Foreordained from the Founding of the World | Part 1

The Sacred Secret of His Will

After introducing the hope of our adoption as sons of the Father, Paul wrote

“... With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment— to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
– Ephesians 1:8-10

With the advent of Christ, the appointed time had arrived.  The Father revealed the sacred secret of our sonship and began gathering together ‘the things in the heavens and the things on the earth’ in the Christ.  Now, when the Ephesian brothers heard these words, what did they think Paul meant by ‘to bring unity to all things’  If you were in the Ephesus congregation, what would you have thought he meant?  

One interpretation is that Paul was referring to gathering together the anointed Christians who would live forever in heaven, and then gathering together the other Christians who would live forever on earth.  We doubt that was the correct understanding because at that time, there was no indication of any kind that the Father intended for followers of Christ to live on earth forever.  The only hope known to the early Christians was to be adopted as sons of God in the heavens. (Romans 8:14-17, 23; Colossians 1:5; Galatians 3:26-29; Galatians 4:5-7)  It is more likely that Paul meant exactly what he wrote: that all things in heaven and all things on earth would eventually be gathered in Christ, where he was, in heaven.  He goes on:

“To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:10-14

Paul refers to the small remnant of Christian Jews as those “who have been first to hope in Christ.”  But he makes clear that the Gentiles who “also hoped in him” would likewise be sealed with holy spirit as a guarantee of their heavenly inheritance.  It is likely these Gentile Christians that Jesus indicated he would ‘also bring who would will listen to his voice, and become one flock’ with the Jewish Christians.  (John 10:16)   He continues:

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength.”
– Ephesians 1:15-19

Paul wanted these Gentiles to accurately know and have faith in their glorious inheritance, and truly understand the nature of the hope to which they were called.  He tells us that there is a surpassing power that upholds this hope, a power we can have confidence in, a power that had already been demonstrated in an unprecedented way by the resurrection of Jesus:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
– Ephesians 1:18-23

Jesus is now in power, and has been in power since his resurrection when the Father ‘seated him at his right hand and gave him the authority over everything,’ including us.  We, the Christian congregation, referred to as ‘his body,’ are under his lordship – directly, with no intercessor.  But Paul makes mention of another authority:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
– Ephesians 2:1-3

This is the authority from whence we came prior to accepting the glorious good news of the Christ.  It is an authority that operates in everyone who is not a child of God.  Paul refers to all the others (the rest of them), not as children of God, but as “children of wrath;” not as sons of God, but as “sons of disobedience.”  There is no middle ground.

These other sons are identified by their conduct and their desires.  They do not seek the heavenly riches.  They pursue what they know, earthly things, desires of the flesh.  But they do not have to remain in that state, anymore than we did:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
- Ephesians 2:4-7

It is by the undeserved kindness of God that we are transferred from the kingdom of man to the Kingdom of the Heavens. In other words, there are no specific acts we must perform, no hoops to jump through, no special works, no high education.  All that is required is that we accept God’s kindness – his offer of sonship – by having faith in the possibility:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
– Ephesians 2:8-10


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