In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that the mystery of Christ was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that it was given to him to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and to “bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things…” (Ephesians 3:1-9 ESV).
God has a plan that was begun in the garden with Adam and Eve, given to his people Israel, realized in Jesus Christ, and made available to all who believe in him and receive salvation by his grace. God’s plan didn’t end with the first century church. It continues to this day, and we are a part of it. Paul went on to state that the assignment given to him by the Holy Spirit was to “…bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:9-10 ESV). As the Body of Christ on earth, we are the continuation of the first century church and we play a role in the revelation of God’s plan.
Paul said, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:11-12 ESV). It is God’s eternal plan that through Jesus we will have access to our Father in heaven and all his promises, approaching God with boldness and confidence in his unfailing love for us.
This is how The Message translation paraphrases Paul’s prayer for the church (and that is us!) in Ephesians 3:14-21, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
Beloved Friends, God did not intend for us to sit on the sidelines. He especially didn’t intend for us to sit on the sidelines and worry! That was not his plan! His plan was and is and always will be that his children operate in a way that demonstrates his love and reveals his glory (see Ephesians 4:1-3). Jesus said “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b ESV).
You may be wondering how you could possibly fit in to God’s plan, and that even if we were meant to be a part of his plan, how are we supposed to know what to do about it! (Can I get a witness?) Thankfully, God has provided us with the perfect user’s manual, and we can find the answer to these questions in the Bible!
Before we get going with this, please be aware that I am not cherry-picking verses to prove a point. When we study the passages we’ll be referencing, we’ll see how the whole pattern fits together. The Bible is not a collection of single verses that are made to stand alone. It is the expression, through his Holy Spirit, of our Father’s will for his creation manifested through his Son, Jesus Christ, and his Church. Reading scripture is like putting puzzle pieces together and all the pieces are designed to fit together perfectly to reveal the Big Picture.
Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are also pieces of God’s plan. And just like putting together a puzzle, it takes all the pieces fitted together to make the picture complete.
So, in this series, we will explore what the Bible says about how we fit into God’s plan and from that, how we can each develop our vision for the year ahead.
Let’s begin by understanding who we are in Christ. In Ephesians 1, Paul gives us seven “in him” statements:
In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
In him we were chosen before the creation of the world to be made holy and blameless (1:4).
In him we were predestined for adoption as sons and daughters (1:5-6).
In him we have redemption and forgiveness through his Blood, according to the riches of his grace (1:7-8).
In him all things in heaven and earth will be united (1:9-10).
In him we have obtained an inheritance, according to the purpose of his will (1:11-12).
In him we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire full possession of it (1:13-14).