God’s plan for His kingdom was established before the foundation of the world. His plan spans eternity. God’s plan is manifested by His love, mercy and grace, which He extends to us through Messiah Jesus with the Holy Spirit.
In his letter to the saints in Ephesus, Paul succinctly presented God’s plan in Ephesians 1:3-14. I quote that in bold from the NASB.
God began His plan of work in us with spiritual blessings.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
Spiritual blessings include “any blessing administered in the realm of the spiritual life; specifically the blessing of the Spirit in introducing the believer into “the heavenly places in Christ; a term expressing the fullness of blessing in God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ.” J. C. Lambert
Heavenly realms are where our heavenly Father dwells (Mat 6:9) and Jesus is seated at His right (Heb 12:2). God has also seated us in Christ in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). The Jerusalem above (Gal 4:26) is also called the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22). That’s a lot to take in, but we can comprehend it by the Spirit, as we are exhorted to do by Paul.
Now if you were raised with Christ, be eager for the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right of God. Keep your mind on things above, not on earthly things. You see, you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your Life, appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory. Col 3:1-4 AAT
In the heaven, we find the throne of grace. God’s throne of grace is the throne of His kingdom.
Now that we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, God’s Son, let us cling to what we confess. We have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way just as we are, only without sin. So let us come boldly to God’s throne of grace to get mercy and find grace to help us when we need it. Heb 4:14-16 AAT
God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. He chose us to be holy and blameless and he made us holy and blameless (see at verse 7). Chose is defined: “Of God the Father choosing Christians, as those whom he set apart from the irreligious multitude as dear unto himself, and whom he has rendered, through faith in Christ, citizens in the Messianic kingdom: (James 2:5) so that the ground of the choice lies in Christ and his merits only. Outline of Biblical Usage
After his all encompassing introduction, Paul presents specific spiritual blessings.
In His plan, God appointed us to be made His sons by Jesus Christ.
In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
God has made us His sons, also children (Jn 1:12-13). By making us His children, God makes us His heirs.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Ro 8:12-17 NASB Context: Ro 8:12-25
God made us heirs “according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit 3:7), “heirs of salvation” (Heb 1:14) and heirs of the kingdom. “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (Jas 2:5 NASB)?
God’s plan for our redemption
Just as He planned, God gave His Son (Jn 3:16). God redeemed us from from the curse of the law through Jesus shedding His blood for us.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Gal 3:13: KJV
Through His death as the sacrifice, without spot or blemish, Jesus endured the cross for us.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:2 KJV
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say , whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. Col 1:18–20 KJV)
Jesus established the new covenant in His blood.
For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 1 Cor 11:26-26 ASV (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20; Heb 9:20; Heb 12:24; Heb 13:20).
God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus our Messiah
But now, quite apart from the law (though the law and the prophets bore witness to it), God’s covenant justice has been displayed. God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith. For there is no distinction: all sinned, and fell short of God’s glory—and, by God’s grace they are freely declared to be in the right, to be members of the covenant, through the redemption which is found in the Messiah, Jesus. Romans 3:21-26 THE KINGDOM NEW TESTAMENT, N.T. Wright
In one sense Christians already have redemption (Ro 3:24; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14); but in another sense they still have to await redemption, that is the redemption of the body (Ro 8:23; Eph 1:14; 4:30). James D. G. Dunn Expository Times 80:2 (N 1970) Books by Dunn
The summing up of all things in Christ
In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
The Cassirer translation brings out the meaning this way: “And so it came about that he made known to us the mystery of his will—the result of his good pleasure which he purposed within himself—his hidden plan, to be carried into effect when the time appointed for it would have run its full course, his plan to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:9-10 H. W. Cassirer).
The mystery of God’s will
God made known the mystery of His through His inspired Word, the Bible, and by His Spirit. The hidden meaning of His will is clear. God manages His plan to come together in the fullness of times. Then, all will be summed up, gathered together, in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. And we will live eternally in the kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:25-29).
The fullness of times
God’s plan stretches from “before foundation of the world” to eternal life in the kingdom of God, when God switches us from time to eternity. Then the end will come.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. Mt 24:14 ASV Context: Mt 24
But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 1 Cor 15:20-24 ASV Context: 1 Cor 15
In Christ, all things were created. Christ, “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. Col 1:15-17 ASV
In Christ, the summing up has begun.
In Colossians 1, we see God has gathered us into the kingdom of the Son of his love. And, as we saw earlier, we are gathered into the body of Christ.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it , do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated [brought us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.Col 1:9-14 ASV
In Christ, all things will be summed up.
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. Jn 6:40 NASB
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Mt 25:34 ASV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 ASV
Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11 ASV
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. Mt 25:41 ASV
And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Jude 1:6 ASV
In Him 11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
In God’s plan, He made us His sons/children and heirs. He has given us His inheritance and sealed us in Christ with the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is the arrabon tas kleronomias that is, the first installment and foretaste of the Kingdom, for ‘the inheritance is the Kingdom of God’. It is important to remember at this point that arrabōn means more than ‘guarantee’; as ‘first installment’ or ‘down payment’ the arrabōn is part of and the same as the whole. The Spirit not only guarantees the full inheritance; he is himself the beginning and first part of that inheritance. This is why Paul can describe the Kingdom in terms of the Christian’s present experience of the Spirit: ‘the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Ro 14:17); it does not consist in talk but in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 4:20). God’s call into His Kingdom is made effectual (kalein) through the Gospel by means of the gift of the Spirit and his sanctifying operation (1 Th 2:12-13; 1 Th 4:7-8; 2 Th 2:3-14)-a present process leading to an ‘end’ result. Compare also Col 1:12-14 where transfer into the Kingdom is equated with sharing the inheritance of the saints in light and experience of redemption and forgiveness. James D. G. Dunn
In conclusion to what Paul has just taught, he asks the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to give you His Spirit to make us wise and reveal the truth to you as you learn to know Him better and to enlighten the eyes of your minds/hearts.
That is why, since I heard how you believe in the Lord Jesus and love all the holy people, I never stop thanking God for you as I remember you in my prayers. I ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to give you His Spirit to make you wise and reveal the truth to you as you learn to know Him better and to enlighten the eyes of your minds so that you know the hope He called you to, the riches of the glory of the inheritance He gives to His holy people, and the vast resources of His power working in us who believe. It is the same mighty power with which He worked in Christ, raised Him from the dead, and made Him sit at His right in heaven, above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and any name that can be mentioned, not only in this world but also in the next. And He put everything under His feet, and gave Him as the Head of everything to the church, which is His body, having all that is in Him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:15-23 AAT