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Chapter 2: The Will of God

Paul begins his letter with a salutation in Eph. 1:1, 2,

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul acknowledged that he was an apostle, not by his own will but “by the will of God.” He had been diametrically opposed to Jesus and His followers when God suddenly interrupted him on the Damascus Road and called him to be His apostle. The story is told in Acts 9:3-6.

God is fully capable of overriding the will of men. I have heard it said that God is a gentleman and will not do anything to violate men’s “free will.” Paul begs to differ, and he speaks from personal experience. It was not his idea to be an apostle—nor even to be a believer. God’s will is more powerful than man’s will. In fact, Paul’s will was clearly a response to God’s will when he became a believer.

Did God force Paul to become a believer? No, that is not how we should view it. As the old song goes, “He does not compel us to go against our will; He just makes us willing to go.” In other words, God has the power to change our thinking so that our will turns around.

We see, then, that Paul’s opening statement was a declaration of the power of God’s will. From there, Paul builds upon it to show that God’s plan for creation will be fulfilled, for if God has the power to change man’s will, then He can also change the entire world. No man’s will is stronger than God’s will, nor is it beyond God’s power to reconcile creation. God’s will is greater than that of the worst sinner.

By recognizing God’s sovereignty over His creation, we see that He does indeed have the power to save all mankind. If God could save Paul by changing his will, it would be unfair, unjust, and unloving to treat the rest of humanity differently. James 4:17 says,

17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

 Insofar as the will of God is concerned, Eph. 1:1 picks up where Paul left off in Romans 9. In Rom. 9:16-22, Paul tells us that God has created certain vessels for honor and some for dishonor. If we study Romans 9 without first studying Romans 5, we may be left with the impression that God is a tyrant, choosing to glorify a few and choosing to torture the rest (as we see in Calvinism). But by balancing Romans 9 with Romans 5, we see that the vessels of dishonor are not doomed to remain in that condition for eternity. It is a temporary state.

All of God’s actions proceed out of His Love Nature. This includes His sovereign choices and all of His judgments. Some years ago, I wrote a small booklet called, If God Could Save Everyone—Would He? The answer is YES.

More than that, He has the power to save everyone. His laws of redemption give Him the right to save any or all people. The law of Jubilee demands that He sets all men free. He is also motivated to save everyone, because God is Love. Again, He had the wisdom to devise a plan from the beginning of time that would make Him the great Winner, losing nothing that He purchased with His blood.

Writing to the Saints in Ephesus

Paul addressed his letter “to the saints,” not to the unbelievers, because he was giving them divine instruction as to how to live as believers in Christ. In view of some very dark chapters in Church history, it is clear that these instructions were vital.

Many have claimed to believe in Christ, but their moral character hardly differs from an unbeliever. Many do not live their lives from the position of being seated with Christ in heavenly places. They function from earthly places through the power of religion. But religion is no substitute for a relationship with Christ. Religion enslaves believers to men; Christ enthrones us and sets us free as His bondservants.

Paul also addresses his letter to the “faithful” ones—not just to those who, by faith, have been justified from sin, but to those who endure. To endure is to be faithful.

Blessing God

Ephesians 1:3 says,

3 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.

The Emphatic Diaglott omits “and Father” without explanation. No doubt there are some ancient Greek texts that omit it. In such cases, I defer to Professor Ivan Panin, whose work on Bible Numerics uncovers the genuinely inspired text of Scripture. He includes the phrase in his Numeric English New Testament. This means that if we were to omit the phrase, the numerical patterns within the Greek text itself would be severely disrupted.

So Paul was telling us two things in the first part of verse 3. First, he was blessing the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. Second, He was blessing the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is consistent with Jesus’ statement to Mary after His resurrection. In John 20:17 He tells her, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, and My God and your God.”

Jesus’ Father was also His God. The gospel of John always distinguishes between Jesus and His Father, and Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Because they were in full unity of purpose, Jesus said also, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). This was in the same sense that the disciples were to be “one” (John 17:11, 21). They were not to be one individual but were to be unified in purpose and in agreement with both Christ and the Father.

The law of unity is first seen in Gen. 2:24, where we see that Adam and Eve were “one flesh.” They were not one individual, but were in unity, or agreement. This is the pattern of New Covenant marriage for all to follow.

While Jesus’ Father was “the only true God” (John 17:3), we also know that Jesus was “the only-begotten God” (John 1:18). An “only-begotten” son does not mean that he is the only son of his father. The term means that he is the designated heir to the estate. So also, Isaac was called “your son, your only son” (Gen. 22:2), even though he had a brother named Ishmael.

So we see that Jesus was the only-begotten Son, yet we too have the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12, KJV). As long as we are in unity with the only-begotten Son, we are seated with Him in heavenly places. Though we do not replace Him, we certainly supplement Him. Christ’s calling is unique but does not displace our own callings.

Paul says that we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing.” One can only imagine the scope and extent of those blessings! Yet this is the practical result of being seated (enthroned) “in the heavenly places in Christ.” If Christ sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father, and if we are one with Him, then the law of unity gives us “every spiritual blessing” bestowed upon Christ Himself.

The path of blessing is to be one with Christ. In this, we do not lose our individuality, our distinct identity, or even our will; instead, the law, being somewhat nearsighted, sees us as Christ Himself. Because we are in the image of God (2 Cor. 3:18), thinking and acting like Christ in every way, the law can no longer distinguish us from Christ. This is the effect of the law of unity, and it is marvelous in our eyes.