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Glorious Grace.

Text: Ephesians 1:6  

In this study we are going to look at a word frequently spoken by Christians. GLORY! No wonder too, – when I searched ‘glory’ in an online Bible programme, the word occurs 619 times – right throughout the scriptures. In this passage, this long sentence of Paul’s extending from verse three to verse fourteen in chapter one of Ephesians, it occurs three times, in V6, 12and 14. In every case the Apostle speaks of glory and praise in the same breath, but there are three different contexts, we are to praise his glory for redeeming us, we are to praise his glory in the outworking of that salvation in our lives and that when we claim our inheritance in heaven, it will be to the praise of his glory. This phrase ‘to the praise of his glory’ then covers our whole lifespan and well beyond. From our election in eternity past to our future in the new heaven and earth, – everything about us is ‘To the praise of His glory.’ That must be important enough to warrant a study on its own.  

1. What on Earth is GLORY?

The first thing we learn about ‘Glory’ is that it is extremely difficult to define! In Hebrew the word is ‘Kabod’ and in Greek, ‘δόξα’ (Doxa) – like in ‘doxology.’ It could be literally translated ‘fame.’  Here’s a good definition from John Piper: “…the glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of his manifold perfections.” Manifold there means “many.” Let’s think about how God’s glory is expressed in the Word. Glory is:-

  • A designation for God. Apparently, when you meet the king (I never will!) You must first bow, and greet him as ‘Your Majesty’ before you can then revert to ‘sir.’ 2 Peter 1:17  God is named here as ‘The Excellent Glory.’ That’s not God’s name, it’s a form of address.It applies to all three persons of the Trinity: Father. Ephesians 1:17  Son. James 2:1  Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 4:14  
  • An attribute of God. While I’ve said that ‘glory’ describes the wholeness of the greatness of God, it is sometimes used as a reference to one of the characteristics of God. Psalm 24:7 -10 Ephesians 1:17  
  • The presence of God.  I’m concerned about an excess of emotionalism, or some kind of extra-biblical experience, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. God does presence himself among us and we are moved by his presence. Ephesians 3:16 (we are experiential Calvinists – not unfeeling doctrinal automatons – our doctrine excites us and motivates and stimulate our praise). READ Exodus 13-14, 1 Kings 8:10-11 John 1:14, Revelation 15:8 So ‘glory’ can be used in relation to the worship of the gathered church, meeting with the Lord’s promised presence. 2 Corinthians 3:18  
  • The revelation of God.
    • In nature.  God’s greatness, power and majesty is exhibited to all of mankind in the works that he has created. God revealing himself to all mankind, so that they would know that there is a God, seek him, and be without excuse, should they reject him. Psalm 19:1  Romans 1:20-21  And that includes the creation of mankind, in God’s own image, – to manifest his glory, and live in his presence, to glorify God and enjoy his presence forever. 
    • In Christ. He is God with us, and at his birth the angels sang, Luke 2:14 In his resurrection, Romans 6:4  
  • A description of our future.
    • Our future home. If glory can be used as a description of being in the presence of God, then surely the supreme experience of that will be when we arrive in heaven, to dwell forever in the new heaven and new earth, which God will re-create, after this world has been burned up in the fire of God’s judgement. Hebrews 2:10  
    • Our future redemption. Remember that when Jesus came into this world at Bethlehem, he came as a baby, in dee poverty and humility. When he returns, as we are promised he will, he will come in glory! Matthew 25:31 
    • Our future condition. On resurrection day, we will be raised with new bodies, like the resurrection body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-43  

Now, you my think that we’ve included a lot of Bible references, but we have only skimmed the surface. The Bible is brimming with references to the wonderful Glory of God, – his majesty, power and greatness, demonstrated in his interaction with and revelation to mankind in general, and Christians in particular.  But we are not finished…

2. God’s Glory is Perfectly Expressed in His GRACE Toward Sinners.

Note well that this verse begins with the word ‘To.’  This is not a stand-alone verse, it is not even a sentence, just a phrase in a much longer sentence – it is inseparable from the verses that precede it and with those that follow it. In love God moved to choose a people to be his, – people whom he would elect and redeem through Christ, his son, and adopt into his family. He would do that ‘in Christ’ – by clothing them in the righteousness of his sinless Son. The entire purpose of this, would be, says Paul here, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE

God’s glory is demonstrated to the highest degree in his grace toward lost sinners. That’s what grace means, it is unearned, unmerited favour. No-one will be in heaven without Jesus, no-one will be able to boast, “I did it my way” or “I got here on my own” or “I am here because of my goodness, my charity, my helpfulness, my kindness, my humanitarianism,” or “I deserve to be here.” None of us are worthy, none of us are acceptable before God, we are sinners deserving only of condemnation. Ecclesiastes 7:20  But God in his mercy sent his son, to die for unworthy sinners, to take their place and bear their punishment, so that they could be saved, made “Accepted in the beloved,” made righteous before God, by being ‘in Christ’ – and he does it that way, so that all the glory goes to Him, and not to any one of us. 1 Corinthians 1:29 Isaiah 42:8  It is all to the glory of God alone.

So, in this lesson we have explored a very difficult subject – a subject that deals with the wonder of God himself, his supreme being, his grace, his praise, his GLORY, and we have learned how it relates to us, as individuals as sinners who are the subjects of his saving grace! To God be the Glory, great things he has done!

© Bob McEvoy 2023

One Comment
  1. Harvey Cross permalink

    When Martyn Lloyd-Jones was dying, because of his medical backgrpund, I suppose, he was reported to have said, “Don’t keep me back from the glory!”

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