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The Mystery and the Gathering

Ephesians 1:9-10


The mystery which God the Holy Spirit makes known in the revelation of grace is God’s eternal purpose of grace in Christ. The gospel reveals the mystery of God and of Christ. The doctrine of the gospel sets before us “the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10). The mystery of his will which is revealed to God’s elect in the experience of his grace, the mystery revealed to and apprehended by faith in Christ specifically makes known our eternal union with Christ our Covenant Head, and our election, predestination, and acceptance in him before the world was made (Ephesians 1:3-6; Romans 8:28-30), our redemption by Christ, our incarnate God (Ephesians 1:7-9; 1 Timothy 3:15-16), and our effectual call by God the Holy Ghost, assuring us of resurrection glory with Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The mystery of God’s will that is manifestly revealed to his saints is the mystery of the new creation (Colossians 1:26-29; 2 Corinthians 5:17). All of this great work of grace is “according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself.” The Lord God has chosen to whom he will make known the wondrous mystery of his grace, when he will make it known, and the means by which he will make it known. — The preaching of the gospel!


The dispensation of the fullness of times” is the execution of God’s eternal purpose in time, the accomplishment in time of that which God purposed in eternity. It refers to the final, full accomplishment of redemption and grace by Christ. There is a time appointed called, “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). In that great day, our Lord Jesus Christ shall at last redeem, or deliver, God’s creation from the curse and all the evil consequences of sin (2 Peter 3:11-13; Romans 8:18-23).

As a result of our Savior’s redemption work, this world shall be purged of all sin and restored to its pristine beauty. Not so much as a blade of grass shall be allowed to bear the curse brought upon it by sin. And when all things are created new, righteousness shall again flourish in the earth! The slime of the serpent’s trail shall not be found in God’s creation.

The words “gather together” literally mean “gather together again.” Here the Spirit of God assures us that all things will be reunited in Christ, all things in heaven and all things in earth. Primarily he is talking about the gathering of all God’s elect, but he includes the whole of God’s creation. There is a similar statement in Colossians 1, where Paul is also speaking about this great mystery God has made known to us by the gospel, and assures us of the ultimate glory of Christ our Redeemer in all things (Colossians 1:19-20).

When our Lord Jesus Christ comes in his glory and makes all things new, there will be a gathering together of all things in heaven and earth, a complete reconciliation of all things “in him, even in him,” to the glory of God. What a day that will be! No wonder John closes the Book of God with this prayer — “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!




Don Fortner








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