The salvation of mankind was described in a wonderful sermon by evangelist E. V. Hill as ‘God at His best’. Hill described redemption as a greater work than the creation of the universe. He ended the message with these words, ‘When He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace’. This salvation is so amazing that the Old Testament writers wished to know more about it, and, currently, the angels of heaven desire to look into and understand those things believers enjoy, 1 Pet. 1. 10-12.
Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3-14 describes the wonder of God’s redemptive work, and three times over proclaims it was all for His glory. Salvation from start to finish is all about what God has done; the only part that belongs to man is to hear the gospel and to trust or believe, Eph. 1. 13. This section, verses 3-14, speaks of the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. On the Father’s part, all that was done was to ‘the praise of the glory of His grace’. When referring to the Son and the Holy Spirit the statements are ‘to the praise of His glory’.
According to Ephesians chapter 1 verses 7-12, the Father’s purposes are fulfilled in Christ, both in His incarnation in the past and in His exaltation in the future. Further, those Jews saved in the first century, called ‘first fruits’, are to the praise of His glory, v. 12.
In verses 13-14 the presence of the Holy Spirit in us as a seal for our security is the fulfillment of a promise made by the Lord Jesus. The Spirit in us is the guarantee that those who are forgiven will experience the redemption of the body at the return of Christ. This work of the Holy Spirit is said to be to ‘the praise of His glory,’ v. 14.
The work of salvation displays the wonder of God’s grace. It is ‘according to the riches of His grace’, that God has redeemed us and extended to us the forgiveness of sins. His grace allows believers to be accepted in the Beloved. God is glorified because of His amazing grace.
Paul explains in Ephesians chapter 2 that salvation is a gift from God received by faith. The fact that it is from God, and not of works, eliminates the possibility of human merit, and thus removes any ground for boasting. Instead, all the glory goes to God, as believers are His workmanship and recipients of His gift.
This same principle is seen in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. The gospel is viewed as ‘foolishness’ by the unsaved, but it is God’s means of reaching the perishing. The type of people God reaches and saves are often held in low esteem by the world. God purposely takes what is despised by man, what is of no account, so that it becomes obvious that the work is of God. This is done so that no one could possibly take credit for, or even share in the glory of, what was done.
The wisdom of God is displayed by what Christ is to us. Christ is our source of righteousness; He is the cause of our sanctification, and He is the certainty for the redemption of our bodies. Again, all of this is for the glory of the Lord, and assures that all glory for the work of salvation goes to Him, 1 Cor. 1. 29-31.
Paul preached ‘the gospel of the glory of Christ’, adding this description, ‘who is the image of God’, 2 Cor. 4. 4. Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers lest the light of that glory should shine on them and they should be converted. For believers, it is only because that light shone in our hearts that we received the light of the ‘knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’, v. 6.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Paul recognized that the privilege of preaching was a matter of God’s grace, and that it was God who gave the increase. What was produced, was a result of the word of God as an incorruptible seed, and the life from above given by the Holy Spirit. All of this demonstrates that salvation is of the Lord, and this leaves man no room to boast.
Paul claimed that on a human level, both as to his pedigree and in his person, he had much about which to boast, but he counted it all as loss. He said that the only boast he would make was in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Gal. 6. 14. Paul’s motive in eating, drinking, in the presentation of the gospel, and his view on financial support, was the glory of God.
When Christ returns to earth He will be glorified in us. Usually the thought is that we will receive glory in Him and from Him, 1 Thess. 2. 14. But on that day believers will be on display as the objects of His grace, and He will be admired as a result, 2 Thess. 1. 10. In fact, as sinners saved by grace we will be on display for all eternity, ‘In the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus’, Eph. 2. 7.
Fanny Crosby’s words ring true today, and will do so in eternity:
‘To God be the glory great things He hath done!
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son’.
She went on to write:
‘The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives’.
The chorus ends with:
‘O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory
– great things He hath done’.
In heaven, all the redeemed will sing a new song, a song that will proclaim the worthiness of the Lamb and give Him glory, Rev. 5. 9. Here and now His own can sing,
‘Salvation’s glory all be paid
To Him who sits upon the throne,
And to the Lamb whose blood was shed;
Thou! Thou art worthy, Thou alone!’
‘Let us with joy adopt the strain
We soon shall sing forever there:
Worthy’s the Lamb for sinners slain,
Worthy alone the crown to wear!’