A Commentary by John Stott
Ephesians 1:11-14. c). God’s people live for God’s glory.
From the question of *how* we became God’s people, we now turn to the question of *why* God made us his people, and so from his will to his glory. We saw earlier how three times Paul alluded to ‘the purpose of his will’ or something similar. Now we have to see that three times he alludes also to God’s glory. He writes that God destined us to be his children *to the praise of his glorious grace* (5-6); that he made us his heritage and appointed us to live for the *praise of his glory* (verse 12); and that one day he will finally redeem his people who are his possession, *to the praise of his glory* (verse 14).
This beautiful phrase needs to be unpacked. The glory of God is the revelation of God, and the glory of his grace is his self-disclosure as a gracious God. To live to the praise of the glory of his grace is both to worship him ourselves by our words and deeds as the gracious God he is, and to cause others to see and to praise him too. This was God’s will for Israel in Old Testament days (e.g. Is.43:21; Je. 13:11), and it is also his purpose for his people today. I myself shall always be grateful to one of my former colleagues at All Souls Church, who when he left our staff team for other work gave me a paperknife for my desk, having first had engraved on it the words ‘To the praise of his glory’. It lies before me as I write, and is a permanent reminder and challenge.
Here then are the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of God’s people, who are also his ‘heritage’ and his ‘possession’, *How* did we become his people? Answer: ‘According to the good pleasure of his will.’ *Why* did he make us his people? Answer: ‘For the praise of the glory of his grace.’ Thus everything we have and are in Christ both comes from God and returns to God. It begins in his will and ends in his glory. For this is where everything begins and ends.
Yet such Christian talk comes into violent collision with the man-centredness and self-centredness of the world. Fallen man, imprisoned in his own little ego, has an almost boundless confidence in the power of his own will, and an almost insatiable appetite for the praise of his own glory. But the people of God have at least begun to be turned inside out. The new society has new values and new ideas. For God’s people are God’s possession who live by God’s will and for God’s glory.
Tomorrow: Ephesians 1:15-23. 2). A prayer for knowledge.
|The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Ephesians. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.|