God has complete control over everything in history and over everything in your life. Nothing has happened in your life that did not first go through the purpose and plan of God in your life. Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and we're continuing our series, Secure in Christ Forever, with part two of Don's message, Included in His Will. Last time, Don discussed the prize of our inheritance. Don pointed out that while we had no standing in our own merit to be included in the culmination of all things in Christ, God, according to His gracious will, gave us that inheritance.
On today's broadcast, our teacher will cover both the purpose and the praise of our inheritance. So have your Bible again open to Ephesians chapter 1, as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit. God set this in motion in advance. He determined this ahead of time. He didn't sit around to wait to see what you would decide to see if this would happen for you. He predestined it.
Look at verse 11. It says, "...we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined, determined beforehand, marked out for this grace ahead of time, according to His purpose, who works all things after the counsel of His will." To be predestined is to be marked out beforehand. God appointed you to receive this blessing before He created the world. He marked it out. This was what He determined to happen.
It was His desire. And here we are, enjoying the blessings of salvation now as a very small down payment on a much greater inheritance, a much more glorious prize that we are going to receive. Listen, if you could see, if I could see by comparison how great that glory is going to be, we would instantly understand that nothing in this world matters by comparison. Nothing matters in comparison to this great gift that we are still yet to receive, the final outcome of our salvation. All of our earthly joys and sorrows are going to be completely swallowed up in what is still to come. And if you're a believer in Christ, it belongs to you. It is certainly going to come to pass, because God determined it ahead of time.
That's the prize. And my friends in Christ, it is supremely important for you to understand why you are in that privileged position. It is of massive significance and consequence for you to grasp something about what underlies this precious future that is ahead of you.
And Paul did not leave it open to speculation. It is right there in the plain words of the text as we come to the purpose. We saw the prize of our inheritance and now we're going to see the purpose. Why is it that we have this great prize? Why is it that we who are born live and die from an earthly perspective and are, you know, we come in with nothing and we go out in a box? Why is it that in that little realm of insignificance that we would have this given to us? You must understand that we have this prize because God wanted it that way. It is according to His purpose. Look at verse 11 with me again. We have obtained an inheritance, and Paul alludes to what lies ahead as we will share in that coming glory of Christ.
But it's like he can't even stay on point long enough to expound on that. He has to go right back to the throne of God and say why this is. Why do we have this prize? It's because we have been predestined for it.
It was determined beforehand, and according to what? According to how good we were? No. According to our choice of Christ?
No! You can't emphasize it enough. This whole passage, Ephesians 1, 3 to 14, is about the glory of God, to the praise of His glory. There is nothing giving glory to man in this. And so we see that the great prize that belongs to us comes because God appointed it that way. We have been predestined.
Look at the words. Let the words speak for themselves, untainted by what you may have been taught in the past. We have been predestined according to His purpose, not ours, who works all things after the counsel of His will, not ours. This is God's will, God's purpose, and God gets the glory for it. This verse 11 is pregnant with significance that the Bible unpacks. If we took the time to interpret it fully, we would go all over the Scripture. This is a verse that is a cornerstone of the doctrine of divine providence.
And if you have not heard those messages from our church, I'd encourage you to go to our website and hear them. You need to hear those messages on divine providence. God over all, God over sin, and God over you. This verse just briefly alludes to it when it says, look at it with me, that God works all things after the counsel of His will.
All things, beloved. God has complete control over everything in history and over everything in your life. Nothing has happened in your life that did not first go through the purpose and plan of God. The filtering wisdom and marshaling, orchestrating purpose of God in your life.
And God, because He has complete control over everything that happens, silently directs human history to achieve His purpose. The Bible repeatedly affirms this sovereignty of God. Let me just give you one verse to write down, a reference you can look up later. Psalm 103 verse 19. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.
Now listen to me. Here's Paul's argument. Here's his logic in what he is saying. And it's really important for you, especially if you come out of a background where you've been taught that you can lose your salvation. It is of supreme importance for you to understand what Paul is saying here and why he says it in the way that he does. He is writing to give glory to God. And part of the way that he's giving glory to God is he's pointing to the ultimate climax of history in Christ. And then he goes on, in order to give more glory to God, he says you have an inheritance by which you will have a portion in that final outcome. You will be under the glorious protective umbrella of Christ, and His glory will be that in which you share and witness.
Now, watch this. Paul says that's your inheritance. And it's like he's anticipating people who would question, well, maybe you can lose it by, you know, the way that you sin. He says, no, no, understand that your inheritance...
Here's what he's saying. Your inheritance is secure. It is certain. It is more bound to happen than your next breath, because you have been predestined for that inheritance. Look at verse 11 and put your finger under the word predestined there.
You are certain to receive your inheritance because you have been predestined for it. Not by your choice, but according to God's purpose. And God's purpose cannot fail because He works all things after the counsel of His will. He has appointed you for this.
He has determined that you will receive it. And what Paul puts side by side with that predetermining purpose of God is for you to understand that God, here it is, God has the power to deliver on it. The one who can submit the universe to Christ has the power to make sure that you end up there in the end. And it is a massive statement of the glory and the certainty and the security of our salvation. He runs, He operates the universe, He can certainly make sure that you get to heaven like He wanted and appointed before time began.
There's two thoughts, hopefully I can keep them together and get them out, that should just overwhelm us. One is that God can do that. That God has the power and the sovereignty over all. That's head on the ground type worship inducing truth. And then there's the fact that He brought you and me into this by name.
That He included us in that great plan. And that also puts our forehead on the ground in worship. But beloved, don't you see how it fills your heart with gratitude. It shrinks your pride to nothing. And it makes you see the greatness and the glory of God.
And it should make you love Him. It calls forth the deepest affection and love and response of worship in your heart. God, whatever you want from me, I will do. However you would have me suffer, I will walk through it and still have your praise on my lips. Because the one who rules the universe rules over my heart and kept me and brought me into the plan.
God, I don't deserve that. The eternal riches of such glory are totally outside my ability to merit, and yet you have given it to me, you predestined me to receive this, and now you're keeping me so that I'll one day walk into the fullness of it. Great sovereignty and we worship Him. Unspeakable grace and condescension and we worship Him. And our hearts are just overwhelmed before, oh God. Our hearts are just overwhelmed before the presence of your majesty, the greatness of your purpose, and the unspeakable splendor of who you are. See, the Bible is no superficial book. When we gather together as the people of God to worship, we don't do so in a light and fluffy manner. No, what Scripture is talking about are things that belong to a great realm that we should respect and defer and humble ourselves before. Christ, who will receive the worship of the universe, bought us and included us in the plan.
I want to stop right here. I don't want to just stop right here, I want to be translated into that realm right now because I want to receive the fullness of that final inheritance, and it's just really hard as much as I love all of you, it's really hard to have my feet still stuck here on this ground under the force of gravity because I can't go there just yet. The glory of that surpasses any human affection or achievement on this world, and we look forward to the inheritance that we are certainly to receive. Charles Hodge, the great 19th century theologian, said this about Ephesians 1-11, and I quote, "'It is neither by chance nor by our own merit or efforts that we and not others have been highly favored like this. It has been brought about in our lives according to the purpose of God.'"
All we can do is respond and worship. Look at verse 11 with me again. It says that he works all these things out after the counsel of his will. It's a term that refers to God's decisive resolve. God wants it this way, and he is determined to bring it to pass with no obstacles to stand in his way. And what that means is, beloved, is that God's determination, not yours, ensures that the outcome will be what he wants. This will come to pass according to the purpose of God, not the strength of man. The arm of your flesh, the power of your determination and will will fail you.
If we were all honest with each other right now, we'd say, yeah, I know, it failed me this past week. You see, this is gloriously liberating to understand that the current that is carrying us to heaven is driven by the mighty power of the unconquerable purpose of God, not our fleeting whims and emotions. We can't keep ourselves in this kind of great salvation. It takes the great power of God to keep us. And Scripture says he will, he does, and he's glad to do it.
It's what he wants. That's how great our salvation is. That's how great our God, who loved us and gave himself up for us, is.
You are on the receiving end of the power and purpose of God in a way that goes beyond anything that you could ask or think. Let's look at a couple of verses to help reinforce this in our minds. Turn over to 2 Timothy for a moment. 2 Timothy 1, verse 9. What I love about this, among many, many other things, is the fact that the clarity of Scripture on this means that God exclusively gets the glory. It preempts any pride on our part. We're just humbled under this truth.
Humbled with gratitude and humbled by a sense of undeserving. 2 Timothy 1, verse 9 says that God has saved us and called us with a holy calling. Not according to our works.
It's not what you did. If you're in Christ, it's because of something else that Paul immediately explains. He says it's but according to his own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. God purposed to give this to you before time began. Before all of eternity, those of us who are in Christ can say, God purposed us to receive this before he created the world. From all eternity, it's according to his eternal purpose. Same word as in Ephesians 1-11. His purpose, his decisive resolve.
And here's the point. The outcome for you in your salvation is assured just as in the realm of every other area of the universe because God works all things according to his purpose and plan. Turn over to Romans chapter 8. You see it in the realm of salvation once more. Romans 8 verse 28, where it says that we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
Same word. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren. And these whom he predestined, he also called. And these whom he called, he also justified. And these whom he justified, he also glorified. And beloved, let me say something that engenders hostility in other places, but not here at Truth Community. This truth about the purpose of God exposes one of the fatal weaknesses of the view that suggests that God wants everybody to be saved, but men resist his will and God doesn't get what he wants.
That's not true. Scripture utterly refutes that. There are teachers, some without realizing it, who suggest by that teaching that the eternal purpose of a great and sovereign God can be thwarted simply because a man doesn't want it that way. Does that sound like the God of the Bible that we've been hearing about to you?
No. You know why it doesn't sound like it? Because it's not. God does not subordinate his purpose to the will of man. He accomplishes it despite man's opposition and rebellion. And at Truth Community, we're proud to align ourselves with that truth which has been taught by great men of God throughout the centuries.
We're not teaching anything that men haven't taught throughout the course of the history of the church, and we gladly align ourselves with them. God's purpose. And so what's the outcome?
What's the outcome? Turn back to Ephesians with me. We've seen the prize, the purpose, and now we see the praise. In Him, let's read it again together. 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, to the end that, for this purpose, that we who were the first to hope in Christ... Commentators differ on exactly who Paul's referring to there.
I think he's referring to that immediate apostolic circle. We who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. It's to the praise of His glory.
Paul goes back to his theme. This is why all of this comes to pass. It's so that God's people would praise Him, that God's people would ascribe to Him the honor that He deserves, and evacuate their souls of any sense of deserving. We've seen these verses many times, but I want to bring them back to your attention again. Verse 3, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 6, it's to the praise of His glory. Verse 12, it's to the praise of His glory. Verse 14, it's to the praise of His glory. That is why all of this comes to pass. And you can see why it has to end up there, right?
You understand why it couldn't be any other way. For God to display His power in subordinating the universe to His purpose, for Him to take us in our sins and rebellion and rejection, and so work in our hearts to draw us to faith in Christ so that we would share in that great ultimate purpose and have an eternity of unfolding blessing that we'll enjoy without threat of ever being evicted, is to the praise of His glory. How great is this God? Yes, He's great. And we say, as we realize what He has done for us in Christ, we say, yes, and He's not only great, He's good. And He's been good to me. And if you're in Christ, He's been good to you. And He's not going to stop being good to you. You will experience His goodness throughout all the ages of eternity. So what can we say?
Accept, praise God. You know, as you listen to these radio broadcasts, they have to fit into a 25-minute format, and we're very grateful for the opportunity the Lord's given us to do just that. But the radio messages are born out of a longer sermon message that contains more information, more background, a fuller explanation of the passage than what we're able to do on radio. So I encourage you to go to our website and find the link that says, Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll lead you to a podcast that gives you the full-length sermons from every Sunday and every Tuesday from my pulpit.
I really think that it'll administer to you over time to hear the full-length messages. So we make that available for free, and we would love you to join us in that way as well. Thanks, Don. And, friend, to take advantage of what Don just mentioned, simply visit thetruthpulpit.com. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you again next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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