Scripture Reading: Isaiah 60:1-9
Sermon Title: Glory be to God
Sermon Text: Ephesians 3:20-21
MAIN IDEA: Give glory to God forever and ever.
Glory to God: Abundant Provider
Glory to God: Personal Guarantor
Glory to God: Wise Architect
Glory to God: Everlasting Lover
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Thanks for understanding.
Verses twenty and twenty-one, of chapter three, mark the end of the doctrinal section of the letter to the Ephesians. One last word of teaching they need to know and understand. The last closing statement to pierce the hearts of the Ephesians. Let’s read the final statement of doctrine made by Paul.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)
Simply said, it reads, “to Him be the glory.”
If you are saved in Christ, give all the glory to God. Don’t pat yourself on the back and think you are a great Christian and God is doing Himself a favor by saving you. Humble yourself and give all the glory to God.
In this statement, we see four reasons to give God the glory. The first is this:
20Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,
Ask people on the street, “What would you ask for if you had a genie in a bottle? What is the best thing you can think of?” What might the answers be?
Someone may ask for a big house. “I want a mansion.” Is that the best you can think of? “I want a mansion in the Caribbean with six luxury cars in the garage with an unlimited supply of fuel.”
“I want good health. I’ve suffered from a muscle condition my entire life, and I would finally like to have strong muscles, with a good figure.” “I want to have a cancer free, healthy body.” Why would you like that? “So that I may live long and well.” How long, what is a reasonable expectation? “I’d like to live to be 120 years old.”
“I want riches. I never want to worry about going hungry. I want to travel all over the world. I want to buy everything I see. I want to be the richest person in the world.”
“I want power. I’d love to be able to be the person who tells people what to do instead of everybody else telling me what to do all the time.”
What might you say? What would you ask for as your wish? Whatever your wish, God is able to do far more abundantly beyond what we think. If we think of asking for something that is of a value of 10, God is able to do 1 million.
Before we look at how God does far more abundantly than we ask or think, let’s look at our personal participation in our salvation. In three chapters, the total amount of our involvement is found in the first chapter.
… we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed (1:12-13)
All we have done is listen to the message of truth. We did not write the truth; we did not speak the truth, we only listened. After listening, we believe. And, because we believe, we hope in Christ. This is the extent of our involvement.
Now, let’s look at God’s involvement.
(turn to chapter one)
Think of what we may ask or think of before our eyes are opened by God’s Holy Spirit.
God blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (1:3). How many of us, were walking around and thinking about asking for every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places? Before salvation, we were maybe thinking of asking for every earthly blessing, but certainly not every spiritual blessing from Heaven.
God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (1:4). Again, who was walking around and thinking of asking God to choose us?
God chose us so that we would be holy and blameless before Him (1:4). He provides complete forgives of our sins (1:7). We were not asking for complete holiness. If anything, we were asking not to get caught in our sin, not to be freed from sinning.
God predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself (1.5). Which of us asked God to adopt us as His child?
God made known to us the mystery of His will (1:10). Who among us asked Him to reveal the mystery of His will? Some people may ask to be able to predict the weather or the outcome of a sporting event, but no human upon the earth was ever thinking of asking God to reveal the mystery of His will.
God granted to us that we obtained an inheritance (1:11). People ask or think about receiving an inheritance, but certainly, they are not asking or thinking about the inheritance of Christ.
God sealed our inheritance by indwelling us the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13). Who, before they are saved, asks God to dwell within?
God made us alive together with Christ, 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (2:5-6). Somebody may think of asking God to be raised from the dead, but who asked God to make them alive spiritually so they may sit at the right hand of God?
God makes us His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (2:10). Nobody is thinking to ask God, “will you work in me, so I will go about doing good works for Your kingdom.”
God made us who are Gentiles, brought near to Him by the blood of Christ. He established peace with us and the Jewish believers. God made us as fellow saints and members of the household of God. God joined us together with the Jews and has us as partakers of all the promises of the Messiah (2:13, 15, 19; 3:6). Who among us, before we were saved, were thinking, “I want all the same promises of the Jews in the Old Testament. I want their Messiah to be my Messiah”? Did ever occur to us to ask God of such a thing?
Lastly, God has granted us to approach His throne with boldness and confidence (3:12). The natural man does not ask or think of such a thing.
To God be the glory. He is the Abundant Provider of blessings which are inconceivable and staggering to the human imagination. We were unable to even to think about asking God for such extraordinary blessings. In our human flesh, perhaps the most we might ever imagine asking for is eternal life and mercy.
Stop and think about how God far exceeds our fleshly endeavors. Praise God, the Abundant Provider, because He knows and gives us what we need. Praise God He gives us more than we could ever ask or think.
A guarantor is a supporter or backer who makes sure promises are fulfilled. When we get a loan, sometimes we don’t have the personal property or finances to guarantee we may pay back the loan. The bank will ask for a cosigner. The cosigner has the equity to guarantee the loan will be paid back in full. The guarantor fulfills the promise to pay back the money.
Imagine after getting saved, we read in the Bible about eternal life, standing holy before God’s throne, sitting with Christ at God’s right hand, and of receiving all the inheritance of Christ. And then we read, “do your best, now that you are saved, try really hard to make it to heaven.”
There are a few verses which may lead us to think we are the ones who guarantee our salvation. For example, we know we are to run the race. We are to finish well. We are to endure to the end. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. However, when we interpret these verses as telling us that we are responsible for securing our salvation, we are not having a biblical view of salvation.
God is the one who is accomplishing beyond what we ask or think and God is doing it “according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).
Far too many Christians, including some among us, see themselves as responsible for completing the work God starts. What they fail to know and understand is that God is working within us. He is the one who is the guarantor of our inheritance.
I realize we need to encourage one another to holiness. We need to guard ourselves against sin, faithfully share the gospel, and serve the church. I am the last person who will tell us that we should live our lives recklessly because it doesn’t matter because, “once saved, always saved.”
When the Bible tells us to obey, it is not to ensure we will cross the threshold of the pearly gates. The reason we need to be holy, loving, and servants is for our joy and peace; not to ensure our salvation.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phi. 1:8).
God is the one who chose us so that we would be holy and blameless before Him (1:4). God predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ (1.5). God granted to us that we obtain an inheritance (1:11). God made us alive together with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (2:5-6). God prepared good works beforehand so that we would walk in them (2:10). God sealed our inheritance by indwelling us the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13).
Think about this. Would God adopt us as His children and then, when we get to heaven, say, “Sorry, you are not good enough to be my child, if only you had tried harder.” What kind of adopting father would do that?
God is loving and perfect. You can know with certainty that If God adopts us, He will do everything in His power to bring us home. Nothing will stand in His way. He will not give us His Spirit just to take Him away because God changed His mind at a later date. God’s Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our adoption.
God is saving us according to the power working within us; according to His Spirit. We need to pray, as this letter teaches, that we know what is the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe. The power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places is the power working within us. We need to pray God strengthens us with His power through His Spirit in our inner man.
If we spend our lives praying and knowing about the Holy Power working within us, it will change our lives. We will live differently.
What is the summary of this point?
Give glory to God. Not only does God abundantly provide us beyond all that we ask or think, but God sets His Spirit within us and the power of His Spirit keeps us and brings us home. God is the personal Guarantor of our salvation. He is the adopting Father who works His power to bring us home. To Him be the glory according to the power working within us.
21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
God is the wise architect who plans our salvation. He is building a church, and He wisely fits together all the pieces according to His blueprint. God is the architect of salvation; He is the designer and planner.
God saves the church by joining the church with Christ. The two become one. God’s glory is displayed in the members of the body because they are fitted together with the glorious Head of the church. The bride is joined and fitted with the bridegroom. The temple made with building blocks is built upon a foundation with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.
The Wise Architect begins with His Son. God works the strength of His might and raised Jesus from the dead (1:20) and seated Christ in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Upon God’s blueprint are the design instructions saying, “place all things under Christ’s feet.”
Jesus is the visible display of all of God’s glory. As the Master Builder, God chose for our blessings to flow from Christ. Our adoption, forgiveness of our sins, and the blessings of heaven are given to us because of our union with Jesus.
In Christ, there are unfathomable riches. The Wise Architect has an unlimited resource in Christ. Christ is the shining jewel of God’s blueprint.
God’s power over sin and death and all the enemies of God is displayed in Christ. Christ is the Conquering General of the Architect’s blueprint. God’s mercy and compassion are seen in Christ. Christ is the Great Physician of the plan. Because God knows His building will face storms and earthquakes from the enemy, the blueprint reveals how every challenge and attack will be changed into good. Christ is the Wisdom of the plan.
God reveals His Son as the bridegroom for the bride. Christ is the Handsome Son, riding the white horse, sweeping in to fetch the bride and bring her to the strong castle and the awaiting marriage feast.
Christ Is the unfathomable riches and abundant resource of glory in God’s blueprint. Jesus Christ is God’s provision to bring to riches us far beyond all that we could ask or think. We have the riches of Christ.
The church is the object of God’s glory. God brings the riches of Christ to pay the debt of the church.
The bride is in debt to God because she is God’s enemy. She has a debt which she may not pay. God’s enemy has taken the bride, cast her into a hole so deep, that from the bottom of the hole looking up, no light may be seen. She dwells in a kingdom of darkness. She is under the power and control of Satan. The bride lays face down, dead, unable to pay the debt.
The riches of Christ overcome every debt the bride needs to pay and the riches far exceed the great debt. The riches of Christ bring the bride to life, raises her from the deepest place, and seats her at the right hand of God in the heavenly places. There the bride sits. No debt. Pure and spotless. She is a radiant beauty displaying the glory of her bridegroom.
The bride, who is joined to Christ as His body, consists of Jews and Gentiles. God joins those who were once separated by a dividing wall and establishes them in peaceful unity as one (2:14-16). Together, the Architects fits them as building blocks into His household (2:19). They are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the corner stone. The building is a holy temple where the Holy Spirit of God dwells (2:21-23).
God pours out all the blessings of heaven, the unfathomable riches of Christ, into the building of the church. The church is a monument, a cathedral of beauty, showcasing the glory of God’s grace, mercy, and love. The church unfolds God’s glory through this age, as a building of His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so the church would walk in them.
All around the globe, we see the church reflecting the glory of God, by turning the cheek, forgiving one another, showing compassion, being generous, living holy lives, speaking truth, standing for what is just, and worshipping the glory of God’s work and the glory of God’s beloved Son.
As the church, the bride, the temple of God, is on display, the rulers, and the authorities in the heavenly places see the manifold, colorful tapestry, of the wisdom of God, is made known.
Give glory to God, the Abundant Provider, Personal Guarantor, and Wise Architect.
The opening of the letter says three times that God works for the exclusive purpose that His glory be praised.
He predestined us to adoption to the praise of the glory of His grace (1:5-6)
We have obtained an inheritance for the praise of His glory (1:11)
The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our being God’s own possession is to the praise of God’s glory.
Every act of redemptive history is aimed at God’s creation praising God’s glory. God created the universe, chose Abraham, delivered His people from Egypt, established Israel as a Nation, instituted the Temple and the Law, sent His Beloved Son to bleed and die on the cross, and adopts us as His children so that we will praise His glory.
God’s purpose for our salvation is the praise of His glory.
The letter begins by telling us salvation is for God’s glory, and now, the doctrinal portion of the letter, fittingly concludes with the statement that to God belongs all the glory.
… to all generations forever and ever.
Not every generation has praised God. Since the beginning of mankind, there have been generations who do not give God the glory. But, there is a time coming, where all generations will gather together in a time of great rejoicing. Together, they will give God the glory forever and ever.
Why would we want to give God glory through all eternity?
The most compelling reason for every generation to give God glory is not because He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, or the eternal Creator. The most compelling reason for us to give God the glory is His love. The most outstanding attribute of God’s glory is love. God is love.
In love, He predestined us to adoption us according to the kind intention of His will (1:4-5).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (2:4-5).
Our God loves us so much, He demonstrated His love by shedding the blood of His beloved Son, He brought us near to Himself by the blood of Christ (2:13).
He is our loving Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name (3:15)
He desires to fill us with Himself so that we are filled up to all the fullness of His love (3:19).
The Son loves us. The Holy Spirit loves us. The Father loves us. We will praise Him because He loves us as we have never been loved before. We are loved with an everlasting love. From generation to generation.
We will meet Him face to face in Heaven, and we will proclaim:
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, And his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:3-4)
To God be the glory.