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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Father’s glorious grace (Eph. 1:6)

In this verse Paul comes to the end of his references to specific actions of the Father, for in the following verses he mentions actions of the Son (v. 12) and of the Spirit (v. 14) Each of these sub-divisions closes with a similar statement of praise for God’s rich display of grace.

We have considered the two actions of the Father, which are election and adoption. Of course, these are not the only actions that the Father performs; for example, there is action in justification and there is his action in calling sinners to salvation. But it is not possible to mention every action on each occasion one prays.

There is an important lesson here concerning prayer: we should use God’s actions in salvation as the framework for our prayers. They will be a source of comfort to us (if God chose us and adopted us, he is not going to abandon us) and they will remind us of the potential blessings that he has in store for us (as his children we have a wonderful inheritance, some of which we can have now).

In this statement about God's grace, we have the reason why God elected and adopted sinners; it was so that he would be praised for his revelation of himself as a gracious God.

Sometimes the impression is given that God’s eternal plan is a gloomy thing which we should not think about very often. But Paul writes that this plan involved God’s pleasure. The limitless love, joy and wisdom of God were involved in the devising of his plan and in the detailed steps in it.

The glory of God is that which makes him great, be it his power, knowledge or beauty. It describes that which makes him unique and superior to all else that exists. His glory was revealed in creation; in it we see his power, his wisdom and his concern for his creatures. His glory is revealed in his response to sin, for there we see his justice and displeasure at what is evil. His glory is seen in human history as he governed and over-ruled the ambitions and decisions of humans. In these aspects God is to be praised for his glorious actions. Yet marvellous as they are, they are not the greatest display of glory; what makes God great is his magnificent grace shown to sinners. As John MacPherson, writing in 1892, put it: ‘It is the highest praise of God that He finds His chief glory in the display of His grace.’ At the end of the day the Father will not be praised primarily for his work of creation but for his work of salvation.

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