MUSINGS CONCERNING GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE
The Eternal Purpose of God “According To” Ephesians (Conclusion)
“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.” (Eph. 1:11)
“In whom also we have obtained and inheritance.” The word “also” in this phrase brings into consideration the fact of addition. There is a “much more,” a multiplicity of riches in all of the purposes of God. The depth and scope of His fullness in the redeemed is truly passed finding out. “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor.2:9) The believer has not even slightly entertained the glorious conception much less the Divine vastness of the Lord’s preparations, nor do we have the capacity to do so. At best, we see through a glass darkly and comprehend but a minimum of the unsearchable riches we have in Christ.
We can ascertain from the verses thus far noted that as resplendent as the election. The predestination, the adoption, the acceptance, the redemption, the forgiveness, and the mystery, there is still this exalted “also,” this glorious addition, the Divine much more. “In whom “ALSO” we have obtained an inheritance.” Because the purpose is eternal, and because it is God’s, it is viewed as already complete – “we have obtained an inheritance.” The worth of this statement draws its excellence from the fact that Jesus is the procured of eternal redemption. It is Christ Jesus the Lord that effectuates the gathering together in one all things. (verse 10)
The inheritance, albeit beyond our ability to define, still is ours by the perfections of Jesus Christ and His flawless obedience to the Fathers will.
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.” According to verse 6, believers were made acceptable in the beloved. To the Colossians Paul expanded this thought by adding these words to an already triumphant knowledge by declaring that God was the architect of the believers being partakers of this inheritance, and not just the author of the inheritance. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col. 1:12)
It may be ardently stated with respect to the inheritance, God the Father decreed it, Jesus Christ secured it and made it unimpeachable, and this sustaining unalterable position is kept in force by the power of God. “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, 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.” (1 Peter 1:3-5) This was also the conviction of the Psalmist, “He shall choose our inheritance for us.” (Ps. 47:4)
By the means of death Jesus Christ solidified the called of God and by a purchase price made a covenant acquisition, that being, the eternal inheritance which the chosen ones being already justified by Him may call their own. (Heb. 9:14-15)
“. . . being predestinated ACCORDING TO the purpose of him..” No one seems to have a great deal of problem understanding that predestination means predetermined, appointed, or settled beforehand, until it comes to the doctrines of salvation. When it has to do with the counsels of God, however, the “by His sovereign infallibility He orders and guides all events whatever they might be” prejudices of all sorts manifest themselves until predestination becomes the most hated suggestion possible. Nonetheless, it is still a Biblical tenet and needs to be prayerfully and scripturally endorsed if one is to embrace the whole counsel of God.
Paul ardently held that believers were predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ. (verse 5) Romans 8:20-30 cannot be ignored or set aside as unnecessary without demolishing all redemptive events. “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?” (Rom. 9:20-21) To deny absolute predestination modifies the whole of God’s power and counsels. What created being dares to exalt his own wisdom above that of the Almighty? We should think no professed believer would seek to advise God or hope to change that which is written. “God’s predestinating act tallies with this governing and normative purpose, and he is the One who ever works “all the things” that his purpose covers according to the counsel of what he wills. His purpose cannot fail of realization, for there is never a thing that God does not work in accord with the counsel of his will.” (Richard C. H. Lenski)
“. . . who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” If God did not work and will all things, “all things” could not possibly work together for good to them that love Him.” (Rom 8:28) To the Colossians, Paul enveloped everything that is and everything that happens in the absolute control and ordering of God. “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: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col. 1:16-17) Nebuchadnezzar in his regained understanding saw God in a manner that many professed believers fail to grasp when he declared “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35)
Whatever man says or does in opposition to the decrees of God is really insignificant. It is what the Lord declares that matters, and what He says must be believed if He is to be truly worshiped. He either is sovereign in all things, all works, and all things, or He is not. He advises mankind that His counsel and purpose are certain. The works of God are unassailable. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 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: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, 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.” (Is. 46:9-11)
“In describing how this plan actually finds fulfillment, how it actually come to us, how it begins to operate, the Apostle uses the word ‘worketh’ – ‘In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated to the purpose of him who WORKETH all after the counsel of his own will’. This is the Apostle’s way of saying that God is not only entirely responsible for the initiation and the conception of the purpose, He is equally responsible for carrying it out.” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones) Paul’s shorter catechism on this thought of God’s working would simply be “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)
“. . . After the counsel of his own will.” God’s counsels are eternal and immutable. “The counsel of the LORD standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” (Ps. 33:11) “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” (Heb. 6:17) God takes great pleasure in His counsels (Ps. 135:6) and even though men may devise many devices to the contrary, none the less the counsels of the stand for ever. (Prov. 19:21)
“The believer’s inheritance is based solely upon God’s predestinated purpose. A purpose that He works out “according to ”His own will. “His desire and His decrees are not at variance, but every resolution embodies His unthwarted pleasure. This divine fore-resolve is universal in its sweep – “He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” The plan of the universe lies in the omniscient mind, and all events are in harmony with it. Power in unison with infinite wisdom and independent and undeviating purpose, is seen alike whether He creates a seraph or forms a gnat – fashion a world or round a grain of sand – prescribe the orbit or a planet or the gyration of an atom. The extinction of a world and the fall of a sparrow are equally the result of a free pre-arrangement. Our “inheritance” in Christ springs not from merit, nor is it an accidental gift bestowed from casual motive or in fortuitous circumstances, but it comes from God’s fore-appointment, conceived in the same independence and sovereignty which guide and control the universe.” (John Eadie)
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, ACCORDING TO the working of his mighty power.” (Eph. 1:19) What is the exceeding greatness of His power? This must be concluded as a question that has no thorough and complete answer in finite terms. The declaration is made by the Apostle only for the sake of enhancing that which believers “do know” and “do understand” about Divine power. That it is exceeding divine power in its scope is recognized by all who have some knowledge of the unsearchable God. Note once again 1 Cor. 2:9. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” What is being taught by .these words is that believers are not capable of even forming a proper conception of the Lord’s exceeding greatness. Its vastness and Divine value are so advanced that even the keenest insight does not possess the faculties to recognize but a small portion of what truly exists. For it is recorded “neither have entered into the heart of man.” The same conviction is reintroduced in chapter three where it is written “that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” The exceeding greatness of God’s power is without doubt beyond human perception of definition.
Perhaps the Apostle used the phrase “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward” to ignite a spiritual flame which caused believers to muse and ponder the glory of the Fatherly affection He has for His chosen.” . . . “and it shows that power is that which is exerted in the implantation of faith, and in the continuance of it, and in the finishing of that work; and that this is a great power, an exceeding great one, a super eminent one; which is attended with energy and efficacy, and is irresistible and insuperable: the greatness of this power as displayed in the work of conversion and faith appears, if it be considered what the work itself is called, a creation, a resurrection from the dead, a regeneration, and a transformation of the man into another man, which must needs require almighty power; as well as what is then done, some things are removed, Satan is dispossessed, the stony heart is taken away, the enmity is slain, the old man is put down from his throne, and put off with his deeds, and there are some things wrought; Christ is formed in the soul, his grace is implanted, his image is stamped, a new heart is given, and principles of light and life, of grace and holiness are put in: understanding is enlightened, the will is subdued, the affections are set on other objects, and the mind and conscience are cleansed and purified…To which may be added, the opposition made both from within and from without, from a sinful heart, a tempting devil, and an ensnaring, reproaching, and persecuting world: so that this work of faith cannot be ascribed to anything short of the exceeding greatness of divine power..” (John Gill)
That man could write volumes upon this one subject and still fail in doing justice to the one who inspired its penning is obvious. “The use of so many terms arises from a desire to survey the power of God in all its phases; for the spectacle is so magnificent, that the apostle lingers to admire and contemplate it. Epithet is not heaped at random, but for a specific object. The mental emotion of the writer is anxious to embody itself in words, and, after all its efforts, it laments the poverty of exhausted language.” (John Eadie)
The most profound attribute immersed within this glorious exceeding great power is the blessed fact that believers, as weak as they are, still live by the power of God. (2 Cor. 13:4) Our confidence must always be in the faithfulness of exceeding great power. What is that power – define it – and then be comforted that it is to us-ward and we shall live by it forever. “ACCORDING TO the working of his mighty power.”
“. . . ACCORDING TO the working of his mighty power.” In Ephesians 3:7, it is called “the effectual working of his power.” God first gives gifts and then by His power and grace He makes them work in and for His redeemed. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13) See also Phil 1:6.
In Colossians 1:29, it is said to be ACCORDING TO his working which worketh in me mightily.” It was the testimony of John that without Him His people could receive nothing. (John 3:27) This exceeding great power is a working power which is God working His work of perfection in the vessels afore prepared unto perfection. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21)
Nothing else works like God works and He works with exceeding great power in the redeemed. And be it ever remembered, it is “ACCORDING TO” the working of His mighty power which worketh in us. (Eph. 3:20)
“ACCORDING TO the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:11) Unlike man, God never changes. He never changes His mind, His intent, His will, nor His purpose. God the Father and everything about Him is eternal. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)
All that is to be shall be. It is all “ACCORDING TO” the eternal purpose of God. Redemption for the elect is as certain as the purpose of God in Christ Jesus. These glorious mercies were given believers before the world began. “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but by “ACCORDING TO his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim. 1:9) God willed whatever comes to pass and none can stay His hand or turn away His exceeding great power.