“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses 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.”
The gospel is not God’s “plan B” which he set forth because humanity’s sin problem just got to be too much. Rather, it was God’s plan “before the foundation of the world” that we should be adopted through Jesus, and subsequently cleansed and made holy. The gospel is part and parcel of God’s original ultimate purpose in creating the universe. Paul expresses God’s ultimate purpose this way: “to unite all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). Therefore the gospel is God’s acting for that end. This has enormous implications. The trajectory of the gospel begins “before the foundation of the world” and lands when all things are united in Christ. This is the entire span of the Bible. It begins with God speaking the universe into existence and ends with everything in that universe worshiping Jesus. From this, one can certainly see what the Christian’s function participating in this eternal, cosmic mission of the gospel is. First, let us simply examine what we didn’t do in the gospel scheme and what the triune God did.
– He predestined us for adoption
– He blessed us in the Beloved
– He redeemed us and forgave our sins
– He lavished his grace upon us
– He made known to us his will
We are benefactors through and through. There is absolutely no active verb used to describe what we do in our redemption. In fact, later on in Ephesians Paul actually says that we were dead men because of our sin. Dead men can’t do squat. Every single benefit of the gospel is done to us and for us. Paul doesn’t use an active verb for what Christians actually do until verse 13 and even that is merely hearing the gospel and believing it. As we become gospel scholars, we are forced to forsake the faulty idea that we must first reach out to Christ, or first get our lives in order, or first start going to church before we can be adopted into God’s family, forgiven of every one of our sins, and have endless grace lavished upon us. Why would we ever perpetuate such an unattractive, unbiblical notion of the gospel? Let us rather be agents of the true gospel which will set right in Jesus every sinner, every wayward cancer cell, every misused drop of alcohol, and everything else in heaven and on earth. An accurate theology of the gospel will cause us to seek the redemption of all that is wrong in our world–through Jesus Christ.