God’s Purpose ( Isaiah 14: 24, ESV ) by Carley Evans

“The Lord of Hosts swears, ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand… This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of Hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:24,26-27)

God has a plan. He has a purpose concerning the whole earth. No one is able to annul God’s plan. No one is able to turn God back from His intention.

What is God’s purpose?

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul says God’s purpose is to bless us — that is, Christians — “in the heavenly places. even as He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Ephesians 1:3,4) God’s purpose is also to “put all things under [Christ’s] feet” and to make Christ “head over all things” to the benefit of His church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22,23)

God’s purpose is to “bring many sons to glory” through Christ “for whom and by whom all things exist.” (Hebrews 2:10) God’s purpose is for us — the sons of glory — to “enter His rest.” (Hebrews 4:1) “For we who believe enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)

Now God “desires to show convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable nature of His purpose, [so] He guarantees it with an oath.” (Hebrews 6:17) He swears by Himself in that “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18) Therefore, “we have this sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19,20)

Who can annul God’s purpose; who can turn Him back?

“Once Of Their Number” ( Ephesians 2:3, NEB ) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells us, “Pass no judgment, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; acquit, and you will be acquitted; give, and gifts will be given you.” (Luke 6:37-38)

Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, reminds that at one time all of us “were dead in [our] sins and wickedness, when [we] followed the evil ways of this present age, when [we] obeyed the commander of the spiritual powers of the air, the spirit now at work among God’s rebel subjects.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) “We too were once of their number: we all lived our lives in sensuality, and obeyed the promptings of our own instincts and notions. In our natural condition we, like the rest, lay under the dreadful judgment of God” (Ephesians 2:3)

Of course, the gift we have received is that of God’s grace: His rich mercy, His great love. Paul encourages us; reminding “how immense are the resources of His grace, and how great His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7-8) “For [Christ] Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14) Of course,”there is nothing for anyone to boast of” (Ephesians 2:10) because our salvation “is God’s gift, not a reward for work done.” (Ephesians 2:9) “For we are God’s handiwork.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Since we are God’s handiwork and not rewarded our salvation for works performed, we have cause neither to boast nor to judge others. We are not qualified to judge others for we ourselves were once of their company. We cannot boast for we also were lost in our sins, separated from God, dead in our condition. “But God, rich in mercy, for the great love He bore us, brought us to life with Christ even when we were dead in our sins; it is by grace [we] are saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Therefore, judge not. Neither boast, except of the Lord.

“A Wisdom God Predestined” ( 1 Corinthians 2: 9, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

“We do speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)

Paul continues by paraphrasing Isaiah, stating that no one has seen or heard or even imagined what “God prepared [in advance] for those who love Him.”

What did God prepare?

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes: “For [God] chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

God prepared for us adoption into His family. He prepared us “for Himself.” He anticipated our ultimate glory — and so continues to prepare us “to be holy and blameless in His sight.”

Paul writes, “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” (Ephesians 1:7)

God prepared for us our “redemption.” He planned to save us in advance of our fall into damnation. He prepared us to be owned by Him as His “possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:14)

“For this reason,” writes Paul, “I pray that [God] may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14,16-19)

“A Mystery” ( Ephesians 1: 9 – 10, NIV ) by Carley Evans

God has a mystery — and He makes it known to us, says Paul, because He is pleased to do so. God’s mystery is that He intends “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

How mysterious it is that God — long before He created time — knew and chose me and you in love. (How humbling!) How mysterious it is that God — long before Abram was born — selected him to be the father of all who are born-again of water and Spirit. How mysterious it is that God — who knows all that is and all that will be — is nevertheless not the author of evil, but only of good. How mysterious it is that God eventually will unite and place everything (not some things) underneath the head, who is His Son, Jesus the Christ. Does this mean that at some future point — perhaps when time has ended and there is only eternity — all will be perfect again? Will everything be able then to say, ‘Oh Death, where is your sting?’ because death and hell will be no more?

Is it possible that at some point our adversary will actually cease to exist, or that he himself will be brought under the head of Christ? Not only brought under His Head, but united with everything else? The Word here in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church is hard to fathom.

A mystery understood is no longer mysterious. Paul says that God reveals this mystery — that He tells us all will be united under Christ. But, how this is to be remains a mystery. With man, much is impossible. With God, all things are possible.