The Sovereign Will of God
Ephesians Lesson #020
March 3, 2019
“Father, as we come together this morning, we recognize Your authority in our lives, recognize that Your Word is the way You have determined that we should learn about You. It is through Your Word that we learn about who we are as well, that we are sinners, that we are corrupt, that we are born spiritually dead; but we have spiritual life through faith alone in Christ alone, and by believing in Him and His substitutionary death on the Cross, we have eternal life.
“Father, we recognize that this is part of Your plan of salvation determined from eternity past and that this is working itself out in human history under Your sovereign guidance and Your sovereign will. Phrases and terms are difficult for us to comprehend and understand. To attempt to probe their depths is extremely difficult if not impossible for finite beings. This morning, as we look at these important doctrines, these important teachings and words that are found in Your Word, we pray that You might help us to get a better understanding of what they mean and how they impact our own thinking.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me this morning to Ephesians 1. We are going to do some review from last week and also look at the beginning of a very important teaching in Scripture, one that is controversial for many people, one that is argued about by numerous theologians, seminary students, and sheep in the pew, and that is the sovereign will of God.
We will look at our passage in Ephesians 1:3–6 one more time to get us an overview contextually. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …” This is the first of three sections in the opening section in Ephesians 1:3–14. In these three sections, we look at the Father, then the Son, and then the Holy Spirit as each is praised in turn for His role in this plan of God.
We have to remember that in these first six verses, we are focusing on God the Father. God the Father has blessed us. He is the source of those blessings. He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ …” Those blessings are positional. That is the term that we use in theology in relation to our legal relationship to God by being placed in Christ at the instant of our salvation, baptized by means of God the Holy Spirit, whereby we are identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection, something we concluded with last time. Understanding this concept of being in Christ is foundational to understanding all that we have as believers in this dispensation and understanding this epistle.
Ephesians 1:4–5 says, “just as”—which should be translated as—“since He appointed us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”—either by means of being foreordained, as we’ll see, or because we were foreordained—“to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the beloved.”
We are still working our way through Ephesians 1:5. I want to go back and remind us of the context. This is difficult for a lot of people. I’ve been pleased to get a lot of positive response from folks as we have gone through this study the last few weeks, clarifying these verses and the meaning of terms.
I translated Ephesians 1:4 as “since He appointed us in Him …” We are the choice ones. It is really important to understand that. That word translated appoint has to do with appointing somebody for a particular purpose. We can’t isolate the appointment, which involves a selection. That word appointment brings to the foreground the idea that it is for a purpose. It’s not for salvation. That is not the context here. “He appointed us in Him …” That is, those who are in Christ.
I’ve used the analogy of an end of an address. Those who live at the address of the Church have an appointment to a specific purpose that is related to sanctification, being set apart unto God, that is being holy and also without blame. That is our experiential growth and maturity.
This occurred “… before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love …”—by means of love. Love is integral to the believer’s spiritual life and spiritual walk.
I want to remind you again that the clearest illustration of that concept of being choice is the parable in which Jesus talked about those who were invited to the wedding supper in Matthew 22. A universal invitation was sent. Those who received the invitation had to decide if they would go to this wedding feast. They didn’t come because they chose not to come. The only people making choices in this parable were those who received the invitation.
The end is famous. We hear it quoted many times. “Many are called but few are chosen.” The implication of that is a view that God is the one doing the choosing, but, again, the only ones making a choice in that parable were the individuals receiving the call.
The word that is translated chosen actually should be translated as choice because what makes them choice is their wearing of the wedding garments, which is, by analogy, our imputed righteousness from Christ, as seen in Isaiah 61:10. “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
We don’t cause that. The means of our salvation is faith in Christ, which is non-meritorious. The merit is in Christ. We don’t clothe ourselves with righteousness. When we accept the free gift of Jesus Christ, He clothes us with righteousness. The purpose is our spiritual growth, which is based on all we have positionally in Christ. This principle goes all the way through our whole study of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:4. “… since He appointed us”—that is the main verb—“He appointed us in Him.”
We have a participle at the beginning of Ephesians 1:5. Typically, it is translated simply as “having predestined us.” The -ing in the New King James there indicates an adverbial participle, but we lose its connection and meaning because it comes in the next verse after the main verb. “He chose us” is an aorist tense, which means past tense, but the participle is also aorist tense, which can mean it precedes the action of the appointing or it comes at the same time. It is difficult. Different scholars all sort of juggle with this because there’s nothing objective to base their decision on in terms of an ending or something like that in the Greek. It can either be means, which is what I think, “He appointed us by pre-ordaining us to adoption as sons.” The appointment is to be holy and blameless in Christ, and it’s done by preordaining us. If we translate it as means, it happens at the same time as the appointing.
Or it could be cause. “He appointed us because we were preordained.” That would work, too. That would indicate that God set a destiny or a task for us ahead of time. That’s what ordination is. In the ordination of a pastor, you are setting them apart and recognizing they have been provided by God with the gift of pastor-teacher for a role. They are not being predestined to be a pastor. They are being recognized as a pastor with a mission. That’s the idea. They are being given a mission. If it is cause, that has the idea “because we were preordained to adoption as sons,” so that would indicate this preceded the appointment.
I want to point out that neither adoption as sons nor that we should be blameless have to do with our eternal destiny. This is not a passage related to selecting those who will be saved and not selecting others. It relates to our spiritual life.
We have the three stages of our salvation.
- Phase 1 is justification. We’re freed from the penalty of sin. This simply means that at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone, we’re justified. We receive the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and we’re declared to be just at the same time we are regenerated. We become new creatures in Christ. We enter into a new life. That new life, therefore, has to be nourished.
- Phase 2 is our spiritual life, our spiritual growth, during which we learn to apply the Word of God to our lives and experience some measure of freedom from the power of the sin nature.
- Phase 3 is when we are absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord in Heaven.
As we look at our passage going back to the way I have translated this, it is “by preordaining us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself.” That’s the New King James, and I left it that way to make this point. In the Greek, it says “to Him.” Is it to Himself or to Him? And if it’s Him. who’s the Him?
The Him is the Father. We can demonstrate that because Ephesians 1:3–6 is all about the Father. We are adopted by Him. That also relates to the Father–Son analogy and understanding adoption. He is our Father. We are not adopted as sons through Jesus Christ unto Jesus, which the “Himself” suggests, but “He preordained us”—that is God the Father, preordained us—“to adoption as sons through Jesus.”
Jesus is the means. Salvation is always spoken of in terms of means and not causation, faith in Jesus. He is the means to salvation. The Father’s plan is the ultimate cause of our salvation, but we receive salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. Him, I think, is a better translation, and we are adopted as sons through Him.
We talked about adoption last time. I want to review it briefly for those who may not have been here. It is good to review. It is important for all of us to understand this, and I want to add a few new things to it.
1. Adoption is used in the New Testament as an illustration by analogy of the new position of the Church Age believer in his relationship to God. This elevates us above any other believer in any other dispensation.
In the Old Testament, Israel was corporately adopted by God but not individually. No believer in the Old Testament in the Dispensation of the Patriarchs or the Dispensation of the Law was ever adopted individually into God’s family. We have a truly unique position and privilege as sons and heirs.
The background for this is to understand the cultural dynamics.
2. The role of adoption is to invest a non-biological son with the privileges and responsibilities of an adult son, and that is the core idea in the analogy. Paul was describing our Church Age believers.
3. The Greek word HUIOTHESIA is found in Romans 8:15 and 8:23. Romans 9:4 is in relation to Israel, which had received adoption, so that doesn’t relate to the Church Age believer. Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5.
Here’s an important thing I don’t think I’ve seen anybody bring out, and that is that each of these other passages that speaks of adoption is embedded in sanctification contexts, in spiritual life contexts. They are all embedded in spiritual growth contexts. In other words, this isn’t some sort of predestination that’s related to Phase 1. In Phase 1, we receive the position of adoption, but then we need to live it out. We need to develop it in terms of our spiritual lives. The emphasis is its significance in living on a day-to-day basis.
4. Understand the analogy. We have to understand that there’s no such thing as adoption in the Old Testament. There was a form that you might recognize where some Old Testament saints practiced something analogous to adoption, but there’s no Hebrew word for adoption.
We have Abraham seeing Eliezer as his heir and Laban designating Jacob as his heir. We have a couple of other examples with Mordechai taking on the responsibility as a parent for Esther. But this does not indicate nor is ever expressed in a specific term that in the Hebrew means adoption.
5. Keywords are used in the New Testament. This is always fascinating study, and I am not getting us bogged down in this, but we have these different terms.
- BREPHOS refers to an infant, sometimes like John the Baptist. It is an infant in the womb, but this is talking about a baby or newborn baby.
- TEKNON goes from infancy to adulthood.
- HUIOS refers to an adult son.
- NEPIOS refers to an older child, and sometimes it is used in sort of a sarcastic way to describe older children or adults acting like children. When you are flying Southwest [Airlines]—because they have a little freedom to be humorous at times—when they are talking about the oxygen mask dropping down, they say, “If you are flying with a child or someone acting like a child.” That would be NEPIOS.
What is interesting here is that the word HUIOSTHESIA is related to a legal adoption as an adult son though our experience may be that of a BREPHOS or it may be that of a TEKNON. In other words, we have a legal position of being an adult son, and yet experientially in our spiritual lives, we can be immature.
The focus is that we need to act like who we are. Our identity is this adult son, and an adult son is a technical term. It was not some sort of denigration of women. It was not some sort of sexist term, but the adult son in that culture was the one who had all of the privileges and all of the responsibilities, and that was the focal point of this analogy.
6. We see some interesting parallels with Christian experience at an adoption ceremony. If the one being adopted into the family had living parents, there was a ceremony that took place in which that adult son went through two steps in the process of becoming adopted by someone else.
First, he had to be released from the legal relationship and the authority of his biological father. He had been reared in one home, and we have to understand that in Roman culture, the authority of the father was absolute. He could even determine the need for a child to die. He determined everything. There was no wiggle room for a child to get out from under that authority. It was legal and actual.
If a male was going to be moved from one family to another, the first thing that had to happen was that his emission position, that legal position, had to be changed. This would take place in a ceremony, which occurred three times, where his natural father would sell him to the adopting father. A price was paid to move the son from his original family to the new family. The term that was used was redemption.
This relates to Ephesians 1:7, that “in Him we have redemption …” That was the payment of this purchase price. The new father paid a redemption price. The son being adopted was being sold by his natural father as a slave.
This happened three times in order to make sure they truly wished to go through with the process and to complete that process. It would happen one time, and then the adopting father would release him. Then, it would happen a second time, and he would be released, and then the third time. With the third sale, he went back and was completely freed from his natural father.
One thing that comes to bear here is that we are born spiritually dead, but we are of our father. Jesus said to the Pharisees, we are of our father the devil. John 8:44. Jesus paid a redemption price. He was not paying it to the devil; that was an early church history error. He paid a redemption price so that we are legally transferred from the family of Satan, our father the devil, to a new family, the family of God, the royal family of God. This is a great analogy, that we have been bought with a price. The One who exercises absolute authority over us is God the Father whereas, before, the one who exercised absolute authority over us was Satan, the devil.
We are transferred completely into a new family, and with that legal transaction and our new position, we are given all the rights and privileges of an adult son. That happened in the Roman system. The adopted son was viewed as the natural son. That was done for the purpose of creating an heir for the preservation of the family of the adopting father.
Ephesians 1:11. “In Him”—in Christ—“also we”—that is we who are in Christ—“have obtained an inheritance.”
Ephesians 1:14. “… who is”—talking about the Holy Spirit who was mentioned at the end of verse 13, the Holy Spirit of promise—“who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” We have an inheritance related to the role of the Spirit. We have an inheritance related to the role of God the Son. These go back to the action of adoption that was performed by God the Father back in the first section related to God the Father.
This whole thing comes together in a in a remarkable way. This idea of inheritance is critical for us to understand as a fundamental motivator in the spiritual life. First of all, we must recognize who we are in Christ as an adult heir and, secondly, recognize that there is more than one inheritance. There are different dimensions there. I will come back to that in just a second, which is what we wrapped up with last time.
7. In Galatians, Paul used a child’s pedagogue to illustrate the history of salvation in relation to Israel to the Law, so that now we are, as adult children, freed from a pedagogue, which means we are freed from the Law. The Law, the Mosaic Law, no longer has authority over us because we have been transferred into this new position as adult sons.
8. The Ephesians context puts the emphasis on the believer’s new position as an adult son and that significance for our inheritance and receiving that inheritance.
9. This takes place at the instant of salvation when we are baptized by means of the Holy Spirit. This never happened before in history. At no time prior to Pentecost in AD 33 was anybody baptized by the Spirit.
Baptism by the Holy Spirit is identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. It is impossible for that to have happened any earlier, but you will read and hear some reformed pastors and theologians talk about this. They blur the distinction between Israel and the Church, which is the second most significant aspect or defining characteristic of dispensationalism, that we must maintain that distinction between Israel and the Church. The thing that marked off the beginning of the Church was the baptism by the Holy Spirit that occurred in Acts 2.
10. When we enter into union with Christ, we become adult sons positionally, but its purpose is to challenge us with our spiritual growth in Phase 2 with a view to our inheritance in Phase 3.
Back to our chart. We have eternal realities and temporal realities. As Paul put it in Ephesians 5:8, we are children of light. He said, “… you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light …” That shows the distinction between the position and the experience. We can be positionally children of light but not live it. We can live and walk in darkness. John talked about this in John 11:9. We are to walk in the light.
We have the position that we are children of light by virtue of being in Christ in the baptism by the Holy Spirit. We have these positional realities. We are justified. We are regenerated. We are adopted—that’s what we are studying now. We become heirs of God. The experience has to do with our walk. We are either walking by the Spirit, being filled by the Spirit, or we are outside walking according to the sin nature.
11. Because we are in union with Christ, we become heirs of God, but not joint heirs with Christ. That’s a second category of inheritance.
Romans 8:16–17. I’m reviewing all this because when we get into inheritance, when we get down to Ephesians 1:11 and 1:14, we have to understand these two aspects. Romans 8:16 is translated, “The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” Everybody who is a believer in Christ is a child of God. “… and if children, then heir—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” The way it’s punctuated here, there’s no comma between heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; therefore, they are viewed as synonymous.
The problem is that the last clause is conditional, and the condition is suffering with Christ. If we suffer with Christ, if that is necessary to be an heir of God and joint heir with Christ, that becomes a condition of salvation as well. That is a problem, but the verse is punctuated with those commas, and they shouldn’t be the way they are normally translated.
I used the illustration that I’ve used for years. “A woman without her man is nothing.” We can punctuate it, “A woman, without her, man is nothing.” That indicates that man is nothing unless he has a wife. Or we can only put one comma in there, “A woman without her man, is nothing.” In this case, it’s saying that a woman is nothing unless she is married. Two completely different thoughts are based on the comma.
When we come to Romans 8:17, if we repunctuate it “if children then heirs—heirs of God,” that’s the first category. That’s true for every single believer. Then, we have “joint heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.” That relates to spiritual growth, sanctification, leading to inheritance and rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is a foundation for understanding what will be said later as we go through our passage.
Ephesians 1:5. “… having preordained us”—or by means of preordaining us—“to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ”—or through Jesus Christ—“to Him”—that’s how it should be translated—“according to the good pleasure of His will.” This is the next part that we have to deal with, and it goes back to, if you remember, when I used the illustration of the jigsaw puzzle, finding those pieces that outline the borders of a puzzle. We talked about foreknowledge. We talked about how the word is usually translated election and predestination.
The bottom one is the will of God. This can be a difficult, difficult topic because so many people bring preconceived ideas for various reasons. It could be a philosophical background. It could be because you have always heard a certain explanation. We have to look at the text.
One of the big problems is that when you get into this discussion of free will and determinism, as it is stated in philosophy, or the sovereignty of God versus the will of man, the freedom of man, as it is articulated in Christianity, you can barely read anything on that topic from a Christian perspective without realizing that so much of what somebody says about it is going to be defined by philosophical constructs that don’t come from an exegetical foundation in the Scripture. They import too much into the context.
The first word that we see, “… according to the good pleasure of His will …,” is the Greek word EUDOKIA, which has to do with according to His good will, His good pleasure, or His satisfaction. This indicates the fact that, first of all, it is “according to.” That sets the standard for God’s plan of salvation that has been outlined so far in Ephesians 1:4–5 related to His appointment of us in Him by means of being preordained to the adoption of sons. This is according to the satisfaction of His will. Some even say it is the pleasure of His will because that EU prefix on EUDOKIA indicates something that is good or pleasing. God is satisfied with His plan, in other words. He is pleased with His plan.
Why? Because it conforms ultimately to His righteousness and His justice, and it relates to His will. This is where we get into some sticky things to think through. The word will simply describes will or desire. It does not necessarily define a hard and fast causation of every minutia in the universe. This is what happens as we get into this particular issue.
Basically, as I’ve summarized it here, I think there are three views that we run into generally in trying to handle this idea of freedom and determinism.
1. Impersonal fatalism, where we think that everything has already been determined in life, everything is determined, everything will be what it will be, as the song goes “Que Sera, Sera, Whatever Will Be Will Be.”
It is pure fatalism. Whatever happens in our lives was fated to be that way by some impersonal force or forces, and there is nothing that we can do about it. In this view, any appearance or sense of making a free choice is simply a façade or deception. We’re not really making free choices. Every detail, every decision, every thought was determined from eternity past.
We’re getting into some new forms of this in modern times as a result of various studies with DNA and genetics. In secular thought today, there is no such thing as a soul, there is no such thing as a spirit, and there is no such thing as an immaterial part of man. Everything is material. Everything is determined by DNA. Everything is determined by various chemical processes. Man has no such thing as free will whatsoever. This is a pure fatalism.
2. Personal determinism
This would incorporate certain Christian views or other theological views, such as Islam, that have a personal deity determining everything that happens. He is determining all the minutia that happens in the world. The idea that comes along from this view is that if God is not personally determining everything that happens, every minute thing that happens, then God can’t guarantee what will happen in the future. He can’t know with certainty what will happen in the future.
That goes to a heresy that developed in the early twenty-first century called Open Theism. It basically says God can’t be sovereign, and He can’t rule over His creation or bring about His desired ends if He can’t control every detail. My contention is that this is a limited view of sovereignty. This is not a biblical view of sovereignty. We will have to get into further discussions about sovereignty as we go through this.
3. Personal oversight
I think this view is correct, that a personal God is personally overseeing everything that happens in the universe. In His determination, He has allowed a measure of freedom and individual responsibility to His creatures. He does not give His creatures pure autonomy. That idea is a mistake. That is a caricature that Calvinists use to accuse those who don’t agree with them, that they believe in total autonomy.
We must recognize that the Scriptures do not teach total autonomy or absolute freedom for man. We are free with regard to our choice of whether we will accept the invitation to salvation or not. We are free with respect to our decisions as to whether we are going to live the Christian life and obey God or not. But we cannot guarantee results, and we’re not free to make any choice that we wish to make. At times, God in His sovereignty overrides our decisions.
I can’t tell you how many Christians I know who, though usually they don’t have a whole lot of financial resources, believe, and I think in some cases sincerely, that if they were to win the lottery, they would probably give it all to different Christian ministries. Probably. I think that God is never going to let them win the lottery because that would take away from those Christian organizations the opportunity to trust God on a day-by-day basis to provide their needs. God says, “Because I know that that’s what you would do, I’m going to limit your options, and you’re never going to be able to fulfill that.” But God, I think, credits us for that desire and that will.
With this view, God willfully limits His sovereignty. He could override everything if He wanted to, but He chooses not to do that in order to permit His creatures to make wrong or sinful choices for a variety of purposes. We can go into some of those purposes. Some relate to salvation. Some relate to sanctification. Some relate to teaching us various things. God gives us freedom so that sovereignty doesn’t just coexists with human freedom, but sovereignty oversees human freedom. It allows it in a limited way, but it oversees it so that God does not abdicate His control.
It also recognizes that God’s sovereignty is so great, so infinite, so beyond our comprehension that He is still able to control the chaos that comes as a result of human free choices, that, no matter our choice, God is still able to bring about His desired end without limiting our freedom or our liberty. He is able, therefore, to work in human history to bring about His pedagogical and judicial purposes.
Romans 8:28 makes this clear, that “… all things work together for good …” Some other texts put it, “… and He causes all things to work together for good.” Either way, the implication is that God is the One who is able to work all things together for good. He is in control of those autonomous decisions in such a way that in the end, He produces that which is intrinsically and eternally good.
Whenever we get into this, it raises a lot of questions. Must God control every minute detail to bring about His intended result? One side says, “Yes. If He can’t control every detail, then He can’t guarantee that it will bring about His intended result.”
A subcategory of that question is must God control every detail in order to bring about His predictions? If God has foretold that certain things will happen in the future, how can He guarantee that if He doesn’t control every detail leading up to that? God may control most of the details leading up to that, but He still does not override individual decisions with relation to salvation or spiritual life. The mystery is how God does it, and we can never comprehend that. It is far beyond our ability to do so.
A second major question: Is life already so predetermined that our decisions are a farce? Many people believe that. Many people go into astrology. I know Christians who get into this. “That is just God’s will. God has already fatalistically determined what’s going to happen, and I’m stuck.” There can be an element of truth to it. It is God’s will, His sovereign will. He has overridden your will, but we have to be careful with phrases like that so that we don’t unintentionally blame God or shift responsibility to God for our own bad decisions.
A third question is: Who is ultimately responsible for salvation, God or me?
Some years ago, I got cornered by two or three friends, and they wanted to argue about some of these questions. They said, “Who do you believe is ultimately in control, God or man?” I said, “God.” But they were coming from a Calvinistic perspective, and their view was that if you say it is God, then God has to control every detail. I said, “But God allows human freedom within the framework of His plan, and He will bring about His ends.”
I ran across a quote recently. In fact, one of the books we will have available during the Chafer Conference next week is a book now in the third edition, which I think is the best he’s done so far in terms of organizing and explaining things. It’s Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism by Gordon Olson. He has various endorsements on the back of his book from a range of theologians, but one endorsement that stands out is by an extremely Calvinistic, dispensational theologian by the name of John Walvoord.
Some of you may not know who Dr. Walvoord is. He was the second president of Dallas Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian. Like any good Presbyterian, he baptized his children as infants. Yet he was a strong dispensationalist. If you read his theology as well as that of Lewis Sperry Chafer, you will discover that they were somewhere between three-and four-point Calvinists.
In his endorsement, Dr. Walvoord said, “In God’s plan some people will be saved and some will be lost, but on the basis of their own choices. God did not condemn them Himself.” That is a profound statement, that ultimately we determine our eternal destiny, that God is also involved in that. That is the mystery of the whole conundrum.
We are condemned. Why? John 3:18 says we are condemned because we do not believe, and belief is an operation of our will, of our decision. Do we believe the Gospel or not? “He who does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God is condemned already.”
We are born spiritually dead, but even that concept of spiritually dead is not what the Calvinist wants to put forth, which means totally incapable of doing anything, including belief. The analogies they use just don’t do that. We will get into those issues as we further develop this next time.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word, and, Father, it’s encouraging to understand that to some degree, You have given us responsibility, responsibility to determine our eternal destiny, responsibility to determine what we will do with Your truth in our lives. We pray for those who are listening today that they might recognize that their eternal destiny, if they’ve never trusted in Christ as Savior, is determined by them. It’s determined by their response to the Gospel to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and they will be saved. God is not going to override that volition.
“For each of us here who is a believer, we have decisions to make each day, responsibilities each day, whether we will serve You and apply Your Word or engage in living our lives on our own terms. Those are real choices with real consequences in time. We thank You that many times You override our decisions, many times in Your grace You prevent us from experiencing all that we truly deserve as a result of our sinful decisions, and that we do not always experience the consequences of our foolish and sinful decisions. That is due to Your grace and because Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways are higher than our ways. We know that we can only understand these things to a limited degree and beyond that we just can’t go.
“Father, we thank You for the opportunity to study Ephesians and to understand our truly unique position in all of history as Your adopted heirs and that we might use that reality to become joint heirs with Christ through our application of Your Word in our lives.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”