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.
It has been a number of weeks since I have had the opportunity to sit down, think through and write about the lessons that God is teaching me in my study of Ephesians. In fact, since I last posted, my personal devotions have taken me to the end of Ephesians and have now turned back a few books where I have taken up in Romans. What can I say? I’m a bit of a “Paul junkie.”
So, though I’ve been battling for time and opportunity, my desire to share what I am learning has not waned in the least. In fact, I would say it is quite the opposite and is actually increasing by the day! If only I had more time to write! (Whoops! There I go again!)
I say that to admit to you that in order to get started writing again, I had to go back and give myself a refresher from this passage and ask the Lord to bring back to mind the exciting things He was showing me when I shared Part 1 of this three-part series on Ephesians 1:11-14. Here is the summary of that first post:
The overall lesson of these three verses is that the Triune God, in ongoing relationship with us, is teaching us what it means to be His children in these ways:
God: is choosing us by His will, for His glory (vs. 11-12)
Jesus: is including us with Him and claiming us at the redemption (vs. 13-14)
Holy Spirit: is marking us as His own and guaranteeing our inheritance (vs. 14)
I shared that God has intentionally and specifically chosen His children for the purpose of revealing His character – His glory – to this world that so desperately needs Him.
So, as I have returned to think about God the Father choosing me to glorify Him, I am struck again by the same question: How in the world can a sinner like me reveal the fullness of character of an awesome and perfect God like Him?
The simple answer is: I can’t. And that is where our study picks up today.
Part 2: Included with Christ
There is a disappointing trend in our culture today, though I often wonder if it speaks more to our nature, than our cultural environment: it seems that people almost always perform to the lowest expectations. Yes, there are certainly the over-achievers among us, and the exceptional people around us who consistently exceed the requirements, but in general, “we the people” seem to have a tendency to identify the minimum effort required to produce a desired result, and aim only for that mark. Often times, we miss even that.
So when it comes to satisfying the just requirements of a holy God, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Paul nails it down for humanity in this succinct declaration: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23).
I’ve heard it said: “The Greek word for ‘all’ is … ‘all.’ There is no other interpretation, translation, or understanding for this word. ‘All’ means ‘all’ and that’s all ‘all’ means.” All fall short of the glory of God.
So, as I am facing this question of how I could possibly be worthy of revealing God’s glory to anyone, I must consider that because my natural character (which is sinful) is in conflict with God’s character (which is holiness) left to my own self I will fall short of God’s glory every time. There is absolutely no way in my own strivings, with my own effort, of my own nature, that I can ever be sufficient for God’s glory. Therefore, if His purpose for me is to reveal His glory to the world, then He must put His character in me because in this world, mine will always be found lacking.
And that is exactly the promise, through Jesus, that He is showing me here in Ephesians 11:13-14. Paul says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” (Eph. 1:13a) We are worthy of being instruments of God’s glory because we are included with Christ.
Christ was the perfect atoning sacrifice. And we are included in Christ’s death and we are included in Christ’s resurrection. Thus, when we believe this “word of truth, the gospel of salvation,” we are included in Christ’s sufficiency to meet the just requirements of our holy God and therefore, Jesus Christ himself will claim us and redeem us as God’s own people at the end of time.
I am not worthy to be used as a vessel to glorify God. But Christ is. And because I am included with Christ, and He will one day return to claim me as God’s own, God finds me included with Christ, and therefore, finds me worthy to be used as an instrument to reveal Himself to the world even now.
So, once again, adding this new lesson into the context of what I am learning about being in God’s family from Ephesians Chapter 1, I see:
- God establishes us and equips us with grace so we can have peace with Him, because… (vs. 1-2)
- God wants to adopt 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. 11-12)
- And we are made worthy of revealing God’s glory – His character – only because we are included in Christ’s sufficiency to meet the just requirements of our holy God and because Christ Himself will redeem us as God’s own people, (v.13-14)
The final piece of this incredible set of lessons of what it means to be in God’s family remains yet to come in Part III of this series.
In the meantime, may I ask you:
- Do you believe this “Word of truth, the gospel of salvation”? If not, would you email me and allow me the opportunity to share with you more about why I do?
- If you do, would you thank God right now for including you with Christ and then ask Him to reveal His glory through you in a fresh way today?