Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. Ephesians 1:9-10 (NKJ)
A child gazes into a new box of Legos and begins to fantasize about that special robot he’s always wanted. A young lady searches for that one “special” dress—she knows the silhouette, color, and fabric. She has already envisioned wearing it on Saturday. I stare at the picture of shrimp and grits (a special recipe from my girlfriend in Georgia). Reviewing each ingredient, I imagine its succulent taste in my mouth. All three of us with our own unique desire will bring into reality what we have each imagined by beginning with the end in mind.
“Begin with the end in mind” is one of the principles from Steven Covey’s best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey puts forth the idea that by clearly seeing the goal we desire at the beginning, we will more likely be able to accomplish that goal in the end. So it was and still is with God.
Before the foundation of the world, God had a specific end in mind. It was two-fold: first, to redeem mankind, and secondly, to restore the kingdom of God. Both purposes were fulfilled and will be fulfilled through Jesus Christ (Is. 9:6-7).
The mystery made known. “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”.
The mystery (musterion) of God’s will can only be known as a result of God’s willingness to make it known. The word literally means “to shut the mouth” and in this context, it refers to a truth once hidden but now made known (Rom. 11:25, Col. 1:26). The mystery “was made known” when Christ came in the flesh (Titus 2:11) and the long awaited plan of redemption was initiated according to God’s good pleasure. God knew what was needed to resolve the issue of sin and “purposed in Himself” a plan that was to be carried out in Jesus Christ, His Son, the second person of the Trinity. This mystery has now been revealed “to us”—His Church.
The purpose realized—in part. “That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him”
Dispensation refers to the management or oversight of other’s property. God gave Christ oversight over all the elect—not only in the physical world but also those already in heaven. The apostle Paul revealed to the church at Ephesus God’s eternal purpose to “gather together” not only them, but all who have by faith accepted Christ. This “gathering together” began with a chosen people who ultimately become a nation called Israel (Ps. 132:11-13). This “gathering together” continued with a rejected people (1 Pet. 2:10) who became heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). The “fullness of times”, however, is yet in eternity future, when Christ begins His reign in the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 21). Then the purpose which God began before the foundation of the world will be realized in full.
Mystery made known. Purpose realized—in part. What now? Begin with the end in mind! What has God purposed for your life? It’s much more than “living happily ever after”—that’s only a fairy tale. God’s has gifted us with spiritual (and material) blessings in order to bring into reality what was always the plan—the redemption of man and the restoration of His Kingdom.
- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Matt 28: 19-20 (RSV)
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
- Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28
Begin with God’s end in mind. Let your life in Christ be centered on Christ! 2018 is a great time to realign and reprioritize your plans with God’s plan. Remember to keeping the “main thing the main thing.”
SELAH: Beginning with “God’s end in mind”, what are your top three (3) priorities for 2018?