12 God's sovereign purpose



A meditation on Ephesians 1:11


Paul teaches us that our salvation is 'according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.'

There is no division of purpose between God the Father and Jesus his Son. Nor is there any difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. God, in both testaments, and God revealed in Jesus Christ, is the God who in sovereign power and authority does what he pleases and what he plans.

The plans, will and purpose of this sovereign God must never be seen as arbitrary, impersonal, unloving or deterministic. If we were to look for a physical object by which to describe the will, plan or purpose of God we should never choose a block of concrete. Such an image can never represent the will or purpose of the God of the Bible. It is too fixed. Too rigid. Too lifeless. It has no capacity to cope with the unexpected and the antithetical – no capacity to take something utterly opposed to it and incorporate it into itself.

Rather, we should choose a mighty, rushing river that is heading inexorably to its destination. It takes along with it everything that gets in its way. It embraces all things into itself, so that irrespective of whether they are opposed to it or in line with it, they are swept up, carried along, and used. They are made, forced, to serve the will, plan and purpose of the Sovereign Lord.

Thus it is with our salvation. God planned it before the creation of the world and nothing can prevent its implementation.

Not all the deceptions and destructive plans and purposes and actions of men or of devils can stop God from bringing us to salvation.

Rather, God took hold of them and used them to bring our salvation about. He used what was utterly opposed to him and his purpose – the wickedness of all who were involved in the betrayal, miss-trial and crucifixion of Christ – and used them to implement his salvation. He took that which was evil and used it in his good purpose. He took death and used it to bring life. He took human hatred and used it to express his eternal love.

Not even the evil that he hates is beyond his sovereign power and authority. Even this, he, in the transcendence of his being, his love, his will, can and does turn to his glory.

Such is the sovereign will of God by which we are saved.

Scriptures: Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 115:3; Romans 8:28.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2010.