The astounding truth so little cherished by the Church, so often obscured by the philosophies of man, yet so richly attested by the Word of God is, that all things are now already even as they ever shall be. That is, that the Church possesses now in principle all things which she ever shall possess in the fullest realization in heaven. This fact, that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ causes the apostle Paul in Eph. 1:3 to exclaim: Blessed be God! And again in the verses 9 and 10 he speaks of the mystery of God’s will made known to us, “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.”
All spiritual blessings are now the possession of the Church, for God has blessed her with all those blessings when He took the resurrected Christ into heavenly glory. God blesses our glorified Lord with the Spirit of Promise and continues to fill Him with blessings which He as a reservoir of blessedness, showers down upon the Church. Even as Christ, the Head of the Church, is blessed, so all blessings are the possession of the Church, which is His body.
Some of those blessings the apostle set on display in the verses that follow verse 3. One of them is, that the saints are holy and blameless before God. He sees no sin in Jacob and no transgression in Israel, but regards them as they actually are in Christ, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people. Another blessing which the Church possesses is, that she has the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto God. God has taken her unto Himself as His family to reflect the image of His countenance, dwell in His house, be heirs of salvation and have right to eternal life. And still a third, that they have been graced, made acceptable in the Beloved. God has endowed them with His grace, made them beautiful even as He is beautiful, placed them attractive and well pleasing before Himself, so that He finds His delight in them as His children. And finally, the Church can boldly testify that she has redemption through Christ’s blood, knowing that her sins are blotted out and forgiven according to the riches of God’s grace.
Emphasis must continually fall on the fact that she has those blessings in Christ. For in Christ God chose the Church, and each individual in the Church, from eternity according to sovereign good pleasure. Each individual received a God-given place in the body, so that the fulness of the organism may be realized according to God’s sovereign design. In divine foreknowledge God predestined His Church unto the body of Christ and the family of God. And the deepest source even of this eternal purpose lies in Grace, as an attribute of God Himself, whereby He is beautiful and glorious in Himself and wherein He from eternity to eternity overflows toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
God has realized His eternal purpose with Christ by blessing Him now with all the blessings of the Church in heaven. Centrally we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, for God has gathered together all things both in heaven and on earth under one head in Christ. The mystery of His will is made known to us. Blessed Church of the new day!
All things are united under one head in Christ.
Sin created disharmony by tearing asunder all things in heaven as well as on earth. According to the evident teachings of Scripture the angels in heaven were created as an organized unity under one head. Each angel held his own particular place in relation to all the others, the one was subject and subservient to the other. Possibly Satan himself stood at the head of this organized unity. When sin entered into the realm of the angels the unity was broken, so that not only a chasm was formed in the angelic hosts, but they were all thrown into disharmony with one another and out of their proper relation to God. In the restitution of all things it was necessary that, even though the faithful angels remained righteous and holy, and in that sense needed no reconciliation, nevertheless their harmony should be restored and they should be reunited under one head in perfect relation to God.
Likewise, sin brought disharmony on earth. Before the fall Adam stood as the head of all things. He was representative of the whole human race which should be born from him. But also organically all the earthly creation was united in him. Every tree which gave him food and every animal he named, stood in the service of God’s image bearer, who was lord of all. They spoke to him of the glory of the Creator, they filled his heart with love to his covenant God, and they served him that he might return with praise and worship to God. They were not mechanically joined together, but so completely related to each other that all creation must share the common fate of Adam. When Adam fell the whole earthly creation lost its head and fell with him, subject to vanity. Therefore the wrath and curse which followed rest on the whole earthly creation, which groans and travails in pain together until now, awaiting the deliverance from the bondage of corruption.
The ages rolled by and all things in heaven and on earth continued to exist purely on the strength of God’s promise, awaiting fulfillment. For some 4000 years heaven and earth stood in eager expectancy and almost impatient longing for that day.
Until the Son of God came in the likeness of sinful flesh. Christ, the anointed Servant, came to accomplish the work in God’s house and to restore a new order of things. The zeal of God’s house consumed Him, for He had come to do the Father’s will. By the blood of the cross God made peace and reconciled all things in heaven and on earth unto Himself, Col. 1:20. And as a reward on the accomplished work of the cross God “raised Christ from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” Eph. 1:20, 21.
The triumph of the cross overwhelmed Satan and his hosts, sending them in defeat under the eternal curse of God into hell fire. The angels which kept their estate in the eternal habitations were eternally and publicly justified. They share in the victory of the cross in this sense, that Christ is set at their head and they are once more organized into a perfect unity and in harmonious relation to God to worship with the Church about the throne. Each one serves in his proper relation to Christ, Who is the Head over all things.
But also on earth all things are reconciled to God by the cross. No more than Adam could fall without drawing the whole earthly creation with him under the curse, no more can Christ reconcile His own without reconciling the whole creation with them to God. Such was also the divine purpose, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Christ is set in the highest heavens as Head of His Church and all things are put under His feet. Therefore the apostle can assure the Church: all things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Finally it shall be perfectly manifest that all things in heaven and on earth are united in Christ. In the new heavens and the new earth the whole glorified creation with the angels will serve the Church, which will be perfectly united with and subject to Christ unto the glory of God forever. But that which will be perfectly realized in the day of Christ Jesus is now, nevertheless, realized in principle.
Now is the dispensation of the fulness of times. All the times which preceded it flowed as a growing stream to empty themselves into the fulness of times. The hours that preceded, marked off the time according to the sovereign will of God until that last hour should come when all things would be united in Christ. Promises abounded, prophecies multiplied, types and shadows increased in number and significance in anticipation of the coming of that day. And now, having been fulfilled, they are displaced by a new order of things in God’s house, where Christ is the Head of all things.
The mystery of God’s will is made known.
It is a mystery, first of all, in this sense, that it could only become known to us by way of revelation.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. The natural mind cannot understand the things of the Spirit, for they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but only they who are enlightened by the Spirit do mind the things of the Spirit. Unto some it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but others must seeing not see and hearing not hear. For God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.
But, secondly, it is a mystery because it was hidden from the ages and generations which have gone before, even kept secret since the world began, only to be made manifest to the saints in this last time. Though the promise was given, it was not immediately realized; though prophets spoke of it, they too saw it only afar off; though types and shadows pointed the way, an impenetrable veil cut off the light of the new day from the dispensation of shadows. The closer they came to that day the plainer they discerned the distant objects, and yet they did not enter in. From their vantage point in heaven angels bent forward in eager expectancy, watching the unfolding of the counsel of God and the coming of that day, for they were desirous to look into it. Patriarchs longed to see that day, psalmists sang of it, prophets stood in awe and wonder, dazed and collapsing under the amazement of what they discerned afar off. Diligently they enquired and searched “as to what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not to themselves but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them which have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” I Pet. 1:11, 12. All these died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off.
And even now it still remains a mystery, for the mystery is not yet fulfilled. We still see in a glass darkly and know in part, but finally in our glorified bodies in the new heavens and the new earth we shall see face to face and know as we are known.
Nevertheless, the mystery of God’s will is made known to us. Sovereign will never determined to unite all things in the first Adam, as is evident even from the fact that he was made an earthly creature and set as head only of the earthly creation. According to His sovereign good pleasure God delayed the realization of His purpose. Even waited with fulfilling His promises until the dispensation of the fulness of times. The Serpent had to first lift up his head, ensued by a long and bitter struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Gradually the way had to be prepared by promises, prophecies, types and shadows, even amidst a groaning under the law and a longing for that day. Until finally God abounded with the fulness of the riches of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus. All the ages must testify of the glory and beauty of God as the God of all grace, with which He freely abounds toward His Church. The light of grace is thrown throughout all the ages on the dark background of sin and death. It is made known to us that God unites all things in heaven and on earth under one head in Christ.
Let us not confuse the matter by lending ourselves to the foolish fancies and philosophies of man. The wisdom and might of the world never stand side by side with the grace in Christ Jesus. Generalizing Christianity can only lead to confusion and to a final amalgamation with the world. Children of light cannot seek the things which are below, but must have their treasures in heaven. Light and darkness have no common basis. They are antithetically opposed to each other. Nor is grace ever promiscuously offered to all men in general. Christ gathers His Church, unites her with Himself, and unites all creation together with her, that heaven and earth may be united in one. He is the Head of the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
Small wonder that the angelic hosts burst forth with its “Gloria in Excelsis” above the Babe of Bethlehem. Of necessity they are present at the resurrection and again when He ascends to heaven to lead Him to the Ancient of Days. And just as eagerly they watch the gathering of His Church, so that there is joy in heaven when the lost is found and the dead are made alive again.
And through the Spirit of Christ in the Church we are blessed with all spiritual blessings, even as God blesses Christ in heaven. We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. We have the adoption to children; are made holy and blameless before God. We are graced with God’s grace and made accepted in the Beloved. It becomes the actual, living experience in the heart of the believers that all things in heaven and on earth are united in Christ. And according to the measure that we experience and taste this blessedness we respond with an ever recurring praise to the glory of His grace.
Blessed be God!