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. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. Eph. 1:11, 12
Notice the use of the first person throughout,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. vss. 3, 4.
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, or better, according to the Revised Version and the Dutch translation: In whom also we were made a heritage. . . .
We and us and our throughout!
And beware that you do not change these pronouns into they and them and their!
For although by making this alteration you would not essentially change the objective sense of the passage, you would fail to consider the riches of which it is speaking in the right light and from the intended viewpoint. Of the glorious riches of grace in Christ Jesus the apostle is writing here. But he displays and enumerates and evaluates these glorious riches here, not merely in order that you should admire them as you would a beautiful estate of some millionaire in which you have no part and which you pass by on the road, but that you should rejoice in them as being your own!
It is the language of personal possession, of appropriating faith, which Scripture here places on the lips of the whole church.
Yes, indeed, of the whole church!
There are those who would apply the words of our present passage to the Jews only; “ye also” means: the Jewish Christians in distinction from the converts out of the Gentiles.
And it may be granted, especially in the light of the last part of verse twelve, that this distinction is before the mind of the apostle. The words: “we who first trusted in Christ,” or again better in the Revised Version: “we who had before hoped in Christ,” no doubt, refer to the Church of the old dispensation.
But even so the words do not apply to the Jews as such, but to the Old Testament Church, whose old hope was now realized, and that in a far more glorious way than they had ever been able to conceive. For in the old dispensation Israel was the Church, the peculiar possession of Jehovah, the only heritage of God and all of it. But now they had become part of a more glorious and far richer whole: “we who first hoped in Christ have now become a part of God’s heritage, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.” All things He worketh!
And this implies, according to the tenth verse, that He will gather all things again in Christ as their everlasting Head, and thus make unto Himself a glorious heritage.
And in that glorious heritage we also have become a part!
To the praise of His glory!
Made into a heritage!
Thus, no doubt, the text should be read.
Not, indeed, as if it made any essential difference whether we read: have obtained an inheritance or: have been made a heritage.
The two do not exclude each other in this case, but are rather supplementary to each other. For the truth is, that when we are made into a heritage of God we also obtain the inheritance. The wonder is that the inheritance we obtain is exactly that we become the heritage of God. The fact is that the only inheritance one can ever obtain is the joy and glory and riches of being an inheritance of the ever blessed God!
Consciously to be God’s eternal heritage, His peculiar possession in which He has His delight, upon which He looks with loving favor,—that is the inheritance we obtain!
But the fact is, that in the text the viewpoint is not that of our obtaining an inheritance, but of our being the heritage of God, more specifically: of our being a part in God’s peculiar possession, an erfdeel, as the Holland translation has it. For not the active form “we have obtained”, but the passive “we have been made” a heritage is used in the original.
A figure is used here.
What was done with the land of Canaan, when the children of Israel took possession of it, is the basis of the figure. The word means: “to divide by lot”. And the land of Canaan was apportioned by lot to each of the tribes of Israel, outside of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh, so that each tribe obtained its own portion in the land of Canaan. Thus they all obtained their own part of the heritage that was promised them, and that particular part of the land that was assigned to each tribe by lot was its peculiar possession. All of Israel inherited the whole land, and the whole of Israel in the whole land was the peculiar possession, the heritage of Jehovah, but each tribe occupied its own peculiar place in that possession.
Such is the figure that is implied in our passage.
A figure it is, not in the sense in which anything might be selected as an illustration of a subject that is being discussed, but because the figure in this case was designed to be the prototype of the reality that was to come. For Israel in the land of Canaan was, indeed, very really the heritage of God, His peculiar possession, Jehovah’s portion, but it was at the same time the shadow of things to come, the picture of a better hope, the type of the ultimate and eternal realization of the “purpose of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will”. For He has purposed in Himself to gather together in one all things in Christ, the things in heaven and the things on earth, and to make the Church in Christ heir of that glorious inheritance. And of this Israel in Canaan is the beginning, but as such also the figure and type.
For, even as Israel in the old dispensation in the earthly land of Canaan was the peculiar possession of God, so Christ and His glorious and perfected Church in the new heavens and earth is the ultimate realization of Jehovah’s heritage.
Peculiar that heritage will be, no longer in the sense that it will be a small portion of God’s handiwork that will be the object of His delight, in distinction from the rest of the world that lieth in darkness and serves dead idols instead of the living God, as was Israel in the midst of the nations round about them; but only in the positive sense that it is the object of God’s everlasting love and favor, and that it will be solely to the praise of the glory of His grace in the beloved. For God’s peculiar heritage shall then embrace all things in heaven and on earth.
And that heritage shall be one; a glorious, harmonious whole, in which each part shall serve in its own peculiar place and position to enhance the beauty of the whole.
In the whole of “all things” as God’s heritage, the Church of Christ shall occupy the chief place.
And that Church again shall not consist of a multitude of individual saints, but a well ordered whole, in which each part, each group, each individual shall occupy the peculiar place assigned to him by the great Builder and artificer.
And for that place each church in every period in time, and each individual believer is foreordained and prepared in time.
And thus it could be said to those whom the apostle had in mind in our passage, and to the church of every age: we also have been made a heritage, an “erfdeel,” a peculiar portion in the great heritage of God!
Marvelous work of God!
We also became a portion!
Wonderful wisdom of God, and marvelous providence of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will!
For the passage here, no doubt, refers to the Church of the old dispensation, which for years constituted the entire heritage of God, but now became a part of the larger and all comprehensive possession of Jehovah. For this is evident from the text itself which qualifies this portion of God’s heritage as those “who before hoped in Christ.” And this is shown, too, by the words “ye also” of the next verse, referring to the Church gathered out of the Gentiles.
We also. . . . and ye also!
We who before hoped in Christ, and ye who are now sealed, became a portion of the great, harmonious heritage of God!
All became one in Christ, yet each in his own place! Amazing revelation of God’s wisdom! They had before hoped in Christ. Yes, indeed, they were the people of God, even then. Theirs were the covenants and the promises. And in the land of Canaan they possessed a partial realization of the promise. But in Christ, in the One that was to come, they had their hope. Reality was not yet. They lived under the law. And under the law they could but take hold of shadows. Hence, they looked forward in hope. In the promised Seed they trusted. On Him they fixed their hope. For Him they looked. And when He should come they would become the glorious and everlasting heritage of Jehovah indeed, in eternal reality!
They first hoped in Christ; no one else!
They were the heritage of God, not the other nations. And when they looked for the realization of the promise and fixed their longing eyes on the future, they still envisaged that glorious future only as an elevation and perfection and extension of their own national existence. And though their prophets sometimes spoke of larger things, who understood the glorious purpose of God, who of those that before hoped in Christ could possibly apprehend the larger purpose of God’s good pleasure?
Yet, now that wider purpose of the God of their salvation had been revealed!
It had been made known, that it was the good pleasure of God’s will that in the dispensation of the fullness of time God would gather together in one all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth, and that they, who had before hoped in Christ as a single and isolated nation, would merge into the larger whole of God’s heritage and become a portion of a universal Church and a universal inheritance. The smaller heritage had widened into a universal possession, and what was formerly the whole now had become a part of a far more glorious whole; and in becoming a pant had entered into the possession of a more glorious inheritance!
The whole had changed into a portion, and the portion it had become was more glorious than the whole it had once been!
Marvelous mind of God!
For only the adorable wisdom and purpose it was that had become manifest in it all!
Had they not been predestined unto this, according to the divine purpose?
But how else could this marvelous history be explained? No blind fate could possibly work out such a glorious purpose. There is manifest wisdom in it all. And this wisdom has its source in “the counsel of His own will”. God’s counsel, the counsel of His will, is motivated by infinite intelligence and perfect, though incomprehensible wisdom. It has a purpose, an ultimate aim, an “omega” that is to be attained, with a view to which all designs in that same counsel serve but as means to an end. And that purpose is that in the highest possible way we and all things should be to the praise of His glory. And this highest possible revelation of His glory and praise is to be attained by gathering together in one all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth!
Such is the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will!
And according to that purpose, in harmony with it, they too, who had before hoped in Christ, were predestinated. Hence, they could not possibly remain the whole of God’s heritage!
Because of that divine predestination according to that purpose, they could not remain isolated, they must merge into the greater and more glorious whole!
A portion they became.
And richer than the former whole is now the portion!
Amazing purpose of God!
Soli Deo gloria!
Yes, emphatically, and quite exclusively: to God alone the praise!
That we should be to the praise of His glory! We, indeed, who before hoped in Christ and have now become a portion of God’s glorious heritage; but we, too, who after we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, were sealed into that glorious heritage of God by the Holy Spirit of promise!
Let us say without qualification: to God alone be the praise! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath so blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!
Do not attribute any praise that belongs to Him alone to man!
For He not only purposes all things, but He also works all things after the counsel of His own will! His counsel is not a dead design, the blueprint of an architect to be worked out by others under His direction: it is the living, almighty, eternal decree of the living God. The counsel of God is the counselling God. He alone works out His own counsel. He perfects His own work. He attains His own aim. He realizes His own purpose. For He works all things according to that purpose. All things have their own place in that marvelous counsel of God. All creatures have been predestinated to their own place and to serve their own purpose in His eternal good pleasure. Rational and irrational creatures, men and angels, good and evil, things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth,—all things literally are comprehended in that living counsel of the Most High!
And according to that purpose He Himself works all things! Therefore, they cannot fail!
And because of this, too, the praise will forever be His alone!
The praise of His glory!