To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The devil loves to separate. He worked hard in the old dispensation to separate God from His people, accusing them of being unworthy of any blessing (b). He delights to separate believer from believer. He loves to destroy the unity of the body of Christ with all sorts of schismatic activity. The devil delights to separate believers from the assurance of their salvation.
There are times when the consciences of believers accuse them that they have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, kept none of them, and are still inclined to all evil. At such times we fear that we might not be saved. Nevertheless God, merely of grace, shows us what He has done in Christ.
Earlier in this chapter (Eph. 1) Paul declares that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (3) predestinated the elect to the position of being adopted children of God (5), so He is their Father too. God has done this “according to the good pleasure of His will” (5), not because of anything in us. It is all entirely of His good pleasure! And now the apostle gives the ultimate purpose for doing this work in Jesus Christ: to the praise of the glory of His grace!
This text declares the wonder accomplished by divine grace. God’s grace makes us “accepted in the beloved.” The word that is translated “made accepted” means to be made graceful or lovely. The only other time it appears in the New Testament is in, where the angel Gabriel addressed Mary as “highly favored.” Mary is made to be accepted of God; she is made lovely and graceful.
Listen in the preceding verses in Ephesians 1 as the apostle describes God’s work of salvation. God blesses us with all spiritual blessings; He chooses us in Christ so we are holy and without blame before God; He predestinates us unto adoption of children. And now Paul adds that God’s grace makes us highly graced and beautiful.
Every blessing given to the elect is in and through the
Lord Jesus Christ. Paul made that abundantly clear also in the preceding verses. Just count how many times he spoke of Jesus in the previous five verses: seven times! And now he declares that the blessing of being “made accepted” is also in Jesus, but he uses a different name for Him: “the Beloved.”
This is a very special name for Jesus. God used it every time He “opened” heaven and spoke about Jesus (or to Him). At His baptism God declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (). On the mount of transfiguration God stated, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” ( ). In the parable of the wicked husbandmen the lord of the vineyard said, “I will send my beloved son” ( ).
When the triune God identifies His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as His “Beloved,” He is describing the relationship He has with Jesus, namely, that it is one of love. A son has the right to his father’s name and the right to an inheritance. But, in addition, God declares that His relationship to His Son is one of greatest intimacy. He who is love () gives the whole of His love to His Son. The Father has loved Him from all eternity, and the Son has always enjoyed the whole of God’s love! The whole of the Father’s affection is centered in Jesus. We must say then that no term expresses so perfectly and so completely the relationship between God and Jesus as “Beloved.”
Then the fact that we are made accepted in the Beloved expresses the measure of the Father’s love toward us. To know correctly God’s love for us, we must grasp the truth about the Beloved Son of God. We accurately measure the love of God for us when we consider the suffering God put on His Beloved for us. God spared not His Beloved, but delivered Him up for us all. Strive to grasp something of this fact to know the love that passes knowledge. And even more is the Beloved’s love for us, that He would willingly leave His Father and take upon Himself our nature, our suffering, and our death—because He loved us.
When we put this together, then we can learn that the Father’s relationship to us can be described as Jesus put it in His last prayer: “Thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (b)! If Jesus did not say it, I would not believe it, or dare to say it. God loves me as He loved His Son! No wonder we are “accepted” and “highly favored.”
That God’s relationship to every one of the elect is one of love, which is centered in and begins with His Beloved Son, is made clear when God gives to the elect this same name: “beloved.” Paul urges “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” () to “put on…bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,… And above all these things put on charity” ( ). Now notice that the powerful motivation the apostle gives to these believers is found in his identification of them: “the elect of God, holy and beloved”! God loves them—the God who elected them and who makes them holy. The same identification is found in : “brethren, beloved of the Lord.” The ultimate height of salvation and redemption is that we are elevated to the position of being loved as God’s only begotten Son is loved. It is because we are “in the Beloved” that we are “the beloved” of God.
Whenever you are inclined to think that God is unloving toward you, then direct your thoughts to this passage. Whenever you fear that God has forgotten to be kind and that His mercy is gone forever, then correct your thinking by considering the truth of this passage. Realize that you might not understand what is happening to you, but understand clearly the truth concerning yourself and all the elect, that you are beloved of God in the Beloved One.
God’s work of making us highly favored. Lovely, graceful—because of His glorious grace. The divine power that takes wretched, filthy, putrid, and ugly sinners and makes them lovely and beautiful is the power of God’s undeserved love.
In the preceding verses Paul has declared that it was God’s choosing of us in Christ that makes us holy and without blame (4). It was because of His love that God predestinated us unto the adoption of children (5a). It was all “according to the good pleasure of His will” (5b). It was not because of anything in the elect. It was entirely of Him. And now that thought is repeated: it is God’s grace that makes anyone accepted in the Beloved Son. Divine, undeserved love is the only power that can make beautiful and favored those who have daily sins of infirmity and spots adhering to their best works. What power! What love!
Those who receive this undeserved love of God praise Him. We have been chosen to be holy and to have spiritual adoption into God’s family and to be made accepted in the Beloved, so that we might praise the glory of God’s grace. There is no better test of our profession of the faith than whether our attitude and conduct praise God’s grace. This is what makes Christianity and the salvation it proclaims so unique among the religions found in this world. Christianity is not a record of man and what man has done, but of God and what He has done. It declares God’s glory. It is not about the benefits of salvation we enjoy, but rather about our giving all the glory and praise to God. May all men see and hear us declaring and magnifying the glory of God.
It is true that human minds and human language are greatly handicapped when having to convey the true sense of God’s glory. His glory is the resplendent radiance and splendor that shine forth from the majesty and beauty and greatness of God and His grace. God’s glory is God Himself, which glory filled the tabernacle and temple and is seen in Jesus (). And the gospel is the proclamation of the glory of God ( ).
How are we to think of our salvation? It is to fill us with wonder, amazement, and praise of God. This is the chief end of man: to glorify God. The chief end of man’s salvation is not that we are delivered from hell and are given many benefits, but that we give God the glory. God’s work of redemption reveals the riches of the glory of God’s grace and of His wisdom (8). By making us holy, God reveals the glory of Him who is holy, holy, holy. In redeeming us from all of our sin and sinfulness we see the abundant greatness of God’s love, and we see the glory of Him who loves.
It is and always will be about God and His glory. We are going to do that forever in heaven. So let us praise Him now. Let us declare His worthiness to receive all our worship. It is His grace that is the only power that can and has made us to be accepted in His Beloved. Let us cease not to praise the glory of that grace.