The believers at Ephesus must have been surprised and perhaps overwhelmed at the thought they were a part of a great universal work of God that had been going on for a long time. Not only was there salvation for them personally through redemption by the blood of Christ, but they were in the plans of God for the future. I don’t know how it affected them in their first love for Christ, but they were certainly moved to do what God wanted. God’s sovereign plans do not eliminate the difficulties of life and the challenges that come against us from Satan and his hosts. But when we remember the fact that God is in control and ultimately the holy order He has planned will unite the world under the Prince of Peace, then we can commit ourselves now to being to the praise of His glory. We have a part in that great work. This is not some accidental act on our part, but the people of God have been predestinated by God to be participants in what He is doing.
There is an inheritance that Christians have now that the apostles had at the beginning of this age of grace , and Jewish believers saved through their preaching also we part of that inheritance at the beginning. Then the Gentile believers along with the Jewish believers in Ephesus were included, and that goes right through the years to us today. We are Jews and Gentiles, but “church of God.” “We have obtained an inheritance” that we also can be to the praise of the Lord’s glory, because we have trusted in Christ. God is doing all of this work Himself. He is the Source of this blessing, and the ultimate purpose of it will be the display of the excellence of His grace. The “exceeding riches of His grace” and “the glory of His grace” seen through the church will be put on display as one of the ways honor will be brought to God through us. What God has done, is doing now and will do in the future, displays His glory. When God has His right place among His people, there is joy, peace and unity among them even in this present day. How much more this will be when this principle is universal.
“The praise of His glory” is evidenced not only in what God is doing among His people and in His people, but in “all things.” He has designs in every aspect of His work that is to the praise of His glory. The order of creation and how every plant, animal and mineral is different from others, and yet is needed to meet a variety of needs, is to the praise of His glory. He does “all things” after “the counsel of His own will.” All of creation would be far less interesting if the only plant God made was grass, or the only animal He made was cattle, or the only metal that existed was silver. The unity and variety of God’s creation bears the stamp of divine impression by each thing being different and yet following a certain order of intelligent design from an atom to the atmosphere. God has left His signature on “all things.” Even in humans: there are a few that look alike as in identical twins, but that uniqueness only serves to enhance the glory of God’s “wisdom and prudence” in the variety of races and features of the people. If everyone looked exactly the same, had the same tone of voice and did everything exactly the same way, that would limit the “praise of His glory.”
The apostles were first in order as those who trusted in Christ. Then there were Jews who believed and they thought that was where God would stop in the building of His church. But from those early apostles and prophets, the word of the Gospel spread and came to Ephesus and that included both Jews and Gentiles who received that inheritance and were to the “praise of His glory.” The purpose of God has extended way beyond Ephesus and Europe to include people from all over the world. The whole body of Christ is a testimony to the purposes of God. Universal glory to God will result, and to a certain degree already has, as a testimony to the plans of God to bring the order of His design into being, When everything is united and functions the way God originally intended under the reign of the King of Glory, then there will be righteousness in the new heavens and new earth. The Ephesian Christians were given a glimpse of God’s purposes from the viewpoint of looking down from the heavenlies and seeing the big picture of God’s plans through His eyes.
What a wonderful vista of God’s work from creation, to the church, to the end of the age we get in the book of Ephesians. All of the things that we see and know are wrong, fade into insignificance when we see what God has planned. We can picture it all coming to completion “to the praise of His glory.” But how much more impacting it is on us personally when we realize that I am responsible “to be to the praise of His glory.” Not now idol-worshipping, ungodly, immoral, self-centered people who live for what I can get for myself now and ignore God, but those who have “obtained and inheritance ” with those who have gone on before us.We are participants in the same work and for the same purpose as the apostles who heard the commission of the Lord with their own ears. What great blessings we have been brought into even though we didn’t realize them when we “first trusted in Christ.”