With few exceptions, the story that Christians tell others and themselves begins with Genesis 3 rather than Genesis 1. Our starting point is the fall of humanity.
The result: Everything is framed around God’s redemptive mission. It’s all about saving a lost world.
Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that evangelical Christians have built their theology mostly on Romans and Galatians. And many nonevangelical Christians have built it on the Gospels (particularly the Synoptics—Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
And for both groups, Ephesians and Colossians have been put in the footnotes.
But what if we began not with the needs of humans but with the intent and purpose of God? What if we took as our point of departure not the earth after the fall but the eternal activity within God Himself before the constraints of physical time?
In other words, what if we built our theology on Ephesians and Colossians and allowed the other New Testament books to follow suit?
Why Ephesians and Colossians?
Because these two letters give us the clearest look at Paul’s gospel with which Christ commissioned him. These two letters begin not with the needs of postfall humans but with God’s timeless purpose before creation. They also introduce us to Christ in His preincarnate state.
I assert that if we did this, the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (let alone the entire Old Testament) would fall into a very different place for us.
The Gospels are not the beginning point of the Christian faith. Neither is the Old Testament. Both give us the middle of the story.
Ephesians, Colossians, and the gospel of John are the introduction and the opening chapters of that story. Those writings give us a glimpse into Christ before time and what His original intention is all about.
In this regard, we can liken the gospel that many of us have heard to watching Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI first (which is the way they came out in the theaters).
But for us to really understand what’s going on in that drama, we must begin at the right place with Episodes I, II, and III.
Consider this fact. Human beings didn’t come into this world in need of salvation. There was a purpose in God that came before the fall, and He has never let go of it.
Without an understanding of God’s ageless purpose, our good deeds can be likened to playing an instrument on our own as opposed to playing with others as part of an orchestra that is performing one breathtaking song.
This post is a short excerpt from Chapter 5 of Revise Us Again.
To hear a spoken message on the eternal purpose, see The Eternal Purpose.
For a detailed unfolding of the epic drama of God’s eternal purpose, see From Eternity to Here.