Sermon: God Works in Mysterious Ways (Part Four)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 20-Jan-18; 68 minutes
Since being baptized in 1959, I have been reading occasional articles written by secularists regarding the reason, or reasons, for their disbelief in the existence of God. Their resistance to submitting to God generally follows two general lines of thinking. The first is the outright disbelief in His existence, and their belief is based almost always within the theory of evolution. The second reason is less pointed, in that people complain that there is a Creator God, but He does not provide mankind with a full and detailed purpose for His creation.
I believe, though I have never questioned any of them, that these people want a full disclosure presentation, maybe personally from Him, and they will take care of things after that. The real reason is, unfortunately, that they do not want to do any thinking or analysis at all regarding God's existence.
This specific sermon began well before the Feast of Tabernacles, when I noticed, while doing some research on a different subject altogether, that the apostle Paul was both explaining and defending God’s mode of operation during that three-chapter inset, and he was doing it in print in Romans 9-11. There is no doubt in reading the content of those three chapters that the Jewish converts that Paul was writing to were upset, offensively jealous, because so many new converts were Gentiles.
The Jews desired continuing separation from Gentiles because they believed that their religious beliefs were given by God as their private possession. I am not saying that this was a uniform disbelief of theirs; it was just something that was pretty common. When I begin giving a sermon a little bit later on the book of Hebrews, I am going to stress that at the beginning, how strong that resistance was against Christianity, with Gentiles coming into what they believed was their private possession from God.
That three-chapter inset concludes at the very end of Romans 11, with Paul’s statement saying, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Did you know that right in the middle of the book of Romans Paul puts an Amen, so be it? When I was reading that I got to thinking about what Paul's attitude when he got there. What he said was certainly a very good praise of God, but I believe at this point in time that he was pretty upset at the Jews’ attitude toward the Gentiles. That is why he put that “Amen,” so be it, that is the way it is going to be.
I think that saying that as he had there pretty well encapsulates Paul’s thoughts on these three chapters. The reality is that bold but spiritually ignorant people are always calling God into account, blaming Him for their failures that are mainly caused by their ignorance and rejection of what He says. Their misaligned focus, and thus hardness of heart which motivates their rejection of God and His word, is the bottom-line cause of Paul’s writing this response directed at them.
God makes it quite clear that they have no excuse for their rejection of God. So He continues on with gentle tact. The apostle is asking, “Who in the world do you Jews think you are calling God into account for the manner in which He determines to operate His purpose. It is His creation, He has every right to call and convert Gentiles into His Kingdom, if He so desires.”
I decided to use that theme during my Feast sermons. I was highly displeased with the way I delivered them, even while we were still in Nashville. So after the Feast, I decided to do them again hoping that I would give you a better telling of the story that was going on there. Since that time, I believe that I have learned a great deal. I feel more satisfied with my efforts at teaching since I redid them.
This sermon, I am not sure whether it will be the last of this specific series (right now I think it is), regarding man’s complaints as compared to God’s realistic way within His program.
Please turn to a scripture, as we begin, that I feel had a very great impact on that entire series, because it tells us a great deal about what we are, why we are, and the kind of difficulties that we have between us and God. Turn to Romans 8. In one sense, though the whole book of Romans is a doctrinal masterpiece, this part here is especially helpful in terms of converted people, and knowing why it is that we have so much trouble overcoming.
Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Paul is describing two different kinds of people, converted, and unconverted. Those who are just as carnal as anything, and then there is those who are spiritually minded. The people who are carnally minded are those who focus on, have a very difficult time drawing their mind away from earthly things. That is why we have trouble overcoming. When we focus on God, we look heavenly, we keep in contact with Him, praying, studying, then we have a very great chance to be much more spiritually minded.
I am sure that you will recall that I drew attention to the fact that it is this earthly focus that the natural mind has that makes it so difficult to overcome, it does not by nature look to the heavens for help, its strength, subsistence. What feeds it, as it were, what gets its attention are earthly things.
I want you to think for a moment here of how strong, influential the carnal mind is. I have given this before, this illustration, but I want you to be reminded of it. It is helpful to recall that Adam and Eve, the original created beings, rejected God’s word and rule during their first test. You might think that is not so bad. We are perusing this thing about how influential is this carnal nature. First of all, they have never even visited anyone in the world in order to come in contact with worldly people. They had, as far as we know, no contact until that first contact with the serpent. He was not influencing them. They only had one Teacher that the Bible mentions and that was God Himself to go with no experience in the world to twist their minds.
Did they sin? They were focused on their own desires, earthly desires. So yes, that is why they sinned. I want you to understand with no previous experience in the world they still sinned. It is easy to blame this carnality on the world, it is easy to blame it on Satan. What about excusing Adam and Eve? They had none of that and they still sinned, because the influence was in them from God’s creation of them, so that they would turn to their own desires even before they would turn to Him.
We have a battle on our hands, and we carry it with us everywhere we go. The only solution is to get the help that we need from our Savior Jesus Christ, through prayer, study, and those kind of spiritual things which Paul put there in Colossians, where he said, we have to look heavenly, and focus on those things so that we are able to overcome.
What I did in that previous sermon is that I humanized the carnal nature so that we could get a better handle on it. The carnal nature within us is, as it were, unalterably fixed on self-determination. That is what Adam and Eve did. That is why they sinned. They were determined within themselves to carry out what they wanted to do. That influence, that nature within us, is so strong it will even reject the Creator. Even when He is right there!
That nature is fixed, it is set, focused, of earthly things. It resists godly thinking with assistance from Satan now, and great and deceptive determination within itself because it is strongly desires to retain control of its dominion over one’s life, rather than submit to God’s sovereignty. So we must deal with this ever-present challenge within our relationship with God.
As I said a little bit earlier in this sermon, this is a very important section to understand why we sin. We bear this with us in our life, minute by minute. It is not that it is so terrible that it can overpower us, it can though take control of things. That is why we are given the advice by the apostle Paul.
Just recognize that we must deal with this ever-present challenge within our relationship with God. It is interesting that that (Romans 8) appears just before just before chapters 9-11, where Paul had a little bit of a set-to there with the Jews that were complaining about God converting Gentiles.
Here is my specific purpose statement, it is what I want to accomplish in this sermon. First of all, it is not a scientifically detailed account. It is not documented, nor pointed toward proving God and His Word to others. Rather, I view it as a simple scriptural support to our understanding of God’s existence. Something that we can maybe have notes on and turn to from occasion to occasion.
Here is where we begin scripturally. Besides clearly and dogmatically telling mankind in Genesis 1 and 2 that He created planet earth, and He also created and He gave life to mankind, I it is also He set them a course, a path, a way of life to live by in His creation. It sets a pattern of evidence that God also gives more detailed evidence of elsewhere in the Bible, that much thorough planning was given to what the Father through Jesus Christ created. God did not leave us guessing in His creation.
The earth is not a slap dash creation. So, in this message I want to give you a small number of biblical evidences of the purposeful planning involved in and clearly noted within the Scriptures of creation having taken place.
Remember how I began this. There are two general reasons why people reject God. One is ignorance and the other is simply not believing Him at all. I want us to have something that we can use as a resource to turn to every once in a while, or parents you can use it to help teach your children about God and creation.
So, I will be giving you an outline of statements God clearly placed within the Scriptures for people to thoughtfully discover, meditate upon, and believe in if they will make the efforts. As I mentioned in one other previous sermons, it does not take a Isaac Newton or an Albert Einstein to prove Gods existence.
God mostly deals with people of only average intelligence, according to I Corinthians the first chapter. This is one reason why unconverted mankind is without excuse regarding God’s existence. It is the earthly focus of the carnal nature that is a far greater problem than God’s existence, and the creation having been taken place.
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Many people, including among those calling themselves Christians, are unaware that two distinct Personalities working together in perfect harmony at the time these verses in John 1 recalls as, in the beginning. That is, at the beginning of planet earth’s history regarding mankind. The apostle John clearly shows that both Personalities were God beings. Each was a separate personality clearly distinguishable from the other. That distinctiveness is reinforced by adding that the one titled as the Word, was not only God in His own person, He was also with God.
Thus we are dealing with one personality who God was with, and another separate personality who was also God. Now, God titled as the Word is with, is later identified by Jesus Christ by His calling that God (the other one), My Father, or in more general terms something else. I want to turn to these, I want you to see them. They are simple but they are informative.
That clearly states that the relationship between the two Gods is a Father-Son relationship. He calls God His Father.
John 5:30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”
Now He generalizes it. It is not Mine, it is “the.” He is expanding the possible explanation to a generality, and that He is possibly also the Father of many others likewise. We do not know that yet.
Thus by this verbal action that Jesus makes here in Matthew, it shows a family relationship exists between the two Personalities that are both called God. In John 1 they clearly stand identified as separate but related God beings.
Colossians 1:13-17 He [the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [First born in this case is not being used as being the first within a family. It means one of the utmost prominence, position, power.] For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Here in Colossians 1, it clarifies the scene in John 1:1-3 further by explaining that though the God the Word was with is generally thought of as the Creator, the actual laborer in producing all things at the beginning is the One the Bible identifies as Jesus of Nazareth.
The one born as Jesus of Nazareth is the literal Creator of planet earth, and all things within it. It was He who was the primary designer and actual Being who gave life to every living thing. Making a success of planet earth is His assignment. He also designed, established, and put into operation the laws, forces, and energies for earth to enable it to have weather patterns, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts, and floods. Jesus was the designer and the Father approved. No doubt He joined in as well, to some degree at any rate.
Jesus Christ not only created mankind, but also horses, dogs, cats, goats, cows, bulls, chickens, sheep, lions, tigers, bears, ducks, snakes, the majestic soaring eagle, prickly porcupine, prairie dogs. What an imagination He has! You can blame Him for the mosquitoes, oaks, and great sequoia, evergreen trees, colorful flowers in tremendous variety. We find in Romans 1 why He created such a variety. Here is one reason why:
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [people, human beings, unconverted] are without excuse.
Why did He make such a huge variety of animals? To learn of God, to learn characteristics, because in some way they are patterned from Him, and from His mind. The creation of all these animals are purposeful, almost to an extreme, as though mankind could not possibly miss it, but they have. That is why God says, “they are without excuse,” these unconverted people. He created this vast array and variety for our learning, for our enjoyment, and for our use in living life in the environment, fulfilling a purpose by designing a way of life, He also prepared for us to accomplish as we live.
He designed and built earth that we might learn of Him and His Father by studying into what He created. To see and to understand our Creators’ characteristics. What minds They have, and all we perceive is but a tiny display of Their mind’s totality.
Each one of these creatures that I named shares some similarity and we are able to discern the patterns of a common Designer, but on the other hand each of these living things is distinctly different from each other, and each serves a somewhat different purpose. Not only are they somewhat different from each other, all of them are capable of reproducing themselves, and when they do reproduce they only reproduce what they already are.
There is the magnificent Being up in heaven and that is what He is doing too. He is reproducing Himself, just like all of creation has been given the power to do—to reproduce only itself. When they do that, they are doing so according to the script as God designed them. He did this on purpose.
Let us turn our exploration in another direction, that of God’s purpose for mankind. This is the issue some of mankind has a contention with. Does God clearly define a purpose in His Word so that those who claim he does not might be answered? Or at least you might have a partial answer yourself.
Acts 2:23-24 [Peter is speaking] “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
God was determined to put Jesus Christ to death. It was necessary for His purpose.
Acts 2:23 (Amplified) This Jesus [Peter says], when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose [it was foreordained] and settled plan [it was not going to be changed] and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men.
Now an item needs to be determined as to how early did God plan, purpose, and determine the Creator would be crucified to pay the sins of, and thus save, mankind.
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
That is when it was predetermined that He would be put to death, and we will see why it was unalterable even at that time. Jesus Christ, our Savior and Messiah, is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It clearly indicates God knew mankind would choose to sin and destroy himself, because He purposely created mankind to have multiple opportunities to sin.
The phrase, “foundation of the world” as used here is clearly referring to time before earth and mankind were created. The foundation is the first part of a structure built, and as His purpose was being formed He did not create us to sin.
Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
That was God’s will to the first man and first woman, do not sin. He did not create us to sin, He created us not to sin. God created us to resist sin, that is what God taught Adam and Eve. But He gave us the opportunity to sin by giving us free moral agency. Resisting sin is important to His purpose of creating man in His image. How do I know why? Because God does not sin, therefore one created in His image will not sin.
Reasoning these things out is actually, once you have the clues and once you believe in God, is not hard. As a counter measure to this liberty, He also introduced and designed the death penalty for sin. The wages of sin is death. So, when we sin the result is death. Thus, He introduced an element of fear as a counterbalance to assist mankind toward making right choices.
Jesus Christ’s death, our very Creator’s death, as a redemption payment for our sins to enable mankind to escape the death penalty under strictly set standards was planned from the beginning. Therefore, our Creator was prepared with a solution to meet the challenge of details of Their purpose that was planned and being formed. This detail was clearly needed, that is, the wages of sin, and also Jesus Christ’s death.
Another way of saying it is that His death as payment for our sins was already in the blueprints. It was approved by the Chief Architect—the Father—the Designer, and Chief Engineer that this would occur before the first shovelful of dirt was removed from the ground, so to speak. He gave us the chance not to sin, but we did, very quickly.
His death was timed as to when it would happen within the flow of the overall purpose as it unfolded. It was also predetermined as to where His death would occur, at least the city, Jerusalem.
What does it mean when people complain that there is no plan shown by the Creator? We are just scratching the surface here, brethren, and yet they say there is no plan, I think the real reason is because they are not willing to dig it out. They just want it to be handed to them and receive the benefits from it. But God is not doing that, it is not good for us that that should be done.
As the unbelievers are searching the Bible, they are resisting what He is teaching, or they are not reading with understanding, comparing scripture with scripture. This does not mean this information does not give an indication that it is a strong hint that other notable events were also planned besides His death.
Colossians 1:15-19 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. |All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.
What he is saying there without directly saying is that Jesus Christ is going to inherit all things. He is not only Creator, He is not only Ruler, He is going to inherit all things.
Let us go back to Matthew 25. In addition to that major occasion with Christ coming in His glory, we have this parable here involving sheep and goats.
Matthew 25:31-46 “When the son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not minister You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into the everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.”
This parable involving sheep and goats, symbolizing categories involved in the completion of the project, God’s project, is addressed. In this case, sheep represent those who have been judged qualified to live within what God has created. Goats represents those who have failed. Therefore, judgmental standards were delved into before the foundation of the world.
We are being judged on our conduct, and from this parable here, it gives us a very strong indication, both with the sheep and the goats, that a great deal hinges on how we treat each other, and whether we are helpers of those who are deprived—whether we lift them up out of the dirt, as we feed them when they are hungry, when we come to their aid when they are stricken. That is the kind of work Christ did. And He wants to know if our heart is going to be soft enough to be able to be appealed to and come to the aide of those who are not well off.
Would the Father and the Son actually need to be able to judge? To some degree, yes. But they would not really need it. We are the ones who need these judgments to be in our mind so that we take advantage of the opportunities that we would have throughout our life.
It was determined by Them (again it is not very hard for us to understand this), because God did not make the judgmental standards all that high, if you can put it that way. They are high in that they are important things to do. Here in I Corinthians, Paul makes sure that we understand that the standards are not so high that we cannot meet the standards that come across our path.
I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
I know the way that I am by nature, I am a fraidy-cat. I do not think that I will do something before I think that I can do it. Sometimes I learn as I go along, and I found out that I really can do it. But there are things that turn me away from doing things that I should do, and especially upon this particular line that they chose to chew out as the ones who are going to have heavy judgmental responsibility in following through and doing. And that is kindness to others, especially to those who are not as well off as we are. We can take care of others.
One thing that we know from I Corinthians 10:13 is that the standards that They set will be neither oppressive nor enslaving, but clearly guiding as to what our responsibility is within a difficult situation. I think it also interesting that both sheep and goats are clean animals, but one group of them failed, and they were clean too.
Everything that we needed for life was actually provided for us at the beginning of creation. I mean Adam and Eve when life was given. Everything was in place, it was not in operation yet everywhere, and as the world expanded in population and contact with one another became greater and more intense, then things got a little more difficult. But those standards that They set have never been changed since before the world began. What bears a heavy responsibility is our kindness to one another, our willingness to forgive, our willingness to take care of those who we might by nature think are not what we are.
I can understand why Mr. Armstrong said a couple of times that Ephesians was his favorite book and that Ephesians 1 was his favorite chapter in the Bible. If you think about what is here it is really something to meditate upon. We will read ten verses here and they are awesome, if we would just stop to think about Him and what God’s attitude is toward us.
Ephesians 1:3-12 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. [family, or church, we are accepted in the Family of God] In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
In these verses another aspect of God’s project is clearly established before the foundation of the world. These verses come very close to stating that those called were individually predestined to be called before the foundation of the world. It does not quite reach that point, but it comes awfully close to saying it. Which would mean that God knew us all before we were ever born. It does not quite come up to that place.
Even if these verses do not clearly indicate we are predestined individually, it most certainly indicates an organization, a church, would indeed exist (this was before the foundation of the world), so that the Father and Son could deal with of mankind within a group setting basis, where we would have a lot of contact with each other, where we could come to one another’s aide, and help one another in difficult times.
There are three words in verse 11 I want to explore more carefully. I want us to clearly understand God’s emotional state, His mindset, as He was preparing to undertake this task by bringing it to an actual created state. The three words are translated into English as purpose, counsel, and will. They all appear in the same portion of this long sentence by Paul. In fact, they are all in verse 11.
Now understanding what Paul was saying here should affect us who are already called. What does it mean the way He felt about creating us? Was He excited to do it? We should be filled with wondrous humility that we should be given such wonderful spiritual gifts.
Here are Paul’s thoughts as He moved toward the plan. To me, I picture Him ready to strike the first blow of creation. The first step is not done yet. I think this helps us to feel the sense that was in Him. The first word is purpose. In Greek it is prothesis. It is Strong’s #4286. The second word is counsel, boule Strong’s #1012. Will is selema. It is Strong’s #2370.
They have no relationship with one another except as they appear in the sentence together, all three appear in one section of one sentence. They are all related then within the same subject being used by Paul to expand our understanding of the emotional action God took to put this into position. Selema conveys emotion. It is the deep feeling of a desire that we might call in our time and language, a heart’s desire. “I really want to do this!” It is not a mere whim or a passing thought to do something. Rather it indicates a burning desire to accomplish what one is thinking on.
Prothesis denotes an intention or plan. It literally means “a laying out beforehand.” Paul is teaching us that His heartfelt intention was God as Father and Son laying out their plans, participating together in this purpose before the foundation of the world. This was not just a passing fancy, but a success they truly desired for what He was creating.
Boule indicates the sum, the conclusion. That was the result of deliberate determination, as They were planning. They were already anticipating the glorious conclusion. They were looking that far ahead, when we would all be God beings. He was really sharing life with His offspring.
This was not just a passing fancy, but a success that they truly desired for us. Put all of this together and here is what we are studying here. Even as They began they were anticipating with great joy the entire Family formed into the Kingdom of God and moving toward whatever plans the Father and Son were already anticipating doing with us.
God is defined in His own Book as being love. He personifies this powerful and valuable characteristic, and when this paragraph is put together, this is what we find. Paul is teaching us that our being born, our calling, our forgiveness, our conversion, our being given God’s Holy Spirit, being placed in the church and directly into God’s Family as one of God’s adopted children, was not accomplished by a mere scientific mastermind as a more or less mechanical act, but by a series of supremely purposeful acts of love by the very Creator Himself, whose emotional motivations were driving Him.
It was not just another day at the office when this occurred.
We will conclude here in the Amplied where it has been expanded a great deal.
Ephesians 1:3-12 (Amplified) May blessings (praise, laudation, and eulogy), be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated, set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. For He foreordained us, (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—[So that we might be] to the praise and commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and generosity of His gracious favor, which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence), making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously proposed and set forth in Him, [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth. In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we have been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will, so that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!