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Blessings That Won’t Be Restricted: Revelation

 
James Burstow | February 15th 2021

In the past few months we’ve been reminded that so many of the blessings we take for granted are not guaranteed. They are blessings that can be given, and can be taken away. 

But, as Christians, we receive some blessings that are untouchable. Ephesians 1 v 3 calls these “spiritual blessings.” They can’t be restricted, regulated or removed. Join me each week for an encouraging reflection on these everlasting spiritual blessings.

Blessing 4: Revelation

We're continuing our series in Ephesians 1 looking at the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. So far we've thought about election, adoption and redemption, and this week we're moving on to verses 9 and 10, which say this:

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

This spiritual blessing is a huge privilege. I’ve called it revelation because it is all about our heavenly Father revealing to us the mystery of his will. “To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”: that is the master plan. That is where everything is heading. Because that is God's will. And he has been kind enough to reveal that to us. This is a wonderful blessing, because without it, God’s will would remain a mystery and we would remain in the dark.

"His ways are not our ways, but his ways are always good and are how he works out his good purposes."

I think one of the best Christian book titles ever is John Dickson's book “If I were God I’d end all the pain”. I mean, who doesn't agree with that? And that kind of phrasing works for so many things. If I were God, all my friends and family would be Christians. If I were God, I would have stopped this pandemic—or not even allowed it to start. If I were God, I would have different politicians in charge. If I were God, my loved one wouldn’t have cancer, or depression.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand what God is doing in the world. Where is it all going? Why is it like this? It is tempting for us to think that if we were in charge, we would do things differently—and, we even dare to think, better.

But these verses contain two huge encouragements for us that should make us glad that God is in fact in charge, and that we’re not!

1. God has all wisdom and understanding—and we don’t!

His ways are not our ways, but his ways are always good and are how he works out his good purposes. The very situation in which Paul is writing this letter is a great example. He has been given this incredibly important mission to take the gospel to the Gentiles, and yet he faces obstacle after obstacle. He’s writing this letter from prison. How can you advance the gospel in any meaningful way from prison? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few Christians at the time saying “If I were God, I wouldn’t have let the key man end up in prison”! And yet the gospel did advance. Paul’s mission continued—not in the way that he might have expected or chosen to do it, but in God’s way. And it was rather successful: there are now 2.4 billion Christians in the world, the vast majority of them Gentiles. So it looks like God knew what he was doing after all!

We struggle when we can’t understand why God doesn’t intervene in some way or other. But that’s because we don’t have all wisdom and understanding, and he does. Tim Keller says in his book about suffering that just because we can’t see a good reason for suffering, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. So, just like Paul, we need to trust our good, loving, compassionate Heavenly Father, because he has the wisdom and understanding that we lack.

2. We know where we’re going!

God has revealed to us how his plan is going to end. We know where all this is going. Here’s  verse 10 again:

“To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”

That is God’s will. That is what is going to happen. And he's even told us what that will look like. In Revelation 21 and 22 we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, seated on the throne and making all things new. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. The lame will leap, the blind will see, every disease will be gone and every stress, anxiety and misunderstanding will be resolved. Together with brothers and sisters from every age and every nation, we will worship around the throne of the Lamb in perfect unity. It will be wonderful. And it is definitely going to happen, because it is God’s will which he has revealed to us.

Revelation gives us hope and purpose

This revelation gives us hope, because in those moments when we can’t understand why things are happening the way they are—and we'll all have those moments—we know that we can trust our wise and loving Father, we know where everything is headed, and we know the wonderful future that awaits all of God's children. This revelation also gives us purpose, because in God’s kindness we get to be a tiny part of that plan to bring unity to all things in heaven and earth under Christ. Every time we pray together, or sing together (even over Zoom), or make a meal for someone who is struggling, or share the gospel with a non-Christian friend, or send a text that encourages a fellow believer or even just spend time praising the Lord, we are playing our part in our Father's plan to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. What a privilege.

Let me finish with these words from the Gettys’ There is a Higher Throne:

 

"There is a higher throne

Than all this world has known,

Where faithful ones from ev’ry tongue

Will one day come...

He'll wipe each tear-stained eye

As thirst and hunger die

The Lamb comes as our Shepherd King

We'll reign with him."

 

That's where we're headed. And our Father has been kind enough to reveal it to us. What a blessing!

James Burstow

James' role as Commercial Director encompasses marketing, sales and customer service. Before joining TGBC he spent time in Chile and Japan teaching English before becoming a fundraiser for Great Ormond Street Hospital. He is the senior elder at Grace Church Worcester Park.