One popular idea about Christianity is that it is all about ‘pie in the sky when you die’. Like many such sayings, this is both true and false. The central message is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again for our justification. Yet there is an inheritance—a guaranteed inheritance for all who put their faith in Christ. It is ours right now. Let’s look at some key words in this text.
Inheritance. Just as a heritage of land was allocated to each of the tribes of Israel when they entered the Promised Land, so our inheritance has been allotted to us. Forever!
Predestine. The word is prohorizo. You can see the connection between this word and our English word ‘horizon’. What it means is that God has set limits or horizons for us in which we may safely live and move and have our being.
Purpose. The Greek word here was used by Jesus for the orderly laying out of the showbread in the Temple (Matt 12;4). So is God’s purpose for us. This same noun is used in the well-known text Romans 8:28. In everything God works for our good because he has called us according to his purpose. The outcome of God’s purpose must be good. It may not always be nice—but in the long run it is always good. In everything.
Counsel and will. In the New Testament, these terms are almost synonymous, but ‘counsel’ may also include a sense of action. So we have been predestined according to the activated intention of God’s overall intention. This is God’s definite will. Observe how Paul goes to some pains here to establish how certain God’s purpose is for us.
Remember that this is a letter. Maybe Paul paused here to re-read what he had already dictated (verses 4 and 5 in particular) and then thought, ‘I have to say more about that.’ And so he returns to it. He wants to hammer home the fact that no matter what happens God has an underlying and unchanging purpose which he works out in ‘all things’. This is not coincidental. God is not capricious or whimsical. We can trust him simply because he is God. Whatever happens along the way we know that there is an imperishable inheritance waiting for us one day. How good is that! What a marvellous hope! Ultimately it is all to the praise of his glory.
How true is the following statement?: ‘Knowing that God has a purpose for my life makes it easier to keep going even if I don’t know what that purpose is.’ Discuss with a friend or family member.