Paul prays, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). Rooted and grounded are agricultural and building terms that describe Paul’s desire for us to know God personally.
Ephesians 1-3 lays out the plan of salvation as fulfilled in the history of Jesus. Paul taught that our salvation is complete in the doing and dying of Jesus, not in our works (Ephesians 2:1-8). Our works are the result of accepting the salvation already won for us in Jesus (Ephesians 2:9-10). Paul confirms this by stating that the mystery of salvation is that it includes the Gentile world who do not yet know or believe in God (Ephesians 3:1-7).
Yet God cannot save us by simply excusing sin and making us better people (morality is good, but it’s not the gospel). That would make Him unjust. His law, the transcript of His character, says: “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name is vain,” that is he who violates God’s character of love, of which we are all guilty (Romans 3:23). Since no human can stand innocent before God’s holy law, God saves us “in Christ” (Revelation 5:1-6; Romans 3:24).
Christ, as a man, met the positive demands of the law that all mankind has failed to meet.
Christ’s incarnation qualified Him to be the Representative and Substitute for humanity. When Christ became one with us, He became the second Adam, the new head of humanity (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). Then, by His perfect life, Christ, as a man, met the positive demands of the law that all mankind has failed to meet. By His sacrificial death, Christ satisfied the justice of the law and died the death that we deserved to die. Christ met the requirements of the law and took the penalty of violating it. Now, in Christ, mankind has a new history. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we stand justified by faith in Him. We receive the perfect history of Christ’s life and death as ours. This gift motivates us to live for Him. We love Him because He first loved us, and because we love Him, we keep His commandments (1 John 4:19; John 14:15; Revelation 14:12).
This is the good news of the gospel, the mystery of salvation that includes the Gentile world. It’s only possible because of God’s selfless love, the root and ground of our salvation. Amen.