Most genuine Christians know that in Christ they have salvation from judgment, but few take note of God’s “eternal purpose” for them goes far beyond. My own view of God’s “eternal purpose” involving believers has become greatly enlarged as I’ve prepared this series. We will see that God’s “eternal purpose” involves an important role for the “saved” in eternity, for those who “love God… who are the called according to His (eternal) PURPOSE” (Romans 8:28 below).
2 Timothy 1:9 (God) Who hath saved us, and CALLED US with an holy calling, not according to our works, but ACCORDING TO HIS OWN PURPOSE and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN,
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are THE CALLED ACCORDING to HIS PURPOSE … 30… them He also GLORIFIED.”
For “the body of Christ” God’s “eternal purpose” extends from “BEFORE the world began” (1Tim 1:9 above) and points to the culmination, in the endless “AGES TO COME” (Eph. 2:7 below).
Ephesians 2:5-7 Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath (already) quickened us (made “the body of Christ” alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, and MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN (THE) HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS: 7(Intending) THAT IN THE AGES TO COME he might shew (display, Darby Bible) the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness TOWARD US through Christ Jesus.
Above Paul says; “(God) HATH RAISED US (the body of Christ) UP TO SIT IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST”… intending that He might “SHEW,” or “DISPLAY,” “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us” (Eph 2:7).
The obvious question then might be: WHO IS THE PARTY to whom God will “shew (or display) the exceeding riches His grace in His kindness toward the body of Christ”?
We need to look further to find the answer to this far reaching question.
We can know the answer to this question only because the Apostle Paul says God has “made known unto us the mystery (musterion, secret plan) of His will… which He hath purposed in Himself” for “IN THE DISPNENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES,” the consummation of the ages.
Ephesians 1:9-10 Having made known unto us the mystery (secret) of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 (Intending) That IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES (the consummation of the ages) he might gather together in one ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are IN HEAVEN, AND WHICH ARE ON EARTH; even IN HIM (fixed “under Christ’s headship,” see NIV):
Thus, as “the beginning” involved the creation of both the “the heavens and the earth,” so will the consummation, when God then will “gather together in one ALL THINGS in Christ, both WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH…” (V10 above).
The “ALL THINGS” of which Paul writes in Ephesians 1:10, 22 and Colossians 1:16, 20 refers to the “principality, and power, and might, and dominion” (Eph 1:21). These are the present realms of Lucifer and the fallen angelic host, “the rulers of darkness in high (epouranios, heavenly) places” (Eph 6:12), with whom we contend today.
Now please read Paul’s prayer in Eph 1:16-23. Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers might have “revelation” to “know” or perceive “the hope of (their) calling” and “the glory of His inheritance” that is vested “in the saints.” The prayer goes on that the believers might know the “exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” Paul then makes clear that the “body (of Christ)” with “The Head” (Christ), was “raised up together, and made us sit together IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6), “FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION,” the angelic host that currently rule in “THIS WORLD (aion, age)” and those that will rule in the “world (age) which is to come” (Eph 1:20-23).
Ephesians 1:20-23 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM at his own right hand IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES,
21 FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY (arche, the highest ranking of the heavenly host under God), AND POWER (exousia, the authorized), AND MIGHT (dunamis, the empowered), AND DOMINION (kyriotes, heavenly governments), AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, NOT ONLY IN THIS WORLD (aion, age), but ALSO IN THAT (age) WHICH IS TO COME:
22 And hath put ALL (THESE) THINGS under his feet, and gave him (Christ) to be THE HEAD over all things to THE CHURCH, 23 WHICH IS HIS (Christ’s) BODY, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
In Ephesians 3:9 below Paul goes onto reveal God’s “intent” that “from the BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HATH BEEN HID IN GOD” until it was revealed to him.
Ephesians 3:9-11 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of THE MYSTERY (secret plan), which from the beginning of the world HATH BEEN HID IN GOD, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 TO THE INTENT THAT NOW UNTO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVENLY PLACES might be known BY THE CHURCH the manifold wisdom of God, 11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our lord:
Here above we see the “INTENT” of God is that “BY THE (Christ-filled) CHURCH,” Lucifer and his fallen angelic hosts who still occupy the heavenly governmental sphere today, here referred to as “THE PRINCIPALITIES, AND POWERS IN (the) HEAVENLY PLACES,” are now observing “THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD, 11 ACCORDING TO THE ETERNAL PURPOSE WHICH HE PURPOSED IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.”
The average Christian has a view merely toward their salvation and the happenings within their own lives upon the earth. By contrast, God’s ultimate “intent” for the “body of Christ” clearly points us toward the “HEAVENLY PLACES” (spheres of the heavenly government). God’s ultimate “intent” involves “the Head (Christ)” working through “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22-23), reigning over the sphere of the “PRINCIPALITIES … POWERS… THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD (age)… SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES.” (Eph 6:12).
In (2 Tim 2:10) Paul writes to Timothy, not just of salvation, but of “salvation… WITH ETERNAL GLORY”; that is salvation together with reigning and functioning in the eternal heavenly sphere. In eternity the “saved,” the members of “the body of Christ” will enjoy “glory”; glory being both the place that is our ultimate home that we call “heaven” (Philip 3:20), and also as their sphere of governing and reigning over “principality, power, might, and dominion.”
Paul then also writes to Timothy; “If we suffer, WE SHALL ALSO REIGN WITH HIM…” (2Timothy 2:12a). The words “reign with Him” here means to “act as co-regents” with Christ. Our sufferings today prepare us for reigning in the moral rectitude (rightness) and in the wisdom that we have learned of God directly. We must come to learn God’s love in Christ (Eph 4:20) and His grace, mercy, faithfulness, sovereignty, all-sufficiency, and power. We learn through our personal experiences of suffering and enduring life’s situation on this earth with and by the indwelling life of the “Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9-10). Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
God planned “before the world began” and then worked through the cross of Christ with the intent of saving and recovering a body of believers among mankind, and “… TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF… whether they be things in EARTH” or things in HEAVEN (
Thus, we see that God is mightily purposeful, seeing to it that“… all things are working… according to His eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ” (Rom 8:28).This then is preview into this study series.