To the Praise of His Glorious Grace
This week I’ve been reading Charles Spurgeon’s classic devotional, Morning and Evening. It’s a good way to start the day, and I commend it to you. This morning, the text comes from Ephesians 1:6, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
Have you ever wondered why the apostle Paul would begin his letter to a struggling congregation with these words? As I pastor a church, I don’t wonder why Paul would begin this way. I know exactly why he would do so. If you read Ephesians 1 as a whole, it feels as though Paul simply cannot help himself in expressing the inexpressible: That God, through Christ, has adopted us into His heavenly family. He’ll use words and phrases like, ‘we have obtained an inheritance,’ ‘having been predestined according to His will,’ and ‘we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.’ But for Paul, all these blessings stand under the shadow of this: We are accepted in the Beloved.
It’s one of the rare uses of the phrase, “The Beloved” in the New Testament. Of course, it refers to Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God. But Jesus is usually referred to by other terms, like Savior or Son. But here Paul states emphatically that we are sealed, pardoned, adopted and secured…In The Beloved. It speaks simultaneously to our position, our place, if you like, and also to Jesus’ worthiness as the eternally loved Son of God. Because Jesus is loved by the Father, therefore we are loved by the Father. What’s more, God the Father so loves His Beloved Son that we are as eternally secure before the throne of mercy and Jesus is, Himself. Consider that. God will no more do harm to us as He will to His Beloved Son!
That’s why Paul says, “He has blessed us…in the Beloved.” He wants us to be rooted deeply in that relationship, and to lay hold of the sacred hope that we are found ‘in the Beloved.’ Literally the verse says, “To the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has graced us in the Beloved.” That is, the glorious grace of God is that by which He has shown favor and kindness to us, and it comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Spurgeon says, “Some Christians seem to [feel] accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted.”
Can you relate to Spurgeon’s not-so hypothetical Christian, whose soul ‘cleaves to the dust?’ It is then that you must recall that God has accepted and blessed you in His beloved, because He loves you. Because He loves His Son. And because He desires that your heart and soul cleave not tot he dust, but to the songs of heaven. To ”the praise of His glorious grace.’
This is my prayer today for you, dear friend. That you will lay hold of God’s smiling providence upon you, and that you will, in turn, praise His glorious grace. Hold fast to the promise of divine favor toward you. Give Him your thoughts, your hopes and desires. Because you are accepted in the Beloved, He will do for you that which brings Him praise.