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God's Glory In The Church — Eph. 3.21

The final two verses of Ephesians 3 record a doxology — “a hymn or liturgical formula expressive of praise to God” (Evans, 872).

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” —(Ephesians 3.20-21)

The essence of this song is this: because of everything God does for us, every single generation of man must give him glory “in the church and in Christ Jesus” for indelible ages.


This passage reveals at least three significant truths about the church Jesus built.


First, the church is crucial to giving God the glory he deserves.

Anyone who loves God knows that he is worthy of glory (cf. Ps. 18.3; Isa. 43.7; Rev. 5.12). But how do we glorify him?


Can we glorify him without honoring his son? Assuredly not! We can only give glory to God “in Christ Jesus.” As Jesus put it:

“He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” —(John 5.23).

But what about the church? Can we glorify God and his son without being “in the church?” The same passage also answers in the negative. We cannot honor God and ignore the church any more than we can honor God and ignore Christ! The Bible says we must be “in the church and in Christ Jesus” to give God the “glory” he deserves.

To be clear, this does not mean that we can only glorify God when we are in assembly or in the “church building.” On the contrary, wherever we are and whatever we are doing — whether assembled with the church or elsewhere — we must “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10.31).


Rather, being “in the church,” in the book of Ephesians, meant being a “member” of “his body” (Eph. 5.29-30; 1.22-23) — i.e., belonging to the organization that Jesus built.


Unfortunately, there are millions of people who assume they can honor God without bothering with “church” matters. This passage—among several others—shows that if we want to give God the glory that is truly due to him, we must do so as members “in the church.” For more on this point, see: "The Lord's Church (4): Its Essentiality."

Second, Christ built only one church.

Again, Paul wrote:

“to him be glory in the church…”

During the New Testament era, there were multiple congregations of Christians meeting around the world (e.g., Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, etc.). However, they all professed to belong to the same body of believers — “the church” (singular).


New Testament Christians knew nothing of the tens of thousands of differing sectarian organizations in existence today. Rather, they taught that there “is one body” (Eph. 4.4; cf. 1 Cor. 12.12), and that Christ serves as “head over all things to the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1.22-23).


So when they spoke of “the” church, they knew exactly which one they were talking about — the one Christ built and over which he serves as “head” and "savior" (cf. Mt. 16.18; Eph. 5.23).


If we wish to glorify God, therefore, let us unite as part of that one body exactly as the lord created it!


Third, the church is permanent.

Again, the doxology ends:

“to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”

Sadly, many think the church is an outdated institution. A new generation has arisen that thinks it can find other ways to glorify God in our modern era without the church.


Yet, Paul urges “all generations” to glorify God “in the church.”


Culture and style can change. Technology and fashion can change. But the church of Paul’s day spans the generations. It is perpetually relevant.


Her doctrine, her worship, her organization, her terms of entry, etc. — these are things God built into the church to heal the souls of men from the problem of sin and to reconcile us with him. And sin is still a problem in our time. Reconciliation with God is still needed. And so Paul urges “all generations” to embrace the very same church Jesus built.


Hence, the church of Christ doesn’t need to be changed — much less abandoned! It needs to be supported, defended, cherished, and sustained for the generation to come.


Conclusion

“Christ and the church” — the head and the body — is the central focus of God’s revelation to man (Eph. 5.32; 3.8-12).


More than wanting us to be wealthy; more than wanting us to find our soul-mates; more than wanting us to find a good job; more than wanting us to create a pleasant society upon the earth; more than wanting to make us feel good about ourselves; God wants us to know about Christ and the church he built. When we do that, God is glorified.


May this generation, then, give him the glory that is due to his name both “in the church and in Christ Jesus...forever and ever. Amen.”

Evans, M. O. “Doxology,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. II (James Orr, et al., ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986. 

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