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God’s great plan

I am now returning from my blogging hiatus brought on by the missions trip to New Orleans that my wife, Kim, and I led. We had 50 people over 2 weeks go and serve that city. In returning to the blog, I wanted to share some thoughts from our theme passage, Ephesians 3:14-21.

When I think of the greatness of this great plan, I fall on my knees before the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the Spirit’s inner reinforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled through all your being with God himself.

Now to him who by his power within us is able to do infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine – to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever, amen! (Ephesians 3:14-21, J.B Phillips)

As I read that passage, I stop on the first line and the use of the word “great” – twice in one sentence – almost redundant and certainly need to be careful as it rolls off the tongue. What is God’s plan and what makes it so great? That is what I would like to explore in this post…

Before we can grasp what makes it so great, we must grasp what it is. Paul says that in the paragraphs (and chapters) that precede this passage. “Yes, to me, less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to make plan to all men the meaning of that divine secret which he who created everything has kept hidden from the creation until now. The purpose is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God’s plan being worked out through the Church, in conformity to that timeless purpose which he centred in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11, J.B. Phillips). God’s great plan was to use the church to draw unbelievers to repentance and life in Christ!

Verses 14-21 lay out five key elements that reveal what makes this plan so great…

  • God’s great plan makes us God’s children – We are adopted into his family, made his own children (see John 1:12). We who were orphans, our only the father being the father of lies, have been made sons and daughters of the Great King!
  • God’s great plan gives us God’s power – This passage promises us the strength and power of God through the Spirit’s indwelling. And through that power within us, God promises to do even more than we could think to ask him to do. What a wonderful promise. We do not need to live as those who are weak and afraid because we have God’s power within us.
  • God’s great plan wraps us in God’s love – Paul challenges his readers to know how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ. That is, he invites us to catch just a glimpse of the breadth of God’s love. No matter what direction we go, we can not get past his love.
  • God’s great plan fills us with God’s presence – Twice in the passage we are promised that God himself is indwelling us. “That Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith” and “May you be filled through all your being with God himself!” All the Scriptures are the story of God’s presence with his creation. His indwelling now anticipates the day we will walk and talk with him in eternity.
  • God’s great plan is for his own glory – This is not about us. It’s about God’s great plan, centered in Christ, to draw people to himself for his own sake. “To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever, amen!” God has given the church a profound role to play in this plan, but it is not of our own strength, it is by the strength he gives us through his presence, that we can fulfill our great mission. And because it is by his power, it is he who gets the praise as he does infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine.

Interact: What aspect of God’s great plan do you struggle to believe? Do you struggle to see your new identity as a child of God? Are you living without power? Do you wonder if God still loves you or if he has abandoned you? Do you think this is somehow for your glory, not his? Why? Confess your unbelief and ask God to reassure you as you meditate on this passage.


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