“In whom we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of the one who works all things according to the counsel of his will, to the end that we should exist to the praise of his glory — those who first hoped in Christ; in whom you also, in hearing the word of Truth, the Gospel of our Salvation, in which you also believed and were sealed in the Holy Spirit who was promised.”
“To the end…” To what end does God work all things? Is it so that we might be saved? No, though God works salvation in us to this end. Is it so that we might love God? No; once again, we ought to love God for the work of salvation he has manifested in us and we ought to love God because he is worthy of that love in the ultimate sense. You see, often our answers to a question like this revolve around us and our human perspective. No, God orders all things according to the council of His will so that we should exist to the praise of His glory. It is not about us and it is entirely about God.
Folks, the Bible is not anthropocentric (centered on man), but it is theocentric (centered on God). How hard it is for folks to really wrap their heads and their lives around this truth. Our sin has made us selfish and self-centered and how often we build our theology in such a way as to tickle the ears of our selfishness. When one listens to the evangelists of today, do you pay attention to how they begin? Do they begin with a glorious God who is holy and who is worthy of praise or do they begin with some sort of generic appeal to how you are loved by this God? Do they say, “you must repent and believe!” or do they say, “he is waiting for you to choose him”? How you speak and think when it comes to sharing the Gospel says a lot about your theology and upon what that theology is centered.
Paul’s goal is that we understand that whether Jew (those who first hoped in Christ) or Gentile (the Ephesian church largely), our purpose is to praise God. He is the only thing in this whole creation that is truly worthy of praise and adoration and as a church, we are called to do so and to instruct the world that they are called to do so as well. Whenever we build a theology around us, around our works, or around anything or anyone other than around God himself, we do not faithfully glorify our God…and that ought to cause us to tremble in repentance. How short we often fall and how far we often are from living out — from “existing,” as Paul would say — to the praise of His glory.