Etikettarkiv | eph. 1:11

God works all things after the counsel of his own will? Eph. 1:11

secret willGod’s will is that man should use his free will and seek him (see Acts 17)

God has a sovereign freedom to accomplish whatever he chooses, like guaranteeing the proper inheritance to the children of God (which are those who are following Jesus). The promise is to those and no one else.

The following verse is a popular Calvinistic proof text, often quoted (by itself) to support the idea that everything under the sun occurs precisely according to God’s plans, down to every single detail:

Eph. 1:11 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

The verse of course say no such thing (that God’s will always happens), unless we are talking about his will to give man free will and make man responsible for his own actions. Note that it says ”works” all things and not ”cause” all things … The verse does not say that all thoughts, words and deeds are predestined by God, but it rather explains what God does, in terms of providing wonderful promises through Christ.

Councel in Eph. 1:11 is a translation from the Greek noun βουλή (boulé, Strong’s 1012) and could also be translated deliberate wisdom. This noun derives from the verb βούλομαι (boulomai, Strong’s 1014) and means will, intend, desire or wish. 

Some theologians claim that it is also about God planning and arranging all physical circumstances in order to achieve his exact plans which always take place down to the finest detail. This is something the Bible does not say.

The noun boulé occurs 12 times in the KJV Bible. Examples:

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

Quite clearly God’s counsel can be rejected.

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

If God caused and scripted Calvary in all details, why does the text not say so? Instead we can read that his foreknowledge was involved. Knowing about future events is not the same as causing future events.

Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul is clearly not a Calvinist since he does not relax and trust that God’s will always happens and that the elect will remain elect (and the non-elect remain non-elect). He warns people with tears night and day because disciples will be drawn away from the gospel. Why does he do that if nothing can go wrong but always turn out as God wants? Paul rather believes the scriptures, and understands that prayers can make a difference!

Acts 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. — 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.  

Unfortunately Calvinists usually believe that God decrees ”whatsover comes to pass” and are keen to interpret “work all things after the counsel of His will” as though everything pans out exactly as God wills it, both good and bad. That would include God deterministically scripting every murder, rape and abortion that will ever take place! The text, however, must not be read in this sweeping and all-inclusive way. The “all things” refers to all things that God accomplishes in Christ (in a general sense) because this is what the previous verses talk about.

Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Paul provides examples of the above mentioned blessings and promises, which are only meant for those who are IN CHRIST which is the condition for salvation. The eternal purpose is that God’s children, his church will be able to look forward to a guaranteed inheritance waiting for them in the heavenly places. Again, the condition is to be IN CHRIST, and if someone does not endure to the end that person is no longer IN CHRIST and the promises are therefore not tied to him. The ”salvation bus” is predestined to go to heaven and guaranteed to be blessed, but who is in and who remains to the end? That is totally up to us and we know the conditions which are presented to us. Those who are in Christ are considered to be his holy children. The text does not say that the promises are provided with no conditions.

It might be a help to ask oneself what is predestined according to His purpose. In order to get the answer one must of course go back to the previous verses, because a verse can never be read in a vacuum. The answer is again ”the inheritance in Christ! The verse right (v. 12) after says ”That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ”, and v. 13 continues to talk about ”trusting” and ”believing”. It is possible that Paul includes the very first belivers in this sentence, and we should note that ”trusted” is an action that people might choose to do. God will not ”trust” for us or instaed of us. It is rather a condition for salvation. V. 19 says ”the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. The believers are in Christ – again, the condition.

If I would tell someone about my work and say that ”all things” worked out perfectly fine – maybe even after the counsel of my will – the listener would not assume that I just claimed that every single thing in the entire world worked out absolutely great, and that I have solved all the world’s problems. Neither would the listener assume that I claimed to be the cause of all things that I said took place.

Compare:

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Paul is here talking about being content no matter what state he is in (in both good and bad circumstances) and to be able to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Paul is not including everything under the sun in ”all things”, but the term must of course be understood in its context. The verse certainly does not say that byall things” you can do all forms of evil and wickedness through God who strengthens you. Similarly, Eph. 1:11 does not say that the “all things” would include evil and wickedness.

All things work out for good for all people  -more than in a general term?free will 3

Paul promises us in Rom. 8 that all things work out together for good to them that LOVE GOD, which of course is a condition for salvation. If Paul had meant that all things work out for good for all people everywhere, including all details from God’s perspective, then he could have skipped the condition of having to love God.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

In the same chapter Paul explains which conditions that apply for escaping condemnation: 1) You must be IN JESUS, and 2) you must not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. This is something that WE must make sure to do, and God will not do it for us:

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. — 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

He goes on to explain, that if we live according to the flesh (not an obligation), we cannot please God. The solution to the problem is of course to NOT live according to the flesh but after the Spirit:

Rom. 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Paul explains that we definitely do not have to live after the flesh. The choice is clear; if you live after the flesh you will die, and if you live after the Spirit you will live. Who are the sons of God? Those who have chosen to be led by the Spirit of God. If someone lives after the flesh, he can certainly not blame God for it but only himself. The better option is always to live by the Spirit in order to get life:

Rom. 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul tells us about the same wonderful promises of glorification just as in Eph. 1, but again, only for those who are God’s children who live after the Spirit:

Rom. 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Paul repeats again that all things work together for good to them that love God. The ”calling” is widespread because we know from the parable of the King’s wedding feast (Matt. 22) that many of those who were called to participate in the feast (they were even on the guest list) declined to go. One person who actually did go to the feast was still thrown out because he had neglected to wear appropriate clothes (his own responsibility). We are justified when we are cleansed from our past sins, and after this point our goal is to be conformed into the image of Jesus which is something to look forward to. We have an assurance in the hope of salvation while on earth, as long as we abide in Jesus of course. Rom. 8:29 is referring to those in v. 28, who love God. Do read about Rom 8:28-30 here.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God provides provisions and works all things after the counsel of his will, but he does not cause people to act according to some predestined plans. If God forces people to think and act in a certain way, what is the point of judging them for things they cannot possibly avoid?:

1 Cor.10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would prefer that they would repent in order to live:

Ez. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

If someone ends up with an interpretation which makes God the greatest culprit and a lover of sin, this is clearly an erroneous understanding. A religion that blames the sin of all mankind on God is clearly incorrect. We should rather use this verse as a filter:

Ja. 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN 

We are requested to not excuse our sin by suggesting ”God made me do it”. God does not tempt anyone, much less causes anyone to sin, but in order to save the philosophy of Calvinism God must be blamed for the sin of all mankind even though it is blasphemy? Calvinists might try to solve the problem with ”it’s a miracle” or ”God’s ways are higher than our ways”, but in that case anyone can introduce contradictions into the Bible and excuse them by saying ”God’s ways are higher than our ways” and ”who are we to question God?”. 

It is a lot safer to agree with the Bible which says that God’s will does not always happen. Yet, he is still in control (does not mean micro management) and all things work out wonderfully for those who love him.

The pharisees REJECTED the counsel of God, and God’s will can be thwarted (Luke 7:30)

eggGod doesn’t want anyone to perish, but people DO perish

God certainly doesn’t want anyone to perish, but things don’t always turn out the way God wants. God COULD of course force every single person to repent and get life in abundance but he preferred to create us as human beings in his own image (he actually said ”our” image referring to the trinity) and with a free will which means that we have a personal responsibility for our own actions.

Ez. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

Ez. 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

2 Peter 3:The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Deuteronomy 8:20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; BECAUSE ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

We can REJECT the will of God

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

The pharisees and the layers REJECTED the counsel of God according to Luke.

Luke 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the COUNSEL of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. (KJV)

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. (NKJV)

As you can see NKJV translate the same word with THE WILL of God, and also the KJV translators chose to translate the Greek original word with ”the will” in the below verse:

Acts. 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: (KJV)

”Counsel” and ”will” are here translated from the Greek word boulén as in boulé  (Strongs 1012) from boulomai, and it means counsel, decree, plan, motives, decision and/or purpose.

Below are the cases where this word is used in the KJV, starting with Acts. 20:27–31. Paul warns his disciples, the elders of the church in Ephesus who were naturally christians, that they must TAKE HEED unto themselves and to all the church which God had purchased with his blood. Acts 20:27–31 gives us the following information:

  1. Individuals (the church or the body of Christ consists of individuals) can be lost despite being purchased with the blood of Jesus.
  2. Despite that certain christians have been made overseers of a church by the Holy Ghost (who always leads us on the right path) there is still a risk that the individuals in the church will be lost, indicating that people don’t always adhere to the Holy Spirit.
  3. Grievous wolves shall enter the body of Christ also from among themselves, with the aim to draw away disciples from the true church of God to themselves. This shows that some christians will at one point leave the sound teachings in the church and instead start to speak perverted things and deceive others who might also leave the true church. This is a lot more than a mere risk since Paul says that he KNOWS that this will happen, likely because he knows how man’s heart works.
  4. False preachers who speak perverted things can apparently make christian believe in these twisted claims and some of them will become disciples of these false preachers and hence lose their salvation. The flock shall not be spared even though it was a true flock of God.
  5. By taking heed and be careful we can affect the future and reduce the harm.
  6. If people were chosen for salvation and damnation before the beginning of the world, Paul would be wasting his time by  warning every one for night and day with tears – for three years! Paul should have known that no warnings or tears in the world can change God’s decrees which he made before he even created us, if such decrees were made. If God predestined certain people to be saved and others to be lost, then Paul has no business crying over those who God has chosen to damn, and those who are predestined to be saved will be saved regardless of Paul’s intense efforts. So Paul would actually be guilty of trying to thwart God’s plans by his constant warnings, pleadings and crying for people who already have their future written in stone. This speaks heavily against the reformed type of thinking.
  7. We can affect the future with our prayers.

Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Jesus showed himself to Paul and selected him to be doing his work by spreading the gospel (which Paul accepted), so would Jesus want people to listen to Paul? Yes, of course.  Yes, here is one example among many that a certain centurion did not listen to Paul’s advice, even if what Paul said didn’t concern the gospel but their own physical safety.

Acts 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.—42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:

Here is the famous Ephesian 1:11. (See more here.) Paul is writing to the saints in Ephesus, and as saints they of course were IN JESUS and wonderful promises were tied to them since they had obtained an inheritance by choosing to be God’s children. The counsel of God’s own will might here concern his will that those who are in Jesus (naturally by their own choice) and endure to the end shall be adopted as children and inherit his kingdom. The conditions are that we believe, trust in Jesus and remain as saints. If 100% of all things under the sun always happen according to God’s will, then of course every murder, abortion, rape and divorce must also be according to God’s will, and every time people rebel against him. Clearly that is nothing but absurd, and Satan would simply be acting as God’s right arm.

Eph. 1:1 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:—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:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.—18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power

Only God is good, but here is an example of another ”good” man (the same word) and that is Joseph. He can’t compare himself with the Creator, but he was still good and just:

Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

Jesus was delivered by the counsel and foreknowledge of God. God the Father did not force anyone to betray or kill Jesus, but he knew someone would, and his death was also predestined to happen. There are numerous ways in which Jesus could die for us so Judas betrayal was not necessary at all, but he was first in line. Those hands who crucified Jesus were WICKED, which means that God certainly didn’t approve of what they did, and let’s not forget that it was Satan who entered Judas when Judas rose up to betray Jesus. God allowed it to happen of course, but he didn’t predestine Juda’s betrayal.

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

What God determined before to be done was to offer up his son to die for us, and we can also read that Jesus actually gave up his own life and that no one took it from him. He did not determine that Judas must betray him. Read more about Judas severe sin here.

Acts 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

If Jesus is the son of God and the many miracles he performed too, then it would be unwise to try to fight it back, which was the advice of  Gamaliel. A Messiah is a Messiah no matter what we do.

Acts. 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

And a couple of more examples with boulé

1 Corinthians 4:Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Hebr. 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us

We are being wise if we do the things the Lord says we should do.

Luke: 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?