For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
The Eternal Will of God
"He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind intention of his will…He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his kind intention which he purposed in him… And we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of his will… I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11, 18).
Now as you know brothers and sisters, we are here to try to share on the mystery of His Will. Now in order to enter into the riches of the letter to the Ephesians, we had to spend two sessions just trying to get the foundation of that letter. Now with the fundamentals that we have learned, we are able to enter into this letter and of course, our central thought is based around the mystery of His Will.
Paul in prison: a butterfly flying in the sky
Now we already know that when Paul wrote this letter he was actually in prison in Rome. When he reached the height of his life, when he reached the height of his ministry, to his surprise, God put him in prison. For many years he was in chains, and was no longer a free man; he was confined in a small place and was in chains for almost 24 hours each day. Then he became a prisoner of the Lord Jesus.
He lost so much freedom, as though his world became smaller and smaller, but in reality, the more he was limited, the more he was freed. The lower he got, the higher he went. So in the beginning of this chapter, you don't have the impression that he was in prison. In reality he was in prison, in reality he was on this earth, and much confined. But thank the Lord, somehow his spirit had been raptured. Now in the first chapter, you try and look for Paul, and your impression is that he was not in prison, but actually he was lifted up to the heavenly places. So in verse three, he says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."
We know that as a Jew, his vision was limited to this planet. When he had covered the whole planet, that was the limit of his vision. If you go to the Old Testament, the vision for the prophets, the greatest vision was always from the place of sunrise to the place of sunset. One day, the Messianic kingdom would reach the whole planet. Then Israel would no longer be the tail, but the head of all nations. So that is the dream for the average Jew.
Now we know that for the Romans and Greeks, their glory was in the past, but for the earthly and heavenly people of God, for both the Jews and for the Church, their golden age is in the future. When they look into their glory, they don't look into their past; they always look into their future. Now for the Jewish people, they look for the golden age when the Messiah will reign over the earth, and then you will find the glory of God everywhere; from the place where the sun rises to the place where the sun sets. So study your Old Testament. If you read the visions, the scope of that vision is this global planet. So thank the Lord, when Paul reached his height, God used him to write Romans, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians. Now there is a message to reach the heartland of the Roman Empire. That's why he wrote Romans. In this epistle, he introduced the wonderful gospel of God, with the prayer that one day the whole world would be brought into the gospel of Christ. Paul's dream was that one day the whole world would be captured to the gospel of Christ. Paul had an ambition; that he would conquer the world for the gospel of Christ. He wanted to win all the souls on the planet to the gospel of Christ.
Thank God for the wonderful revelation of the apostle Paul. We thought that we had already reached the maximum height of revelation, and according to Paul's understanding at that time, this was almost the whole counsel of God's will. But thank God, God is much greater than Paul.
We thought that Paul had already reached the heights but actually he was able to go even higher. These are the unsearchable riches of Christ; not only the riches of Christ, but also the unsearchable ones.
Sometimes we use the ocean to describe the love of God, but the ocean is still limited to this globe. But when Paul spoke of the love of God, he talked of the height, the depth, the length and the width. The ocean is so small compared with the universe. If the love of God were compared with the ocean, it would already be a great enough example, but when you study Ephesians, brothers and sisters, the example we have is now too small. We did not know how big Christ was. We didn't know how great the universe was.
When Paul was limited in that prison cell, his eyes would most likely be upon his wounds and his chains, but when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians, somehow God lifted him up. Yes it was God who put him in that prison, yes it was God who put him in that cocoon but God knew the life within that worm; the life of the butterfly. For a while he was confined in a cocoon. That small world became a prison for that worm but then that worm would ask a question: I used to move along the flat land, and all the earth was my blessing. How I enjoyed the freedom on that flat land. Now why this small cocoon? Why these chains? Thank God for that small cocoon. Thank God for the prison in Rome because from there, you discover a breakthrough in that life. From that breakthrough you discover a butterfly flying in the sky.
This is the letter to the Ephesians. So now you discover Paul was in prison but at the same time was in heaven. Paul in himself was nothing but a worm, yet in Christ he discovered a risen life, a life of ascension, a heavenly life. So now he had everything to report to us.
So brothers, when we study the letter to the Ephesians, we have to remember one thing, even though Paul was in prison, he was able to experience heaven on earth. So if you study this letter, what is this letter about? It will tell us what a life of heaven on earth is like. Yes we are on earth; however, we are also in heaven. Our position is in the heavens, but according to Paul, heaven is not only a position. After we are saved, thank God that we have a heavenly position in Christ. We begin with that position, but then we will live a life, and that life is called a heavenly life. So heaven was not only a position to Paul, but also an experience. Yes, positionally speaking, Paul said God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places. Now that's our position.
When we were saved, immediately you discover that that is our position. But more than that, brothers and sisters, there you discover that this position is not only something objective but also something that we can experience. In other words, we are supposed to experience that life of heaven on earth. Now sometimes we think that one day we will go to heaven, but according to Paul, heaven is today, heaven is now. Yes, today we are on the earth, but actually we are being seated with Christ in the heavenly places. So for that reason, brothers and sisters, when you read the whole epistle, then you discover that that is our life.
Three key words in Ephesians
For that reason, we find three key words in this epistle. In the first three chapters: one word, and then the next three chapters: two words. You find that Paul carefully chose these three words. What are these three words? Sit, walk, stand. The bible tells us that God seated us with him in the heavenly places. So from chapter one to chapter three, it tells us of our heavenly position. We do not start by walking; we start our Christian life by sitting. When you sit, you put your weight upon your chair; you let the chair support you. You don't make any effort. Your position is one of resting. So brothers and sisters, this is the gospel. We begin by sitting with Christ in the heavenly places.
Now because we have that heavenly position, then we begin to learn how to walk. So if you study chapter four, five and six, there we discover how we can walk upon this earth and how we can become a husband or a wife. To live a family life, means walking upon this earth. Yes we are on earth, but what principle will govern that walk upon the earth? When we are walking we are not governed by the world's principles - yes we walk there - but we are governed by heavenly principles. So brothers, this is a wonderful picture here.
Now finally we stand. Let us read chapter six, verse 14, stand firm. What then is the Christian life? When we live in the presence of God, our position is sitting, and when we live in the presence of the world, our position is walking. Now when we live in the presence of the enemy of God, our position is standing firm. How can you walk on this earth or stand firm against the enemy of God? The secret is that we begin by sitting with Christ in the heavenly places.
So in this whole epistle, we learn the secret of Christian life. The Christian life actually covers three aspects: how to live in the presence of God, this world and in that of the enemy. Now before God, we sit with Christ, before the world, we walk and before the enemy of God we stand firm.
Spiritual blessings in the heavenly places
These are the three keys that will open the whole epistle to us. So remember, in the first chapter, Paul tried to introduce the wonderful gospel of Christ to us. Now if you compare this letter to that of Romans, both Romans and Ephesians cover the gospel of Christ. But here we find a difference; when you study Romans, it began with the poor condition of man. Do you see that? When Paul introduced that gospel, he started with man and his condition; not only with the Gentile's sins, but also the Jew's sins. For that reason, he said all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. So brothers and sisters, why the gospel of Christ? Because we are sinners. It is sin that has removed us far from God. For that reason, God had to accomplish His work of redemption through His Son. That's how we read Romans. So when Paul presented the gospel of God, he started from man and from the earthly condition. When you reach chapter eight, there you reach heaven. So Romans starts with the earth and ends up with the heavens. It starts with man and ends up with God.
In Ephesians, Paul introduces exactly the same gospel and yet you discover it all begins from the heavenly places. Do you see that? Paul's prison represents this small world, but now somehow his spirit has been raptured and we discover he is in the heavenly places. So Paul begins by saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."
Now as a Jew, Paul knew very well about God's blessing; how God had promised His blessing to Abraham and all his descendents. You have to be very careful because for the earthly people, the earth and all that is in it is the blessing. No wonder today if you divide the wealth of this world into three parts, then one part belongs to the Jews. Because that's what God promised to the Jews. Do you see that? That's their characteristic. No wonder that after two thousand years of captivity, they were being scattered throughout the whole world. They had no home for eighteen hundred years. But you know very well the Jewish people are the most unique people in the world. They were the chosen people of God and so because of that, even when they were exiled, even when they became homeless, somehow they have built the largest invisible empire in history. Now brothers and sisters, today whether you like Jews or not, remember, God's blessing, especially the earthly blessing is with them.
Remember when Hitler persecuted Jews, at those times, in the land of Germany, ten percent of doctors were Jews. So if we know a little history, we know that they could master the financial and intellectual world. If you visit the best universities in the United States today; Harvard, Yale, Colombia, and all these great universities, you will discover that the majority of the professors are Jews. Einstein was a Jew, Karl Marx was a Jew and Freud was a Jew. Why? Because God promised He would give them earthly blessings. If you want to find out about the history of discoveries, and you check with the noble prize winners, you will be surprised at how many of them are Jews.
Now today, when you turn on CNN, it has something to do with the Jews, when you drink Coca Cola, it has something to do with the Jews, and when you turn on the television and the world of entertainment, remember that even in those circles, the most successful people are Jews. What does that mean? To God's earthly people, God will give the earth. So one day, in the Messianic kingdom, when Christ reigns on earth, Israel will no longer be the tail of the nations but the head. Why? Again, this is the earthly blessing.
So brothers, hopefully you do not misunderstand me, let me say this to clarify; if you want to do business, you must be very careful if you make a Jew your partner because you know what will happen. God will bless him and all the money in your pocket will go to him. Then you will say, "what about me?" You are a Christian. You are of the heavenly people. God has given all the earthly blessing to him, but when you have lost everything, you have gained everything. Why? Because you have been given the heavenly blessing. So God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. What is our blessing? You just read on from this verse because Paul tried to cite them one by one. Now for the Jews; Coca Cola, CNN and Hollywood are all their blessings; you can cite them one by one. But what is our blessing brothers and sisters? Paul tried to cite them one by one.
Now what are our blessings? What are our earthly blessings? This is very important. Does this mean we will have no earthly blessing? Remember, God mainly gives us spiritual blessing, so if you seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, in other words, if you really seek the heavenly blessing, according to our Lord, this will be added to you. Now what are these things? They are the earthly blessings. So brothers, when we Christians have any earthly blessing, they are additional. For example when you have a book, you read the whole book and finish it, but then you still find another section called the appendix. What is an appendix? The main part is the book itself, but aside from that, the author adds something else to it. So brothers and sisters, now you understand, we mainly receive heavenly blessings, and thank God for that, because now you understand how God can turn a prison cell into a heavenly blessing.
God's purpose is that we may receive His heavenly blessing. But don't forget, when we are occupied with His kingdom and His righteousness, then all these earthly blessings will be added to it. The world has to seek earthly blessing; they want wealth, family and good health. But our Lord told us, "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness… do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear, because your Father knows your needs." You will discover that you don't have to ask for it, it will be added. For that reason, why should we worry about tomorrow? Today, in this world, some people may gain the whole world, but remember, they will always worry about tomorrow. Now brothers, the only thing that you should worry about is worrying too much. Do not worry about tomorrow, are the words of our Lord.
We must remember, because God chose us from before the foundation of the world, we are now supposed to have a heavenly position. We are not only being seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we are also being given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Therefore, starting from verse four it says, "just as." Now why does the bible say, "Just as he chose us in him before the foundation…?" What does this mean? Paul has begun to cite all of our heavenly blessings one by one. So if you read chapter one through to chapter three, then these chapters will tell us every spiritual blessing that we have been given. These spiritual blessings are in the heavenly places. Now of course, when you read on you will find that they are many, but let me try to simplify them for you.
When Paul wrote this portion of the Word, he actually had two lines of thought. Now that's very important. We have to enter into the thought of the Holy Spirit. So we have to base it upon the interpretation of the Word itself.
Now before I do that, let me try to emphasize one more thing. When Paul tries to tell us what our spiritual blessings are, he did not start his story after we were saved. You know that we are being saved today. Our present life, compared with the history of the universe is a very short section; only seventy years. When we appeared on this planet, brothers, what was the most wonderful thing that happened in our life? You know very well; one day we received Jesus Christ as our savior. Therefore, if you are saved, you will have two birth-days. One when you were born from your mother's womb, but another on the day when you received the Lord Jesus as your savior. That's another birth-day. Now if you don't have two days of birth, then you have two days of death. When we die, that's the first day of death, but on another, we will taste eternal death: that's another day of death. So brothers, thank God that it is a wonderful day in our very short life when we receive Jesus Christ as our savior.
So now brothers, when you talk about spiritual blessing, one would think that we would begin by talking about the moment we were saved. So the story, one would think, would begin with the day of our spiritual birthday. If we want to count the heavenly blessings that we have, we would definitely begin here in this present life. But very interestingly, when Paul tried to count the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, he himself was seated in the heavenly places, so he saw everything from there.
There's a story about Austin-Sparks; one day he visited another bible scholar, FB Meyer, and there was a picture on his wall with only two words: "Look Down." So Austin-Sparks was very puzzled, and when FB Meyer entered his office, he saw that Austin-Sparks was looking at that motto. Then our brother Meyer tried to explain by saying, "The reason you are puzzled is because of your position." This phrase makes sense if you are in a determined position. Now brothers, when are we supposed to look down? When we are seated in the heavenly places everything is under your feet.
Now brothers, today you have so many problems and troubles, and they are on top of you. Sometimes you are so upset, oppressed or depressed, but the reason is very simple; you are in your prison. But thank God, do you see? All our spiritual blessings are blessings in the heavenly places. So when you are in the heavenly places, you look down, not up. When you look down, nothing will touch you.
One day brother Nee and his wife went to a wedding. Now he had a wonderful garment on, but he was not very careful, because his mind was always somewhere else, and he unconsciously stepped in some water. The wonderful coat that he had on, which was a present from his wife, was ruined. Mrs Nee said, "Look, we are going to a wedding and you are so filthy." And do you know how our brother Nee responded? "Don't forget, it is I who wear the garment, not the garment that wears me." Do you understand? Let me use another illustration. He always liked to make one statement. He said, "Money is the cheapest thing in this world. If anyone wants some, let him have it." So sometimes when I try to say this to my wife, she says, "So why don't you give it to me then, if it's so cheap to you?" But anyway brothers, we use money, money never uses us. Money is the worst master, but is the best servant.
You remember the story of Rebekah, she was riding on the camel and went through the wilderness. Now if you study your Old Testament, the camel was an unclean animal. However, that camel led Rebekah to Isaac. Now the secret was this, Rebekah was upon the camel, not the camel upon Rebekah. So what does that mean? You should always be looking down, because you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. This is very important.
Now there was a brother by the name of Robert Chapman. While he was with the brethren, he held a different truth to the other brothers. For example, he had a different understanding of a truth in the bible about the rapture. Now Darby and his workers believed in the pre-tribulation church; that was their understanding. Even though Robert Chapman was part of the brethren and walked together with them, he had a different view. He believed in the partial rapture. They believed the whole church would be raptured before the tribulation; he believed only the overcomers would be raptured. Now this is only one example, but because of his different point of view in relation to the Word of God, some of Darby's workers criticized Chapman in an attempt to please Darby. Then to their surprise, Darby was very unhappy and made the comment, "Brothers, we are talking about being seated with Christ in heaven. Brother Robert Chapman is there. We are only talking about it, he is already there." What does that mean? Our brother lived heaven on earth. Remember, this heavenly place is the position which we should be in. We should have that wonderful experience.
Therefore, when Paul talks about spiritual blessings, he starts with the heavenly places, and brings us to before the foundation of the world. When Paul tried to describe the story of our salvation, he did not begin here and now on earth, but rather he began in the heavenly places, in the eternal past.
The eternal will of God: first aspect
Predestined for sonship
Time began with the foundation of the world. What is before the foundation of the world? Eternity. In other words, God's work not only began in our time. For us, when we were saved, our history began; here and now. When we talk about heavenly blessings, we think that one day when we were in sin, when we were most miserable, we went to a gospel meeting, heard the gospel and were saved, as if mercy and grace began there. No brothers, even before we were here, even before we existed, before the foundation of the world, before time began, God had already done something. So Paul uses two verses to describe His work. In verse four, "He chose us in him." And in verse five, "he predestined us to adoption as sons (or better put, for sonship) through Jesus Christ."
When he first chose us, it was before the foundation of the world, when he first predestined us to sonship, again, it was before the foundation of the world. More than that, Paul says, "he predestined us for sonship through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind intention of his will." So when he predestined us before the foundation of the world, God's will already existed. So that's why it is called the eternal will of God. That means the will of God or the purpose of God was already there, before the foundation of the world. Do you see that? Now you know how small our world is. We become the centre of everything, "Jesus loves me, Jesus died for me on the cross, I am the centre." So you see even salvation comes to be for me.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, starts in the heavenly places. As far as space is concerned, he speaks of the heavenly places, and as far as time is concerned, he brought us to the eternity past. Now brothers, even before time, before the foundation of the world, God already began to work. He first chose and predestined us before the foundation of the world. By that time, He already had a wonderful plan; in the beginning, there was the will of God and based on that will, God planned a plan; He had a purpose, He wanted to do something with us.
So brothers, we are saved, but this is just part of God's will, which He had already worked before the foundation of the world. Before we existed, God had already worked. So brothers and sisters, if you want to know what God's will is, what the mystery of His Will is, we are talking about the eternal will of God. He already had a plan. Now He wants to carry out that plan and then, according to the Word here, we begin to know the eternal Will of God.
So if you really want to know what God's will is, it is very clear in this chapter, verse five: "He predestined us for sonship through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind intention of his will." Why sonship? Why did he predestine us to sonship? Now it says, according to his will, so that's part of His will. Brothers, do you know God's will? What is the eternal will of God? Based on verse five, you are able to answer that question, according to the Word, not your own words. "He predestined us for sonship through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind intention of his will." Now, the kind intention in Greek also means purpose, according to the purpose of his will.
So now brothers you have a very clear answer. What is the mystery of his will? What is God's eternal will? It is sonship! He predestined us for sonship through Jesus Christ. Now this word, sonship, is most misunderstood. In Greek this word means the placing of the Son. In the Roman world there were many slaves, but some Romans had sons and daughters. The slave had no inheritance, so suppose we have a very wealthy person with a son, and we know the son is the heir of the whole house. One day, everything that belongs to the father will belong to the son. So the son is going to inherit all the inheritance. Now according to Galatians, when the children were young, the father put his sons among the slaves because many of the slaves were very intellectual, and became the professors or teachers of the sons. For that reason, his son, even though he was the heir of the whole family, when he was young, he played with the slaves and was taught by one of them. So the child grew in that environment. Outwardly speaking, even though he was heir to the whole family, because he was among the slaves, the people thought he was also a slave.
Now the father had many assets, but whilst the son was a child, he had no possibility of managing them. So for that reason, the father was waiting for his son to grow up. When he reached eighteen years of age, then the father would invite all his friends and relatives, to a ceremony in which the father would stand with his son, and present him saying, "This is my beloved Son. Now he has matured and is no longer a child, he is now the heir of the whole family, and I will turn over all my assets to him. From now on he is going to inherit everything I have."
In that ceremony, the father would place his son in the position of the son. This is called sonship in the bible. Do you see that? Unfortunately it has been translated as adoption, but actually in the bible, it means sonship. Because the son had already grown up and was able to take care of all the father's assets. This is the moment the father has been waiting for. Now the son can not only enter into the joy of the father, but also the unsearchable riches of the father. Brothers, this is the meaning of sonship. The bible says, "He predestined us for sonship", not merely to be saved.
Yes, we are the children of God, but there is a moment that God is waiting for. One day, we will become mature; from infanthood to adolescence and then to adulthood. Now you understand why we spent so much time in this matter of growth. Without this understanding, we think that we are only children of God. Yes we are, but more than that, God is waiting for a moment when He will put us in the place of the Son, because we are mature in Christ. So because of that, the bible says the whole universe is groaning, they are waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. What does that mean? It means that one day, all the children of God will grow into maturity. We thank God for the children of God, but if you know God's heart, remember, He has a great hope in every one of us.
I remember a mother who had a baby, who ought to have been very busy with milk and diapers. Yet she called me one day, only three days after giving birth, and asked, "Brother, please tell me, there are many universities in our country, which university should my baby go to?" Now brothers, the baby was only three days old but the mother was already thinking twenty years ahead with the purpose that one day her son could go to a certain university. The parents already had a wonderful plan. Even though they were very poor, they wanted to do everything possible so that one day their son would go to university. One day he would be mature enough. This was in the parent's heart and it is the same with our Heavenly Father.
We are very easily satisfied; when we are saved we know we are no longer sinners and we will go to heaven and that's all we care about; but we will always remain as a child. Brothers, how do you know someone is a child? They are self-centered. Now babies always cry, even at midnight. "I want to eat regardless of whether mother has to work tomorrow or not." The mother exists for the baby, the father exists for the baby and the whole world exists for the baby. Now brothers and sisters, how do you know someone has matured? When someone is mature, it doesn't mean they are perfect. What is the sign of maturity? Everybody, when they were young, was always self-centered; the mother existed for them, the father existed for them, because they were still young. But one day, when a young girl becomes a mother, now brothers, even at midnight when she wants to sleep, and she hears the baby crying, she denies herself and tries to take care of the baby. Now even a mother of twenty already shows a sign of maturity. So my brothers, do you see that?
Today, God has many children and when we gather together, what do we want or expect from the meeting? We will turn the gathering into kindergarten; let's come in to play, let's enjoy ourselves. But remember, what God wants is sonship, so that one day we become mature. Brothers, we are supposed to inherit the inheritance, and then you will experience the unfathomable wealth of the family which we belong to. No wonder Paul used the word unsearchable riches of Christ. When you are young, you live just like any slave. You know your Father is rich, but you don't know just how rich. One day when you are mature, you will not only enter into the joy of your Father, you will also enter into the wealth of your Father.
This is one line of thought. In the first chapter, this is God's will. That we not only be saved, but that we become mature. This is predestination in the bible. Unfortunately in the church's history, either John Calvin or his followers limited predestination to salvation alone, to our initial salvation. But if you read your bible, when it mentions predestination, it refers to sonship. This is God's will; not only that you be saved, but that you grow from infanthood, through adolescence and into adulthood. But this is only one line. That is only one part of the story.
The eternal will of God: second aspect
Christ, the centre and Head of the universe
Now if I ask you "what is the will of God?" The answer from verse five is correct but you need one verse more. That's verse nine. "He made known to us the mystery of his will according to the kind intention which he purposed in him." Now brothers, we have something very interesting here. In verse five, why does it mention sonship? According to the kind intention of his will. But now here it says, According to the kind intention which he purposed in him. Now what is that purpose? What is the will of God here? Verse ten: "With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of time that is the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth." Now what is the purpose of God in Himself. One day you discover there will be a summing up of all things in Christ. That is all things in the universe, not only things in heaven but also on the earth. So in other words, one day the whole universe will be summed up in Christ. What does that mean? Christ will be the centre of the universe. And not only that, you also discover, Christ is actually the Head of the whole universe.
So remember, what is the eternal purpose of God? On the one hand, we should be matured into sonship. Now that's one line of thought. On the other hand, it has something to do with the universe. Brothers and sisters, we have sinned, we have fallen and that's why we need a work of redemption. Now what is this redemptive work of God? As far as humans are concerned, Adam had fallen, man had fallen and that's why we need to be redeemed. What is God's purpose? We will not only be redeemed but also be matured. So thank God, that is definitely one aspect of God's Will.
But after man's fall, you discover sin really entered into this world; the whole universe was polluted. So not only ought man to be redeemed, but the whole universe as well. Because of sin, not only we rebel against God; everything in the universe rebels against God. All the animals also follow our pattern. So brothers and sisters, now you understand that the universe is no longer in harmony; the universe has been disintegrated, it has been broken into pieces. It was sin that made this universe distorted. So on the one hand, we had to be restored, and more than that, matured so that we might be heirs with Christ. But that's only one part of the story, that's only half of the broken universe; that disintegrated universe. Do you understand? Now Satan, the enemy of God tried to be head. He wanted to be equal with God. He tried to usurp the throne of Christ. So because of that, there is confusion in this universe, there you discover the disintegration of this universe; this universe is a broken universe. Now the universe is no longer in harmony.
When you read this letter to the Ephesians, you see the two aspects of God's will. On the one hand, we need to be redeemed, and on the other hand, the universe ought to be redeemed. Thank God, when the Lord returns and the time is fulfilled, the whole universe will be summed up in Christ. Now Christ is all and in all. Now Christ is the centre of the universe. So brothers, remember; that's the eternal will of God. Do you see that? One is sonship, the other the summing up of the universe in Christ. So this represents the will of God.
Our inheritance and God's inheritance
Now we find something very interesting: Paul continued to say something even more practical. So in verse eleven, "Also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of his will." Now he comes back to sonship. Why? It is to obtain the inheritance. He talks about sonship and then of predestination, so verse eleven tells us that Paul's thought came back to sonship again. Paul talked about our inheritance, then he talked about how the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance. When we talk about inheritance, we are talking about sonship; only when we are mature enough can we enter into all the inheritance. So this is another line of thought. This thought is following that of sonship. If you read on it is very clear, the will of God is sonship. We have obtained an inheritance. The verse "having been predestined according to his purpose," shows us why God predestined us for sonship. Only when we are mature enough are we supposed to enjoy the inheritance of Christ.
Not only our inheritance, verse eighteen says: "I pray that the eyes of your heart maybe enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." Now that's another thought following the summing up of the whole universe in Christ. This surprises us because sometimes we are used to the concept of our inheritance. In the will of God, not only are we supposed to have our inheritance, according to verse eighteen there is also, the glory of his inheritance in the saints. Now brothers and sisters, do you see that? Not only will we have our inheritance, but God will also have His inheritance. Now where will he have an inheritance? In His saints.
Now brothers, it's very easy for us to understand, Christ is our inheritance, because Christ is wealth; all the riches that God has are in Christ. So one day we will enter into Christ as our inheritance. But then our eyes need to be opened to see the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. If we receive our inheritance we are satisfied, but are we asking whether God is satisfied? According to the Word of God, He will have His inheritance in the saints. What does this mean? If you read on, the answer is very simple. What is His inheritance in the saints? It is the church, which is The Body of Christ, and the fullness of Christ.
You have to read the context. When we read of His inheritance in the saints, we like to speak of our inheritance; that is what makes us excited because we are so self-centered, but we never think about the heart of our Father. We never think that God will have His inheritance. When will this happen? Chapter five, says that one day, he will present himself the church glorious. Now the church is not just an organization. There you discover that the church is heavenly. Read the last verse, the church is his body the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Here you will find two lines of thought: The will of God, the sonship and the summing up of the universe in Christ. Summing up, in the original meant to head up in Christ. It means that Christ is the head of the universe. So for that reason, verse twenty two says: "And he put all things into subjection under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church." When we talk of the summing up of all things in Christ, in order for that to be fulfilled, God's will is for the church, and only the glorious church which is the body, to be the fullness of him who fills all and in all. When that happens, the whole universe will be summed up in Christ. Now you understand how important the church is.
If you want to know what the will of God is, what the mystery of his will is, it is very clear: it is Christ and His church. One day, the whole universe will be summed up in Christ. How will that happen? When all the children of God are matured; when all the church becomes holy and without blemish. The church is the body of Christ, it is not an earthly thing. So remember, the church is also part of the heavenly blessings.
In chapter two, Paul continued to explain how the church is the body of Christ. Then, when you come to chapter three, Paul showed us this in a very clear way: "The eternal purpose which he carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord." And in verse ten, "In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Why to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places? Because there was a great rebellion in the universe and some of these rulers and authorities - fallen angels and followers of Satan - rebelled, our universe is no longer in harmony. But one day God will sum up the universe in Christ. How will God fulfill that purpose? Through the church.
Do you see how important the church is for God's will? Sometimes we think that the church is only a society or a congregation, but brothers and sisters, if you really know the eternal Will of God, the church is altogether heavenly; the church is a vessel in God's hand. Eventually the whole universe, things in heaven and on earth will be head up in Christ, then Christ will be all in all and God will finally have fulfilled his wonderful purpose.