In our last article we were considering verse 7, where we read: “that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.
In the afore-mentioned article we noticed that this verse contains a statement of Paul in which he tells us the design of God’s work of salvation in Christ Jesus. It is that we be unto “the praise of the glory of God’s grace”. That this is the chief design of God in the creation of the world and the redemption in Christ, we need not here repeat; it simply is the plain teaching of the apostle here in , as well as the pattern of sound doctrine found in all of the Scriptures.
God’s redemptive design in saving us from so great a wrath and death in which we were held is simply the glorious exhibition of the riches of His grace in the ages to come. The apostle speaks of the exceeding riches of His grace.
About this riches we would make a few remarks and observations in this article. In so doing we shall be speaking still of the design and wondrous purpose of God in our salvation in Christ.
The point that we would underscore is, that there is a very intimate relationship, yea, a very real divinely established affinity between what is designated by the term “glory” and what the term “grace” stands for. This is not only true in the writings of the apostle Paul, but this is true everywhere in the Scriptures.
It was the matter of the relationship of this “grace” and “glory” that we were considering at the conclusion of our last article. It will be remembered, that we were discussing chapter 1:6, and that we were attempting to learn just what the relationship of this “grace” and “glory” is. We met the afore-mentioned terms in the phrase “unto the praise of the glory of His grace”.
The “praise of the glory of His grace” says Paul. Just how must we interpret the meaning of this phrase? Various renderings have been given of this phrase. It has been so translated that “glory” was made a qualifying adjective with “praise”. It is then put as follows: “To the glorious praise of His grace”. The praise had to be glorious, the believing and humble acknowledgement of the same. Thus it is then understood. Against this rendering we would urge that this is against the plain sense of the order of the words in the text. Another rendering places “glory” with “grace” only it makes “glory” a simple adjective with “grace”. Thus: “Glorious grace”. This, too, is very arbitrary. It does not do justice to the sense of the genitive in the Greek original. Therefore we prefer the rendering that literally translates the Greek as follows: to the praise of the glory of His grace. Quoting Meyer we give the sense of this phrase as follows: “The quality of the grace, its glory—its greatness laudably evincing itself—is brought into prominence as the object of the praise to be bestowed on it.” Grace has the unique quality about it that it is the bearer of divine glory. The rendering and interpretation given by the late Dr. S. Greydanus substantially agrees with that given by Meyer. We quote: “God wills to manifest His grace and to make His divme greatness and glory manifest in that grace. And this grace man must not only receive as the recipient, but it must also be praised by men”. (We underscore).
It is, therefore, quite evident, that this praise of the glory of His grace is the highest purpose of God. There is really no one other phrase which expresses this so completely and succinctly. The expression “soli Deo gloria” to be sure expressed the highest purpose of God in all things too, nevertheless it is a incomplete expression of it. The expression Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone the glory) does not make mention of God’s grace, nor for that matter of any other of God’s virtues. (Compare ). It does not make mention of the grace of God as it is concretely and tangibly manifested in Christ’s death and resurrection. And, therefore, the phrase “unto the praise of the glory of His grace” is far richer in content and also more actual and expressive than the brief “Soli Deo Gloria”.
But this only in passing.
Looking at the entire passage in which this phrase is found it is very clear, that the glory of God here spoken of is the glory of grace. It is not the glory and majesty of the law, accompanied by clouds, darkness, tempest, thunder and lightning that made even a Moses fear and tremble exceedingly, but it is the glory of the saints who have arrived at the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the blood that speaketh better things than Abel. It is the glory of God upon the mercy seat. It is the glory of pardon, of the remission of sins, and of the right and the adoption of children. It is the glory of the Mediator Jesus. The glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Compare , and .
For it is a glory which is manifested in the riches of grace. Wherefore Paul writes in chapter 1:7: “In whom we have the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of the transgressions”. And further it is made clear that this redemption we have: “According to the riches of His grace”. Hence, we see the riches of glory in the same measure that we see the riches of grace. As rich as grace is, so rich is also the manifested glory of this grace in us who by faith have the forgiveness of the transgressions, the complete redemption.
Speaking of this “riches” we must remind you at this juncture, that in chapter 2:4 we also read of the “riches” of grace. We have in mind the following from the apostle’s pen: “But God being rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through trespasses”. The riches of grace, the riches of the glory of grace in Christ is so rich because it flows from the well-spring of God’s rich mercy, which in turn again is due to the eternal love of God. And this love is as fathomless and endless as it is changeless!
Of this love and mercy we must still speak later.
Where such love and mercy are the cause of such riches of glory, surely the meanest interpretation of it will honor beyond description the paper on which it is written. That gives us courage to proceed. Is this not the well-spring of our life? Do we not sing as Zion’s children? All our fountains are in Thee.
Earlier in these essays we stated, that Paul repeatedly speaks of this “glory” and grace. Thus we read in verse 14: “unto the praise of His glory”. Also here the “glory of Him” is not merely the flashing of brilliant light in the firmament and on clouds and mountains, but it is the glory of the final redemption to which we as believers, who have heard the Gospel of our salvation, are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. Then we shall be fully to the praise of His glory, the glory of the grace revealed in Jesus Christ. Then our Savior shall appear unto salvation for all who love His coming. ( ; ).
Always, thus we notice also here, the “glory” and the “riches of glory” is the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. It is the glory of the truth as it is in Jesus. And this truth, this glory of grace, was historically manifested in the fullness of times in Jesus’ glorious death and resurrection. And this glory is revealed in the saints as Jesus says: And I am glorified in them. .
The last truth is also clearly stated by Paul in verse 18 of this chapter, where we read: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give you the Spirit of revelation and wisdom in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of the inheritance in the saints.”
Now here, too, we must notice the following in connection with the “glory of grace”:
1. That Paul here speaks of the “glory of God’s inheritance”. And this “inheritance” is “in the saints”. Now we have before stated that “glory” is not just a cloud, but it is the glory of preached redemption in the blood of the cross. It is to receive the end of our faith with joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is the Word of preaching, the Word of faith preached in plain prose on Sunday from the pulpit, as this Word is applied by the Holy Spirit and as it is received by faith that works by love. And so receiving the Word with joy, faith and gladness, the truth proclaimed makes us free. Paul seems to allude in this very passage to the words of Moses in His saints are in thy hand. And they sat down at thy feet, every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob.” And, it seems to us, that this “law”, “inheritance” is not the law that says “The man that doeth the same shall live by the same”, but it is “the word of faith, which says: The word is nigh unto us, it is even in our mouth and in our hearts”. , This inheritance in the saints is the wondrous work of the grace of God, the glorious riches of grace as this is the inheritance in the saints, who are the heirs of it by faith. where we read: “Yes, he loveth the people; all
2. Thus also it will be evident, that it is only the Father of glory, the Father of this rich glory of grace, as it is constituted the inheritance of the saints by the Word—that this Father of glory, I say, only can grant ability to see it. It is the manifesting of the secrets of the Lord to the children. He alone can grant us to see the Kingdom, the Kingdom in which we are ruled by the King-Priest through the Word and Spirit, so that we have faith in an ever-increasing measure in the Lord Jesus and love unto all saints. And, thus, here too, election’s design is realized in us, namely, that we be perfect in love, in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. And in this spiritual knowledge, that is, Spirit-wrought knowledge, we possess the essence of the riches of grace.
3. And so also here we notice, that the glory of God is not in the sounding thunder and the flashing lightning, nor in a brilliant theophanic display of the throne () but it is the glory of the grace of God wrought in our hearts by His Word and Spirit, which Word we receive by a true faith. It is the knowing of the Father’s love.
On the basis of the foregoing we may, therefore, conclude the following:
1. That in the revelation of God’s grace, the riches of God’s grace in its greatest display is the over-all design of God. And this is particularly true in view of what is to take place in the ages to come.
2. This is a sovereign purpose, to be sure, but it is not sovereignty in the abstract, in a vacuum, but sovereignty displayed in the superabundant riches of grace in us the saints in Christ Jesus. It is to be the sovereign display of infinite condescending love to us. This will indeed be the ‘Theme” of heaven. It will require the endless ages to come to exhaust (?) that divine motive. I like to think of it as endless and unthought variations in the hearts of tens of thousands and ten thousands of His saints, all perfecting the one grand master-piece of being perfect and without blame before Him as the realization of eternal election. Yea, it is the “Drama” of redemptive grace begun in our hearts now on earth, extending for ever and ever into the ages to come. There it will be the perfect and complete unfolding before our eyes of what we now behold through the glass darkened.
3. That heaven will be the earth filled with the knowledge of salvation, the saving knowledge of the will of God, as we read: “and they shall all be taught of God.” All the elect shall then be blameless before him in love, having the law written as the new covenant in their hearts. And we may add: thus there is also a connection between the knowledge that we may now have by the Scriptures, in the glass-darkened, and the knowledge in the ages to come face to face. It is the difference of knowing in part and of knowing even as we are known.