In studying the Scriptures we learn that “predestination” has to do with God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus, that the Holy Spirit refers to those associated doctrines as “the mystery of God’s will,” and that all have to do with the fulness of Christ, the One Body.
In Ephesians 1:11 we find “predestinated,” “purpose,” “will” linked together:
“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.” Ephesians 1:11.
Now note Ephesians 1:9:
“HAVING MADE KNOWN UNTO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL, ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE WHICH HE HATH PURPOSED IN HIMSELF.”
Here the statement is made that God has made known “THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL,” His purpose. Note Ephesians 3:11, “GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE.” Then God’s will in His eternal purpose should no longer be a mystery, that is, a secret. If God has made known His precious, glorious secret, which He purposed for us in Christ before the foundation of the world, why should any child of God be ignorant concerning the mystery of God’s will? Perhaps the ministers of Christ have not read I Corinthians 4:1 to 3. One answer to this “why” is given in I Corinthians 3:1 to 4. “Carnal Christians who can take only milk.” Note I Corinthians 2:7 and 8:
“BUT WE SPEAK THE WISDOM OF GOD IN A MYSTERY, EVEN THE HIDDEN WISDOM, WHICH GOD ORDAINED BEFORE THE WORLD UNTO OUR GLORY: WHICH NONE OF THE PRINCES OF THIS WORLD KNEW: FOR HAD THEY KNOWN IT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY.”
This was about all that Paul could say to the Corinthians concerning this blessed, glorious Truth. Note the reason:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” I Corinthians 3:1 and 2.
This wisdom of God ordained before the world to our glory, had been hidden. Hence it was a mystery. It was altogether concealed from the rulers of this world, from the wisdom of this world. This Divine wisdom ordained before the world unto the glory of members of the Body of Christ which is revealed in detail in the Epistle to the Ephesians, is addressed to the faithful in Christ Jesus, who knew the Truth of the One Body. They knew what was the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, because they had received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and the eyes of their understanding had been enlightened. Ephesians 1:16 to 18.
On the other hand the Corinthians were interested in sectarianism and were satisfied with “baby” truth and milk. Such believers were mentioned in Hebrews 5:12 to 14: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is sad, but true, that most Christians today, with their preachers and leaders, including the majority of the leaders in organized “Fundamentalism”, are like the Corinthians. They are not only indifferent and ignorant concerning the Body Truth of Ephesians, but they do not want their followers to hear it, or even study it, because it is the death blow to their denominationalism and their faulty dispensationalism.
But again we quote, “HAVING MADE KNOWN THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL, WHICH HE HATH PURPOSED IN HIMSELF.” Then note what the members of Christ’s Body are to do with this glorious Divine Truth
“AND TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE WHAT IS ‘THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY,’ WHICH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HATH BEEN HID IN GOD: TO THE INTENT THAT NOW UNTO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN THE HEAVENLIES MIGHT BE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD, ACCORDING TO THE ETERNAL PURPOSE WHICH HE PURPOSED IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.”
How will principalities and powers in the heavenlies know the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose of God, if the Church does not make it known? How can the young believers know and enjoy and propagate this truth, if the old believers not only remain ignorant of it but warn others not to listen to it? In this connection note Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.” Now we see Satan’s spiritual activity in the heavenlies. He does not want the truth concerning Christ and the Church in the heavenlies, known. But God does. That is why God has made known the mystery of His will. Whom shall we obey? Satan or God? Remember God wants all to see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning was hid in God until it was revealed by Christ to Paul, and by Paul, in Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, and other Epistles. Remember Paul’s words in Galatians 1:10: “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Go thou and do likewise.
Now let us quote, in one long paragraph, some of the plain statements concerning the mystery of God’s will, in connection with “predestination” and “the eternal purpose” of God
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” “Who hath saved as and called us with any holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”. “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: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” . . . “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.” “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.” . . . “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same Body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel”: “Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Now again read carefully Ephesians 3:8 to 11:
“Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
VERSE 8—THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST AMONG THE GENTILES.
VERSE 9—-THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY HID IN GOD.
VERSE 10—TRUTH CONCERNING THE HEAVENLIES.
VERSE 11—ACCORDING TO GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE IN CHRIST JESUS.
Here we have the mystery and the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles mentioned with “the heavenlies.” This was the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus.
We repeat the word “unsearchable” means “not-to-be-traced” or “Untraceable.” Here Paul especially refers to unprophesied truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, a Divine spiritual program untold in the thirty-nine Books from Genesis to Malachi. It is truth concerning “the heavenlies.”—“Christ in the heavenlies”—“members of Christ’s Body raised up and seated in the heavenlies”—“members of Christ’s Body blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies”—“members of Christ’s Body in a conflict with principalities and powers, in the heavenlies”—“by members of Christ’s Body God’s manifold wisdom to be made known to principalities and powers in the heavenlies.”
God has made known the mystery of His will. The risen Lord has disclosed His secret to the Apostle to the Gentiles. All of this was according to God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus; according to God’s predestinated will, grace and purpose given members of the Body of Christ in Christ Jesus before the world began, those who were predestinated by God to be conformed to the image of His Son. II Timothy 1:9. Romans 8:29.
In the days of the law and the prophets the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and told aforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. I Peter 1:11 and 12. They foretold the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are told that Christ died for our sins “according to the Scriptures,” and he was raised the third day, “according to the Scriptures.” We have a more sure word of prophecy. II Peter 1;19. Not one jot or one tittle shall pass away until all be fulfilled. Therefore Christ shall yet occupy David’s throne and as a reigning King He shall bring about the restitution of all things. This will be according to the Scriptures, in fulfillment of the prophesies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos, Joel, Zechariah and others. Israel shall again be called “the people of God” and they shall have peaceful possession of the land of Canaan. They shall be planted in their land and no one shall pluck them up again. For this, we are told in Amos 9:13 to 15, in Ezekiel 34 to 38, and in many other Old Testament Scriptures. Wonderful things are to take place on this earth in the coming kingdom age, In the Seed of Abraham all of the families of the earth shall be blessed. All of this will be a part of God’s prophesied program. Gentiles shall receive salvation and kingdom blessing. This Israel’s prophets knew and made known.
The prophets of Israel knew and foretold that Jesus the Messiah would be despised and rejected by Israel, that the builders would reject the Stone and that the Stone would become the Head of the corner. The prophets foretold that God would not suffer His Holy One to see corruption, neither would He leave His soul in hell. Israel’s prophets foretold Israel’s great tribulation.
But not one of Israel’s prophets knew one thing about “the dispensation of the mystery,” about “the dispensation of the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6,” about “the predestinated purpose of God” concerning the hope and calling of members of Christ’s Body, seated with Him in the heavenlies and blessed with Him and in Him with all spiritual blessings. All of this was according to the riches of God’s grace and the riches of God’s glory.
Because these riches in Christ for Gentiles were not made known until the risen Lord revealed them to Paul, they could not be traced back to the Old Testament prophets or traced from there to their fulfillment in the days of Paul, therefore, they were unsearchable. These glorious truths were hid in God, and were according to God’s eternal purpose in Christ.
When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross that redemptive work was not only “according to the Scriptures” but, we are told in I Peter 1:18 to 20 and Acts 2:22, that it was according to God’s predestinated or eternal purpose. This is one great Divine truth that was both predestinated and prophesied.
Then we learn this interesting fact that “the tribulation” and the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ “the throne,” with all the attendant blessings for Jews and Gentiles, will be “according to the Scriptures.” This Messianic Kingdom will mean the restitution of all things written by the prophets; but not according to the eternal purpose of God mentioned in Ephesians.
Note the contrast. The present position of Christ “far above in the heavenlies” and His present relationship to and ministry for the members of the Body and their identification with Him, the risen Head, the union and unity of Ephesians, is not in fulfillment of prophecy. But is “according to God’s predestinated will. “Because it was hid in God before the days of Adam, through the days of Jesus of Nazareth on earth, and through the ministry of the twelve apostles in the first half of the Book of Acts, this predestinated purpose of God was called “the mystery”— “the mystery of God’s will”—“the dispensation of the mystery”—“the mystery of Christ”—“the mystery of the gospel.”
After God made it known to Paul and Paul passed it on to others it was no longer a secret. Thus we learn in studying the Pauline message we must rightly divide the Word of Truth, by separating Paul’s “confirmation ministry”—“the searchable (prophesied) riches of Christ”— from Paul’s “revelation ministry”—“the unsearchable (or unprophesied) riches of Christ.”
We have already observed that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the redemption of sinful humanity, is the one Divine truth that was both in fulfillment of prophecy and in fulfillment of God’s predestinated will, or both “according to the Scriptures” and “according to the eternal purpose of God.” And we have observed that the mystery revealed by Christ to Paul was a spiritual program different from anything ever given by the Lord to any of His holy prophets, including the twelve apostles.
Now again observe carefully Colossians 1:25 to 26
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to complete the Word of God: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, and now is made manifest to His saints.”
Here then we have the definite statement that the mystery revealed by Christ to Paul was to complete the Word of God, that the revelation of God’s eternal purpose, added to the law, the prophets and to the fulfillment of prophecy, completed the Word of God. The mystery revealed in Ephesians and Colossians has been called “the capstone of Divine truth.”
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.