Note that the title on the video should say Ephesians #21.
God Desires All to Be Saved
Ephesians Lesson #021
March 10, 2019
“Father, we are grateful for the revelation of Your Word. Parts of it are difficult to understand. That is not new. Even Peter said that Paul’s writings were difficult to understand. But we know that You make these things clear to us and that they are for our edification that we might be strong in our Lord and in understanding our purpose and mission as those who are in Him, those who are the Church, those who are distinctively set apart for a purpose in this dispensation.
“Father, we pray that as we study today and work through what the Scripture teaches about Your will and Your plan and Your purpose, that we might indeed come to a greater understanding of how these passages that seem somewhat difficult for us really do fit together and are quite understandable.
“We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1. We are still in the opening section of this rather lengthy sentence and statement of praise to God in Ephesians 1:4–5. The focus is establishing a foundational understanding when we start talking about the will of God in relation to salvation and these ideas that are often confusing to people related to God’s choice and the statements related to His will as we see at the end of Ephesians 1:5 in the opening praise to God.
“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, just as He chose”—or as I pointed out—“just as He appointed us in Him”—that is the corporate body—“before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love having”—because He has—“preordained us to adoption as sons …”
The corporate purpose for our salvation is every believer in Christ being adopted as an adult son “by Jesus Christ to Himself”—or as I corrected last time—“to Him”—that is God the Father—“according to the good pleasure of His will …”
That’s the phrase we are going to spend a little time working on because of the way this has been misunderstood, abused, and distorted. Then, in a couple weeks, we will get to the closing doxology “… to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us acceptable in the Beloved,” another reference to being in Christ, that corporate unity.
Referring to Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:9, John Calvin in his Institutes, made some pretty profound statements, “that He considered nothing outside of Himself, with which to be concerned in the making of His decree.” He was looking at this phrase that God purposed in Himself according to the good pleasure of His will. Calvin said He considered nothing outside of Himself. In other words, it was all internal. God was not considering anything outside of Himself. He said that includes foreknowledge, as I’ve been pointing out, which is in direct contradiction to 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29.
“that He considered nothing outside himself with which to be concerned in the making of His decree … Surely the grace of God deserves alone to be proclaimed in our election only if it is freely given. Now it will not be freely given if God, in choosing His own, considers what the works of each shall be.”
There are several errors that we should spot in this statement. First of all, we don’t agree with that definition of God’s will as a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, all-inclusive decree that determines every decision that every person makes. If we don’t agree with that, that does not mean that we are offering a works salvation.
It is true that within the Arminian camp that idea is often expressed. It also gets into issues—which we will discuss later related to faith—within the Calvinistic system that saving faith is a gift of God, that saving faith is a categorically different kind of faith than everyday faith.
You came in, sat in your chair, and had faith that it wouldn’t collapse under you. You got up this morning and you looked at your clock and you had faith that it was accurate. You went out and started your car and had faith that the battery would cause the engine to turn over. We exercise faith in many, many different areas. We believe certain things are true. Sometimes, we believe wrongly, sometimes we believe rightly, but faith is faith.
Saving faith is different from other kinds of faith, not in its essence, not in what it is as an expression of trust or the affirmation that something is true, but it is saving because that which is affirmed is the gospel, the work of Christ. It is the work of Christ that has merit. It is the righteousness of Christ that we possess that is the basis for the declaration of our righteousness, that we are justified not because of something we have done, for faith is not meritorious. It is the object of faith that is meritorious.
That addresses the last part of the statement, and there are other issues here related to the issue of foreknowledge. As Calvin explained this, he referenced three verses here in Ephesians 1. They all tie together, and we will connect them in the coming weeks. I’ve been wrestling with how to teach this because it weaves in and out, and so this and next week are basics, and then we will build on that.
As Calvin argued that human works cannot be the basis or cause or ground of our salvation, he was right, but he added to that “neither can it be God’s foreknowledge,” and that is a contradiction to Scripture.
We need to see these three verses and connections, so we’re going to begin with Ephesians 1:5, “… having preordained us …”
Preordination is not determination of ultimate destiny, justification salvation, Phase 1. It is our mission and our identity after salvation in terms of our spiritual lives, that is, as we studied last time, our adoption as sons, our new identity as adult sons.
This might have really resonated among a lot of the congregation in Ephesus who were either slaves or former slaves. They are addressed later on in Ephesians 5. This idea that they were given these privileges of HUIOTHESIA would have been a profound statement to them that doesn’t carry that kind of connotation for us. Here, we have the first of several statements on the standard of God’s choice. “… according to the good pleasure of His will.”
It’s unfortunate because some people like to think that everything in the Bible ought to be very, very simple and easy to grasp. In the Old Testament, God addressed this to Israel and said, “ ‘My ways are not your ways, neither are My thoughts your thoughts.’ ” Isaiah 55:8. God is higher than us.
I heard somebody one time say, “Well, you know, if God were really communicating to us, then I’d be able to understand everything He said.” Unfortunately, that’s an unexamined and often assumed opinion by people. If God is who He says He is in the Bible, we ought to expect that a lot of what He communicates to us is going to be perhaps over our heads, and it’s going to take time and thought and discipline to really come to understand it.
When we look at these phrases “good pleasure” or “the satisfaction of His will,” we will have to look at those two words and understand what they mean because they’re intertwined in many other verses with other words related to His will and also these concepts of God appointing us to our destiny.
Here, I want to point out, it presents the standard. The grammar is consistent in all these things I’m going to point out. It uses the Greek preposition KATA, which means according to a standard. We know that when we see this kind of construction with KATA followed by an accusative noun, the writer is stating the standard, the criteria for making a decision, what is involved in it. He doesn’t state all of it at one time, obviously, because in this topic there are several different statements that are expressed the same way, according to the standard. Here, it’s “according to the good pleasure of His will.”
In Ephesians 1:9, it’s “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” That adds another dimension. It adds that dimension of God having a purpose or a plan. What’s interesting in a very, very broad sense, as we try to work our way through these difficult concepts, is that there are broadly two views, and this is a very broad general statement in the interpretation of these passages.
One is that they are talking about God’s individual selection of each person who will spend eternity in Heaven and His non-selection of those passed over who will spend eternity in condemnation. In its most, I think, harsh form that’s double predestination. There are those in Calvinistic theology and heritage who believe that God predestined some to Heaven and others to the Lake of Fire. It is related to this concept of His purpose.
The other view is that all of this language is related to understanding God’s plan and purpose—not individual selection for salvation—but His plan and purpose for Church Age believers. That is what we see here. I’ve underlined the word purposed. It is the verb PROTITHEMI. The noun shows up in the next verse, PROTHESIS.
In Ephesians 1:11, “In Him”—now this gets into the next section where we’re talking about Christ—“in Him”—that is again in this corporate identity of our position in Christ—“also we have obtained an inheritance.” That ties things back to that word we looked at last time, HUIOTHESIA, which relates to adoption. The purpose of adoption was to provide an heir for the family. When the head of the Roman family did not have an heir or a son that he thought would be responsible, he could adopt someone as an heir. Roman and Greek adoption focused on providing an heir, and that meant that someone was brought legally into the family and given this inheritance. We talked about this, that there are really two categories of inheritance.
- The term for every believer. We are all heirs of God.
- Those who grow and mature, a second category. We are joint heirs with Christ.
Here is a reference to an inheritance and an allusion back to the concept of adoption. It’s translated in the New King James, “being predestined.” It should be understood as a causal participle—“because we”—that is, we who are in Him—“were preordained …”
As I pointed out, a pastor is ordained. That doesn’t mean he is elected or predestined. It means that he has been given a mission and that mission is recognized. Preordination is that this mission was established ahead of time and is “… according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Here, we have the phrase, using the noun form of PROTITHEMI to talk about the purpose. God has a purpose that relates to His plan. His plan is not arbitrary but, in a bit of an anthropopathism, well thought out and organized.
In Ephesians 1:5, it is “… according to the good pleasure of His will. “
In 1 Peter 1:2, it is “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father …” The word foreknowledge simply means to know beforehand, so it is clearly in relation to God’s omniscience and the fact that He knows all of the knowable.
In Calvinism, God only knows what He predetermined, so foreknowledge is dismissed, just as Calvin did in that quote, but that is a characteristic of Calvinistic theology that ignores what we’ve studied in 1 Peter 1:2. The foreknowledge of God, what is it knowledgeable of? It is knowledgeable about who will respond positively to the gospel, and those who will reject the gospel.
We know we can say that the word elect here should be translated as choice ones—that’s very important. It is not emphasizing God’s selection of who will be in Heaven and who will be in Hell, but it is a choice by means of the sanctification of the Spirit. Sanctification refers to being set apart to God’s service. This choice is by means of the Holy Spirit and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ—that is, the application of His death. Those are the means by which a person becomes choice.
I keep alluding to this, and don’t forget it. In Matthew 22, Jesus told the parable of the wedding feast. The Father of the groom was throwing a wedding feast party, and He sent out invitations to call people to the wedding feast, but they rejected the invitation. That was the exercise of will in that passage. They rejected the invitation. The only choice in the passage was that they chose not to respond.
Then, he sent out his messengers to invite everyone to the wedding feast. At the wedding feast, everybody there had been given a garment, except that one person there didn’t have the right garment. The right garment was a picture, not of his works, but of the righteousness of Christ that had been given to him. Then, they were declared to be choice, not because of their works but because they possessed the righteousness of Christ.
This is seen in Isaiah 61:10. “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” This ongoing metaphor is found throughout the Scripture.
In these passages, we see that this work of God, this plan of God, is according to His knowledge beforehand. It’s according to the satisfaction related to His purpose in Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:9—“according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” It involves His omniscience. It involves God’s volition as He chooses the plan that will give Him the most glory.
As we look at Ephesians 1:5, we see that the term “good pleasure” is the Greek word EUDOKIA, which means approval. He is in approval or satisfaction of this plan as a righteous plan, and it’s according to His will. This introduces the word THELEMA, which is the first of several important words which we have to understand in this context.
I want to outline the keywords we have to understand.
1. EUDOKIA, which, as I just stated, means approval or satisfaction primarily. God is pleased with His plan.
2. THELEMA. This is one of a couple of different words translated will or desire in the New Testament, and it is seen in Ephesians 1:5 and 1:11.
3. Two words here actually, the verb PROTITHEMI and the noun PROTHESIS, which have to do with a purpose, an intention that God has, and expresses that a goal is part of God’s plan.
4. BOULOMAI is in 2 Peter 3:9, not in Ephesians. This word also expresses the idea of will or desire or want.
I’m going to reorder these and study them in this order.
1. BOULOMAI. It is important to go to 2 Peter 3:9. It’s a passage that every Calvinist struggles with because of what it states, so we will start there,
2. PROTITHEMI and PROTHESIS and their significance for understanding this plan of God, especially in Romans 9. That’s foundational.
4. THELEMA and a couple of other words.
We need to understand these key terms used to understand this concept of the will of God that have been developed as categories by theologians over the ages.
1. God’s revealed will. God’s revealed will is what we have in the Scripture.
In the Scripture, God gives us commands. We have all kinds of commands. In the Old Testament there were commands related to the Ten Commandments, the commandments to Israel in the Mosaic covenant. We have commands in the New Testament. “Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18. We have a variety of commands. We know that we should not do certain things and we should do certain things. Those are the revealed will of God.
Christians do not automatically do the revealed will of God. Believers in the Old Testament certainly did not automatically do the revealed will of God. We have volition. We can choose to obey or disobey. If we are locked into obedience, why in the world do we have all of these commands? We would automatically do what God says to do.
God’s revealed will is that which is revealed in Scripture, commanded and directed. It is not something that we say internally, “Well, I think God wants me to do X.” That is not what we mean by revealed will. It is the objective, revealed will of God in the Bible.
2. God’s permissive will. God has decreed that we should do certain things as He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden, “You shall not eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” That was God’s decreed or revealed will for them. Yet He gave them the freedom to obey or disobey. He permitted them to violate His decreed will. This allows for human responsibility and freedom of will. It is a limited freedom of will. It is not an unlimited autonomy.
3. God’s overruling will. God still can override our will. You cannot go do whatever you wish to do because God can block you.
I can think of several times in my own life when I had a desire to do one thing, and God blocked it. One summer, I had been counseling at Camp Peniel, I think, three or four summers, and I thought “You know, I’m just not sure I want to deal with a bunch of adolescents again or go backpacking all summer or canoeing. I think I want to go on a graduate trip and study World War II history in Germany with one of my professors.” I signed up for the trip to Germany. I was the first one to sign up, and I just couldn’t wait.
The deadline was something like March 20, and I informed Gordon Whitelock at Camp Peniel that I would not be coming that summer. By March 20, he had found no one who could lead any of the trip camps, and by March 23, not one person other than myself had signed up for the German trip. This was a Jonah moment.
I called the professor, and I said I really needed to do something else that summer and I needed to be involved in this camp ministry and there was no one to take my place, so I was not going to go. The next day, twelve people signed up to go on the trip.
That was God’s overruling will. I had one desire. God had another desire, and He wasn’t going to allow me to do what I wanted to do. There was God’s overruling will in history.
This is important because when we look at the use of these words and the word that is used in our passage, THELEMA, and its verb cognate, these are used to describe both God’s revealed will and His permissive will. They are used both ways, and yet there is a tendency to want to take all of these words and ram them into a theological framework.
This is the largest problem that we have with systematic theologies and systematic theologians. They set up a very tight theological structure, but it is not always based on solid exegesis. We always have to start with what is called “biblical theology,” which doesn’t mean that it’s biblical in its source. It’s a certain way of doing theology. We start with exegesis and end up with our systematic theology.
This is a problem in Calvinism. They have a very, very rigid, structured systematic system of theology, and it interprets certain words the same way every time. It just rams, crams, and jams these theological meanings into those words whenever they see them, and they don’t fit. Whenever they see words like elect, choice, EKLEGO or PROTITHEMI, they always default to salvation. This is always about Phase 1 justification.
We need to look at this passage. We’ve talked about BOULOMAI in 2 Peter 3:9 as the foundation. 2 Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God does not desire anyone to perish. If that is true, why would God decree that some—apart from consideration of their volition; and that is how Hyper-Calvinism and Dortian Calvinism express it—apart from their volition determine whether they will be saved or not. This directly contradicts 2 Peter 3:9.
We have to hold that as a foundation. It clearly states God does not desire anyone to perish, so why do people perish? They perish because of their decisions. But God does not want anyone to perish, and again and again, He will provide opportunities for people to know the truth, either through the nonverbal general revelation of creation or through the verbal expression of the gospel through many different ways.
We’ve known people who’ve heard the gospel one time and believed. We’ve known people who’ve heard the gospel fifty times and have not believed. It’s all about how they respond, and it is their choice.
In order to understand this, going to the next word, which was PROTHESIS, which is the word for purpose, I want to go to Romans 9. This is again one of those benchmark chapters that Calvinists go to in order to express their idea of God’s selective will for salvation.
The central passage we’re going to look at, I’m going to talk about context in a minute, starts in Romans 9:11. “… (for the children not yet being born”—children there is referring to Esau and Jacob—“the children not yet being born nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God”—that’s PROTHESIS—“the purpose of God according to election) …” That’s New King James.
It is better translated in the New American Standard as “the choice of God” because people read election, and they automatically default to thinking God was selecting them for eternal salvation. But it’s a choice. A choice for what? A choice for what purpose? The default position that comes out of Calvinism is that this is a choice for eternal salvation. We have to look at the context. Is this about eternal salvation, or is this about God’s purpose in relation to His plan of history and His plan for Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Romans 9:13 says, “As it is written …” Paul went back to source material in Genesis 23. “As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ ” A lot of people have problems with that. They say, “But God doesn’t hate anybody.” This is a figure of speech. The expression here, when used as opposites, is a statement of “I have chosen one and rejected another.”
You might go out to eat today, and you say, “Well, I have loved my vegetables and hated my dessert.” What you are saying is you have chosen to eat your vegetables and not to eat a dessert. That would be the idiom. We can’t read into these idioms the literal meaning that God actually hated Esau because nothing in Scripture supports that.
Romans 9:14 says, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses”—and here’s a quote out of Exodus 33—“ ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ ” You can see that if you are coming with a mindset that is oriented towards determinism, you would say, “Well, God is just going to save who He will, and He is going to condemn who He will. Isn’t that what that verse means?” Not if you look at the context of that verse back in Exodus 33.
We’re going to have to take a little time to fly over this and pick up the main ideas in Romans 9, and then look back to these illustrations that Paul gave related to Esau and Jacob, related to Moses, and also related to Pharaoh. Let’s go back to verse 1 and read through this and talk our way through this.
Paul began in Romans 9:1, “I tell you the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing the witness of the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.” This verse is his transition. How did he end the previous section? He ended the previous section with a profound statement of our eternal security. Romans 8:38–39 says, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord .”
In Romans chapters 6 through 8, Paul had been talking about the spiritual life, and it all built to this conclusion that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. But he heard an objection, an objection from a Jewish person who said, “But wait a minute! Based on what you’ve said, God has rejected Israel, so because of our sin, we are no longer in the love of God.”
Paul interrupted his flow of argument in Romans 9–11 to show that, no, God has not permanently rejected Israel. God still has a love for Israel, a plan and a purpose for Israel, so he was going to start establishing that. This tells us right away in terms of that context that it is not talking about justification. It is talking about sanctification. It is coming out of a sanctification section, and these issues that were going to be quoted all related more toward a spiritual life issue than they did a getting saved issue. It is not about justification, especially when we get to the illustration with Pharaoh.
We know that even though many Jews rejected Jesus, many did not, especially at this early stage. Paul did not reject Jesus. The disciples did not reject Jesus. Peter did not reject Jesus as Messiah. The three thousand on the day of Pentecost did not reject Jesus as Messiah. Many of them were probably already Old Testament saints, and on the second day after Pentecost, five thousand men and probably all of their families did not reject Jesus either.
Paul went on to say in Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed for Christ for my brothers, and my countrymen according to the flesh”—and then he got to the main point—“who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law.” He didn’t say it pertained to them—past tense. This belongs to them. God was not replacing Israel with the Church. The covenants, the glory, the service of God, the promises belong to Israel.
It was dealing with the Israelites as a whole, God’s call of the nation as a whole, and the adoption of the nation as a whole. It was a corporate concept. The Law, as we’ve studied many times, was given to the nation as a whole. The promises of the covenants, all of this related to those who were in Israel.
That was why he could say that the covenants apply to all the Jews, saved or unsaved. A few verses down, he said that not all Israel is Israel. Why? Because some were saved and some were not. But to all, even the unsaved, belong the covenants, the promises, because they were given to Israel corporately. This is important because it shows that God’s choice or election for Israel is a corporate election, and that is analogous in several places in Scripture to the election of the Church, which is a corporate election, not an individual election.
Romans 9:6, “But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel …” There is Israel according to the flesh and Israel that is regenerate. That is according to the flesh, but also regenerate. That is true Israel.
Romans 9:7, “… nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham”—they’re not saved just because they’re the seed of Abraham. That’s what Jesus said to the Pharisees.—“but in Isaac your seed shall be called.” He was saying here that this is all about the seed promise and the calling of Abraham as the one through whom the Messiah would come, and that it would come not through Ishmael but through his son Isaac.
Romans 9:8, “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” The children of the promise are those who have followed Abraham in believing God and having it accounted to them as righteousness. Genesis 15:6.
Romans 9:9 is an illustration from Abraham and Sarah. “For this is the word of promise: At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” That promise and the seed are interconnected. There’s a lot I could say about that, but for the sake of time, I won’t.
Romans 9:10, “And not only this, but when Rebecca”—Rebecca was the wife of Isaac, so we’re going down to the next generation—“Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac.”
We have the introduction of the children, the children of Rebecca. They were Esau and Jacob. “… for the children are not yet born …” While they were still in the womb, their destiny was set. They had not yet been born. They hadn’t done any good or evil. It was not based on anything they had done, but simply God’s purpose, and this purpose related to the Abrahamic Covenant and the promise. It was not a purpose related to their individual salvation. In fact, I’m convinced Esau was saved. I’m convinced Ishmael was saved, but they were not the children of promise. They were not the ones through whom the Abrahamic Covenant would go.
Romans 9:13. “As it is written, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” God chose Jacob and blessed him, but we are also told in Genesis that God richly blessed Esau, but not with the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant. Was this a selection that was individual? Was he talking about them as individuals? Or was he talking about them as representatives of an entity?
In Genesis 25:22–23, we’re told that “the children struggled together within Rebecca; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.” While she was praying, the Lord said to her, “ ‘Two nations are in your womb.’ ” He was not talking about them as individuals. He was not talking about their individual destinies or their individual salvations. He was talking about His plan and purpose in history through the descendants of Esau on the one hand and Jacob on the other.
“ ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’ ” The older was Esau; he came out first. Jacob was right behind him grabbing his heel, which is why he was called the “heel grabber.” The younger, Jacob, would be served by the older, Esau.
In the New Testament, we see Esau talked about. Some think this has to do with Esau’s salvation, but read it carefully. It doesn’t say anything about salvation. It is an illustration, warning against reacting to God in bitterness and anger.
Hebrews 12:15, “… looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” The warning is to not react in bitterness and resentment because if you become bitter that can spread and infect other people, and it can be a springboard to many other sins. This happened to Esau. When did it happen to Esau? Did it happen early, did happen late, or did it characterize his whole life? It happened early. It didn’t characterize his whole life.
At the end, when Jacob returned with His wives and was coming back with all of his flocks and herds, he was met by Esau, and Esau welcomed him. They didn’t have any hard feelings. There was no resentment. There was no bitterness. Jacob wanted to make up for what he had done in deceiving Isaac to give him the blessing, so he was willing to give a lot of his sheep and flocks to Esau.
Esau said, “I don’t need any of that! Look how God’s blessed me. I am rich with abundance. God has richly blessed me.” There was no sign of bitterness whatsoever. This is just an illustration coming from the incident when Esau realized that Isaac was deceived and gave the birthright to Jacob instead of to him.
Hebrews 12:16, “… lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” Fornicator here is not talking about literal sexual immorality. We’re talking about unfaithfulness. He was unfaithful to God, and the illustration is that he became common, profane, the opposite to holy, the opposite to set apart to God. He became that because he didn’t value his birthright as the firstborn. He was willing to sell it for a mess of pottage, for red lentil soup, because he was so hungry. He had a lack of respect for what God had given him and for his position. That was how he was being unfaithful and profane.
Hebrews 12:17, “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing …” After he got over it, he repented and he said, “Why can’t I get some blessing? Why can’t I get it now?” “… he was rejected”—why?—“for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” It wasn’t God’s plan for Esau to receive the inheritance, and that was not salvation. That was God’s plan and purpose for Israel.
The quote “Jacob I loved; Esau I hated” came out in Malachi 1:1. “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet you say, “ ‘In what way have You loved us?’ ” Was not Esau Jacob’s brother’ says the Lord. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved.’ ”
Malachi 1:3. “… but Esau I have hated.” Here, in Malachi, after the return to the land, when the Israelites once again had deteriorated into paganism and rejection of God and were in spiritual rebellion against God, God told them that they were modeling themselves basically after Esau. Malachi reminded them of their position of privilege as descendants of Jacob.
You see, when you talk about the older serving the younger, Esau never served Jacob. In fact, we’re told in Scripture that Jacob served Esau the red lentil soup and he bowed down to him when he returned, but he never served him. His descendants did, so what this was talking about was that God’s plan for the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, is different from God’s plan for Israel.
When we get to the last quote, we will come back and talk about this a little more next time. I just want to hit it now to tie it together. This was after the golden calf incident in Exodus, and God had threatened to lower the boom on Israel and make a new nation out of Moses. Moses pleaded with God, and in the course of that he talked about God manifesting Himself to Moses; that’s the context.
Exodus 33:19. God responded to Moses, “ ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you’—you are not going to see Me directly, but—‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord’—that is the character of the Lord—‘before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ ” Not one thing in the context was talking about personal salvation. It was talking about God’s revelation of himself to Moses. “To some I will reveal myself more. I will have compassion. To others not so much, but that’s My decision according to My plan.”
We see that in Romans 9 in talking about the purpose of God. It was not talking about a purpose related to personal salvation, personal eternal destiny, but about God’s plan and purpose, God’s plan and purpose for Israel in that context. We can apply that to God’s plan and purpose for the church when we’re looking at Ephesians 1.
Next time we will develop some of these other words, but we have to understand them in order to understand this purpose. Ephesians 3:11 talks about the fact that this plan is “according to the eternal purpose which was accomplished in Christ Jesus.” Again, God’s purpose is stated in a corporate way. It is who we are in Christ; it is God’s purpose for the Church. These passages are not talking about how to get to Heaven by virtue of God’s choice. It’s about those who have trusted in Christ and are in Christ and have been blessed because of their position in Christ. We’ve been appointed to a specific destiny, and we are ordained to a certain plan and purpose that God has for us.
That gives us the context. We will come back because Paul kept weaving this terminology in over the next six verses or so.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word this morning, to be reminded that You have a plan and a purpose, that You in Your sovereignty have decreed that You will give us a measure of freedom primarily to determine our eternal destiny, and, secondly, what we will do with our position in Christ, that You are not overwriting our personal volition in those two critical areas.
“Father, we recognize it is Your desire for all to be saved and that if there’s anyone listening to this message now or in the future that they will understand the Gospel, that Christ died for their sins. He died to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world so that we might have eternal life simply by trusting in Him. It’s not based on how good we are because it’s based on the righteousness of Christ given to us at salvation. We pray that all who hear this would either be confirmed in their salvation or that they would desire to be saved and trust in Christ.
“Father, may those who are believers be encouraged and strengthened in this wonderful, incredible plan You have for all Church Age believers.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”