The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker
THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
- Tonight as we continue
on in our study of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, I would like to draw your
attention to the word “purpose”:
“according to His good pleasure which
He hath purposed in Himself” (1:9b).
“being predestinated to the
purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”
- I would like to speak
tonight on “The Eternal Purpose of God.”
- God has only one
purpose, though there are various aspects of it. God’s eternal purpose is fully
brought before us in this passage of Scripture that we are looking at
- In carrying out His
purpose God created Adam and Eve, and later God sent a flood upon the earth but
saved Noah and his family. Later
God scattered the people, but chose Abraham and upon his seed He established the
nation of Israel.
- It was part of God’s
purpose that the Israelites be different from the other nations, that they would
be a testimony for God. It was
through them that God sent His prophets, His Word, and most importantly His only
- This was all according
to God’s eternal purpose. The Bible
says that the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world” (Rev. 13:8).
- God’s eternal purpose
includes the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom here on
earth. I will say more about this
- These are all various
aspects of God’s one eternal purpose.
MIGHT KNOW GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE…
I. HE HAS GIVEN TO US WISDOM
AND PRUDENCE (1:8).
II. HE HAS PREDESTINATED US
(1:11; cf. 1:5).
III. HE HAS SEALED US WITH THE
HOLY SPIRIT (1:13, 14).
THAT WE MIGHT KNOW GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE,
HE HAS GIVEN TO US WISDOM & PRUDENCE (1:8).
- Notice the word
“abounded” (1:8). This indicates an
overabundance of wisdom and prudence, bestowed upon us by our gracious
God. The great preacher and writer
John Bunyan wrote another well-known book before Pilgrim’s Progress, and that was Grace Abounding to the Chief of
- That is the idea here –
God “hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:8).
- Prudence is the
effective use of wisdom. Right
thinking will lead to right actions.
- What this is saying is
that God has graciously shared His plans and purposes with us. His desire is that we should know His
eternal purpose. God wants us to
know His perfect will (cf. Col. 1:9).
- Therefore, God has given
us wisdom and prudence (Eph. 1:8) and spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9) that we
may have “the knowledge of His will” (Col. 1:9; cf. Eph. 5:17).
- God wants us to
understand His purpose and see which way things are going. The unsaved man has no idea where things
are going, but we do.
- History is moving in a
definite direction. We can see “the
writing on the wall,” though worldly people cannot.
- The other day the
newspapers ran an article about the Euphrates River drying up (cf. Rev.
- “The shrinking of the
Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of
Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, has
decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has
depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work” (NY
Times, July 13, 2009).
- The Bible predicts
that there will be a one-world religion, and a one-world government with a
one-world currency, and this will all be controlled by the antichrist.
- “Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
illustrated his call for a supranational currency to replace the dollar by
pulling from his pocket a sample coin of a united future world currency”
(Bloomberg News Service).
- I found both these stories on Joel Rosenberg’s weblog. Mr. Rosenberg has written several
best-selling books. People are
amazing at how he seems to predict world events. He does not predict them; he knows what
is going to happen because he studies the Bible.
- This principle is taught in the Bible (cf. Dan. 9:1, 2).
- God has “made known to
us the mystery of His will” (1:9). The word “mystery” as it is used in
the NT has a different meaning than the way we normally use it (e.g. a “murder
mystery” or Sherlock Holmes mystery).
- “A ‘mystery’ in
Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed, but in which a
supernatural element still remains despite the revelation” (Scofield Bible, p.
- Some NT mysteries
- “The mysteries of the kingdom of
heaven” (Matt. 13:11).
- The mystery of Israel’s spiritual
blindness, which will continue “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in”
- The mystery of our translation into
heaven, when we shall be given brand new resurrection bodies (I Cor. 15:51).
- “The mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:3, 4,
- The “great mystery” concerning Christ
and the church (Eph. 5:32).
- “The mystery of the gospel” (Eph.
- “The mystery which hath been hid from
ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints…which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26, 27).
- “The mystery of God, and of the
Father, and of Christ” (Col. 2:2, 3, 9).
- “The mystery of iniquity” (II Thess.
- “The mystery of godliness: God was
manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16).
- “The mystery of the seven stars”
which “are the angels of the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20).
- “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE
MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:5, 7).
- God works all things
“according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself” (1:9), and
“after the counsel of His own will” (1:11) – not my will or your will, but “His
- We have already looked
at several doctrinal words in our study of Ephesians: election, predestination,
adoption, redemption, and mystery.
Next is “dispensation,” which literally means an “economy” or a “plan of
- H.A. Ironside wrote that
“there are various economies running through the Word of God. A dispensation, an economy, then, is
that particular order or condition of things prevailing in one special age which
does not necessarily prevail in another.”
- Charles Ryrie is more
succinct: “A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of
God’s purposes.” This definition
ties in with our message tonight: that we might know God’s eternal
- One of God’s eternal
purposes is for Christ to return and set up His millennial kingdom. Paul refers to this here as “the
dispensation of the fulness of times” (1:10).
- We are presently in the
church age or the “dispensation of grace.”
This will be followed by “the dispensation of the fulness of
- In other words, God has
a special dispensation or economy or plan of administration for the final era of
human history on this earth. All
human history is heading towards this goal – for our Lord to establish His
throne as Head over “all things” (1:10).
- This is speaking of
universal dominion, not universal salvation.
THAT WE MIGHT KNOW GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE,
HE HAS PREDESTINATED US (1:11; cf. 1:5).
- We already spent some
time studying the doctrine of predestination. The word means simply “marked out
- Webster’s Dictionary
says predestine means “predetermine or foreordain.”
- In other words, God has
a plan and everything is going along according to God’s plan, or “according to
His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself” (1:9).
- To avoid confusion, two
principles must be kept in mind:
- In the Bible, predestination is
never used in reference to unsaved people.
If a sinner goes to hell, it is not because it was predestined but
because he refused to repent of his sin and believe in Christ.
- The purpose of predestination is
for God to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
- “Predestination is that
effective exercise of the will of God by which things before determined by Him
are brought to pass” (Scofield Bible, p. 1250).
- God predestines both Jew
and Gentile (2:14-16). Paul’s
reference to “we” (1:12) means “we Jews,” and “ye” (1:13) means “ye
- He refers in 1:14 to
both – “our inheritance.”
- When Paul speaks of
obtaining this inheritance (1:11), it is based upon faith in Christ
- This inheritance has not
been fully realized yet. That is
why Paul speaks later of “the earnest (pledge) of our inheritance” (1:14). This inheritance looks forward to the
time when all true believers, both Jew and Gentile, will reign with Christ in
His millennial kingdom.
- This has been marked out
by God before we were even born.
From all eternity God has marked out or predestinated those who were “to
be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).
- Therefore, the purpose
of this predestination was “that we should be to the praise of His glory…”
THAT WE MIGHT KNOW GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE,
HE HAS SEALED US WITH HIS HOLY SPIRIT (1:13,
- Notice the sequence:
(1) They “heard the word
of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (1:13). No one can be saved without “the word of
truth” (cf. Rom. 10:17; I Peter 1:23).
(2) They “believed”
(3) They “were sealed with
that Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13).
- Every genuine believer
is sealed with the Holy Spirit the moment He is saved. When a person trusts Christ, he receives
the Holy Spirit as a sign that he belongs to God and that he will be kept safe
by God until the time he receives his glorified body.
- Our church had to order
a seal to verify that we are incorporated.
In legal matters, a seal indicates ownership and security. Likewise in spiritual matters – the Holy
Spirit seals us as God’s property and guarantees our preservation until the day
of redemption (cf. Eph. 4:30).
- He is the “Holy Spirit
of promise” (1:13). He was
promised by both God the Father and God the Son.
- “And it shall come to
pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel
- “And I will pray the
Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for
ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive,
because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth
with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16, 17).
- “Nevertheless I tell you
the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the
Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto
you” (John 16:7).
- “And, behold, I send
the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,
until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
- “And, being assembled
together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have
heard of me. For John truly
baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
many days hence” (Acts 1:4, 5).
- “But ye shall receive
power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be
witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto
the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- The Holy
Spirit is the “earnest” (pledge or guarantee) of our inheritance. When someone goes to purchase a building
or property, the seller wants a down payment as a pledge or guarantee that you
are in “earnest.”
- As the seal,
the Holy Spirit guarantees that we will be kept safely for the inheritance. As the earnest, He guarantees the
inheritance will be kept securely for us (Eph.