Have you ever felt like you might not make it? Have you ever experienced a season of doubt? Are you in the middle of a struggle that seems to be defining your very existence? Do you feel like you are losing that struggle? These seasons of life are as sure as taxes and death. We all endure times of discontent, suffering, battles, and doubt. It is a common experience for all believers. However, at times knowing that others have endured the same thing does not bring much comfort. No matter how many people come along to offer counsel and support, your conflict, depression, suffering, whatever it may be, does not lift. The struggle goes deeper than camaraderie. It strikes at the core of your being, attempting to crack the very foundation of your identity.
Of late, my mind has been circling around Ephesians 2:4-6. It is a well preached and commentated passage. I am certain I will not be adding any new scholarship or application to this verse, but nonetheless, I believe what God has been saying to me merits a mention.
“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,” (ESV)
First, God is rich in mercy. God, throughout his Word, declares his character as being disposed to mercy. The prophet Jonah knew this. Even as God was planning to destroy Nineveh, Jonah knew that if the people of Nineveh repented, God would be merciful (Jonah 4:2). God declared to Moses that he is, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6). And his richest and most complete disclosure of his mercy to mankind was the offering of his Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect and final sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (Hebrews 10:1-8). No matter how you have fallen, how you struggle, how you doubt, God is merciful. He has displayed his mercy to you in Christ Jesus, and he will continue to show you his mercy until that glorious day when his work in you is finished.
Second, his mercy is most fully displayed in that he made us alive in Christ, by his own grace. We were dead. Dead people cannot save themselves. He acted upon us in saving us. He breathed life into us. He regenerated our hearts. He called us to repentance. He adopted us. Our salvation depends entirely upon God’s effectual work in our live. Therefore, my screw-ups, my mistakes, my doubts, my struggles can never move me away from his calling. No matter what, I am still called, I am still adopted. I am still his. Do not believe the doubts, the accusations, the propaganda that the enemy whispers in your ears. You and I are works in progress that have a guarantee for completion (Philippians 1:6).
Finally, we are already there. What? How can that be? How can I be here, and there at the same time? Honestly, I cannot explain it. But here it is, plain as day, God is declaring to you and me that he has already seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You know what that means? That means you and I have already won. We have already been seated among the winners. We have already taken our place as champions. This is why you and I will persevere. This is why you and I will endure. Because we are already there. We cannot fail. The implications for this horizontal life we live are vast. Every challenge, every mistake, every battle, every victory, every setback, every season, every depression, every confession, every relationship, everything, everything, everything happens in the context of our coming V-Day when both present realities – the heavenly and the earthly – become one.
How does this glorious knowledge affect your present state? How does it change your point of view in the valley? Every valley, every mountaintop, every season of life in this present earthly reality are simultaneously intertwined with the present heavenly reality. Do we make mistakes? Do we still sin? Of course. However, it does not change this fact. You and I are victors in Christ. It is a present fact, not some distant, not yet realized reality in the future. God has already seated us in heavenly places with Christ. Therefore you and I will not fail!