Volume 9, No. 3 (March 2014)
9. TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY (Ephesians 1:3-14)
After his opening greeting, Paul launches into his epistle by praising God (“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”) because He “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (3).
He then enumerates a number of these blessings which makes Him worthy of praise, namely:
Grace 6, 7
Knowledge of His will 9
Sealing with the Spirit 12
All these blessings, the “riches of His grace” (7), He has “lavished upon us” (8).
He has accomplished and bestowed all these things for our good, but ultimately for His honor. As John Piper has often pointed out, our good and his honor are not contradictory, but complementary: “We get the grace, and He gets the glory.” Three times Paul reminds us that what God did in Christ, He did “to the praise of His glorious grace” (6), “to the praise of His glory” (12, 14). He is deserving of all praise and blessing and worship for what He has so generously and graciously done for us in Christ.
That is why Paul started by blessing God (3), and why he rounds off the first half of his epistle (having delved more deeply into themes he has raised in 1:3-14) with praise as well: “To Him be glory in the church and in Christ throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (3:21)
10. THE MINISTRY OF SONG (Ephesians 5:18-20)
For an exposition of this vital passage, please see Worship Notes 3.11.
11. SPIRIT, CHRIST AND FLESH: EACH IN THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN WORSHIP (Philippians 3:3)
Paul emphasizes three internal realities that are far more important than external conformity (such as in circumcision):
1. Worshiping by the Spirit of God
As in Ephesians 5:18, looking to the Holy Spirit to draw forth from our hearts a fitting response to the truths which our minds have taken in. He motives, empowers and actualizes our worship (for more on the Holy Spirit and Worship, please see Worship Notes 1.9.
2. Glorying in Christ Jesus
Indeed, “Jesus paid it all: all to Him I owe.” As Paul pointed out in Ephesians 1:3, our possession of “every spiritual blessing” is precisely because we are in Christ. Therefore worship is Christ-centered, wondering anew at all that He has done for us, and all that we are in Him.
3. Putting no confidence in the flesh
This is the necessary complement to glorying in Christ Jesus: we can fully comprehend and embrace all that Jesus has done for us only as we release all dependence on our own resources and strivings. And vice versa: it is our confidence in Christ and His work that enables us to release our already tenuous hold on flesh-confidence.
12. WHAT TO WEAR FOR WORSHIP (Colossians 3:12-15)
Paul gives us the “dress code” for worship in the body of Christ; we must “put on”:
True spiritual beauty. With such “outfits” God is always pleased!
13. WHAT TO DO IN WORSHIP (Colossians 3:16-17)
The Word of Christ takes prominence of place, along with song, heart gratitude, and full dependence on (i.e., glorying in, Phil 3:3) Christ.
For a fuller exposition of this rich passage, please see “All, and in All: Christ, His Word, and Our Song (Colossians 3:16-17)” in Worship Notes 5.2.