Ephesians 1:10

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:10. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:10

… as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The fulfilment of God’s plan is a unity of heaven and earth. In the previous verse we read of God’s will and God’s purpose. Now we read of God’s plan.

This world is not blindly evolving by chance and random mutation. The events of history are not meaningless. Our lives are not driven by fortune and misfortune.

God is behind all of these things. It does not matter whether you believe the world was made 6 thousand years ago or 6 billion years ago. It is God who made it and continues to shape it all for His purposes.

Political leaders may manipulate nations for their own aggrandisement, but they are on a leash that is held by the hand of the Lord.

If we feel that our personal life is out of control, we should remember that God is in control of all things.

He is working on a plan that began before time and involves a Kingdom of people who will worship God and serve Him to His glory.

It is not that we are like pawns pushed around on a chessboard. No, we have agency and will. We are accountable for what we do, but God weaves the will of countless millions of people into His plan.

This plan is a plan for the fullness of time. The word for time is kairos which means the appointed time. There is a time for planting and a time for reaping. These are appointed times.

Jesus was born at a kairos time and died at a kairos time

There is a time appointed by God for things to happen. The kairos times are the critical times, the moments of destiny.

And God has a time for the most appointed of all times, the fullness of kairos, the time of the end of this present age.

At that time the fulfilment, the climax, the end point of all of God’s plans will occur. This is the end point or destiny of everything, the whole purpose of the created order.

On that day (or time), all things will be united in Christ. The whole of creation will find its purpose in Christ.

This is a reversal of the Fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, one result was that creation became opposed, or at least resistant to people’s attempts to harmonise it. Until then Adam and Eve had a garden to tend, but after their sin everything was held back by thorns and thistles.

So on that day, all thing will again be united in Christ. The world will no longer threaten human beings.

As I write this the world is enthralled by a drama of 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave. The oncoming monsoon rains threaten to make their rescue more difficult. In Japan at the same time there are floods which have killed many people and destroyed whole towns. In Australia we are enduring a long drought.

In each of these situations, the natural order Is opposed to human well being. Even as we pray for relief, nature resists.

But in the fullness of time, this will no longer happen. People and the whole of the created order will be under the reign of Christ,

This raises the issue of judgement. It is Christ who will rule the re-created order. We will be united “in Christ.” Jesus assured us that even the rocks and stones will praise Him.

What of those who refuse to be “in Christ”? What of those who, because of their broken desires, have no wish to be united with “all things” in Christ?

They will not and cannot be a part of the unity of all things in Christ. There will be a Judgement where the sheep are separated from the goats and the weeds from the wheat. Those who exclude themselves from Christ in this age will be excluded from Him in the age to come.

Paul mentions two realms in particular that will once again be united- the heavens and the earth. The implications of this are hard to imagine

The heavenly realm is the place where God and His angels dwell. People are created to dwell in both the physical or earthly realm and the heavenly realm. We are body and spirit.

Sin blinds us to the reality of heaven. We know that God is there, even that He is in us after our conversion. We can conceive of the reality of heaven, but we can only see it through a very dark and distorted lens.

On the other hand, we see, feel, smell, hear and taste very clearly the physical environment- so much so that it often feels that it is the only part that matters.

At the moment, we perceive the spiritual reality by faith which is the confident trust in God. At the fulfilment of God’s plan, in the fullness of kairos time, all things in heaven and earth will be reunited. At last we will see God face to face and we will see all the spiritual realities as clearly as we now see the physical reality.

What a day that will be!

Key points in this verse:

  • God has a plan and a purpose
  • All things will be united n Christ
  • This will happen in the fullness of God’s appointed time

Reflection on John 2:13-25

Jesus drives out the merchants – John 2:13-16

Scripture

But Jesus didn’t trust them because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what human nature was really like.

Observation

Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. He sees the merchants selling animals for the sacrifices and the money changers. He makes a whip and chases the animals and the traders out of the Temple.

The disciples remember the Scripture that says, “Passion for your house consumes me.”

The leaders demand a sign that Jesus has done this under God’s authority. He tells them if they pull down the temple, he will rebuild it in three days. They don’t realise that he is talking about His body.

Application

Many people were claiming to trust in Jesus, but He didn’t trust them. He knew human nature.

People claim to be disicples of Jesus for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it is for social standing or to make business contacts. Sometimes it is out of a religious spirit.

There are many people who, to all outward appearances, are dedicated christians. They believe the gospel, and may even do many good works in the church. For some reason the head knowledge of the facts of the gospel does not translate to the heart. When pressure comes on, they don’t cope as we might expect, because the outward behaviour has changed but their heart has not changed.

When Jesus comes in He changes our heart. Our life is changed for ever from the inside out.

Nobody can live the christian life out of their own strength. We need the new heart and the new mind that only Jesus can give through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for not just forgiving my sins but for giving me a new heart. You are making every part of my life new. Thank you. Amen.

Reflection on John 2:1-12

Scripture

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Observation

Jesus and His disciples are invited to a wedding celebration in Cana in Galilee. The wine runs out, and Mary, Jesus’ mother, tells Jesus. She then instructs the servants to do whatever He tells them to do.

Jesus tells the servants to fill with water the jugs used for ceremonial washing. They do this, and when the water is sampled it is found to have been changed into wine, in fact the best wine.

This is the first sign in which Jesus showed His glory.

Application

In the first chapter, the story is about people testifying about Jesus. Now the focus changes to be about signs and glory.

Jesus revealed His glory through changing water into wine. That is, the miracle pointed to the fact that Jesus is God, not just a human religious leader.

Wine is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, for the joy and peace that come from the presence of the Spirit in us. Jesus is the one who gives the Holy Spirit to His disciples.

The wine is literally new wine and is a sign of the new things that God is doing in His kingdom.

Turning water into wine without the benefit of grapes is truly a miracle, and shows that Jesus is the Lord over creation.

All of this takes place at a wedding, the symbol of God’s ongoing love and commitment for His people.

Jesus is Lord of all creation. He is the giver of the Holy Spirit and the bringer of God’s Kingdom.

The disciples believed in Him as a result of this sign. Perhaps they previously accepted that Jesus is the Messiah, a human being anointed by God for the restoration of Israel. But after this, they believed in their hearts that Jesus really is God’s Son.

Prayer

Lord, you take the ordinary things of life and make them extraordinary. May my life today be a sign of your glory. Amen.

Reflection on John 1:45-51

Scripture

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

Observation

Philip goes and tells Nathanael that he has found the Messiah. Nathanael is sceptical at first because nothing good comes from Nazareth. But he goes with Philip anyway.

Jesus greets Nathanael with the words, “Here is a genuine son of Israel.”

Nathanael is intrigued and asks Jesus how He knows about him. Jesus replies, “I saw you under the fig tree when Philip found you.”

At this word of knowledge, Nathanael recognises that Jesus really is the Son of God.

Application

This story illustrates a three step process for a person coming to faith in Jesus:

1. Somebody brings a person to see Jesus,

2. There is a supernatural encounter

3. The person recognises and confesses that Jesus is the Lord.

It is not enough for a person to come to a church service. They must have a genuine encounter with the Lord.

Jesus goes on to reveal that He is the stairway to heaven. He enables angels and people to ascend to heaven on Him.

This is clearly a reference to the encounter that Jacob had at Bethel (“the house of God.”)

Jesus is the one who enables us to get to heaven. He is the one and only way of salvation.

The way to heaven is not a religious observance or a belief system. We can recite the Apostles’ Creed, learn the whole gospel of John by heart, even fast for forty days. These are all good things, but they will not, of themselves, get you to heaven.

The way to heaven is a person- Jesus Christ. When we put our trust in Him, then we will be saved.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, through your death on the cross, you became the stairway that joins heaven to earth. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

Ephesians 1:9

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:9. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:9

“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will , according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ.”

God has given us knowledge of His will and purpose in Christ.

Knowledge was important to the Greeks and to many in that culture. People still say to this day, “Knowledge is power.”

This applies not just to the human realm but also to the spiritual realm.

The early church faced multiple threats to its theology from groups collectively called Gnostics to whom knowledge was eternal life. There were many Gnostic sects which blended elements of various religious systems, but they had a common thread. The basic belief was that the physical world is evil and the heavens are pure, and we can only be redeemed by secret knowledge (gnosis) which allows us to ascend by a series of intermediaries of which Christ is just one. This knowledge is hidden from ordinary people (mystery), but this teacher or this group will lead you to knowledge and enlightenment.

Paul cuts down that line of thinking by saying God has made known to us these hidden mysteries and His plan and purpose in the person of Christ. We don’t need any more knowledge, wisdom or insight because Christ Himself is the revelation.

The mystery of God’s will is something that Paul writes about quite often. The word mystery means there is something that was in the past secret and unknowable about salvation, but this has now been revealed. The Jewish people had some understanding, but the revelation they had was not complete.

Now in Christ we have the full revelation, the unveiling of the mystery, the explanation of God’s purpose that was hidden for so long.

In Christ we have knowledge; the explanation and description of who God is and how we can be put right with Him.

There is no need for other knowledge, the Gnostic “knowledge”, because we have Christ to show us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Whoever sees Him sees the Father. Whoever follows Jesus as Lord is granted entry into God’s Kingdom.

In Christ we have full wisdom. The Greeks pursued philosophy which is literally the love of wisdom. Wisdom would give them mastery of themselves and their destiny.

The problem with philosophy is that every team comes up with different answers. One team would say that you must deny the fleshly desires and live a frugal life. Another team would say that the best life is one in which we enjoy every good thing. Yet another team would say that wisdom comes when we learn to patiently endure all things in life whether good or bad.

Jesus’ message is all wisdom. “The Kingdom of God is here. Turn away from your sins and follow me.” This wisdom not only orders our earthly life, but guarantees eternal life to all who will follow Him.

In Christ we have true insight- the word here actually means a frame of reference. Christ sets all of our thinking right. He is the centre of our world-view. Since this is actually God’s perspective, that means that all of our thoughts about ourselves, about God, and about other people now line up with those of the Creator. We have a true world-view, a correct frame of reference, a clear lens through which to view the world around us.

In the past everything was “mystery”, hidden from us and unable to be discerned except through a lens that was distorted and out of focus. Now, in Christ, we see all things clearly.

All of this is according to God’s purpose set forth in Christ. There is a Kingdom that is world-wide in scope, bringing every person under its reign. Jews and Gentiles are to be united in their worship of the Lord and in their work for Him. One race swearing allegiance to Christ.

Christ’s purpose was not just to save some individuals, important as that is, but to bring all things in unity under Him, and then at the end to present it all to the Father.

Key points in this verse:

  • God has given us all revelation in Christ.
  • There is no need for secret knowledge to gain salvation
  • Christ is all we need.
  • There is a huge plan that is coming to fruition in Christ,

Reflection on John 1:35-44

The Brick Testament

Scripture
Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

Observation
Two of John’s disciples meet Jesus, and John declares that Jesus is the Lamb of God. The disciples follow Him and remain with Him. One of these disciples is Andrew, who goes off to find his brother, Simon, telling him, “We have found the Messiah.”

The next day, Jesus goes off to Galilee, where He meets Philip and tells him, “Come and follow me.”

Application
There are many ways in which people find Jesus. One of them is when trusted teachers, perhaps a pastor or other father in the faith, explains that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” for us.

Another way is to be introduced to Jesus by a friend or relative. They may not have all the answers, but they know Jesus is the Messiah. In their excitement they share the Good News about Jesus,

Some people find Jesus through a direct call from Him to “Come and follow me.”

Over and over we read in John’s gospel of people testifying to their experience of Jesus, and many people come to faith as a result.

When we think of evangelism it can seem to be a daunting task. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they don’t want to listen? What if they ask questions I can’t answer?

All we have to say is “Come and find Jesus the Messiah.”

Jesus’ message was also very simple. “The kingdom of God is here. Turn away from your sins and follow me.”

We don’t need classes to do this; we just need to do it!

Prayer
Lord, many people have come to faith through a simple invitation. Help me to be like Andrew and tell people, “I have found the Messiah.” Please show me the people you are already working on, and give me boldness to speak for you. Amen.

Reflection on John 1:19-34

Scripture

Then John gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have baptised him, except that the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.”

Observation

The Jewish leaders send some priests and Levites to find out if John is the Messiah. He denies bring the one.

Then Jesus comes by, and John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John says that he saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus, and the Lord had told him that Jesus is the baptiser in the Holy Spirit.

Application

Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the baptiser In the Holy Spirit,

The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. He has died to bring atonement- forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

Jesus is also the baptiser in the Holy Spirit. He is the one who makes it possible for us to walk in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) are available to every believer. We can minister to others in the same power that Christ had. Even the Old Testament prophets had nothing like the power that is available to every ordinary follower of Jesus.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are also available to every believer. The fruit produces in us the character of Christ, It is the outward, visible sign of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a one-off event, but a daily filling, a daily relationship. As the power and grace of the Spirit pour into us, they are meant to overflow into the lives of the people around us, enabling us to be faithful witnesses of Christ.

Prayer

Holy Spirit fall afresh on me. Let me be so filled with you that everywhere I go, people are touched by your presence. Amen.