Sunday’s post reminded me of something that Dr Ware taught us in a contemporary theology course not too long ago. He challenged us to develop our Trinitarian categories, and to work hard for clarity in the distinctions between the persons of the Godhead.
One challenging example he gave was that of Ephesians 1. How many times have we read Ephesians 1 and gloried in the amazing grace of God which called us, sought us, won us, and keeps us? Too many to count! And yet, how many times have we thought seriously about the pronoun ‘he’ / ‘him’ / ‘his’ in that passage? To whom does that refer in which instance?
It is important to understand whose grace we are revelling in, and whose praise all of this is for. After all, getting the praise of ‘his’ glorious grace right is the very point of the passage!
Admittedly, the pronouns in the passage can seem a tad difficult to identify. Here is Dr Ware’s interpretation (based on the ESV translation):
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places [i.e. Praise the Father who gives blessings through the work of Christ, mediated to us by the Holy Spirit], even as [the Father] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be blameless before [the Father]. In love [the Father] predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ [to the Father] according to the purpose of [the Father’s] will, to the praise of [the Father’s] glorious grace, with which [the Father] has blessed us in [his beloved Son]. In [the Son] we have redemption through [the Son’s] blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [the Father’s] grace, which [the Father] lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of [the Father’s] will, according to [the Father’s] purpose, which [the Father] set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.
In [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of [the Father] who works all things after the counsel of [the Father’s] will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of [the Father’s] glory. In [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in [Christ], were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of [the Father’s] glory.
If we were to praise God for his work in salvation, based on this text, the praise would necessarily be Trinitarian. All the members of the Godhead have their roles, and the glory of all three is extolled. But whose glorious grace should be the centre of our attention and praise, based on these verses?
Is this reflected in your prayer life? How about your private worship? Why are we so quick to abandon the primacy of praise to the Father for his work in salvation?