June 26, 2022
Greatly Blessed – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 1: 3 - 14
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

More From This Series

Transcript

Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians 1:3–14. If you’re joining us this morning, we are in a series of sermons in the book of Ephesians, which I think is going to take us a while. We are six sermons in, and we’re at verse 6. Hopefully, we’ll speed up.

Reminds me of a dear friend of mine, Jim Smith, who pastored Limavady Baptist Church in Northern Ireland, and he was famous for his long sermons and his long series of sermons. In fact, he once preached a series of messages on Luke 15 and the story of the prodigal son. And it went on for so long that at a deacon’s meeting, they said to him one night, “Pastor, it’s time to bring the boy home.” He had left him so long in the far country that it was time to bring him home.

But we are in a four-part sermon, “Greatly Blessed,” here in this opening doxology in Ephesians 1:3–14.

We’re looking at verses 6–12. Remain seated as we read verses 6–12: “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him”—that is, the Beloved, or Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved Son—“we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

For many years, Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse occupied the pulpit of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, very famous church and a well-known pulpit. And one particular Sunday morning, as he was waxing eloquent, a 12-year-old boy hung over the gallery, all ears at what the great preacher was saying. And his focus is on the gospel. His focus is on what God did in Jesus Christ regarding our sin. As Barnhouse closed his sermon, he kind of collected some of the great passages and great pictures regarding forgiveness, and here’s what he said, bringing it home, “Our sins are forgiven, forgotten, cleansed, pardoned, atoned for, remitted, covered; they have been cast into the depths of the sea, blotted out as a thick cloud, removed as far as the east is from the west, cast behind God’s back.”

Wonderful, isn’t it? That’s how he finished the sermon. And he went to the door to shake hands with the congregation as they exited the building. And before long, that little 12-year-old boy who had been drinking it all in up in the balcony comes down. As Dr. Barnhouse is talking to several people, he tugs on his sleeve, and he says, “Good sermon, Doc. Gee, we sure are sitting pretty, aren’t we?” I love that. “Good sermon, Doc. We sure are sitting pretty.” Isn’t that not a beautiful way to describe our position in the Lord Jesus Christ and all that we get to enjoy in union with Him? In fact, that’s one of the focuses of this great book we are studying, the book of Ephesians. In chapter 2, verse 6, we’re told that we’ve been raised up together with Christ and made to sit together in the heavenly places.

See, following Jesus’ death, following Jesus’ resurrection, to His exalted position at the right hand of God, He sits in triumph, having achieved atonement for us, having conquered death, and having stripped the devil and the power of darkness of its power. And, through union with Him, in relationship with Him, by faith, through grace, we enter into that victory. His triumph is our triumph. His exaltation is our exaltation. As it goes with Christ, so it goes with us, ‘cause we are in union with Him. So, we benefit from His death. We benefit from His resurrection. We benefit from His ascension. We benefit from His prayers and the promise of His return to reign on planet earth.

As it goes with Christ, so it goes with us. Now, how does it go with us? Well, Paul tells us here in verses 3–14 of chapter 1. He’s outlining the blessings that God has given us in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” We bless the God who has blessed us with every conceivable blessing.

Now, we made an argument that there’s a Trinitarian structure to this opening part to this letter. We see an emphasis on the Father from verses 4–6. We see an emphasis on the Son from verses 7–12. And we see an emphasis on the Holy Spirit from verses 13­–14. We’re sitting pretty this morning because the Father has chosen and adopted and accepted us. Amen. We’re sitting pretty this morning because the Son, Jesus Christ, has redeemed and formed and enriched us. Amen. And the Spirit has sealed and assured us. Amen.

That’s how we’re doing better than we deserve. Make sure the next time someone asks you, “How are you doing?” Answer it with the gospel: “Better than I deserve.” I’m sitting pretty this morning, loved by the Father, redeemed by the Son, comforted by the Spirit.

Now, we kind of gave this passage an outline: the will of the Father, the work of the Son, the witness of the Spirit. So let’s go back to the second thought. What we’re looking at this morning is verses 7–12, the work of the Son.

Now, I want you to notice something before we get into the text. I want you to notice the order. In verses 4–6, he’s had a focus on the Father and the Father’s preexisting love for us before we existed—how He chose us in Christ, in love, before the foundation of the world. And then we have the redeeming work of the Son and how Jesus has redeemed us through His blood. And the outcome of that—listen—is the forgiveness of all your sin, past, present, and future, in its totality, for all eternity. But I want you to notice that order. The work of the Son in redemption is clearly the outworking of the will of the Father in election.

Some years ago at the Irish Baptist College, I was taught by a wonderful man of God by the name of Dr. Ivor Oakley. He’s now with the Lord. He was an Englishman; he was an Oxford PhD. And, one day in class, he said, “Men, Jesus didn’t die that God might love you. Jesus died because God did love you.” I think that’s a very simple but a very profound point. Don’t be thinking that Jesus had to die to get God on our side. Like, God’s over here, and He’s angry with us because of our sin­—although He’s holy and our sin disgusts Him. But it’s not like Jesus is working to make the Father love you. It’s the opposite: “For God so loved the world that He sent His Son.” Jesus didn’t die that God might love us. Jesus died because God loved us. God loved us so much that He spared not His own Son. That’s a marvel. No one will ever care for you like Jesus.

Listen to these words by the great Puritan John Owen: “The Father is the fountain of all love. He is the irresistible and unstoppable source from which love pours out. Jesus is the one who draws water from the fountain and brings it to us. There is no other way to know the Father’s love but through the work of Jesus.” Isn’t that John’s argument, the apostle of love? First John 4:9–10: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation [the satisfaction] for our sins.”

Notice the order. God loved us first, and because God loved us, He wanted us to be in a relationship with Him. But sin gets in the way. God had to satisfy His just demands, and so He satisfied His just demands by the just dying for the unjust. And through what Jesus Christ did, redeeming and reconciling us to God, we are now in a relationship with the God who has set His love on us from all eternity past. Amazing.

So let’s begin. Three things, as time allows us: the redemption in the Son, the revelation in the Son, and the reconciliation in the Son.

Verse 7: the redemption in the Son. We’ve looked at the will of the Father. Now we’re looking at the work of the Son, and His work is centered on redemption. Okay? We’re thankful for Jesus’ teaching. We marvel at Jesus’ words. We are astounded at Jesus’ miracles. But the epicenter of the person and work of Jesus Christ is this act of redemption. It’s a great gospel word, and we are indeed the beneficiaries of His redeeming work.

The salvation that originates from the Father is located in the Son. In Him, we have redemption. Not apart from Him, not with Him and something else. In Him. The realm of redemption is in Jesus Christ, never apart from Him. He’s the way, the truth, and the life. You can’t get to the Father without Him. His is the only “name under heaven given among man by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). First Timothy 2:5: He’s the “one Mediator between God and men.” Jesus Christ is the one and only sacrifice for sin, and Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior for sinners. In Him. That pushes us back to verse 6.

Look at verse 6: “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Just pause. Read that again. Here’s what God did through the work of His Son. He made you acceptable with all your sin, with all your wrong choices, with all your bad behavior. Jesus Christ has covered that, and He has made you acceptable to God. You’re accepted in the Beloved. God didn’t accept you because you kept any of the commandments or you did unto others what God would have you to do unto yourself. God accepted you upon the basis of the perfect obedience and the perfect sacrifice of His Son. You’re accepted in the Beloved, the Beloved One. Who’s the Beloved One? Jesus. You’re right. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

You know, the Father loves the Son. The Son pleases the Father. And when you put your faith in Jesus Christ—His perfect obedience and His perfect sacrifice for sin—you’re now hidden in Christ; you’re covered by Christ. And if the Son is acceptable to the Father and you’re in the Son, then you’re acceptable to the Father.

I hope this morning you have accepted the fact that God has accepted you. I’m going to say that again ‘cause it’s a beautiful thing to be able to say. It’s an even more wonderful thing to believe, and what a blessing it is to live—that every day you get up and you look into the very heavens that God Himself made, you can say to yourself, “I’m accepted. God accepts me today.” Have you accepted the fact that God has accepted you? Some of you doubt your salvation. Some of you wonder will God in the end somehow reject you? Not if you’re in the Son. You’re accepted.

There’s a great story about G. Campbell Morgan, who was a famous English pastor who preceded Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones in a wonderful church called the Westminster Chapel in London. And when he was a young man starting out preaching, he was helping, I think, the Salvation Army and the William Booth movement. He would teach “converts to Christ,” something of discipleship and how to live for God’s glory, and he was encouraged to enter the ministry. He had a giftedness that needed to be kind of developed.

So, he tried to apply for the Methodist ministry, and part of the trial was he had to preach a sermon before this board of ministers. And he flopped, just completely flopped, and they rejected him for the ministry. He was so despondent that he went out and sent a one-word telegram to his father: “Rejected.” He was rejected, and he felt dejected. His father immediately sent another telegram: “Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven.” And he did recover, and he became a congregationalist. And he became one of the great English expositors. What a beautiful thought this morning. Rejected on earth.

Have you ever felt rejection? Have your father and mother rejected you? Have your friends rejected you because of your commitment to Jesus Christ? Perhaps you’ve kind of rejected yourself, in self-loathing about who you are and what you’ve done. You’re disgusted with yourself. My friend, rejected on earth; accepted in heaven. God sees you in Jesus Christ: perfect, lovely, beautiful.

Let’s get into this idea of redemption just quickly. Redemption. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (v. 7). This is a great gospel word, and it carries the idea of “to loose.” It actually spoke of loosening one’s clothes, untying an animal, and so on. And then it kind of morphed into this idea of being released or set free from captivity, the loosening of or freedom of slaves, prisoners, political hostages. It was to be released from oppressive debt or oppressive governments. It was deliverance by the payment of a price. That’s what the word redemption means. It’s deliverance by the payment of a price. And, you know what? The Bible wants us to know that Jesus Christ fundamentally is a redeemer. He redeems.

First Corinthians 1:30: In Him we have redemption. Ephesians 1:7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” And, in our case, it’s freedom, deliverance, from the law and death and the servitude of our sin. You realize you were born into servitude? According to John 8:34, we’re slaves to our sin nature. We’re governed and held captive by impulses and desires that fall short of God’s glory, that cause us to go astray from the womb. Romans 6:17 tells us we are slaves or servants of unrighteousness.

I hear a lot of talk today: “We need to be free to be ourselves.” No, we need to be free from ourselves, our enslaved selves to addictions and impulses and desires that are contrary to the will and purposes of God. True freedom is found in slavery to Jesus Christ, in servitude to righteousness. The price of our redemption: the blood of Jesus, shed in a violent and vicarious death for you and for me, which resulted in our forgiveness. Isn’t the word “forgive” a beautiful word? Doesn’t it fall so wonderfully on your ears when someone says, “I forgive”? God says that to us in Christ. The debt of our sin—which deserves His justice and judgment—has been paid for, which has brought about our freedom and our forgiveness.

Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” who through Him has redeemed us through blood, to the end that our sins are forgiven. David is like that, right? Head of the list, Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; / And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” Help me not to forget the benefits of knowing you. Chief among them: He forgives all our iniquities. A little further on he says, I marvel at the fact that God “has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.” Jesus Christ assumed the debt of our sin on the cross, and you know what? The payment was His blood, and freedom has indeed become its outcome.

Before we leave this thought of redemption, which is a wonderful thing, notice, too, this phrase: “In Him we have redemption through His blood”—the outcome—“the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Don’t run past that. The paid price—which was the atoning, bloody, violent death of Jesus Christ as our substitute—was made according to the riches of God’s grace toward us. The idea of God’s rich kindness is found in several places. Here, in chapter 2, verse 4 of Ephesians: “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” Verse 7: “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Harold Hoehner, who has written a wonderful commentary in Ephesians and taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, said this: “The cost of Christ’s blood is the measure of the wealth of God’s riches unmerited toward us.” You understand the depth and breadth of God’s love? You understand the measure of His love and grace toward you? You’ve got to measure it in the blood of Jesus. To borrow the words of Romans 8:31–32, should this not cause you to close your eyes and ponder in wonder, love, and praise, that God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” that with Him, He’ll “freely give us all things”—that the God, in eternity, who decided to set His love on us and adopt us into His family, understood that the cost would be His Son, according to the riches of His grace.

My friend, when we get to heaven, we will be shocked by how little of the divine largess we have actually used and appreciated and appropriated. We’ve been given Christ, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, and with Him all things, joy unspeakable, a peace that passes all understanding. We paddle around the edges of God’s ocean of love when we should be swimming and splashing in it. Notice that little phrase “according to”—not “out of” the riches of His grace but “according to.”

Just say you’re out raising some money for a good cause. And, I can’t imagine this circumstance, but there you are, and all of a sudden you end up in a conversation with Elon Musk, multi-multi-multi-billionaire. As he hears your heart for what you’re doing and realizes that’s a good cause, he whips out a $100 bill from his pocket and puts it in your bag. Now, that’s kind. No one’s going to snuff at $100, but here’s the point, given his wealth. That was “out of” the riches of Elon Musk, not “according to” the riches of Elon Musk. A million dollars would be more appropriate if it was according to the riches, given his wealth. And that’s the point Paul is making. The cost of Christ’s blood is the measure of the wealth of God’s unmerited favor toward us.

Let me share this story and make an application and move on. A guy was obviously discouraged, down in the mouth, sitting on a park bench. And a police officer who was on a foot patrol happened to notice him and sensed that something was the matter. He went over to see if he could help or console. And he asked, “Is something the matter?” And the young man said, “Yeah, you just won’t believe it. Two months ago, my grandfather died and left me $85,000 in some oil wells in Texas.” The officer just says, “I don’t understand. That sounds like good news to me.” “Oh,” he says, “But that’s not the whole story. You got to hear the whole story. Last month, my uncle died and left me $150,000.” Now, at this stage, the policeman’s totally flummoxed and doesn’t understand, and he’s kind of scratching his head. He said, “I don’t understand. Given all of that, why are you sitting looking so unhappy?” To which the young man said, “You know what? This month, nothing.”

Now, the jokes on you and on me because in a given day, I’ll find you, and people will find me, down in the mouth. And we’ll spin some kind of yarn about how life’s been so hard on us, but it’s a head scratcher, given the riches of God’s grace to us in Christ. What are you talking about? You’re saved, aren’t you? You’ve got peace with God, don’t you? You’re endowed by the Holy Spirit, aren’t you? You’re heading to heaven. True? I think you get the point. You’re richer than you think. Start acting like it.

Not only do we have redemption in the Son. We have revelation in the Son. We’ll speed up here a little bit. Revelation in the Son. Look at verses 7 and 8. Now, notice, we’ve got to go back to verse 7: “In Him”—that’s the Beloved, Jesus Christ—“we have redemption.” We’ve been loosed, delivered by the payment of a price. What is that price? “His blood.” What is the end of our deliverance? “Forgiveness . . . according to the riches of His grace which”—keeps going—“He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will.” There’s revelation.

So, in the Son, we have redemption, and in the Son, we have this marvelous revelation. We’re not only given clemency; we’re given clarity. We’re helped to see who God is and who we are in the light of Him and what we have become through faith in Jesus Christ. We’re brought to understand the origin of the creation; the spoiling of the creation in fall and sin; the governance of God throughout history and His purpose for the nation of Israel and the nations and the church; His purpose for our marriage; His purpose for our singleness; what God wants us to do with our time and our treasure.

We’re spun around and pointed to the future and told what’s going to happen in the days to come. It’s all there in God’s Word, and now we have eyes to read it. The Holy Spirit’s become our spectacles, so to speak, and He illuminates us. And now we’re enlightened. We’re being given wisdom and prudence. That’s another benefit of God’s grace. Not just redemption and forgiveness, but wisdom and prudence, now that we’re saved and we come to understand the mystery of God’s will—not all of it, but the substance of it. Grace is an eye-opening experience, isn’t it?

Let’s go back to the line of the hymn we love, “Amazing Grace”: “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” What’s the next line? “Was blind, but now I see.” It’s one of the benefits of redemption. It’s revelation. We get to see our sin, but we get to see our sin put on Christ. We get to see that we’re not the products of random evolution. We’re the products of a loving Creator. He’s got a purpose for each of our lives. We’re brought to see God’s purpose for the nation. It’s a special love for a nation, Israel. We’re brought to see this entity called the church made up of Jew and Gentile. We’re brought to see all of this—who Jesus is, who we are in relationship to Him—and it brings us to a place of great thankfulness. The Father has chosen us, and the Son has redeemed us, and the Spirit of God now indwells us as a guarantee.

In fact, if you go in Ephesians 1:17–18, 3:18–19, 4:17–25, 5:17, this idea of comprehending God’s love is mentioned. This idea of knowing what the will of God is mentioned. This idea of the eyes of our understanding being opened is mentioned. Now the word “wisdom” here carries the idea of seeing to the heart of things and knowing things as they really are. God gives us that kind of wisdom, to see things as they really are. And, in prudence, having understood that, is how to act justly and correctly in the light of what you know to be true.

Now, in the context of our passage, God is letting us know His plan for the end of history. We’re going to come back to this in a moment under reconciliation, but notice this. “Having made known to us the mystery of His will . . .” Verse 10: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times”—that at the end of history that everything’s going to be gathered “together in one all things in Christ.” Right? That’s Philippians 2:9–11. Someday there’s going to come a moment when every knee will bow. And this world that rejected Jesus will acknowledge that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That’s how history’s going to end. That’s what the Bible says. If you believe the Bible, then you believe that. With all the movements of men and women and history and governments rising and falling in wars and rumors of wars, it all ultimately will finish there, with Jesus’ return to reign on planet earth. We’ll come back to that. But I just want you to know that God has given you wisdom and prudence. He has removed the mystery of His will, and you know how it’s going to finish. The word “mystery” here means “a truth previously hidden.”

So, from time began and before time, God had determined that He would bring humanity back to Himself through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and how He would consummate history. He kept that and the details of that hidden until the right time, which is now. The first coming of Christ has been a wonderful fulfillment of God’s prophetic word, and it has triggered an even greater revelation of details regarding the second coming.

Now, I can go back to the Old Testament to Isaiah and the Prophets and Daniel, especially, and something of the progression of the parade of nations can be found there and where history is headed. But now that Jesus Christ, the Promised One of the Old Testament, has come, it has triggered an even greater revelation in passages like Matthew 24 and 25, books like 1 and 2 Thessalonians. And then you have the Revelation itself, the final book of the Bible. There’s been a greater revelation of the details of how history will end.

Truth once obscured and hidden is now being shared and explained in Christ. When He came the first time, Mark 1:15 says that it’s a time of fulfillment. Galatians 4:4 tells us in the fullness of time, at the appropriate moment, Jesus Christ came. And now, Paul is telling us that there’s going to come the fullness of God’s promise at the end of time, when everything will be gathered together in Christ.

Now, we’re going to come back to that in a moment when we talk about the reconciliation, so hold the thought. But here’s the thought I don’t want you to miss. Here’s the thought I don’t want you to miss. God has a plan. God has a plan for life, for your life, for all of history. Just understand that. Look at the language of this section. Look at verse 5: God is working “according to the good pleasure of His will.” Look at verse 9: “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” Look at verse 11: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

As each day unfolds, as each week unfolds, as each year piles on top of another, God sits on top of the pile, working all things according to the counsel of His will. The pieces on many occasions don’t seem to fit from our puny perspective. We don’t see the good and the evil. We don’t see the purpose in the pain. We don’t understand why God allows certain men and governments to reign in terror. But make no mistake about this: God sits on the pile. History is not a runaway train. History is not happenstance. It is not pointless. It is governed by God, and it’s being driven to a determined end. And it’s unfolding around the story of His Son, because history is His story.

We disagree with many in our culture who want to tell us that there’s no purpose to things, that there’s no good or purpose to all that is going on. Listen to the words of the liberal scholar G. N. Clark, “There is no secret and no plan in history to be discovered. I do not believe that any future consummation could make sense of all the irrationalities of preceding ages.” Paul begs to disagree, and so do we. Richard Dawkins: “The universe we observe has . . . at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but a blind, pitiless indifference.” That’ll get you up in the morning, won’t it?

What about Ernest Hemingway? Brilliant man, but he blew his brains out, ultimately because he came to seriously live out the implication of his philosophy of life, which was pointless, empty, irrelevant. He said: “Life is a dirty trick, a short journey from nothingness to nothingness.” “There is no remedy for anything in life.” “Man’s destiny in the universe is like a colony of ants on a burning log.” No, no, no, no. In Him, God has redeemed us, and He’s made known to us through wisdom and prudence His will. And as we read our Bibles from Genesis to the Revelation, we see that history is Jesus’ story. And, someday, God will bring it all together to a perfect conclusion.

That’s incredibly comforting to know that from stem to stern, history is His story, that His loving plan and His sovereign will is unfolding. What a privilege to be brought on the inside of that plan, to know in the end, we win. In the middle of the chaos and the crisis, you need to remember that things aren’t falling apart. They’re falling into place. There is no risk to God’s plan. He is energetically and sovereignly carrying it out in all things. There is no alternative ending to history. History is moving toward a fixed goal. Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8).

I like what Gary Lineker said of soccer. If you don’t know Gary Lineker, he was a famous striker for England, often commentates on BBC regarding soccer. He famously said, “Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, in the end, the Germans always win.” It’s a great quote, mostly true. Robert Morgan, speaking of Jesus: “He is the first cause and the last word. He is the origin of creation and the terminus of time. He reigns from the vanishing point to the vanishing point. From past to future, from everlasting to everlasting.” That’s what Jesus Christ does. That’s who Jesus Christ is. He’s “the Alpha and the Omega.”

My friend, you need to make a beginning in Him who is the beginning. He wants to give you a wonderful beginning today through being born again. And as you come to understand that God will forgive you through faith in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God will empty your life and open your eyes, and you’ll get on the inside of this wonderful plan that ends with Jesus Christ resolving everything in Himself. That helps us to live in the messy moment that we’re in.

One of my favorites: Mrs. Thatcher famously said, “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.” And you know what? That’s true of us as Christians. We are bulletproof. We are strong. We are determined. We are unmovable, always abiding in the work of the Lord, because we know in the end He gets His way. And we’re part of the plan, and we’re on the inside of the plan, which brings us to the reconciliation finally. We’ve kind of touched on this, but look at verse 10.

See, God has given us wisdom and prudence, given us insight, comprehension. The mystery of His will has been removed. The New Testament has been written. Now we have a complete canon of Scripture. It takes us from creation to recreation, shows us the rapture; the great tribulation; the rise of the antichrist; globalism and end-time government; man’s final rebellion; Jesus’ return to restore the fortunes of Israel, redeem His people, and to display His glory. We get it, and because of that, we’re stable. And we know that the telos, the goal, at the end of history is that all things will be gathered together, reconciled in Christ, things on the earth and things in heaven.

History will close at Jesus’ feet. What we’re dealing with here in this idea of the dispensation of the fullness of times and gathering together all things in Christ, that’s 1 Corinthians 15:27–28, where Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of God, until God makes all His enemies His footstool, or brings all of His enemies under His feet.

Some years ago, my wife and I were in Cairo, Egypt. We had the wonderful privilege of visiting the Egyptian Museum, a treasure of antiquity. One of the things that struck me was one of the pharaohs. There were sandals in this display cabinet, and on the sandals were the pictures of chariots and soldiers. And the point was that when the pharaoh put his foot into the sandal, his enemies were under his feet. There were footstools that the great leaders of Egypt would put their feet on, and the footstool had chariots and men—again, their enemies—under their feet. And Paul’s telling us, someday, all the enemies of God and the enemies of the gospel and the persecutors of God’s people will be under the feet of Jesus Christ, as He returns to reign and display His victory achieved on the cross. It’s Philippians 2:9–11.

The word “dispensation” is kind of a scary word. It breeds the idea of dispensationalism, which is something we believe here at Kindred, but the word simply means “administration.” You see, administrating of a home, that’s how it’s used in some of the Gospels, and this is our Father’s world. And when we read about a dispensation or an administration, it’s how God governs particular epics within history under the Old Covenant or under the New Covenant, regarding Israel, regarding the church. There are different administrations, different focuses and goals, different means to that end. “The fullness of time.” That speaks of end times, last times.

So, God has made known to us how He’s going to administer things at the end of time, and here’s how He’s going to do it. He’s going to “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and are on earth.” That word “gather together” is fascinating. I wish we had time to develop it. We don’t. It means “to sum up.” The only other time that phrase is used is in the book of Romans, where Paul sums up his understanding of the law in the commandment of love. Read it that way. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Hey, read your Bible, and you’ll come to see that the God who’s been sovereign throughout history will bring about and will administer an administration at the end of history, when everything will be summed up into one thing: Jesus Christ, God’s Son. See, the Father has exalted Him, and everything’s going to end at the feet of Jesus. I think that speaks of the millennial kingdom, when Jesus will literally reign for 1,000 years on planet earth. I think that anticipates that after that, there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth, when everything will be reconciled, where paradise lost will be regained, where the world will enjoy a reset.

Would you agree this morning, as we close, the world needs a reset? And the presumption of that idea is there’s been a prior disruption. Something’s at the seat and at the heart of all our trouble, our division, our hatred, our greed, our warring, our selfishness. It is. It’s the fall of man. That was the disruption. When man turned his back on the God who had smiled in his direction. And Jesus Christ came to fix that disruption. And not only will He reconcile us to God. Someday He’ll reconcile the whole creation back to the Creator.

Man has tried to fix this broken and bleeding world. Think about the League of Nations (1919), the United Nations (1945), European Union (1958), the World Economic Forum (1971). None of it has succeeded, and there’ll be a final attempt to revive the Roman Empire under the administration of the man of sin. None of it will work because you see, it’s going to require the Prince of Peace, on whose shoulders is universal government. Jesus is coming, and He’s going to reconcile all things to Himself.

As we close, verse 11, that’s our future: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” This is our future. Who first believed and hoped in Christ (v. 12). That’s where I want to finish, ‘cause it’s a wonderful thought, especially when you realize who wrote it and where he wrote it from. See, this whole thought has animated the spirit of the apostle Paul. Despite his circumstances, despite his confinement, hope is living. I mean, Paul here has taken us back to eternity past and the election of God’s people, an eye into eternity future and the glorification of God’s people. Those two points—those vanishing points, to some degree—Paul’s living in the middle of those, in the middle of his circumstances. And he keeps his focus, and he keeps his perspective.

Listen to John Stott: “Let me remind you that he was a prisoner in Rome. Not indeed in a cell or dungeon, but still under house arrest and handcuffed to a Roman soldier. Yet, though his wrist was chained and his body was confined, his heart and mind inhibited eternity. He peered back ‘before the foundation of the world’ (verse 4) and on to ‘the fullness of time’ (verse 10) . . . . As for us, how blinkered is our vision in comparison with his, how small is our mind, how narrow are our horizons! Easily and naturally we slip into a preoccupation with our own petty little affairs. But we need to see time in the light of eternity, and our present privileges and obligations in the light of our past election and future perfection.”

That’s very challenging. That’s where I want to leave you as you leave. Paul’s not minimizing life in the trenches—motherhood, the work a day week, the battle with a diminishing body, life circumstances, enemies seen and unseen. He’s not minimizing that, but he’s just telling you, don’t get caught up in that stuff. Get a big picture. Whatever moment you’re in, you’re transitioning to the moment when in the fullness of time, Jesus gathers all things under Himself. Don’t let your vision be so narrow.

Traveling by train within the United States, Bishop William Quayle was drawn into a conversation with fellow passengers. He wasn’t in his clerical garb, and so they didn’t recognize he was a minister. They were all talking about life and what they did and what they pursued. And so, one man turned to him and said, “Mister, what’s your line of business?” After a moment’s thought, he reflected, “Horizons. I’m in the business of horizons.”

My friend, as we close, if you’re a Christian and you believe that Jesus Christ is coming soon, and you believe that the Father’s house is your destination, and you believe that someday there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth, you trade in those horizons. You traffic and travel in those horizons. Trade in those horizons. Enjoy the promise of those horizons. Keep your perspective on those horizons. Don’t get drawn down. Set your affection on things above.

Father, we thank You for our time in the Word this morning. Thank You for these dear disciples of Yours who have come to learn from the Word of God, which makes us wise unto salvation and equips us unto every good work and gives us a perspective on history—beginning before time began, throughout time, to the fullness of time and to infinity and beyond. What a precious gift the Word of God is. What a precious treasure the indwelling Holy Spirit is. Lord, I pray that You’d open the eyes of those who don’t see yet the beauty of Jesus Christ and their dire predicament in their sin, with the dangling of God’s wrath above their head.

Help us, Lord, through wisdom and prudence to understand the mystery of Your will, that has been fully revealed in Your Word. We thank You that our future is bright and the promises of God are great and exceeding. And that needs to affect our emotions and our thoughts and how we view life in the moment we’re in. Help us not to get down but to get up and to march forward. We’re marching to Zion­—beautiful, beautiful Zion. We’re marching to Zion, the beautiful city of God. In these things we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.