Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
If some wealthy stranger raised walked up to you and gave you a million dollars what would you do? Would you just stick it in your pocket and say, “Wow that was nice?” No, I think surely one of the first questions that would come to your mind is, “Why? Why did this man do this for me?” Well, in Ephesians 2:1-6, Paul has been explaining what God in His grace has done for those who are in Christ. Something much more wonderful than giving us a million dollars. He has rescued us from hell. He has raised us up from spiritual death and has given us new life in Christ and a new and royal status in the heavenly places. And we were not merely strangers to him, we were His enemies, rebels against God, disobedient, defiled, walking according the course of this evil world and doomed for hell. But God in His rich mercy loved me and sent His very own eternally begotten Son to die for me. And He has given to me this salvation as a completely free gift. But why? Why has God gone done this?
We may not know all the reasons, but the ultimate reason, the ultimate purpose of saving grace, is revealed to us in text referenced above, Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Paul is telling us that the ultimate purpose of saving grace is God’s own glory. He has saved us for His glory. God has planned a public display. He is showing something. And who are the audience? Well certainly the human race is part of the audience. But not only that, angels and principalities and powers in the heavenly places are the audience. Paul tells us this back in ch. 3:10 of Ephesians. He says, “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” The angels desire to look into these things, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:12. Even the powers of darkness, the demons of hell and Satan himself, are part of the audience. There is a sense in which God is vindicating Himself against all the slanders of the evil one he first began to spew out of his wicked mouth when he lied about God to our first parents in the Garden. God’s ultimate purpose in our salvation is the glorifying of Himself.
This is something the Bible tells us repeatedly. Paul has already spoken of this back in chapter one of Ephesians. He says in v.14 of that chapter that God has saved us, “to the praise of His glory.” He says in v.12, “that we should be to the praise of His glory”, and in v.6, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” And we see it again in our text, chapter two verse seven.
Now this raises a question. It’s something I think troubles people sometimes. The question is, “Isn’t it selfish for God to be so committed to His own glory? If God’s supreme passion, and ultimate purpose, is His own glory doesn’t that make God into some kind egomaniac?” What do we say to that?
First of all, God must be supremely committed to His own glory because God is righteous. It would be selfish and wrong for anyone else to be committed to their own glory, but it’s not selfish for God to be. For God to fail to be committed to that, or for God to be committed to anything else more than that, is to be committed to something less than that which is the highest good because God is the highest good, and that is sin. So God must be supremely committed to His own glory because God is righteous.
But consider, secondly, God is supremely committed to His own glory also because God is so loving and so kind. What’s the connection between God’s love for his people and His commitment to his own glory? It is loving for God to exalt His own glory because knowing Him and His glory is our highest happiness and the highest happiness of all of His creatures. There is nothing and no one but God who can ever satisfy us and make us truly happy because He is the most lovely and the most satisfying being in all of the universe and we were made to know Him and to enjoy Him forever. Therefore, it would be unloving for God to make anything other than the glorifying of Himself his chief pursuit.
Another way we see that God’s supreme commitment to his own glory is at one and the same time supremely loving and kind it that the glory He seeks to magnify above all else is the glory of His grace in His kindness toward sinners like you and me. Paul has already said it back in chapter one verse five of Ephesians, “having predestinated us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to the praise of the glory of His grace.” And this is what we find here in the text at the head of this article, chapter two, verse seven, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
You see, God is making a public display. The audience is the entire moral universe, including all the angels of heaven and the demons of hell. And what is it that He wants to reveal? What is it that He wants to exhibit? Paul says, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace.” God wants to exhibit in the most lavish and extravagant manner His grace. God wants to exhibit before the whole universe the super-abounding riches of his grace. But now who does God put on stage in order to exhibit this? Who are the exhibit? We are! God’s people are! Notice, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace”, how? “In His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Brothers and sisters, do we not see what wonderful meaning and purpose this gives to the life of every Christian? We are His workmanship and in giving His Son to die for us, and in saving us from our sins, and in the good works He has prepared for each one of us beforehand to walk in, we are on display. It is in us, and through us, that the almighty, everlasting God is vindicating Himself and glorifying His name. This is our purpose and joy in life, that men might look at us, that even angels and demons might look at us, and be forced to marvel at the riches of God’s grace.
Let me also point out that, though God is revealing the riches of His grace through us even now, there is a great unveiling to yet to come. On the last day, at the consummation, God is going to make the last great exhibition. The curtain will be drawn back and all the heavenly powers and principalities will be invited to attend the grand showing. Lloyd-Jones commenting on this points out, in a very moving way, that this is the very thing we read about in Revelation 7:9ff. Perhaps, you know the passage. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb with palm branches in their hands and crying with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” And listen, “All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures…Then one of the elders said, Who are these arrayed in white robes and where did they come from.” You see, that will be the great question asked, as it were, by the principalities and powers in heavenly places. The curtain is pulled back and there we all stand in our white robes with palms in our hands. “Who are these? Where did they come from?” And the answer comes back, “These are the ones who…washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore…for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
That’s grace, my dear friends. “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”