God has revealed the Mystery of His Will to us – Ephesians 1:9-10

ImageIn looking at the early verses of Ephesians chapter 1 we have reached the fifth blessing to believers as mentioned by the apostle Paul—God has revealed the mystery of His will to us. This is the key thought and great theme of Ephesians. We must remember that  in the Bible a mystery is not something mysterious and difficult to understand. Rather, it is a truth that has been locked up in God’s plan for ages until He was ready to reveal it to man. When the time came, He unlocked the truth and opened it up to man. A mystery is a truth revealed by God that had never before been known. (See 1 Corinthians. 2:7 for a list of all the mysteries of the Bible.) The mystery of God’s will can be simply stated: God is to gather together and unify all things in a spirit of peace and harmony—all things, both visible and invisible. All things are to be brought to a peaceful and eternal state under the authority and glorification of Jesus Christ. God is moving history toward that climactic consummation.

Paul’s great thought in Ephesians. 1:9-10 says several things.

1.  God has an eternal purpose and plan for the world, and it is His pleasure to bring it about. He joys and rejoices to bring it about, and what He does is good. It is all good.

2.  There is terrible division throughout the universe. The need for God “to gather all things in heaven and earth” indicates division (cp. Ephesians. 6:12). And the fact that God’s primary concern through all the ages has been to harmonize the divisions shows how devastating and horrible the division really is. The Great Message of Ephesians is “Reconciliation.” Paul deals with the major problem of man—the problem of division, disunity, and disharmony. He deals with the major divisions and dissensions throughout the universe.

a.  Man is seen divided against God (Ephesians. 2:1).

b.  Man is seen divided against man (Ephesians. 2:11).

c.  Christians are seen out of harmony with Christians (Ephesians. 4:1).

d.  Christians are seen out of harmony with God (Ephesians. 5:1).

e.  Family members are seen divided against family members (Ephesians. 5:22).

f.  Slaves (employees) are seen divided against masters (employers) (Ephesians. 6:5).

g.  Man is seen out of harmony with cosmic powers (Ephesians. 2:2; Ephesians. 6:10, 11-12; Ephesians. 3:10, 15; See also Romans 8:18 for man’s division against nature).

This terrible and terrifying division is said to hound and haunt man and to demand his constant attention and struggle. Paul’s answer is one-fold. And it should be noted, his answer is one of the great revelations of Scripture. “[God] having made known unto us the mystery of his will…that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Ephesians. 1:9-10).

Christ is the only answer to division, to disunity, and to disharmony. He is the One who breaks down all barriers; He is the One who reconciles all things.

a.  He reconciles man to God by the blood of the cross (Ephesians. 2:4-13, esp. Ephesians. 2:13).

b.  He reconciles man to man by bringing all men together into one body, His church (Ephesians. 2:13-22).

c.  He reconciles Christians to Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit and by giving individual gifts and functions for each member to perform (Ephesians. 4:1-32).

d.  He reconciles believers to God by the power and fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians. 5:1-21).

e.  He reconciles family members to family members by giving the example of Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians. 5:22-24).

f.  He reconciles slaves (employees) to masters (employers) by putting both on an equal footing before Christ (Ephesians. 5:5-9).

g.  He enables man to overcome the cosmic and spiritual powers and the evil forces of the universe by the armor of God (Ephesians. 6:10-18).

3.  The wonderful revelation is that there is to be a consummation, a climax of history—a fullness of time, a new order—in which all things will be unified and harmonized and brought to a peaceful state under the authority of Jesus Christ. History is in the hands of God. The word Paul uses is dispensation which literally means, “household arrangement.” The idea is that the universe is a house under the management of God. God is handling, planning, arranging, and administering all things toward a climactic consummation for Christ and His followers. In that climactic day all disharmony and division and evil will be subjected and harmonized under Christ. A new and perfect and eternal creation will be established for the Lord and His followers throughout the universe.

4.  Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Head over the new creation and new order. He is God’s Head over the church, which is God’s new creation in the present world and order of things (Ephesians. 1:22-23). And He is to be God’s Head over the new creation in the future world and order of things (James 1:18).

5.  The church is the Lord’s instrument of reconciliation and peace, His representative body upon the earth. As the instrument of the Lord, the church is to do two things.

a.  The church is to take Christ and His message of reconciliation and peace to the world. Through “His body, the church,” all division and disorder among men are to be condemned, and His message of harmony and peace is to be proclaimed.

b.  The church is to practice reconciliation upon the earth. “In the church” all laws, barriers, and divisions are to be done away with. They are to be nonexistent. The church is to be a speck, an embryo of heaven upon the earth.

As Paul stated to the Corinthians; “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians. 5:19-21).

Wisdom and Understanding – Ephesians 1:8

Wisdom and UnderstandingLooking at the early verses of Ephesians chapter 1, we notice that the fourth blessing Paul states that God has given us is wisdom and understanding. Again, note that both blessings come to us through Jesus Christ. Common sense tells us that God will give His wisdom and understanding only to those who honour Him and His Son.

1.  The word “wisdom” means seeing and knowing the truth. It is seeing and knowing what to do. It grasps the great truths of life. It sees the answers to the problems of life and death, God and man, time and eternity, good and evil—the deep things of God and of the universe. This wisdom is found only in Jesus Christ and is promised only to those who search after Him with all their heart.

As the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians:                                                                          “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians. 2:9-16 KJV).

2.  The word “prudence” means seeing how to use and do the truth. It is seeing the direction to take. It is understanding, insight, the ability to solve day to day problems. It is a down-to-earth practical understanding of things. As the apostle Paul reveals later in the chapter:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Ephesians. 1:17-18 KJV).

The great need of believers is to grow in the knowledge of God. Note that the God we are to know is clearly identified. He is not the god of our own minds and thoughts—the god we conceive when we picture what God is like—the god made by men’s minds and hands—the god of religion.

⇒  The God we are to know is the God of Jesus Christ: that is, the God whom Jesus Christ worshipped when He was on earth as a Man; the God whom Jesus Christ came to reveal to men. There is no other God—not a true and living God. If we are to really know God, we must come to know the God whom Christ worshipped and revealed.

⇒  The God we are to know is the Father of glory, that is, the only true and living God, the Supreme Majesty and Sovereign Lord of the Universe—the One who is the Supreme intelligence and power of the universe and who has created all and rules over all—the One who is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), and so expansive that His very being and presence reaches out beyond the stars and embraces all that is or ever will be—the One who declares that He has “set His glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1).

This is the God we are to know. As stated, He is the only living and true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the God of glory. Believers must grow more and more in the knowledge of Him; they must gain an ever-increasing knowledge of Him.

John Calvin expresses his thoughts on this verse Ephesians 1:8 thus:

“In all wisdom. He now comes to the formal cause, the preaching of the gospel, by which the goodness of God overflows upon us. It is through faith that we receive Christ, by whom we come to God, and by whom we enjoy the privilege of adoption. Paul gives to the gospel the magnificent appellations of wisdom and prudence, for the purpose of leading the Ephesians to despise all contrary doctrines. The false apostles insinuated themselves, under the pretense of imparting views more elevated than the elementary instructions which Paul conveyed. And the devil, in order to undermine our faith, labours, as far as he can, to disparage the gospel. Paul, on the other hand, builds up the authority of the gospel, that believers may rest upon it with unshaken confidence. All wisdom means — full or perfect wisdom.”                                                                               (Ephesians 1:8 Calvin’s Commentaries.)

If the believer is to grow in the knowledge of God, he must seek the wisdom of God more than anything else on this earth. It is the person who hungers and thirsts after God and His righteousness that is filled.

God has Redeemed us and forgiven our sins (Ephesians 1:7)

God has Redeemed usGod has redeemed us and forgiven our sins. The word “redemption” is one of the great words of the Bible. It conveys the idea of deliverance or setting a man free by paying a ransom. For example, a prisoner of war or a kidnapped person is ransomed or redeemed; or a convicted criminal is freed from the penalty of death. In every case the man is powerless to free himself. He cannot pay the penalty demanded to liberate himself from his situation or bondage.

Note several significant facts.
1.  Man has been captivated or kidnapped by several forces.

a.  The force of sin. All men sin and cannot help but sin. Man is sold under sin. Sin has captivated him (Romans 3:23; Romans 7:14).

b.  The force of corruption and death. The whole creation is corrupt (Romans 8:21). Everything wastes away; it deteriorates, decays, ages, and eventually dies. Corruption and death have captivated man.

c.  The force of Satan. All unbelievers are under the power and influence of Satan. He has blinded their minds to the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). He works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians. 2:2). They are captivated by him (1 John 5:19).

2.  Three key ideas are included in the concept of redemption.

a.  Man needs to be liberated, delivered, and set free.

b.  Man is unable to liberate himself. He has no energy, no power, no ability to free himself.

c.  God has redeemed man by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. God Himself has paid the ransom for man’s release—the ransom of a life for a life. God gave His own Son so that man might be set free. Man has been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. This is extremely important to note: when a man truly calls upon the Lord to save him, God buys him right out of the marketplace of this corruptible life (Romans 10:13). God redeems him once for all, purchases and removes him from further sale. He is redeemed eternally.

3.  God redeems man because of the riches of His grace. He loves man with an unbelievable love—a love so great that it spurs Him to do whatever is necessary to save man.

On the other hand the word “forgiveness” means to send off, to send away, to release, to let go. The word for “sin” means transgression, trespass, a falling by the way, or deviating from the way. All men…

•  have transgressed the law of God.

•  have deviated from God.

•  have fallen from the way of God.

Therefore, all men stand guilty of having broken the law of God, and the penalty for breaking the law is death. However, the blood of Jesus Christ brings forgiveness to men. How? Jesus Christ died for man. He took the penalty of sins and bore the punishment Himself.

Christ was able to do this because He was the Perfect and Ideal Man, and as the Ideal Man, He could stand for and represent all men. When He died, He died as the Ideal Man, as the Representative for all men. Any person who really believes that Jesus Christ died for him is forgiven his sins. God takes his faith and counts it as the death of Jesus Christ. God sees the man as being in Jesus Christ, as being in the death of Jesus Christ. God counts the death of Jesus Christ for the death of the man. Therefore, the guilt and penalty for breaking God’s laws are completely removed. The man’s sins and guilt are sent away or washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, this is at the very heart of the gospel.

“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38).

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me [Christ Jesus]” (Acts 26:18).

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians. 1:7).