God Accomplishes His Purposes Gradually
Ephesians 1:11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance…

Paul has just said that it is the Divine purpose to "sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth." This is the destiny of the universe. Unmeasured ages of imperfection, conflict, sin, and suffering lie behind us; and it may be that there are unmeasured ages of imperfection, conflict, sin, and suffering still to come. But at last the whole creation is to illustrate and fulfil the Divine thought, and is to reach its perfect unity and ideal perfection in Christ. That coarse conception of the Divine omnipotence which assumes that a Divine purpose is never obstructed or delayed, and that every Divine volition is immediately accomplished, receives no sanction either from the Jewish or the Christian Scriptures. It receives no sanction from those discoveries of God which are accessible through the physical universe and through the moral nature of man. It looks as though God did nothing at a single stroke, nothing by an immediate and irresistible exercise of mere force. It is His will that the summer should be beautiful with flowers, and that the autumn should bring the brown corn and the purple grapes; but flowers and grapes and corn are not commanded to appear suddenly, out of nothing; the Divine will accomplishes itself gradually, and by processes extremely complex and subtle. The world itself came to be a fit home for our race as the result of a history extending over vast and awful tracts of time. God intended that it should become what it now is; but His intention was accomplished by the action, through age after age, of the immense forces which are under His control. "Fire and hail, snow and vapour, and the stormy wind," have fulfilled His word. He gave a commission to millions upon millions of living creatures to build the limestone rocks. Through untold centuries vast forests grew and perished, to form the coal measures. Volcanic eruptions, frost and heat, the slow movements of glaciers, the swift rush of rivers, have all had their work to do in bringing the earth which is our home into its present condition. This seems to be the Divine manner of working. The Divine purposes are not achieved suddenly. God "fainteth not, neither is He weary." Chaos, with all its confusions, is only gradually being reduced to order; the great work is not completed yet; it will reach its term only when all things are finally summed up in Christ. The same law holds in relation to the moral and spiritual universe. We see it illustrated within narrow limits in the individual lives of good men. They only gradually approach the Divine conception of what they ought to be; their perfection is not consummated in an hour; their knowledge of God and of the will of God gradually widens and deepens; their moral and religious strength is very slowly augmented. It is God's will that they should know Him, and know their duty, but they have to be taught. It is God's will that they should be righteous, but they have to be disciplined to righteousness. The law is illustrated on a larger scale in the religious history of the race. The great revelation of God in Christ was not made in the earlier ages of the world. There was a long preparation for it. God began with the most elementary moral truths, and with the most elementary religious truths. He taught and disciplined the elect race by picture lessons, by a visible temple, a human priesthood, and a whole system of external rites and ceremonies. There were faint prophecies of the future redemption, but at first they were so obscure as to excite only the most vague and undefined hopes of a Divine deliverance from the evils by which human life was oppressed; and when they became clearer and more vivid, they were easily misunderstood. One generation of saints after another passed away, and the Divine purpose was still delayed. And even when the Christ came at last and the kingdom of heaven was set up among men, the hopes excited by that transcendent manifestation of God were not at once fulfilled. After eighteen hundred years the final triumph of the Divine righteousness and love seems still remote.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will;

Doctrine of Predestination
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