Dispensationalism

09 - What Is 'The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times' in Ephesians 1:10? (pt 4)

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
"All things" encompasses not only the redemption of believers, but of the entire creation, when Christ returns.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part four of a series. Read part three.

"All things" in Ephesians 1:10 encompasses not only the redemption of believers, but of the entire creation. It will be consummated when Christ comes again.

In this series, we've been answering our reader's question by considering four aspects of the phrase in its context:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Thus far we've seen three things. We have seen that God has an eternal plan (the use of the Greek word for "dispensation" in the context). We have seen that at the decisive moment in God's all-wise and eternal plan - "in the dispensation of the fullness of the times" - Christ will come again. And we have also seen that a glorious restoration, the re-gathering together in one of all things in Christ, will take place when He returns.

This brings us to our final point: What does the Apostle Paul, writing under divine inspiration, mean by "all things"?

Redemption of Believers

Paul concludes his statement with the emphatic, triumphant declaration that God will "gather together (re-gather in the Greek) in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him!" "All things" most certainly encompasses our own redemption, of which Paul has been speaking since the beginning of Ephesians chapter one. And Paul goes on to tell us in the second chapter that Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection has made peace, has broken down the wall of separation between God and his creatures. And in Colossians Paul tells us that God has "delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Redemption of the Fallen Universe

But the scope of God's plan of redemption is even bigger than our personal salvation - as if that were not enough! God shows us here that His plan of redemption encompasses much more: the redemption of the universe itself. Paul tells us in Romans 8:21 that the universe itself, the created order, "will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God." The entire universe will be delivered as part of our deliverance, and because of our deliverance. As Peter writes, "the elements will melt with fervent heat" (2 Peter 3:10-13). And as John writes in Revelation 21 and 22, there will be a new heaven and new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell forever, because "there shall be no more curse" (22:3).

As we understand the greatness of our redemption, we who are in Christ cannot help but offer praise and adoration and worship to our great God and Savior. We have Christ in us, the hope of glory. We have a great inheritance - eternal life, full and final deliverance from the very presence of sin, and a new heaven and new earth in which we shall dwell and reign with Christ in righteousness forever. So truly we can say with Paul, "blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

No Restoration Apart from Christ

But let us also understand that these blessings only extend to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no restoration apart from Christ. Those who continue in their rebellion against the Son of God will go to everlasting destruction. Satan, the angels that fell with him, and men and women who do not repent of their rebellion against God will remain in their rebellion forever in the torments of Hell. But they will be outside the new cosmos, the new heavens and new earth. They will not be able to disturb the peace and harmony of God's new creation in which all things will once again be restored to the headship of Christ (Revelation 21:27).

If you are reading this article and you are still in that state of rebellion against God, do you realize that apart from Christ you have no part in these things, that you are headed toward eternal separation from God? If you know in your heart that this is true, we urge you to repent of your sins, and to trust in Christ for salvation without delay.

Absolutely Guaranteed

And may we who are believers in Christ rest in this great hope, in God's ultimate purpose for all things. As the events of this world swirl around us, sometimes we're caught up and carried along in the whirlwind. We're still sinful human beings, and we're prone to worry and not to trust. But let us remember that what matters ultimately is God's eternal plan, His dispensation, His great purpose of which we are a part.

It was established and settled before the foundation of the world. And it is absolutely guaranteed to come to pass in every detail by the Holy Spirit who lives within us, as the seal of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-14). Let us live in that light, looking forward continually to that day when we will stand before God will all His saints and the holy angels, and say, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13).

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