Eph 1:9-11 God's Eternal Purpose for This Creation 8/10/2003 ßà
#1. That Which God Has Purposed in Himself (Eph 1:9, 1:4-6)
#2. That He Might Gather together in One (Eph 1:10)
#3. What Inheritance Have We Obtained? (Eph 1:11)
Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 1:9 (2X). While you are looking this up, think about the following facts: Can we fully understand our God? No! We know that our God is incomprehensible. I wrote that word on the board for the kids, that they may know how it is spelled. God is incomprehensible, which means that we can never fully understand who God is and what all His attributes are. Nevertheless, when we have become saved we have become the Bride of Christ, and as His Bride we are very eager to know more and more about our Bridegroom. Therefore, we are happy when we can glean from the Bible more information about our God, and about His wonderful works in this universe. Now, that is our objective in this sermon. The title of this sermon is God's Eternal Purpose for This Creation. Wow! Can we really know what God's eternal purpose for this creation is? Do we have Biblical evidence for that? That is why I had you turn to Eph 1:9, where we rd
Eph 1:9 Having made known unto US the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
First of all, what is "the mystery"? In the Bible a mystery is something that was hidden in the past, but now it has been revealed in the Gospel. Christian mysteries are revealed doctrines, which were formerly hidden in the Word of God, but now they have been revealed. To the world the Gospel is foolishness, because they are not able to comprehend it. They see it as shrouded in mysteries, which they cannot understand. But to Christians the mystery of God's purpose of redemption through Christ has been revealed. Here, in Eph 1:9, "the mystery of His will" refers to the previous verses, where God says that He has made US accepted in Christ, and through Christ, "In whom WE have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace". When God, through His Holy Spirit, made known unto US this mystery of His will, WE had the privilege that God made it known to US; God did not give this understanding to everyone in the world, but He gave it to US, freely by His grace. The definition of grace is unmerited, unconditional favor. God revealed to US that WE have obtained "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins", and it is a gift that is unmerited, which means it is not deserved for anything we have done or are going to do. Can you see that there is an element of exclusivity here? Let me quote to you another example. In Matt 13, when the Lord Jesus was preaching in parables to the Jews, His disciples asked Him, "Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?" Speak to them plainly because they cannot understand parables.
Mt 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Therefore, to the disciples it was given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, meaning it was given to them to know salvation, but to the masses of people standing outside it was not given. God has decided to give salvation to some people, but to others God chose not to give it. That is plainly called "Election" and "Reprobation". Let us now continue with the remainder of Eph 1:9.
#1. That Which God Has Purposed in Himself (Eph 1:9, 1:4-6)
Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Why did God "make known unto US the mystery of His will", and He did not make it known to the rest of mankind? God did that "according to his good pleasure", which God in His wisdom "hath purposed in Himself". In other words, God did not elect this one and that one and the one over there arbitrarily, like eeny miny moo here is another one; but God has a grand plan and we fit into that plan like stones fit into a fabulous building which God is building. This fabulous building is God's temple, and it is part of that which God has purposed in Himself and for Himself.
What God is communicating in Eph 1:9-10 is the ultimate goal of God for creating this universe, and creating the world with all the plants and all the animals, and God's purpose in creating mankind, and creating all those who are His elect people whom He is going to save. God made known unto US this "mystery of His will". This mystery in the first place refers to the message of salvation in the previous verses. But in the second place, this "mystery of His will" also refers to the future destiny of all things, which verse 10 is pointing to. When we have reached that future destiny we can look back and see the reason for which God has created US, "according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself". These words of verse 9 are resounding what God already said in Eph 1:4-6,
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Here we see again the statement that God predestinated us "according to the good pleasure of his will". God did not do it for anything we have done, or could do, or any qualifications in our bloodline, or any promises made to our forefathers, but God did it "according to the good pleasure of his will". And God did this, God chose us, God set us apart from the rest of mankind "before the foundation of the world", in order that our salvation might not rest on anything happening on this world, but that our salvation rests on the actions of God alone. This is what brings glory to God. That is why we read in:
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Put a sticker here in Eph 1:9, and please turn to the middle of your Bibles, to Psalm 33:11 (2X). Different people have asked me, not once but several times, "Pastor, why do you preach so often on election?" The answer is plainly here in Eph 1:4-6. It is "the good pleasure of His will" to elect some, and it serves "to the praise of the glory of His grace". God predestinates some people to go to heaven entirely according to the good pleasure of His will, and this decision that God made is according to the glory of His grace. The glory of God's grace, meaning God's unmerited favor, is upheld by this plan of salvation, which God has designed. Therefore, we glorify God when we proclaim that God saves by electing people unto salvation. On the other hand, when we proclaim the gospel of works that people become saved by them accepting Christ, we are glorifying man. And when we preach that God looked down the corridors of time and God saw this person and that person accepted Christ, and therefore God awarded them with salvation, we are glorifying man, because we are giving praise to the actions of man. This is an insult to God, who alone does the entire process of salvation.
But if I focus only on Election, separately from everything else that God is and that God does, then I am doing a great injustice to the work of God, because I am not painting the work of God in a proper perspective. Both election and reprobation are parts of predestination, and this again is part of the Counsel of God in the full sense of the word, as it pertains to all things. Therefore we must first focus on the whole plan of God concerning all things before we focus on the individual parts of that plan. This is the reason why in this sermon I am talking about God's Eternal Purpose for This Creation. This is the first sermon of a series in which I would like to show how the works of God tie together in one harmonious whole. We read in Psalm 33:11 (2X),
Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
What is the Counsel of the Lord? God's Counsel is the eternal thought and will of God concerning all created things, plants and animals and man and angels and the sun and the moon and the stars and everything else there is in this universe. God's Counsel includes all of these throughout all history from the beginning to the end of time. God's Counsel is also called God's Decree, because God has determined from before the foundation of the world what their destiny will be. Please turn to your right in your Bibles till you come to the Prophecy of Isaiah, and turn there to Isa 14:24 (2X). In Isa 14 God speaks about Babylon, and about the king of Babylon, and about Lucifer falling from heaven, and about the king of Babylon again, and about Babylon again. Thereby God indicates that the king of Babylon is a picture of Satan, who first was the angel Lucifer. God used Satan to do the work that fits perfectly in God's plan, and then God judges Satan for the wicked intents of his heart. God does that
Babylon is not the only nation which came against Judah. Assyria, which is another Chaldee nation, also represents the kingdom of Satan, and the king of Assyria also represents Satan. In Isa chapter 10 God says that He uses Assyria as "the rod of His anger" on the nation of Israel. Then God judges the king of Assyria for the wicked intents of his heart. God says in Isa 14:24,
Isa 14:24 ¶ The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Isa 14:25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is
stretched out upon all the nations.
Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
When we read in verse 26, "This is
the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth",
we understand that this is how God operates. This is what God does, not
just with the king of Assyria, but this is what God does with every individual
in this world, both with the elect and with the reprobate. That is why God says
in Rom 9:18, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will (
mercy), and whom he will he hardeneth". That is why God
says in Isa 14:24, "Surely as I have thought, so shall it come
to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand". And God
does that without making people robots. What God has purposed from before the
foundation of the world, that will absolutely come to pass. Not because God
looked down the corridors of time, but because God causes things to come to
pass the way He planned it. Please turn to Isa 46:9 (2X). There God
speaks about the deliverance of Israel from Babylon and the destruction of
Babylon by the Medes and the Persians. God says:
Isa 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isa 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east (Cyrus), the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
And perhaps you remember the words of 2Tim 1:9, where God says:
2Ti 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (Before the world began we were given to Christ.)
God's grace "was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began". How was God's grace given to us? We did not exist yet, and our souls did not exist yet, but we were in Christ since He was our Representative. He represented us as by proxy. Before the world began God's Counsel determined that He would save us from the clutches of Satan and that He would bring us to Himself. And what has this to do with the purpose of God in creating us? We read that God's purpose is:
#2. That He Might Gather together in One (Eph 1:10)
Please turn again to the Epistle to the Eph 1:10. Why has the all-wise God chosen to save us, whereas He chose not to save others. What is His goal? What is the outcome? What has God determined in Himself? What is the end of all the works of His hands? Here in Eph 1:9-11 we read about the actions of God the Holy Spirit in revealing to us that we have become saved, and revealing to us God's purpose in creating us and saving us. We have read in verse 9 what God has purposed in Himself, in His Counsel, with respect to the eternal purpose of all His works. Then we read in V. 10,
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
There can be no doubt that this verse deals with the eternal good pleasure of God. He has purposed in Himself from before the foundation of the world how things should be in the end. And God is not just speaking about all the elect, because God says emphatically "all things", and God specifies these things as those "which are in heaven, and which are on earth". What has God, from before the foundation of the world, determined in Himself with respect to this present creation? We see in verses 9 and 10 first of all that the entire creation shall be intimately connected and be a harmonious unity. Is all creation a harmonious unity now? No! The creatures are now separated and pitted in battle against each other. Plants are killing other plants. The animal world is divided, animal against animal, and animals against mankind. Microbes and viruses are attacking mankind. The world of mankind is divided: the reprobate are persecuting the children of God, and even the children of the Devil are pitted in combat against each other. In the spirit world Satan and his demons are in a spiritual battle against those of mankind whom they hate the most, and angels are sent by God to be ministering spirits to those who shall be heirs of salvation and heirs of God. But here in Eph 1:9-10 God teaches us that it was God's purpose from before the foundation of the world to unite all things again into a higher and all inclusive unity, both the things in heaven and the things on earth.
Secondly, we see that all things will be gathered together "in Christ", and they are governed by Christ as King. This is what God has purposed in Himself, and God will bring it to pass. God decided the end, and God sovereignly determined the way and the means that should lead to that end, sin and death included. God cannot be frustrated. This also means that creation shall be most intimately united with God, since Christ is God. This also means that all creatures who oppose Christ as their Lord will be removed into a place called Hell, and all things that have been defiled by them shall be destroyed, so that in the end situation only righteousness shall dwell where the Saints shall be. It will be a perfect universe where everything and everyone is united under Christ as the head. This is what verse 10 teaches us. Will there be many whom God has saved out of this world? The Bible says:
Please turn again to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 2:2 (2X). Here is a Messianic prophecy, referring to the spread of the Gospel in the NT time. Many chapters in Isaiah contain teachings that pertain to the NT time, from Pentecost in AD 33 until the Last Day. The foundational teaching through the Prophecy of Isaiah is that despite powerful worldly rulers and demonic forces, God will prevail and establish His Kingdom of Righteousness. We read in Isa 2:2,
Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
"The last days", or "the latter days", is in the Bible a technical term referring to the entire NT time. The mountain of the Lord's house refers to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of heaven is the same as the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God has two aspects. The Kingdom of God in heaven is a Kingdom where only righteousness dwells. God is there. When Christ ascended into heaven, 40 days after His resurrection from the dead, Christ was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, and Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven. The Kingdom of God on earth on the other end refers to the church, as long as there are saved beings in that church. For example the Mormon Church and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses have no part in the Kingdom of God on this earth, because there are no saved people there. If I may paraphrase Isa 2:2, it says that in the NT time the church of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be established in the top of the kingdoms on this earth. It shall be exalted very high, and people from all tongues, and tribes, and nations shall be drawn to it. Historically this is what happened. Many earthly empires, including the Roman Empire were brought in subjection to the church. Spiritually the Kingdom of God is far superior to any other kingdom on this earth.
Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
There will be many, from all tongues, and tribes, and nations who shall come to worship in the house of the God of Jacob. Why did God use the name Jacob here? The name Jacob is not a nice name. It means Supplanter, or Deceiver. Jacob was a first class deceiver, until God met him and wrestled with him at the Jabok river, and there his name was changed to Israel, which means "Prince of God". And then we remember that God said, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated". Jacob was an elect child of God before he was born. Jacob did not deserve it for he was a deceiver, but God chose to save him. And so it is with us, and with many who have become saved. We do not deserve to be saved, but God saved us, and then we become identified with the Israel of God. What a glorious transformation that is. Are you not glad that He is the God of Jacob? But since we were like Jacob, sinners rotten to the core, we have to be taught how to live like a child of the King. That is why we read in verse 3, "and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths". If we truly have become saved then we will walk in His paths, because God has given us a new heart in which we do not want to sin any more. Throughout time there have been many who have received this 2nd birth. Is it not wonderful that God has made known to us what His eternal purpose was for this creation? But God did not save us to make us feel good. God saved us for His purposes, and one of those purp. is:
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians 1:20 (2X). You know where to find Col, I hope. Remember "Go Eat Pop-Corn", which stands for Galatians Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. In Col chapter 1 we find an exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ that is an fitting complement of the words we find in Eph 1:9-10. We read in Col 1:16, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him". "All things were created by Him" because He is God, and they were created for Him, because this was the eternal purpose of God that in the end of time "He might gather together in one all things in Christ". But don't leave it at that. God's purpose for choosing us, works even now while we are still living on this earth. We read in:
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Through His suffering and death at the cross Christ has made peace between God and US. Was there no peace between God and US? Yes there is no peace between God and all mankind, because all mankind is conceived and born in sin. The Bible says that we are by nature sinners and haters of God, and are siding with the Devil, because Adam sold all his posterity into bondage to Sin and Satan. But Christ made peace between God and US, by atoning for our sins. Christ did not atone for the sins of every human being in the world. This can be seen clearly in all the Gentile nations who have lived before AD 33, they have lived and died without Christ, and will be cast into Hell for their sins on the Last Day. God did not choose to save them and therefore Christ did not atone for their sins. But on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ did not only purchase all those people whom the Father had given Him, but He also purchased the right "to reconcile all things" unto Himself. And here in Col 1:20 we read that by "all things" is meant "all things, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven". So then, where do we come in?
#3. What Inheritance Have We Obtained? (Eph 1:11)
Please turn about 15 pages to your left, to Eph 1:11 (2X). There we read about the inheritance that we have obtained. God does not say that we shall obtain an inheritance in the future, on the Last Day, but we have already obtained an inheritance. What is that inheritance? We read in Eph 1:11,
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, while we are still living on this earth. This inheritance is an integral part of "being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will". In other words, we have been predestinated to be the instruments through which God works to draw to Himself "all things after the Counsel of His own will". It is God's purpose to work through people as His spokesmen, as His prophets, to draw to Himself those things and those people that He intended to draw to Himself, as He had determined in His Counsel before the foundation of the world. That is our inheritance now, while we are still living on this earth. We will also receive an inheritance later, on the Last Day, but our inheritance and our eternal life begins now. We have received the church as our family in Christ. It is a fact that there are still a lot of unsaved people in the church. We should not be too worried about the unsaved people in the church. Let God worry about them. We have received the Bible and we read in the Bible that we are used by God as His instruments to draw to Himself "all things after the Counsel of His own will".
Wow! Is it not exciting to be used as God's instruments? We have been drafted into God's service. We have been chosen, and called, and have been transformed from servants of Satan to servants of God. How can we serve God? Is there anything that we can do to show Him our gratitude for saving us? We would be delighted to be of service to Christ, for the furtherance of His Kingdom. We read in the Bible about the salvation of a wicked man: Saul of Tarsus. And we read how he was used in the service of God as the Apostle Paul. Can we take Saul of Tarsus as our example? Please turn about 75 pages to your left, to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 26:13 (2X). In this chapter the Apostle Paul is in Caesarea where he recounts to king Agrippa, and to governor Festus, and to a great company of captains and principal men of the city, about the vision he received on the road to Damascus and about his conversion in the city of Damascus. What an opportunity! And Paul told that Jesus said:
Ac 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Ac 26:14-15 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Can you see the enormous honor that God has bestowed upon us? Saul was persecuting the church. He thought he was persecuting the followers of Jesus. But the Lord Jesus Christ informed him that he was persecuting Jesus personally. This is how much the Lord Jesus identifies Himself with us. In the Bible we are called the Bride of Christ, and we are called the Body of Christ. But little did we realize that we have been so identified with Christ that when someone is hurting us, it is as if they have hurt Christ personally. This is how much Jesus owns us and protects us. Then we read in:
Ac 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Ac 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Ac 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
This was God's purpose, "to make him a minister and a witness", and sending him to the unsaved in this world, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins". This was Saul's inheritance. Did Saul like this? Absolutely yes! When Saul was saved he was immediately on fire for the Lord. He was witnessing for Christ so effectively that the Jews wanted to kill him, and the Christian disciples had to smuggle him out of the city of Damascus by night. But do we realize that this is our inheritance also? We should examine our life. Are we on fire for the Lord? Do the haters of God also hate us for our witness? This is our inheritance here on earth. We should be delighted that we have received such an assignment to be of service to Christ. Do we show by our actions that we have received this great inheritance? Because, if you are not on fire for the Lord, you might not be saved. Let us now look at:
Please turn about 150 pages to your right to the First Epistle of Peter, chapter 1:3 (2X). You will easily recognize this chapter, because I use verse 2 of this chapter every other week to give you the greeting from the Lord. This is one of the few places where all three Persons of the triune Godhead are named. These are God's words, sent to us for our comfort. God says in 1Pet 1:3,
1Pe 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4-5 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
When did the Body of Christ become alive again? It was on resurrection Sunday, when the Spirit of Christ entered again into His body, and He rose from the grave. The Bible says that we were raised with Christ. That is why we are also called the Body of Christ. We are so intimately identified with Christ that His bodily resurrection identifies with our resurrection, by proxy. Just like with Christ, our resurrection occurs in two steps. The resurrection of our soul identifies with the moment that Christ rose from the grave. The resurrection of our body identifies with the moment that 40 days later Christ ascended into heaven. That is why God in verse 3 says that the Father "hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". Then in verse 4 God promises us an incorruptible inheritance, which has been reserved in heaven for us. What is that inheritance? Some people identify this inheritance with a private mansion for each of us in the New Heaven and the New Earth, where the streets are paved with gold, and where the gates are gigantic pearls, and so on. This is a very materialistic outlook on the glory we shall receive in the life hereafter. Instead we should be looking forward to be with Christ. He is our Bridegroom. There could be no greater reward for a Bride than to be with her Husband for all eternity. Just like God said to Abraham: "I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward". When we have Christ we can enjoy Him forever. Who cares about streets of gold? When we have Christ we have everything. We will adore Him and be forever amazed at the glory of our Husband, in ways that are not describable in terms of this universe.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.