In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. 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.
Did you manage to catch the Oscar-winning movie, Twelve Years A Slave? One of the biggest hits of the last twelve months it was at times a very hard watch because it exposed some of the sheer horrors of the system of slavery found in the United States. It really brought home to me the brutality that slaves were forced to endure.
The Bible often speaks of slavery. Paul himself spoke of humans being ‘slaves to sin’ (Romans 6:20). In our sinful lives we find ourselves slaves to all that is bad in the world and endure a painful, pointless existence and a bleak future of eternal separation from God. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. As Paul tells us in this passage in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘we have redemption through his blood’. As a consequence of Christ’s death on the cross we have been redeemed from our slavery to sin. The redemption penalty, or fee, or price of our sinfulness has been paid for Christ on our behalf. We are no longer slaves. Our sins have been forgiven. This is not the result of anything that we have done but because God has lavished his grace on us.
Paul also tells us that Christ’s death has also ensured that God’s ultimate plan will become a reality ‘when the times reach their fulfilment’. What is this plan? It is the plan that God has always had, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ’s headship. Jesus will rule over the whole of God’s creation and everything on earth and in God’s heavenly realm will fall down and worship him. There will no longer be divisions but unity in the name of Christ.
Paul certainly knew how to pack big, heavyweight theology into just a few sentences and these verses from Ephesians are no exception! What joy to know that God has history marked out before us, and to know that he has a end point in sight. What a delight to know that he is in control. And what an amazing blessing to know that God has lavished his grace on us and redeemed us from our slavery to find freedom in Christ. Let’s be joyful today and give thanks for God’s great master plan, for his grace, and for granting us freedom!