Summary: Written and Published, April, 2020: This short article follows on the heels of the one before it, The Probation of Mankind… it would be good if you would read that article first, and then read this one. The Counsels of God are not difficult to understand. They can be summarized by one verse of Scripture found in Ephesians 1:10 — “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.” Below is written a short but solid understanding of what God has done in the past, what He is doing now, and what He will do in the future.
Up to the death of Christ mankind was under probation from God in every condition and state—innocent in the garden, without law (promises being given to Abraham), under law beginning with Moses, the priesthood given, prophets, royalty in Israel, imperial power among the Gentiles (beginning with Nebuchadnezzar), and at last God’s Son being sent from heaven. As to all this, man failed wholly and irremediably. The mind of the flesh was found to be enmity against God (Rom. 8:7-8). This was one great scene—the display of the relationship of God with man, when man was tested and found wanting, tried in every way possible, and by all God could do to win him, finally saying (Matt. 21:37), “I have yet one Son, it may be they will reverence my Son” —not only proved failure, when innocent and departing from God (Adam in the garden); but when God, in perfect grace, sought him when he had failed and where he was, irreclaimable (the Son of God becoming flesh and coming to Israel – John 1:11, 14).
Man was lost, and had rejected, as far as his act went, the One who had come to save him. God will eventually set up His glory publicly in Jesus Christ, the second Adam, in whom every one of the failing forms of relationship (as consequence of the first Adam) will be fully and perfectly established. But before this, God calls a people to be joint-heirs with this second Adam—to be in a special place of association with Him, His bride, His body, the church, composed of children of God, conscious—through the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven—of their relationship of sons with the Father. These are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. Their union in one body, with Christ head over all things, was a mystery hidden from ages and generations, and only now that Christ was gone up, revealed to the sons of men (Eph. 3:1-11).
God’s purpose is to gather together in one all things in heaven and earth under Christ (Eph. 1:10). However, the believer/church is called to be in the same relationship to God and the Father as Christ Himself (John 20:17), who is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God; true Christians are joint-heirs with Him of this inheritance of all things (please see Rom. 8:15-17, Gal. 4:5-7, Eph. 1:11-14, Col. 1:12). When the gathering of these (the church) is complete, Christ receives them to Himself (the rapture). And then, setting aside by His own power, the power and reign of evil, establishes peace and order on the earth (the millennium), and reduces everything into subjection – everything having been put under Jesus, as Man, by the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-25). When all is subjected, He will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, and the eternal state commences. The mediatorial kingdom of man ceases, though surely not the personal glory of Christ.