11 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Have you ever seen a family that was so alike it was almost funny! They look alike, they talk alike, they have the same mannerisms — they even have the same intonations in their voices! You can spot them at 50 paces!
Although, I suppose I shouldn’t be so amused. Considering that most families spend an average of two decades together – day in and day out – it isn’t unusual for children to take on the characteristics of their parents, is it?
Well, as I was working and praying through these verses – asking the Lord to teach me a lesson that I could understand and apply in my every day life – I became so excited because what I saw emerge from this passage is exactly that: The Triune God, in ongoing relationship with us, teaching us what it means to be His children:
God: choosing us by His will, for His glory (vs. 11-12)
Jesus: including us with Him and claiming us at the redemption (vs. 13-14)
Holy Spirit: marking us as His own and guaranteeing our inheritance (vs. 14)
And as the result of our day-in and day-out relationship with Him, we are transformed into recognizable members of His family! (For additional context, see my post “We Are Family, Eph 1:3-10”.)
As I began writing, however, I quickly realized God has so much to teach me in each of the ways He shows Himself to us: as God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, that they could stand as a post on their own! So, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Not wanting to lose the context of the whole passage together though, I’m including the entire 3 verses together at the top of each post, but I’ll share what I’m learning in 3-parts.
Part 1: Chosen For His Glory
Before I really dive in, let me go ahead and say up front that I’m not commenting on the “pre-destination part” of this verse. The reason is not because I am “afraid” of this somewhat controversial topic. Neither is it because I don’t have thoughts on pre-destination. The reason I’m not commenting on it is because it is not the crux of what I think the Lord is teaching me from this verse on this particular trip through Ephesians. Remember, my purpose here is not to try to be a theological expert (I am not!) and provide a full exegesis and commentary on the passage, but rather to simply share what God is teaching me as I spend time in His Word.
Therefore, this is the lesson God has me focusing on verse 11:
We were chosen according to His will that we might be for His glory.
To put my thinking into correct context, I first had to go back and understand who the “we” is in this statement. Is this, “we” – all of mankind? I do not believe so. I think, because this verse follows vs. 3-10 (11 does typically follow 10 after all!), where Paul has just given us God’s plan for adopting us into His family, this “we” refers to those who are members of God’s family through our redemption in Jesus Christ.
Okay, so “we” (Believers in Jesus Christ who are adopted into God’s family) are to be for God’s glory? Well, this led me to wonder: What exactly does it mean for me to be for God’s glory? What is God’s glory? How do I, a mere … (sinful) person … glorify the Almighty God?
I think the notion of God’s glory is easily misunderstood because perhaps we equate glorying God with how we (as a culture) “glorify” celebrities: The red carpet at the Oscars, Super Bowl [or insert professional sporting event of your choice] media coverage, the love-life of TV latest’s sci-fi-sitco-drama heart-throb splashed across the cover of a grocery store tabloid. When we “glorify” celebrities, it does not reveal their true character as they really are. Rather, it puffs them up and puts on a set of exaggerated false pretenses that sucks the audience into believing it is truth … at least until the next commercial break.
In contrast, God’s glory has been explained to me quite simply as this: God’s glory is His character. It is the complete sum of Who God is. Another writer describes God’s glory this way:
It is all [God’s] attributes to infinity in perfect balance. (Bible.org)
So, to glorify God is not to puff Him up or put exaggerated false pretenses on Him. No! To glorify God is the exact opposite of how our culture “glorifies” celebrities (shocker!). When God is glorified, His true character is revealed. When God is glorified, His “manifold majesty, brilliance, depth, and awesomeness” is made known to us (Herrick, Bible.org).
Wow! So, what an incredible thought it is that we were chosen by Him that we might be for His glory! As God’s child, my purpose is for His character to be revealed in me and through me!
Let’s go back and put this incredible notion into the broader context of Chapter 1:
- God establishes us and equips us with grace so we can have peace with Him, because… (vs. 1-2)
- God adopts us into His family through a plan, by a promise, for participation in His family that includes both rewards and responsibilities… (vs. 3-10)
- For the purpose of His glory – so that He can reveal the fullness of Who He is through us (vs. 11)
When I look at verse 11 in this fuller context, it just makes so much sense to me! Of course His purpose is for us to reveal His character in and through us. He is our Father. We are His children.
Don’t we all raise our children wanting them to see the best aspects of our character and then take that character unto themselves, revealing it to others for their good? Don’t you think our Heavenly Father, Whose holiness and love and justice and forgiveness and everything is perfect and infinite, also wants His children to receive the fullness of His character so that we might reveal Him – His glory – to a world that so desperately needs Him?
I do. And I think the next two parts in this series will show us how God intends for this to happen.
Think About It:
- How can I even recognize God’s character if I do not know Him? How will I recognize God’s character revealed in me if I am not first spending time knowing God (loving Him with my heart, mind, and strength) in His Word and in prayer each day?
- How do the choices and decisions I make each day change when I filter them through my purpose of being for God’s glory?