Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 1:9-12

He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to His good pleasure that He purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time —to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.

11 In Him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of His will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to His glory.

The Original Intent

1) What is meant by the “mystery” Paul references in verse 9

The New Testament uses the word MYSTERY in a special sense. Rather than a mystery that’s impossible to understand, biblical mystery is something which has long been secret, but is now revealed and made plain for all.

There are aspects of the Christian faith that can seem mysterious at first, but with understanding, the once-mysterious, becomes clear and precious.

For example, suppose someone who knew nothing about Christianity visited church during a Communion Service. Communion, and the language surrounding it, would be a complete mystery. They wouldn’t understand what was happening or why, but to the believer in Jesus who understands the Lord’s Supper, Communion is not only plain and clear, it’s also rich with joy and significance. Communion itself wasn’t mysterious, rather, until its meaning is explained, it remained a mystery to the one who hadn’t yet understood it.

For Paul, “the mystery of His [God’s] will”, was made plain when Jesus came to fulfill the “good news gospel story” that the Lord God had been weaving since before time began. (Ephesians 1:4) When Jesus came to sacrifice Himself on the cross, He paid for every sin across all of time. (1 John 2:2) That “credit” of righteousness was now available to all people. When someone accepts this credit, their debt of sin will be erased in full because of Jesus’ righteousness. This acceptance through faith (Romans 10:9-10) is what moves someone from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, making them a child of God. (Colossians 1:12-13, Romans 10:13)

This was always God’s plan to redeem mankind, but it wasn’t clear in the Old Testament Who the promised Messiah would be, neither did many understand that God always intended for this gospel to be extended beyond Jews, offering payment of sin to Gentiles also.

These were both mysteries, but when Jesus was revealed, the mystery of the gospel was made plain!

The Everyday Application

1) What is meant by the “mystery” Paul references in verse 9

Up until the time of this writing, mankind had been living in a divided world. Either you were Jewish, or you were a Gentile, which included Greek, Barbarian, and, well, everyone else.

All around the known world there was strife and tension because of this division, but Jesus came into the world to wipe out the division and offer rescue from sin for all people. (Ephesians 2:13-14) This was the secret of God, bound up in the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross. Not only was He the now-revealed promised Messiah from the Old Testament, He also extended forgiveness and new life to all people, regardless of nationality. (Revelation 5:9)

The Bible teaches that through the ages, history is the active working out of the will of God. (Ephesians 1:11-14) Today, we continue living in an age in which humanity continues loving Self. Lines of division are drawn in cultures all around the world to evidence this Self-Worship, proving faithfulness to our agendas and our versions of right.

Just as Jesus came to erase division between Jew and Gentile in the first century, so He is at work in our world through His people to bring unity under the Name of Christ Jesus.

Paul understood that one day, as the mystery of Christ continued being proclaimed around the world, people from all backgrounds would come to faith in Jesus, building one family in Christ.

It is the great task of the Church (believers in Christ) to work out God’s purpose of unity, and live every day with His mission in mind, serving one another in love and humility with our lives while our tongues tell of the grand rescue of Jesus who made a way for us to be forgiven and live free from sin!

The Original Intent

2) What is the intended connection between inheritance and predestination? (verse 11)

In the context of this passage, Paul uses the Greek word “προορίζω”, which is translated “predestined” to emphasize the pre-determined choice of God. As Sovereign over all things, God has “foreordained, decreeing from eternity” His plan and purpose in redeeming mankind.

God’s “predestined” plan was known in full to Himself, the all-wise, eternal God (1 Corinthians 2:7), and always included the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:23) to make the atoning payment for sinners. No part of the redemption plan was accidental or a “backup” plan. Christ’s death was God’s plan to save His beloved people and bring them Home.

The Greek word, “κληρόω”, translated “inheritance” in English, references the possession of salvation for those who trust in Christ Jesus through faith. (Romans 10:8-10) These believers receive the inheritance of salvation (Hebrews 1:14), but its meaning to the first Greek hearers was much deeper than the English “inheritance through a will of the deceased”. This “κληρόω” was a divinely appointed heritage meant for ownership and possession to the one who received it by order of the Almighty God.

The believers’ inheritance of salvation is described as an eternal, joyful existence with God. Believers are promised, by divine order, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading – kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4) The doctrine of predestination teaches that all who are saved were chosen by God before the foundation of the world through His foreordained rescue plan which He planned, purposed, and brought to fruition by His divine power.

Therefore, for all who come to Christ, our inheritance in the heavenly kingdom for all eternity with God is secure by order of the Almighty. (Isaiah 14:27) This inheritance is accessible to all who truly turn to Christ through repentance and faith in Jesus alone.

The Everyday Application

2) What is the intended connection between inheritance and predestination? (verse 11)

Paul carefully chose his words so his recipients would not miss how loved, treasured, known, and loved they were in God’s sight. His plan to forgive and restore humanity was determined and set in stone long before any of us took a single breath. His plan is secure, and the inheritance of all who come to Him is immovable.

The God who predestined the rescue of sinners according to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is truly the Almighty King. He enacted His predestined plan because He is altogether a perfectly loving and righteous Father who “predestined us to be adopted as sons”. (Ephesians 1:5, emphasis mine) We are so loved that we are His own, chosen for adoption.

Predestination is an act of infinite fatherly love, bringing outsiders into His family forever without any basis of merit on the part of the sinner, for we truly have nothing to offer a perfectly holy God! (Isaiah 64:6) This is extravagant love!

His predestined plan for our salvation brings Him praise and glory. In essence, our rescue from eternal death brings a smile to the face of God.

When we perpetuate this mission of God in our own lives, we are carrying on His legacy and making known His offer of rescue to all people. We are putting God’s grand love on display in everyday life and ordinary circumstances. (Grace by CityAlight)

The Original Intent

3) What group of people is meant by “us” and “we”? (verses 9-12)

Paul’s letter was written to those who had come to faith in Jesus, but were not of Jewish descent. The Jews were the original “chosen ones” in the Old Testament. As Jews were the first chosen people, they had the first opportunity to come to the Father through faith in Jesus. It was first to the Jews that the mystery of the ages was revealed. (Romans 1:16)

Sometimes figuring out who the pronouns belong to in a passage of Scripture can be challenging. The best method for determining their identity is by walking back to the beginning of a passage, which can sometimes mean multiple chapters! Don’t be discouraged, rightly studying God’s Word is worth it!

Studying the opening verses of Ephesians, Paul addresses the “faithful saints”, which is inclusive of all who have genuinely come to faith in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. (verses 1-2) “Us” and “we” in verses 3-8 inclusively declare solid, unchanging truth of our inheritance and reality as adopted believers in God’s family. Regardless of descent, all who trust in Jesus are safe for eternity by His “good pleasure”. (verse 5)

Verse 9 marks a transition as Paul identifies “us” as his own nation, the Jews, who were the first ones to whom God “made known the […] mystery of His will” of salvation through Jesus. Continuing through verse 12, Paul explains how the Jews were also recipients of the same inheritance, under the same predestined wonder of the divine Almighty that is now extended to the Gentiles. Paul shares this to highlight the deep unity the Lord intended among all believers, Jew or Gentile.

Emphasizing this unity, Paul uses “you” in verse 13, “In Him, you also […]”, to call out Gentiles specifically. He then hems all believers together again in verse 14, “the Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance […]”.

The Everyday Application

3) What group of people is meant by “us” and “we”? (verses 9-12)

The Jews’ assigned part to play in God’s mystery was to be the nation from whom God’s Messiah would come. All through history they had dreamed of and waited for the Messiah’s arrival; they were the first to have the opportunity to believe in Jesus.

God desires salvation for all people. (1 Timothy 2:4) All are in need of a Savior, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23); all are on equal footing before God. Still, the Jews were the people most prepared to welcome Christ, as He fulfilled every Old Testament law and prophecy. (Matthew 5:17)

All over the world, God prepared the hearts and minds of peoples and nations so they would readily receive the message of Jesus when it came, but the great privilege of the Jewish nation was to anticipate the coming of God’s Anointed One.

Whether Jew or Gentile, when people respond in faith to this Good News, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit as proof of their authentic belief. (Romans 8:9) The Holy Spirit teaches us to walk in God’s ways and equips us to obey Him.

The Spirit’s indwelling proves the authenticity of our adoption, and He grows fruit in our everyday living. One cannot have the Spirit and remain the same as before trusting Jesus. The Spirit provides a new self, a new life, and a renewed knowledge that is conformed to the Creator God. (Colossians 3:10-11)

Once we were orphaned. Once we were slaves of sin. Once we were rebellious and cut off from the Father. But when we come to the Father in faith, through Jesus’ sacrifice, He pours out His Spirit into our hearts, enabling us to call with the tongue of the adopted daughter, “Abba, Father!”. (Romans 8:15-16)

Here, in the heart of God, we are Home at last, welcomed into His family!
So live boldly as His child and share how Jesus has made you His! (Matthew 28:19-20)

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