Ephesians 1:9-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 11, 2005


We’ve been working our way through what has been called the “longest sentence in the Bible”.  It’s a sentence in which Paul has been describing some of the spiritual blessings that God has blessed us with.

Why is this important?  Because learning to receive these blessings becomes the key to how to walk as a Christian.  I can be gracious to others because God is gracious to me.  I can forgive others because God has forgiven me.  I can love others because God loves me.

:9-11 More heavenly blessings

:9 having made known to us the mystery of His will,

willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

This is one of the ways that God has made His grace to abound to us (vs. 7-8), in making known to us the mystery of His will.

:9 according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,

God’s will for us has been determined by His “good pleasure”. God’s will for us is good. It is not something to be afraid of.

(Jer 29:11 NASB) 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.


God’s Will

A fellow called his girlfriend and said, “Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t figure out how to get it started.” His girlfriend asked, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?” The fellow said, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a tiger.” His girlfriend decided to go over and help with the puzzle. He let her in and showed her where he had the puzzle spread all over the table. She studied the pieces for a moment, looked at the box, then turned to him and said, “First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger.” She took his hand and said, “Second, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of hot chocolate and then,” she sighed, “let’s put all these frosted flakes back in the box.”
For some of us, we feel like figuring out God’s will is like putting together some monster jigsaw puzzle.  And for others of us, we think the puzzle is more like a mess of frosted flakes all over the table.
But the truth is, God’s will doesn’t have to be an impossible puzzle, and He wants you to know what His will is for your life.
The importance of the will of God
It’s what gets us into heaven – and one part of it specifically, believing in Jesus Christ.  Jesus said …

Mt 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Joh 6:40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

God’s will is for people to be saved:

(1 Tim 2:3-4 NKJV) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, {4} who desires (or, “wills”) all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is the first and most important thing that God wants for your life. God wants you to spend eternity in heaven with Him, and that will only happen when you choose to do things God’s way, and that means learning to trust in Jesus Christ.

All of mankind has a huge problem. We sin. We do bad things. And sin carries a penalty in this universe – the penalty is sin.

But God has taken care of our penalty by having His Son, Jesus, die in our place. He paid our penalty.

And now all you must do is trust Jesus. You must follow Jesus.

There are people who want to know what God’s will is for their life, but when it comes to Jesus, they don’t want to follow Him just yet.

In the days of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze. 14), some of the leaders of the nation came to Ezekiel and asked him to tell them if God had any new things to say. God’s response was that He wasn’t going to tell them anything until they took care of the problem of their sin.

When it comes to knowing God’s will, be sure you take care of first things first. God wants you to know Him, and that can only happen when you come to put your life in the hands of Jesus.

Once you’ve trusted in Jesus, the issue of God’s will becomes, “what next”?


How to find God’s will for my life

There are actually lots of ways in the Bible that people have used to determine what God’s will is – things like “laying out a fleece”, asking God to speak through a prophet, receiving direct revelation from God Himself through dreams or visions, or through strange and unusual circumstances.
I want to focus on four things that we all have available to us.
1. Prayer
Jesus taught us to pray about God’s will:

Mt 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven.

One of the keys to prayer is learning to ask for the things that are God’s will.

1Jo 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Sometimes we learn God’s will through the process of prayer. Sometimes by getting what we’ve asked for, other times by not getting what we’ve asked for.

God says,

(Jer 33:3 NKJV) 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

2. God’s Word
God has already shown us many things in His Word.

There are many times when we will face a decision where God’s answer is already clearly spelled out. These are areas where we don’t need to wonder if this is what God wants, because He’s already told us that this is what He wants.

Being sexually pure

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

Being thankful

1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Doing good

1Pe 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men——

These are things where there is no discussion. These are things God wants in all of our lives.  And there are many more things like these in Scripture.
God’s Word may not specifically answer some of my questions like, “Which job should I take?”, but it puts us on the right track, puts us in the right frame of mind to make our own decision correctly.

I believe that sometimes God wants us to make our own decisions simply based on a mind that has been renewed and directed by Him. And then we take that mind, think, and make the best decision we can.


The proud father brought home a backyard swing set for his children and immediately started to assemble it with all the neighborhood children anxiously waiting to play on it. After several hours of reading the directions, attempting to fit bolt A into slot B, etc., he finally gave up and called upon an old handyman working in a neighboring yard. The old-timer came over, threw the directions away, and in a short while had the set completely assembled. It’s beyond me,” said the father, “how you got it together without even reading instructions.” “To tell the truth,” replied the old-timer, “I can’t read, and when you can’t read, you’ve got to think.”

I believe that there are going to be some decisions that aren’t about right and wrong, but more about personal taste and thinking.

3. A heart yielded to God
Is it wise for a Christian to follow the old adage, “Just follow your heart”? It is under certain circumstances.
(Rom 12:1-2 NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

When these principles become a part of my life – being a living sacrifice, being dedicated to God, not allowing the world to influence me but letting God work in my mind, then I will find God’s will happening in my life.

And the things that happen will show everyone how awesome and good God’s will is.

(Psa 37:4 NKJV) Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

This is the same principle – if the desire of my heart is the Lord, then He will put new desires into my heart. This is not about getting everything you ask for at Christmas. This is about having new desires, God-desires. I find myself wanting to do the things that God wants my to do.

If my heart is in the right place, then yes, I can pay attention to what my heart says.

4. Wise counsel
This isn’t always a perfect solution because even our closest friends can sometimes steer us wrong. But this is an important principle for us to consider, that God can use the counsel of other people to help with direction.

(Prov 12:15 NKJV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

It’s not even a bad idea to get more than one opinion.

(Prov 11:14 NKJV) Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

:10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times

We could translate this, “that in the managing of the end of times …”

:10 He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him.

We’ve been talking about different aspects of God’s will for our lives, but here Paul is going to talk about one specific area of God’s will. This is what the “mystery” (vs. 9) is all about …

gather togetheranakephalaiomai (“up” (or “again”) + “head”) – to sum up (again), “to bring back to and gather round the main point”, “to head up”, or “to head again”

(Eph 1:10 NIV) …to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

This speaks of a day in the future when Jesus will rule over all.

Part of this mystery of summing things up involves the joining of the Jews and the Gentiles, which Paul will talk about in Eph. 3:1-6.

But it seems that it goes beyond Jews and Gentiles – Paul talks about things in heaven and on earth being under Jesus. Paul writes to the Romans that even all of creation is looking forward to the day that Jesus comes back and makes everything right (Rom. 8:19-22)

In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis writes stories about the creatures, the animals, even the trees as if they are alive and waiting for the coming back of the lion Aslan, the King of Narnia.

In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had this strange dream. It had to do with the future of the world. In this dream he saw a huge statue that represented the various human empires through history. At the end of the dream, he saw a stone shatter the statue and become a mountain that covered the entire earth.

(Dan 2:44 NKJV) "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
What Nebuchadnezzar was seeing was a picture of when Jesus comes back to the earth and sets up His kingdom to rule over the earth.

As much as we should applaud the peace efforts of politicians around the world, the truth is that ultimate world peace is not going to be achieved apart from Jesus. It isn’t going to happen until Jesus returns.


Under Jesus

This is one of the areas that is right in the center of God’s will for us, not just in the future, but even right now.
Jesus is not just a part of God’s plan, He is God’s plan.  God’s intent isn’t just to let Jesus help Him out, God’s goal is that one day everything will be under the rule and authority of Jesus Christ.
Here’s one of the areas where this impacts my life:  Who is in control?
I like to feel like I have some measure of control in my life.  There’s a part of me that wants very much for things to go the way I want them to go.
In relationships, I will often experience conflict because I want to go right and the other person wants to go left.  And then I have to figure out how to get them to go my way.
But God’s plan is not to bring all things under MY control, but to bring all things under the control of Jesus.
I need to make sure of one thing – that MY heart is under the control of Jesus.  That’s where the peace comes in my life, when I know I’m doing what Jesus wants.
When Peter heard about what kind of death he would be facing in his later years, all he could think about was how unfair it seemed.  He asked Jesus about what would happen to John – would John have it as bad as he would?  Again, I think it’s a matter of control, wanting things to be the way I want them to be.  Jesus’ response to Peter was:

 (John 21:22 NKJV) …"If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

I need to be concerned about one thing, that I am under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Peace comes to my life when Jesus is my head, when I am under His authority.