It is interesting to prayerfully consider Ephesians 1:9, concerning God’s revelation of the Mystery
“HAVING MADE KNOWN UNTO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE, WHICH HE HATH PURPOSED IN HIMSELF.”
This confirms the truth of Ephesians 1:5:
“HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY JESUS CHRIST TO HIMSELF, ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL.”
Note, “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” and “according to the good pleasure of His will.” He hath made known the mystery of His will. This will is God’s predestinated purpose.
In studying the Pauline messages we must be very careful not to confuse God’s prophesied plan and program with His “predestinated purpose,” the mystery of His will concerning the position and possessions of members of the Body of Christ, revealed to and through the Apostle Paul.
Now let us note some very interesting factsin Ephesians; namely, that all of the spiritual benefits and blessings, which the believer has in Christ Jesus, are:
1. ACCORDING TO GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE IN CHRIST. Ephesians 3:11.
2. ACCORDING AS GOD HATH CHOSEN US IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. Ephesians 1:4.
3. ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE. Ephesians 1:7.
4. ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY. Ephesians 3:16.
5. ACCORDING TO THE MEASURE OF THE GIFT OF CHRIST. Ephesians 4:7.
6. ACCORDING TO THE EFFECTUAL WORKING IN THE MEASURE OF EVERY PART. Ephesians 4:16.
7. ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL. Ephesians 1:5. 8. ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE WHICH HE HATH PURPOSED IN HIMSELF. Ephesians 1:9.
9. ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM WHO WORKETH ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL. Ephesians 1:11.
10. ACCORDING TO THE WORKING OF HIS MIGHTY POWER. Ephesians 1:19.
11. ACCORDING TO THE GIFT OF THE GRACE OF GOD GIVEN UNTO PAUL BY THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF GOD’S POWER. Ephesians 3:7.
12. ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKETH IN US. Ephesians 3:20.
After carefully considering these verses, which tell the source and measure of all the believer’s benefits and blessings, we should be filled with wonder, amazement and thanksgiving, but not with any skepticism or doubt as to what God can do and does do for the sinner saved by His infinite, matchless grace, love and mercy, and why God bestows such unspeakable and manifold blessings upon those of the children of Adam who are willing to be the recipients of His grace.
Note Romans 8:28 to 31:
“AND WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, TO THEM WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. FOR WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW HE DID ALSO PREDESTINATE, TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, THAT HE MIGHT BE THE FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN. MOREOVER WHOM HE DID PREDESTINATE, THEM HE ALSO CALLED: AND WHOM HE CALLED THEM HE ALSO JUSTIFIED:
AND WHOM HE JUSTIFIED THEM HE ALSO GLORIFIED. WHAT SHALL WE SAY THEN TO THESE THINGS? IF GOD BE FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?”
This causes us to cry out with Paul: “ O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?” Romans 11:33 and 34. In all the Scriptures, where the purpose of God is mentioned, it is mentioned in connection with predestination, as the purpose which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. II Timothy 1:9. It is God’s eternal purpose purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. God’s spiritual program under the dispensation of the mystery is according to His eternal or predestinated purpose; that which God purposed in Christ Jesus before Abraham, or even Adam, was created.
Now note carefully and prayerfully Ephesians 1:3 to 5:
“BLESSED BE THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO HATH BLESSED US WITH ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN THE HEAVENLIES IN CHRIST; 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: HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY JESUS CHRIST TO HIMSELF, ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL:’
1. Blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.
2. According as God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
3. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.
4. According to the good pleasure of His will.
Here we have the grace and glory purpose of God, the dealings and doings of the sovereign God of all grace; all in, by, and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and all for Christ’s sake. It is easy to remember the three “p’s”. It is according to God’s purpose, God’s pleasure, and God’s power.
Now note three other “p’s” in the matter of salvation. Note Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Those who are members of the Body of Christ are God’s workmanship, created by God in Christ unto good works. God is the expert Workman. In the Epistle to the Ephesians we are in God’s “saint” factory. We learn in this Epistle, in the matter of making saints, “the people,” “the process,” and “the product. “
1. THE PEOPLE, or human material with which God must work. Note Ephesians 4:18—Ephesians 2:1 to 3— Ephesians 2:12. They are “alienated from the life of God.” They are “dead in trespasses and sins.” They are “walking according to the course of this world.” They walk according to Satan’s control. Their conversation is in the lusts of the flesh. They. are by nature the children of wrath. They are in the world without God and having no hope. This is almost waste material. Now we can see why only the grace and power of God can transform such helpless, sinful, human creatures into saints.
2. THE PROCESS—The Divine process—“But God Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us.” Ephesians 2:4. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 and 9. God’s workmanship. The Creator creates anew. God creates, or recreates, by the one Divine baptism of Ephesians 4:5. By this baptism the believing sinners are taken out of Adam and placed in Christ and identified with Him as the Head of the New Creation.
3. THE PRODUCT—“To the saints”—“Believing ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13. “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God, And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner Stone; In Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19 to 22.
“We are members of His Body.” Ephesians 5:30. We are alive. We are raised up with Christ. We are seated with Him in the heavenlies. The Holy Spirit intends that the children of God should read the Epistle to the Colossians with the Epistle to the Ephesians, for they give us very much the same precious truth, but one is the complement and commentary of the other. Both of these Epistles deal with alienation, reconciliation, and the new creation. In each of these Prison Epistles of Paul we have the message of grace and glory. As to the future of grace and glory, note Colossians 3:3 and 4: “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Ephesians 2:7. “‘That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Thus we see something of God’s eternity of grace.
Now let us read Colossians 1:20 and 21: “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.” Note Paul’s words in Colossians 1:23, “Whereof I Paul am made a minister;” in Colossians 1:29, “Whereunto I labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Paul was neither conceited nor deluded. Paul was in earnest. He was truthful and sincere. The risen Christ had given him a distinctive, unique ministry, something entirely different from any program or ministry or message which he had committed to Peter and the Eleven. Paul, in his Bible ministry, uses the first person pronoun more than one thousand times in speaking of himself.
According to Colossians 1:20 to 28, Paul was made a minister by Christ and was working and striving by that Divine power within, to testify the gospel of the grace of God which he received from Christ, to finish his course with joy, according to Acts 20:24; to make known the message of reconciliation; to fill up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ in His flesh, for His Body’s sake, to fulfill (or complete) the Word of God with God’s secret, which God had never mentioned to any prophet. priest, king or apostle until the glorified Christ made it known to this man Paul.
Perhaps you are saying, or thinking, “What strange language!” The language way seem strange. but it has been in the Bible all these years; and the strange thing is, that people and pastors alike have paid no attention to it. In fact. the majority of Christians do not know it is in the Bible.
But note in Colossians 1:23, Paul declares that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven. Then note the three verses that follow:
“WHO NOW REJOICE IN MY SUFFERINGS FOR YOU, AND FILL UP THAT WHICH IS BEHIND OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST IN MY FLESH FOR HIS BODY’S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH: WHEREOF I AM MADE A MINISTER ACCORDING TO THE DISPENSATION OF GOD WHICH IS GIVEN TO ME FOR YOU, TO FULFIL THE WORD OF GOD: EVEN THE MYSTERY WHICH HATH BEEN HID FROM AGES AND FROM GENERATIONS, BUT NOW 1S MADE MANIFEST TO HIS SAINTS.” Colossians 1:24 to 26.
What does this mean?
Was not the suffering of Christ sufficient? In what sense did Paul supplement the sufferings of Christ? Certainly not, for the sinner’s redemption. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust that He, might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but. quickened by the Spirit.” The Lord Jesus Christ settled the sin question on the cross and then abolished death and entered into heaven, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:10.
We might ask also how we are to reconcile Paul’s statements in I Corinthians 3:11 and I Corinthians 3:10. In verse eleven, Paul declares that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ. But in I Corinthians 3:10 he says. “as a wise masterbuilder I have laid the foundation . . . let us all take heed how we build together thereupon.”
No spiritual saint can faithfully study the Pauline Epistles and fail to observe that the Apostle Paul had a very special and important part to play in announcing for God the casting away of Israel, which brought the ministry of reconciliation for Gentiles, the beginning of the dispensation of the grace of God, the proclamation of the unsearchable riches of Christ for Gentiles, the revelation and the proclamation of the mystery of God’s will, His eternal predestinated purpose given in Christ before the world began. All of these truths are related to the building up of the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6, and they were revealed and proclaimed so that all might see the dispensation of the mystery.
Note very carefully this statement of Paul, in Colossians 1:25 and 26: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God: Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” This special dispensation of God was given to this special apostle, who was not one of the Twelve, for a very specific task, and a most important duty; namely, to complete the Word of God with the mystery, with it Divine message and spiritual program concerning which all the preceding ages and generations had been ignorant, as well as silent.
When the Lord Jesus saved, and first called Saul of Tarsus into service, He said, “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15. And what a sufferer he was! In his last Epistle he said, “according to MY GOSPEL, wherein I suffer as an evil doer even unto bonds.” II Timothy 2:8 and 9.
The Lord ordained and willed that the capstone of Divine Truth, called “the Mystery”, should be added to prophecy, and the fulfillment of prophecy, to complete the Word of God, with intense suffering on the part of this chosen vessel. So the Lord restrained Paul from writing his Epistles which tell His secret in detail, until he was suffering in the prison at Rome. But years before that, he had suffered intensely for preaching the gospel of the uncircumcision to Gentiles. Note his sufferings in II Corinthians 11:22 to 28. Then after all this, read his testimony in II Corinthians 12:1 to 9, concerning his thorn in the flesh, which came with the revelations from Christ. Paul mentioned the mystery in I Corinthians 2:6 to 7 and Romans 8:28 to 30, but not in detailed explanation.
Years before Paul reached the Roman prison, he told us Gentiles of his uncompromising bold stand against the other apostles and disciples, “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Galatians 2:5. How he struggled, and laboured and fought and suffered to keep religious men from covering up God’s grace message with religion. You try this today if you want to know what a task it is. I wonder if Paul’s sufferings are appreciated by us, or if we really understand or appreciate the gospel of the grace of God, to say nothing of the dispensation of the Mystery.
But until our neat lesson, in our study of the Epistle to the Ephesians, just a few words about alienation, reconciliation, and the new creation, as they are mentioned in Ephesians and Colossians. We read in Ephesians 4:18 and in Colossians 1:21, that the children of Adam, who were not the children of Abraham, were alienated from the life of God. But in Ephesians 2:13 to 18 and in Colossians 1:20 and 21, we learn that Jesus Christ made peace by the blood of His cross and by this work God reconciled alienated Gentiles. The reconciled Gentiles were made new creatures in Christ Jesus.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.