… according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
–Ephesians 1:7–10 ESV
God has lavished on us “the riches of his grace” — and this is the crux of two mighty blessings:
- redemption through his blood, and the forgiveness of our trespasses and sins, (v7) and
- knowledge: “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” (v8)
Concerning this knowledge of his will:
- It is not a small amount of grace/knowledge, but it is “lavished on us in all wisdom and insight”.
- God’s will is no longer a mystery, but it is contained in the Person of Christ. God’s will is not an abstract set of principles, but rooted in a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ.
- This plan is “for the fullness of time”—this is not just knowledge that is localized, not like local television news about what’s important today. God’s plan is for “for the fullness of time” and thus gives us insight into the big Story, the grand narrrative.
- The plan is beautiful: it is designed to unite what is fractured—“to unite all things in him.” This uniting of all things in Christ implies that there is a cosmic brokenness in our world and that this brokenness will one day come to an end. For all things will be united in Christ, healed of sin and separation and conflict.
- “things in heaven and on earth”—this tells us that this uniting all things in Christ—this healing of what is broken—will be total, comprehensive, universal.
What a hope! What a contrast to the Greek Gods who make fickle decisions because of whim, who are supernatural on the one hand, but also violent, emotional, unpredictable.
Also, what a message for the post-modern world which believes that meaning is created by the self, that there is not a meta-narrative, no Story above all stories. This transcendence is rooted in history-past and points with a living hope to history-future, full of goodness and hope and beauty. It implies we have a responsibility to share this message.
The responsibility to share this message is stated plainly in chapter three where Paul personalizes God’s call on his life inside of the grand Story. What is clear in Ephesians is that God’s choosing Paul to extend the blessing of Christ to the Gentiles is, “election with universal intent” as Lesslie Newbigin calls it. The whole Story is inherently missional. It gives Christ-followers such great honor, such great responsibility in God’s Story.