But God Being Rich in Mercy
Psalm 136 repeats the line in the King James Version, “For His mercy endureth forever.” It is this attribute of God that is manifest in our redemption that is highlighted here. After explaining in the last three verses just how hopeless our situation is in and of ourselves, how we are by nature children of wrath, Paul now turns to the only remedy available for us—God’s mercy. And God doesn’t only have some mercy but is rich in mercy, and this mercy is founded upon “the great love with which He loved us.” Because He is rich in mercy, He refuses to give us what we deserve—death and hell—and instead acts out of His great love to save us there from. And please note that it is the great love of the Father that is spoken of here—not of the Son or Holy Spirit (who, of course, also love us)—but of the Father. I say this: 1) because it is the love of the Father that put the plan of salvation into motion (e.g., John 3:16), and 2) because even Christian people do not realize that He is the Father who loves us.
And this love of the Father was operative for us “even when we were dead in our trespasses.” Paul says in another place, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). A few might die for a righteous person, but for sinners?” (Romans 5:7). God’s love sent His Son to do just that. And thereby He “made us alive together with Christ.” Our Father just doesn’t forgive and forget, as wonderful as that is, He “makes us alive again,” emphasizing again the fact that we were dead, whether we knew it or not, and are now alive again, and that “together with Christ” as it is only by union with Christ Jesus that we may thus live. And this being made alive again is predicated upon two things: 1) God’s grace. Paul has just spoken of God’s mercy whereby He refuses to give us what we deserve; now he speaks of God’s grace whereby He gives us what we did not deserve, and that is, 2) raising us to this new life with Christ whereby the Father has even seated us with Himself in the Son. In other words, in some mysterious yet real way, even now believers are seated by the Father in Christ Jesus, having been raised with Christ such that we are joined to and united with him even in his session with the Father.
These are amazing graces that the Father has bestowed upon us: present resurrection to new life seated by Him in heaven in the Son. And these are neither metaphors nor poetic images. Paul is describing spiritual realities that belong to the one born again of the Spirit, which perfectly depict the present status of the one united to Christ out of the great love of the Father.