To the Praise of His Glory
Text: Eph 1:3-14
B H Carrol in his commentary writes about Ephesians, “It is a letter of exuberant joy. There is not a pessimistic note or tone in it. The circumstances of Paul’s own imprisonment cast no shadow over its glowing pages.”
The joy that is so apparent in the letter to the Ephesians as well as all the other prison epistles is truly remarkable especially because they are prison epistles, letters written while Paul was awaiting trail in Rome. The penalty for his crime was death and though he lived in a rented house, he was never out of sight of a Roman soldier who acted as his guard. Under these circumstances Paul writes this joyful, positive letter to the church he founded in the city of Ephesus.
Paul went to Ephesus on his 2nd missionary journey with Silas from Antioch, this was the journey when he heard the “Macedonia Call” and turned westward with the Gospel rather than eastward, bringing the gospel to Greece and ultimately to Rome through the churches he started there.
Now Paul, the accused, sits in Rome, it has been nearly ten years as he writes to his beloved friends in Ephesus. He wanted to share with these first believers the great truths of Christ and the church and this is his theme throughout the letter, Christ and His Bride the church.
While in Rome Paul was constantly writing letter and meeting with messengers from the churches. Compare with and Philemon to get a better understanding of the historical background. It was here that the runaway slave Onesimus, who had escaped from his master, Philemon, found him. Tychicus, one of the pastors of the church at Colossae, which met in Philemon’s house, came to Rome to meet with Paul. Paul then took advantage of the presence of these two men to send three letters to his friends: the epistle to the Ephesians, the epistle to the Colossians, and the epistle to Philemon. Along with the letter to Philemon, he sent the now saved, Onesimus back to his master.
Ephesians and Philippians are considered twin letters from Paul, both where written from prison, both contain many of the same themes and even share almost the same wording in some verses. Philippians is more personal and deals mainly with Christ and His relationship to the believer, while Ephesians is about Christ and deals mostly with His relationship to the church.
The section we are going to look at today is Ephesians 1:3-14 and begins the epistle with a soaring essay of praise, first to the Father, then the Son and finally to the Spirit.
So as you turn to Ephesians 1:3 can I tell you one of the first jokes my grandfather Van George used to tell? I’m going to tell it anyway so I won’t be asking for a vote. That’s just an example of how to introduce a joke. This joke does have to do with praise though so it fits nicely.
Joke: Preacher and the religious horse.
Back before there were any cars, or bicycles or even any skateboards there was a preacher who needed a horse, but he didn’t have much money. He asked around and finaly found a farmer who was a very good church going man and he had a horse for just a few dollars. When the preacher got to the man’s farm he was shown the horse. It was a good price for a pretty nice, not to old horse but there was one thing wrong, the horse was blind.
“Now brother, the preacher said, “Why would you think I would want to buy a blind horse?”
“Well, preacher, said the farmer, “This is a fine horse, strong, gentle and good responding to the reins cause he’s blind. You be the horse’s eyes and he will carry you everywhere you need to go.”
This made pretty good sense so the preacher bought the horse. As he was getting on the horse to leave, the religious farmer said, “Now preacher, I trained the horse a little different than the others since he was blind. I couldn’t have him starting and stopping whenever anybody called out get up or whoa. So I taught him to start when you say, “Pressing On the Upward Way” if you want him to trot say, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” if you want him to gallop say “ Hallelujah!” and if you want him to jump just say, “Praise The Lord.” If you want him to stop don’t say whoa just say “Amen.”
The preacher thanked the farmer and got ready to leave. “Pressing on the Upward Way” he said and the horse began walking in the way the preacher directed him with the reins. A little further down the road he decided to see what the horse could do he said, Keep you eyes on the prize” and the horse broke into a trot. Then the preacher thought, lets see what you can really do so he called out Hallelujah! And the horse took off like bullet, the preacher could barely hang on. He was going so fast that he couldn’t guide the horse and before too long they were running full speed across a pasture. He called out stop, he called out whoa, he called out Jehoshaphat, but he couldn’t remember how to stop the horse. Up ahead the preacher could see a cliff at the end of the field. He tried every Bible word he could think of but nothing would stop the horse, finally he knew he was going to die, so he bowed his head, closed his eyes and prayed, “Lord, I’m coming home. Amen”
When the horse heard amen, he stopped. The preacher opened his eyes and they were one the very edge of the cliff. The preacher looked toward heaven and at the top of his lungs he shouted, “Praise The Lord.”
Paul writing in prison begins to think of all that God has done for us His children. In the midst of his suffering all he can think of the joy of being in Christ and a child of God. He begins to contemplate on why God has so blessed His children. He comes to the understanding, that our purpose was to be to the praise of his glory.
Praise to the Father - Ephesians 1:3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Selected By God
Paul begins Ephesians begins with a “blessing” in the Hebrew language this was called a Berakah. It was a benediction of praise toward God, Zacharias gives a berakah in Luke 1:68–79, when his mouth is opened after he names his son, John. They are very common in Jewish worship with most meals and services beginning with one. The traditional barakah is “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe” but Paul makes his a praise of God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Something that was much greater that even being king of the universe. God was the Father of Jesus Christ.
Then he gives the reasons that God is to be praised, first he says in we are Blessed In Christ “He has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heavenly place in Christ.”
Then secondly in verses 4, we are Chosen In Christ, “He has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, before time, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love
Third in vs. 5 We have been predestined in Christ. “Having predestined us to the adoption of children.
God elected us to be holy and without blame in Christ and because we are elect in Christ we can now be adopted into God’s family. Adoption in Roman times meant being a new person. You become an heir of the person who adopted you into their family.
Then in vs 6 we are told God’s purpose, “To the Praise of the glory of His grace.”
Our salvation and the blessings of being in Christ are for the purpose of bringing praise to the Glory of His grace.
Selected to Praise the Glory of Grace
What God has done in saving us, electing us, preordaining us is glorious, and praiseworthy. I know this as one who has been blessing in heavenly places in Christ, but as with all things in my relationship to God, knowing it is just the beginning. From the knowledge must come the actions, decisions and goals of my life. One day I will join with all of heaven to praise God’s grace, but it would be so wrong to wait until then.
Who I am and what I do and what I say, should praise the glories of grace right now.
I should be filled with praise, and my life should show praise for I am blessed with the riches of heaven and chosen before time in Christ. I am holy and blameless in God’s sight. I have been made a son of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ. All of this done by the election and foreordination of God my heavenly Father.
I need to get a hold of this. I need to understand this, I was chosen in Him before time began. That means, God who knows all things, also knew all those who would choose and believe in His son Jesus Christ. Based upon that foreknowledge he chose us “in Him.”
I should praise God because this truth means I can’t lose my salvation. God had chosen me before time began. Unless God has made a mistake, that means I cannot be anything but a son of God for all eternity, which is after time ends. If this wasn’t true, then God wouldn’t be God, for he couldn’t know for sure who would get to heaven, since it would depend not on His grace, not on His gift or upon His election of those who choose that gift, but upon my own good works.
(Can’t you just see God with a checklist waiting to see who comes through the gate. “Oh, looks like Kris didn’t make it. That’s too bad I really liked that guy.)
Joke: Baptist preacher preaching on heaven. A friend who was a Methodist preacher comes to the revival. During the service he gets excited and calls out, “If you get there before I do tell ‘em I’m coming too.” The Baptist yells back, “I can’t do it. You might lose your salvation not make it and then they’d throw me out of heaven for being a liar!”
My life should bring praise to him who saved me by his grace, chosen me in Christ and foreordained that I be adopted as His child.
Romans 8:14-15 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, (we shout in praise) Abba, Father.
Illustration: Ben Hur
Do you remember the movie, Ben Hur. Ben Hur once a wealthy and prominent man was arrested by the Romans and sentenced to be a slave rowing a Roman battleship. After a battle Ben Hur saves the commander of the army and is adopted as his son. When he returns to Jerusalem, he in no longer the condemned slave, but a Roman proconsul’s son. The people who accused him, those who sentenced him to death, now could not touch him because he was the son of a ruler, he was a new man through his adoption.
Lew Wallace, the man who wrote Ben Hur, was General in the Union Army and an atheist who set out to prove Christ was not real. His research led him to write the novel. He was adopted as a son of God and the book was his way of praising the glory of God’s grace.
You and I may not write a book but who we are and what we say and the where we go should bring praise from others when they consider God’s glorious grace and what it has done for a sinner such as I.
Transition: Next Paul brings his barakah, his praise to include the Son.
Praise to the Son, Saved- Ephesians 1:7-12
7 In whom (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Saved By The Son
Paul once again gives us the reasons we should praise God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. He says, We have redemption, in Christ
We have forgiveness of sins, in Christ.
We have revelation, in Christ. We now know the mystery of his will
We have an inheritance, In Christ
We have a purpose, In Christ; that we should be to the praise of his glory
Our Purpose in Christ
We have a purpose, in Christ. That purpose, God’s Word says,
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. is to be the praise of His glory.
Everything that we have been blessed with: redemption, forgiveness, revelation, inheritance is for this purpose, that we should bring praise to the glory of God.
This purpose is what we should aspire to, that we live in such a way that others praise God for what he has done, but here I think there is something more than just what I should do. Here it is also about what grace already done, what grace has already accomplished in me.
I have been saved and restored as to be a part of the great Song of Praise first began at creation.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
To the ear of God everything he created makes exquisite music, and man joined in the paean of praise until he fell, then there came in the frantic discord of sin. The realization of redemption brings man by way of the minor note of repentance back into tune with praise again. - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
We will sing that song of praise when we join all the saints in heaven as glimped in Revelation 1:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
My salvation, my being in Christ, saved by Christ, fulfills this purpose, it puts me back into that pantheon of praise. Grace in me, grace in you, grace in this world, makes me a member of that choir because the purpose of salvation is to bring praise to His glory.
Transition: Finally, Paul brings his Berakah, to a close in verse 14 by praise the Spirit of God.
Praise to the Spirit - Ephesians 1:13-14
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Sealed By The Holy Spirit
Paul says we trusted in Jesus Christ after we heard the word of truth, the Gospel, the good news of our salvation. Then after we believed we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
He has sealed us. The Holy Spirit has placed God’s seal upon us, we are marked as God’s possession and we are secured by God’s power and authority. The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise that we are His now and for all eternity.
Even more, the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance. The earnest is the down payment, it is the proof, the promissory note, given us by God our father, of what we will be and what we will have in heaven. The Holy Spirit indwells us and that is proof that God has saved us, and that heaven is ours.
And once again Paul says, “unto the praise of his glory.”
Something to Shout About
We have heard the truth of the Gospel.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15: 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
When we believed the truth, the Holy Spirit sealed us to God.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
The seal as it was used in a Roman market.
That seal cannot be broken until the redemption of the purchased possession. Praise God, we are saved. We are sealed. We belong to God, we are just waiting to be picked up by the angels at death or rise up at the rapture.
And what do we do while we wait to be picked up and take to Glory? You already know. Until then fulfill your purpose as a forgiven, redeemed, adopted and sealed child of God. Praise him! Praise him with your actions, your words, your songs and your life. When others see what God has done and is doing in your life, they also must praise Him.
Illustration: You are God’s Trophy of Grace.
I once had Paul Rose, a missionary to Chile and Peru in our services and I was teaching on Ephesians 1 and the more I taught the more I could see he was getting excited and if you ever met Bro. Rose you know when he got excited everyone knew it. Finally, I said, Bro. Rose you look like you want to add something.” He got a look of joy on his face and he said, “We are trophies of Grace that God puts on His mantel. When other people see us and what God has done in us, they can only think how great His is.”
I will always wish I had thought of that first and put it in my lesson, but I will never forget it once Bro. Paul said it. We are God’s Trophy of Grace. People should praise God when they see what His grace has done in us.