Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Praying Specifically in Thanks for our Redemption

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 15
“Praying Specifically in Thanks for our Redemption”
First Published: April 24, 1997

So far, in our study of Ephesians 1:3-14, we have pointed out that Paul’s prayer is trinitarian (that is, it highlights the work of the blessed Trinity in our salvation) and decretal (that is, it accents the sovereignty of God in the whole work of redemption). Today we will consider a third quality in that great prayer. Paul’s prayer may be characterized as redemptive (that is, in it, God’s redeeming, saving blessings are systematically rehearsed.

Very often we praise God for His redemption of us in generic terms. But even as specific sins ought to be repented of specifically (as the good old Puritans remind us), so also ought the Lord to be thanked and adored specifically for His bestowal of specific blessings on us. Notice eight aspects of God’s redemptive work that Paul makes matters for praise here in Ephesians 1.

Paul, first, reminds us that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (3). This blessing indicates, among other things, that the Lord has brought us great and true happiness by virtue of his Spiritual gifts to us. This, for Paul, is a matter worthy of praise.

, Paul highlights the truth that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (4). Paul sees our election in Christ as a biblical truth that will stoke the fires of our devotion to God, and so he reminds himself of it even as he adores God.

, Paul exults in the glorious truth that “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons” (5). It is not simply the realization that God chose us that floods Paul’s heart with wonder, love, and praise. It is the apprehension that God chose us with a view to our being His own children. His purpose in choosing us was that we should become the very sons of God.

, Paul also speaks of God’s “grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (6). Here Paul emphasizes that the whole of our salvation is the gift of God. We do not merit it. We do not deserve it. But God freely bestows His grace on us, because of His electing love and our covenantal union with His Son.

, Paul speaks of God’s forgiveness of sin as a revelation of the riches of His grace
which He lavished on us”(8). In other words, Paul knows that God’s gift of His only Son as the sacrifice for our sin is a truly extravagant provision. It is beyond reason. Beyond explanation. Beyond comprehension. “Christ for us” is a divine logic that we cannot (and will not) ever be able to penetrate even in eternity. But as we contemplate it, we may praise Him forever for it.

, Paul also rejoices that God “made known to us the mystery of His will” (9). He is deeply moved at the thought that the Lord has graciously revealed Christ to us. The Lord did not have to. He could have left us in blindness, like so many others in the day of our Lord’s earthly ministry, who heard His voice and saw His miracles and yet remained stone-hearted. The thought leaves Paul choking back tears of praise.

, Paul glories in the “kind intention [of God’s will] which He purposed in Him [that is, Christ]” (9). In other words, Paul is awed by God’s divine plan of redemption as it is revealed in Christ. How sovereign and how kind are God’s purposes. And so they ought to be matters for adoration.

, we note in Paul’s prayer praise to God that “having also believed, you were sealed in Him” (13). Paul rejoices that God will never let us out of His saving grasp. We have been sealed in the blessings of God, in Christ and by the Holy Spirit!
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, indeed.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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