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THOUGHTS FROM EPHESIANS

13 WHY?

When we ask the question 'Why did God save us? Why did he plan such extreme measures as the incarnation and death of his Son to bring us to salvation?' the answer is usually 'Because he loved us.'

This answer focuses on the motivating purpose of our salvation. We could also look at the necessitating purpose, and answer 'Because our sin incurs a horrific penalty.'

But in Ephesians 1:12 Paul identifies another purpose, the resultative purpose: God saved us in order that 'we might be to the praise of his glory.' This God-focused purpose has already been alluded to in verse 6 and will be again in verse 14. Here we learn that our salvation is not the goal or the termination point of God's redeeming work. Rather it is the means to a further goal – the glory of God.

When we think about this it should not surprise us, for this is what we were created for in the beginning. There we were created in the 'image of God' – created to reflect his likeness, created for his glory [Genesis 1:26,27; Isaiah 43:7]. This is what was aborted when we rejected God in Genesis 3, and continued to reject God throughout our history [Romans 1:18-32].

At a superficial level this seems a rather 'selfish' purpose – that God himself is the 'winner'. At a deeper level we understand this: that it is only when we are glorifying God, it is only when we image him in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions, that we are most truly human. This is what we were created for. This is what we were designed to be and to do. This is the real human identity. Anything less is not what we were made for.

Yes, God does 'benefit', if we want to use that word. But so do we: here in this salvation we are set free to be and to live out what we truly are: the image of God.

Thus Paul affirms that the mystery of the gospel is 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' [Colossians 1:27] and assures us that the Spirit of God within believers is transforming us 'into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord' [2 Corinthians 3:18].

This purpose of our salvation is also an expectation, a command: that we who are saved to praise him are commanded to do so by our choices and our lives. We are to so live in the presence of others that they will praise God [Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12]; we are to do everything 'for the glory of God' [1 Corinthians 10:31]; we are commanded 'declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light' [1 Peter 2:9].

As it was for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, this purpose of God should be the key focus of our lives. At the end of his life Jesus said: 'I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do' [John 17:4]. Even so may we.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2010