'ACCOMPLISHED SALVATION' -- "God's Purpose of the Ages" (Eph. 3:11)
By Larry Siegle
November 5, 2020
Everything in everyday life involves a process! According to the Dictionary, the definition of a process involves, "a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end." By "particular end' means that the purpose, or goal of the steps taken is accomplished.
For example, a person wakes up in the morning from a restful night of sleep and begins the process of getting ready for the activities of the day ahead. Another illustration might be the plans, preparation, and construction necessary for a contractor to build a house or the process used on the assembly line of a car manufacturer to put all of the necessary pieces together in order to achieve the "particular end" of the finished product of a new vehicle.
The achievement of the "particular end" of the process brings to a close the process involved but what remains is the finished product which remains at the purpose or goal of the process itself. What is the significance of this concept to what is revealed in the Scriptures about God's "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11)?
THE BIBLE PROCESS OF REDEMPTIVE HISTORY
In order to understand God's "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11) one must first step back and gain a fresh perspective of what is contained within the inspired Scriptures (II Tim. 3:16, 17). The first 39 books of the Bible (OT) are a historical narrative involving a time of promise and prophecy. Beginning with the creation account in Genesis, the Biblical narrative reveals the progressive nature of the unfolding of God's purpose.
The last 27 books of the Bible (NT) are a historical narrative that documents the realization and fulfillment of what had been foretold throughout the first 39 books. These were "the promises made to the fathers" (Acts 13:22; 26:6; Rom. 15:8). Speaking to the crowds gathered, the apostle Peter said: "But those things which God before had shown by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He fulfilled in this manner...And also all the prophets from Samuel and those following after, as many as spoke, have likewise foretold of these days." (Acts 3:18, 24).
THE DAYS OF FULFILLMENT
The "these days" to which Peter referred were the very "last days" (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21) of the Old Covenant "age" into which the nation of Israel had entered at the time John the Baptizer began preaching his message of Divine judgment: "But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?...And now also, the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. whose fan is in His hand, and He will cleanse His floor and gather His wheat into the storehouse, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:7, 10, 12).
On the Day of Pentecost 30 CE, the apostle Peter warned those gathered to "...Be saved from this perverse generation" (Acts 2:40), the same "generation of vipers" (Matt. 3:7) to whom John the Baptizer had preached the message of judgment and of the approaching arrival of the "kingdom of the heavens" (Matt. 3:2). The "gospel of the Kingdom of God' (Mark 1:14) was taken up by Jesus and his disciples, warning Israel of approaching judgment, telling them, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
The time of fulfillment had been set into motion and God's "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11) was in the process of realization during those "last days"--between the Cross and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The apostle Paul also referred to the believers living near the "end of the age" (Matt. 24:3; 28:20) as "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15). The same "generation" referenced earlier by John the Baptizer, Jesus during His earthly ministry (Matt. 23:35, 36), and by Peter and the apostle, Paul would soon face God in Divine judgment.
These facts help one to better understand that God's "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11) that had begun with Adam and Eve in Genesis was carried forward through the process of redemptive history through the end of the book of Revelation. Nothing God's promised had failed to come to pass! What was foretold in the Old Testament in the "promises made to the fathers" (Rom. 15:8) was being realized in the first century CE.
PROMISES MADE AND PROMISES KEPT
It is important for those living today--beyond the time of "these days" of fulfillment to understand that we now live in the outcome to which the process of redemptive history had pointed forward to. It is a common, but unfortunate mistake to somehow attempt to enter the already completed process of what God had foretold would be accomplished. How so?
When God spoke to Noah commanding him to build the ark of protection (Gen. 6:14), the process involved certain dimensions, specific kinds of materials, and the gathering of the animals into the ark before the appointed time. It then rained 40 days and 40 nights, after which the ark came to rest and Noah and his family exited from it (Gen. 8:16-22). Did Noah and his sons, the very next day start all over and begin to once again build another ark? No! There was no need to repeat the process because God's purpose for the ark had been fulfilled.
During the time of Moses, the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness for a period of 40 years after which Joshua brought Israel into the land that had been promised to them. Did the next generation of children that had been born in the land of promise then need to return back into the wilderness to also experience 40 years of wandering? No! The purpose of God for the time of wilderness wandering had been fulfilled and therefore the children born in the land of promise were meant to experience the benefits of that land.
It is not necessary for the people of God living today to create a continual repetition of what took place during the "last days" of the Old Covenant age. The OT prophet Isaiah foretold the time of the arrival of a "new heavens and a new earth" (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The apostle Peter, during "these days" of the first century encouraged his fellow believers, "But according to His promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (II Pet. 3:13). And a short time later, the apostle John referred to the very time of arrival of the promised "new heavens and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1-3).
There are most certainly principles that were in the process of beginning revealed as part of the "everlasting covenant' (Heb. 13:20) and the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6) that would give believers "everlasting life" (John 3:16; 17:3) that remain in place even today. However, the "And the peace of God which passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7) sustains the Covenant people of God today who enter into the "promises made to the fathers" (Rom. 15:8) by faith in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29).
There will be more to follow the substance of this short article but it is the hope of this writer that believers will pause from the stress and strife of the arguments that often arise over fulfillment and see clearly that the God of the Bible has accomplished the goal of redemptive history and that we simply enter into what God has provided:
√. The process of salvation is complete
√. The coming of the Lord has taken place.
√. The resurrection of the dead has been accomplished
√. The Kingdom of God is established.
√. The New Covenant is established.
People today entered into the accomplished reality to which the process of redemptive history had foretold would be realized at the "end of the age." The reality is now present, why not take the steps of faith to enter into what God has done and accomplished.
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