. Recently I ran a high school track with a friend, something I hadn’t done in years. Aside from the relational component, I missed something about this run. What I realized was that running in circles wasn’t as mentally fulfilling somehow as running one long route. There’s personally something rewarding about looking far ahead to a marker a mile or more in the distance, and then chasing it down rather than repeating the same 100 yards or so. Sometimes I’ll look back and think, I was way back there. Look at where I am now!

There’s this incredible passage in the incredible book of the Bible, Ephesians, that leaped out at me this morning with a reminder of the progress of our salvation. I read this and thought, I was way back there! Look at where I am now! Now there are two really big differences between this and my running. First, the distance between where I was and where I am is immeasurable. Second, I didn’t run the distance but was carried it.

Ephesians 2 begins reminding us that before our salvation we were dead in sin. I was trapped by an evil power outside of me as well as the sinful nature within me. My destination was damnation. Extreme? That’s the biblical truth. I was somehow both responsible for my own sin and incapable of doing anything about it. Hopeless. That’s where I was.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
[4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So here’s what I did: I sinned and failed. In the story of my life, I was doomed to be a villain, not the hero. If there was anything heroic about my life it was simply that by comparison in a world of rebels against God I looked less rebel-ish than some others. Make no mistake though, I was spiritually dead, separated from God, and doomed to remain that way.

But God… But God! Because of who he is– rich in mercy and great in love– God intervened. Here are three powerful action words in the Greek this was written in. God made us alive together, raised us together, and seated us together with Christ Jesus.

  1. Made us alive. Each of these three Greek verbs has a prefix meaning “together with” so all three are something God does for us together with Christ. First, while we were dead, God made us alive together with Christ!
  2. Raised us up. Like God raised Jesus from the dead, he raised us up spiritually from our dead nature.
  3. Seated us with Christ. This refers to the Psalm 110:1, which the New Testament references more than any other Old Testament verse. Usually, it’s to point out that Jesus is enthroned as King over all. Here, amazingly, it’s to remind us that we are included in his great victory over the evil enemy we’d lost to and been enslaved by.

So I look back today to remember, I was way back there! Look at where I am now! Thank you, Jesus, for the salvation that you’ve achieved for me from beginning to end. You’ve carried me so far.

 

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