Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-9
Sermon Title: The Magnificence of God’s Will (part 2)
Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
MAIN IDEA: Worship God who wills to exalt Christ.
GOD WILLS: The magnificence of God’s will, OUR SALVATION: The blessings of God’s will, IN CHRIST: The mediator of God’s will, FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY: The response to God’s will
God’s will is Christ-Exalting
God’s will is Planned
God’s will is Informative
God’s will is Motivated
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
This passage is packed with theological truth. In the original Greek, the paragraph is one sentence. The Apostle goes back and forth between subjects making the paragraph difficult to outline. The chronological order of the words does not flow from one topic to the next, but rather the topics change back and forth from one to another and back again.
In order to outline the paragraph and to treat it systematically, I have broken the paragraph into four major topics and those topics are written as one sentence. The sentence reads: God wills our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory.
GOD WILLS: The magnificence of God’s will (Christ-exalting, planned), OUR SALVATION: The blessings of God’s will (forgiveness of sins, adoption, redemption, indwelling of the Holy Spirit), IN CHRIST: The mediator of God’s will (Christ’s work of redemption for us), FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY: The response to God’s will (those who hope in Christ praise God’s glory and grace).
God’s Will is Christ Exalting
We continue this week looking at God’s will which is the most important truth of the passage. God’s will is Christ exalting. The exaltation of Jesus Christ was the main focus for last week.
Verse 9 tells us God has made known to us the mystery of His will. He has done this by giving us the message of truth, the good news of our salvation. The gospel reveals God has in view a picture; an end result. Everything God is doing in the universe is aimed at accomplishing this end result, as verse 10 states, “an administration suitable to the fullness of the times.”
The administration which God sees as being suitable for all times is that all things will be summed up in Jesus Christ; things in the heavens and things on the earth. In other words, to put it in simpler terms, God’s plan is to bring everything under the authority of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. After our Lord walked out of the tomb He ascended to heaven and took His seat of power at the right hand of God.
It is important that we understand that God’s will is not only that Jesus Christ has supreme governing authority, that He is Lord over all things, but God’s will is Jesus be exalted as the treasure of all people. God’s will is that our affections will exalt Jesus Christ. We will love Him above all things. We will worship Him because we find pleasure in His presence. We will desire Him above all things because He meets our every need. The exaltation of Jesus is much more than Christ having governing authority, but He is to have authority over our affections, He is to be more than Lord, but Jesus is to be our beloved Lord.
When God’s will was imposed upon the Ephesians, Jesus became their beloved Lord. God’s will changed their affections and they gladly left behind things of the world. They burned magic books and Jesus became the source for all their needs. They stopped worshipping Artemis and instead worshipped Jesus Christ. He became the center of their affections and worship. They desired to live under His authority and command. Obeying Jesus was not a duty, but a joy. Jesus became their husband and they longed for Him as a bride longs for her groom.
God’s magnificent holy will has in view the exaltation of Jesus Christ now and forevermore. God’s will is Christ exalting.
The next truth we see about God’s will in this paragraph is:
God’s Will is Planned
The Apostle Paul tells us a very significant truth regarding God setting out to accomplish His will of exalting Christ above all things. God’s will to exalt Jesus Christ is not accidental or a contingency plan to rescue the world. God’s will is planned.
Look at the wording in verse 4, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”.
Verse 5, “5He predestined us to adoption” and
verse 11, “we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose.”
Predestined means exactly what it says. There is a destiny for those God chose. Their destiny is predetermined. Their destiny is adoption and an inheritance in Christ.
Do I believe in predestination? Yes. Why? Because there is no wiggle room in the Greek definition. It means God foreordained our adoption to happen. It is God’s purpose and plan to choose a people who are in Christ and God’s choosing took place before the foundation of the world. Predestination is God’s predetermined and planned will. What we see in the spreading of the Gospel, the singing of worship songs to Jesus, and the building of churches is a working out of God’s plan He wrote before time began.
Let this truth sink in. The Apostle Paul is making an incredible claim. God’s plan and purpose for Creation, all the mighty works of His hand, is to establish a Kingdom for His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is expressed in Colossians 1:16, “… all things have been created through Him (Jesus Christ) and for Him”.
Before time, in eternity past, God in His infinite wisdom planned and wrote a blueprint for creation. The name on the top of the blueprint reads: The Exaltation of Jesus Christ. The blueprint has places. It has a heaven with angels and an earth with a garden, a serpent, a man and a woman. The blueprint has time which unfolds and reveals the fall of man and his exile from the beautiful garden. Generations elapse and descendants of man become wicked and God plans for Noah and a great rain. A rainbow appears brightly and a man named Abraham is born along with a Nation named Israel. Another nation named Egypt emerges and humble friend of God named Moses stands tall in the blueprint. God planned a Covenant and a Temple, a wilderness and a Promised Land. God raised up a King named David and a prophet named Isaiah. The blueprint brings us back to the desert where we see a man named John the Baptist and nearby in Judea we see fishermen and other disciples. The plan becomes expansive and God plans for a man traveling on the road to Damascus to see a great light. God’s plan is written with nations such as Rome and England and cities such as Antioch and Plainfield. Glancing at this masterwork of blueprints of all blueprints we see locomotives, Apollo 13, and a great conflict called Armageddon.
Our eyes are drawn to the center of the entire plan. There, inscribed are the words, “the Lion and the Lamb”, who is also known as the Alpha and the Omega, because God’s beloved Son is the beginning and He is the end of God’s plan.
In the plan, God the Father says, I will give my Son a bride. I will personally choose the bride. The bride will be foreordained. In My choosing, I will choose the nation of Israel over all the other nations on the earth. I will choose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. I will choose because it is my glory to “have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then the choice of the bride will not depend on the one who wills or the one who runs, but the bride will be chosen, by My mercy and for no other reason. (Romans 9:14-16).
My plan, God says, shall be that the bride will not say, “My husband Jesus chose me because I am richest, most capable, prettiest, smartest, or the purest.” The bride will not be worthy because there is no one who is worthy for my Son. Instead, the bride will be predetermined by My sovereign choice. The choosing is unmerited favor, grace, and the bride will praise the mercy and grace of her Lord forevermore.
In this plan, the bride will live in darkness and love the darkness. She is an enemy of the light of the Son and she is worthy of the Son’s wrath. God ordained for His Son to save the bride from destruction. God planned for Him to wash His bride in the blood of His sacrifice to make her holy, spotless, and beautiful. He planned for His Son to willingly lay down His life for the bride.
The saving work for the bride by God’s Son will be the most amazing and beautiful demonstration one may ever behold. It is an act for the ages! All of the creatures in heaven and all of the creatures of the earth will look upon the Son’s demonstration of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and justice and they will then fully understand the supreme value of God’s beloved Son. As the bride contemplates and comes to understand this demonstration of great love the Son of God has for His bride, the bride will value the Son more than life itself.
This is the plan God wrote. God planned the creation of the world so He might save people through the cross of Jesus Christ and in their salvation, Jesus becomes their treasure and center of their affections. God’s plan is just as He told the Prophet Isaiah, “The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise. (Isaiah 43:21)
After writing out the complete blueprint of human history, the plan is completed. Looking at the plan and following it precisely, from heaven, the Trinity speaks and says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” and that man will be made according to that plan.
The plan unfolds and we marvel at the wisdom and beauty. The Lord asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding? (Is. 40:13-14)
And of course, our response is, there is none who is Your counselor or teacher. Only You, Lord, are wise. Only You Lord, are deserving of all our praise and glory. All of Your plan and all of Your work is perfect. Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts and Your ways are higher than our ways (Is. 55:8).
But not all of mankind finds the plan beautiful and good. As the plan unfolds some of mankind expresses a fault in the plan, the Lord says to those men, “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ (Isaiah 45:9). And to them, according to plan, judgment and wrath awaits because of their failure to see the wisdom of God’s plan and failure to worship the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s plan was set in motion at the foundation of the world and He is orchestrating all events in the world to achieve the outcome of His plan.
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to God’s purpose.
The next point about God’s will flows out of the point that God’s will is planned. The next point is God’s will is informative.
God’s Will is Informative
God’s Will informs God
Verse 11 states that God works all things after the counsel of His will. In other words, after creating the blueprint, everything God does is in accordance with His predetermined plan. God intends to build a magnificent eternal kingdom as a setting in which His Beloved Son and His bride may live. God does nothing unless it contributes to the end result of His Son being highly exalted and the desire of all the nations. God’s planned will informs all of God’s strength, power, and authority so they are aimed at accomplishing His will; the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
The Apostles understood this to be true. Let’s turn to the book of Acts. Here, in chapter 2, we read Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. Let’s draw our attention to two statements Peter said:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst (God performed miracles through Jesus to exalt the Son), just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. (Acts 2:22-23)
Continue reading in verse 32-33
32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-33).”
Notice something very important Peter says, Jesus was delivered over to be crucified according to God’s predetermined plan. It is God’s plan that Jesus be crucified at the time, place, and at the hand of those present. At the same time, Jesus was nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men. Godless men put Jesus Christ to death. Those godless men may not stand at the judgment seat of God and say, “We are innocent for we were seeking to accomplish Your plan. It was our wish to follow Your plan.” No.
God will say, “I meant it for good, but you meant it for evil. Depart from Me, you who murdered My innocent Son.”
Let’s look at another text in Acts. Turn to Acts 4:23-27. The setting is this: Peter and John entered the Temple and healed a lame beggar and preached Christ. Around five thousand people were saved. The rulers and elders and scribes were not happy with this and they put Peter and John in jail. After the trial, they let them go because they found no basis on which to punish them. Our text picks up after they were released from jail.
When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, (quoting Psalm 2:1-2) ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? ‘The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ (Acts 4:23-26)
Stop there for a minute. Notice they all lift their voice in one accord and they recite Scripture. They are in agreement a specific passage of Scripture applies to the situation. They recognize God’s plan as it is written in Psalm 2:1-2. Listen to how they interpret Psalm 2:1-2 in the next two verses in Acts:
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. (Acts 4:27-28)
The disciples looked at life through the lens of God’s plan. Because they understand the plan they say, “God, You directed Herod, Pilate, Gentiles, and the people of Israel. As a result of Your hand, they fulfilled Your purpose. What You, God, predestined, Your hand worked in them to accomplish. What God predestined is the rulers would gather together and be against the Lord and His Christ. God revealed, by the Holy Spirit, God’s plan, and it was spoken by King David 1000 years earlier. King David was given a piece of the blueprint and wrote out that section and it is recorded as a Psalm. 1000 years later, Peter, John, and the disciples understand the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was predetermined by God.
God’s Will: Informs us
This brings us to another aspect of God’s will being informative. God’s will is informative to God in that all God does is counseled by His will. At the same time, God’s will is informative to us. God desires we understand His plan. Verse 9 of Ephesians 1 states: “He made known to us the mystery of His will”.
God makes known the mystery of His will through the Gospel and He makes known to us the mystery of His will through the prophecy of Scripture.
Let me ask you a question. When you read prophecy, do you read it as God predicting the future? In other words, God is letting us know what will happen because He has knowledge of what happens. Or, when you read prophecy, do you read it as God ordaining the future? God is letting us know what will happen because He has willed and planned and purposed it to happen?
The first way of understanding prophecy is to see God as a fortune teller with a looking glass and letting us know He has seen the future and He knows what has happened. This view is like going to the movie theater, seeing a film, and telling your friend how the movie turns out because you have already seen the movie.
The second way of understanding prophecy is God wrote the script, directed and shot the movie, and gave proof of His writing the movie by releasing plot twists before the movie is ever seen by anybody. It would be like sitting at dinner with Steven Spielberg before going to see the world premiere of his movie. During dinner, before going to the theater, he tells you what happens in a few of the scenes. He tells you this as proof he made the movie.
God reveals through the prophet Isaiah everything is predetermined.
‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation (tell God everything that has taken place in the exact order of it happening). And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place (Isaiah 44:7).
Think deeply about God working all things according to the counsel of His will. Think deeply about God’s sovereign hand directing the Universe. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. Let Scripture sink in and meditate on passages such as:
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD (Proverbs 16:33).
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent? (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4)
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:16).
For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:16-18)
(God ordained that at the most momentous moment in the history of the universe, when His Son gave His life for His bride that at His feet there would be a couple of men, oblivious to the spiritual significance of the death of Christ, doing something as simple as casting lots for His garments. “He will be dead in a few hours, He won’t need this nice garment, we hate to see it go to waste, so let’s cast lots to see who can take it home.” Perhaps they were even walking around the next day wearing Jesus’ garment. God made that come to pass so we might know He is the One orchestrating the death of Jesus. Even what appears to be insignificant, God ordains for it to take place.)
God’s will is predestined. All God has planned will come to pass. God’s will informs God’s hand and God’s will informs us.
God made known to us the mystery of His will. What is God’s intent in informing us of His will?
1-Have a God-centered outlook – Like Joseph
Joseph understood God is working all things according to His will.
God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:7-8). As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph had peace. Joseph had forgiveness. Joseph had his eyes on the bigger picture. This is what we must do. We must ask, why are you doing this Lord? Ultimately, the answer is always that God is doing everything for the Exaltation of Jesus Christ. The exaltation of Christ is good and our being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb is good. Therefore, God informs us of what He is doing so we will trust God is working all things for good and the ultimate good is we will find Jesus Christ as our treasure, our desire, our satisfaction and our joy.
2-Have Trust and Confidence in God – Like Peter and John
We don’t understand much about why God does things the way He does. Seeing God’s hand at work, as the disciples did when they recited Psalm 2, should give us great confidence in the sovereign plan of God.
Listen to what they said immediately after they acknowledged God’s hand is the one who orchestrated Pilate and Herod and all the people:
grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence (Acts 4:29)
We may have great confidence in declaring the Lordship of Jesus Christ because we know God is bringing it to pass. Speak God’s word with confidence.
3-Worship God – Like Job
Worship described another way is to have a fear of God. Fear God knowing nobody can make straight what God has made crooked. Knowing God’s sovereign hand involves hardship, trials, and difficulties should make us be humble and understand our place before the God of the Universe.
Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
Job’s family. How wonderful, unless it happens to me. For some reason, it is okay when Job has to go through it.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
4-Love Christ – Like Paul
Paul loved being a Pharisee. Paul loved being a Jew among Jews. Paul loved his righteousness found in the Law. Paul had his eyes opened to God’s sovereign plan and his affections were changed.
Paul counted all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. Paul suffered the loss of all things, his prestige in the Jewish community, his physical health, Paul suffered the loss of all things, but he counted it all as rubbish, so that he may gain Christ. Jesus is his treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, and One worthy of losing life itself. For Paul to live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul hated his own righteousness and Paul loves the righteousness found in Christ.
Once we understand God predetermined to choose us and bestow upon us the blessing of heaven and is giving us His beloved Son, our affections, our love, is informed. God’s plan is despite our sin, Christ dies for us. God predetermined plan is that Jesus Christ would suffer in our place. God desires our eyes are opened up to see Jesus and to fall in love with Him.
God’s grace is greater than we may imagine. Our chains are released and we are free to live in the joy of holiness and righteousness and in a way which pleases our husband and Lord.
Worship God who wills to exalt Christ.