“This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5b NLT)
“… according to the kind intention of His will.” (Ephesians 1:5b NASB)
“He freely chose to do this” (Ephesians 1:5b God’s Word)
God has a free will. God decides what He wants to do of His own free choice, and then He does it. He always does what is right. He does what is the best and most efficient way of doing things. He saves humankind by the best and most efficient means possible. On the issue of eternally saving fallen man, the best and only way to effect salvation was infinitely expensive. To do the right and best thing which invites an eternally wonderful benefit for all people of every generation and race gives Him the utmost pleasure. He does things according to the kind intention of His will and that is always to benefit man kind; especially those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. It is by this faith that we are saved. And even the faith we exercise to become saved is given to us by God Himself. He freely chose to do the things that we have been talking about thus far in these pages, and He is delighted and content to do what He does. That is God for you!
We are assured that we have faith in a God who is both infinitely wise, immaculately just, and incredibly generous. To believe these things is absolutely consistent with scripture. When push comes to shove, it is a “no-brainer” of pure logic that God is good all the time; gracious, loving and constantly mindful of man. As Charles Finney would no doubt forcefully assert, it is so reasonable an assertion that we do not have the need to ransack the bible in order to substantiate such a concept. Who would worship a God that is not infinite in His attributes, and perfectly good in His activities? God’s wisdom, love, goodness, generosity, and kindness, all overflowing with great purpose must be the at the very roots of what is our confidence in God’s essential character, otherwise, why worship Him from our free will at all? Could we even call Him God who did not tick all these boxes? We are confronted with His glorious nature and Personhood when we think on these things.
To take these thoughts a step further, we need to be steeped and marinated in the conviction that if God is good and pure, holy and Almighty, then all that He plans, does and says is purely an outflow of His goodness and greatness. His intentions must be filled with love, generosity and purity. It is illogical, not to mention unbiblical, to have faith in Him who we boast is perfect in every conceivable attribute, but that He makes imperfect plans and relationships with man. Tosh! A pox on the very thought!
From that conclusion we boldly declare that the route God took towards redeeming sinful man and removing the curse that fills the cosmos is, without fear of contradiction, the best, the purest and the most efficient mechanism that infinite goodness and power could create in order to reverse the power of sin and death. God has a perfect goal for humankind, a goal that, when we truly understand it will give us deep satisfaction, joy and thankfulness.
But here is the jaw dropper. We do not need to know everything about the plan in order to be part of it and to be included within its parameters. All we really need to know is that the whole package is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ, and that by encountering Him by faith and entering into a personal relationship with Him, one reaps the entire benefits of what the Saviour brings to humanity. To be sure, that relationship with Christ has to be persevered in, and one needs to be seeking the kingdom with everything one has to make sure of what one has in Christ, but simple faith is the front door to all the mansions with God.
God has chosen the best goal, the best means of achieving that goal, and pursues the fulfilment of that goal in the excellent and most efficient means possible. How great is God! This plan, purpose, and means of its achievement is what God freely chose to do and it goes along with the kindness of His intention, giving Our Father who is in heaven deep never ending joy. Dealing with sin, sickness, death, hell and the devil is thus seen almost as “incidental” to the ultimate end purpose. Nevertheless ridding the cosmos of all those evils was the most incredibly costly activities that God could ever do and is the crux of the gospel message. In this we see the truth that our creed is certainly a list of historical events.
The unchangableness of God and His purposes is yet a straightforward extension of the above pathway of thought. “I am the Lord. I change not” (Malachi 3:6) is exactly what God Himself says in the Bible. The bible insists, along with human reason, that God cannot change. His plans and purposes stretch across all eternity and simply have not, will not and cannot be altered in any way. This statement is one of the incredible rock like truths of the New Testament message. It is this straightforward statement that allows us to preach, teach and declare to all that if anybody, no matter who, sincerely asks Christ to save them, their future eternal salvation is assured. “He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:12). God is not forced to be so certain and rock like by arguement or necessity. These are plain facts of God’s attributes and His choices; He is not a man to change His mind. If any aspect of God’s responses were not of His free will and personal choice, the plan of salvation could not be as virtuous of itself as evangelical preachers declare. It is the plain fact that all God’s choices are made of His own free will that makes them so downright worthy of the most extreme praise and thankfulness!
Isaiah 46:9-10 in the Expanded Bible says so clearly, “Remember ·what happened long ago [ the former things of antiquity]. Remember that I am God, and there is no other God. I am God, and there is no one like me. From the beginning I told you what would happen in the end. A long time ago [From ancient times] I told you things that have not yet happened. When I plan something, it happens […saying, “My counsel will stand”]. What I want to do, I will do.” Is it possible for language to be any plainer.
From all this we Christians revel in the fact that God’s eternal purposes, as expressed here in the first fourteen verses of Ephesians are the firmest, rock like immovable facts of the gospel message. One cannot enter into the joy, the power, the grace, and the love of God without embracing this purpose, and so embracing the God who purposed it so. Without faith, hope and love in this incredibly far-reaching message one is lost forever both to God and all joy. The only thing that stops people entering into this plan is selfishness, unbelief, and/or ignorance of the call of God to have faith in Christ.
“He spoke, and it happened. He commanded, and it ·appeared [stood; Heb. 11:3]. The Lord ·upsets [frustrates] the plans [counsels] of nations; he ·ruins [foils] ·all their plans [the plans of the peoples]. But the Lord’s plans [counsels] will stand [endure] forever; his ideas [the plans of his heart] will last from now on.” So says Psalm 33:11 in the Expanded Bible.
Notwithstanding what we have discussed on previous pages, concerning eternity being outside of time, there is a seeming logical sequence of events that must have taken place in the planning process of the purposes of God. By the very nature of making plans within the context of time, surely the same process that I am about to suggest must be consistent even outside of time for God’s eternal plan to have come into being.
Working backwards we must take note that God could not have known what He could do or not do to save humankind must have been known before He decided on and initiated His plan. He could not have decided and made up His mind what to do until He had covered all His options. Until every conceivable pathway of action was considered God could not have chosen the very best way. In choosing that plan God also had to initiate His purpose and intention to overcome every obstacle to his intended goal, and then make the way around those obstacles plain. This means that His fore-knowledge of what could be done must have processed the queries of how, before he could say when. The purpose must have flowed out of His fore-knowing. God, of course, has infinite prescience, that is, foreknowing.
But digging further, and I thank God for Charles Finney’s insights into this non-abstract furthering of my meditation here, Thinking about what could be done must have taken place before purposing to do. So in simple chronology, God foreknew the mess that sin would bring first of all. God then examined every single option He could take of His own free will. Next, He decided on His purposeful action to ensure that the end product of creation would be as great, if not greater than His purposes seemed to be with Adam and Eve in the garden.
In the immediately previous couple of paragraphs, I am talking as a man locked in our space-time linear existence. We have to continually keep in mind that God’s foreknowledge is eternal, God’s purpose is eternal, and God’s knowledge of the best way and most efficient way to save man that is consistent with all His attributes is also eternal.
This glorious concept of all things with God being eternal and infinite reduces thoughts on these kind of issues to concurrent extremes of exhilaration at His greatness, and at the same time the futility of trying to see in chronological order (chromos meaning “of time”) what actually must have taken place “before the foundation of the world (that is: before time began).
God’s purposes, set outside of time, requires means within time to bring them to fruition. To bring out God’s purpose of seeing the entire creation in a state of submission to Christ, we have to stretch our minds to see God’s incredible providence and dealing with every single person that ever has or ever will live and how the gospel message has been, is doing or will be presented to them. Six billion people alive on the planet as I write. Six billion people to be providentially dealt with. Six billion people to have foreknowledge of! Six billion people to make plans for! And we must get some vague grasp of the greatness of God when we declare with full certainty that if every single person of the six billion that are on the earth today knelt simultaneously to enquire of God, every one of them would have His full attention in a personal “one to one” interview with the Almighty. Oh! The greatness of God!
Where am I going with all this? I am merely laying the ground to say with clear biblical authority and the understanding of my readers, that God Himself is delighted, pleased and content with the plan He has set in motion to save anybody who is reading these pages. It was from the kind intention of His will that the purpose of God is not only presented to us through Christ, but activated by our personal faith in Christ. Faith in Christ presses the button. What’s that proverb about huge doors swinging on tiny hinges?