If we are to understand and appreciate God's working in our lives we must come to an understanding of His will and purpose. Everything which God has and will do is to one glorious end. This end is His "Eternal Purpose" (Ephesians 3:11).

According to the Bible "He has made known to us the mystery of His will ... that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He will gather together in one, all things in Christ, which are in heaven and on earth" (Ephesians 1:9-10). 

The dictionary definition of "dispensation", when speaking about God, is "the Divine order or dealings with mankind". If we look back through history we see that the Divine order of things has changed. 

Very early, we see that God spoke with individuals such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Later we see that God expanded His dealings to include all the children of Israel as a specially favoured nation. As it is written "Hear this you children of Israel .... You alone of all the nations of the earth have I known" (Amos 3:1-2). 

After Jesus ascended into heaven we see that God again expanded His dealings with mankind by established a new order of things called the Church, which includes representatives from every nation on earth. 

Now in this passage of scripture we read of yet another "dispensation" in which God will expand His dealings to include "all things in heaven and on earth".

So what does this mean? 

  1. The "dispensation of the fullness of times" obviously refers to the Millennial Kingdom which Christ will establish in the earth at the end of this Age.
  2. We recognize this from the scripture in Revelation 10:6 where the angel of God declares that "there shall be time no more" just prior to the final demise of this world system and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. This passage indicates that the "time dimension" of the universe has outlived its usefulness to God, so He will do away with it. Thus we can say this corresponds to the "fullness of time" spoken of in Ephesians 1:9-10 
  3. To "gather together in one all things" speaks of the restoration of all things.
  4. The instrument of this glorious work will be "Christ", the Messiah.
Knowing the truth of God's will reveals to us three major points: 

  1. God's plan for the restoration of all things is still only in its preparatory stages.
  2. The Church as we know it in this age is not God's final attempt to restore everything to perfection.
  3. That God's ultimate plan for the restoration of creation will not find its fulfillment until the Kingdom of Christ is established in the earth.


"God who at various times and in different ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1).

According to this scripture God's dealings with men have changed from "times past" to "these last days". During the past "dispensations" God spoke to His people through the prophets (a special group of people who had the gift of hearing or seeing God), while in this "dispensation" He is speaking to men through His Son, Jesus. 

This seems to indicate that God has changed His method of communication in order to achieve different results in different dispensations. This is in accord with the word, for the scriptures show us that God has prepared two "houses", one a "house of servants" under the ministry of Moses to whom God promised "the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish and those nations shall be utterly ruined " (Isaiah 60:10-12), the other a "house of sons" under the ministry of Jesus (Hebrews 3:5-6) to whom God has said "Do not you know that the saints shall judge the earth ... Do not you know that we shall judge angels" (1 Corinthians 6: 2 - 3). 

There is great purpose in this, for we must remember that the Eternal Purpose is to gather together all things "in heaven and on earth". To this end God has prepared these two "houses": 

  1. Israel - a house of servants to rule the earth.
  2. The Church - a house of sons to rule in the heavens.
Both will be under the lordship of Jesus. It is for this reason that Jesus is both "King of the Jews" (John 19:19) and "Head of the Church" (Ephesians 1:22). 

So, when the Kingdom of God is established it will have both an "earthly" and a "heavenly" phase, and as Jesus said "The first (Israel) shall be last and the last (The Church) shall be first" (Matthew 20:16). 

But this is not to say that all those who are numbered among Israel and the Church in these Ages will be reigning in the Age to come for "many are called but few are chosen" (Matthew 20:16). 

We must realise that we are "on trial" in this Age to determine our fitness to reign with Jesus, "for judgment begins with the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17) and it is only those who "overcome" the trials and temptations of this present evil world who will be chosen to rule in the world to come (Revelation 3:21). 


God promised to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. To illustrate His promise God gave Abraham two examples:

  1. "I will make your descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth" (Genesis 13:16). This speaks of the "earth" and points to the nation of Israel, his "earthly" descendants.
  2. "Look now to the heavens and count the stars if you can number them. So shall your descendants be" (Genesis 15:5). This speaks of the "heavens" and points to the Church, his "heavenly" descendants.
So God has prepared two great houses. One to rule in the heavenly places in Christ, the other to rule the earth under the Lordship of Christ.

Once these two groups are complete and properly prepared the stage will be set for the greatest event in the earth's history - the return of Jesus, "whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Therefore, when Jesus returns to the earth, there shall be a restoration. 


We are told:
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ -- if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom 8:14-21) 
As the human race is the crowning glory of God's creation, it is reasonable to assume that the benefit which will fall to "the creation" by the "revealing of the children of God" will naturally include Mankind at large. 

We are told that God will "create new heavens and a new earth" (Revelations 21:1). We know from our previous study that the Church, having been called to the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4), and the Angels constitute the "new heavens, so who shall live in the new earth ? 

We may be sure that there shall be men and women living in the New Earth for the word of God says, "The earth abides for ever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4) and "God formed the earth, He did not create it in vain, He formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18) and yet again " The heavens are the Lord's, but the earth He has given to the sons of men" (Psalm 115:16). 

Also in our previous study we saw that Israel will be ruling over other nations as God's earthly agents in the Millennial Kingdom. Therefore there shall be people still living on the earth after the return of Jesus. These along with the rest of creation will be restored to perfection as God's Eternal Purpose is fulfilled. 


The  answer  is  "a bit at a time". From Age to Age God has been working to a plan, preparing each part in turn until He is ready to assemble the final product. 

Later we will look very briefly at God's plan to accomplish His Eternal Purpose. 

In the Church God also works a "bit at a time". He does this by "revelation". First he reveals to us a part of his plan, and then we begin to implement it in our lives. Once we have that bit working God will reveal more of his plan to us. 

This is shown in the Bible. God entered into a number of "covenants" (contracts) with different people in ages past. God entered into a covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and finally us. Each covenant was richer and more detailed in its promise than the one before it. Each extended the initial conditions until finally Christ came to establish an even richer covenant with us. 

So we have a cycle of "revelation" and "implementation". God is building us up into his eternal purpose brick by brick, principle by principle and power upon power. 


God is working all things toward one final purpose, the restoration of all creation through the Christ. This will find its fulfillment in the Millennial Kingdom. Until then God has been preparing two great groups who will play a vital part in this work: 

  1. Israel - to rule the earthly kingdom
  2. The Church - to rule the heavenly kingdom.
All this is under the ultimate Kingship of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. 

Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.
Last modified: 18 - Sept - 1998.
Copyright © 1998, Graham Brodie.

Maintainer: Graham Brodie, Email