God's Eternal Purpose in Jesus Christ
By David A. DePra
This is the text
transcription of the audio message by the same name. The audio message can
be found here:
This is the text transcription of the audio message by the same name. The audio message can be found here: 659-Purpose10.mp3
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This and other audio messages can be found at www.goodnewsaudio.com
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Today we continue with the series, "Foundations of the Christian Faith." And the title for today is going to be, "God's Eternal Purpose in Christ." Now, the title itself on to tell us that it's foundational.
What is God's purpose in this age through His Son? That ought to be something that everybody knows very clearly, especially because the Bible continually discusses it. But unfortunately in the Christian church today, and in the lives of many of us Christians, we have become sidetracked. We are off into just about everything else except God's eternal plan and purpose. So I will talk about this today as part of the series of foundational messages.
I want to turn to Ephesians chapter 1 to begin to discuss this purpose today -- because it's going to tell us, in Ephesians 1, exactly what the eternal plan and purpose of God is -- in Jesus Christ.
ALL Freely Given in Christ
Ephesians 1 is an incredible chapter. When you read this chapter, you get the sense that Paul could barely contain what he wants to tell people. But in order to find out what this plan and purpose is that Paul is going to discuss, we have to get a context. So I want to start reading Ephesians 1 practically right from the start. I want to start reading in verse three. Note as I go along the absolute centrality of Jesus Christ. You cannot escape, if you read Ephesians 1, the fact that God has not only given us all things IN Christ, but God is going to execute his eternal plan and purpose IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ -- IN PEOPLE. So keep that in mind as we read along here in Ephesians 1, and we are going to start reading in verse 3:
Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Now, just that much. And I'm going to have to stop along the way, of course, as we encounter some very important verses here pertaining to our topic today of God's plan purpose.
You will note that Paul makes no bones about it here in Ephesians 1:3 -- that God HAS (past tense) blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly or spiritual places IN Christ. Now, this is something that Paul states over and over in his letters to the churches. For example, in Romans 8:32, in speaking of God giving to us His Son -- He says in that verse, "He spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us all, shall he not also with Christ freely give us ALL things?"
Now, I think that sometimes that we become so familiar with verses in the New Testament that we pass right by them and really don't consider what were being told. We just read here in Ephesians 1:3 -- and we have seen a similar Truth stated there in Romans 8:32 -- that God has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. God has given us all things freely IN HIS SON. Do we understand that Paul means what he says? That God has wrapped up EVERYTHING HE HAS TO GIVE -- not, "in addition to Christ" -- sort of like things He, "tacks onto Christ" -- NO. Not merely even, "because of Christ" -- in the sense that, yes, Jesus died and was raised, and because of that now God can give us stuff. No. That's not really what Paul is saying here. Paul is saying that God has given us HIS SON. But IN CHRIST God has given us all things. And freely by His grace.
So if you want to know right off the bat -- and again this is a foundational truth -- if you want to know why so many of us can't seem to come into many of the experiences, and into much of the knowledge, and into much of the blessing that God talks about in the New Testament -- if you want to know why that often seems to be so elusive -- right here we may be finding our answer. We are looking for blessings; we are looking for stuff; we are looking for things, OUTSIDE of the PERSON of Jesus. Not on purpose; not in rebellion -- but through ignorance. But we still think that the things that God has for us are SEPARATE from the PERSON IN WHOM those things are given.
Now, just let me explain a little bit further. In Colossians 2, for example, in verse 3, Paul says, about Christ:
In Whom are HIDDEN all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
So in other words, if ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge -- and "ALL" is a lot! -- are in Christ, then can we see that it is only as we come into an inward realization OF Christ that were going to be able to discover and know the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are IN HIM?
We need to get that established in our thinking -- that it is only as Christ is unfolded to us in an inward way -- in other words -- it is only as Christ is formed in us, as Paul says in Galatians 4:19 -- it is only as Christ is formed in us, and we come into an inward realization of him -- it is only then that what is IN HIM can be known by us; can be discovered by us. You cannot know what is IN Christ if you don't know Christ!
Now that's a very simple truth, really, if you look at a few other scriptures that are given in the NT. One of the most simplistic that would point to that is Jesus' proclamations about Himself. He said, "I am the Truth." He said, "I am the Light." Well, do we think we can receive Truth, or know Truth or Light, aside from, or apart from, knowing Jesus? No. We can't. He IS Truth. He IS Light.
He also said, "I am the Life." Do we think that eternal life is a THING that God gives us -- only because of Christ; apart from Christ? No. Jesus Christ IS The Life. Therefore, if God gives us Christ, then we have life because HE IS THE LIFE. So eternal life is not a THING that God gives us -- He gives us Christ IN WHOM is all life; Who is THE LIFE.
The Essential of this Truth
And so we really have to come into an understanding of this: That Jesus Christ is the One IN WHOM God has freely given us all things. Much error in the Christian life -- much false teaching -- is able to make inroads in a Christian life because we have not seen this Truth. Christian people are endlessly trying to seek STUFF from God; trying to seek additional blessings from God; trying to enter into what THEY would call experiences - "inner healing," and stuff like that from God. But God would say to us all, "I've given you Christ. Why do you think you need more?"
There are entire movements in the Christian church, that have been going on for decades; for hundreds of years -- and those movements are based on the error that Christ is not enough; that God has NOT given us all things in Christ. The charismatic movement is based on the idea that when you are saved, and Christ joins you to Himself, and you become one spirit with Him -- the entire charismatic movement is based on the idea, and the error, that this is not enough. That Christ is NOT enough. That if Christ is in you, you still LACK -- you still have to go on, they teach, to receive a subsequent experience (rather than receive it in Christ at salvation): The baptism of the Holy Spirit -- where you, "really get what God has for you."
Believe me, I'm not ignorant of that teaching. I'm not ignorant of the charismatic teachings on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was a charismatic for over 10 years. I've been there; done that. And I know all the verses in the Bible that are used to try to substantiate a second experience -- where you REALLY GET what God has for you.
That line of teaching is error. And really, if you look at the charismatic movement -- where has that movement gone? Has it more and more and more been centered in Christ? -- which, incidentally, would be the absolute purpose, Jesus said, for which the spirit of God is given?: To reveal Christ. Has the charismatic movement -- that says that they have, "a double helping," of the Spirit of God-- has it gone the way of Truth? No. It's gotten more and more away from Christ -- off into other things. "By their fruit you shall know them."
God's Eternal Purpose Emerges From Christ in Us
Well, that's not what this message is about, but I had to mention it -- because we need to understand that Jesus Christ in the believer is to be OUR ALL: "In Him...By Him...Through Him...". Read Colossians, chapters 1 and 2, and here in Ephesians, you'll find those phrases repeated over and over again: Jesus Christ is THE LIFE of the believer. HE IS the Alpha and the Omega. HE IS the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. He's also all those things in the Gospel of John that Jesus said about Himself: "I AM...I AM...I AM...I AM." Not (merely) -- "I was," and not (merely), "I will be" -- but RIGHT NOW -- IN THE BELIEVER, "I AM this unto you."
That's something that has been pushed away today, and replaced with substitutes, in the lives and understanding of God's people. Christianity today is no longer, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is talked about. Sometimes it's even proclaimed -- but even when it is, it is often made to mean something other than what God means by it.
This Truth is about the very Person of Jesus Christ, the begotten only Son of God, dwelling in us through the means of His spirit -- and being our life; being ALL to us. And God is in the process of making Jesus Christ all to us. Now He is that (ALL to us) whether we know it or not, but we just have to come to live like He is, and abide in Him for all.
And so right at the beginning of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, in discussing the tremendous plan and purpose of God, he wants to make Christian people understand that you cannot separate the plan and purpose of God from the person of Christ -- IN WHOM that plan and purpose IS -- is given, is executed, and is experienced for the believer.
Now, what we have discussed so far: "Christ in us, the hope of glory" -- and the fact that God has given us all things in Him -- and wants to form him in us -- right there is our first indication of the eternal plan and purpose of God. That eternal plan and purpose of God begins in this age when Jesus Christ comes to dwell in His people -- and God begins to reveal that same Christ in us; begins to bring us into an inward realization of Christ. That's how God begins his eternal plan and purpose IN people for this age -- and it's going to lead on to a greater and more incredible eternal purpose. So if we knew nothing else, we would at least know that, "Christ in us, the hope of glory," and Christ being FORMED in us, is what God is doing in his people in this PRESENT age. That's why Paul said, "Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN Christ."
We Receive ALL of the Person of Christ
Now, how many understand -- and this is kind of an axiom; it is another foundational principle -- how many understand, that based on this verse, (Eph. 1:3), and Romans 8:32 that I read, and a ton of others -- how many understand that it proves and establishes once and for all that when you and I are saved and joined to the Lord (I Cor. 6:17), that we get ALL of Christ? How many understand that? You don't get, "a little bit of Christ," when you are saved, only to get more of Christ later -- through some other means. No. When you are joined to the Lord, you are joined to the Person. It's ALL OF HIM. And so at the moment you are saved, you GET -- if I can use the terminology -- you RECEIVE -- as much of the Person of Jesus Christ as there is to receive -- which is ALL.
Now -- where is the place, therefore, for Christian growth? A lot of people have taught, whether it be directly in words, or by inference, that the Christian life is a matter of you and I, "accumulating more of Jesus;" of you and I sort of developing some kind of a, "character," through which we can earn more of Jesus. We have all these teachings that are essentially nothing more than a new kind of LAW to put Christians under -- suggesting that the Christian life may not be based on works unto salvation, but people develop these systems where the Christian life is simply a matter of you, "earning more Jesus," or, "a greater eternal reward." No. We receive all of Jesus -- all at once -- forever -- when we are saved. The Christian life, therefore, is NOT a matter of earning MORE of Jesus -- rather, the Christian life is a matter of you and I DISCOVERING more of the Christ that we have ALREADY received in fullness. So in other words, we receive all of HIM -- but then we grow in the grace and knowledge of the One whom we have received in fullness.
So again -- we get all the Christ -- IN WHOM are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We get all of Christ -- IN WHOM God has freely given us all things. But now we have to grow to know Him and experience Him. We have to have him formed in us, released in us -- we have to come into an inward realization of Him. And THEN we DISCOVER what God has given. We don't get MORE (of Christ) -- no, we discover what is already given.
This is like when Israel entered the Promised Land. God said, "This is the land that I HAVE given you." Not, "that I WILL give you." He didn't say to them, "Here's the land, and as much of it as you are able to conquer you will possess, and have as your own." No. He said, "This is the land that I HAVE given you." So overcoming for them -- in type and shadow -- there in the promised land -- and overcoming for us NOW in the Christian life -- is not a matter of us dragging down from heaven more of Jesus, or more of victory. No. Overcoming is really a matter of us holding fast; standing our ground. And in doing so, discovering what God HAS ALREADY GIVEN.
So don't get tripped up by Bible phrases such as, "take possession." When the Bible talks about taking possession of the land for Israel, it means that in the sense of coming into the EXPERIENCE of what God is ALREADY given. And so it means that in the Christian life. We receive ALL of Jesus -- all at once when we are saved. But we must grow to know Him, and come into an inward realization of Him -- that will govern us. That is, "the taking possession of what has already been given, and what is already finished for us in Christ.
And so again -- God has given us all things freely in His Son. That is a finished work. That is a possession that God has given to us in His Son. And if you are born from above, right now you have ALL that God has to give -- and it is EVERYTHING -- IN HIS SON. Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," and we are joined to Him; in one spirit with Him. (I Cor. 6:17)
I could go on and on and on about this issue -- that ALL for the believer is in Christ -- and that there is NOTHING that God has for the believer that is outside of Christ -- but it is a fundamental principle that governs everything. Miss that principle; be in error on that principle that Christ is all for us -- the living Christ in us -- and you will miss the point. And you could end up greatly deceived if you persist. No. God has blessed us, and Christ dwells in us, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places -- right now in Jesus Christ.
God's Purpose for Those Who Come to Christ
Now, let's read on here about some of the other purposes that emerge from this reality of Christ in us. Paul (having told us that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ) goes on to say, "ACCORDINGLY..." Now, note that word, "accordingly." Paul has established the Truth that Christ is in us, and that God has ALREADY blessed us -- IF Christ is in us -- with all blessings in Christ. That's established. But now he is saying, "Accordingly -- in other words, because that is the Truth -- according to that -- "God has chosen us IN HIM before the foundation of the world." Why? "That we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
This is NOT a teaching of, "unconditional election," as the Calvinist heresy suggests. And as I read through Ephesians 1, I am going to resist the temptation of getting off into refuting Calvinism -- because Calvinism takes Ephesians 1 and tries to establish it as a foundation for their false teaching. Calvinism is heresy, and I don't want to waste my time today addressing that -- but just to make certain, that as I go down through Ephesians 1, that it is understood that I'm very aware of what Calvinism teaches, and how they twist these scriptures talk. Rather, I want to talk about the truth.
God is saying here, through Paul, that God has given us all things freely in Jesus Christ -- and IF you are in Christ -- then God, before the foundation of the world, had a purpose for those who would come to Christ. That's what he saying here. And that purpose is that, "we should be holy and without blame before him in love."
So that is a hint; that is a suggestion of what God's purpose is for those in Christ: It is that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
Now, when God says that his purpose for us is to be holy, don't minimize that purpose, "to be holy," by making it simply mean, "holy living" -- you know, not drinking, not committing gross immoral sin, etc. All of that, of course, is included in the idea of HOLINESS. But to "be holy," before the Lord -- that word comes from a Greek word that means, "to be set apart for God's use." That's what that word HOLY means. It's the same word that is often translated, "sanctification." Indeed, the root word for HOLY in the NT Greek is the same word that is often translated, "saints." So the most commonly used term in the NT for a Christian is SAINT -- a, "holy one;" one who has been, "set apart for God's use."
How many understand that if you have been, "joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him (I Corinthians 6:17) -- in other words, if you are in Christ and Christ is in you -- that by definition, you have been set apart for God use? You BELONG TO GOD. That is what a saint IS. A saint is, "a holy one;" one who belongs to God. By definition -- by very identity and relationship -- you belong to God.
Now, once we understand that this is what's behind this word, "holy," it opens up horizons: In other words, the purpose for those who are joined to Christ is that we may BELONG TO HIM -- that we may be those IN whom God works his full plan and purpose. If you belong to God, that is what God is doing to doing.
Now, in this part of the verse where he says, "without blame, before him in love," that's not based on works. That's a matter, first of all, of FAITH -- the only way that you and I can be without blame -- which would be equal to being righteous before God -- is if Christ IS our righteousness -- and our faith is in Him AS our righteousness. And then, of course, it will dovetail out into good works: "By grace we are saved, through faith… UNTO good works -- also in Ephesians chapter 2:8.
The purpose for those that God HAS joined to Jesus Christ is that we should belong to him, and thus, be those in whom He works His purpose -- in this age unto the next. Now in verse 5, Paul gets a little more specific. It says there that God has, "predestined us unto the adoption of children BY Jesus Christ."
Now let's talk about this for a little bit. This word, "predestined," of course, has been taken by Calvinism and made mean what God never intended it to mean -- that some people -- Calvinism teaches that some people -- are predestined, or eternally elected, to salvation. Others are not. And therefore, God determines who will be saved and who won't be. That is utter nonsense. Even here in Ephesians 1 Calvinism is disproved. No. "Predestination," refers to what God's DESIRE is -- for instance it says in I Timothy 2:5 that it is God's desire, "for all be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth." Well, the question is, "ARE all saved?" And maybe the bigger question is, "ARE all people who are saved in the truth? I mean, are we kidding? That was not even the case in the NT times. So what God desire -- which is what the word, "predestined," means -- it speaks of God's desire; His intent; His plan -- it does not necessarily mean that God is going to get that (in everyone).
Now, Calvinism would protest and say, "Well, are you saying that Almighty God, who is sovereign, will in any way NOT get his will?" (The point is actually whether we will choose to be part of His will -- not whether God will get His will.) What I'm saying is that for the greater purposes of God, God would allow men -- through their free will -- to refuse his will -- but THEN His will, and His sovereignty, will mandate that they will be eternally separated from Him. Because God is so sovereign that WITHIN His sovereignty He has allowed men to reject HIS sovereignty. THAT is sovereignty! It would be a God that isn't sure of Himself that would have to force his will upon people.
Now, it says here, "having predestined us unto the adoption of children..." Let's talk about ADOPTION. Adoption of children, in New Testament times -- which is the time in which Paul wrote -- meant something different than it means today. And this is important. Today when we think of adoption -- under normal circumstances -- what we think of is someone who has been brought into your family through the adoption law -- someone who wasn't born into your family. In other words, they are not -- as far as bloodline goes -- your son or daughter. You needed to go through legal channels to bring them into the family -- and we call that adoption. But in the New Testament times -- which is the meaning here that Paul is getting at -- it meant something else. In New Testament times, adoption was applicable only to those who were ALREADY legitimate sons and daughters through natural birth. In fact, if you hear what I'm saying, in NT times, adoption meant almost the opposite of what we mean today -- because today you adopt somebody who wasn't naturally born into your family, but back in NT times you could only adopt somebody who was (already naturally born into your family) -- under normal circumstances.
So what we have here are sons and daughters who WERE born into a family through natural birth. They are descendents through a bloodline. But when these sons and daughters came of age, and were then able, as mature individuals, to take possession and be responsible for, and live in, the inheritance of that family -- THEN they were said to be ADOPTED.
So what Paul is saying here is that if you are joined to the Lord, and born from above, you ALREADY ARE a son or daughter of God through Jesus Christ. And God has PREDESTINED those who are ALREADY in Christ -- through the new birth -- God has predestined those folks -- to come in to an inheritance that they can be responsible for, and live in, and that is called ADOPTION. (In short, predestination has nothing to do with whether we are going to be saved. Rather, it is God's plan and purpose for those who have already come to Christ and ARE saved.)
So it is only those who are already in Christ as sons and daughters that can come into an actual possession and experience of God's inheritance in Christ. And at the point in their maturity where God determines that they are able to do that -- that is called ADOPTION. That's what God means by that term. And if you are a son or daughter in Christ, you may not yet be "adopted" -- under the Bible definition -- but God's desire and intent (that which He predestines for you) is that you will come to that place. And you come to that place through growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus -- through coming into an inward realization of Jesus.
And this is what Paul is talking about here in Eph. 1:5: "Having predestined" -- i.e., this is God's eternal intent and desire. God has an eternal intent and desire for his sons and daughters to come into the adoption as children -- "BY Jesus Christ TO himself, according to the good pleasure of His will
Inheritance is IN Christ Jesus
What does it mean that God desires that, "we come into the adoption as His children BY Jesus Christ to Himself?
Of course this begins with the new birth. But as I noted, ADOPTION refers to the point at which we are able -- AFTER being born again -- through the forming of Christ in us -- to take responsibility and possession of inheritance. But what is God talking about here -- what does He mean that we are adopted THROUGH Jesus Christ -- TO Himself?
I would put it this way -- and again -- this is a foundational Truth of God. It is one way to actually describe the entire plan and purpose of God -- in terms of adoption and inheritance. I would state it this way:
There is God the Father,
There is the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ,
There are all of those who are IN Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.
Now that's really inheritance. That's the plan and purpose of God. It's a family description, isn't it?
So again -- we are seeing that there is God, who is the Father -- the Son -- and all who are IN the Son. That is God's family. That is God's plan of inheritance.
Sons and Daughters IN The Son
This is really one way of gathering up all of God's plan and purpose throughout the eternal ages -- and that's what he's getting at here -- that God's intention and plan and purpose for his sons and daughters is UNTO the adoption of children by Jesus Christ -- IN WHOM we are -- adoption as children unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
Again we see -- when I lay it out this way -- that we receive NOTHING except it be in Christ. If it is The Father -- and then it is The Son who inherits all things (from the Father) -- but then it is all who are in Christ who are COHEIRS -- then how many see that our inheritance is absolutely IN Christ? (We inherit ONLY because He inherits, and we are IN HIM.) It isn't simply something we GET, "in addition to Christ." No. In other words, don't picture this as God handing out, "little pieces of inheritance," because we happen to be Christians. Don't picture it as God saying, "Well, here is some inheritance for you, John; here's some inheritance for you, Mary; here is another big chunk of inheritance for you, George." No. That isn't it at all. What this is describing is God saying to us, "I have given to you ALL of My Son, an IN CHRIST is ALL inheritance that I HAVE to give. Now, grow to know HIM. Grow to experience HIM -- because it is IN HIM that the inheritance IS."
And so, again, fantastic news: The Father, The Son, and all who are in Christ -- we are COHEIRS in Christ -- and we have the capacity of experiencing all the inheritance in Jesus Christ.
In fact, I would put it this way: The inheritance that God has for us -- at the core -- IS the Person of Jesus Christ. HE is our inheritance. How many know that in the Bible, very often, it says that, "The Lord is our inheritance?" That's was a type and a shadow seen in the Promised Land -- when God gave them that land.
But how many understand that if Jesus Christ is our inheritance, then all that God has given IN HIM is likewise, by extension, part of that inheritance? But again -- as I am trying to emphasize -- you cannot bypass the Christ IN WHOM is the inheritance, and go straight to the stuff that's in Him -- and think that you can live in that stuff; possess that stuff; have gifts; have ministries; even in this age -- moving in all the things of God, and the wonderful things that are in Christ -- you CANNOT do that by bypassing Christ. No. IN CHRIST God has given us all things. You have to have the relationship with Christ to even get started knowing what is IN HIM. And so God, "has predestined us unto the adoption of children by His Son, Jesus Christ, to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."
Christians are Forgiven People
Read the next couple verses: It says, "to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved, in Whom (in Christ) we have received redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
You will notice that of this, according to verse 7, is FINISHED. We HAVE received redemption -- we HAVE received forgiveness. I often put it this way: Christians are not merely people whose sins are forgiven. That's true. But we are FORGIVEN PEOPLE. It is our identity. You ARE a forgiven person -- past tense. Boy, if we would wrap our minds around that Truth.
John says in I John 1:8-9: "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just TO HAVE forgiven our sins, and TO HAVE cleansed us from all unrighteousness." In other words, you do not confess sins TO GET FORGIVEN. No. You confess sins because you know and believe that you HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN -- and your confession as a matter of telling the truth about it.
The idea that you must confess sins to GET forgiven AS a Christian? Think about what that would mean: It would mean that before you confess your sin -- you are NOT forgiven. Where would that leave you (as a saved person)? It would leave you UNSAVED. Saved people ARE forgiven people. If you were not forgiven -- as a saved person -- you would not BE saved. This all goes together. And so again, this truth is repeated in Ephesians 1:7.
All in Christ and Christ in All
Wherein He has abounded towards us in all wisdom and grace, having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in himself.
Now note the phrase: The MYSTERY of His will. That word, "mystery" -- in the New Testament -- meant, "a Truth that was not revealed in prior ages past." But as it says in Colossians 1:25-27, this great MYSTERY that was not revealed to ages and generations past, was now being revealed by God in Paul's time. But then he says in Colossians 1 that the mystery is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." And Paul is using that phraseology here as well. God has made known to us the mystery of his will -- Christ in us, the hope of glory -- and all that extends from Him. God has revealed Christ NOW -- even though in ages and generations past, Paul was saying, it was NOT revealed. He says, "God has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which is purposed in Himself."
So now we are going to read about WHAT IS the purpose of God. I alluded to it a few seconds ago -- that His purpose is based in, and emerges from, Christ in us, the hope of glory -- Christ in God's people. But now Paul is going to describe it in a greater and broader sense. He says in Ephesians 1:10 what that purpose is:
That in the dispensation -- which means the working out or the ordering of God's plan -- that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, GOD MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in HIM.
Now note that what we are reading here -- in probably the broadest stroke imaginable -- as far as description -- we are reading God's eternal plan and purpose: That God might gather together all things in His Son.
What does it mean? Well, first of all, it certainly is talking about everything under the headship of Jesus Christ as Lord. How many understand that in a broad sense of the word, REDEMPTION is a matter of God gathering all -- at least all who will respond, because some won't -- REDEMPTION is a matter of God gathering all together in His Son; under His Son as Lord? And THEN -- to reign and rule with Him -- as extensions of Him; as vessels He can use throughout the eternal ages.
God is doing that right now. When you are joined to the Lord at salvation, and made one spirit with Him, then you have begun to be part of this very thing Paul is describing -- of God gathering together in one all things in Christ. You are one Him in spirit -- if you are joined to Him; if you are born from above. Now, you have to learn; you have to grow -- all of that is yet to come. But now you have begun to be part of this great plan and purpose of God. It means Jesus Christ as Lord -- and it certainly means that if we are all to be gathered together in Christ, that all who are gathered together in Christ will be partakers of him; will experience Him; will live with Him forever; will come into a full realization of Him. We could go on and on.
If God has given us all things in Christ, then He is talking about a full release of a person into Jesus Christ -- a full release of experience of all that Jesus Christ IS. Isn't that what redemption is bringing us into? That we may fully experience all that God is in Christ?
Now, those kind of thoughts are beyond human language to convey. That's why, as I noted at the beginning today, that if you read Ephesians, it almost sounds as if Paul can't find the words. He's about ready to explode with the glory that he senses that is in all of this. Paul says that God wants you and I to experience everything that God is in Jesus Christ. That's the plan and purpose of God.
The Realization of His Glory
Now, we are not, in this age, in this frame in which we exist -- in the earthen vessel in which the treasured dwells -- we cannot fully experience His fullness now -- but we can begin to experience it.
Paul talks about that as an, "earnest of our inheritance." Let's read on. He just told us in verse 10 that God wants to gather together in one all things in Christ -- which begins with Christ in you, the hope of glory -- NOW. But then he says in verse 11, in this Christ also, "we have obtained an inheritance." Now, I want to skip over the next couple of verses because they don't really speak to what we are discussing right now, and I want to jump to the second part of verse 13. So he says there in verse 11, "In Christ we have obtained an inheritance" -- then skip the second part of verse 13, it says that, "we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
Now, let's talk about this for just thought a little bit. That word, "earnest," in verse 14, means, "down payment." But note exactly what it says about this, "down payment;" this earnest of our inheritance -- which is Christ in us by the means of the Holy Spirit: It says that we have that UNTIL... Now, UNTIL what? "Until the redemption of the purchased possession." What is he talking about?
He's saying that, "Christ in us" -- by the means of the Holy Spirit -- is the, "present age experience," that a Christian can have of Jesus Christ. But -- all of that is UNTIL something greater. It's until we have resurrected bodies. And at that point our entire being will come under the Redemption. We will be raised in Christ with glorified bodies. And then you see, we will be released from this body and have a full experience of Jesus Christ -- in a way that in this age is not possible.
Simply put, what this means is that yes, in this present age, as I have already noted, we receive ALL of Jesus Christ. But we receive Him by the vehicle of His spirit joined to our spirit. What Paul is getting at is that this is just for this age. It is something that will never be broken -- our union with Christ in spirit will never be broken -- but it is only preliminary to a greater release in the next age when there will no longer be these limitations that we face here -- because we live in a natural realm, in a natural body. When our bodies are fully raised in Christ and released, then we will be able to experience Jesus Christ in every way.
Now this is also talked about in I John chapter 3. Verse 2 says:
"Beloved, NOW -- present age -- are we the sons of God. And (still talking about the present age) it does not YET appear what we shall be -- in other words that experience is not yet upon us -- but we know that when HE shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Now, this is not the greatest translation. I think that if we read that -- certainly it is a blessing. But I want to read it in the way that it actually reads in the Greek. And this isn't merely my own translation. This is actually based on what the scholar, M.R. Vincent says -- and he was quite the Greek scholar; one of the most prominent that ever lived. So here is how he would translate this verse:
Beloved it has never yet been made fully manifest what we shall be. But we know that when what we are in Christ is manifested -- that it will be out of His likeness -- and that this will enable us to see Him as He is.
That is still a little bit awkward -- but what he is saying is simply this: That when we are raised in Christ with glorified bodies, we are going to come into a fullness of experience of Christ -- such that everything that HE IS will not only be experienced by us, but will be manifested through us.
That's what he's getting at here -- that whatever all of this is about -- "Christ in you, the HOPE of glory" -- at that point in time it is going to be, "Christ in us, the REALIZATION of HIS glory. It is going to be the realization of the glory of Christ in you and I -- in His fullness -- but also manifested THROUGH you and I in His fullness.
How many see that this is the purpose of God that He is working towards in this age? And as I noted earlier -- in THAT day, instead of saying, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" -- in THAT day it will be, "Christ in us, the REALIZATION of His glory! That is a fantastic thought. That's FULL redemption.
And so -- what have we read is the eternal plan and purpose of God? Well, we've seen that it begins when you and I are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him. At that point Christ is in us, and HE is our hope of glory. "Christ in us, the hope of glory," is the purpose of God for the believer in this age. But it's not JUST for this age, is it? It is a hope of glory for the NEXT age.
And so we are joined to the Lord -- Christ dwells in us -- we get all of Christ -- and in Him God has freely given us all things -- another way to say that is that IN HIM we have received a full and complete inheritance. In Him we have ALL. But then the Christian life is a matter of holding fast to that, and a matter of losing our life -- in order that we may come into the fullness of Christ, as much as is possible for us in this age -- the fullness of Christ as our life -- that we may grow to realize Him, and come into His purpose -- as minutely (by comparison) as that will be expressed in this age. And THEN the purpose of God, when Christ comes back -- will find a full release IN HIS PEOPLE.
Now, how many see again that the plan and purpose of God is never something apart, or separated, or distinct, from the Christ in WHOM that plan purpose comes from? It's all in Christ -- and it ever more will be. It all comes out from Him -- no matter what we are talking about. All that God may do in the eternal ages is found IN Christ, and it comes out from Him. But understand also that because we are coheirs with Him -- because we are IN HIM as sons and daughters -- understand that believers also are right in the middle of this. It is through believers that God also intends to work His plan -- although through His Son being in us. Again the progression: The Father, The Son, and all who are IN THE SON. It's a fellowship, and it is a harmony, and it is a complete oneness in plan and purpose.
If God has a plan purpose that He intends to execute throughout the eternal ages, it is going to come from Him, through Christ, and then out through His people. But that won't be possible if you and I don't have our faith in Him; if you and I don't know Him; if you and I have purposes other than the purpose of God. It just can't happened (in us) if that is the case. And so -- The Father, The Son, and all who are IN The Son. That is God's plan of inheritance.
And so for today: The purpose of God -- very foundational, very broad in its scope -- that God Almighty might gather together in one all things in Christ. God wants to bring all into the fullness of His Son -- and then by extension -- into the full experience of all that is IN HIM. May God, as Paul prayed, open our eyes to see this -- because it would completely revolutionize our reason for walking in Him.
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