Knowing Godís Will
A Study in Ephesians 1:3-12
Ephesians 1:3-12 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (KJV)
Christians around the world vocalize one recurring concern. How can I know the will of God for my life? Where do I fit in the Body of Christ? We are continually praying to know Godís will, because we are ignorant of His purpose and plan.
In these verses we have one recurring theme, and that truth is the will of God, and the revelation of that will is found in the person of Jesus. Let me list a few concepts concerning Godís will for our lives.
Mystery of Godís Will
I have listed eight truths found in these verses concerning the provision we have in God. Verse Nine informs us that the reality of these truths are found in the "Mystery of Godís Will". The fact that Godís will is referred to as a mystery indicates that it's not common knowledge among His children. What type of mystery is Godís will?
mystery - musterion (musth/rion - moos-tay'-ree-on/3466); from a derivative of muo (to shut the mouth); a secret or "mystery" (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites): KJV-- mystery.
musterion- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
1) hidden thing, secret, mystery
a) generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals
b) a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding
c) a hidden purpose or counsel; secret will:
1) of men
2) of God: the secret counsels which govern God in dealing with the righteous, which are hidden from wicked men but plain to the godly
2) in rabbinic writings, it denotes the mystic or hidden sense: of an Old Testament saying, of an image or form seen in a vision, of a dream
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and Thayerís Greek/English Lexicon both confirm the fact that this Greek word has the application of secret knowledge only revealed to the initiated. Is it possible that the will of God is a knowledge, an insight, a revelation that God bestows upon those who have readied themselves to receive it? According to verse Nine the answer to this question is "Yes".
Why would God hide His will in a spiritual mystery?
Revelation of Godís Will
Praying to know Godís will without knowing God is foolish. We should pray to know God through relationship, and our personal knowledge of God will result in the revelation of His will. We should not pray to know Godís will: we should pray to know God, who will reveal His will.
The Bible clearly teaches that our walk with God is pattered after the institution of marriage (Rom 7:4 Eph 5:23). This fact cannot be ignored. The mystery of Godís will can only be known by an intimate relationship similar to that of a marriage. The deeper my relationship with my wife grows the more I know her will. I don't need to ask her will concerning matter, because I know her, and this knowledge unlocks for me the mystery of her will.
We are married to Jesus Christ, and the deeper our relationship grows greater will be the knowledge we have of His will. In the midst of this relationship we will understand our place in His eternal plan and purpose.
To understand the mystery of Godís will we must experience it by divine revelation. This type of revelation can only be found in the midst of a loving relationship with Jesus.
Why does God grant the knowledge of His will only by relationship?
When we understand the will of God we are responsible for our revelation to act in obedience: therefore God doesn't reveal His will to us unless we are abiding in a depth of relationship with Him that will sustain the revel-ation and our obedience.
God's Eternal DNA
2 Pet 1:1-4 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (KJV)
We have resident in us the a deposit of God's divine nature. we might associate God's divine nature to spiritual DNA. The DNA code of His divine nature has total redemptive power, and it has a mission and purpose in the covenant of the New Testament. The will of God is part of His divine DNA code. Should we desire to know the will of God, then we must allow His divine DNA to mature and influence our lives. This type of maturing process can only occur through obedience and intimate relationship with God. These verses of scripture also indicate that revelation is the key to allowing the divine nature to influence our lives.
knowledge - epignosis (e)pignw/sei - ep-ig'-no-sis/1922); from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: KJV-- (ac-) knowledge (-ing,-ment). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
epignosis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
precise and correct knowledge; used in the New Testament of the knowledge of things ethical and divine
When we examine this Greek word we should notice that the type of knowledge being referred to is not the normal class room learning experience. Epignosis is a complex word that is comprised of two different Greek words. The first word is "EPI", the prefix of Gnosis. This word is simply translated as "that which is over, above and beyondí. The second word is "GNOSIS" which is translated "The act of knowing, knowledge, science". When we combine the two words we develop the expanded definition of "The act of knowing that is over, above and beyondí. Simply stated, Epignosis is knowledge we acquire that is over, above and beyond the normal way of human learning. This type of knowledge can only be learned through intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
The only problem we have to this type of knowledge is the self-centered attitude of our human nature. Notice that verse 4 clearly indicates that the corruption of human lust can frustrate our partaking of the divine nature. Generally speaking we are confused about the concept of lust. What is it? Is it only sexual in nature?
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (KJV)
Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
lust - epithumia(ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah/1939); from 1937; a longing (especially for what is forbidden): KJV-- concupiscence, desire, lust (after). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
epithumia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust
These two scriptures and the definition of the Greek word "Epithumia" clearly indicate that lust is a driving desire, a craving for what is forbidden. Who has established the criteria of that which is forbidden? The answer to this question is simple. God, and His word, has set our moral boundries; therefore lust is the human craving to violate the moral boundries of God. Lust can be sexual in nature, but it can also be any craving we might have for worldly desires (i.e. fame, wealth, hobbies, work, possessions, etc.).
Worldly lusts are desires and cravings we have for the things of the world. We conform ourselves to the patterns of the world through the lusts that drive us. We must understand that world conformity will frustrate the revelation of God. This very fact is the reason we are admonished by Titus to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (KJV)
Covet earnestly - zeloo(dzay-lo'-o/2206) or zeleuo (dzay-loo'-o); from 2205; to have warmth of feeling for or against: KJV-- affect, covet (earnestly), (have) desire, (move with) envy, be jealous over, (be) zealous (-ly affect). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.)
zeloo-(Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
to burn with zeal
a) to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger (in
a good sense), to be zealous in the pursuit of good
b) to desire earnestly, to pursue
1) to desire one earnestly, to strive after, to busy oneself about him
2) to exert oneself for one (so that he may not be torn from me)
3) to be the object of the zeal of others, to be zealously sought after
c) to envy
We often think that strong human desires and cravings are evil, but this is not true. We lust only when we allow our cravings to hunger for that which is forbidden. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to "covet earnestly" the best gifts of God. We cannot erraticate the cravings of our nature, but we can crucify them, and allow these desire to hunger for the will of God.
Godís Eternal Plan
In verse Ten the Apostle Paul wanted us to realize that in the fullness of time Godís eternal plan and purpose will be fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. He emphasized clearly that all things would come together in Jesus; all things in heaven with all things on earth. Let's glean a few thoughts from this verse.
The will of God has not changed since it's inception in the Garden of Eden. Throughout human history one current of Godís will has flowed. God has a plan that will culminate kingdom of Christ established on earth. The revelation of God has not changed, throughout human history men and women of God who develop relationship with Him enter the main current of His plan. Only as we enter the main current of Godís plan through relationship can we know our place in His plan. Everything in human history is moving toward Godís goal of "All Things" coming together in Christ. Our part in Godís plan can only be known through relationship with Him. Simply stated: to the degree we deepen our relationship with Jesus is to the degree we flow in the main current of Godís eternal plan.
Old Testament Testimony
The Old Testament is full of men and women who flowed in the main current of Godís eternal plan through relationship. Let ponder a few.
We see Abram, son of Terah, a native of the city of Ur (Gen 11:27), receiving a revelation of Godís will to leave his kindred and journey to a land that God would show him.
Gen 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (2) And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (4) So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (KJV)
Our first impression of this incident is that Abram heard a voice from heaven, and he obeyed the voice. What do we know about this incident? Did Abram one day hear a voice from an unknown source, and he obeyed the voice not realizing who or what spoke to him. I don't think this is what happened, the revelation of Godís will didn't occur out of ignorance.
Acts 7:2-3 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (3) And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. (KJV)
According to Stephen, the God of Glory appeared to Abram before he understood the revelation of His will. Out of relationship with God the revelation of His will became known. God would never have revealed the mystery of His will to Abram until he abided in a revelation of His person that would sustain obedience to His will.
Joseph, the eldest son of Jacob and Rachel, was gifted by God with prophetic dreams and interpretation. Iím personally convinced that this gift was birthed in Joseph out of relationship with God.
Gen 37:5-11 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. (6) And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: (7) For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. (8) And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (9) And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. (10) And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (11) And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. (KJV)
The main current of Godís eternal plan required that Joseph become Governor of Egypt, but in order to accomplish Godís will, Joseph endured much hardship and suffering. Joseph spent two years in an Egyptian prison before his promotion occurred. The one thing about Joseph is his sensitivity to God even in the midst of his suffering. Simply stated; God gave Joseph a revelation of Himself that sustained his obedience to Godís plan.
David, the greatest king of Israel, was not always king. He is a man of humble origins, a shepherd and a lover of music. The Bible teaches that David was a man after Godís own heart, therefore we can conclude that he walked in a relationship with God that was deep and meaningful.
1 Sam 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Ps 78:70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: (KJV)
Davidís part in Godís eternal plan was to become king of Israel. God anointed him for this mission as a result of his heart relationship with Him. Again, relationship with God produced the revelation of Godís will.
During the dark days of Saul vehement hatred of David, the revelation of God that he abided in sustained his obedience to Godís will. David didn't pray to know Godís will, he only prayed to know God. When confronted with problems he entered into relationship, and the knowledge came.
Saul was the first king anointed by Samuel. This anointed produced in Saul a relationship with God, because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. Remember, the relationship with God we abide in will unlock the mystery of His will. Saul would know the will of God depending upon the relationship with God he developed.
1 Sam 15:22-23 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (23) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (KJV)
1 Sam 16:13-15 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. (14) But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. (15) And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. (KJV)
Saul rejected Godís word (mystery of Godís will), therefore God rejected him as king. Another would be anointed as king whose heart hungered for God. The Bible indicates that the moment the anointing oil flowed over David, the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.
1 Sam 28:5-7 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. (6) And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. (7) Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. (KJV)
Toward the end of Saulís reign, he needed to know the will of God. When he inquired of the Lord, the Lord didnít answer him, because their was no relationship to sustain the revelation of His will. In desperation, Saul consulted with the witch of Endor in order to receive spiritual direction. This sad situation with Saul is a clear cut case that proves my point. The knowledge of Godís will is predicated on the revelation of God youíre abiding in. Relationship produces revelation; this is the simple formula needed to know Godís will.
Let me summarize our study. In Ephesians 1:3-12 we have a significant spiritual principle presented to us. We expounded on the importance of the mystery of Godís will. Let me reiterate a few fact we examined.
The revelation of God has not changed, throughout human history men and women of God who develop relationship with Him enter the main current of His plan. Only as we enter the main current of Godís plan through relationship can we know our place in His plan.
Great men and women of God understood His will because of the revelation of God they experienced through relationship with Him. Also, men who failed God did so by being ignorant of Godís will, because they didnít know God in relationship.