26 MAY 2001, Saturday
By Dr. Ken Matto
Okay, let’s continue on… I knew this would happen sooner or later… the Internet!
Well, anyway, alright, we’re looking at Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 8. An we’re seeing that… where the Bible says: "Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;" We look at that word "prudence," and it means "intention" or "a frame of mind." Remember when the Lord Jesus was going to Jerusalem? --He set his face as a flint. He had intent. He had a mindset –a frame of mind— that He was going to go to the Cross and pay for the sins of His elect. Now, let’s take a look at Psalm 103, verse 2: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" And that word "benefits" there actually means "deeds" or "rewards." …[that is] God’s deeds that He’s done. And His primary deed is salvation through Our Lord Jesus Christ. And the rewards that He gives us is eternal life, as it says in Luke Chapter 18, verse 30: "Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." And that is going to be our great reward, because even God said to Abram, ‘I am thy exceeding great reward.’ [Genesis 15:1 KJV – "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."]. And, you know, when you have people out there who are looking for rewards… they’re looking for God to pat them on their back and say, ‘You did a good job.’ And there’s no such thing as God’s plan of works, or rewards for works, because the works unfortunately that we do are sin-tainted. And as we get into Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10 in a couple of weeks, we’re going to see exactly what God means by works that He has for us. But meanwhile, we’re looking at Psalm 103:2: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" You know, sometimes when times get tough, sometimes when things go wrong in our life, we forget all His benefits. We forget the deeds and rewards that God has done towards us. And that’s why, we must always remember the benefits that the LORD gives us.
Alright, let’s go on to Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 9. The Bible says: "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:" Now, the first three words in Ephesians 1:9, are: "Having made known…" That is a verb. And that’s the Aorist tense. And if you remember, the Aorist tense has a beginning, but there’s NO duration spoken of… no ending. Unlike the Perfect tense… it has a beginning and an end. When we talk about the finished, substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross, we will put that in the perfect tense because it is complete. But with the Aorist, the Aorist does not give us any type of duration. So He’s "Having made known unto us the mystery of His Will." And so it means, "to reveal" or "to declare" to us. And therefore, as we continue to study His Word, and as we continue to pray for guidance, [and as] God begins to teach us through His Word, [that’s when] we’re able to see things in the Scriptures that many do not, because He’s making known unto us. You see, unfortunately, too many people are looking at prophecy books, or looking at commentaries, and trying to get some type of understanding of Scripture through these commentaries. Or through creeds or confessions, or all kinds of ways, instead of getting into the Word, and allowing God to make known unto us the mystery. And of course, that word "mystery" is "musterion" and it means "something which is kept hidden until the time of revealing." And there’s always a certain time frame. God always works in a certain time frame. We read in Galatians Chapter 4, verse 4, when the Bible teaches that when the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…" There’s always some type of time frame that God always has in view. Then the will, the mystery of His will, the mystery of His purpose. Sometimes we don’t know the purpose of our lives. Sometimes we sit back and we ask the question: "What is my reason of existence?" --and I don’t know. What happens is that I have to give God time to work things out in my life. And remember the verse we looked at last week? --A very common verse, Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;…" You know, the eagle has been seen flying as high as 20,000 feet… actually, the eagle does not fly, they soar… and it says: "…they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." So we see that the LORD is telling us to wait upon Him… it’s an investment. Waiting upon the LORD is an investment. It’s NOT a waste of time. Now, the Gospel is sent to those whom God declares it to be revealed to. Now, we will preach the Gospel maybe to a hundred people and this is the mystery of God’s Will. An unbeliever will not look at that and say, "What does that mean?" An unbeliever will say, "I don’t care what it means." But then someone sitting right next to an unbeliever is going to sit there and say, "Wow, that means something to me!" You see, God is dealing with one, and He may not be dealing with another. But He will open the heart and mind of whom He will. It is totally God’s decision concerning whom He will reveal the Gospel to.
Now, God’s purposes are wrapped up in the determinate counsels of heaven. Let’s take a look at Acts Chapter 2, verse 23. And one of the reasons the world looks at us strangely is, because we are going against the tide of this world. In Acts 2:23, the Bible says: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" Now, "determinate" –it means something that has fixed boundaries. It’s absolutely inflexible. You see, God’s purpose –God’s Will—is absolutely inflexible! His Will for the Lord Jesus Christ was to die for the sins of His people. That was inflexible. It could not be undone. The Lord Jesus Christ could not reject it. It had to have had happened, because it was written in Scripture. Scripture CANNOT be broken, and the determinate counsel --or the inflexible counsel-- of God holds true in our lives, too. And we must realize that. Sometimes God has some purpose for us. He wants us to do something, and He doesn’t let us go until we do something. And once our decision is in concert with His Will, then we understand that God has planned something for me to do. The determinate counsel of God rules in the life of every single believer --not just in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ-- but in the life of every believer. And it’s in our every day life.
Now, let’s take a look at Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 10. Let’s read verses 9 and 10 together. It says this: "9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" Now, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times…" That word "dispensation" means "a management" or "a stewardship." As the apostle Paul said he was given a dispensation, he was given a stewardship. And that’s what you and I have. We have a stewardship to handle the Word of God properly, and to take the Word of God and to be able to bring it to an unsaved world, not teaching the way the world would want to hear it, but teaching the way that God has laid it down in His Word. So when we talk about having a stewardship, a steward can be the head of the house, but he’s never the master. And that’s the same with us. We’re NEVER the master, Christ is our Master. And when we begin to do our stewardship, we have to do it in full compliance with the way God would have us to do it. Now, He says "in the fulness of times…" And that word "fulness" means the "totality" or the "completion." Let’s look at a couple of verses. And we looked at one already, Galatians 4:4. It says here: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law," You see, "fulness of time…" --Remember when Moses said the Israelites came out of Egypt, and God did not allow them to attack? I believe it was the Amorites, because their iniquity has not yet been full. I believe it’s found in Exodus, but there’s a passage in Genesis 15:16 that we should look at: "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." You see, the LORD deals in fullness, when He has a certain time, He has a certain plan, and that particular plan and that time come together. Then it’s the fullness, and the plan is executed. God deals in fullness. The two must meet.
Now, He says here [Ephesians 1:10]: "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" Now, the first gathering --or uniting together— was done at the cross when the Lord Jesus died for His elect, and He broke down all the walls of social separation, as all Christians are on an equal footing. And we read in Galatians, Chapter 3, verse 28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Every single believer has the same footing at the Cross. Now, the first gathering –or uniting together— was when the Lord went to the Cross and died for all His elect. Basically, this is known as the first resurrection. For those whom God has planned to save, it was the first resurrection, which was the spiritual resurrection. You see, basically, there were two judgment days. The first judgment day is when the Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross. And as a result, He paid for the sins of the elect. That was judgment day for the elect. And as a result, the elect were found NOT guilty, because we had that vicarious atonement with the Lord Jesus Christ who paid for our sins. Now, the second judgment day, of course, is going to be at the white throne judgment, in which, the unbeliever is going to pay for their OWN sins. They’re going to stand before the Lord. They’re not going to be clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness. And what they’re going to be is found guilty of all their sins. And they’re going to be cast into hell to pay for their own sins eternally. And of course, that means, they will NEVER, NEVER come out of hell. They will be under God’s wrath for eternity. So you see, --this is why we call it "free grace"-- because the believers were given freedom through the Lord Jesus Christ. We were freed from sin… freed from sin’s penalty, never having to worry about standing before the LORD and giving an account of our sins, because they’ve all been paid for. If we have to stand before the LORD and give an account for our sins, then we will be cast into eternal hell. So those who propagate this doctrine believing that we have to somehow stand before the LORD and give an account for the sins… I mean, if I didn’t witness to somebody, that would basically be a sin. So if I stand before the judgment throne of Christ, having just one sin, that means one thing: I was never saved, and I will have to give an account not just for that one sin, but the other 57 million sins I’ve committed in my entire life. So I feel sorry for these folks that feel that they have to stand before the LORD. You see, Christ stood before the LORD. He stood before the Bema seat, He stood before the majesty, God the Father, in your place and mine. And He took our sins, and He washed them all the way, and because of that we’re totally free from sin’s penalty –and that’s eternal damnation.
Now, the second gathering that we see when He says that He is going to "…gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" Now, the second great gathering will be on the last day when ALL the believers --both on heaven and earth-- will be united in the great gathering of believers. Of course, that’s called the rapture. And, of course, there are those, unfortunately, some people teach that there’s going to be a rapture and then a seven-year tribulation. I’m sure you’ve all heard it. But the Bible teaches VERY explicitly that the rapture is going to be on the last day. And then all the believers will be ushered to the presence of God, where our faith will become sight. Isn’t that something? Like the hymn says, ‘So that the faith –our faith— should become SIGHT.’ And then we find… it’s always good to go over even common verses that we are used to hearing, used to reading. In 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verses 16 and 17, we read this: "16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" --I guess maybe there’s some truth why our parents used to tell us never walk on a grave. Maybe they knew something.-- "17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. " Well, you know, sometimes we read these passages, and we say, "Well, I’ve read them before, I kind of know what they mean." But it’s always good to go back to study the more common verses, because God can always show us something out of the different verses, even the common ones: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together…" That’s going to be one great glorious day. Also, it says in verse 17: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds," Now, I’ve heard it said –I don’t know how true it is— that it’s saying ‘clouds of believers’ going up. The believers are going to be raptured and it would be ‘clouds of believers.’ And that could be a possibility. I heard one preacher say that many years ago. and, it could be. But I just see that word in the original just saying we would be ‘in the clouds’… in other words, we’re going to be leaving earth, and we’re going to be going up with the Lord. So, whether it’s ‘clouds of believers’ or ‘going into the clouds’ -–it doesn’t matter, because we’re going up on the LAST day.
Okay, let’s continue on in our study now. In Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 11, and we’re going to look at verse 10: "10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:…" Remember, Paul uses this term "in him," "in Christ" over 100 times in this epistle. "11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" Now, another great tenet of predestination is that we have obtained an inheritance, because notice the word. And I cannot stress this enough. Anytime we read the Bible, anytime we look at the Scriptures, don’t glean over the statements quickly. Look at the wording: "In whom also WE have obtained an inheritance." He’s talking about ONLY the believers. I have heard free-will preachers when they discuss something like Romans 5:8 where it says and while we were dead, Christ died for us. ["…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."] And they take that word "us" to mean He died for the whole world. You can’t wreck grammar and try to teach something that ISN’T there. Like we were having that discussion in this other room about the Sabbath, when it says the first of the week, like in Matthew 28:1… when the word "week" is a singular week, even as a singular word, even though it consists of seven days, yet the word "week" is a singular word. And in the Greek, the word "sabbaton" is a plural word, so when the word was translated, it was translated a plural word as singular. And when you do that, you completely ruin the meaning, and you divert people from knowing the truth. And it’s dangerous. And we couldn’t get it through to these people in that room. Of course, they wanted their scholars to be right.
Well, anyway, "…we have obtained an inheritance." Now, the word here, "obtained" an inheritance, is in the verb form. Again, it is in an Aorist passive. That means we are RECEIVING it. And being that we’re receiving this, God is giving it to us. You see, we are totally passive in salvation. Take a look at 1 Peter, Chapter 1, verses 3 and 4: "3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you," Isn’t that something? Reservation. A reservation in heaven. And that inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled. Absolutely pure. Absolutely true. And fades not away. That’s amazing, isn’t it, when you think about it? --That the inheritance that God is giving us… and after all, He’s the One who did all the work, and we are the one who are receiving all the benefits. And then we turn around and we say, "You know, we want more rewards…God is giving more." God can’t give any more. He’s given enough for now. When we get into the new heaven and the new earth, THAT is when we are going to have a tremendous eye-opening experience. You know why I believe this? We’re going to look at God, and we’re going to turn around and say, "My, and I worried about things on earth?" ---That’s if we’re able to remember what’s on earth. But like I say, we pointed out in a couple of passages that we’re not going to remember what happened on earth. But I mean, if we could, we’re going to turn around and say, "I feared man more than Him?" We don’t look at the gloriousness, the BIGNESS of Our God!
Okay, let’s go back to Ephesians, Chapter 1:11. Now, He says: "…11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated…" --That word, "predestinate" is the word "proorizo" and it means He "chosen beforehand," to be pre-elected-- "…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" That word "counsel" means a "design" or a "plan." You see, everything is designed by God. You know, the Scriptures even teach us that when we go through the rough times, that God has designed those valleys for us. But you know, when you think about a mountains and valleys, what grows on top of a mountain? It’s all kinds of ice and snow and no vegetation. But when you are in the valley, what grows in the valley? Flowers, greens, that the animals can eat. You see, it is a time that we go into the valleys that God prepares for us is and that’s when we grow. You see, this passage here where it says that God is doing everything after the counsel of His own will, that we have obtained an inheritance. We have a passage here that reveals that salvation is ALL of the LORD, and that not one IOTA of God’s salvation plan can be attributed to anything man can do. We would only wreck it! If God would say ‘Here, I’ll do 99%, and here, you do these particular works, THEN you can get into heaven,’ – you know what, we’d mess up that one work, because we would try to improve on it. See, it was God’s own Will that salvation be totally PASSIVE, since man cannot do anything to inherit it or design it. I don’t know what kind of salvation plan man would design. Probably, it would be one that would have a lot of works, one that would have a lot of things to do. You’d burn out for the LORD, or something like that. But you see, salvation is of the LORD. This is why God predestined salvation, because of the inability of man to achieve it. God’s counsel will always stand and will NEVER fall, because it’s perfect in structure and execution. We may look at the Crucifixion and we may not see engineering, we may not see design, but if you look at the timing… the timing was absolutely perfect. The Lord Jesus Christ walked around Palestine for three years, and yet He did not miss the time that was appointed Him to become our substitute. Everything God does is perfect in structure and execution.
In Isaiah 55:11, we read a famous passage. Let’s take a look at this verse. It’s important, and again, it’s another common verse, but it’s a verse we need to look at. In Isaiah 55:11: "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." How many of you out there like Italian food? I know I do, I love Italian food. So what I want to give you now is four "stuffed shall’s." Not "shells," but four "stuffed shall’s" out of Isaiah 55:11.
Okay, the first "stuffed shall" is: "Shall my word." The Word of God is the basic structure of salvation, because that’s what we send out… we continue to send forth the Word of God. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by (or through) the word of God." [Romans 10:17 KJV]. Once the basics are preached, then the Holy Spirit begins to work in the hearts and lives of those who heard it.
Now, the second "stuffed shall": "[It] shall not return unto me void." That word "void" means "empty." There are two basic fruits of God’s Word: Salvation and damnation. Everything stems from these two antithetical conditions. God’s Word is out there and preaching to the elect, and it’s condemning those who are NOT elect.
Now, the third "stuffed shall": "It shall accomplish." It will do what God determines it to do. It will either soften, or harden the heart. Jesus gave us a principle --Don’t cast your pearls before the swine [Matthew 7:6 KJV – "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."]-- because if the person you’re speaking to is mocking God’s Word as you’re preaching it, God is hardening their hearts, allowing their heart to get very hard. It’s that person who you’re speaking to who wants to hear it again and wants to talk with you more about the Word of God, then they will come back to you and the LORD might be accomplishing in their hearts, salvation. But you see, the Word of God is going to produce two kinds of people: It’s going to harden them and it’s going to cause them to hate it more, or it’s going to soften them and bring them into God’s kingdom, and the Holy Spirit will indwell them.
The fourth "stuffed shall" is: "It shall prosper." The Word shall prosper. And the word "shall prosper" there means it "shall succeed." It will save the elect and guide them in life. God’s Word is powerful. You see, there’s one thing we have to remember about God’s Word. Not only is it a spiritual book, not only is it a book that teaches us the deeper things of life… or rather the deeper things of the Word. Because as we look at the Word of God, we see surface writing, but then the Holy Spirit begins to give us a little bit of Truth…a little bit of Truth there… and then finally, we piece together an entire teaching, or an entire understanding. We also look at the Bible and we can see that there is a surface meaning to the Bible, which can help in life. For example, the rich rule over the poor. We know that. We see the rich people ruling over us. And there are certain other principles in here. The rich ruleth over the poor. You know, every time you charge or something on a credit card, or something like that, the borrower is slave to the lender. And it says that in Proverbs. [Proverbs 22:7 KJV – "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."] That’s a good principle you can also use when dealing with money. You realize that anytime you borrow, you become a slave to the lender. And of course, this is not… the Bible teaches us that those who lend to the LORD, and we preach and teach to the poor… now He’s not talking about money or financial principles, but on the surface, you can use that as a financial principle. But the Bible has that much… there’s like three levels to the Scriptures. Sort of like the moral, historical, and the spiritual level --three good levels that the Bible can be used in all facets of life. And if we just spiritualize the Scriptures, then what happens is we lose the other two aspects of the Scripture. We need to interpret the Bible, and interpret it in such a way that we see the Truth –we see the spiritual Truths. But we can also see sort of like the superficial Truths (for want of a better word, I can’t think of a better word)… sort of like the Truth that’s on the surface. And that’s how God made it.
Okay, it says in Psalm 48, verse 14: "For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." And how does God guide us? Through the Word of God. He guides us, and He teaches us, and the Word of God holds us and gives us understanding of God’s Will. It gives us understanding of the HEART of God, the Father heart of God. And the Bible gets us to understand that God is concerned about ALL aspects of our life. He just didn’t write the Bible and say, ‘Well, read it and do the best you can.’ That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. That’s why He gave the Holy Spirit to us, because He wants His Word to accomplish what it will and to succeed. And as we continue to obey God’s Word, on a continual basis –not just once here and once there— on a continual basis, making it our lifestyle, then we as Christians will succeed. The world will condemn us, the world will look at us and say, "You’re nuts!" but we know that when we obey God, we know in our hearts that we’re on the right path.