At this time, we must seriously consider if what’s being labeled ‘Christianity’ is the real thing. Could it be that what we’ve been handed is nothing more than watered-down counterfeits? Hopefully you’ve learned that following Christ consists of more than just going through the motions for the sake of wanting to condemn other people. Especially now that the window is closing far too quickly to continue settling for the same re-packaged lies.
Nothing alive ever remains the same – it is always becoming something else, changing in some way. Throughout our experience, our lives, outlook, self-perception, and even our reliance upon God move in one direction or another whether we realize it or not. We hold our beliefs and offer prayers while professing to have a relationship with the Omnipotent God Who created all things. With the road you’re on, is your life truly becoming what you want it to be or what you believe is God’s best for you? This Epistle helps us to recognize not only where we are, but what our lives were meant to be, which deep within is what we really want.
Once an Israelite personally meets Christ in his heart, genuine Christianity is about becoming who He wants us to be. This Epistle goes a few steps beyond most of what we have in Scripture, particularly when it comes to spiritual progress and personal growth. Paul’s goal from the very beginning is to direct us towards becoming focused on God’s will for our lives.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Ephesus” was the capital of the senatorial province of Asia within the Roman Empire. At this time, it was noted for having one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the temple of Diana. Paul visited Ephesus on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-21). It is most likely that this Epistle was written while Paul was a prisoner in Rome, and is the ‘sister Epistle’ to the one written to the Colossians, also delivered by Tychicus.
As we’ve shown in a previous study, “an apostle” is one selected and sent by God as a representative. Here, the beloved Apostle Paul unashamedly introduces himself as one hand-picked by “Jesus Christ by the will of God”. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to be an apostle, a preacher, or even a teacher to be interested in doing God’s will. Do you see yourself as one sent to this world for a particular purpose? It isn’t arrogant for Paul or anyone who truly knows their calling to say this concerning their self-awareness of God’s purpose for their lives. Paul ‘paid his dues’ to get where he knew God’s will was for his life (Galatians 1:15-18). This then is an Epistle written by a man who knew who he was and what being a Christian meant – Israelites becoming “faithful in Christ Jesus” by ministering “to the saints”. Appreciate the “grace” and “peace” God is extending to you to recognize this about yourself. Like Paul, you can one day know for certain that you are becoming everything God wants you to be.
What Paul is about to share deserves our undivided attention. Understand, you will never fully accomplish anything of any real significance for God if you do not accept how special you are in His plan. As these saints were when this was originally written, you are in for some deep, valuable insight which will help you to become “faithful” or full of faith “in Christ Jesus”.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: 5 Having predestinated us unto the position (adoption) of children (sons) by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
As you can see, Paul begins this Epistle with some riveting information, shifting our attention to eternity past and the Divine perspective of God’s infinite mind. Things between us and God do not begin when we come to Him in this life. Our relationship with God began and was initiated by His “spiritual blessings” toward us “before the foundation of the world”. Through blessings or being a blessing is the way God has established for us to relate to Him and one another “in love”. Therefore, in His eternal mind, us being a blessing to Him is for the primary purpose of Him creating us – “To the praise of the glory of his grace”. Seeking and performing God’s perfect will is to always remain our primary motivation, which is how we express our deepest gratitude for His grace and love.
This further explains why Paul told the Romans that doing God’s will is just our “reasonable service” – it should make perfect sense to us. For God has done more for us than our finite minds could ever comprehend, even taking on Adamic flesh and coming to die for us. Just as Scripture states over and over, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the eternal context though, He is referred to as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” Who “made us accepted in the beloved”. Even before God spoke everything into existence, “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” that we might live and become just like “Jesus Christ” Who accomplished His Father’s will perfectly in the flesh and was declared “holy and without blame”. We will only have ourselves to blame if we fail to become focused on doing God’s will in our lives.
Within this description of God’s decrees from eternity past, Paul states how God “predestinated us” – Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #4309 which is to limit in advance. This refers to God creating each of us to fulfill a particular purpose in this life for His glory. Predestination was God limiting us in advance to reach a certain goal for Him. Without this understanding, we’ve been led to assume that even knowing God’s will is virtually impossible or probably limited to only a select few, making life harder and more difficult. This is the complete opposite of many things Jesus taught, including His personal invitation to serve Him, when He said – “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. Paul is giving us an eternal basis for Christ’s statement. God in advance intended for us to only become focused on whatever particular things He wants us to do for His glory. As you will see, this understanding is the key to begin accomplishing His will in your life and even in seeing your prayers being answered.
Therefore, any confusion anyone experiences concerning God’s will has been self-imposed and/or due to a lack of clear, Biblical exposition on these subjects. How frustrating and impossible it would be to live the Christian life had God not done this. Repent and begin living your life in light of this truth. God has etched out a clear path for each of us to follow as parts of the body of Christ – the pressure is off. Now it can begin to make sense to you just how the Gospel is good news for us here and now.
Though it certainly can be beneficial, for many however, learning about race doesn’t make one’s perception of fulfilling God’s will appear any easier, possibly making it seem to be an even steeper climb. To become aware that we are surrounded on all sides by God’s enemies and that for the most part, they control almost everything in the modern world, that in and of itself, isn’t very good news at all. This proves that race is only one aspect of the Gospel, not the whole Gospel of Christ itself. The Gospel is only good news when we have the full message. As we see, part of that is that God Almighty has ‘had our backs’ since before the foundation of the world. Absorb into your heart, mind, and soul that God chose you and has predestinated you to stand up as one of His sons! We are more than conquerers when we personally find what our sovereign God’s particular pathway is for our lives. After trying so hard to do what others have taught us based on their shallow interpretations, enter in at the “strait gate” of Sonship onto the “narrow… way” that Jesus spoke of that “few” ever find. Become focused on what God predestinated for you to become and do by faith for His glory (Matthew 7:13-14).
Hopefully by now you realize that following Christ isn’t accomplished by going along with external, man-made sets of rules and rituals even if they are derived from the Bible. If that was the case, the Pharisees would have been His Disciples and Saul of Tarsus would have never needed to repent. Yet here we see Paul as a new man, living it out himself and proclaiming that God has a predestinated plan for all His “children” which he’ll now define even further throughout this Epistle. A primary duty of anyone who teaches God’s Word is to assist you in being directed by the Spirit of God to know this for yourself.
So we see, before the foundation of the world, God has chosen and predestinated us to achieve His perfect will by assuming our position as the sons of God. Paul continues on, expressing what only Christ could do to bring us to that place:
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 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: 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: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Even in its execution, God’s plan transcends time and space, spanning countless generations, and will find its fulfillment perfectly “in Christ”. His blood accomplished everything God intended, namely – “the forgiveness of sins” for Israel. Through Christ, everything has been removed between you and knowing God’s will for your life. The only thing left is for you to accept it. Before you can begin to focus on God’s will, you must “first” be one who has “trusted in Christ.” Realize in the depths of your heart that you have been bought back by God with the most valuable and precious commodity – Christ’s sinless “blood”. If you are not convinced that you are in God’s favor, it isn’t because He has not done His part – you must place your trust in Him. Reject everything that makes you question your worthiness of God’s ultimate blessings in Christ.
It is time to shut out all other voices in exchange for acquiring the “wisdom and prudence” God will provide you which fits His predestinated plan for your life. For He is also the One Who came and “through his blood” provided you with the total “forgiveness of” all your “sins, according to the riches of his grace”. Here is where some false teachers like to come along and confuse people by claiming salvation isn’t personal. While from the other side of the ditch there are those who teach in essence, that faith is a one time thing to escape eternal punishment – neither one holds the truth. As will become even more prevalent, salvation is personal and involves us becoming something “to the praise of his glory” in this life. As they spin their arguments, just remember none of these experts are the One that made you special and became the Sacrifice for your sins. Furthermore, those who see no reason to personally trust in Christ, also see no need to repent of their own sins. By this, they are blatantly ignoring “the counsel of his own will” and should not be taken seriously as teachers of God’s Word in any capacity.
Paul just informed us that “before the foundation of the world” God “predestinated us unto the position of sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Paul continues with this idea of Sonship, showing us that there is no other way to know for what particular “purpose” he “predestinated” us, outside of knowing “his own will” personally. Furthermore, why would Paul say this was all that “we should be to the praise of his glory” based upon or “after the counsel of his own will”, if us knowing His will personally was unnecessary or intended to be virtually impossible?! On the contrary, according to Paul, these same “riches of his grace” which provided for “the forgiveness of our sins”, also “abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence… according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself”. In other words, whatever He predestinated each of us to do, will somehow further the spreading of the Gospel to our kindred – “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ”. This is the way He has chosen to do it and we are the means by which He will get it done.
Again, notice how God’s will for each of us could never have been meant to remain some unsolved mystery. But He has “abounded toward us” or as the New American Standard Bible states, He has “lavished” on us all we’ll need to know to do His will. Therefore, the proof and the purpose for personally coming to know God’s will is that He has already “made known unto us the mystery of his will” through the knowledge that Christ came to redeem us, particularly, those “who first trusted in Christ.” This is one of the main reasons we must each first trust in Christ personally by faith and assume our position as His sons, which again, Paul says is “his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself”. But why does Paul refer to it as Christ’s “good pleasure” or as the New American Standard Bible more clearly puts it “His kind intentions”, if God never intended for us to personally know His will for ourselves? FOR US TO KNOW GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES BENEFITS BOTH US AND GOD.
God has wanted His people to know His will regarding Israel’s redemption ever since Christ’s accomplished it, otherwise, many years since then when Paul wrote this, he would not have distinguished between Israelites who were already “in heaven and” those “which are on earth”. This illustrates how Sonship involves Israelites assuming personal responsibility for becoming focused on God’s will in our individual lives. Otherwise, how would our lives be any different than the way they were before, other than us becoming more confused and frustrated, which is where most Christians are today. This empty void that exists in our lives cannot be filled with anything other than becoming focused on God’s will. Absent proper teachings such as on Predestination and Sonship, Paul later addresses what even today has led to so much confusion – being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”.
What has already been revealed here should be enough to convince us to become focused on God’s will. For this is the way we begin to assume our position as His sons, wanting to perform our Father’s will. It’s not enough just finding out Israelites are White people and then sit around all puffed up whining about non-Whites. Stop wasting time and become all you can be “to the praise of his glory,” as Paul continues to speak of Christ:
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
If we have truly “heard the word of truth”, evidence of it will come forth from our lives. Everything Paul has and will cover, merely expands upon what Almighty God has decreed, accomplished, and wants applied to our lives by “the word of truth”. Now how can you know whether or not what you are listening to is it? Because of what it produces in your life. If it truly is “the gospel of salvation” you have received, then it certainly will not produce more “trouble” in your life than what you previously had, as what Paul told the Galatians is brought about by “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9). Why would God want the message of Christ to be called “the gospel of salvation” if it is not good news producing visible, preserving, positive effects in your life? If the gospel you have received has not made your life better, then what you have received is not Christ’s Gospel of salvation! For the Gospel Paul preached brought God’s goodness and purpose to those who “trusted” in it.
Here is the way to respond to all that our sovereign God has done for us – prove you trust Him by becoming focused on His will. God expects results from those who hear “the word of truth” which is only for genetic Israelites – both personal and life-changing. Do not listen to those who tell you there is no personal salvation – they are the blind leading the blind. They would rather shut you out from the power and benefits of the true Gospel of Christ, then repent of their selfish pride and error. Paul goes on to describe how those who personally believed the Gospel “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” which is in reference to us having been predestinated to Sonship. How do we know this is the same? Because what he already stated previously goes on to explain how that Christ “obtained an inheritance” which is only reserved and guaranteed for those who assume their position as the sons of God. Paul expounds further upon this in Romans chapter 8.
Here we see from both God’s perspective and our own that the best way to begin being a blessing to Him, Who “predestinated us unto the position of sons”, is by first personally placing our faith in Christ. The Apostle John taught this when he spoke of Jesus for Israel. He said, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Clearly, God predestinated us to Sonship and our response is to receive the Gospel by believing on His Name. For no Israelite assumes his position as a son of God, until he places his personal faith in Christ. It does not come through any works, rituals, or even being born an Israelite.
THEREFORE, ABOVE ALL THINGS, BECOMING FOCUSED ON GOD’S WILL IS ABOUT PERSONALLY TRUSTING IN CHRIST. Do you really believe His “word” is the “truth” you can base your whole life upon – “the gospel of your salvation”? If so, then you “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest” or guarantee that you indeed can know and perform His perfect will in pursuit of your “inheritance”. This remains in effect “until the redemption of the purchased possession,” all of it being “unto the praise of his glory”. For those who refuse to lose their focus by fully trusting Him – it’s a done deal. Is this not the Good News your soul has been longing for? That God can and will do His good pleasure in and through your life here on earth and then reward you for it.
We are told in Philippians that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling – when? According to Paul here, after trusting in Christ. This begins by becoming focused on God’s perfect will that He predestinated you as His son to perform. No one who can read the Bible can honesty deny that “the word of truth” teaches personal “salvation” for individual Israelites – “the gospel of your salvation”. Those who want to pretend that salvation is impersonal, involving no individual repentance or change, must add to and take away from God’s Word in their futile attempts to make their false gospel fit. Yet we see here, inventing and trusting in a false gospel does us no good. You can only receive the power and assurance you need from Christ, only “after that ye believed” the Gospel expressed here.
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
We conclude this chapter with Paul summing up the importance of prayer. “Wherefore” it all comes down to how we pray, along with who and what we pray for. Paul was encouraged by what he heard about these faithful saints at Ephesus – that there were some who were actually ‘getting it’. This is the area where “saints” who are loving and genuinely wanting to serve God need to watch out, by choosing the right people to put your main attention upon in your life. Paul here is reaching out to some people who had such a reputation that he told them, “I heard of your faith… The eyes of your understanding being enlightened”. Surely Paul met many professing Christians who talked a good game, but that has nothing to do with proving your faith. He told these how he prayed for them, that “God… may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation” and that they may be abundantly blessed “according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand”.
Executing God’s perfect will here on earth results in rewards, exhibited by Jesus Who is at God’s “right hand in the heavenly places” making intercession for us, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named”. Paul proved he recognized this by most fervently praying for God to give these Ephesian believers personal “knowledge of” the Resurrected and Ascended One Who indeed assumed His predestinated position as the Son and Lamb of God. This also speaks of how the higher mind of Christ as our “head” can guide us to a blessed life and effective ministry, since back in verse 3, Paul already mentioned how we are “blessed… with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”. Through praying for one another and mutual faith we become focused on God’s will together. We are to live to provide undeniable evidence of our “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”, while realizing how cheap words can be when there is no proof. ‘Pretend Christianity’ is what’s crippling “the church” Paul is talking about here. If we are to be “his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all”, it all begins by mutually becoming focused on God’s will with other believers.
Understand, though hope and faith are related, they are not the same. Hope is an inner spark of expectancy. Faith goes beyond a spark to where a flame is lit and burning within our hearts. “The hope of his calling” is inner persuasion that we have been predestinated to a particular purpose, igniting our hearts with faith to pursue God’s perfect will as the sons of God. If our focus remains on Christ, our faith is sustained and will become evident for others to see. Embracing that Christ is our “all in all” carries us to “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”. In other words, “the hope of our calling” is finding fulfillment by reaching and ministering to other Israelites, focusing mainly on those whose faith, hope, and love are evident, as these Paul is addressing here.
Becoming effective in prayer is an essential part of becoming focused on God’s will for your life. Paul instructs us that Biblical prayer is about having the right focus of thinking on the right things (Philippians 4:8). People talk about how they never see their prayers answered or how they prayed for someone, but they were not blessed or healed. These are also the same ones who are always wondering what God’s will is. Is this confusion necessary? Is it God’s fault? Is He not able to perform what we ask Him for, or does the fault lie with us because we do not have the right focus and attitude? What Paul says here challenges and surprises us, but it’s in perfect alignment with principles Christ taught on this and other matters relating to faith (Matthew 13:12). Let us never forget that God’s ways are not our ways, and once you understand this, apparently, this also pertains to the way He wants us to pray.
We must admit that most of us spend most of the time we do pray on those we feel the most sorry for. But just as prayer for the faithful can be most effective, so too can it be a waste to spend too much time praying for those who won’t help themselves or have no faith. We base most of our prayers on circumstances and sentimentality, while most of those we sincerely pray for could care less about God’s will coming to pass in their lives. Yet through Paul’s example here we see that praying for those who have faith and are doing God’s will is never a waste of our time and effort.
In addition, we can continue believing prayer is some big, external, formal exercise or accept that it is simply focusing on our most inner thoughts and feelings (Romans 8:26). Obviously there is nothing wrong with closing your eyes, folding your hands, or getting on your knees to pray, as long as doing so helps you to better focus or prevent distractions. But why make yourself uncomfortable for the sake of ceremony if it has nothing to do with making our prayers more effective? Paul shows us that how you think and feel about someone actually impacts the effectiveness of your prayers. The main focus of your prayer life needs to be upon those who you have confidence in, who are proving God’s will with results coming forth from their “faith”, while showing love to our people. From what we see here, the more faithful someone already is that we are focusing on, the more faith we will have in our “prayers” for them.
How enlightening to discover we have had it all backwards when we allow the majority of our attention to be on those who will not trust God. It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for them. But if we see prayer as a way to align ourselves with what God has predestinated us for, we should focus on praying for God’s “mighty power” to be poured upon those we see “who believe”. Prayer then is both practical and powerful as long as we cut out all the formalities and concentrate on God’s perfect will. As Christians we make a much greater impact by becoming focused on praying God’s way.
Due to the ignorance and (in some cases) the arrogance of those who call themselves teachers of God’s Word, Predestination and Sonship are some of the most misunderstood and neglected teachings from the Bible. Not only is this why most of our people are so confused about God’s will, this is a main reason why Christianity for the most part has no power and has led to things being in the shape they are in.
As we have seen, our Father enjoys revealing to us all that is necessary to encourage and equip us to do His will. The time has come to pursue what God has chosen and predestinated you to accomplish with your life.