To the Praise of His Glory
To the Praise of His Glory
In the middle of the Ephesian letter, the Holy Spirit says, “Therefore... walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (4:1). This is an exhortation based on what was said in the previous chapters. It s imperative that one grasp not only why one should walk worthily, but equally vital is the importance of understanding what this “calling” is all about. Who is calling us? From where have we been called? Where is the destination of this calling? How generous or merciful is the calling, and what is at stake when we do not heed this call?
Where we came from: Ephesians 2:1-3,11-12
· We were spiritually dead in our sins (2:1); not only alienated from God, but often alienated from others – dead and unhappy in our relationships.
· Blindly following the call of the world (2:1), we were characterized by disobedience, living not only in a self-imposed ignorance (4:17-18), but often angry, hardened, calloused, and insensitive (4:17-19).
· We were dominated by lust (2:3) that not only dictated commands to the body, but equally controlled the thoughts (2:3). When I see this verse I am reminded of former friends, my former self, or television and radio shows that seemingly cannot have an intelligent conversation without somehow connecting everything back to something immoral.
· By our own admittance, we were souls who deserved to experience the wrath of God (2:3; 5:6).
Where this call has led us: Ephesians 1:3
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”
· Notice the past tense, “has blessed us with”. If one is a Christian, then this is what one presently possesses in this life. One has “every spiritual blessing”. Some of these blessings will be mentioned in the verses that follow:
1. Upon baptism, we were adopted into God’s family (1:5), becoming an actual son of God.
2. We are the recipients of God’s grace (1:6), which has been freely bestowed (1:6) and richly lavished upon us(1:7-8).
3. Also received, is redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of
our sins (1:7).
4. He has made known His will to us; He has given us the Scriptures that give us all truth, everything necessary for godly living, so that we are equipped for every situation (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and able to always discern the difference between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
5. We have an inheritance in heaven (1:11).
6. We have already been given many spiritual blessings, as a down payment, in anticipation of heavenly splendor (1:13-14).
7. Even though we still live on this earth and are surrounded by a culture that is not supportive of God’s plan or will, we have been allowed to mentally occupy the spiritual realm (1:3). God has liberated us from such things as our sins and, as a result, we are allowed, and granted permission, to dispense with thoughts of guilt, worry or fear, and are given the privilege to mentally dwell on other things (Philippians 4:8).
8. Even though other Christians are not perfect, in the body of Christ, we are allowed to experience a little bit of heaven in how we love one another (4:2), in our own personal growth (4:11-13), liberation from error (4:15), involvement in activities that matter (4:16), and in the quality of our human relationships (5:22ff). We now occupy a spiritual plane where we serve, love, commune with God, and do battle (6:12).
The Plan: 1:4
· The plan was to place all blessings “in Christ” (1:3). This relationship is also known as “the body” (5:23) and “the church” (1:22-23).
· Before God created the world (1:4) it was decided that Jesus would die for the sins men and women would commit, and that those who chose to get into Christ would obtain this forgiveness.
· It was also decided that those in Christ would be holy and blameless (1:4).
Holy and Blameless: 1:4
Even before I became a Christian, I had heard that Jesus came to this earth and died for my sins. I also knew that there were various individuals who had dedicated their lives to God and the spreading of this message. What I did not fully realize was that God expected me to be holy and blameless as well – that not only must I be holy and blameless, but Ican actually live this way, consistently, for the rest of my life! Being holy and blameless is the same thing as walking worthily of the calling (4:1).
· At this point one reaction a sinner might have is, “God, I think you might have the wrong guy!” “You want me to be holy and blameless, but I have issues, I have been involved in habitual sins, I’ve got problems, I’m a mess!”
· One might even be tempted to think that we know ourselves better than God knows us. Yet, the people to whom this letter was originally addressed had issues as well! They were sinners and trespassers (2:1), habitual sinners (2:2), people will longstanding and engrained sinful habits and sinful images and attitudes that had been well-burned into their minds (2:3). Their minds were accustomed to wandering freely and their bodies had often been given to all sorts of instant gratification. Not only that, they had not been raised by Christian or godly parents (2:11-12).
· Yet these are the very people that are commanded to be holy and blameless (1:4), living in a manner worthy of the gospel message (4:2) patient, forbearing, sacrificing (4:2-3), honest (4:25), in control of their anger (4:26), and spending habits, hard working (4:28), and kind with their words (4:29), to the point that they are a hardy spiritual warrior (6:10ff). Honestly, I am amazed by what God believes I am capable of thinking and doing.
“To the praise of His glory”: 1:6
· This expression is found three times in this chapter (1:6,12,14), and in at least one of the verses (1:12) the expectation is that, if I am a Christian, then my life is to be to the praise of His glory. This expression can be interpreted as, “Be devoted to the extolling of His glorious attributes” (Wey). “To manifest His glory” (Knox). “Should cause His glory to be praised” (NEB). “Man must look beyond his own selfish view of his life and try to understand that he was created by God and for God, not primarily for himself” (Caldwell p. 38). “God is honored in the presence of human beings and angelic powers when men and women, redeemed from sin, live in accordance with His will and display the family likeness which stamps them as His children” (Bruce p. 264). I am just awed by the thought that God actually thinks I can achieve such excellence.
· I know I can give up drinking, but God expects more, He believes I can actually be a spiritual person (5:18).
· I know am to stay married, but God believes I can actually be a sacrificing, noble, and loving husband (5:28).
· I know I can support my family, but God believes I can be generous to others as well (4:28) and, more importantly, be the spiritual leader of my family (6:4).
· I know I am supposed to work, but God believes I can work at even the most mundane job while having a good attitude in the process (6:6-7).
· I know I can believe and be baptized, but God believes I can become a great spiritual warrior (6:10-18).
· I know I can become a Christian and have some involvement in a congregation, but God actually expects, and believes, I can become a spiritually minded, mature Christian (4:16) who is actually holy (4:24)!
· Chapter one gives us God’s eternal plan.
· Chapter two reveals that all barriers have been removed, including our sins and the Law, so nothing prevents us from living “to the praise of His glory”.
· Chapter three informs us that God’s plan to save the godless Gentiles (us) was not a last minute idea, but was well-planned and is part of God’s eternal purpose (3:10-11).
I know that God is aware that many sinners will doubt their ability to change to the level that God expects us change. I know this because of the following verses:
· “And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (1:19).
· “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (3:20).
Thus, one of the most fantastic things about the gospel is not only the miracles of Christ or the resurrection, for we know that God can do that – but what God believes that we can become is also amazing!
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017