SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#14 PURPOSE

Before God saved us our condition was described as 'lost' and 'without hope'. This lostness and hopelessness included elements of meaninglessness in which we did not know who we were or what we were here for. This despair is clearly observable in the contemporary world around us.

When God saves us he endows us with purpose:

'For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do' [Ephesians 2:10].

This verse teaches us:

[1] That our new identity is the work of God - 'we are God's workmanship'. Just as God created us in the beginning [Genesis 1] without any action of our own involved, so now he has recreated us, without any action of our own involved. He made us, and now he has remade us.

[2] This new creation, this new work of God, has a very specific  location: God created us 'in Christ Jesus'. As God's new creation we have no 'stand alone' significance or identity. Because of Christ, through Christ, we stand in the presence of God and in the world always, ever and only 'in Christ'. Apart from Christ we are nothing. In Christ, we are, and we have, all that God promises.

[3] The purpose of our new life is 'to do good works'. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus commanded that we should let our light so shine before men that they will see our 'good works' and glorify our Father who is in heaven. In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter teaches that God's purpose in making us his people is that we 'may declare the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his wonderful light', and in verse 12 commands 'Live such good lives among the pagans that ... they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us'.

These commands to do good works which will result in the glory of God take us right back to the original creation where we were made 'in the image of God'. An image displays the nature of the reality on which the existence of the image depends, and from which the image takes its significance. Human life, as originally created, displayed the glory of God. This was the purpose and meaning of creation [Isaiah 43:7]. This was the significance of human life, including the human life of Jesus Christ, who summed up his life with the words 'I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do' [John 17:4].

Thus Paul encompasses the whole of the Christian life with the command: 'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God' [1 Corinthians 10:31], and states three times in Ephesians 1 that our salvation is to the praise of God's glory.

[4] These 'good works' have been 'prepared in advance for us to do'. Some Christians wrongly understand this to refer to a specific, individualised life plan that God has pre-set for each individual believer, containing all the life decisions re career, marriage, place of residence, local church, etc, which the individual has to find in order to fulfill. Such a torturous concept is foreign to the Scripture. The works that God has prepared in advance for us to do are those deeds and actions that reflect his nature and his glory, the things speficied in his moral commands and summarised in the two commands of loving God and loving the neighbour.

This purpose, the glory of God, permeates the New Testament.

Interestingly, it is when we glorify God that we ourselves are most glorified. Thus Paul wrote:

'Christ in you, the hope of glory' [Colossians 1:27], and,

'With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him' [2 Thessalonians 1:11-12].

  Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007