God, in His wisdom, has chosen to glorify Himself through saving sinners. This is wonderful news! The following is a post I wrote several months back as I was studying through Ephesians. Since this is one of my favorite topics, I thought I would repost it here. I’d love to here your thoughts on it.
There are some major, overarching themes in Ephesians that are fantastic and empowering when we take some time and examine them. I’m not going to examine them all in detail in this post, but we’ll take a look at a few of them.
- God’s glory (majesty, holiness, apart-ness). – Eph. 1:6, 12, 14
- God’s wisdom in working His plan and purpose. – Eph 1:5, 8, 9, 11
- God’s love for His children and the blessings we have in Christ. – Eph. 1:3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13-14, 19
In looking at these verses and themes, if you pull any of them out of context or out of the whole and base your doctrine or theology on those, you could run into one of a couple of ditches.
You could end up thinking that God is all about you or us as humans. This theology focuses on God’s blessings toward us and thinks that God exists to bless and make much of us. God is all about making you feel good, making you successful, blessing you with a great job or lots of material things. Some things you might hear people who believe this way say are:
- “Just look at all the riches we have in Him.”
- “I’m a child of the King, therefore I deserve this or that.”
- “We are blessed with blessings in the heavenlies.”
- “See God’s love for you. He would never let anything bad happen to you. It’s not his will.”
When God is all about you, you are all about you and everyone else should be all about you also. When this is your attitude, if you don’t get your way, you get angry at the people around you and upset with God because He didn’t give you what you wanted or “deserve.” Of course we would never say this is what we believe, but our actions, or rather reactions, when we don’t get what we want sometimes prove otherwise.
In this ditch God is always and ONLY about Himself and never involves us at all. He is a distant force that does whatever He wants with no regard for His creation. You don’t really pray much because you don’t want to bother Him with your petty little life and problems. In this way of thinking God becomes a cold, heartless dictator. Some of the thinking that accompanies this theology are:
- “I’m a loser.”
- “I’m worthless.”
- “I’m nothing at all.”
The Glory Cycle
There is a biblical balance here. God is about God, to be sure! Yet in His wisdom, glory, and grace He has chosen to glorify Himself by saving and adopting sinners. This is really Good News! This has been His plan all along. If you are a believer in Christ, God initiated the whole process. You can see this all throughout Ephesians and especially in chapter 1.
- God created you. – Ps. 139:13-16
- God came to you in Christ knowing that we are hopeless without a Savior. – John 1:11-14, 29
- God died for you. – 1 Cor. 15:3-4, Rom. 5:8
- God drew you to Christ through the Holy Spirit. – John 6:44
- God gave you the faith to believe. – Eph 2:8-9
- God saved you. – Eph. 2:4-5
- God made you a new creation. – 2 Cor. 5:17
- God holds on to you. – Rom. 8:39, John 10:27-29
- God began, sustains, and completes your salvation. – Phil. 1:6
- God will glorify you. – Rom. 8:30
This is how God has decided to glorify Himself. We get to be caught up in this glory-cycle! We are the benefactors of God’s self-glorification. Yes, we are sinful, wicked, rebellious, and pitiful AND yes, He has chosen to lavish His love on us, giving us His riches, and through adoption making us heirs with Christ of a glorious inheritance.
Any pride that you and I may have in ourselves because we are saved or we know the Bible or we’re moral people is absolutely sinful and a slap in the face of Christ. We are saved by Him. We desire to know Him through His Word and live a life that pleases Him ONLY because He has placed His Spirit within us, made us alive, and given us those desires. A prideful Christian is an oxymoron. If we have a boast it is only in Christ’s power and our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 6:14).
Don’t focus so much on God’s blessings that you forget why He saved you in the first place. Don’t focus so much on God’s sovereignty that you forget that He does love you and calls you His own.