It is only twelve verses of scripture. It is, so experts tell us, merely three or four sentences in the original Greek. It is, without any ambiguity of meaning or writers “angle,” the greatest piece of information that planet earth has ever received. It is so exciting that when read, understood properly and believed it has changed the lives of millions of people, possibly billions by the time this generation passes –if it is allowed to. What are we discussing?
A little less than two thousand years ago a little bald headed Jew, with a body scarred by torture and suffering over a thirty to forty year period – pains he gladly suffered for explaining to people the contents of this small section of a letter he wrote – was busily travelling around the world around the northern Mediterranean lands telling people as much as he could of the epic saga of God’s pursuit of the hearts of mankind.
This opening full frontal attack on unbelief, atheism and the occult as well as dead religion is jam packed and overflowing with an incredible understanding of God’s mind, His attitude, His delights as well as His joys and how He made it possible for all of mankind to be lifted into a new consciousness of Him and a new direction in eternity. The author does not write it as a pet theory he has been nurturing, or a rumour he has picked up somewhere. For the man that wrote these lines this is a hard factual account of the message he preached everywhere he travelled. This is as concrete and as factual to the man who knew what he was writing about as scientific experiments in the laboratory are to the modern scientist.
The language this Jewish scholar uses sounds, on first time reading, rather cryptic and strange. I have heard many people argue against its contents on the grounds that there are too many “religious words” in this section of literature that I am referring to. Words like, “Predestinated,” “Adoption,” “Redemption,” “accepted in the beloved,” “before the foundation of the world,” “the mystery of his will,” “dispensation,” “fullness of time,” “praise of his glory” and others words describing God’s dealings with men. When used in the context of a dialogue about God these words do seem to scare some people off, preventing them from engaging with the statements that are made herein. What these offended people miss out on is that these words, being used in the context of Christianity, were first used by the same man that wrote this piece of literature. He was virtually the first to use this sort of language to express how God relates to those who have faith in Christ. God had engaged with him in such an intensive way that he used any language he could get his mind around to explain what had happened to him and what God had revealed to him so clearly. That was because what God had showed him was not for him alone but for the entire population of every future generation of humanity to own. This man wanted to make his message plain to everybody who would hear him speak, or read his writings.
Imagine if, fifty years ago, I had met you and talked about “computer code,” “software,” “Internet,” “world wide web,” “web-site,” “DVD” and “You Tube,” and told you that one day the ordinary masses on the street would be talking of these things with as much familiarity as we then discussed “Radio,” “TV” and the “motor car.” It would have been “make believe” sci-fi then. It would be just a matter of less than 50 years to introduce such language into the everyday language of every nation on the planet. It is exactly the same here with the piece of writing that we are about to engage with. It is also a matter of time before everyone on the planet could become au fait with the afore mentioned “religious” words, but it is a period of time that one can dictate to one’s self as to how long it would be before these words could become not only appropriate to a person, but essential to one’s understanding of modern living.
It is pieces of prose like this that was first used to describe the incredible data that this man was guardian of. In fact, I refer to it as prose, but as it is part and parcel of the contents of the bible, many think that the author who wrote it was a master poet. JK Rowling, eat your heart out. This little man who I am referring to writes a circular letter to be read in churches throughout what we call modern Turkey, and two millennia later it is not only a part of the world’s best-selling book, but he is referred to as eternally one of the greatest poets who ever put quill to parchment.
The first twelve verses of Ephesians are glorious. Don’t ask me how he did it, but Paul explains the entire purpose of creation and man, as well as God’s delights and pleasures in the purpose of the universe, what Christ did to rid the universe of evil and where the Almighty is taking us during the rest of future time and thereafter into everlasting eternity – and it is all in these few lines. Talk about compact! It seriously is something to behold.
The full story of the entire universe is explained in twelve verses.
What is it Paul condenses into Ephesians 1:1-12? It goes like this:
In the beginning when there was no place, no space, no universe and even no heaven – when there was nothing but God – the infinite, Almighty, all knowing, all filling Father, Word and Holy Spirit, before the very foundations of the cosmos were laid, God the Father had decided to create a universe that would be headed up in “the Word” that was “with God,” the Word that “was God” (John 1:1). That Living Word was the man Jesus of Nazareth.
God has a mind of His own and He makes His own choices. He has a will that motivates those choices. That will flows with infinite wisdom, intelligence, and love. God takes the greatest of pleasure in making prudent decisions in order to achieve His purposes for the eternal good and joy of all that He was to make before He made them. Sort that one out!
From that joy and wisdom and with deep inexpressible pleasure, the Father made a decision formulated by the counsel of His will (1:11). That is informing us that the eternal plan and purposes of God were advised, discussed and determined by Father, Word and Holy Spirit Himself before the historical truth and fact of Genesis 1:1 had taken place.
Nothing and nobody has ever taken God by surprise. He knows all things from the beginning to the end. Little things, large things, knowledge, wisdom, prudence and foreknowledge are His. In the vastness of His infinite Person, bigger than eternity if you get my drift, God knew that in making man in His own image – meaning that they, like Him, could freely choose their way and their purpose in life, they would initially fall from freely loving Him and turn onto their own pathway. How great is God’s knowledge!
He was also aware that the greatest and most beautiful Archangel that He had created would rebel against Him in His very presence and be cast out of heaven. He knew that sin – that is the original kind – would have a cosmic tsunami effect, and that the fall of Lucifer, the most splendid of all the Archangels, would not make anything like the waves and splits and breakdowns in the cosmos that the fall of man would cause.
Looking into how time would function from His throne in eternity, God planned and set in place a purpose and a decree that would make the finished product of man, animals, the earth, heaven and the entire universe an even better place than it was when God had first made it. Sin that had been spawned in Lucifer and had then broken out in man defiling the entire cosmos had to be legally accounted for in the face of the devil and his hordes.
“Enter Messiah, Stage Right”
Forgiveness, deliverance and removal of the curse would come through Messiah’s settling of the human debt towards God. The horrific fault lines and cracks throughout creation would be completely restored and recovered by one man. As sin entered the cosmos through one man, Adam, so righteousness entered through one man, Jesus Christ. As death entered with sin, so eternal life came through the totally righteous Lord, the Messiah.
The first twelve verses of Ephesians explain what a Christian is, why he is, where he comes from and where he is going. It is a seemingly “all-wise” explanation of the glorious clash between God’s will and man’s will, God’s initiating action and man’s initiating movement, where God’s will starts and how it fits in with man’s will that creates the most incredible narrative. I am sure that the answer to that huge conundrum of logic and revelation – a conundrum that has been argued about for centuries – will be resolved when we finally get to, and/or understand how things function in a non-linear eternity. Eternity is not just a very very long period of time. Eternity is outside of time. It is always “Now,” in eternity and there is no past, or future. Neither God nor the angelic hosts in eternity ever age.
While God was still conceptually setting in place the details of what we refer to as earth’s time line, while it was still in His imagination and Him pre setting and predestinating all things while the creation of time itself was still on the drawing board, He and only He could see from His ownership of timeless eternity how man’s will and God’s predetermined purposes would clash and come together. The delightful, joyful purpose that God intended for all was set, and the loose cannon of man’s free will would sometimes seem to be so contrary to God’s purposes at times that thinkers among men are still fighting on the issue of where God’s will and decision making ends and man’s will and decision making takes over. Is Calvin correct? Or are the Arminians on the right track? To most thinkers the free will of man and the free will of God are repelling forces, like oil in water; the two cannot possibly exist together. But they have co-existed since creation and time began, they still co-exist and always will as long as time itself exists. Nobody is God’s robot and God certainly never adjusts his plans for mankind. God has no problem at all with the issues of logic that plague the greatest of brains, logic that may surely be turned on its head in a non-linear existence outside of time.
These first lines of Ephesians are the objective outline of God’s plan for us all, as well as the entire cosmos. It is an account of things that are profoundly subjective to God’s own experience and labours. We know what Yahweh was thinking, purposing and delighting in when He constructed His plan of how mankind could be saved. Verses 13-14 explain the remarkably simple process of how mankind would receive subjectively what Messiah would have purchased for them. That process is so simple and uncomplicated that there are millions who still think Paul’s statements need a little adjusting. Foolish people!
The secrets of the universe that were kept quiet till Christ came and then revealed to Paul in a way that doesn’t seem to have been revealed to any other apostle with quite the same clarity or detail are entered into and owned by those that heard the story, the word of truth, and then believed it. It sounds “almost too good to be true,” and that is the exact meaning of the word evangel, or gospel.
From eternity God the Father planned that the eternal ever Living Word of God would be microscopically conceived and embedded in the blood walled womb of flesh of a young virgin girl, in order to become the One that would undo all that evil was to be perpetrated in the time space world on planet earth, evil that infected the entire universe. He would live as man and, laying aside His glorious majesty, and totally denying His own omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, the eternal immortal only wise God came to earth to die. What phenomenon is this?
The blood of Christ, shed with the deepest love and passion for the well being of mankind was such a shock to the cosmos that the world went pitch black at the brightest point of the day when Christ took death by the throat and conquered it. Rocks burst open, physical things were impacted and broken by the reality of the world of the spirit. The overflow of the spiritual earthquake of His rising from the dead brought up other people who had died in faith, resurrected as it were with Him causing them to follow in the train of His triumph. As Clive Staples Lewis analogises it in his Narnia Chronicles, the process of death and entropy in creation was literally reversed because of Aslan the great Lion rising from the dead. The analogy is a great one and thoroughly biblical.
Christ having returned to the heights of heaven, being made Lord of all and Christ for all who trust in Him, the Bible lets us know that there is every spiritual blessing that could ever be conceived of, sourced in Christ Himself, the Mighty Conqueror and supplied for the person of faith – no matter what age, what race, what background or what history. These are blessings that He eagerly wishes to pour out and manifest upon all believers. The plan is of such glorious power and kindness that while walking on earth and trusting in the Saviour’s awesome grace, the Father, the Spirit and the angelic forces perceive the believer as having all the faculties and circumstances of actually being sat in the heavenly places with Jesus Himself. This is what Bible teachers refer to as, “The authority of the Believer.” It is authority delegated by Christ to any Christian who will take it.
The angelic armies of God with the Archangels and differing ranks of strength, power and glory minister to those human beings that shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14), that is, the elect of God. But there are different ranges of principalities, powers and dominions in both angelic and demonic ranks, and those who are seated with Christ and in Christ join with the angels fighting and wrestling with the authorities and powers of this dark world (i.e. planet earth) and are at continual warfare and violent battles against everything that tries to rise against Christ the Lord.
Until the plan is fulfilled and complete, the Christian believers in this life, should be progressing in their understanding of Ephesians 1:1-12. It is never new teachings we need, simply a deeper understanding of what we already know. It is a relationship with God that is to be nurtured and developed until our ultimate presentation before God when we will be totally holy and blameless before Him at the other side of death.
- Echoes of Encouragement from Ephesians (IV) (mtsweat.com)
- Introduction to Ephesians (revelationsoftheinvisible.wordpress.com)
- Ephesians Part 2 (mcfalger.com)