The following is a sermon manuscript from the Wednesday evening teaching at Calvary Bible Church, an audio version is available here
Now, let’s just take a moment or two with this phrase, “to the praise of his glorious grace” (ESV). I actually prefer the reading “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (NKJV). In other words, I understand the word “glory” to refer to the attributes of God. And in this case the attribute to which the Apostle refers is the grace of God. God did what He did to magnify to us and in us the awesome and amazing brilliance of His own character. So then the plan of salvation is meant for the purpose of displaying the magnificence of His Person.
The glory of God is the manifested excellence of God, and the glory of any one of his attributes, is the manifestation of that attribute as an object of praise. The design of redemption, therefore, is to exhibit the grace of God in such a conspicuous manner as to fill all hearts with wonder and all lips with praise (Hodge).
Why did God do what He did? Not because of anything in me or you. He did it in order to make His glory known in you and through you. You are a display case in which God demonstrates His grace. Beloved, you are a spotlight for grace. That’s what He created you for and that’s why He saved you. And this is the essence of the Christian life–the very power for your sanctification. As you understand these deep and rich truths you will find strength for living for His glory. Are you saved? Are you a Christian? Well then, if you say you are, you see here the reason that you are. You have been elected to be holy and blameless and predestined to adoption into God’s family. Let that truth sink into your heart and mind. What difference does this truth make in your life? This is the effect of the Biblical Gospel on the life of the believer. The Gospel that saves sanctifies.
This is exactly the thought that Paul had in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” In this case it is neither the worthiness nor the unworthiness of man that gets the ultimate attention but rather the grace of God. Do you understand that? You’ve not done anything that could possibly merit even the smallest measure of favor with God. And in the same way, your greatest, vilest, most despicable sin is not even close to overcoming the magnitude and weight of His grace. Nothing that I do could compel God to do what He did and nothing that I do (or fail to do) could compel Him to not do what He did. Just as I would not want to “praise” my ability or worthiness, so I must be careful not to “praise” my sin by supposing that somehow my damning sin would be greater than His saving grace.