Sunday, July 25, 2010

Great Inheritance

Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

11  Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12  εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ.

Ephesians is one of those books where it is hard for me to pick just a single short passage and write about it.  This book has been transformational in my thinking about God.  Any idea of a God who doesn't know the future goes right out the window.  Any idea of a God who is beholden to man's "free will" is also destroyed by this book.

First of all, we see ἐκληρώθημεν, which is an aorist passive first person plural verb.  The fact that it is passive shows that the inheritance is something we receive rather than obtain.  There is a big difference there.  Man is not the actor, but has the action done to him.  We have obtained this incredible inheritance of eternal life through Christ.  Many stories have been written where a long-lost uncle or aunt dies and leaves some ridiculous inheritance.  (This is one of my favorites.)  We have something even better.  We have the God of the universe telling us that we have an inheritance in Him.

Unlike hapless Brewster, we have assurance that this will work out.  Why?  We know it is true because  τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ.  He works all things according to the counsel of His will.  In other words, anything that happens is according to the counsel of His will.  Katrina?  That cannot happen apart from the counsel of His will.  The 9/11 attacks?  He certainly could have prevented them, but He didn't.  I don't want to get into the arguments about theodicy here, but the text certainly seems to say that everything has a reason behind it.  We just don't know what that reason is.

Finally, we see why God would bother with sinners like us.  He does this for the praise of His glory.  It's all about His glory.  If God were on earth and subject to psychologists He would be called narcissistic.  But the thing is that He is God.  Therefore, He alone deserves to have that kind of praise and glory heaped upon Him.  And in fact we are most satisfied when we feed that by focusing our attention on bringing Him glory.

This whole book is just amazing.  It shows us that God is really big, we are really small, and that this infinite God is also incredibly loving and merciful.  I hope that you enjoy contemplating the greatness and glory of this God, whether things are going well for you or poorly.  It's a reminder I definitely need.

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