Friday, July 25, 2014

Mystery Revealed- Ephesians 1

The Mystery revealed is none other than Jesus Christ. In Him all of the previous types and shadows are made clear.  The truth is not revealed so much in a system, in a genre of literature, in reading the types and shadows and deducing the truth of them but rather, in seeing, understanding and knowing a particular person.
            The mystery comes together in Jesus. See Jesus for who He is and you will understand the mystery of God towards mankind, towards His beloved, towards the Gentiles, towards His love of the world and final fulfillment to save the world. Outside of Jesus, none of this makes sense. Israel, even modern Israel, is an obscure place on the Earth and we cannot make sense of a King ruling the world from there.
            But if we see Jesus, exalted to the Heavens, above all principalities and powers and we see His people scattered to the four winds of the corners of the Earth, then it makes perfect sense that He will continue to rule until all of His enemies are subdued beneath His feet. God has revealed this mystery to us and we should see it and understand it. It is no longer hidden.
            Eph. 1:1   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:  2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
            Paul tells us that we are chosen in Christ but before he tells us this he also tells us that he is chosen by God as an apostle, one who is sent for Jesus’s sake.
            The letter is written to the saints at Ephesus. It appears it may be a letter that was meant for a wide audience, not just a particular church.
            He sends grace and peace. These companions go together well. Because we receive God’s grace, peace naturally follows. This grace and peace is not only from Jesus or not only through Jesus. It comes from God, the Father and is reckoned to us because of our faith in Jesus. The point is that God, the Father, sends us grace and peace. He is not an angry Father. He is a Father that makes sure that there is reconciliation with and among His children.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 
Again, God, our Father, has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ. We have these blessing ‘in Christ.’ They are not to be found outside of Christ. But we should keep in mind that God, the Father, has supplied us these blessings. We need to do some real work on whom God, the Father, is. If we understand this, aright, it will have a great corrective in our fears and insecurities. We do not serve an angry God. He is a sympathetic God who provides a way for us to be blessed in Jesus.
God chose us ‘in him’ ‘in Christ’ before the foundation of the world. This messes with our minds. He has not only merely chosen us. He has chosen us to a purpose. That purpose is that we should be holy and without blame.
We need to get the order right. We do not get holy and without blame and then become pleasing to God so that He chooses us. His choice of us was in order to make us holy and blameless. This means that we were unholy and blameworthy. It is God’s choice of us that takes away the sin and the guilt.
This is why the apostle greets us with grace and peace. We were unholy and blameworthy. Like the Ephesians we were without God and without hope in the world. But God chose us to bestow holiness and guiltlessness upon us.
We also need to get our minds around this. In Christ, we are holy and blameless. What does it mean  to be holy? It means that we are set apart to God’s purposes. He has taken us from a common use, an holy use, and transformed us into holy vessels. He is the potter and can do this if He pleases. Outside of Christ, you are common, unholy. But, in Christ, you are set apart to give honor and praise to God. This is holiness.
Furthermore, you are without guilt. How can that be? For you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God, in His infinite wisdom sent expiation for your sins in the person of Jesus. This satisfied God’s wrath at sin so that He could look favorably on you.
We have been blessed in the heavenlies in Christ. Christ is in the heavens at the right hand of the Father. In Him, we are also seated at the right hand of the Father. God has exalted us, in Christ, to receive this heavenly blessing. Our calling and election is sure if we are in Christ. But we are still told to make our calling and election sure. What can this mean other than to make sure that we remain in Christ. And the only way to do that is to continue to believe all that the Father and the Spirit and the Son say about Jesus. We must continue to be ‘in Him’.
There is one sense in which simply being baptized into Christ makes us ‘in Christ.’ But we know that not all who are baptized into Christ walk in faithfulness to Him. Many fall away completely. Others walk in scandalous ways. Still others look good on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones. What is the antidote for them? The same as it is for those who have the blessed assurance of grace and peace. Confession, repentance and new life.
Thus, the Holy Spirit of promise is given to them to know that Jesus has turned them from darkness to light, from worldliness to righteousness, from hell to heaven, from death to life.

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 
Adoption is such a great picture. Sometimes cute little babies are adopted. Often, these cute babies are adopted out of horrid conditions. The mother is a meth addict, a heroine addict, an alcoholic, a prostitute. While any pregnant mother has some emotional connection to their baby, these mothers either cannot or will not love and nurture their babies. I understand that mothers who do love their babies often give them up in order to give the babies a chance in life. But even in that case, the baby is rejected from its own mother. This is a sad state of affairs.
Adopting parents understand what it is to love a child that has been rejected. Sometimes the child feels this rejection acutely, even when loving adoptive parents shower them with love. But adopted children also often have a great love for their adoptive parents. They were rejected by their mother but fully received and counted as family by their new mother and father.
God has taken such bedraggled children, rejected by the world and made them acceptable. God accepts us in Christ. We are lovely in the brotherhood. God has made us brothers and sisters with Jesus. We are full joint-heirs with Jesus.
Why did God do this? Why did He look upon such troubled children and decide to love them? In one sense, we could say it was for the same reason that adoptive parents choose to adopt. They want to. They choose to love children that are otherwise rejected. It is their good pleasure to do so.
There is another reason why God has adopted us. He lost His own children. He created Adam and Eve and they sinned. They were cast out of the garden, a sort of disinheritance. But God made a way for them to come back and receive be His heirs through the offspring of Noah and Abraham and Moses. But His children continued to rebel and He removed them once again from the inheritance.
But He provided a way for one to redeem mankind so that all mankind could become His adopted children, even those who had been disinherited. He turned to worldly children, Gentiles, and called them His own in Jesus. God desired many children and in providing a way for these children to become holy and blameless, He sent His Son into the world.

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 
Through Jesus, God has bought us. He has redeemed us. We were guilty, in debt to the world, the flesh and the devil. We were worthy only of wrath, by nature objects of wrath. But God chose to set His favor upon us, purchasing us with the price of the blood of Jesus.
Once Jesus became the expiation for our sins, then God forgave us in Christ. His forgiveness is granted to all them that believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, those who confess sins, repenting and are baptized in the name of the Triune God.
The riches of His grace- This is a wonderful phrase. It simply means that God is rich in grace. He is not stingy about grace. He has mountains of grace and He is generous with it, granting grace upon all those who call upon Him in the name of His Son.

8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;  9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
God abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence by the riches of His grace. God had a plan throughout the history of mankind. He put it in motion at just the right time. He was wise when He did this. He was prudent. He thought about it and worked it out. It is hard for us to understand the ways of God. We do not know exactly why He put His plan in place at the time He did. There is mystery there.
But God did not hide His intentions. The long history of mystery was revealed. Throughout the history of Israel, God had shown His hand in types and shadows. It was clear that He planned to provide a redeemer, a Savior, the Messiah, for Israel. But it was not clear how or when He would do this.
Even during the life of Jesus and the ministry to His Apostles, God’s plan was still shrouded in mystery. Although the Apostles believed Jesus to be both the Messiah and the Son of God, they did not understand what Jesus was doing. They did not get the need to take away sins once and for all. They did not understand that Jesus was the Second Adam, redeeming all mankind from his fall into sin and death. They did not understand the final victory in the Resurrection of the dead.
But here the Apostle tells us that this mystery is all revealed in the work, death, Resurrection and rule of Jesus. We are again told that God revealed this simply because He wanted to. His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, was the cause. It is good for us to stop there when looking into the things that are hidden. He revealed His plan in Jesus. Why? Because He wanted to.

10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 
What did He purpose to do? He planned with wisdom and prudence to gather all things into Jesus. This all things includes those things in Heaven and on Earth. This is the Lord’s prayer, that His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. He is bringing all things into subjection to Jesus.
The dispensation of the fullness of times means that it was His flourishing touch to finish up His plan right at that time. It was like the climax of a story which brings all the players together and makes sense of all the various parts.
We see this often in story. An author is weaving a complex story and we sometimes have a hard time understanding how all the various parts are going to come together in one cohesive story. The better the author, the more befuddled you might be. Then, in just a few pages, all the stories are woven together to make sense. This is the dispensation of the fullness of time.

This is what God did in Jesus. All of a sudden it made it all make sense. The bruising of the serpent’s head. Salvation through water like Noah. The faith of Abraham. The law of Moses as love for God and love for man. The bronze serpent which saves all those who look upon it. The mercy seat covered in the blood of the sacrifice for the people. The scapegoat freed in the wilderness. The eternal Davidic Kingdom. The destruction and reconstruction of the Temple. The promises of an even greater kingdom and a more glorious temple. The light of the Gentiles and the glory of the people Israel. The New Jerusalem, a heavenly Temple, the mountain cut out without hands that fills the whole earth. All of a sudden, in Jesus, it all makes sense.

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