J. PRESTON EBY
Reconciliation In The Heavens
The highest glories of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, are revealed to us in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. In the beginning He was “…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:15-17). Can the UNIVERSALITY of Christ’s creation be more forcibly expressed? In every case the word ALL is used WITHOUT ANY LIMITATION whatever. The heavens and the earth with all that is in them, visible and invisible, include ALL creation.
The verses that follow continue to express the UNIVERSALITY of Christ’s glories in the present and the future. “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 pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” The supremacy of God’s Son depends on the UNIVERSALITY or TOTALITY of His many honors. How extraordinary is the emphasis laid on this vital fact in this short passage! Within the compass of five verses we read no less than eight times that the glory given the Christ is all-inclusive and all-pervading. He is the firstborn of EVERY creature. ALL is created by and in Him, and ALL is created through and for Him. He is before ALL. ALL is bound together by Him. In ALL He is becoming first, having preeminence. ALL fullness, or the fullness of ALL, dwells in Him. He reconciles ALL through the blood of His cross. And on two occasions this is amplified and defined as ALL that is IN THE HEAVENS and ALL that is ON THE EARTH. It is said to include both visible and invisible. What more could be said to impress us with the universal scope of the Son’s activities?
Oh, what a vast and all-inclusive statement that is! All the Principalities and Powers in heaven and earth are included in the reconciliation effected by the blood of His cross. Oh, what a mighty redemption! Oh, what a universal reconciliation! Oh, Church of the Living God, unto you is the Word given, “To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that NOW UNTO PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVENLY PLACES MIGHT BE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD, according to the purpose of the ages which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:9-11).
This word that we bear came to us by revelation, though it is plainly written across the pages of God’s Word, and completely sealed us to the knowledge that everything, and we mean EVERYTHING, everyone, even ALL creatures that God ever created, are to be brought into unification with God through the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit graciously granted us light to see that Jesus Christ is indeed the Saviour of all men, we did not immediately understand that all the rest of God’s vast creation was included in redemption. We had no problem with people like Pharaoh, Nero, Judas, Hitler, Stalin, or Castro ultimately being conquered by the love and power of God. They are just the kind that Jesus came to seek and to save, and really, ALL have sinned alike and stand in need of God’s salvation. But there were other beings in the creation of God for whom we saw NO HELP. To us, the angelic beings, the principalities and powers of the heavenly realms, whether good or evil, were entirely different classes of creatures and their ultimate purpose and end an entirely different proposition. We used to say, in ignorance, that God never sent Jesus to die for demons or devils or wicked, foul spirits – He died only for the human race. In years past we sang a song, the words of which went something like this:
Holy, holy, is what the angels sing,
And I expect to help them make
The courts of heaven ring:
But when I sing REDEMPTION’S STORY
They will fold their wings;
For ANGELS NEVER KNEW THE JOY
That our salvation brings!
But now we know that redemption is not for humanity alone, but for the whole creation. Thank God for this great ministry of reconciliation. How far does this ministry reach? Is it just for mankind, or is it more far-reaching? Why should we limit God’s love to mankind only? Why should we think that His love extends to fallen man only? Why should we think that He loves us with an everlasting love, and has none at all for the rest of His creatures, the work of His hands? Are they not also His creation? Dare we really believe the words the beloved apostle John penned while banished on the isle called Patmos, “You art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for You have created all things, and FOR YOUR PLEASURE they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Why should we think that God has gone to such great lengths to mold us into the kind of creatures that BRING PLEASURE to His heart, but does nothing on behalf of the wretched, filthy spirits in the kingdom of darkness? Why should we think that He has provided such a wonderful salvation for us, but has made no provision for them? They are as much a part of His creation as we are! And the Sons of God are being prepared to deliver the WHOLE CREATION and RECONCILE ALL THINGS back into Christ again.
God’s great plan is not partial – it includes ALL. “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF; by Him, I say, whether things in earth, or THINGS IN HEAVEN” (Col. 1:20). It is not just the scope of “things on earth” being reconciled, that startles us most, for it goes on to say, “and things in heaven.” This implies that the heavens needed reconciling. But just what are these “things in heaven” that are reconciled? One day the words struck me with such incredible force, and the effect was to stop me in my tracks. There I faced anew one of the old, well known verses of the Bible, and when the profound truth of it broke in wonder and glory within my consciousness I had a completely new Bible, and an increasingly wonderful God. For the first time in my life I saw what God had created in the beginning according to Col. 1:16. I discovered at least sixteen different items or groups of items in that one short passage:
- All things in heaven
2. All things in earth
3. Visible things
4. Invisible things
5. Visible things in heaven
6. Visible things in earth
7. Invisible things in heaven
8. Invisible things in earth
9. Thrones in heaven
10. Thrones on earth
11. Dominions in heaven
12. Dominions on earth
13. Principalities in heaven
14. Principalities on earth
15. Powers in heaven
16. Powers on earth
“By Him to reconcile PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVEN and on earth” (Col. 1:16, 20). These were the words that stopped me in my tracks. “What is there IN HEAVEN that needs to be reconciled?” I queried. The thought had never crossed my mind. I had always assumed that all was at peace and that never a cloud had darkened any brow in heaven! Discord in heaven? Perish the thought! Sin in heaven? Impossible! Negative forces in heaven? It couldn’t be! Wickedness in heaven? No way! “But,” I thought, “not only does it plainly state that the Christ will reconcile things in heaven, but it furthermore states that among the things to be reconciled are PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS. Principalities in heaven! Principalities in heaven that are hostile to God! Principalities in heaven that MUST BE RECONCILED! Powers in heaven! Powers in heaven that are hostile to God! Powers in heaven that MUST BE RECONCILED!
If Col. 1:16-20 does not incontrovertibly establish these plain and simple facts then I plead ignorance of the English language. But are there, in fact, principalities and powers in heaven which are enemies of God, alienated from God, haters of God, and hostile to the nature and ways of God, thus needing to be conciliated to Him? Indeed! “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and SATAN CAME ALSO AMONG THEM” (Job 1:6). “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS, against the RULERS of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). The full import of these words can be appreciated by reading a clearer translation. Kenneth Wuest translates thus: “Our wrestling is not against blood and flesh, but against the PRINCIPALITIES, against the AUTHORITIES, against the world rulers of this darkness, against SPIRIT FORCES OF PERNICIOUSNESS IN HEAVENLY PLACES.” The Amplified Bible says, “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood – contending only with physical opponents – but against the DESPOTISMS, against the POWERS, against the MASTER SPIRITS who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the SPIRIT FORCES OF WICKEDNESS IN THE HEAVENLY SPHERE.” The New International Version reads, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the RULERS, against the AUTHORITIES, against the POWERS of this dark world and against the SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.” Ferrar Fenton renders, “Because our fight is not against blood and flesh; but against the SOVEREIGNTIES, against the POWERS, against the COMMANDERS of the darkness of this world, against the SPIRITS OF WICKEDNESS IN THE HEAVENS.” Weymouth translates, “For ours is not a conflict with mere flesh and blood, but with the DESPOTISMS … the SPIRITUAL HOSTS OF EVIL arrayed against us in the HEAVENLY WARFARE.” And finally, the Concordant version says, “For it is not ours to wrestle with blood and flesh, but with the SOVEREIGNTIES, with the AUTHORITIES … with the SPIRITUAL FORCES OF WICKEDNESS AMONG THE CELESTIALS.”
The message is clear – we now wrestle against wicked spirits, not only on earth, but in the heavenly sphere. That this conflict is real, none can deny. But what shall be the end of these wicked spirits, these principalities and powers in heavenly places? “Eternal torment in hell fire!” you say. That there is much hell and torment ahead for these wicked ones I have no doubt. But when the ages have run their course, when the Sons of God have finished their ministry of reconciliation, when all the purposes of God have been consummated, brought to their expected end, what then? The testimony of God stands sure: “For by Him were ALL THINGS created, that are IN HEAVEN, and that are IN EARTH, visible and INVISIBLE, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or PRINCIPALITIES, or POWERS: ALL THINGS were created by Him and FOR HIM: and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be THINGS IN EARTH, or THINGS IN HEAVEN” (Col. 1:16, 20).
You may say – “I do not believe it! I do not, I cannot believe that Jesus died to reconcile wicked, foul, hostile, filthy spirits in the heavenly realms unto God!” Tell it not to me, my brother, my sister, tell it to the Holy Spirit for it is He, and none other, who inspired those awesome words. All your letters of protestation addressed to me will be thrown in the trash, for I possess no power to change even one jot or title of Holy Writ. When God declares that the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ avails to reconcile principalities and powers IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, I have absolutely no ability to do anything about it. God will do what He says He will do whether or not you or I like it, and whether or not we believe it. Your unbelief will not make the grace and power of God of none effect. God will finish His UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION either through you, precious friend of mine, or in spite of you. You may be either a spectator or a participator. But if you have no desire to see the foul, wicked, and unclean spirits of the universe conciliated to God, bowing the knee before Him, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, bringing the whole universe into harmonious unification in the Christ of Calvary, then please, PLEASE, P-L-E-A-S-E don’t tell me about your call to sonship and how you are of that company which is destined to SET A-L-L C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N FREE! If there is some portion of the creation that was created “by Him and for Him” which you don’t want to be “for Him,” then God will have to bypass you in His great and glorious work of redeeming ALL unto Himself.
You say that the devil is too utterly wicked, to hopelessly vile, too incorrigibly hostile to be changed? Come now! Have not bad men the devil’s nature in them? Are they not called “children (offspring) of the Wicked One?” Were not we ourselves “by nature the children of wrath,” and did we not walk “according to the course of this world, according to THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR?” Is not the same evil nature in all men, and is it not the devil’s nature, till it is slain by His cross? Has not the Lord died for all, that through His death He might destroy that evil, satanic nature and deliver them? And if this nature can be dealt with and slain in us, so that we are reconciled, thoroughly changed from ENEMIES of God to His beloved children, pray tell me why it cannot be changed in the wicked spirits in the invisible realm? Shall the Jews be saved, whom our Lord called “serpents” and “vipers” and of whom He said, “You are of your father the devil … how can you escape the damnation of hell.” and yet it be impossible for God to have a salvation for those whose nature these wicked men have been made partakers of? Where in all of God’s wonderful Book do we read that there can be no hope for such? Is it not rather distinctly written, that though “the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones which are on high, and they shall be gathered in a pit and shut up in prison, yet AFTER MANY DAYS THEY SHALL BE VISITED”? And are not “the DRAGONS and the DEEPS” called upon to “praise the Lord”? (Isa. 24:21-22; Ps. 148:7).
If such be not the end of God’s great plan of the ages then Calvary is a failure and redemption a farce. Current so-called “orthodox” theology incorporates into its system belief in the superior power of Satan, the deathlessness of sin, the indestructibility of error, and the permanence of evil. The doctrines of the harlot church system teach that since sin and death have entered upon the scene in God’s universe, they have come never to go out again, unconquerable, ineradicable, endless. Charles Schmitt has asked the burning question: “Is God, who is sovereign Lord, destined to possess the ultimate allegiance and obedience of only about 3% of all the billions who have sprung from His creative hand? Shall the absolute majority of all these created beings perpetuate hate and blasphemy against their blessed Creator throughout an endless eternity? Is Jesus, who died, effecting the death blow to all sin and to the works of Satan (I Jn. 3:8), destined to reign in a universe where sin shall exist in staggering proportions throughout eternity? The counsels of God, according to the Sacred Scripture, have declared an emphatic NO! Through the consuming fires of God’s holy Love … God has deigned to cause all everywhere eventually to drop the sword of proud rebellion and willingly acclaim the Lordship of our Jesus, and that to the glory of God (Phil. 2:10-11)! Have we hereby done despite to the justice and holiness of God? No, unlike those who hold the opposing view, we have rather fully satisfied it against all sin and rebellion! Have we hereby maligned the sovereign love and mercy of God? No, we have rather upheld it in its infinite scope!” -end quote.
Another has written that according to the false doctrines of the Churches, “The ‘eternal state’ is a universe endlessly finding room for myriads of beings rolling and writhing in the burning agonies of ceaseless flame, eternally sinful, vile, and morally hideous. It pictures the final perfection (!) yet to be attained as having room for a vast cesspool of immoral and degraded creatures, continually existing in opposition to God. This system of doctrine, though as old as man, and venerable as the tradition, as hoary as the pyramids, as orthodox as anything in ancient or modern theology, is a misconception, a travesty of God’s character, a caricature of His wisdom, and must be relegated to the scrap heap of ancestral errors. GLADLY DO WE TURN FROM THIS FIGMENT OF NATURAL REASON to the grand, simple statements of the bare unadorned Word of God. It looks forward to a time when God shall be all in all, when HEAVEN AND EARTH shall be purged from every stain of sin’s pollution. It anticipates that glad occasion when every heart shall beat in unison with the heart of God; every mind and will shall coalesce and harmonize with the Divine Wisdom and Purpose” – end quote.
Ah, I long intently for that day when even the devil himself shall put away his pitchfork, hang up his horns, and come humbly and brokenly to the Father’s house! Does that startle you? How else could it be in that glad day when the Christ has finally RECONCILED ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, including all the PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS OF THE HEAVENLY SPHERE!
And now I must close this brief treatise, and do it reluctantly. I do it with a certain painful consciousness of the feebleness and poverty of my handling of this lofty and comprehensive theme. But all this I must leave in the Master’s hand. He knows all about the majesty of His great and eternal purposes, and in the end it shall surpass even what I have indicated by these few words! Hallelujah to the Lamb!