|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself that in the dispensation of the fullness 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." [Ephesians 1:9-10].
So precious are these verses, we must share them also from two other translations, each which adds to the beauty and wonder of this glorious truth.
Phillips: "For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him."
Weymouth: "He made known to us the secret of His will. And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it-- the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in Him."
We stand in awe before the revelation of this secret of His will-- of His plan, of His purpose. It has been "according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence," [Ephesians 1:7-8] that He would unfold to man such a glorious truth. Deuteronomy 29:29 states, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but these things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. "
Truth spoken before its time may not; only be hurtful, but even most unlawful. Paul once said that he "heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." [2 Corinthians 12:4]. But Peter admonishes us to "be established in the present truth." [ 2 Peter 1:12]. For there is an ever-unfolding revelation for each day and age. The word "present" coming from a Greek word that literally means "to be alongside." There is truth for today which was not revealed in Noah's day, and there was truth revealed in Noah's day which is not for today-- except as the Spirit takes it and symbolically applies it to our hearts with a special message and meaning for us. The command of the Lord to go out and build an ark and fill it with animals of the clean and unclean, because a flood of water was coming, that is not present truth for us today, it was for Noah's day. True, we can spiritualize it all, find applications of truth and meaning-- but not the lateral command to build a literal ark with specific dimensions to be filled with animals to ride out a given flood of water. God promised He would not flood the earth in that manner any more-- so how then could that be present truth? But there is a word for this day, and "he that hath an ear, let him hear what the ,Spirit saith unto the called-out." [Revelation 3:6].
The fact that God Himself is ever unfolding His truth is sufficient reason for making it known. Age after age when the day arrives to utter something which until that appointed day, has been a secret hid in God. Yet in every age the man of faith can only say, "we having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, we also believe, and therefore speak." [2 Corinthians 4:13]. Once He has imparted the revelation, we shall be bold enough to declare it.
Truth. may, indeed-- it must-- vary in form as time goes on. Christ Himself, THE TRUTH, at different stages appears differently, for God has stooped to this, to give us truth as we can bear It. Because He is LOVE, He waits to reveal Himself in further dimensions until we are prepared for that revelation. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Hebrew, day we are prepared)." [Proverbs 4:18].
Paul realized that God had revealed things to him, "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." [Ephesians 3:5]. And we can now rejoice in "the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." [Romans 16:25-26].
In his translation, J. B. Phillips points out the fact that the disclosing of this secret purpose which, after long ages of silence, has now been made known, is "in full agreement with the writings of the prophets long ago." We find all truth is related, and tucked into that which the prophets saw and spoke long ago, is that truth which, when the Spirit illumines it, becomes a sure revelation. It is contained in the scriptures, and waits for the time HE will bring it to light.
"The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." [Galatians 3:8]. And then, after this marvelous truth and promise were spoken, God proceeded to give forth a law unto Israel, based on their works. Thus, the truth of justification, blessings of righteousness, the in workings of God through faith, not works, was veiled over by the giving of the law. Indeed, the law was the very agency that veiled this secret, because of its introduction of works. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith." [Galatians 3:11]. And so men waited for the coming of Him who would bring to light this truth so long ago declared to Abraham. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." [John 1:17]. Indeed, JESUS was the first revelation of that veiled secret, being the Firstborn of that whole new creation which God had purposed. Jesus taught all the truths of reconciliation found in Paul's teachings. Paul simply amplified as time for further revelation came into focus. Yet, no one can top Christ's own statement, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him; - THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD." [John 6:44-45].
Praise God for that inflow of wisdom and understanding from above, as He lifts that veil of ignorance, illumines our darkness, and causes us to KNOW the secret of HIS WILL. He gives this revelation with respect to the calling He has for His chosen-- to become a part of that administration which shall carry out His will and purpose, to the intent that the whole of creation will be brought into perfection and fulfillment in Him.
It is super abounding of His grace INTO US, imparting the wisdom and intelligence of His will, that enables us to yield to Him as He works out His purpose-- first in us, and then placing us into the administration of that will to be wrought out in the fullness of time. Until His will is worked into us, specifically and individually, we will never be able to work in harmony with His will for all mankind. Without the revelation of His will to, and IN us, we are not able to yield ourselves to Him and give obedience. We can wait in submissiveness before Him, but we dare not act until we know what is His will, for without that knowledge we would simply set about to exercise our own will-- "doing that which is right in our own eyes."
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." [Matthew 6:10]. And with all our heart we do earnestly pray this. Yet until He gives us a revelation of what His kingdom is, and how it shall appear, we often end up opposing and fighting the very thing which we prayed would come. Because we do not recognize His will in a given situation, we resist His will and insist on having it our way. So with our praying for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done, we pray for that revelation of His will-- that we might submit to it, yea, become one in it.
Praise God, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will . . ." [Acts 22:14]. KNOW HIS WILL, not only in the details of our own daily living, but even to know the MYSTERY OF HIS WILL in regards to His purpose of the ages, and His ultimate plan for all men.
Jesus declared, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, That of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." [John 6:38-39].
LOSE NOTHING, but ultimately that everything should find its one Head in Christ, and be raised up into His perfection and LIFE. All that Jesus did in His earthly sojourn was geared toward, preparing for, and looking toward that day when in "the completion of the epochs of time" He would "bring back again to their original state all things in the Christ." [Ephesians 1:10, Wuest].
"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." [Luke 19:10]. The Greek word for lost is "apollumi" meaning to mar, reduce to ruins. That which has been marred by sin, out of fellowship with God because of self-will, HE came to search them out and draw them back to the Father again. Nor shall His Saviour-ministry be ended until ALL have been taught of God, and returned to Father's house. Whatever has gone into selfhood is marred, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." [Isaiah 53:6]. But while "the vessel that He made was marred in the hand of the Potter: so He made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the Potter to make." [ Jeremiah 18:4]. So all that has been marred shall be made anew, to redound to His glory and praise, for this is HIS WILL.
"For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (be made sound, brought into wholeness )." [John 3:17].
Perhaps one of the most beautiful verses of assurance is ours when we read, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL men unto Me." [John 12:32]. He was lifted up ON THE CROSS. Little did those wicked hands realize that by their very act and deed they were sealing their own fate. They thought they were resisting Him, and had won their cause when they placed Him on that cross, but that simply verified the promise, and now they, too, are numbered among the "ALL" that shall be gathered unto Him.
"For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and He died for all." [2 Corinthians 5:14-15]. Truly Christ died for ALL-- for men of all nations, of all characters, and all professions. Furthermore, Paul states, if One died for them all, then all were dead. What does this mean? Paul understood that when Christ did, by the grace of God, "taste death for every man, " [ Hebrews 2:9], it was an act that ensured that all men would ultimately partake of that death-- dying out to self, that they might come alive to God. His death insured the death of all men. What He did was in the behalf of the whole world. Not to absolve us from dying, but to make sure that we would all DIE TO SELF, die out to our own rebellion against Him, die out to evil and all its perversions, and then by the power of His resurrection life, come alive to God, alive to righteousness. Therefore "In Christ shall all be made alive but every man in his own order. " [1 Corinthians 15:22-23].
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." [Romans 5:12]. We know full well that through Adam death passed upon all men. And we also, "were dead in trespasses and sins," [Ephesians 2:1] until He quickened us, and gave us His new life. But just so as by Adam, we died out to God and righteousness, to walk our own way of self, so now Jesus Christ purposely tasted death for every man-- to guarantee that every man will die out to self and sin, that they might then be made alive in Him. Through the first death, via Adam, we were brought to ruin, marred. Through the second death, via the Christ, we are brought to the end of the ruin, and into the new life. Only God can ordain such a marvelous working, and turn it all to His praise. No longer does the adversary hold the key of death, but it is written of our Lord, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." [Revelation 1:18]. HE HAS THE KEY, and He can use it to open the door OUT OF SELF, and INTO HIS MORE ABUNDANT LIFE, and this He can, and shall do for all men. "Who WILL have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." [1 Timothy 2:4-6].
We read other scriptures concerning the will of God, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." [1Thessalonians 4:3]. And, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." [1Thessalonians 5:18]. But this is not ALL the will of God, nor do these verses refer to the final consummation of His will in His plan of the ages. These are only phases of His will being wrought in us, until we become His will in the earth. But all these workings of His will steadily bring us toward that desired goal, when "HE WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." When they know the truth, the truth shall set them free of all sin, self, etc. that they might receive the inflow of His life, and become a new creature in Christ Jesus.
The glorious fulfillment of His will shall be realized when all things are summed up into one Head, even Christ. Everything to find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. It is because men know not the mystery of His will, nor are they ready to pray, "nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done." [Luke 22:42]. We still find them trying to usurp that headship, and lord it over one another. They want to be the "head," the "covering," the "shepherd," the ruler over men. It is when we come to understand that it is HIS WILL that all things be summed up in Christ, that HE BE THE HEAD OVER ALL, and everything, everyone be joined to Him who is the Head, then we cease to build our own personal kingdoms, and try to lord it over others.
The pastor, the evangelist, the pope, whoever-- these did not give their life a ransom for you, CHRIST DID. He "gave Himself a ransom for all" and it will be testified, witnessed to by all, in due time. And John foresaw that hour when "every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be UNTO HIM that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." [Revelation 5:13]. That is the witness which shall be given in due time.
"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD. " [1John 2:2].
"And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD." [1 John 4:14].
We already made reference to the fact that this is "in full agreement with the writings of the prophets long ago." [Romans 16:26, Phillips]. So, what saith the prophets? Do they actually teach that Christ is to be the Saviour of the whole world? Of course they do, in many places and ways the truth is presented, but it is as Christ said, "ye do err not knowing the scriptures." And, we might add, men have erred from this understanding of His will because they read much of the word through previous teaching and doctrine of self-conceived opinion. Reading the word with a view of establishing former opinions and doctrines, rather than to gain further revelation and understanding, does not bring us into additional light. But note what the prophets have said.
"ALL THE ENDS OF THE WORLD shall remember, and turn unto the Lord: and ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE NATIONS shall worship before Thee." [Psalm 22:27].
"ALL NATIONS WHOM THOU HAST MADE shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name." [Psalm 86:9].
"And it shall come to pass in the last day that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, AND ALL NATIONS shall flow unto it." [Isaiah 2:2].
"Look unto Me, and be ye saved, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH: for I am God, And there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto Me EVERY KNEE shall bow, EVERY TONGUE shall swear. " [Isaiah 45:22-23].
The list could go on and on, but it is not our purpose here to reprint the Bible in this book, only to illustrate that the prophets did see and proclaims the truth of how all things would find their fulfillment and perfection in Him. This is God's will, and there is nothing that shall prevent nor hinder Him from realizing that purpose and plan. He is God, and He is "working all things after the counsel of His own will. " [Ephesians 1:11]. "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" [Daniel 4: 35]. "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." [Isaiah 14:24].
Now we bow before Him, to pray anew, "Thy kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE in earth, as it is in heaven. " we are coming to understand what His will is, and we rejoice that it means total redemption for every creature.
With the understanding of the universal scope of His will-- salvation of every man, we can also begin to find its expression in our individual lives. Indeed, this knowledge of His will is to underscore every facet of our being, while our daily committal to His will in the nitty-gritty of each day also serves to establish His will in the whole.
The fact remains, His WILL can be known, experienced daily. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye." [Psalm 32:8].
This is no mysticism, no visionary's dream, "The sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." [John 10:3]. At the age of 12, Jesus said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them." [Luke 2:49-50]. But He knew His Father's will for His daily living.
I dare say, to do God's Will is always the uncommon thing. People will think it quite commonplace, perhaps the doctrine is, but not the outworking. Jesus must needs wait till Lazarus is dead, and not rush ahead in sentiment and sympathy of the natural. He must needs go through Samaria, not because He was "need-centered" in the people, but because He was centered in the Father's will. Again on occasion He sent His disciples on up to Jerusalem, saying, "My time is not yet come." [John 7:6], and He tarried until proper time. The central issue, to which all else bows, the underlying principle for being-- TO DO AND BE GOD'S WILL. And he who does God's will need never give excuse. We need not apologize to man for fulfilling our Father's will.
One writer has pointed out that God's will is written in two books, THE BIBLE as His will in words, formal thoughts; and NATURE as God's will in matter, tissue, force. The laws of nature are for our bodies, the Bible for moral laws. The lower laws are HIS WILL, and if we do not obey them, we will never fully know the higher laws.
The law of moderation, sleep, regularity, exercise, cleanliness, all of these are essential for our natural well-being. Taking good bread, pure water, bespeak God's will in minor things as needed as a good conscience. Whoever heard of gluttony as doing God's will, or laziness, or uncleanness? If we disobey these, what certainty is there that we will obey the higher laws for the soul? Self that will not be disciplined for natural things, will not partake of HIS CROSS, that HIS WILL might be supreme.
"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." [1 Thessalonians 4:3]. As clear a statement as this is, to many it remains a mystery. Yet as the Lord spoke clearly to Paul, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest KNOW HIS WILL, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men," [Acts 22:14-15] and so Paul was able to declare "the mystery of His will," so also HE would reveal to us exactly what this means in our own lives. To be SANCTIFIED-- to be set apart from the world, and unto Him. It is both a "from," and an "unto," for we are not pulled out of the world to aimlessly wander in a barren wilderness. We are to be brought into HIM, that HE might become the fullness of our life.
In the Old Testament sanctification was often outward , as a field, a house, an altar, gold and silver, anything set apart, devoted for sacred use was said to be sanctified. In the New Testament it goes beyond only the outward consecration, to become an IN WARD HOLINESS.
"Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. BY THE WHICH WILL WE ARE SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ." [Hebrews 10:9-10]. This is God's will in action, a will that sanctified. And to know His will is to know that which will set you apart from the world, and certainly set you apart as unto Himself, to become "His peculiar treasure." Therefore, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" [Romans 8:32]. This is HIS WILL, not His gain, not His eternal advantage, but OURS, not His holiness, but OURS. It is not so much for His sake-- but OURS, He has our good in view.
Thus we offer up our will to RECEIVE HIS WILL, get our will out of the way to make room for His will in us. We are admonished to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God . . . that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." [Romans 12:1-2]. This has nothing to do with that perverted teaching of God having "two wills i.e. the permissible, and the perfect will. Nor do the words "good, and acceptable, and perfect" denote a threefold division of His will. Rather, these are all descriptive terms of His WILL, ONE, HOLY WILL. Immediately we have to acknowledge that HIS WILL is always good, even as He purposes to work "all things together into our good..." [Romans 8.28]. And we firmly declare that His will Is acceptable-- the Greek literally means: well-pleasing. And of course it is perfect-- all that He does is perfect, and "it is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." [Psalm 18:32].
Strange workings of discipline have disturbed the quiet flow of your life. Strange things happen, strange troubles, strange providence, the explanation of the mystery is that GOD WOULD HAVE US HOLY, THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, because it is hell to be unholy. Therefore, "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." [1 Thessalonians 5:18]. The thought is twofold. IN EVERYTHING we are to give thanks, because it is HIS WILL for us to praise and thank Him in, and for everything; and because we come to recognize that HIS WILL is being expressed to us in all that befalls us. THIS IS HIS WILL-- whatever He sends our way in His divine interplay of good and evil, we will thank Him for it, knowing He will work it into our Good, and for His praise.
The mystery of His will-- to save ALL MEN, and to use all things in our own individual lives, until everything is fully SANCTIFIED, set apart to His glory and praise, that He might be all and in all. Bless His name.
The sovereign will of our sovereign God,
Working His purpose within this clod,
Molding and shaping with tender care,
A new creation to thus prepare.
Long is the process beneath His hand,
Learning obed'ence to His command,
The object of His marvelous grace,
Ready to fill the appointed place.
The sovereign plan of our sovereign God,
In love undergirding this poor clod.
Before time began He did ordain
That in His chosen His grace should reign.
Not a byproduct or afterthought
Is now this vessel He has inwrought,
But fully prepared against the day
When wrath would be balanced mercy's way.
The sovereign act of our sovereign God,
Marking the way for His chosen clod.
Amid the mountains and valleys deep,
A rendezvous with our God to keep.
To be clothed with immortality,
Equipped to unfold the mystery
Of His will for every man, to wit,
Salvation in full, as it seemeth fit.
To God be the glory, to God be the praise,
May His will be the total of all our days.
Writings in This Series: