For Paul, the gospel of Jesus is a message first and foremost of our redemption and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus:
7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:7-12)
Christians becomes quickly loosed from their moorings when they lose sight of v. 7 in favor of v. 8-12. It is all too easy to emphasize our wisdom (v. 8-9), Christ’s uniting all things together in himself (v. 10), our inheritance (v. 11), our predestination (v. 11), or even our praise and worship of the Father (“to the praise of his glory,” v. 12), completely apart from the cross of Jesus Christ–but if we miss the cross, we miss everything. Unless we consistently, incessantly, repetitively call our attention to the blood of Jesus as our redemption, forgiveness, and source of all blessings, we have a false religion.
It is at the cross that the Father lavished his love upon us. It is at the cross where the Father imputed our sins to Christ, and it is at the cross where the Father imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. By the cross Jesus will united all things in himself, both things in heaven and things on earth, and by the cross we have obtained our inheritance. Our predestination was set with the cross in view, so that Revelation 13:8 tells us that the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world for the people written down in his Book.
Even, heavenly worship centers around the fact that the Lamb was slain:
5:9And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
The Father’s plans from before the foundation of the world and the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the present focuses fully on the work of Jesus on the cross in the fullness of time. This, in fact, is what “the fullness of time” (v. 10) means—that the crucifixion of Jesus marked the hinge of time. All time before the cross anticipated it, and all time after the cross cannot help but to look back at it.