Vs. 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; even in Him."
"But NOW we see not yet all things put under Him," "NOW" is a reference to this present age or dispensation. And surely, we of this hour, as well as Paul can see that all things are not YET under Him. In our time every man is doing that which is right in his own eyes, and has assured the captainship of his own soul. But this does not mean that God's providential rule of this earth is made of none effect, what it does mean is, God is letting man fill up his cup of iniquity commensurate with the fullness of the times.
The one thing in this age which is exclusively under Christ is the church. Eph. 1:22 "And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church." (Col. 1:18). The devil has tried for 2000 years to wrest the church from the Headship of Christ, but God issued a hell dyeing fiat to protect the church when He said, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," (Mt. 16:18).
The advocates of absolute and total restoration of all things belabor Acts 3:21 which reads, "Whom (Christ) the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began." The kindergarten student in the Holy Spirit's school of grace can readily see the "all things" of this text which are to be restored are the things which God has spoken of by the mouth of His holy prophets. And at the time this text was written the prophets in Israel did not think that any nation except Israel would be restored. Israel as nation was commissioned by God to be a light unto the Gentileís, as the Church is commissioned to be a light unto the world, (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, Mt. 5:14, Acts 13:47). Israel up to this point in time has failed to fulfill their commission and their banner and mantle has been given to the church, and in so doing a new age was introduced, often referred to as "The church age." But once Christ has set up His millennial throne on the earth, Israel's commission will be renewed, and they will be successful as a light unto the Gentile nations of the earth. Yea, Israel is to be irrevocably restored to the favor of God. But in this age God is calling out His restoration material through the church.
Mt. 17:11 "...Elias truly shall first come, and restore all
things." Christ in these words speaks of John the Baptist, Vs. 13
"Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the
Baptist." Surely if, as the Restorationist teach that the
"restitution of all things" in Acts 3:21 means all things without
exception, then Christ died in vain, for the force of language is no
less in Matt.17:11 where it says John the Baptist restored all
things. They which contend for absolute and total restoration of all
things have been carried by the devil above the highest peaks of
ignorance, and they have become lost in the clouds of absurdity.
Then, what does Matt. 17:11 teach concerning John the Baptist, and
his ministry of restoration? Simply, it means that John shall
accomplish all things which are written of him, such as "turning the
hearts of the fathers to the children," and preaching repentance, on
which condition all things are restored. Repentance as well as faith
is a gift of God, (Acts 11:18, Eph. 2:8). But it has not pleased God
to give all men without exception repentance, the consequence of
which is, all men are not, and shall never be restored. (There is a
restorationist Ch. in Mansfield the Universalist church, the
Unitarian church, the Unity church, and a number of other groups
advocate total restoration of all things, but they do not have one
Scriptural leg to stand on. On the contrary, it is the doctrine of
humanism, which aids and abets ungodly antinomianism.
Vs. 11 "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
This text undoubtedly teaches that all the elect of God are predestinated to inherit indescribable blessings, this truth is also plainly stated by Peter when he says "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father... to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Pet. 1:2 & 4).
But there is another side to this truth in Eph. 1:11, yea, a more prominent truth, and that is, the elect are the heritage of the Lord. The ASV of 1901 reads, "in Whom also we were made a heritage."
The word "also" in the text is an allusion to Israel as the covenant people of God, this is borne out in Deut. 32:9, where we read, "For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." But we need to remember that the covenant of election gave to Christ more than the children of Shem, among the children of Ham, and Japheth, Christ also has an inheritance. In formulating the covenant of eternal redemption, God the Father said to the Son, "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for Thy possession" (Psa. 2:8). And Christ looking beyond the elect in Israel said, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be, one fold, and one Shepherd" (John 10:16).
While it is true, each, believer is a "partaker of the Inheritance of the saints in light" (Col.1:12), It is also true that the more light the saint has, and faithfulness thereto makes him more acceptable to God than a disobedient saint. In this sense we find the church in referred to in Eph. 1:11, the church is the Bride of Christ, and bridal status implies covenant relationship. The church is God's particular people for this age, the church is not any more sure of heaven than any of the infinite number of elect ones, but the covenant of election has provided the church with a special position in eternity, she will be the chief delight and heritage of the Lord, and the nearest to Christ of all people. And all this is "...Predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
Vs.12 "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ."
"Who first trusted in Christ,"
1. Christ was first manifested to Israel (John 1:31, Rom. 1:16), but they rejected Him, and to this late hour collectively repudiate Him, and deny His Messiaship.
2. Secondly Christ was manifested to the church, yet they were the first to believe in Him, (John 2:11).
3. In the third place, Israel shall finally look upon Him Whom they pierced, and believe in Him. (Zec. 12:10).
4. In the fourth place all nations of the earth shall believe in Christ. Bear in mind, presently there are no such things as Christian nations, there are Christians within all nations, but there is not one Christian nation on the face of all the earth. However, there is coming a time when not only Israel will be a Christian nation, but all nations of the earth will be subject to Christ.
Now, while God has caused His grace to abound toward us in
placing us in His church, and has given us blessing and privileges
that the rest of the elect can never share, we need to ever remember
that the blessings and privileges are unmerited, and that we have NO
ground whereof to boast, Israel misunderstood the purpose of their
institutional relationship to God instead of being humbled by their
exalted position they became proud. But the Blessed Bride has been
caused to realize that her status is one of free and unmerited favor
and her aim is to praise Godís glory.