To the praise of the glory of his grace - Δοξης της χαριτος αὑτου· The glory of his grace, for χαρις ενδοξος, his glorious or illustrious grace, according to the Hebrew idiom. But the grace or mercy of God is peculiarly illustrated and glorified in the plan of redemption by Christ Jesus. By the giving of the Law, God's justice and holiness were rendered most glorious; by the giving of the Gospel, his grace and mercy are made equally conspicuous.
Wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved - This translation of εν ᾑ εχαριτωσεν ἡμας εν τῳ Ηγαπημενῳ is not clear; with which he has graciously favored us through the Beloved, is at once more literal and more intelligible. Whitby, Macknight, and Wakefield translate the passage in nearly the same way.
In the Beloved must certainly mean in Christ, who is termed God's beloved Son, Matthew 3:17; but several excellent MSS., such as D*EFG, the later Syriac, the Ethiopic, Vulgate, Itala, with several of the fathers, add, υιῳ αυτου, his beloved Son. This is the meaning, whether the reading be received or rejected.
To the praise of the glory of his grace - This is a Hebraism, and means the same as “to his glorious grace.” The object was to excite thanksgiving for his glorious grace manifested in electing love. The real tendency of the doctrine in minds that are properly affected, is not to excite opposition to God, or to lead to the charge of partiality, tyranny, or severity; it is to excite thankfulness and praise. In accordance with this, Paul introduced the statement Ephesians 1:3 by saying that God was to be regarded as “blessed” for forming and executing this plan. The meaning is, that the doctrine of predestination and election lays the foundation of adoring gratitude and praise. This will appear plain by a few considerations.
(1) it is the only foundation of hope for man. If he were left to himself, all the race would reject, the offers of mercy and would perish. History, experience, and the Bible alike demonstrate this.
(2) all the joys which any of the human race have, are to be traced to the purpose of God to bestow them. Man has no power of originating any of them, and if God had not intended to confer them, none of them would have been possessed.
(3) all these favors are conferred on those who had no claim on God. The Christian who is pardoned had no claim on God for pardon; he who is admitted to heaven could urge no claim for such a privilege and honor; he who enjoys comfort and peace in the hour of death, enjoys it only through the glorious grace of God.
(4) “all” that is done by election is suited to excite praise. Election is to life, and pardon, and holiness, and heaven. But why should not a man praise God for these things? God chooses people to be holy, not sinful; to be happy, not miserable; to be pure, not impure; to be saved, not to be lost. For these things he should be praised. He should be praised that he has not left the whole race to wander away and die. Had he chosen but one to eternal life, that one should praise him, and all the holy universe should join in the praise. Should he now see it to be consistent to choose but one of the fallen spirits, and to make him pure, and to readmit him to heaven, that one spirit would have occasion for eternal thanks, and all heaven might join in his praises. How much more is praise due to him, when the number chosen is not one, or a few, but when millions which no man can number, shall be found to be chosen to life; Revelation 7:9.
(5) the doctrine of predestination to life has added no pang of sorrow to anyone of the human race. It has made millions happy who would not otherwise have been, but not one miserable. It is not a choice to sorrow, it is a choice to joy and peace.
(6) no one has a right to complain of it. Those who are chosen assuredly should not complain of the grace which has made them what they are, and which is the foundation of all their hopes. And they who are “not” chosen, have no right to complain; for,
(a)they have no claim to life;
(b)they are “in fact” unwilling to come.
They have no desire to be Christians and to be saved. Nothing can induce them to forsake their sins and come to the Saviour.
Why then should they complain if others are “in fact” willing to be saved? Why should a man complain for being left to take his own course, and to walk in his own way? Mysterious, therefore, as is the doctrine of predestination; and fearful and inscrutable as it is in some of its aspects, yet, in a just view of it, it is suited to excite the highest expressions of thanksgiving, and to exalt God in the apprehension of man. He who has been redeemed and saved by the love of God; who has been pardoned and made pure by mercy; on whom the eye of compassion has been tenderly fixed, and for whom the Son of God has died, has abundant cause for thanksgiving and praise.
Wherein he hath made us accepted - Has regarded us as the objects of favor and complacency.
In the Beloved - In the Lord Jesus Christ, the well-beloved Son of God; notes, Matthew 3:17. He has chosen us in him, and it is through him that these mercies have been conferred on us.
And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6. The glory that rested upon Christ is a pledge of the love of God for us. It tells us of the power of prayer,—how the human voice may reach the ear of God, and our petitions find acceptance in the courts of heaven. By sin, earth was cut off from heaven, and alienated from its communion; but Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory. His love has encircled man, and reached the highest heaven. The light which fell from the open portals upon the head of our Saviour will fall upon us as we pray for help to resist temptation. The voice which spoke to Jesus says to every believing soul, This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased. DA 113.1
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Our Redeemer has opened the way so that the most sinful, the most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find access to the Father. All may have a home in the mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare. “These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; ... behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:7, 8. DA 113.2Read in context »
10 (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:14; 3:5; James 2:22). Good Works No Plea for Salvation—Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God's free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ's sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul. 5BC 1122.1
But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ's merit alone; and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful natures. 5BC 1122.2
The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those works which will be rewarded at His hands (The Review and Herald, January 29, 1895). 5BC 1122.3
28-30 (Genesis 19:24, 25). Rocked in Cradle of Carnal Security—As the sun arose for the last time upon the cities of the plain, the people thought to commence another day of godless riot. All were eagerly planning their business or their pleasure, and the messenger of God was derided for his fears and his warnings. Suddenly as the thunder peal from an unclouded sky, fell balls of fire on the doomed capital. “So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The people will be eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, until the wrath of God shall be poured out without mixture of mercy. The world will be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security.... The multitudes are striving to forget God, and they eagerly accept fables, that they may pursue the path of self-indulgence undisturbed (The Review and Herald, October 26, 1886). 5BC 1122.4Read in context »
Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things. Many forgot the true significance of these offerings; and the great truth that through Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin, was lost to them. The multiplying of sacrificial offerings, the blood of bulls and goats, could not take away sin (The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893). 7BC 933.1
The Lesson of the Animal Sacrifices—A lesson was embodied in every sacrifice, impressed in every ceremony, solemnly preached by the priest in his holy office, and inculcated by God Himself—that through the blood of Christ alone is there forgiveness of sins. How little we as a people feel the force of this great truth! How seldom, by living, acting faith, do we bring into our lives this great truth, that there is forgiveness for the least sin, forgiveness for the greatest sin (The Review and Herald, September 21, 1886)! 7BC 933.2Read in context »
When He sees men lifting the burdens, trying to carry them in lowliness of mind, with distrust of self and with reliance upon Him, He adds to their work His perfection and sufficiency, and it is accepted of the Father. We are accepted in the beloved. The sinner's defects are covered by the perfection and fullness of the Lord our righteousness. Those who with sincere will, with contrite heart, are putting forth humble efforts to live up to the requirements of God, are looked upon by the Father with pitying, tender love; He regards such as obedient children, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed unto them. OHC 51.5Read in context »