Called According to His Will

Ephesians 1:1-2 ESV

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What is written in this book of Ephesians is a letter that Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus, who were faithful in Christ Jesus. So, to understand who this applies to, we should read a little section of chapter four where it explains what it means to be “in Christ Jesus.”

“But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24).

This is the fundamental truth of the gospel of our salvation. And, that is that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we, by the Spirit, put off our old self, which is of the flesh, that we are renewed of the Spirit of God in the spirit of our minds, and that, by the Spirit, we put on the new self in Christ Jesus created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).

But, this isn’t a one-time thing and then it is all over. The scriptures are real clear that our salvation is continuous, and that our faith must also be continuous to the very end of our days. We need to be faithful in Christ Jesus. And, we need to be saints, i.e. we need to be holy in all of our conduct, as a matter of our life course; as a matter of our walk of faith.

In other words, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God if we want to have eternal life with God (same scripture references as above).

So, this is speaking to those who have forsaken their former lives of living for the flesh, who are faithful to Christ Jesus, and who have put on Christ and his righteousness and holiness, as applied to their lives, not just in theory, but in practice, in how they (we) walk (live our lives).

Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

So, this doesn’t apply to everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. Not everyone who says Jesus is Lord has truly made him Lord of their lives. Many people give lip service to the Lord but their hearts are far from God, which is evident by how they conduct their lives day in and day out, as a matter of habit and lifestyle. So, not everyone can claim these promises.

For, we weren’t chosen of God just to escape hell and to go to heaven when we die. We who are genuinely in Christ Jesus by God-given faith in him were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God, but not just positionally, but experientially, which is evident by how we live our lives. We were chosen by God to live our lives separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God.

God predestined us to be adopted as his children according to the purpose of his will, which is that we would live holy and righteous lives, by the Spirit, free from enslavement to sin, and that we would walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands. For, this is for the praise of God! This is for the praise of his glorious grace which instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await our Lord’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

We who are in Christ Jesus by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ – which submits to his Lordship, leaves behind the old sinful self, and follows the Lord in obedience – have been redeemed through the blood of Christ shed for us in his death on a cross. In his death Jesus bought us back for God that we might now be God’s possession, and that we might honor God with our lives (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:14; Eph. 2:10).

For, Jesus’ grace to us isn’t just a free ticket into heaven, and it isn’t free license to continue in willful and often premeditated sinful practices, either. His grace delivered us out of our bondage to sin so that we can now be slaves of his righteousness, which is according to his will and purpose for our lives (Rom. 6:1-23).

Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Again, we who have obtained an inheritance in Christ Jesus are among all those who have been predestined according to the purpose of God. And, again, his purpose is that we leave our lives of sin behind us to walk with him in his ways and in his truth, that we continue to say “NO!” to sin, and that we live godly, holy, and upright lives until the time Jesus comes to take us home to be with him forever.

And, again, we who believe in Jesus Christ are to be for the praise of God’s glory. And, we aren’t for the praise of his glory if we are continuing in sinful addictions willingly, in direct disobedience to our Lord’s commands. The two don’t mix, for the Spirit is opposed to the flesh and the flesh is opposed to the Spirit, so those who are in the realm of the flesh can’t please God.

And, the scriptures teach that we are slaves to whomever we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (Rom. 6:16).

And, they continue on to say that if we walk (in practice, in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins because we refused to die to our sins (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, those who have obtained an inheritance in Christ Jesus are those who are walking (in conduct) according to the Spirit and not according to their flesh. They have left their sinful lifestyles behind them, and they are walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands – all because of God’s grace – all because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins – and all in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within them.

And, the Holy Spirit living within us is our guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it. But, the “we” here are those who have crucified the flesh with its deceitful desires. We are those who belong to Christ (Gal. 5:24). It doesn’t mean we are perfect, though, or that we never fail, but it means that we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh and that we, by the Spirit, are walking (in practice) according to the Spirit.

Footprints of Jesus

Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.

If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.

Though, dear Lord, in Thy pathway keeping,
We follow Thee;
Through the gloom of that place of weeping,
Gethsemane!

If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

By and by, through the shining portals,
Turning our feet,
We shall walk, with the glad immortals,
Heav’n’s golden street.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

Copyright status is public domain

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