Lesson 6: The Goal of Salvation
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ (4) Just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, (5) having predestinated us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,(6)
to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. (7) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (8 )which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence (9) having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself (10) that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, in Him (11) in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, (12) that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise oh His glory (13) in Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
We have just read the longest sentence in the New Testament (in the original text). And isn’t it interesting that the subject of the longest sentence in the Bible is “an examination of salvation!
We have been working our way through that sentence phrase by phrase (almost word by word) and in doing so we have found that the first part of the sentence gives “the blueprint of salvation” in verses 3 through 6a. The giver of the blueprint is God the Father, as we saw in verses 3 through 5. We talked about the praise that is due him in verse 3a. And then we talked about His provisions in verses 3b through 5. Paul begins with a summary of the provisions in the last part of verse 3. And then he begins giving the specific details of the provisions in verses 4 and 5. Those specifics include “choosing our salvation” in verse 4, and “changing our status” in verse 5.
Now in this chapter we want to think about “the goal of the blueprint” as we find it expressed in verse 6a: “the praise of the glory of His grace.” To fully understand that phrase we have to remember its context – God’s choosing our salvation and changing our status. Now why did God do all of that? “To the praise of the glory of His grace.” In other words, there will come a day in God’s plan when His whole created universe: humans, angels, demons, and all the inhabitants of heaven, praise Him for all he has done for us simply because of His grace. Or, to put it another way, all of the wonderful, glorious things He has done for us are simply because of His grace. As one of the hymn writers put it, “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured there where the blood of the lamb was spilled.”
Now let’s think about “glory” for a minute. Think about the kings and queens and millionaires and billionaires in the history of the world and the lavish almost vulgar, wealth with which they have surrounded themselves. Think about the Egyptian Pharaohs and the inestimable amount of manpower it took to build the pyramids in which they were buried. Not until the past century or two was the huge treasure trove of gold, silver, ivory, jade, and other precious gems and metals discovered. And in recent decades the wealth of other ancient nations has been unearthed as well. These are just bear just a slight resemblance to the glories of our God. But all of that earthly glory is nothing to be compared to the magnificence of heavenly glory.
For example, look at Exodus 34: 29 and 30:
Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hands when he came down from the mountain) that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (30) So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”
God spoke to Moses in His personal presence, and it was so full of glory that Moses’ face glowed just because of the “left over” glory! We can get another little example of heavenly glory by looking at Isaiah 6: 1 and 2:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne,
high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. (2) above
it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face,
with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried out
to another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full
of His glory. And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him
who cried out and the house was filled with smoke.
Yet another example of heavenly glory is found in the description of the glory of the earthly temple in Jerusalem which God allowed Solomon to build. Look at I Kings 6:19-23:
And he prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple, to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. (20) The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and twenty cubits high. He overlaid it with pure gold and he overlaid the altar of cedar. (21) So Solomon overlaid the inside of the sanctuary with pure gold. He stretched gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary and he overlaid it with gold until he had finished all the temple; also he overlaid with gold the entire altar that was by the inner sanctuary.
Then in Revelation 4 1:-11 we read:
After these things I looked and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying “come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this.” (2) Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold a throne was set in heaven and One sat upon the throne. And he who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance emerald. Around the throne were 24 thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty four elders sitting, clothed in white; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the thrones proceeded lightening, thunderings and voices. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.
But coming back to Ephesians chapter 1 again, look carefully at this phrase in verse 6 –
“to the praise of the glory of – what? His grace.” You see, in spite of the glory of God expressed in his temple on the earth and in His throne room in heaven, the greatest expression of the glory of God is in His grace to you and me and all of His other children. Because the essence of grace is to take something useless and broken and turn it into something that reveals His glory.
About a year ago a sweet, relatively young wife and mother who had been a member of our church went home to be with the Lord. And at her funeral several of her friends told about her uncanny ability to take a broken lamp or belt buckle or tattered chair or picture frame and turn it into a piece of artwork, much of which was used in prominent places in the decor of her home. And as I heard those stories I was reminded of God’s grace in what He can do in broken human lives.
The Apostle Paul’s description of this concept is in I Corinthians 1:26-31:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the
flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen
the foolish things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty;
and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised God
has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that
are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of Him you are in Christ
Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification
and redemption; that, as it is written, that, as it is written, “Let him who
glories, glory in the Lord.”
There is an interesting story tied in with these verses. As you may know, Queen Victoria of England in the 18th century was a devout Christian. On one occasion she was talking with one of her spiritual advisors about this passage and she said she loved this verse because it reminded her that she was saved by an “M”. The surprised pastor was perplexed, until the queen explained that verse 26 doesn’t say “not ANY noble” are called, it says not “M”any noble. . .” These are not very positive descriptions are they? “Foolish things,” “weak things”, “base things,” “things which are despised” “things which are nothing.” But if you sometimes feel this way about yourself, God has you right where He wants you!
But the best illustration of all is Jesus Christ Himself. Think about 2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich,
yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be
Or think about Romans 5: 7-11
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man
some would dare to die. But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, having been
Justified by His blood, we shall saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we
were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much
more, having been reconciled we shall saved by His life.
Again, going back to Ephesians 1:6, the second part of the verse says “by which He has made us accepted in the beloved.” You and I are “weak”, despised” “nothings” in the words of 1st Corinthians 1:28. But, by God’s grace, we have become the dwelling place of God! Our human minds can hardly comprehend this truth.
God’s dwelling place was first on earth with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Later it was in the tabernacle in the wilderness as He led His people to the Promised Land. Later it was in the fabulously beautiful temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, then in the person of Jesus Christ. But now, believe it or not, in you and me. How can that be? Because “we are accepted in the beloved.”
One of the illustrations that has been given of this truth, the origins of which have been lost in history comes from the civil war era of American history. Times were much simpler then, and the story goes that President Lincoln’s son Todd loved to play outdoors on the grounds of the White House. During that same time frame there was a Civil War veteran who had what he, at least, thought was a very important request that he wanted to make to the president in person. Of course, after repeated efforts he had not been able to even get inside the building. Almost in despair he was wandering the grounds wondering what to do next. Then he saw at a distance the President’s young son and he got an idea. He quickly went over to the boy and struck up a conversation, telling him about his failed efforts. To which the boy said, “Is that all you want? Come with me! And with that the soldier followed the boy right past the sentries stationed at the entrance and right into the office of the President! Why was that possible? Because he was with the “beloved son” of the President. And that is exactly what Ephesians 1:6 says about us! we are “accepted by our heavenly Father in the beloved Son of God”
God’s purpose in saving you was not just to keep you from hell; it was not even to take you to heaven! Those are just the fringe benefits. His purpose is to live within you. How does that affect the way you live? One of the earliest Christians was a young man by the name of Augustine. He was from a wealthy family, and like many wealthy young people he indulged in all of the sinful pleasures of his day. But one day he took Christ as his savior, and his life was turned around. Some time after his conversion he found himself facing an extreme temptation to go back to one of his old sins. But the Holy Spirit convicted him and he said to himself, “thou fool! Thou are carrying Christ around with thee!