As I mentioned Sunday, one of the things I intend to do during this series is blog on issues that we just don’t have time for in the morning message. For this week’s blog post, I’ve chosen Ephesians 1:9-10:
. . . making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)
It is not an overstatement to say that these words, and especially the phrase “the mystery of his will,” are the heart of the doctrinal portion (chapter’s one through three) of this letter. What is Paul describing here?
Paul is referring to the great truth that God’s calling and salvation, and all the promises of His Word, are open not just to Jews, but to all people. Paul devotes a great deal of time to this topic in chapters two and three as he describes the metaphorical breaking down of the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles in the temple in Jerusalem, and the truth that in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are members of the same kingdom, and in fact, the same family. This truth seems a bit anticlimactic in light of today’s predominantly Gentile church. However, the greater truth in these words ought to energize all of us.
Unlike Macbeth in Shakespeare’s great play, we know that history is not, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” No, history is moving toward a great end, one that glorifies God through His son, Jesus Christ. In the “fullness of time,” through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God has demonstrated that there is clear direction, and ultimate purpose in this universe and in our lives. Here, in Ephesians, Paul describes it as the uniting of all things in Christ – things in heaven, and things on earth. In Philippians he tells us that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10-11, ESV)
This universe and its purpose is a mystery to even the greatest of earthly minds. The great French philosopher Andre Maurois asked, “Why are we on this puny mud-heap, spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am convinced that no one has the least idea.” But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we clearly see “the mystery of his will.” And to the degree that our will is caught up in the mystery of his will, we will experience meaning, purpose, and significance in a world that offers to those outside of Christ only despair. Now that’s what I call riches that money can’t buy!