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Count Your Blessings

Part 10


The adoption which we have just seen is

according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his gracious glory, with which he showed us grace in the beloved, [Eph 1:5-6]

The Israelites were taught about glory and grace. God's glory in the Old Testament was a display of power, used to teach Israel God's righteous ways, but it was a fearful thing to them. After the Israelites had grumbled against the Lord about their food in the desert,

they saw that the glory of the LORD had appeared in the cloud. [Ex 16:10]

When the assembly talked about stoning Moses and Aaron because it thought it was better off in Egypt than in the desert, when

the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of contact to all the sons of Israel. [Num 14:10]

The principle of grace is also taught throughout the Old Testament, e.g. in 2 Kings 5 where Naaman is healed of leprosy free of charge, by obeying Elisha's instructions to simply wash himself seven times in the Jordan.

Israel looked forward to more glory and blessings at the coming of the Lord, but they were in an earthly context. Consider Isaiah 40:3-5

A voice calling in the desert,
“Clear the way of the LORD;
Make a straight highway in the arid land
For our God.
Every valley will be raised,
And every mountain and hill will be lowered,
And what is steep will become level,
And the rugged place
A low plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together,
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
[Isa 40:3-5]

Grace in the Old Testament is used in the sense of favour, sometimes merited favour, sometimes unmerited favour:

For the LORD God is a sun and a shield.
The LORD gives grace and honour;
He does not withhold what is good
From those who walk in integrity. [Ps 84:11]

At that time, says the LORD, I will be God to all the families of Israel, and they will be a people to me. This is what the LORD says:
  “The people who escaped the sword
  Have found grace in the desert,
  Through me taking steps to give them rest
  — Israel, that is.” [Jer 31:1-2]

In Ephesians, the glorious grace is freely given in the One God loves. This is, of course, God's beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and in Him God's glory is revealed:

And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]

Grace is itself a free gift, and in Ephesians its freeness is emphasized (the Greek of Eph 1:6 reads literally “grace in which he graced us”). We cannot earn God's gifts even by paying with gold and silver, but God gives them to us freely and willingly, provided we access them through Jesus Christ. This is a principle found in many parts of Scripture, e.g.

knowing that you were not redeemed by perishable things, silver or gold, from your vain comportment as handed down from the fathers, [1 Pet 1:18-19]

The grace freely given in Ephesians is called glorious. This is because the Lord is glorious and the gifts He gives us are at the level of His own glory!

God has

made us ... alive together with Christ [Eph 2:5]

and raised us together and seated us together in the upper-heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [Eph 2:6]

and our resurrection body is actually like His glorious body:

for our citizenship is in the heavens, from where we also await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, so that it becomes conformant to his glorious body according to the force by which he is also able to subdue everything to himself. [Phil 3:20-21]

All our blessings in Ephesians make us partakers of the Lord's glory, because we have

every spiritual blessing in the upper-heavenly places in Christ, [Eph 1:3]

We lowly creatures have been raised to inexpressible heights, together with Christ. We will be seeing why this is in more detail later, but basically it is because God loves us and it is His will — 1 John 4:19 and Eph 1:5.

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