Ephesians; 1:5 – The predestined will be conformed to His image; the first and the last

Wednesday April 10, 2019

Eph 1:3-14 constitute the most sustained and perfect act of praise that is found in the apostle’s letters.


It is as though a door were suddenly opened in heaven; it shuts behind us, and earthly tumult dies away.


In Galatians and Romans the thought of salvation by Christ breaks through Jewish limits and spreads itself over the field of history; in Colossians and Ephesians, the idea of life in Christ overleaps the barriers of time and human existence, and brings all things in the heavens and on earth under the sway of the life of Christ breathing within man.


Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,


It wouldn’t be terrible to revisit some things here.


God is our Father. “Our Father who is in heaven, sanctified be Your name.” Blessed be His name.


Blessed be His name is the perpetual song of the Old Testament. From Melchizedek to Daniel, in the triumph of David and the misery of Job – they praised the Most High God, the God of heaven, the Almighty, the I AM (Yavah), the God of Israel, the Shepherd and Rock of His people, the true God, the living God, the everlasting King; all of them glorious titles, but not until this age could men say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” who is our own Father who has blessed us with ever spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.


The blessings from the Father that prompt Paul’s praise are not the blessings conspicuous in the Old Covenant.


Deu 28:2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.


Deu 28:3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.


Deu 28:4 Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.


Deu 28:5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.


Deu 28:6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.


Would these be enough for you now that you know the blessings of your heavenly Father to you and the church?


We read our Lord’s beatitudes and hear: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the persecuted.” Something significant has changed.


How many of these blessings in Deu 28 did Paul, the former great Jew and Pharisee actually possess? Before his conversion he had them all in abundance, but then, after being made a new man in Christ, he counted them all as rubbish in view of the surpassing blessing of knowing Christ, and fellowshipping with His suffering and death. Paul was a childless, landless, homeless man who often faced great physical and mental hardship, and he gloried in all of it because the power of Christ clothed him. He was a man of singular happiness and spiritual wealth, all of which, and not a farthing less, is offered to all in Christ. And, Paul is still making men rich, thousands of years later. Though not apostles, we too will make many others rich when the blessings from our Father are counted by us as more than sufficient. And remember, Paul is writing Ephesians from prison.


From the gloom of his prison he sheds a light that will guide and cheer the steps of multitudes of earth’s sad wayfarers.


Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,


The spiritual blessings are the blessings in and of God the Holy Spirit within us. None of them work within us if the Spirit is not guiding and quickening our inner selves.


In this letter, Paul would warn us not to grieve the Holy Spirit within by setting our minds on sin and the flesh rather than on Him and the reality of our lives in Christ Jesus. The Spirit has been placed within each of us in order to reveal the truth of our position and the resultant ethical character that accompanies it.


So then, in verse three we have the Trinity involved in blessing us; Father, Son, and Spirit.


The blessings come from God in the heavens, but the emphasis in the letter is blessings that lift us into the heavenly sphere of God our Father. “Our life is hid with God,” Col 3, and our “citizenship is in heaven,” Phi 3.


Spiritual, heavenly, and Christian: these are all one.


In Christ dying, risen, and reigning, God the Father has raised believing men to a new, heavenly life.


Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love


Before the foundation of the world, before Gen 1:1, everything was prepared; nothing was unprepared nor any saint not foreknown.


Gal 1:15 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased


Gal 1:16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles


Salvation lies as deep as creation.


The Divine prescience, the “depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God” – as well as His absolute righteousness, forbids the treasonable thought of anything arbitrary of unfair cleaving to this predetermination – anything that should override our free-will and make our responsibility an illusion. He foresees everything and allows for everything, and the mystery of this is to us a wonder of His grace and mercy, “for there is no injustice with God.” (Rom 9:14)


Eph 1:5 In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,


The consistence of foreknowledge with free-will is an enigma which the apostle did not attempt to solve.


The question pressed upon men and agitated them then as they do now. Paul would only answer what the Holy Spirit revealed to Him and so to us in verse 5, it is “according to the kind intension (or “good pleasure”) of His will.” “There is no injustice with God, is there?” (Rom9:14).


When the towns in Galilee saw the miracles performed by Christ and did not repent, He said just as Paul did:


Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes.


Mat 11:26 "Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight.


What pleases Him must be wise and right. What pleases Him must content us. Impatience to see the inner workings of God is a lack of faith. As Paul instructed us:


1Co 4:5 wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.


Eph 1:5 In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,


Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


We have the aorist active participle of proorizo. Pro = before + horizo = a boundary or limit. It means to predetermine, to decide beforehand, or to foreordain.


This verb is used six times in the NT. Significantly, Paul uses it again in this chapter in verse 11.


Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,


Eph 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.


In verse 5, the Father predestined us to adoption as sons and in vs. 11, He predestined us in general, meaning as His sons. And as sons, we have also obtained an inheritance.


We do not find the word “predestined” referring to the day to day planning of your life by God. Rather, we read of God’s will, His pleasure, His commands, and His desire for your character. He does not tell us what job to take, what time to wake up, how many hours of sleep, what to eat, what to wear, who to marry or not marry, etc.


Predestined is used for you as a person and not day to day events. God gives us His will, a mystery predestined, a character to apply to our day to day events.


1Co 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;


The disclosure of God’s secret plans for the world, the predetermined mystery truth, overwhelms Paul by its magnitude, by the splendor with which it invests the Divine character, and the sense of his personal unworthiness to be entrusted with it.


1Co 2:9 "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,

And which have not entered the heart of man,

All that God has prepared for those who love Him."


1Co 2:10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.


The spring of Paul’s theology is the sense of personal union with Christ Jesus through the Spirit of God. “In Christ,” and the Father in Christ acting upon us. 


More than 20 times in Ephesians does Paul write “in Christ” or its equivalent concerning our position and our actions. No other NT writer conceived the idea in Paul’s way, nor has any subsequent writer of whom we know made the like constant and original use of it. Not only this, but Paul’s understanding of God the Father in Christ saving and operating upon man, as in “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world,” “forgave us in Christ,” “made us in Him to sit together in the heavenly places,” “formed us in Christ for good works.”


Proorizo used in: Eph 1:5, 11; 1Co 2:7; Act 4:28 (of our Lord); Rom 8:29,30.


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