Recently, I listened to a message on Sermonaudio.com by a very popular southern Ohio evangelist titled, “The Will of God.” I was left shaking my head at how far he had to twist the text in his attempt to justify the assertion that people only fulfill God’s will and eternal plan when and if they choose to cooperate with Him. The preacher taught that God’s will is little more than His desire, able to be thwarted by the stubborn will of man at any time. The passage under consideration was Ephesians 1:3-8.
The preacher explained that God predestines people only if they agree or surrender to His plan. In order to buttress this assertion, he explained that the word “according” in verse four is a musical term which signifies agreement among music notes. In other words, God must “play” His notes, we “play” our notes, and if they strike “a chord,” then (and only then) we are chosen in Him. However, if the notes do not make harmony, we have freely chosen not to be chosen in Him!
Of course, this interpretation of Ephesians 1:3-8 would be monumental in its implication and scope, fundamentally changing the theological landscape forever……if it had any substance whatsoever. Unfortunately for Evans, if one takes a Greek word, translates it into English, then utilizes a secondary definition of the English term to define the original Greek term, one is apt to produce a definition that is, shall we say, less than harmonious!
So, what is the Greek word for “according” in Ephesians 1:4? The transliteration is “kathōs” and it simply means “just as” or “even as.” There is no musical connotation in the verse at all. The verse does not ask for human cooperation. In fact, the verse plainly teaches that God “hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” So, even if I desired to play ‘harmony’ in God’s salvation band, I would not have been around to contribute a single note! Jonah said it best when he declared, “Salvation is of the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). Likewise, God will not share His glory with another. No flesh shall glory in His presence! So much for a duet!
How far will men go in attempts to usurp the Sovereign will and decree of God in regard to the salvation of sinners? It is God who is completely in charge of all things. Just a few verses down from the text in question, the scriptures declare in Ephesians 1 verse 11 a Great God,“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:” God works everything out. Period.
If there is such a thing as the “music of predestination” then surely it is a solo performance masterfully played by our Sovereign God!