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God's Eternal Purpose for Your Life

Ephesians 1:1-16

James R. Davis

Today we are trained and educated to evaluate everything from a human point of view and this results in us groping through life with little sense of purpose. Many get involved in short-term relationships with no commitment to escape life's emptiness. Others pursue sex, drugs, alcohol, stoicism, or ego trips to ease the pain of lack of relationship with God or human beings.

These symptoms are not new. It is astounding how similar our modern world is to the world in which the apostle Paul lived. Paul lived in a pagan society that lost its nerve and was filled with cynicism of people who could not find their way. Their concepts of God and humanity were distorted.

The people of Paul's world needed to understand their purpose for being. They could only do that by seeing themselves from God's point of view. Paul wanted to give them penetrating insight to their purpose for living.

We can only understand our purpose for existence as we understand God's purpose for our lives. In the book of Ephesians Paul reveals God's eternal purpose to unite all humanity in Jesus Christ for a new creation. In the first chapter of Ephesians Paul begins to reveal the purpose of God's majestic sovereign power in our salvation. Paul reveals that God purposed a place of refuge for each of us and he also reveals how to get into that place of refuge.

It Is Comforting to Know About God's Sovereignty

When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we are talking about his personal Supreme rule over the affairs of the universe. This also includes his Supreme rule over our personal lives. It is difficult to comprehend, but our lives are ruled by God's sovereign purposeful eternal choice.

In the Psalms God is often related to the heavens and the earth. (E.g., Psalms 8, 19) When the Psalms relate God to the heavens it is usually never a science lesson about the origin of things, but rather a statement about God's sovereign majestic rule. In the following Psalm the writer speaks of God's dominion and rule.

Psalms 103:15-22
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Have you ever thought about how the physical heavens literally rule over the earth? During this El Nino year we have seen how we are at the mercy of the heavens. They can ruin us or bless us. Warm us or cool us. Burn us or freeze us. Make our crops productive or destroy them. We have learned that climate and atmospheric conditions affect not only our health, but also our psychological behavior. The writers of Psalms saw God in charge of heavens and the earth. In Psalms 115:1-3 the heathen are asking, "Where is their God now?" The psalmist answers, "Our God is in the heavens: he has done whatever he pleased." To them this a very practical way that God's sovereignty was demonstrated. Just as God rules the heavens and the earth his sovereignty rules our lives.

Throughout the Psalms when the writers portray God in the heavens it is actually their way of declaring their faith and trust in God's sovereign rule. If God commands the heavens, then he commands our lives. If he has a purpose for the heavens, then he has a purpose for your life.

The words of Jesus extend comfort by reminding us of God's sovereign power toward those who follow him. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:27-29)

How Does God's Sovereign Rule Effect Our Lives?

Nowhere is God's majestic sovereign power and purpose for our lives more beautifully portrayed than in the salvation of our souls. And to me, nowhere is God's sovereign power concerning our salvation more beautifully portrayed for all today than in the New Testament book of Ephesians.

Eph 1:19-23
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

In Ephesians Paul teaches us that the sovereign power of God is far above all principality, power, might, dominion, every name that is named, in this world and the world to come. This teaches us that our purpose and salvation rest in the sovereignty of God, his supremacy, his infinite rule, his authority and power. God is above the highest creature in authority, nature and being. God is the Most High Lord of heaven and earth and all creation. God is above angels and all the heavenly hosts.

God had a purpose for each of us before we were born. This decision was made in heavenly places before the foundation of the world was laid. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places 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, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God's choice was no novel ideal or last minute decision. God's purposeful choosing was made before the foundation of the world was laid. God's community of believers is no accident of history. God's people come into a relationship with him and with one another solely as the result of deliberate and well-planned action by God.

1 Peter 1:18-20
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

God stood by ready to help "before the foundation of the world." God knows our nature. The Lamb for our sacrifice was prepared before the world began. The sacrifice was prepared in advance to meet our needs.

A New York businessman who commuted to work by ferryboat noticed a new passenger one-day--a youngster with a shoeshine kit. The man spoke kindly to him and paid him to shine his shoes. From that day on, whenever the businessman boarded the boat, the boy always approached him with a happy smile. He would offer to carry his briefcase and would brush off his clothing without expecting any reward. After a week or two, the man asked the youth what made him so attentive. "Sir," he replied, "the first time you met me you called me 'my boy.' Till then I didn't think I belonged to anyone, 'cause my parents are dead. But you're so kind, and you always call me your boy. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you!" Needless to say, the businessman was deeply touched. Soon he made arrangements to see that the young fellow would be well taken care of.

Since the man was a Christian, the experience brought to his mind the Scripture that reads, "And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters" (2 Cor. 6:18). He thought how blessed it is that God has chosen to be our Father. He tells us as believers in the body of Christ that we are not orphans in the storms of life, for we have a Father who loves us. As His blood-bought children, we are assured that we will be "abundantly satisfied" (Psalm 36:8), safely guided, and never forsaken.

How Was God's Sovereign Decision Made?

God's sovereign powerful eternal purpose for our lives was worked out according to the counsel of his own will. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Jeremiah wrote, "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Today, when we want great things done, we look for great people to do them. But God is different. When God spoke to Israel in the Old Testament he said, "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you . . . (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

Throughout the Old Testament God never chose extraordinary people to do extraordinary things. He chose ordinary people to do the extraordinary. He called Abraham from an idolatrous past; God chose cheating Jacob to carry on his cause; God chose Joseph sold into slavery; God chose the outcast in Egypt, the Israelite slaves through whom to work his mighty wonders; God chose fearful timid Gideon and 300 men to route a Philistine army of tens of thousand, God chose the shepherd boy David to deliver Israel from the giants, God chose to save you in Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are like the Corinthians who liked to emphasize their own importance in the body of Christ. But Paul reminds us that it's because of God's good pleasure and choice that we are in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-- and the things that are not-- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (Emphasis mine)

Paul reminds us that God purposed each person to be in Christ and it was according to the good pleasure of his will. It is not because of who we are or what we have accomplished. " . . . He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- (Ephesians 1:5)

Why Was God's Sovereign Decision Made?

God's sovereign powerful purposeful choice was to freely give us salvation in Jesus Christ. (1:6) God's sovereign choice had nothing to do with how good or bad anyone has lived. It has to do with God's choosing not ours. God chose that he would count every person in Christ holy and blameless. This decision was made before the first man took his first breath, before the earth was created. It was purposed in eternity.

In the first verse of Ephesians Paul spoke "to the saints in Ephesus." Don't be misled by the world's concept of sainthood. In our world Sainthood is something reserved for people who have lived extraordinary lives. Someone like Saint John, Saint Paul, Saint Peter. Sainthood is only conferred upon certain dead people by some ecclesiastical body. Saints are dead people to whom some pray. But according to God's Word, all believers are already saints. We are not holy because of our own good works or righteousness. The Bible tells us that "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." (Isaiah 64:6) We are righteous because Jesus Christ died on the cross so that he could give us his righteousness. God made him to be sin for us, he became sin on our behalf, that we might be the righteousness of God in HIM. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We may have enough money to buy every cow in Texas, make a ski resort out of Mt. Everest, or hire the Green Bay Packers as our personal bodyguards. But we do not have enough money to secure personal freedom from sin, even one sin.

My favorite verse in Ephesians is 1:7; " . . . he has made us accepted in the beloved." This is really my favorite verse in the Bible. It says so much. The verse tells me that what I couldn't do God chose to do through his majestic sovereign power. He made us saints: he made his child; he made provisions for the forgiveness of my sins; he made the purchased price for my sins; he made himself a Lamb sacrifice for my sins; he has made provisions for my eternal home and he has made me acceptable to live there with him eternally. Praise be to God, he has made me acceptable in the beloved.

We sing a song, "Oh, what wondrous love I see, Freely shown to you and me. By the One that did atone. Just to show His matchless grace, Jesus suffered for the race."

No wonder John could say, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." (1 John 3:1)

God purposed our salvation in Christ that all creation might know the intent of his eternal purpose from very the beginning. Salvation in Christ has always been in God's plan. God's plan for our salvation was mysterious until Christ came. It was a mystery, but now the mystery is revealed through Christ for all creation to behold as the gospel is preached.

Eph 3:9-12
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

God purposed our salvation in Christ so that we might have boldness and confidence through faith in Christ as we approach him. Paul makes it clear that the purpose of God's decision was to provide salvation in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3) It is in Christ that we have been adopted as sons. (1:5) It is in Christ that we have received God's glorious grace. (1:6) It is in Christ that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the lamb. (1:7-10) God has chosen to make us accepted in the beloved. (1:7)

A wealthy man once called his faithful assistant into his office and said, "I've put your name in my will, and you will get $10,000 when I die. As it may be some time before you get that legacy, I want to make you happy by paying you each year the legal interest on that amount. Here is a check for $600 as a starter." The clerk was doubly gratified. The prospect of the inheritance was good news, and the money he received in advance assured him of the reality of his joyous hope for the future. In a higher sense, this is the believer's position. The spiritual blessings that God's grace imparts are the interest and promise of "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" which the heavenly Bridegroom will one day share with the heirs of salvation (2 Cor. 4:17).

Ephesians 1:3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places 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, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

God's sovereign choice was to give us every spiritual blessing we need in Christ. Try to imagine having a bank account with unlimited funds. No matter what you need the funds are always there. You don't have to worry about negative balances; in fact you don't really have to worry about keeping tract of what you spend because you know what you need will always be there.

Have you ever noticed those on television who have won a $10,000,000 sweepstake. The first thing they say is "I can't believe it." Likewise, "Many of us have trouble believing the extravagant goodness of God toward us personally. The idea that God would lavish extravagant blessings on us is something we find hard to believe. It seems that we have been conditioned to think of ourselves as unworthy creatures. We are not good enough, or holy enough, or sincere enough to get the really good things from God - That is our thinking. Who are we to presume upon the goodness of God? But the fact remains that all of us have a rich and extravagant inheritance in Christ. In fact, we may respond by saying, "I can't believe it." We may not be able to believe it, but it is true."

For Whom Was God's Sovereign Decision Made? (1:9-10)

God has purposed to unite everything in heaven and on earth into Jesus Christ making one new creation. (Ephesians 2:10) This leaves no one out. It is not that some are chosen and some are not.

Ephesians 1:9-10 And 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 will have reached their fulfillment-- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

God made a choice to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ. He also chose to reveal this mystery of his will, which is now the revealed gospel, through weak sinful people whom the Bible speaks of as the saints of God. God has chosen to reveal the wisdom of his power and eternal purpose to the world, principalities and powers in heavenly places through you and me. He has purposed our lives as a spectacle to the world. And the beauty of it all is that everyone can be included in the salvation that the majestic sovereign ruler of the heavens and the earth has purposed to give in Jesus Christ.

God's sovereign choice includes each of us who choose to believe and follow Christ: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit . . . (Ephesians 1:13)

Must hear the word of truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and it shall set you free." (John 8:32) Jesus prayed that we might be sanctified through the truth. (John 1:17) Jesus said that the words he spoke to us are "spirit and they are life." (John 6:63) Paul says that we are "saved by grace through faith." (Ephesians 2:8-9) In Romans Paul declares that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Paul declares that we put on Christ as we are baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27)


Ephesians speaks volumes to those who feel forgotten by God. Those who feel that they have been dealt a rotten hand, so to speak. Sin deals each of us a rotten hand but God's eternal purpose salvages our lives. You can know that God has a purpose for your life. Remember if God can rule the heavens and the earth he can bless your life.

God's sovereign power and purpose provides a place of salvation, which is in Christ, but it is through the power of human choice that we take advantage of this salvation. God has offered each of us a refuge in Christ but it is up to each of us to seek refuge.

God's eternal purpose provides a purpose for your life in that he wants you become his new creation in Christ.


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