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On The Upper Room Discourse Re-Release For Lent 2024

“AT-ONE-MENT”: THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S WILL

We are living in some crazy times. Do you ever wonder where it’s all headed? Henry Ford is reputed to have said, “History is one damn thing after another.” If you take God out of the picture, you might think we are doomed to a dystopian future.

But there is an encouraging scripture that can helps us get our bearings when we worry about where the world is headed. It is Ephesians 1:9-10 in which the apostle Paul sets forth God’s wondrous design for His world: “God has made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, that he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Notice in this scripture that God has a divine purpose for His cosmos, a plan that we could not imagine or figure out. God works far above our pay grade, but has revealed this plan to us. It is a plan so big, so wondrous, we can barely take it in.

The apostle Paul calls this plan “the mystery of God’s will.” Yet God lovingly takes us in as intimates to this grand mystery. We see that this mystery has to do with “the fullness of time.” It is a plan for when time is fully completed, when time has run its course in the coming together of all things. God reveals His purpose “to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.” This means that literally everything, “all things”, will be brought together in Christ. No exceptions.

Here is where we can begin to get our bearings in the helter skelter of world events: God is working His plan to bring all things together into harmony under the headship of Jesus Christ. As Paul writes about God’s plan to “gather up all things in Christ”, he uses a word that in the Greek (anakephalaioó) was a compound word having to do with “uniting of all things under one head.”

Paul writes elsewhere that “in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created…all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). It all begins with Christ and is completed with Christ. In the fullness of time God will gather up all things, healing all that is broken, bringing all things into harmony with Christ.

William Tyndale struggled to communicate the meaning of this mystery, being the first person to translate the Bible’s original languages into English. Known as the Father of the English Bible, Tyndale worked hard to find just the right word to express what Jesus did in bringing all things together through His work on the cross. Unable to find that word, Tyndale had to invent one; he coined the word “at-one-ment”, from which we derive the word “atonement”.

On the cross Jesus took to Himself all the evil, suffering, and injustice of the world so that in the fullness of time, He might bring “at-one-ment” of “things in heaven and things on earth.”

Today’s scripture means we could reword a phrase from a recent movie and say: “Everything will be glorious in the end. If it’s not glorious, it’s not the end.” God has a plan for the fullness of time to bring together all things under the glorious lordship of Christ Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. Come!

TAKE AWAY

Name and reflect on the thoughts and feelings today’s reading stirs in you. Take a few moments to talk with God about them.

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