Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
God truly loves us. The Bible tells us that He took some tremendous steps in order to save us. As God’s children, we experience His help when we have difficulties and can come to Him with all our cares.
But knowing this, it’s possible for all our prayers to revolve around ourselves. We ask God for things we need, and even when it comes to God’s will, our prayer is usually, “God, what is Your will for me?” Somehow, we always end up at the center.
If we stop to consider that God is the One who created the heavens and earth and all mankind, we have to wonder why He did it. Could God have a goal in mind beyond simply caring for the details of our personal welfare?
The idea that God might want something for Himself may never have crossed our minds. After all, God is Almighty; He doesn’t lack anything.
Have you ever thought to ask God, “Is there something You want for Yourself?” In this post, we’ll read some key verses from Ephesians together with notes in the New Testament Recovery Version to help us find the answer to this question.
How we know God wants something for Himself
First, let’s just consider ourselves. We human beings seek joy, and we make plans and take steps to get what we desire. No one had to teach us to feel or think that way. You could say our desire for joy and satisfaction is a reflection of God’s desire for joy and satisfaction. This shouldn’t surprise us, since Genesis 1:26 tells us God made us in His own image. So this should be a clear indicator to us that God also has a desire, something that will bring Him joy.
But most importantly, the Bible tells us directly that God does indeed want something for Himself, that He has a desire in His heart that must be fulfilled.
Ephesians 1:9 says:
“Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.”
In this verse, we read the words will, good pleasure, and purposed. These words show us that God has something in His heart that He wants. The word pleasure refers to a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. God has a good pleasure, something that will make Him happy and satisfy His heart. He purposed this good pleasure in Himself, and His will is according to that good pleasure.
Now let’s read Ephesians 1:5, another verse where good pleasure appears:
“Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
This verse reveals that God’s good pleasure has something to do with our sonship. But what does this mean?
Let’s read the first part of note 2 from the New Testament Recovery Version:
“God’s marking us out beforehand was to destine us unto sonship. We were predestinated to be sons of God even before we were created. Hence, as God’s creatures we need to be regenerated by Him that we may participate in His life to be His sons. Sonship implies having not only the life but also the position of a son.”
God marked us out and predestinated us unto sonship. This means our destiny is sonship. And our sonship isn’t just for our benefit; it’s so God can obtain His good pleasure and heart’s desire!
We received the life of God when we were born again, making us His sons. Now by sharing His divine life, we can participate in and grow in His life. The more we grow in His life—eventually becoming full-grown sons—the more God gains His expression in us. This is why He redeemed us, regenerated us, and is working in us day by day.
And there’s more: God doesn’t want just individual sons. God wants all His sons together to be a living entity, full of His life, that can express Him to the entire universe. What is this living entity?
God wants the church
This living entity that God wants is the church.
The apostle Paul ends Ephesians chapter 1 with writing about the church in verses 22 and 23.
Verse 22 says:
“And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church.”
Note 4 on church explains:
“Here this book uses the term church for the first time, pointing out the main subject of this book. The Greek word for church is ekklesia, meaning the called-out congregation. This indicates that the church is a gathering of those who have been called out of the world by God. As such, the church is composed of all the believers in Christ.”
In a book that speaks of God’s good pleasure and purpose, the main subject is the church. This shows us that the church is the desire of God’s heart.
What is the church? According to the Bible, the church isn’t a physical building or a religious organization; the church is the called-out congregation. This congregation is composed of all the believers in Christ who are regenerated sons of God. Together, these sons of God are the church that can satisfy God’s heart’s desire.
The church is the Body of Christ
So the church revealed in the Bible is a living entity composed of all the believers who have God’s life! The church is God’s good pleasure.
Paul continued in Ephesians 1:23:
“[the church,] which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.”
This verse shows us that the church isn’t just the called-out congregation; the church is the Body of Christ, who is the Head.
Now let’s read note 1 on Body in verse 23:
“The Body of Christ is not an organization but an organism constituted of all the regenerated believers for the expression and activities of the Head. The Body of Christ is the issue of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ, who has come into the church. By means of the ascended Christ’s heavenly transmission, we are made one with Him, and thus His Body is produced.”
Just as our physical body is an organism, a living entity, and not a lifeless organization, the church is the Body of Christ. Christ is the living Head, and all He is and has is transmitted to the church, which is His living Body.
The church is the fullness of Christ
Verse 23 further reveals that the church, the Body, is the fullness of the One who fills all in all. What does that mean?
Note 2 on fullness explains:
“The Body of Christ is His fullness. The fullness of Christ issues from the enjoyment of the riches of Christ (3:8). Through the enjoyment of Christ’s riches, we become His fullness to express Him.”
The more we enjoy Christ and His riches, the more we as His Body become His fullness.
Then the first paragraph of note 3 on the word fills explains:
“Christ, who is the infinite God without any limitation, is so great that He fills all things in all things. Such a great Christ needs the church to be His fullness for His complete expression.”
No wonder God longs to have the church. It’s through the church that He can be fully expressed! And His plan for gaining the church includes each one of us. God created us, saved us, and regenerated us for this. Today He’s mingling Himself more with us and working Himself into us for this.
We’ve seen that the book of Ephesians reveals God has a heart’s desire that He purposed in Himself. Our sonship is part of this desire, and ultimately, God wants a full expression of Himself through the church, the Body of Christ.
In future posts we’ll delve further into the matter of the church. The church as revealed in the Bible, and especially in the book of Ephesians, is what God wants. For now, let’s prayerfully consider before the Lord the verses cited in this post to see that God’s desire is the church. We can pray something like this:
“Lord, open my eyes and give me revelation to see the church is Your heart’s desire. Show me what the church is according to Your Word.”
Ephesians chapter 1 is incredibly profound; it reveals that the desire of God’s heart is the church, the Body of Christ. We could only touch on this matter briefly in this post. If you live in Australia, we encourage you to order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here so you can read all the verses with their notes in this marvelous chapter. In addition, The Glorious Church is a wonderful book that provides an overview of God’s plan as it relates to the church. You can download it for free here from anywhere in the world.
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