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Description: You Are appointed by God in Christ
You are Appointed by God in Christ
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The past few weeks we’ve been talking about God’s plan to bring everything together in Jesus at the
end of the world, and I think that was Verse 10. Today we will begin the next verse which talks
specifically about our own lives and particularly about the plan for us and I think it runs this
way, and I’ll just give it as literally I translated the Greek before we look at the Revised
Standard Version (RSV), “Inside Jesus and in connection with him we were assigned a lot as
predestinated according to the purpose of the will of him who works all things according to the
counsel of his will.” So that’s as literally as you could do it from the Greek.
In Jesus, in connection with him, and inside him we, ourselves, have been assigned a lot as being
predestinated or as having been predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things
according to the counsel of his will. That’s it and you’ll see the importance of the translation in
a moment when you look at the RSV [Revised Standard Version Bible]. The RSV puts in the next verse
those words, “We have been assigned a lot as having been predestinated.” It puts that into the next
verse as, “We have been appointed and destined.” So that’s the way it translates and that’s why
you’ll miss those words. At first I thought, “Oh, the RSV has left out a whole important phrase,”
but it puts it into the next verse.
So let’s look at the RSV and at least start there and then we can get down to the details. It’s
Ephesians 1:10. And so God has said through Paul, “This is a plan that I have at the end of the
time to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.” And then in Verse 11,
“In him,” that is in Jesus, “according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according
to the counsel of his will.” So it puts in the next verse the “we have been given” or “we were
assigned a lot.”
So first of all look at the words “in him.” “In him” means – well, it can mean two things, it’s
really just in Greek, it’s just that, it’s just the “in him” which is “en” and probably we would
translate that we are actually in Jesus — in him. It means in Jesus in the sense that you are
God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works he has prepared beforehand that you should
walk in them, in that sense first of all. Inside Jesus, we are inside Jesus at this moment and
that’s why it still is effectual for us, because we are in him. So it’s inside Jesus and it can
mean secondary in connection with Jesus.
In other words, it’s really because Jesus has experienced this that we also therefore experienced it
as part of him. You’ll see what we experienced in a moment because the word is a Greek word. It’s
“klerothemen.” “Klero” is the side that means ‘we’ and this is the side that means we were
‘assigned a lot’ and that’s a very literal translation of – of the verb “proorizo” is a lot, where
you cast a lot. But we were assigned a lot means we were given a function; we were given a part to
Now, you’ll notice that actually RSV later on and other versions translate it we were given a
heritage or we have inherited, we have received an inheritance. And in a way, that’s true that in
Jesus we have received an inheritance but really the meaning of it here in this particular verse is
we were assigned a lot. That is, we were given a part to play. We were given a function and we
were given it in connection with Christ. We were given a function or a lot in connection with
Christ – it’s the same as somebody giving you, “You’ve to trim the front hedge once a month.” It’s
being given a definite thing to do. It’s being given a definite responsibility, a definite part to
pay and so that’s what it means, we each one were assigned a lot, we were given a part to play. But
you were given it in connection with Jesus.
You’ll smile at this but the nail on Jesus’ toe is Marty and Jesus’ leg, foot, and toes, and nails
have a whole life to live here on earth and the nail has a part too in the life of it. So in
connection with Jesus, we each one were given a part to play. We’ve been given a thing to do. We
aren’t sent here to try to find out what we can do for the Lord. We aren’t. We aren’t sent here to
try to work out our natural talents and abilities in some way that will bring glory to God. We
aren’t. It’s much more different than that. In Jesus, in whom we were created before the world
was, in him, we as part of him have been given a part to play, a function. It was all planned from
the beginning and that’s what that means.
It means that you and I come – we’re really as Wordsworth said in his poem because we “come trailing
clouds of glory.” We come from heaven as children trailing clouds of glory. We come trailing
behind us the Savior. We come as a bit of Jesus with something to do. Not something that you and I
have to do individually, but something that we do as part of him. Something actually that he does.
It’s something that he – he did not come to earth to think, “Now, what will I do? Will I become a
mighty preacher who will live for hundreds of years and preach to thousands of people generation
after generation? Or, will I die on the cross?” He didn’t come not knowing.
The Bible says quite often you remember, “He came to die.” He came with a definite purpose and a
definite function. Now, we come just with as definite a function. That’s what this verse is
saying. We were assigned a lot. It’s actually even more than the example I used of going and
trimming a hedge because the word that follows ‘eklerothemen’ is the word ‘prooristhentes’ and
‘proorizo’ is that word predestined and this is actually the aorist verb tense. The aorist is the
past tense in Greek that lays emphasis on the past event whereas the perfect tense lays emphasis on
the present state that is the result of that past event. So this is a very historical kind of
It emphasizes, “This happened.” Having been predestinated, even though we translate it that way, it
is the aorist. Having been predestinated, it’s the aorist part of the verb — having been
predestinated or having been predestined. In other words, we were assigned a lot in Jesus, before
the world was, having been predestinated the same way that he was, having been predestinated for a
certain purpose. And that’s the lot that we’ve – we’ve been assigned a lot, having been
predestinated. In other words, we were designed for the job that Jesus intends to do through us.
We were designed for it. The job was designed; the whole thing was planned carefully. It is not
due to your mother having blue eyes. It is not due to your father being a sinner — you’re a
sinner. There is only one reason you are what you are, you were assigned a lot in Christ having
been predestinated for that.
Now predestinated means the path, the path is there. The path – each step, God knows, he has
foreseen it. You are created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that
you should walk in them. This is not – this is not a wide desert and you are here and will you go
there? No, you’ll go there. No, you’ll maybe go there. No, it isn’t that. It is a path; you’ve
been assigned a lot having been predestinated. Now you’re the same as me because for years I just
reacted in a knee jerk childish way to that.
Actually the Bible doesn’t have any of that kind of reaction at all. Well, you know the reaction,
the reaction is, “Oh, I’m predestinated so I’m a machine so that means it doesn’t matter what I do
I’m just like the Buddhist, or the Hindus. I’m just like Allah, praise be to Allah. Fate rules,
I’m a fatalist. There’s no point in me doing anything because what is going to happen is going to
happen.” So you come up with this whole reaction against this and you say, “No, no, there is no
such thing as predestinated in that way. No there isn’t, because it would take away my free will
and it would make me just a machine in the hands of an unfeeling God.” We react that way.
The Bible of course does not say that at all. Why? Because it is absolutely sure, as any
commonsensical person would be who doesn’t get into our kind of thinking. It is just absolutely
sure that the infinite mind of God is well able to bring about his will and at the same time give
our free wills full play. Every lady who asks, “Would you like to go downtown?” Now I won’t dare
to say Marty or Greg, I’ll just say Ernest, “Would you like to go downtown, Ernest?” “No, I
wouldn’t.” “We could pass that motorcycle shop.” It just has that kind of atmosphere to it
because we humans need the perfect love of our Father but we have our ways of getting things. But
even we can make sure that the other person has their free will and they exercise their free will,
and they are well able to say no. And yet we are able to lead them in a certain way.
Obviously, there are ways in which we can exercise our will over them that are not fair and that
steal their free will from them. So really, the rightness, or the fairness of it will finally
depend on the person who is exercising that power. But that’s why the verse in a way goes on to
say, “According to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
What is his purpose? Well, just look at it. It’s expressed in so many places but probably none
more beautiful than Matthew 18:14. Matthew 18:14 — maybe you should go back to verse 10 as it
gives you the whole spirit of it.
Matthew 18:10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,” Jesus says, “For I tell you
that in heaven there angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you
think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the
ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it,
truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So
it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
That’s it. That’s the purpose of our Father. According to the purpose of him that works all things
according to the counsel of his will. Who is this one that has assigned us a lot having been
predestinated in Jesus? Is he a Hitler? Is he a Stalin? Is he a dreadful cruel independent
creature who has no love? He is the one who says, “It is not the will of our Father that one of
these people cherish.”
So the purpose of him who works all things according to his will is filled with his grace and his
love so we’re in the hands not of some insane maniac who wants to make us robots. We are in exact
opposition position of that, we’re in the hands of a dear, loving Father who will suffer himself so
that we will have free will to choose to love him. So, this is the one who works all things
according to the counsel of his will. The Bible sees no contradiction between God having a plan
for our lives and yet taking care to ensure that we exercise fully our free will.
How does he do it? Well, loved ones, we of all people should have no difficulty with it. I forget
what is the last combination of parallel computing that they have pulled off but it was just maybe
two or three months ago. No, maybe a month ago and you know what they’ve found now instead of
Cray’s Supercomputers by linking lots of computers together in parallel, they can of course perform
far more calculations. I forgot the number of calculations but it’s millions. This system can
perform millions of calculations per second.
The Bible assumes very reasonably that the infinite mind of the Creator of the universe is well able
to perform millions, infinitely millions of calculations per second. And, “I’m going to pray Lord.
Well, no I haven’t time.” “But I knew that.” “Yes, but now I feel guilty and I feel I should make
time.” “Well, I knew that.” “Yeah, but there’s somebody at the door and I can’t.” “Well, I knew
that.” “Well yes, but that person is reminding me that it’s time to pray.” “Well, I knew that.”
You see, the Father knows. Our Father with his infinite mind can see every event you have happen to
you. Our guarantee that he preserves our free will is not at all in our ability to out commit God.
It’s not at all in some mysterious and I would say dangerous situation that he creates where he
makes a lot of little things and has no idea at all what they’re going to do and just has to catch
them as best he can when they occur. Our confidence in the freedom of will is not built on those
ridiculous scenarios. The confidence that we have that we have free will is in our Father’s loving
heart and the troubles he has gone through with Jesus to ensure that we could even kill him if we
chose to do it. That’s why it seems to me, utterly safe to take this at its face value that each
one of us, we’re assigned a lot, we’re assigned a certain life to live and certain things to do in
Jesus, and we were predestinated. “Proorizo” actually is a Greek word that also has the meaning of
designed, when we’re predesigned for it. You are just right for it.
Your weaknesses are just right? Yes, you’re weaknesses are just right. Your strength is just
right? Yes, your strengths are just right. Yes, everything that you are and have at this moment is
just right for the lot that God has assigned to you in Jesus. You’ve been predestinated for that,
according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. And you
know if you say, “Well, yeah but look at all the other people in this huge world — there are six
billion of them and they’re all doing things that are impacting my little life in all kinds of
ways.” Yes, but the Father is able to do an infinite number of calculations and he foresees every
one of them. And can he effect these things in such a way that his will for you will be fulfilled?
Yes he can.
What is the great value of this? Well, of course, first of all the truth, it’s truth. That’s the
value of it. But certainly it brings a completely different feeling in your own heart if you begin
to realize, “You mean, I am here with something definite that God wants to do through me and that
Jesus is going to do through me? You mean that there is a definite plan here and I can exercise my
will freely and as I’m exercising my free will, lo and behold, it is Christ himself exercising his
will. But what if you exercise a will that isn’t his?” But you can’t because God has foreseen
that, and that, and that, and that, and that and so the two go along together. I know it’s – it’s
difficult for us to grasp because we have difficulty in time getting away from the idea of sequence
— of one thing following another. But in eternity, there is no sequence, everything is one great
eternal moment and so God sees it all at that moment.
I suppose it is – I suppose you could use the illustration that we’ve used before about a
procession. The little guy looking through the hole in the fence and seeing just the trumpets
going passed, and then the drums go pass, and the soldiers going passed. His brother climbs on the
garden shed and there he can see not only what the little guy can see through the hole in the fence,
but he can see the people who haven’t passed yet, who are on their way. He has seen the people who
have passed and on their way there. And obviously, he can see that his crowd is going to have
difficulty getting through this gate so he can arrange for somebody else to open that gate for them.
God sees the end from the beginning and our lives are not just little wisps of smoke that might go
this way or might go that way, our lives are definite paths that Jesus is planning to walk and he
can only walk it if we walk it fully and freely. In fact, the difficulty that we present to him is
when we are worried about what the next step is and our mind goes off the joyful present and goes
onto this unknown future, or goes into the past that cannot be changed. That is a moment when we
make it very difficult for Christ to get us onto the right track. But it is his will that we should
walk every moment joyfully in the present.
The examples are all through the Bible. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers out of
jealousy. You remember, he was thrown into prison. It looked as if everything was finished. God
already knew the outcome because God knew in his mind that he had to actually bring the Israelites
into slavery in Egypt to work what he had to work in them. Then he had to get them back from Egypt
and back up to the Promised Land. So, Joseph eventually rose into favor of Pharaoh and Pharaoh
appointed him as the governor of Egypt. And as the governor of Egypt, he was looked upon as the one
who distributed all the food to those who had famine and of course, his own brothers and his father,
they were in the midst of famine back there in the kingdom. And they came down, and you remember
the rest of the story.
That was an example of God working all things according to the counsel of his will that is
obviously, his glory and is obviously, his prosperity. But we make a great mistake if we judge
whether God’s working all things according to the counsel of his will and what we see in this
present short term situation. We make a grave error if we do that. We’ve real trouble with Calvary
— real trouble with crucifixion if we’re interpreting it just in the short term. It looks as if
God has not worked all things according to the counsel of his will.
Another example, if you want to look at it is in Acts 7:54. Stephen is preaching. Acts 7:54, “Now
when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he,
full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right
hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the
right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together
upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnessed laid down their
garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this
sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” If you judge that according to the
short term, God certainly isn’t working all things according to the counsel of his will, but the
next verse, “And Saul,” the young man who was standing by his garments, “Saul was consenting to his
But if you ignore it, verse 58b, “And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young
man named Saul.” You’d say, “Oh, this is just unmitigated disaster. This is one of the moments
when certainly God has not worked all things according to the counsel of his will.” Yes, but God
was doing it at His own time and His own way. So it’s very important in our own lives for us not to
look at things in the short term but to see that yes, God is here and he does work all things
according to the counsel of his will.
Karl (Charles) Gutzlaff [1803-1851] was an old German, a very intelligent man who long before Hudson
Taylor started the Chinese Mission was working in China. Gutzlaff was there really almost before
anybody and he created a European mission to China and he himself interpreted, acted as interpreter
for the British government in negotiations. Unfortunately in some of the negotiations even
regarding heroin. But all the time he himself was – night and day he would be going around
door-to-door in China with tracts and he would be writing and translating the Bible into Chinese.
So he was way ahead of everybody else.
Eventually, there was a disastrous publicity situation that occurred because some of the men that he
had trusted had been coming back to England and giving all kinds of false accounts each showing
testimonies that people were writing of receiving Christ and then they would collect the money and
go back. There was a story that all the testimonies were a bluff, there were no people converted,
that it was just all made up by the mission. On the surface, Gutzlaff was a brilliant man but what
became of his mission regarding the whole vision of China was false because of others. The “success’
was based all on his work.
So it’s important for us to see that this is true whether we can prove it at this time or not. It
is true that each one of us, in Jesus, and as part of him, have been assigned a lot as having been
predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his
will and that’s why we’re here.
Let us pray.