Whole Life Whole Bible Day 49
Ephesians 1:8-10 (NASB)
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is,the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Ephesians 2:15-16 (NASB)
15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Ephesians 4:3 (NASB)
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:13 (NASB)
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
48: United we stand, united we end
In the breathtaking opening of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul outlines the broad sweep of God’s plan of salvation, set in place before the foundation of the world. Even as he catalogs the amazing blessings we enjoy in the here and now, he still looks forward to the moment when ‘the times reach their fulfillment’, when ‘all things’ will be summed up and gathered together under one head — Christ, the one in whom God will restore harmony to the cosmos.
As the letter goes on, it becomes clear that the ultimate unity of all things — to be fully displayed in Christ — has already had its beginning in the church.
Though dead in sin, enslaved by forces of evil and deserving of wrath, we have been made alive with Christ — only because of God’s love and only through faith (2:1–10). But Jesus’ death, which brings together God and humanity, also unites people who were formerly alienated from one another. Jews and Gentiles are made into ‘one new humanity’ (v. 15), reconciled through the cross — both given access to the Father, both citizens of the heavenly temple indwelt by the Spirit, both declaring that defeat of the ‘powers’ is now certain, and both called to display the wisdom of God (2:11—3:13).
Far from being a passive spectator in this cosmic drama, the church is to live a life worthy of her calling, to display the unity of the Spirit, to grow together in Christ as a unified body, and to reflect to the world God’s ultimate plan for the universe, testifying to a comprehensive, all-embracing salvation in lives turned around.
While the vision is cosmic and grand, the outworking is local and specific as we witness to this reconciliation in our everyday existence in particular locations, from Basildon to Bangalore. In doing so, we demonstrate a whole new way of living, before God and with others, that is consistent with our new humanity. And that new way of living starts where we find ourselves every day, with the choices we make every day, with the people we live with every day, with our families and in our jobs, as very ordinary people through whom God is present to the world.
For further reflection and action
Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that the church has been included from the outset, not as a supplement to God’s plan but as an essential ingredient in his scheme for the universe. How often do we think of our own local church in this way, and what difference might it make to our thinking and practice if we did so?
How do we become ‘ministers of reconciliation’, demonstrating the restoration that the gospel brings to every area of life? Read Ephesians 4-6 and reflect on the way God’s design for reconciled lives works out on the ground and in relationship with others.
Buy or borrow — and read — a copy of Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ by Eugene Peterson (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010), which looks at the theme of ‘growing up in Christ’ in Ephesians.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.