|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 7
Meditation Title: A Plan for Added Glory
Eph 1:11,12 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Sometimes it is helpful when approaching Scripture, particularly some of Paul's profound writings, to try to put our already translated text into simple language, which is what the paraphrase-version writer does. So let's have a go at that with these two verses, phrase by phrase.
“In him we were also chosen.” A Bible note suggests an alternative – “In him we were made heirs.” Our version: “God used Jesus as the standard by which we would be chosen to be His heirs, or the receivers of all his goodness.”
“having been predestined to the will of him.” Our version: “This is how God determined, within the way He had decided to work, who would come to Him.”
“him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Our version: “Yes, this is God who works and weaves within everything that happens to bring about the objectives that He has on His heart, His will.”
“in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Our version: “And He did this so that we, who have already come to know Him and put our trust and hope in Christ and his salvation, would actually add praise to the glory that is His already.”
Now let's put it all together: “God used Jesus as the standard by which we would be chosen to be His heirs, or the receivers of all his goodness; this is how God determined, within the way He decided to work, who would come to Him. Yes, this is God who works and weaves within everything that happens to bring about the objectives that He has on His heart, His will. And He did this so that we, who have already come to know Him and put our trust and hope in Christ and his salvation, would actually add praise to the glory that is His already.” It's rather long, but read it again and catch the wonder of what Paul is saying. Now let's pick out some key points in it.
One of the things I believe stands out in these verses is the strength of declaration about God's sovereign will. Paul said we have been ‘predestined' which suggests this is what God determined to do. Paul spoke about God's plan. History isn't random chance. God is working, in the midst of human free will and sin, to bring about specific objectives. As Joseph once saw, very often when we observe the affairs of mankind and no doubt the working of Satan in it all, “You intended …. harm … but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50:20). God is working for a purpose.
The second thing that stands out in two simple phrases in Paul's words – “in him” and “in Christ” – is that this plan, as executed, is all about Jesus. Jesus is the ‘measuring stick' if you like, that God uses to assess those who He will forgive and accept. If we accept and receive Jesus, we show we have understood our plight and also the wonder of God's way of dealing with that plight. When that becomes clear, then God declares us forgiven, righteous and His adopted children, and He puts His Holy Spirit within us. But Christ is not only the ‘measuring stick' to ‘assess' us that God uses, he is also the focus for us, the one who shows us God's love and God's means of salvation, and therefore the one who provides hope for us.
The third and final thing that stands out in these two verses, is that the end result is praise for God. Now God already has glory in His very existence. Whenever He is revealed His glory is evident. He IS glorious. Now in simplistic terms we might just say He is wonderful, but whenever that glory is actually seen it is seen as a bright light. He shines, He stands out in all His wonder. So in one sense, He is complete in Himself in who He is, but there is another dimension to be added when humanity is involved and specifically when it is redeemed humanity. Whenever we ‘see' what He has DONE (which is in addition to His existence), then if we see in reality, it WILL evoke praise in us. We've already noted in an earlier meditation that praise is what we give someone for what they have done or achieved. Now when we come to Christ, it becomes obvious (or will as the eyes of our hearts are opened, as Paul goes on to say in verse 18) that God is worthy of our praise and the praise of all the heavenly watchers (as Paul will say in 3:10 ). Praise is an element of salvation. It is a result of salvation and an expression of salvation.
So here we have it, God's sovereign plan, worked out through Jesus that results in our salvation, and that brings praise to God, the natural conclusion to His work which, if you like, proves or confirms it. He is worthy of our praise because of what He has done for us and is doing in us. Praise Him!