For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Col. 1:19-20)
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23)
Dear saints, beloved of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; I dare say the Lord has been revealing some mighty things to us lately, and the last few days in particular have been quite extraordinary. Almost out of nowhere and so unexpectedly, He launched me on a whirlwind tour through the Scriptures revealing aspects of various matters that on the surface did not appear connected in any way: the usurping of man’s dominion on the earth by the deceiver, the rebellion and conflict in the heavenly places, the division of Ephraim (and the northern tribes of Israel) from his brothers. Fascinating, I thought, but what is the point Lord; what are you trying to show me?
My brethren – when we are called to the Father through the Son, into Himself and His Kingdom, we are called to a particular wisdom and understanding that defies and usurps all that we know and have known as defiant creatures on this earth. It is a wisdom and a way set in stark contrast to the manner of life being wrought by the current condition as we comprehend it. And more than this we are called to a demonstration of God’s wisdom so perfectly executed and expressed in His Son, who, as the Bible teaches, is the fullness of all things in God. This wisdom serves to fulfill the great work of God in this age; which is nothing less than the complete and perfect reconciliation of all things to Himself in and through His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The amazing and seldom expressed truth is that, as His redeemed body, the church in its collective calling has been called to share actively in God’s reconciling work through His Son, and to demonstrate this wisdom throughout His creation. The highest ends of this wisdom as we will see, are familiar themes running through all the pages of the Bible, from beginning to end – peace, unity, reconciliation, redemption, and restoration. Consider what Austin-Sparks has written –
You are not called just to be a Christian. You are not called just to say ‘I accept Christ as my Saviour’, and to do what other people called Christians do. You are called with a great, an immense calling, which is only commenced in time and reaches to and spreads over all the ages to the ages to come. That is the calling with which you are called. (from, Faith Unto Enlargement Through Adversity)
I believe the Lord, in taking me through His Word, back to the origins of things and into the depths and height of His active realm (both seen and unseen), peering into the dark councils of the heavenly places where fallen beings assume an unnatural dominion over the earth – has moved me to consider the extent to which the scope of His reconciling wisdom and purpose is so much grander and more expansive than anything I had before realized.
“How large and how god-sized is your understanding of the awesome and universal magnitude of My reconciling purpose? How big is your Christ?” –
– such were the hard and piercing questions put to me by that still small voice.
And I ask the same of you here: Have you fully and completely, deep down in the very fiber of your understanding and life, comprehended the awesome enormity of His redemptive and reconciling purpose and ministry? I ask this because the church in all of its presentation of the gospel over the last 2000 years has done an admirable job of conveying the limited, self-serving aspect of personal reconciliation of the individual – in presenting Christ as personal savior. Yet, we need to consider that there is so much more, that God’s purpose reaches higher and farther and deeper, having to do with all of the unfinished business, all of the loose ends of God’s creative history, the ‘all things’ that have been set against Him and His original creative intent.
If our Lord is reduced down merely to the level of personal savior – to saving you or me or anyone else – if this is all that is being offered to those alienated from the life of God – in glossy little booklets, and “Jesus is your friend” tracts, then I dare say that we have reduced and deflated the message entirely. The gospel is good news primarily because it reaches to the ‘all things’, beyond mere individuals or nations or even realms. By failing to see this, we have not yet glimpsed into the ultimate mystery as the Apostle Paul had, what caused him to place so much impassioned and spirit swooning emphasis on being in Christ, that in Him, through blood and suffering and death and sacrifice – in the demonstration of such an altogether different wisdom – the Father was reconciling all things opposed to Him and His purpose.
He is so much more than my personal savior, and the gospel is so much more than my personal ‘get out of hell free card’. His life and death and resurrection were about so much more than me or you or even all that we see on this earth. Unless and until we come to fathom this, He will never be magnanimously increased in our life and witness as our Heavenly Father desires and as He must be. Our testimony may bring a tear to the eye, but it will never have any real power or authority against the dark powers amassed against God and His Kingdom. As long as we are focused on personal, denominational or even global well-being or revival, we will remain short-sighted and earth-bound in our perspective. We are called to a high, holy and heavenly calling in contributing to, and sharing in our Lord’s reconciling work, not only on this earth for man, but as a witness to those who occupy the heavenly places – to angels both fallen and true, as we shall see.
We would do well here, in the interest of emphasis to repeat the proposition that the Christian gospel, as presented, has rightly conveyed the truth that we, as sin-alienated individuals have been reconciled to God the Father through His Son who, through His righteous sacrifice has become our peace. But the Scriptures unveil so much more, and by entering into this truth and allowing it to take hold of us, and broaden our understanding, the full extent and scope and glory of God’s creative and reconciling wisdom will bring Him and His Son even more honor. Yes, the gospel begins with the reconciliation of the individual, but heaven forbid it should end there! If this is all it is to us, then I dare say we may not understand it perfectly.
The Present State of Things
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Col. 1:19-23)
So what in fact are the all things that are set against God, both in heaven and earth? We don’t have to look too hard, or think too deeply to become aware that hostility and conflict characterize this present creative reality from end to end and top to bottom. Seemingly all creation is in a state of antagonism and anarchy; in active and persistent opposition to the Creator’s original design and intent. On the minutest of levels, this was conveyed to me the other day, when, sitting on my porch (trying to read the Bible) I was literally attacked by a relentless swarm of little black bugs. As I was already by this time deep into this subject, it occurred to me that, yes even this imbalance in nature must be included in this universal reconciliation. All that we see around us and all that we have ever known – man against God, man against himself (the disorder of spirit, soul and body), man against nature, nature against itself, nation against nation, the nations against God and His covenant people, predator versus prey, angels against angels, angels against God, kingdom against kingdom, the spiritual realm against the natural, brother against brother, Jew against Gentile, Ephraim against Judah, father against son, son against father, heaven against earth – all in a swirling and seemingly hopeless state of disorder and alienated from the creative life and wisdom of He who made it all.
My brethren – the Bible from Genesis on speaks of an enmity against God by His creation in many forms, and from many sources, both natural on the earth, and supernatural, in what the Scriptures call the heavenly places. Now this is not heaven itself, where God the Father dwells, but rather an unseen realm inhabited by spiritual forces that exist beyond the scope and comprehension of natural things. It is here where principalities and powers – spiritual beings of various ranks and agencies – influence the natural world (men, nations, institutions, etc.) and function in open hostility to the Creator’s purposes and design. A fellow brother has expressed this quite clearly –
“Clearly “the heavenly places” is a phrase that refers – not to heaven itself, conceived as the abode of bliss to which the faithful go – but rather, as the whole realm of the unseen, inhabited by all those spiritual forces that exist beyond the realm of things seen – and behind them. In that realm, great forces are at work, forces that have an order and an organization of their own. Those spiritual agencies, too, like us men on earth, have rebelled against God: at least some of them have – so that the upper realms also have become disordered by the entry into them of sin and of evil.
The rift sin has produced extends both higher and deeper than the merely human level of creation. The whole universe as God created it exhibits a gigantic rift that runs through its whole fabric! The powers of the upper world are in conflict – in conflict among themselves, in conflict with God. And their conflict is not separate from our earthly conflicts. In some way, their conflict with God bears on our conflict with God. There is an interplay between the two, so they react on each other. What happens on earth can have a profound effect on what happens in the heavenly places; what happens in the heavenly places can have a profound effect on what happens on earth.” (P.T. Harrison, The Heavenly Places)
Indeed, the Scriptures convey vividly the sense that all created things are at cross purposes with He that made them for Himself. Both heaven and earth testify to the fact that there is no order, peace or agreement between them and the God of creation. We read of angels, such extraordinary beings, rebelling against God and one another; of their unnatural rule on this earth, setting them against God’s will and purposes in creating humankind. We read of open hostility in the heavenly places, defiance and conflict at the very highest levels. We read of a covenant people, born of promise and under great signs and wonder, reduced to bare-fisted rebellion and defiance against the One who formed them and loved them. From whatever angle you look, and however you choose to define it, sin – in all of its varied aspects and expressions – has fouled God’s universe and aligned it against Him. Not just your personal sin or mine (as grievous as that is), but a general and universal state of sinfulness, enmity and rebellion that encompasses and includes much of the created realm and its inhabitants.
God’s Ultimate Solution
And so what is God’s ultimate solution? Indeed we know the answer to that, for Paul in his epistle to the Colossians tells us. And in telling us he allows us to glimpse the divine ‘foolishness’ that is at the very heart of the Christian gospel and witness. We have said previously and it is worth repeating, that the great work of God in this age is the reconciliation of all things in His Son, or “in Christ” as Paul would say. Our God is the pre-eminent peacemaker, and as a peacemaking God He has chosen to restore peace to His creation by the blood of a pure and spotless lamb – His righteous and beloved Son. Whatever enmity exists – whatever “middle wall of separation” stands before God and His creation – however far off we or any created thing might be – God the Father’s peace and restorationis to be transacted solely in His Son.
And yes and hallelujah, this peace has been brought near to us also, as Paul affirms –
And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom. 5:11)
We have indeed been personally reconciled to the Father through the death of His Son on the cross. This is where the Scriptures indicate that this peacemaking and reconciling God begins His ministry of reconciliation, of restoring all things to their original creative intent, according to His manifold wisdom and purpose. This is important and vital, for it is through this community of called out ones, gathered to Himself from out of the nations in this age, that He will actively continue to restore and perpetuate peace and reconciliation throughout all of His creation. Amen!
A point should be made here (for the Lord really impressed his upon me in a powerful way), and it is this –
THE CREATOR GOD DOES NOT LOWER HIMSELF TO THE LEVEL OF HIS CREATION – TO ITS WISDOM – TO RESTORE AND RECONCILE IT TO HIMSELF.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9)
He enacts it in His own way, according to His thoughts and purposes, which are so much higher and transcendent than anything our soulish intelligence can fathom or attain. It is, in fact, a spiritual wisdom that is indeed foolishness to anything less than what He is, for it reflects the very essence of His nature as an all-wise, loving, sacrificing and peacemaking Personality.
We understand therefore, that this work of reconciling all things to Himself through His Son is a work of peace, carrying a supreme cost. Only death and the shedding of blood can begin to restore peace to the created realm. This is the manner in which He has purposed it, and this is how it will be enacted. Here again, we begin to glimpse deeper aspects of this divine wisdom, that it has much to do with rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. The demonstration of this wisdom in Christ and His Church represents God’s final and ultimate response to all things set against Him (and each other) in the created order. For example:
- Adam will be reconciled within himself (spirit, soul and body) and with His maker
- Ephraim will be reconciled to His brothers and then they to God and their land
- The angels will be reconciled to God and their rightful place in relation to man and the earth, although at great loss
- The nations will be reconciled to Israel and to God – they will be restored to their rightful boundaries and borders as intended by the God of the nations
- Heaven and earth will be reconciled as even God Himself comes down to dwell with His Creation
- The natural realm will restored to peace, harmony and balance, as a place of great blessing and bounty
The Church Called to Participate in this Reconciliation
Now, we have hinted at the idea that the Church, as the Lord’s redeemed Body, is to be involved in His reconciling life and ministry, In this aspect, we turn to a seldom mentioned yet astounding revelation by Paul to the Ephesians –
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. (Eph. 3:8-13)
My brethren, for some time now I have been personally grieved in the spirit by the fact that the church, as it has come to be, has become almost completely oblivious to its awesome and eternal calling and destiny. Now did you catch what this is telling us here – that the church, composed of reconciled creatures like you and me, has been called to make known, or demonstrate the “manifold wisdom of God” to the “authorities in the heavenly places” and that this whole thing is part of God eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. We who were made a little lower than the angels and were assigned dominion over the earth by God, are to convey in some manner God’s wisdom to them through our lives and testimony. May our God be glorified as He communicates His wisdom and counsel throughout His universe, by and through whomever He wills. Oh the richness and depth of our calling as His saints and His children!
My spiritual sense is that Satan and his dark host will one day see that they jumped the gun in assuming arrogantly that the dominion over the earth was there to usurp, that they were somehow more worthy and qualified; that God’s wisdom in setting something so much less than them, will be vindicated when they see us raised to all glory and power in His Son. This too reflects God’s wisdom and His ways, that are all to often scorned by the proud and lofty heart, wherever it resides.
My friends – we also demonstrate this wisdom to the lost in this world by expressing the very nature of His Son in all lowliness and meekness, in a self-sacrificing love that lays itself down for another, in purity of heart and purpose, in a hunger and thirst for righteousness, in seeking to live at peace and agreement with our God and Father and Creator. All outside of us on this earth, even nature itself, and all the elements even, are estranged and alienated from the life of God, subject to cursedness and pending judgment. Our very lives and witness represent the supreme hope of the gospel, which is that all things will be reconciled to God, that peace will finally and ultimate prevail, and all will be brought near to He who is reconciling all things to Himself.
All around us, and mounting up in this hour, is estrangement and division, war and conflict, bitterness and pride, people devouring one another without a second thought, without remorse, everyone vying for their own place, property and position – usurpers all of them – stealing and opposing the very purposes of the God who made them. The earth and all creation groans, my brethren, and longs for reconciliation and peace. Ruling spirits behind the nations and their leaders are defying God’s authority over the peoples and races. In their ravenous and murderous pride they defy God’s wisdom by not accepting that the human race has been given dominion over the earth, and in seeking his annihilation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20)
Having been reconciled by the precious blood of the Lamb, we are to faithfully assume our place as representatives of His reconciling kingdom; a kingdom that in all its many aspects will reflect the peaceable wisdom of God. As such, we are to be living, breathing demonstrations of God’s reconciling wisdom and purpose, not only to men, but to the unseen powers in the heavenly places. Angels are watching His wisdom as it unfolds and manifests in our very calling and sanctification, in our becoming a little higher than them in some regard. Now again, this is a wisdom springing forth from His very character and nature as He defers humbly to His creation – It is the face of peace, purity and sincerity, truth, faith, trust, gentleness, mercy, service, grace, light, and love. It is summed up in all of the Master’s blessings in Matthew 5 and fleshed out in His earthly example.
This too, my friends, is what is represented by the glorious kingdom of God. Not only will this wisdom characterize His kingdom, it will also reflect the means to which we arrive; it is the very pathway of our citizenship through the Son and His cross. Although for now it suffers violence by those who consider it all foolishness and refuse to be reconciled – those who reject His offer of peace by way of His Son – ultimately it will prevail, for our Lord cannot fail, and perfect are His ways. All death will be swallowed up in life, and all things that will be reconciled will be.
Dear saints – consider all of this when reflecting on what our Lord, this lowly carpenter’s son, carried in his spirit as every step took Him closer to the weight of the cross. Consider the enormity of this ministry the next time you contemplate the Lamb’s words – “It is finished”. The “it” here is profoundly more than the scope of your own personal salvation or well being, though in these we can certainly rejoice and be forever thankful. Consider the cross as so much more than our own personal gateway to glory. Consider that when all is fulfilled, all things will be brought near to the throne of the Most High, if not in peace and reconciliation, then for judgment.
Oh how precious and unfathomable is the Lord’s reconciling wisdom and purpose. Oh that we would be as little children in demonstrating the majesty of this calling and purpose to all creation. Oh that this wisdom would be a pearl of great price and a treasure in our hearts, worthy of all we have to give. Oh that the church would walk in living demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God, as manifest in His Son of glory. Oh that we would agree with Him in all aspects of life and living, fully at peace with Him in the Lord; that we would appropriate this heavenly wisdom as our very own, that it would shine forth in our testimony of the one who paid the ultimate price as the Peace of God!
Oh Holy Father – Most High God of all Glory – grab hold of us Father, that we might see the awesome splendor of Your ways and wisdom; that all things will be reconciled and restored; that we have been called at such a price to forever be Your children, to have Your love and peace shining on us without end. We pray for Your people, that through the indwelling and impressing Lord Jesus, we may exhibit and demonstrate Your manifold wisdom to all powers and peoples. We pray that ultimate peace will come to Your universe oh sustaining God, on Your terms alone, and by Your means, and for Your glory. In the Name of the Prince of Peace, we pray, Amen.