“Moreover, because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that he delights in, for as part of God’s sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be his, and all things happen just as he decided long ago. God’s purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to him for doing these mighty things for us, who were the first to trust in Christ” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
It might be easy for someone who isn’t interested in spiritual things to look at this passage and think, Wow, God must be pretty insecure- why should it matter to God if people praise Him or not? Is God hurting for compliments so badly that He needs people to congratulate Him?
Besides the fact that these questions are disrespectful and insulting to God, they also miss the point. You see, God doesn’t need anything but God does want people to recognize the truth about who He is and respond to Him in a way that acknowledges that truth.
These questions also reveal a hidden double-standard. Think about it like this: if it’s OK for human beings to accept the praise and honor of others when they deserve it, then why would it be wrong for God to do so- especially when His accomplishments are so much greater than anything that a mere human being could ever do? You see, when you praise God, you are really giving Him the credit that He deserves. God has earned the right to be honored, respected and praised by people because of who He is and what He has done.
Giving praise and honor and respect to God isn’t something that He needs but it is something that He is worthy of- and it’s right for human beings to give God the credit, honor and respect that He deserves.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV).
When someone buys an item that will be delivered later, the seller will often ask for a “deposit” or a partial payment that guarantees that the rest of the purchase price will be provided upon delivery. Another term for the word deposit is down-payment, an expression that’s often used for really big purchases like a home or piece of land. While these terms are mostly used for things like buying and selling, the Scripture quoted above tells us that they can also be applied in a spiritual sense.
You see, the presence of the Holy Spirit in every Christian is like a down-payment or guarantee that God will make good on all His promises. The Bible tells us that every Christian has God’s Holy Spirit living within them (see John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) and Jesus promised that the Spirit would show the way to all truth (John 16:13). So the Holy Spirit is God’s “seal of approval” so to speak, the guarantee that He will deliver on everything that He has promised us .
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).
This verse features the word “heart,” a word that Christians often use but rarely seem to define . Now it’s obvious that this verse isn’t talking about that big, blood-pumping muscle in your chest, so exactly does this refer to?
Well, the word “heart” used here is taken from the Greek word kardia and it forms the basis for our modern-day English word cardiac. Depending on the way that this word is used in a sentence, the word “heart” refers to someone’s innermost being in a physical, emotional or spiritual sense. So when this verse says, I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened it means, I want you to know in the depth of your being about the incredible inheritance that God has stored up for you.
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV).
God has chosen to work in this world through His church, a diverse group of people who are known as the “body of Christ.” Every Christian, regardless of their culture or social background is a member of this body. To better understand this idea of the church as “Christ’s body” let’s take a moment to use your physical body as an illustration. For example, let’s say that you wanted to pick up a glass of water. Pretty simple, right? Well, let’s think about all the things that have to happen before you can actually pick up a glass of water.
First, your brain first must send out the assignment. Then your eyes, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers must all work together to pick up that glass. But that’s just the obvious part- what about the other parts of your body that aren’t directly involved in picking up that glass? For instance, what if your heart or lungs stopped working while you started to reach for that glass of water? Or how about your legs- what if they stopped supporting you? What would happen if your liver, kidneys or other internal organs suddenly stopped working? You see, the parts of the body that aren’t seen are really just as important as the parts that are seen. Each part of the body must do it’s job or all the other parts are affected.
This idea also holds true for the church, the body of Christ. Like the human body, every Christian has a job to do within the church and while your responsibility may not be as noticeable as others, that doesn’t make it any less important. Romans 12:4 explains it like this…
“Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.”