Ephesians 3:11-13: The Plan of God
One of the most misunderstood, yet one of the most comforting doctrines that we believe in is the doctrine of God’s decree. Just as a builder does not begin to build without the blueprints, God as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe worked out His salvation in history according to an eternal plan/decree. If you will forgive the Freemason associations He is indeed the Great Architect. This plan is freely constructed by God, in other words He did not have to be taught anything or have His arm twisted to make it in a certain way. Everything that we are now experiencing is according to a plan which is from before time, and it is a plan which does not change as if unexpected events could arise. Because of God’s perfections the plan has certain characteristics. God does not learn things, but knows all things immediately. God does not change. God is not weak and His plans overcome so that He has to make constant adjustments. So it is an unchanging all-inclusive plan.
This doctrine of God’s decree when taught in the Bible is usually given in the context of comfort and assurance, but inevitably it raises a number of difficult questions. The questions of predestination, the creation of the devil, the willing of the fall, God’s will which includes the millions of sins committed everyday, and the accompanying questions of free will related to these. I would love to get into these questions and spend hours answering them, but this would get us off track. Paul in the context of Ephesians 3 has been discussing the purpose and plan of God. God has been working out His plan to glorify Himself before the angels through the church, and in the verses we are looking at today, v11-13, Paul goes on to discuss some of the details of this plan. It is to these details that we want to turn today. V11-13, ‘This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realised in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.’
As we look at these three verses we will look at three things, firstly how God’s eternal plan is realised in Christ; secondly, how God’s plan has resulted in the benefit of our access into God’s presence, and thirdly, how this plan is progressed through the suffering ministrations of Christians.