Rejoice

                                                   Ephesians 1:1-14

                                                  September 1, 2019

 

 

God has a goal or purpose for His creation and He is focused on that goal.

He is moving His creation purposely toward that goal.  We as believers

are the benefactors of that goal as He chose to bring us salvation through

Jesus Christ, His Son!

 

Paul was called to be an apostle by Christ, he knew that this calling was the

will of God and not just a random occurrence of being in the right place at

the right time.

 

From a personal greeting (vs. 1-2) he moves quickly to a sweeping treatise

on the eternal purposes of God through salvation, going back even to the

foundation of the world.  (“Known unto God are all His works from the

beginning of the world.”  Acts 15:18)

 

This message is directed “to the saints at Ephesus; and to the faithful

in Christ Jesus.”  (v. 1)  A saint is simply a believer  in Christ, set apart

for salvation and service.  Saintliness should characterize all Christians.

In fact, a Christian is a “person set apart,separated from the world, and

reserved for the service of Jesus Christ and for the glory of God, according

as it is written, ‘This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth

my praise.’”  (Isaiah 43:21)  Accordingly, Paul did not hesitate to call the

Christians at Ephesus “saints,” for he expected from them saintly lives.

The very name raised the standard of Christian profession throughout the

Church at Ephesus. And would it not be well for us to use it, and to strive

always to deserve its use? It is to be feared that our saints, like those of Rome,

are for the most part dead and gone; whereas what the age needs is saintliness

embodied in flesh and blood before it.

 

This double title seems to suggest the objective and subjective sides of

Christian life; for if it is God’s work to make saints, it is man’s to

believe;” we are chosen to salvation “through sanctification of the Spirit

and belief of the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13). God has joined these

two principles together: let not man put them asunder.

 

It is in Christ we obtain our standing both as saints and as believers. He

is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and

redemption (I Corinthians 1:30). The expression, “in Christ,” which

occurs here for the first time in this Epistle, is found thirty-three times in

the New Testament. Christian life, like revelation, is Christo-centric –

CHRIST CENTERED!

 

 

These saints were living out the faith in Ephesus, a major city, the

fourth or fifth largest city in the world at that time.  It was a port city

which meant that diverse influences from all over the world came to

Ephesus  and vied for the minds of the populace.  Paul was active in Ephesus

from the autumn of A.D. 52 to the spring of A.D.55, after his missionary work

in Macedonia, Corinth and Achaia.  (Acts chapters 19 and 20)

 

These saints had been gathered for the most part out of paganism, and this

will account for the introduction, as well as many of the contents, of this

magnificent Epistle. We note the following lessons as here suggested:

 

The Christians at Ephesus had grown from twelve disciples (Acts 19:1-7)

into a large and influential community, worshipping the Lord under

the very shadow of the great Temple of Diana. The apostle has a deep

personal interest in the fortunes of a Church established in the very

acropolis of paganism — the first of the seven Churches of Asia

forming the third capital of Christianity, as Antioch was the second and

Jerusalem the first. He remembers the three years of untiring and anxious

labor he had spent in the city, as well as the interest of the Ephesian

Christians in himself and his work which he seeks shortly to intensify by the

projected visit ofa beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord”

(ch. 6:21-22). (Tychicus)

 

There are three sentences that make up our lesson today:

 

  1. vs. 3-6
  2. vs. 7-12
  3. vs. 13-14

 

My dream Tuesday night – about godliness – my answer coming from

Christ’s words about the purpose of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-10).

 

 

                                    ADDRESS AND SALUTATION (vs. 1-2)

 

The writer speaks with authority. He is an “apostle,” sent and commissioned directly

by Christ, and acting in His name — a real ambassador of the Lord of glory.

He holds this office “by the will of God;” pursues neither an irregular nor a merely

volunteer course unsanctioned by the supreme Ruler, but acts by the will of God.

 

Divine blessings are invoked and brought near to the Church, viz.

(1) grace;

(2) peace;

 

both of these having their only source for sinners in God and Christ.

 

 

This salutation is more than a pious wish or even prayer; the blessings are brought as

it were to the door of all. It rests with them either to receive them or not. (Remember

II Corinthians 2:15-16, that to some it is “a sweet savor of Christ” and they are

saved”; to others “the savor of death” and they are LOST!  – CY – 2010)  The

blessings brought near are very precious, for God in Christ with all His fullness

IS THERE!  “The way to heaven lies not over a toll-bridge, but over a

free bridge, even the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us beware

of trifling with the offer of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ!  Let us open the door

and welcome the Lord of grace and peace.  “Behold, I stand at the door, and

knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and

will sup with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 2:20)

 

1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at

Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:  By the will of God - The First Person

of the Trinity, the Fountain of Godhead, has not only devised the whole scheme

of mercy, but has  likewise planned the subordinate arrangements by which it is

carried out; thus it was by His will that Paul held the office of an apostle of Christ

(see Galatians 1:1, 11-12; Acts 26:14-18)  Paul, who had made the interests of the

Gentile world a chief concern, declares that he had received his apostleship from

Christ directly.  Such a consciousness of Christ’s consecration gave him great

power. His authority and his dignity as an apostle are thus the highest that

can be: "He that heareth you, heareth me." (Luke 10:16) 

 

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord

Jesus Christ.”  This is the apostle’s usual salutation to Churches — it is only in

the pastoral Epistles that he adds the word “mercy” — but its form suggests a

beautiful and significant blending of the Greek and Hebrew methods of salutation,

as if to anticipate the share of Jew and Gentile alike in the future blessings of the

gospel! (v. 10)  How sweetly Christianity sanctifies the common courtesies of life!

 

There is something beautiful in the old forms of benediction. We lose their fragrance

in our cold “Good-byes.” The Greeks and Romans were accustomed to wish their

correspondents “Safety;” the Jews took the simpler form of” Peace.” But the gospel

came to give to both a deeper meaning and breathe GRACE and PEACE of the

deepest character into HUMAN SOULS!   Hence these salutations of the saints.

God’s undeserved favor coming forth as grace finds its effects in the

responsive human heart in a heavenly peace, so that the once troubled

spirit comes into wondrous calm. What Paul is about to state in his Epistle

will not interfere with but rather deepen this holy peace.  It is well for us to

see the FOUNTAIN-HEAD of blessing in THE FATHER’S HEART,

to see the channel of communication in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and

to experience its effect in THE PEACE THAT PASSETH ALL

UNDERSTANDING, which He has ordained should keep our hearts and

minds by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). The saints are meant to be peaceful

spirits as they consecrate their energies to the service of the Lord.

 

As in most of Paul’s Epistles, “grace” is virtually the first word and

the last (ch. 6:24), equivalent to free, undeserved mercy in all its manifold forms

and manifestations. Peace is conjoined with grace; they are like mother and daughter,

or like twin sisters. Grace is the only foundation of true peace whether:

 

o       peace with God,

o       peace of conscience, rest and satisfaction of soul, or

o       peace toward our fellow-men. 

 

The source of grace and peace is “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Both are in beautiful harmony in the scheme of grace. “God so loved the

world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in

Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

 

The word “grace” has a unique history among English words. It means ever

so many things, all suggestive of the happiest associations, and has never suffered

that contraction of meaning which has spoiled the moral beauty of so many other

words. In the gospel sense, whether it applies to the origin of man’s salvation or to

the Christian disposition which is the result of it, grace marks a beautiful

movement of life in the direction of blessing given or received. Grace is

the key-note of the Ephesian Epistle. Grace is the well-spring of all  blessings.

 

Grace is when God gives us good things that we don’t deserve.

Mercy is when He spares us from bad things that we deserve.

Blessings are when He is generous with both.

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!  (copied)

 

The double blessing. “Grace and peace.” Peace is the fruit of grace, which can

never be severed from its fruits. It is the very testament of Christ: “My peace

I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be

troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) -  the very equanimity (mental

calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation), firmness,

serenity, of His own life carried into the lives of His saints. This peace

so keeps the heart and mind” that nothing can break down a spirit so

established. The two graces are here in their due order; for there is no

peace WITHOUT GRACE  (neither is there any peace to the wicked

Isaiah 48:22; “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it

cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  There is no peace,

saith my God, to the wicked” -  ibid.  ch. 57:20 – CY – 2019)

They cover the whole space of a believer’s life; for if it begins in grace,

its latter end is peace. The Lord always has “thoughts of grace and

peace toward us” (Jeremiah 29:11). They are together the bright sum

of the gospel.

 

He is also our Peace (ch. 2:14). We need this middle wall of our culture dissolved

now with its separation of Democrats, Republicans, citizens and aliens.

 

It is neither improper nor unnecessary to pray for grace and peace,

though we already possess them. We need a continuous supply and a

continuous experience of both blessings. Believers are, therefore, fully

justified in “coming boldly to a throne of grace, that they may obtain

mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   (Hebrews 4:16)

 

 

·         THE FOUNTAIN-HEAD OF BLESSING IS GOD THE FATHER.

(v. 3.) Paul puts “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” at the head of all

things. Out of that paternal heart ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSING COMES!

The dispensation of grace is OVERSHADOWED BY A FATHER!  All the

love which wells up out of parents’ hearts for their children, all the love they

lavish with varying success upon their prodigals, but faintly images the

      wondrous love that wells out of the heart of God.

 

 

·         THE FATHER PLANNED THE BLESSING OF HIS ADOPTED

CHILDREN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. (v. 4)

Starting from the sovereignty of the good God, as the rule of all blessing,

we have next to notice that the blessing of His adopted children was

deliberately planned from all eternity“before the foundation of the

world.” The foresight of a father when carried into every detail of the

children’s needs glorifies him in our estimation. We would not honor an

earthly father who left anything to haphazard, which he could have

foreseen. Hence we conceive of the infinite Father as leaving nothing to

chance, but arranging all down to the minutest details. (“If ye then, being

evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more

shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask

Him.”  - Matthew 11:7)  He did not leave a loose thread in the whole

arrangement. Why should He, if He is the Omniscient and Almighty God?

What is contended for in predestination, therefore, is that the Almighty

Father left nothing to chance, but provided for everything in His plan.

How this is compatible with human freedom is beyond our feeble

comprehension; but that it is compatible we do most firmly believe.

There are many problems of advanced mathematics which as rusty

mathematicians we cannot now see how to solve, and there are many

problems of science which are to the most splendid scientists still unsolved;

but we should be foolish in the extreme to pronounce either insoluble. So is

it with the Divine predestination and the freedom of the creature. There is a

solution somewhere, but it is beyond our terrestrial calculus. We believe in

both as Facts, and we leave the future to bring the reconciliation. And in

the heavenly places to which the Spirit helps us to soar, we rejoice in the

thought of that Divine plan which left nothing out, but embraced

everything.

 

 

 

·         THE ELECTION OF INDIVIDUALS WAS TO HOLINESS AND

BLAMELESSNESS OF CHARACTER BEFORE HIM IN LOVE. (v. 4.)

Holiness and perfection are the ends aimed at in God’s electing love. It

is because this is lost sight of that we have so much confusion on this

subject. God could not elect any soul to a salvation without holiness; the

idea has no meaning in the Divine mind. Men may desire to separate

salvation from holiness, to carry their sins with them into the heavenly

world; but such desires are vain, and under God’s government they can

have no realization. The election is unto holiness. So long as a soul loves

sin and hates holiness, he has no warrant to affirm any election. He may

subsequently turn from sin to God, and thus receive the evidence within

him; but a soul that loves sin and hates holiness has no business in dabbling

with this doctrine of election. God saves no man except in the process He

makes him holy. Hence we must remember “they were not chosen because

they were viewed as holy, and therefore deserving to be distinguished as

God’s favorites, on account of their obedience or personal purity, but that

they should be holy.”  (Leviticus 17:44-45; I Peter 1:16)

 

·         AND THESE INDIVIDUALS FIND THEMSELVES ADOPTED

INTO THE DIVINE FAMILY AND ACCEPTED IN CHRIST THE

BELOVED. (vs. 5-6.) We have seen that the infinite Father is the

Source of all blessing. But that Father has one only Son, the only begotten,

in His Divine family. The eternal Father had an eternal Son, and they held

fellowship from all eternity through the eternal Spirit. This Son was and is

the well-beloved. He always did the things which pleased the Father

(John 8:29). But, blessed be His Name, He was content to have “joint-heirs”

with Himself in His inheritance (Romans 8:17). Jesus showed no

jealousy about enlarging the family circle and about an abundance of

brethren. Hence the Father set about adopting children, bringing into the

charmed circle those who had no claim to the position or to its rewards.

But every adopted child is made to feel that he is accepted of the Father for

the elder Brother’s sake. Jesus as the Firstborn in the mighty family has so

endeared Himself to the Father that for His sake the Father accepts the

persons of the prodigals who are adopted into His family. There is no

reason in us for our adoptionthere can never be; IT IS OWING

SIMPLY AND ENTIRELY TO JESUS CHRIST that we are accepted

and adopted. Hence there is in the plan, as so far brought before us, no

ground for boasting. Election and adoption alike rest on the good pleasure

of God’s will. They are sovereign acts. They have their root in sovereignty;

and as we rise into the heavenly places, we see that this is exactly as it

should be.

 

 

 

 

                                                Redemption (v. 7)

 

“In whom we have the redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness

of our sins.”

 

·         What men need is more than instruction, education, or an elevating

influence. They are in sin — condemned, enslaved, and disordered; in the

fetters of a strong man armed, and a stronger is needed to disarm him and

spoil his house. In a word, they need redemption from sin.

 

·         What the gospel specially announces is such a redemption. CHRIST CAME,

not merely to enlighten, or elevate, or improve, but TO REDEEM!  He came

to grapple with sin in all its bearings and results.

 

·         This redemption was consummated by THE SHEDDING OF CHRIST’S

      BLOOD!  Jesus died as a sacrifice or propitiation for sin. He came by water

and by blood, not by water only. His blood cleanseth us from all sin;”

His Spirit renews the soul. Calvin says the blood figured atonement, the

water ablution. The side of Christ, he says, was the fountain of our sacraments.

 

·         Forgiveness of sins is a fundamental element of THIS REDEMPTION!  The

gospel of Christ is a gospel of forgiveness. Sin is blotted out freely through

Christ’s merit. We need nothing short of forgiveness, and should not rest

till we have it.

 

All this is to be enjoyed in UNION TO CHRIST!   “In whom” WE HAVE

REDEMPTION!  Thus union to Christ is the turning-point of all blessing.

 

 

                                                                        v. 8

 

Ø      The grace which determines redemption is conjoined with WISDOM

       and PRUDENCE. “Which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom

and prudence.” (v. 8)  The whole scheme of redemption is a manifestation

of wisdom.

 

 

Ø      The purpose of redemption part concealed and part revealed. “Having

made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good

pleasure which He purposed in Him.”  It must be held to be a well-timed

disclosure, as being what He purposed in Himself.  And we should feel

thankful for our being included within its scope.

 

 

 

 

 

A Comparison of the Pleasure of this World with the Pleasure of God

 

o        Pleasures of the World  (ἡδοναῖςhaedonais gratifications – this word

        is the origin of the idea behind the modern philosophy of Hedonism [the

        pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence] – CY - 2019); always in a

        bad sense in the New Testament (Luke 8:14; James 4:1, 3; II Peter 2:13). 

 

δουλεύοντες ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ ἡδοναῖς ποικίλαιςdouleuontes

epithumiais kai haedonais poikilaisslaving to desires and

gratifications various.“Serving divers lusts and pleasures”

Titus 3:3 - KJV

 

o        Pleasure of God – (εὐδοκίαeudokiagood pleasure.

κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ, ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ - kata taen

eudokian autou, haen proetheto en auto – in accord with the

delight of Him which He purposed in Him - “according to His

good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.”  v. 9.

 

 

Ø      It is a purpose in which there is development and a consummation.

“Unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in

Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth.” God is

here represented as having the administration of times or seasons. These

must be regarded as making up the whole extent across which the

redemptive purpose of God stretches. The time proper for redemption is

broken up into epochs. These are all determined and brought in by Him,

who, from one to another, is ever filling up His purpose and getting nearer

to His end. We must not have too rounded conceptions of what these

epochs are. When we are tempted to despond, the psalmist tells us that we

are to “remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” (Psalm

77:10)  We are to think of the vast time which God has in which to work

out HIS PURPOSE!

 

o        There is a completing-point in the development. The times

administered by God are to come to their fullness. When that will

be is yet mystery.  (Luke 21:25-28)

 

o        At the point of completion there is to be a unification which is

described in terms of universality. There is to be a gathering up

into one of all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and

which are on earth.  (v. 10)  There is confusion now; all things will

be harmonized at last. The final shaping of the purpose has not been

all brought out of mystery.  Enough that He who has the

administration of the times is to bring all things to an issue which

will be satisfactory to His own mind and to that of every rational

creature. Such a prospect as is here pictured, while it may not gratify

curiosity, it is fitted to:

 

§         fill the imagination and

§         to kindle hope.

 

o        This unification is to be in Christ. It was promised that in Abraham all

families of the earth would be blessed. The Church has a greater word

of hope here. It is Christ who has made this possible and certain.

He is harmonizing now by His blood and Spirit, by His Word and

Church; and He will not cease until, under the great Administrator,

He has harmonized all.  It is in Him that the purposes of God will

come forth at last into all their CLEARNESS, and have their

COMPLETE JUSTIFICATION!

 

 

 

 

                                    The Thanksgiving (vs. 3-14)

 

The condition of believers is fitted to excite the profoundest emotions of

gratitude and praise in all who know them. Grounds of this thankfulness

are:

 

·         STATED SUMMARILY. (v. 3, exposition above)

 

·         STATED IN DETAIL. (vs. 4-14.) The chief elements of blessing

are:

 

Ø      Holiness and blamelessness in love, secured by God’s eternal election

(v. 4).

Ø      Adoption, secured in the same way (v. 5).

Ø      Acceptance in the Beloved (v. 6).

Ø      Redemption through Christ’s blood, especially forgiveness of sin (v. 7).

Ø      Abundance of grace, regulated by wisdom and knowledge – prudence –

      practical knowledge in the management of affairs (v. 8).

Ø      Enlightenment in the mystery of God’s will as to the Gentiles (v. 9).

Ø      Especially, knowledge of Jesus Christ as the predestined Center or

      Head of all things (v. 10).

Ø      Fellowship with Christ in the enjoyment and purpose of His inheritance

(vs. 11-12).

Ø      The seal of the Holy Spirit, or earnest of our inheritance, the pledge and

assurance of the eternal glory.

 

Observe the constant allusions to:

 

o       THE GLORY OF GOD’S GRACE!

 

 

                                                            v. 10

 

Unity is a characteristic of God’s works. Unity of the solar system, the stars, the heavens.

In the moral and spiritual world there are diverse orders of holy beings. To us only two

are known — angels and men. But there may be many more. All these it is God’s purpose

to form into one economy.  Jesus Christ is the Center of this great plan. We have some

glimpses of this in the Apocalypse. Besides countless angels, “Every creature which

is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and

all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power,

be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever”   

(Revelation 5:13).  This does not imply that there will be nothing outside this glorious

host of holy beings; for the Apocalypse affirms the contrary.  There is no hint here of

a universal restoration.  Such a notion would be in flat contradiction to the doctrine

of Divine election, which dominates the whole passage. God’s purpose is to form a

united kingdom, consisting of the unfallen and the restored:

 

·         the unfallen in heaven, and

·         the restored on earth,

 

and to gather this whole body together under Christ as its Head (see ch. 3:15). 

We cannot say that this purpose has been fully effected as yet; but things are

moving towards it, AND ONE DAY IT WILL BE WHOLLY REALIZED!

“He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make  all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth:  and the former shall not be

remembered nor come into mind.  But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that

which I create:  for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”

(Isaiah 65:18-19)

 

  • This subject gives us an exalted conception of the place of honor to be

      occupied by Christ in eternity. As was His humiliation, so will His glory be.

 

  • It gives us also an exalted conception of the glory and dignity of all true

            believers. How glorious the fellowship of such an order of beings! How

            insignificant the honors of earth, for which men toil so hard!

 

“even in Him  - Men try in our day to bring about a union of humanity on a basis

of laws looking “deep within”, or of a policy of socialism, (we have a President that

is talking about “collective salvation”CY – 2010; And now nine years later,

we have a new President who is under constant attack because he is promoting

capitalism, and doing it quite well if the economy is an indicator.  Just this week,

the former president mentioned above is praising those who are trying to undermine

the current president and encouraging the same.  I saw this on Facebook – this being

the week of July 22-28, 2019 – CY). or of the creed of “liberty, equality and fraternity”

BUT THE CROSS IS THE ONLY RECONCILER OF:

 

·       MAN TO GOD AND

·       MAN TO MAN! 

 

  

 

                        The Summing Up in One of All Things in Christ (v. 10)

 

This was the mystery of God hid for ages, but now revealed.

 

·         IT IMPLIES A PRIOR SEPARATION OF THE THINGS RECOLLECTED

OR REGATHERED TO GOD IN JESUS CHRIST AS CENTER OR HEAD.

Sin is the great divider.

 

Ø      It separates man from God;

Ø      it separates man from man;

Ø      it causes a schism within man himself.

 

Rebellion introduced disorder. There was a break of moral continuity

between earth and heaven caused by the Fall. “Earth was morally severed

from heaven and the worlds which retained their pristine integrity.” The

primary reference here may be to the separation or enmity which so long

held apart the Jew and the Gentile, but it undoubtedly has a wider

reference to the relations between heaven and earth which were so

profoundly affected by the fall of man.

 

·         THE OBJECTS OF THE REUNION.

 

Ø      Jews and Gentiles, so long apart, are now “made both one” through the

blood of the cross. (ch. 2:13-14)  Men try in our day to bring about a union of

humanity on a basis of moral rule, or of socialism, or of the creed of liberty,

equality, and fraternity; but the cross is the only reconciler of man to man.

It is only under Christianity that any approach has been made toward a more

just view of human rights, and toward a more genuine interest in the welfare

of individual men.

 

Ø      The whole Church of God in heaven and in earth is reunited in Christ.

This includes the saints of all dispensations, who, whether they lived under

the comparative twilight of the Jewish dispensation, or in the days of

anti-christian apostasy in our own dispensation, found their home at last in

glory. There are those who imagine that the pre-Christian saints do not

belong to the Church of God, because this Church, they affirm, first came

into being on the day of Pentecost, and therefore they assign to the saints

of Jewish times an inferior place of glory in heaven. The Church of God for

which Christ died (ch. 5:2) must include the saints of all time.

This is the Church which He hath purchased with His own blood, and, if the

Old Testament saints are not in it, they are lost. There is no redemption

apart from union with the person of the Redeemer; for the one sentence in

the Corinthian Epistle covers the destinies of the whole human race: “As in

Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians

15:22). And if we are Abraham’s seed, we must have union with Christ; for

“they that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Galatians 3:9).

Those, therefore, who are to be gathered together in Christ must include

the saints of every dispensation.

 

Ø      The angels of heaven are  included among “the things of

heaven.” When we consider that Jesus Christ is Head of angels as well as

men, that the angels are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, that

they had a profound interest in the work of redemption, that the Church

itself was to be the means of instructing them in the wonders of God’s plan

of salvation (ch. 3:10), that the angels themselves may have

been confirmed in their holy steadfastness by the Son of God, that our

Divine Redeemer continues to wear in the sight of angels the human nature

He wore on earth, — it is no extravagant speculation that all the heavenly

hosts are united under a new Head, and in a new bond in virtue of the

THE GRAND TRANSACTION ON CALVARY.  (“......which things the

angels desire to look into.”  - I Peter 1:12)

 

Ø      There seems no just reason for believing that the passage sanctions the

restoration of lost men and lost angels. The parallel passage in

Colossians 1:20, which speaks of “things in heaven and things on

earth” — that is, the redeemed saints of earth and heaven — seems to

exclude such an interpretation.

 

·         THE CENTER OF REUNION IS CHRIST. The re-collecting or

regathering is twice-told as in Him. An ancient prophetic voice spoke of

Him as the One to whom “shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis

49:10).

 

Ø      He is the Center of everything in the universe. He is the Center of

      nature, for not only were all things made by Him, but in Him they

      consist (ibid. vs. 16-17);

 

Ø      He is the Center of providence, for He upholds all things

            by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3);

 

Ø      He is the Center of Christendom, just as he was the Center of the

            old theocracy;

 

Ø      He is the Center of the Church invisible, for He is its Head

            and its Life;

 

Ø      He is the Center of heaven, for it is the Lamb that is in the

            midst of the throne;

 

Ø      He is the Center of the Godhead itself, Father, Son, and

            Holy Ghost.

 

It is, therefore, in Him that “all things in earth and all things in

heaven” are re-collected or summed up, for the showing forth, with a luster

before unknown, of the majesty and glory of God. I in them, and thou in

            me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

 

 

·         THE SOURCE OF OUR HOPE IN CHRIST. We are predestinated

thereunto (v. 11). It is the “God of hope” who causes us “to abound in hope”

(Romans 15:13); it is He who gives us “a good hope through grace”

(II Thessalonians 2:16) not of nature or man’s merits, for it is ascribed to His

abundant mercy” as the spring of it (I Peter 1:3); and He gives us “the

patience and comfort of the Scriptures, that we may have hope”

(Romans 15:4).

 

 

 

                                    The Consummation of All Things (v. 10)

 

We have in this bold, sweeping picture of the great onward movement of

the universe a solution of the most ambitious questions of philosophy.

What is the meaning of the ever-changing flux and rush of all things? and

whither does it tend? It is, says Paul, a progress towards organic unity.

Can any thought be more modern or more in accordance with strict

science? Paul recognizes the all-important point, too often ignored in

ancient philosophy, that we have to deal with organic conditions — with

living forces and their resultants. He discerns a purpose in the seeming

confusion of forces. In spite of many indications of failure, he discovers a

sure progress. And the end of this progress he declares to be UNION and

HARMONY! Yet he is not merely philosophizing. His idea is theological; he

sees God’s mind planning the whole, and God’s hand effecting it. It is also

essentially Christian. The end is accomplished THROUGH CHRIST!

 

·         GOD PURPOSES TO BRING ALL THINGS INTO ORGANIC

UNION.   Heaven and earth, things spiritual and things material, will

ultimately integrate in one grand unity. Consider some of the wonderful

results involved in such a process as it completes itself.

 

Ø      An approach of all things nearer together and a more ready

intercommunication. The earthly will no longer be separated from the

heavenly.

Ø      Mutual co-operation. Each will minister to the other.

Ø      The more effective work of higher organization.

Ø      The end of all discord, the overthrow of all evil, the subjection of the

lower to the higher. Sin must then be cast out and God’s will done on

earth as it is now only done in heaven.

Ø      No necessary uniformity. On the contrary, differentiation increases with

integration. The most highly organized bodies have the greatest variety

of parts. While we look for progress, therefore, we must not be surprised

at seeing increasing differences of constitution, idea, method of action,

etc., among Christians, but even expect this to accompany a growth in

harmonious mutual helpfulness. We are not to see the uniformity of the

blades of grass in a meadow; but the unity of the root, trunk, branches,

leaves, and fruit of one great tree.  (I recommend the last half of

Fantastic Trip on the Internet – CY – 2019)

 

·         THE UNION OF ALL THINGS WILL BE EFFECTED THROUGH

CHRIST. We cannot measure the far-reaching effects of the life-work of

Christ. But the character of all of them is peacemaking and progressive.

Christ comes:

 

o       to quell the discord of life,

o       to draw all into one, and

o       to lead the whole on to a higher life.

 

We may see, partly, by what means this is done.

 

Ø      The Incarnation. Thus heaven comes down to earth. The process

      begins here in one man, Jesus.

Ø      The sacrifice of Christ. This is a peace offering. By it the separation

between man and God is done away.

Ø      The brotherhood of Christ. All Christians are brethren in Christ. Thus

human differences are done away; Jew and Gentile, bond and free,

barbarians and civilized; are one in Christ. In the end, the union of

Christians in the Church should realize the cosmopolitan oneness which

will banish war and mutual jealousies.

Ø      The headship of Christ. As Christ is recognized to be the Head by all,

      all become members of Him, and so members one of another.

Ø      The final triumph of Christ over:

o       sin,

o       death, and

o       all evil things.

 

·         THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE ORGANIC UNION OF ALL

THINGS WILL COME WITH “THE DISPENSATION OF THE

FULLNESS OF TIMES.”  There will be a fullness of times.

The present confusion is only temporary. It may last long, but not forever.

We may do something to hasten the consummation of all things.

(I believe the last 50 years of pseudo-civilization is doing this, a la

the explanation given in the last seven words of Revelation 11:18 – “....

shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”  - CY – 2019)   It will

only come when the times are ripe for it; but as we do our part to aid the

great Christian progress, we help on the ripening of the ages.