[God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:4–7)
What amazes you most about God? Is it his creative power — massive mountains and tiny molecules and raging oceans and every single living thing? Is it his justice, promising to punish every crime and eradicate every evil? Is it his timelessness — never beginning and never ending?
John Piper has said that the apex — the highest and most brilliant point — of the glory of God is the grace of God. Out of all the amazing things there are to know and love about God — and there are an infinite number of things — God’s own word names grace as the greatest. The verses above says God works and saves for the praise of the glory of his grace.
God’s Purpose In His Grace
We love God for the grace he shows us. But is the love his grace stirs in our hearts the only — or even the greatest — purpose of his grace? No, the highest purpose of God’s grace is to give the world a glimpse of his glory.
Unlike any other chapter in all of Scripture, Ephesians 1 unfolds the plan of God to highlight the glory of God. Three times Paul says that God’s purpose in all of history was “the praise of his glory” (1:6, 12, 14). He is the King of glory, so all his work is uniquely and wonderfully glorious. Everything he does tells the story of how valuable, wonderful, and worthy he really is.
He saved and adopted us to show the world his glory (in his grace) (1:6). He purchased our eternal hope and inheritance to reveal his glory (1:12). He gave us his Holy Spirit and keeps us for the sake of his glory (1:14). And so we sing to our king, “Worthy is the Lamb. . . Worthy is the King. . .” His glory is above all others, and because it is gracious, his glory is really, really good news for sinners like us.
Grace’s Adoption Story
And what does this grace look like? Paul’s picture in these verses is adoption. The God of glory — in all of his perfection, power, and justice — welcomes sinners as sons and daughters. Somehow, the God of the universe — our Creator and Judge — is made most glorious by making us his children.
Our song asks, “Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?” Not only were we orphans, we were orphans who had rejected the Father’s love and run away from home. In our sin, we left God for other things — people, careers, fame, family, sports, sex, our own selfish desires. We were orphans precisely because we spurned our God.
And that sameGod came to rescue us and make us his own. Now, the same perfection, power, and justice that once damned us, sets us free and secures us forever. They become the perfection, power, and justice of a Father, not a judge. With all of his resources, he treats us with the kindness, care, and patience of a faithful mom or dad.
The Great Cost of Grace
And what did this grace cost? “In him we have redemption through his blood. . .” (Ephesians 1:7). God’s grace to us is free, but it was not cheap. In order to make sinners his sons and daughters, he had to pay the ultimate price, crushing his precious, sinless Son on our behalf. By his death, we are healed and brought home.
“This is amazing grace. . . that you would take my place, that you would bear my cross.” The sin was ours, so the punishment too was ours. It was our cross that killed the Christ. But he received God’s wrath willingly, even lovingly. Innocent of any crime or sin, he showed us what real grace is when he stood in the place of people deserving death, clearing them of all guilt, shame, and condemnation. It’s that event, that love — the powerful love of Calvary — that inspires our chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain! Worthy is the King who conquered the grave!”
Amazing, Amazing Grace
This is amazing grace. If we’re not amazed by it, we haven’t understood it. If we’ve stopped being amazed by it, we’ve forgotten what it really means. Everything good we receive from a holy God is undeserved. But he didn’t stop at giving us good things. In love, God sacrificed his very own Son to adopt us and to shower us with the riches of his grace. This means we have something remarkable, stunning, extraordinary, indescribable, breath-taking — something amazing — to sing about for all eternity.