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Ephesians - Part 5

"The Mystery of His Will - Part 1"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

Ephesians 1:8-14
  1. The Mystery Made Known (verses 8-10)
  2. The Mystery To The Jew (verses 11-12)
  3. The Mystery To The Gentile (verse 13)
  4. The Mystery To Both (verse 14)

'Preach The Word'

One writer has said: 'God has many counsels but only one purpose'

That was good singing, let me welcome you to our Bible Study this evening. We hope and trust that, as we meet together around God's word, that the Lord will meet with us and speak to us through His precious inspired book, the Bible, as we study it together this evening. We're turning again to Ephesians and chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 1, and we'll take time to read from verse 1. We've been going quite slowly, but it's important that we do go slowly and we understand what we are reading, and we understand every blessing that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. But we're quickening up a little bit today, we're doing a few more verses than one or two.

Let's read together from verse 1 again: "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: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [realms] in Christ: 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: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 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: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that 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 we're looking this evening at verses 8 right down to verse 14. We mightn't get all the way down to it this evening, but we want to look at these verses. Look at verse 8 first of all. We looked last week in verse 7 about the redemption that we have in Him, through His blood the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. And then Paul, in this long sentence without any punctuation at all, continues to reel off all the blessings that we have in Christ again. Verse 8: 'Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence', verse 9: 'Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself' - and so on, and so on.

We're going to look, first of all, at the mystery of God's will that has been made known

We're going to look this evening at the subject: 'The Mystery of God's Will'. One writer has said: 'God has many counsels but only one purpose'. Think about that for a moment. God, in His heavens, in His infinite mind and wisdom and sovereignty, has many counsels but only one purpose. If you were to scour the whole of the word of God this evening, from Genesis to Revelation, you would find many counsels of God within His word. There's His counsels with regards to the nation and the people of Israel. Then there are God's counsels concerning the Gentile nations and people. You remember that God said to Abraham - this was His counsel concerning the Jewish people: 'In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed'. God's counsels - that through the Jews there would be a special people that would be a light unto all the nations and, one day, in His counsels He would affect every nation upon the face of the earth through this one nation: the Jewish race. Then there are His hidden counsels. What are they? We have in the Old Testament His revealed counsels to Israel. But what we do not have in the Old Testament is what we read about within the book of Ephesians and, indeed, throughout all of our New Testament is the new covenant within the blood of Christ that all nations are brought into the benefit of.

We read about these things that were hidden throughout all of time, never disclosed, perhaps not even hinted at, but here we have it revealed through Jesus Christ, through the written word of God in the New Testament scriptures. There are His hidden counsels with regard to the reign of Christ upon the earth, that one day there would be a reign of the Messiah who would reign in holiness and righteousness and have everyone in every nation under His feet - and as the hymnwriter says: 'His kingdom shall stretch from shore to shore'. All of these counsels have different parts, but there is one purpose. Now I want you to get that before we begin to study these verses: God has many counsels but He has only one purpose. If you think of the Pacific Ocean, and all those mountainous valleys and all those little streams that go to tributaries that then go into a mighty river, and all those mighty rivers run into the Pacific Ocean - many counsels but one final Ocean of purpose!

We're going to look, first of all, at the mystery of God's will that has been made known in verses 8 to 10. Look at those verses with me. We'll look at verse 8 first of all. Now let's read it carefully: 'Wherein [God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence'.

'Count your many blessings,
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done!'

Hallelujah! What a Saviour we have! What blessings we have been learning about!

Hasn't it surprised us? Over these weeks as we have looked - and we have looked at what we have in Christ: 'all spiritual blessings in heavenly realms'. We haven't to wait on them. We haven't to wait till the consummation of all things or the end of the age, or even till Christ comes back again - whether it's in rapture, whether it's to come to the earth to set up His millennial reign - we don't have to wait, because we have all spiritual blessings in heavenly realms now! Isn't that wonderful? We looked at the fact at how we have these blessings even before we were born. For we were chosen in Him, Paul told us, before the foundation of the world. Our purpose and our destiny was predestined in the person and the image of Christ to be placed, to be planted, rooted and grounded in Him, immovable!

We looked at how we have been adopted - taken from the slave market of sin: children of wrath, children of the devil - and brought into the family of God, adopted. Not just adopted in our sense, but our very nature has been engrafted into the nature of God in Christ. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus! What a blessing! And then last week we looked at redemption and how we are bought with the blood of Christ - how our redemption and our salvation is secure; that there is nothing that can move it. And, outflowing from that redemption, there is the forgiveness of all our sins forever! Hallelujah! What a Saviour we have! What blessings we have been learning about! But here in our reading this evening Paul tells us of more than election, predestination, adoption, redemption. But now he testifies that the God who is liberal, that we read about in verse 7, that He gives us according - look at it: 'to the riches of his grace'. We learnt that he's not a niggardly God. He is not a God who is miserly, who is tight-fisted, but He is the God who lavishes all that He has - everything is ours in Christ Jesus! So He tells us, in verse 8, how God has lavished His riches upon us: 'Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence'.

Now to explain this we need to turn to Colossians chapter 1. Colossians chapter 1, and if you ever happen to read (and I advise you to do so) the book of Ephesians in parallel with the book of Colossians, you will see that Paul writes about very similar things, and there are parallel passages between the two of them. And, if you like, the parallel passage to Ephesians 1 verse 8, within the book of Colossians, is Colossians 1 verse 9. Look at it: 'For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding'. It's amazing the blessings that we have in Christ, isn't it? I heard a story recently (and it could only happen in America) that a very rich man died and he left an estate of $20 million. No one could find the next of kin, there didn't seem to be a relative anywhere - couldn't find anybody. So the solicitor decided that he was going to hire a private investigator. And he rang the firm and the firm said: 'Well, we have one woman. She'll find out who it is. That's for sure'. And after a few weeks and a few months, in the private investigator's office he rang through to this young lady who was travelling all over the country, trying to find the inheritor of this $20 million. He got her on the phone and he said: 'Well, have you found him yet?'. She said: 'Yes!'. He said: 'When can he come into the office and sign the papers and claim what's his?'. She said this: 'As soon as we're finished our honeymoon!'. Isn't that right? That was her way of getting into that inheritance! But isn't it wonderful - isn't it?  - that we don't have to get into our inheritance! We don't have to thieve it. We don't have to, like Jacob whose name means 'wriggler', to wriggle into the blessing of God, try to buy it, try to dupe or con God into blessing us, because we are blessed! It's just getting into the realisation of it.

God knows that we need men of discernment in these days. We need women and young people of discernment

One of the mighty blessings that we find in verse 8 is this: wisdom. Look at it: 'He has abounded toward us in all wisdom'. The Greek word is the word 'sofia' (sp?) and it simply means this: wisdom - sofia - is the knowledge which sees into the heart of things, which knows them as they really are. Think of that! God has blessed you and I with wisdom so that we see things, and we ought not to see things simply on the outward appearance - but He has given us His ability to be able to look into the very heart of things. Isn't that the difference between us and the world? Or it ought to be! That we simply don't look on the outward appearance, on the bright lights, on the attractive smell of the things of this world, but we can see deeper into the very venomous bite of the serpent Lucifer himself. He has abounded toward us in all wisdom...and prudence.

Look at it...that word prudence could be translated 'insight' or 'intelligence'. It's the Greek word 'fronessus' (sp?). It means this: the understanding and discernment that leads to right action. Understanding intelligence that will lead you to live aright, and live a life that is pleasing to Christ. Now let's put them together for a moment: wisdom and prudence - the God-given ability to look into the heart of things, not to be taken up by what men are on the outside, or what things are on the outside. And also the ability to have the discernment to realise what is needed to walk in holiness and a life that is righteous and pleasing to God. Christian, you have those things but are you walking in the reality of them? God knows that we need men of discernment in these days. We need women and young people of discernment. But let me say this: that discernment and the gift that it is can only be nourished when we saturate ourselves in the word of God. You see, if you do not saturate yourself and your veins become 'bibline' with Holy Scripture, you will never be given a knowledge of what the mystery of God's will is. God's will is in God's word.

Now to give you an illustration of what it is to have a spirit of discernment - and you all have it, you maybe don't cultivate it, or use it, in the way that you ought to - but you know what it is. When you come and you confront something that is unorthodox, and it's as if there's a tug within your soul and you realise (you can't put it into words), but there's a feeling within the depths of your being that there's something not right about that. We need holy discerners in these days. Now listen! I'm not talking about legalistic big brothers (we've got enough of them) but spiritual men who can see past the facade, spiritual women that can weigh up what is spiritual and of God and not carnal of the flesh and of man. That can be summed up in this: absolute holiness. The New Testament writer put it like this: 'to have the mind of Christ'. What's your mind like? Could it be in any way conceivably described as the mind of Christ? 'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus' - and if we are to be united and, Paul says, 'of one mind', the only mind that we have to be united in is not the pastor's mind, is not the elder's mind, but the mind of Christ, and Christ alone.

What way do we look at things? Do we crumble because we are standing in our own flesh - that we are standing in the rock of our feelings and our circumstances; and we're only happy and rejoicing in the Lord when things are going our way? Or do we look at things from God's standpoint?

'He hath abounded', look at it, 'toward us in all wisdom and prudence'. If you put these two things together do you know how you could sum it up? Simply this: seeing things from God's standpoint. Is that what you do in life when you're confronted with things, when you're confronted with decisions - perhaps life-threatening decisions you may see it as? What way do we look at things? Do we crumble because we are standing in our own flesh - that we are standing in the rock of our feelings and our circumstances; and we're only happy and rejoicing in the Lord when things are going our way? Or do we look at things from God's standpoint? It's wonderful to read in this verse that it was in grace that God chose us. He chose us in Christ, in grace. We learned that it was in grace, and grace alone, that God predestinated us to one day be like His blessed Son. We learned that it is in grace that the blood of Christ was shed for us.

But there's more. Added to all of this - look at the verse - in grace, the riches of His grace, He has super-abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. I want you to grasp this. This means that we have been trusted with the mind of God. We have been given His plans, His counsels, His revealed will and purposes for us and for the world that lies around us. He wants us to know His plans - the plans for us individually, the plans for His church corporately, and the plans for the cosmos universally. We thought it astounding - didn't we? - as we looked at election and predestination, that God should take a sinner like you and like me and should have us as companions. Do you remember that - that God would have me as a companion? And then not only that, but that God should have me in His family by adoption and should make me a son, and should love me as much as He loves Christ, and give me everything that He has given Christ! But more than all that: He has brought you and I into His confidence. He has shared with us the plans that He has 'for all things in Christ'. Do you know what that means? We not only ought to be saved, but we ought to know that we're saved. We not only ought to know that we're saved, but we ought to know how we have been saved. Not only how we've been saved but what we have been saved to do. Ephesians tells us in verse 8 that God has given us all that knowledge - how He saves us, why we're saved, what it took to save us - and therefore, as another apostle put it: 'We can know the things that are freely given to us'. Does that not make you rejoice? Does that not make you want to praise the Lord?

Can I ask you: do you appreciate what God has done for you? Now I mean really appreciate. That from the depths of your soul there is a cry of worship and praise and adoration that can't even be put into words, you can't explain what it is, but it's a burning within your soul continually. Even when you come to God, and you can't find words with which to speak to Him, but you know that He can read in the depths of your heart there is a spiritual gratitude. Do you have it? Because you need it. If you're going to be on fire for God, if you're going to be used by God, if you're going to know the power of God through your life and the blessing that is available at your disposal in Christ, oh, you've got to be moved by it! You know, the angels in all their might and (think of it) in all their awesome radiance and holiness - they are still learning the wisdom of God, but we have had super-abounded to us all the wisdom! All His plans! All His purposes! We are object lessons for the angelic beings as they look down and wonder at the fact that the Almighty God that they know all so well could love and redeem people like you! But, praise His name, He did it! And praise His name, He's still doing it! How did John describe this gratitude from within? This is what he says, 1 John 3 verse 3: 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure'. There's the two things: you are pure in Christ - you're in Christ! You're sanctified in Christ, but what we need to do is come into the realisation of what we have in Christ - and when we realise it, it changes us down here in this sinful awful world. He's pure, but as he gets to grip within his soul the purity of God that's in him, and what God has done for him in the blessings of God in Christ, he purifieth himself. Praise the Lord that He hath abounded to us in all wisdom and prudence.

Now this is the dominant theme of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians: the truth, the mystery hidden through all time, of Christ and Christ's relationship with His church

But then verse 9 - the mystery of His will revealed again. Verse 9: 'Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself'. This is the object and the subject of what He has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. This is what He has given, imparted, brought us into His confidence within: the mystery of His will. Let's look at it: 'Having known the mystery of his will'. Now I've said to you before but we need to really recap on it, that this word 'mystery' that we find so often within Paul's epistle here and throughout the word of God - it doesn't mean something mysterious. It doesn't mean something airy-fairy tale, something eerie, something spooky. That's not what it means, but it simply means a sacred secret that was previously unknown. Something, a treasure, that never had been opened, that humanity or God's people had never looked into or entered into or known even intellectually, whether or not emotionally - but now God has revealed it. That's a mystery. Something that was never known. Something that was hidden, but something that God has made known and God has opened and we - praise Him! - have found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now this is the dominant theme of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians: the truth, the mystery hidden through all time, of Christ and Christ's relationship with His church.

There are many mysteries we read about within the word of God. You'll read within the New Testament about the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. Then there is the mystery of lawlessness and sinfulness that abounds in our nation today. There is the mystery of Babylon the Great - that world power, religiously, that will take over the world. Then there is the mystery of Christ and His church that we're reading about here. There's the mystery within Thessalonians of the rapture of the church: something that we do not read of in the Old Testament, that was not known to those Jewish people, but has been revealed to us in our day, in our time, through the Lord Jesus. There is the mystery of Israel's present rejection. You can read about it in Romans chapter 11: how God, for a season, has taken them out of the blessings and has engrafted we Gentiles into God's plan, into God's mysterious will.

All those things were things that were previously unknown to a latter day - but now, in Christ, we have been blessed through all the blessings in the mystery of God's will, revealed in Christ. That's why Paul says, in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 1, that we have become 'the stewards of the mysteries of God'. Not only has He taken us into His confidence, and He has given all wisdom and abounded it and lavished it upon us, and all the spiritual insight that we can hold and handle if we would only take it. But this very fact is this: that, through all that wisdom, there is this channel of this one primary thing that He has revealed to us, something that has never ever been told of in all the Old Testament. It was in the types and the pictures, but we have it all in Christ. We enter into the reality of it. We know what it is to know Him and we, a people who never knew God, a pagan heathenistic race in our very blood, we have been made the stewards of the mysteries of God.

If God purposed His pleasure in you and I, we'd be in trouble and so would He

'Having made known unto us the mystery of his will' - and here it is - 'according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself'. Now we could easily skip over that, but it would be very wrong. You see we've come across this phrase time after time: according, according to the good pleasure as He hath purposed in Himself. You know, this whole universe and, indeed my friend, your life and this church and everything that pertains underneath God under the sun - it's like a ship in the vast ocean that is going from one continent to another. And the men and the women, and the boys and girls, and the crew and the engineers, and the engine men and everyone - they're all running about. They're doing their own thing: while some are awake, some are asleep, while some are eating, some are playing games - all sorts of activity within this vessel. But that vessel will go to its destination. My friend, that is God's sovereignty, nothing can spite it and it will come despite you and I, for God will work out His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself. You see, if God purposed His pleasure in you and I, we'd be in trouble and so would He. If that verse said that God, according to His good pleasure hath purposed all the mystery of His will and His plans in you and David Legge and the Iron Hall - and I say this reverently - God: He would have to forget about it. But the mystery of His will is that He can perform it in His sovereignty, in His dignity and His deity despite you and me! What a God we have! Our God doesn't need to wait on you to lift a hand for Him. Oh, yes He's chosen that that's the way it should be, but if you're not going to get up and do anything don't think that God's going to let those people get lost. Just like He left Israel and He chose us - never you forget this  - He can leave you or I, not in salvation but in blessing, and He can raise up another.

He is sovereign. He is God - and shall the clay, shall the thing formed dictate to the Creator of the universe? Verse 10, he describes even more that His will and the mystery of it is being revealed gradually. He's teasing it out, He's painting a picture to us through His good pleasure of His will in Himself. This is it: '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 is the mystery of His will? Here's the answer, He gives it to us in verse 10 succinctly, compactly. He gives it to us in this one verse: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He should gather together in one, all things in Christ Jesus.

Now we need to look at this little word for a few moments: 'dispensation'. What does it mean? I'm not going to go into it in too much depth, but it's important that we understand it. It's translated a number of ways within our New Testament. We find it as the word in our English language: 'stewardship', the word translated 'order', 'administration'. The Greek word that means dispensation and all these things is 'hoiconaima' (sp?). It is the word that we get our English word 'economy' from. Now what is an economy? An economy is simply an ordered condition of things. Another way of translating it would be 'administration'. You hear all the time about the 'Unionist administration', don't you? 'The Labour administration' or the 'Tory administration' previously as it was. The idea behind dispensation - this Greek word - is the idea of government and administration. In fact the Greek word was used day by day in the Greek home, and this very word was used as a name for the house servant - if you want to call her a maid or a butler - the person who managed the affairs of the house. The one who saw to it that the family affairs ran smoothly, that there was enough food, that everything was washed, that everything was cleaned and done well, everything was in its order! That's what this word means.

Listen to this my friend: God is in control! God is the divine manager of all things! He dispenses that which happens in His universe! He administrates it! He holds all things in order! He is the great God and steward of all things!

So what's Paul trying to say? That in the dispensation, the administration, the management, of the fulness of times, God might gather together all things as one in Christ. What is it? Listen to this my friend: God is in control! God is the divine manager of all things! He dispenses that which happens in His universe! He administrates it! He holds all things in order! He is the great God and steward of all things! There are many problems in this building, and some of them are so genuine that it breaks our hearts to even think about them. But many of the problems that we face are simply this: that we cannot rest in the sovereignty of God. It's not something to pontificate about or to have as a pet doctrine to impress people. It is something that's meant to go from your head to your heart so that you say: 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him'. Do you know my friend that whatever circumstances are in your life, whatever's happening, whatever the Devil or God may be permitting to enter into your life - whatever it is do you know that, through it all, God is in control? That through it all there is a mystery of the will of God. But what Paul is specifically getting at here is: when the fulness of times come to pass - in other words, something is going to happen - there is the mystery of God's will, that there is a day coming and at the appropriate time God will (as He says [in] verse 10) 'gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on the earth; even in him'.

I hope, as the Christian church in Jesus Christ, that we don't share in the pessimism of this lost world. G.N. Clarke, in his inaugural lecture at Cambridge University, said these words - and I quote: 'There is no secret plan in history to be discovered. I do not believe that any future consummation could make sense of the irrationalities of preceding ages'. 'There is no plan! God has no purpose! All this chaos, all this meaninglessness is just running together and it's just going to end in a big bang and we're all going to end and there's no purpose to any of it'. Is it any wonder Paul said in the book of Romans: 'Professing themselves to be wise' - a lecturer in Cambridge University! But the dustman in Christ can know more than that: that all things, all things, are running together in the mystery of the will of God. We can say better than this intellectual - we can say like Paul that 'He has abounded toward us. He has made known to us, frail children of the flesh, people from a pagan background that never knew God in our life no matter what religion we're from. He has revealed to us the mystery of His divine counsels and will, that in one day on this earth He will bring all things together - one in Christ'!

God's plan (and this is beautiful) is for Him to sum up everything in His Son. That's it! Jesus Christ! He's not only every blessing that we have, and that we derive every blessing in the Christian life from. But He is what everything that exists will be summed up in. At the moment of time - the fulness of time - the authority of Christ that is trodden in the dirt and spat upon; the authority of Christ that is laughed at in our world, that is degraded and blasphemed - that authority will be declared by everyone. Can you think of that? It's hard to think of today, but let me tell you it is coming! And it will be recognised, it will be acknowledged on the earth and in the age - at the end of all things in heaven and in earth - all things will be under the headship of Christ.

God's plan (and this is beautiful) is for Him to sum up everything in His Son. That's it! Jesus Christ!

That ought to thrill your soul! But can I ask you, as we think about that beautiful truth, can I ask you: do you know the headship of Christ? I need to be careful but, oh, I know you can turn me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11, and I know that you can tell me that the head of the man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man. And because of that the woman ought to have her head covered - and that's Biblical doctrine, for the angels - remember we are the object lessons of the grace of God, and it says it's for the angels - [this is] one of the reasons that the ladies do that. But can I address you men for a moment? I would vouch to say that some of you that do your nut about the ladies having their head covered know nothing about the headship of Christ in their life. Works both ways - headship! He is your head. He rules you oh man! He tells you where to go, what to do, what to say, what to be, what to live! Do you know anything of the headship of Christ in your life? Wouldn't it be tragic - think about it - that one day in the fullness of time when God brings all things together in Christ Jesus, and every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you look at every knee bowing and you, as a child of God, recollect that there was never a time in your Christian pilgrimage down here on earth that you knelt before God and Christ, and said: 'Lord, I surrender all'? I'm not talking about being saved, I'm talking about total surrender to everything that God wants in your life. Wouldn't it be awful if the very Devil himself's doing it on that day, and we've never done it with the grace of God in our hearts down here?

What a time this will be! Let's rejoice in it! Let's think about it! A time when Christ's name will no longer be trodden down, when all the unchristian things will be put down and cut away for the last. When everything against God, and in the face of God, will be exterminated and extinguished and then all things - the word of God says - 'in heaven and on earth will be brought together in Christ'. Think about it! Ever since the world began sin (we thought about it last evening with regards to marriage), sin has ripped, destroyed, degraded, depraved everything in our lives and in our world. And the first man was separated from God, and then man was separated from man (Abel and Cain), and then nation was separated from nation through sin - and all this separation! Then God had to come in through Abraham and separate a nation unto Himself and make a Jewish race - and there was a difference then between Jew and between Gentile. And ever since the beginning of time sin has made a separation on all fronts. But - praise Him! - there is a day coming when everything previously separated will be made one in my Lord Jesus Christ. It's true - isn't it? - but all around us, all that we see is division. Between Jew and Gentile even today, black and white, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. In all this true world around us, what is true of that world can be said, inwardly of us - even the children of God that (as one writer has put it): 'Every person is a walking civil war'. That there is a struggle even in the depths of our souls - a tension between sin and righteousness, between right and wrong, honesty and lies, passion and reason, Christ and the self-life, the old nature and the new.

Can I ask you, as we close this evening: have you been running away from Christ? Have you?

But isn't it glorious to praise Him, to exalt Him and adore Him! That there is a day coming, that all that was realised and guaranteed within His own blood at the cross - I will enter into! And there is a day coming when all these divisions will be wiped out. Now notice - this isn't talking about salvation. It's not talking about the division between the saved and the lost - that one day that will be wiped out. Paul's not talking here about universal salvation - that everybody will be saved in the end and God will reconcile everything to Himself. It's talking about universal domination and dominion by God - that's what it's talking about. Paul speaks here about the mystery of His will, and listen: the mystery of His will is the mystery of the millennium. Something that was revealed, not in the same way ever before. Now let me say this: yes, Isaiah talked about it, Habakkuk and Haggai and even Obadiah, that we were looking at, talked about it. The prophets talked about the millennium on earth, but you'll never read about the millennial reign of Christ in heaven. For that is a mystery that has never been revealed until it's revealed here in our reading before us: that even the very cosmos, the very universe will bow to Christ. The thing that Christ has created and sustained throughout all the years of our life will be ordered and ruled by Him. The parallel passage in Colossians 1:16 is this: 'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him'. You see that little phrase: 'and for Him'? Some people have translated it this way: 'towards Him' - have you got it? He is the goal to which all things have their direction, towards Him the total cosmos and universe moves. It finds its goal in Him. This is the end for which the universe was and is created. All the universe passed from Him, all the universe emanated from His fingers of power in creation, but all the universe will converge again towards the Christ.

He is the end and He is the beginning. He is the Alpha and He is the Omega. In the same way that all things sprung from Him at His command, so all things will return to him at His bidding - and everything material, spiritual will find their end in Christ. Can I ask you, as we close this evening: have you been running away from Christ? Have you? You're maybe here and you're not saved. You're maybe here and you know not the reality of what it is to be born again. Or maybe you're a Christian - Christians, and you're running away from Christ's lordship in your life. Well let me say this: you can't run away forever, and wouldn't it be better if you bowed to it here on earth than waited for that day, in the consummation of all things, when it will happen at the end of the age?

It's in you here and now my friend, because it can affect everyone around you, everyone in your home, everyone in the assembly, everyone in your land, because you're blessed in Him! Glory be to His name!

A Vincent van Gogh painting entitled: 'Still Life with Flowers' was sold a few years ago for $1.43 million in Chicago. But, you know, that painting hung in a suburban home in Milwaukee for decades. It was inherited in 1955 and for 30 or so years it hung there and the people thought it was only a copy. My friend, you have all the blessings that God could - now listen - God could give you, and they're in you! You have the deposit of it in your soul by the Holy Ghost...when are you going to enter into it? I hope you're not going to wait till you're up there. Cause it's no use down here up there. It's in you here and now my friend, because it can affect, like an atomic explosion, everyone around you, everyone in your home, everyone in the assembly, everyone in your land, because you are blessed in heaven as if you were in heaven now - you're blessed there in Him! Glory be to His name!

Our Father, we thank Thee that there is a day when He will have the pre-eminence and everything in this world - evil and sacred - God will channel through to His own divine purpose and will. We thank Thee that it's not just something that we look at universally, but Lord we look at individually, and we take that promise that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose. Lord, help us to rest in Thy sovereignty and help us to know Thine appointed Saviour more and more each day. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Don't miss Part 6 of 'Ephesians': "The Mystery Of His Will - Part 2"

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Transcribed by:
Trevor Veale
Preach The Word.
February 2001
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth tape in his Ephesians series, titled 'The Mystery Of His Will - Part 1' - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.

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