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 fullness of time (or: unto a dispensation of the fullness of time, R.V.) he might gather together in one all things in Christ (or: to sum up all things in Christ, R.V.), both which are in heaven and which are on earth. Eph. 1:9, 10
Glorious mystery of His will!
Hid from the beginning, but now made known in Christ, through the apostles and prophets.
The mystery of the final end God had in view with the purpose which He had purposed in Himself: the dispensation according to which He would gather together in one, in one glorious living center, Christ Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, all things, both which are in heaven and which are on earth!
For who hath, or who could possibly have known the mind of the Lord? Or who could have discovered this adorable end of the good pleasure and purpose of the Most High? What eye was clear enough to detect in the things that are seen, what ear was keen enough to discover from the things that are heard, what heart was profound enough to conjecture from its own experience that all through the ages of time God had in view a dispensation in which He would sum up all things in heaven and on earth in the glorious center and culmination point of the incarnated Son?
But the mystery is now revealed!
God hath made known His mind, hath declared what purpose He has in view throughout the history of this world: to reunite all things in a higher, a more perfect union than ever before!
And lest we should hesitate to give the words their full significance, it is added: that are in heaven and that are on the earth. The entire cosmos, therefore, is meant; the whole creation and all things in the whole creation. Nothing less can satisfy the terms here employed. It cannot be the purpose of these words to refer merely men, and to make us think of the union of the Jews and the Gentiles in the one body of Christ; nor can they be limited to rational beings only, the angels in heaven and men on the earth. Nor can it be the meaning of the Word of God here that in the end God purposes to save and unite into His eternal kingdom of glory every individual man, and every individual spirit, angel and devil alike, which is not only foreign to this passage, but also contrary to all the rest of Scripture. But all things in heaven and on earth, rational and brute creation, animate and inanimate creatures, the whole creation organically considered, are to be reunited in the one glorious center: Christ Jesus, our Lord!
All creatures shall be gathered together!
They will be united. There will be a bond between creature and creature, the bond of peace and perfect harmony, so that all the millions upon millions of created things will constitute one whole, one glorious cosmos; so that every part of the whole will be perfectly related to every other part and to the whole; so that each creature will serve the whole in its own place and position, and in serving the whole will be to the glory of the Most High. The ultimate realization of God’s world, the world He loved and in behalf of which He gave His only begotten Son!
All creatures will be “summed up”!
They will be gathered together in one! There will be a gradually ascending scale of creatures, perfectly interrelated and united mutually, climbing upward into a pinnacle, a center, a culminating point. Or, to describe this union in one center more accurately; there will be one central life-spark from which all creation will be quickened, one Head in Whom all creatures are united, from Whom they receive their life and meaning, their place and grand harmony of form and activity: Christ!
Christ, the incarnated Son of God, will be the Head of all the new creation!
Christ, the firstborn of every creature, and the first- begotten of the dead will be the uniting center of the new heavens and the new earth!
The Spirit of Christ will quicken and glorify all!
The glory of the risen Lord will beautify all!
The mind of Christ will be the light of all!
The will of Christ will rule all!
And in Christ as the new and eternal Head of all the redeemed cosmos the whole world will be united centrally with its Creator and Redeemer, the God of our salvation!
Such is the implication of this glorious Word of God!
That hope is placed before us throughout the Scriptures. For the creature is made subject to vanity and in the bondage of corruption it groans, but it shall be delivered from that bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
And we expect new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell.
The New Jerusalem will come down from God out of heaven on the new earth!
And God shall make all things new!
Adorable wisdom of God’s good pleasure!
According to which He purposes all things with a view to that final dispensation: to gather together again all things in one!
To sum them up in a higher unity, in a more glorious harmony than ever before, and to lift them up into that heavenly perfection that is attained in the way of sin and grace, and that could not have been reached except in that way!
For, indeed, He gathers them again; such is the significance of the original word.
Yet, when He gathers them for the second time, He does not return to His former work, He does not lead all things back to their first estate, but leads them on to higher glory.
Once they were united. For, also in creation God’s works were one. He did not call into being a mere number of creatures without affinity or unity, but He created a cosmos, a world in which everything was adapted to the purpose of the whole, one harmonious creation with its center in man’s heart. In him all things were gathered together in one, in man they were summed up, he stood at the pinnacle of created things on earth; he had dominion over all things, and all things served him. And he stood in the midst of the earthly creation, made after the likeness of the invisible God, His friend-servant, in order that the whole creation through the love of his heart and the service of his willing obedience might be united with the heart of God. All things were in subjection to him, in order that through him they might be subjected to God; all things served him, that he might serve the Most High!
Thus all was harmony in the first paradise!
The peace of God pervaded all; the love of God motivated all; the blessed favor of God caused all to rejoice; the beauty of God was reflected in all; all this centrally and consciously in the heart of man!
True, all things were not united in one.
There was another world in heaven, the world of heavenly spirits, of seraphim and cherubim, of might and dominion, of principalities and powers. They probably were summed up in their own head, the greatest, the mightiest, the most beautiful of them all, the one against whom even in his fallen state Michael durst not bring a railing accusation. That world was not united in the heart of man. Over it he had no dominion. He was made a little lower than the angels. An earthly king over an earthly creation was the first man Adam. Of the earth earthy was he. All things, things in heaven and things on earth were not united in his heart. . . .
Two worlds there appeared to be, even though they were adapted to each-other, destined to become one, to be summed up in One. . . .
Yet, even so, that first world was blessed and beautiful.
And a pity it seemed that ever its unity was broken!
For, broken it was; broken was its unity in heaven; and distorted was its harmony on earth. For the most glorious creature in heaven became the opponent, the adversary, the slanderer of God, the arch-rebel, the liar, the murderer from the beginning; and with him rose in rebellion a multitude of the heavenly spirits. And things on earth lost their uniting center in man’s heart, when he, the friend-servant of God, allied himself with the rebellious forces of darkness in high places, and became the enemy of the Most High. His heart was no longer the medium through which all creation might rest at the heart of God. His mind was no longer receptive unto the Word of God: his light had become darkness. His will refused to submit to and to do the will of God: his righteousness had changed into unrighteousness. No longer did he thirst after God as a hart after water brooks: his holiness had changed into corruption. His beauty changed into ashes, his glory into shame, his love into hatred, his freedom into slavery, his obedience into rebellion, his dominion into vain usurpation, his blessedness into a curse, his life into death!
The bond was broken!
The creature was made subject to vanity. No longer did it serve man to any positive purpose. It rises against him, it mocks his efforts, in thorn and thistle, in fire and hail, in the wild beasts of the earth, mighty and effective whether they be great or infinitesimally small. He still labors in the sweat of his brow, but only to reap vanity and death: he eats and drinks corruption. . . .
And creation is a house divided against itself.
Vanity of vanities; the vicious circle of death!
Yet, even then, there was the mystery of God’s will, the adorable good pleasure of the Most High, the purpose of Him Who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will; even then God had in view that marvelous economy of the fullness of time: to gather together in One, all things, that are in heaven and that are on earth!
Who hath known the mind of the Lord!
O, the depth of riches, of knowledge, of wisdom!
That which to us appears to be only a willful wrecking of God’s beautiful handiwork by rebellious creatures, in God’s eternal purpose must serve to open the way unto something higher and better, the eternal and heavenly summing up of all things in Christ Jesus, the economy of the fullness of times!
The harmony that was disturbed was earthly, that which will replace it is heavenly.
In the beginning all things were summed up in the first man Adam; in the end they will all be concentrated in and dominated by the last Adam, the Lord from heaven.
The original union could not fully embrace all things; the ultimate kosmos will be a gathering together in one of all created things, the new heaven and the new earth.
The former things were lapsable, fragile, because they were summed up in the mere creature.
The final things can be torn from the heart of God nevermore, because they are summed up in the Son of God Himself!
All according to His purpose!
That all things may be unto Him, even as they are of Him and through Him.
For such, indeed, is the implication of the original: God had eternally in view the final economy of things, according to which He will gather together in one unto Himself, for Himself, all things!
That He may be all in all!
And glory may be to Him!
The dispensation of the fullness of times!
That economy or arrangement of the saving work of God by which finally and completely the mystery of the will of God is fulfilled, and also revealed.
For, a mystery it is.
That this economy of things was the end which God had in view, that the culmination and consummation of all things would be a cosmos embracing all things in heaven and on earth, concentrated in Christ, the incarnated Son of God, raised from the dead by the marvelous power of God,—that no one could possibly surmise or conjecture; that experience cannot teach, that eye cannot see and ear cannot hear, nor can it ever arise in the heart of man. It is a mystery. It belongs to the kingdom of heaven. It can be known only through revelation by the Spirit of Christ.
And long this mystery had been hid.
Prophecies there had been of it, faint glimmerings of its light had broken through the darkness occasionally even of the old dispensation. Those that had been lifted up to the highest mountain peaks of prophecy had seen afar off the glory of the future, and had spoken to the people below, dwelling in the shadow of the present death, of new heavens and a new earth. . . .
But not until the “economy of the fullness of time” had come had the mystery been revealed in all its glorious significance.
The fullness of time is the final period before the parousia. It is that by which time is made full. For, time is a measure, and filled it must be before it can be definitely closed. Strictly speaking it is the economy of the last “moment,” of the “omega” of all history, that is the “fullness of time.” But here time is viewed as being filled with “dispensations”, each leading to the other, yet each being characterized by new revelations and realizations of the mystery of the will of God. Always it is the same mystery of God’s will that is realized and revealed; but there is progress in its revelation and economy. And the last of these economies of God’s redemptive wonder is the present dispensation. It is the end of the ages. By it time is filled. It is the fullness of time.
It was begun with the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For, when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, come under the law. And in Him He began to gather together all things, both that are in heaven and that are on the earth. For He is that pinnacle of all things, the firstborn of every creature, in Whom all things are to be summed up. And as such He was prepared, through the cross, by the resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God.
And He draws all things unto Himself!
Until He shall come again, and as the pinnacle of all creation subjects Himself unto the Father.
That God may be all in all!
O, wonder of grace!