And now before we turn to the prayer which concludes the
first chapter of this great Epistle we must have a rev jew of this great
revelation we have found thus far, concerning the work of the Godhead, in the
production of the Masterpiece of God in redemption.
1. We found God the Father has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. God the Son came down from heaven's Glory and redeemed us by His Blood. God the Hoiy Spirit quickens those who hear and beheve. He is here because Christ finished His work on the Cross.
2. God the Father has predestinated us unto the Son-place. God the Son reveals, to all who are sons with Him, the mystery of His will, concerning the future of the new creation. God the Holy Spirit because we are sons possesses us and keeps those whom He possesses. He is the Spirit of Sonship.
3. God the Father has accepted us in the Beloved. God the Son has given us in Himself an inheritance. God the 11oiy Spirit is the earnest of that inheritance. Surely this is revelation from God. So blessedly simple, so profound that all the eternal ages will not suffice to sound its depths. No man could have ever discovered or invented such a plan. Let us bow before it in worship and yield our lives "to the Praise of the Glory of His Grace."
The second half of this chapter contains a prayer. It is the first prayer in the Epistle; the second prayer is found at the close of the third chapter. Let us notice that the greatest revelation of God given in Ephesians has these two prayers connected with it. The revelation is given that we might enter into the knowledge of it and enjoy it in our hearts, even "to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Prayer is needed for this. As we read these blessed truths we must make them our own.
A. Thanksgiving, verses 15-16.
"Wherefore I also, having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the Saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."
These are the words with which Paul introduces his prayer for the Ephesians. He had heard of their faith and love. Faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the Saints are the leading and blessed essentials of true Christianity. Grace works these in our hearts. Neither faith nor love can be learned or acquired by man's own efforts; both are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. "No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by theHoly Spirit" (1 Cor. xii:3). "The Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given unto us" (Rom. v:5). Without this faith in the Lord Jesus, love unto all the Saints is impossible, and where there is true faith in the Lord Jesus, there must be love unto the Saints. If our hearts lay hold by faith of the great truths contained in the first part of this chapter and the Lord Jesus, and our wonder-ful position in Him and blessing is enjoyed by us, the love unto all the Saints will be manifested. It is the fruit of faith in the Lord Jesus. It is by this love that we know we have passed out of death into life, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 John iii:14). "Whosoever loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him" (1 John v :1). And let us notice the little word "all." The Love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts includes all the Saints of God, not alone a little circle of such who see eye to eye with us in all things, not alone the Saints we know and are of an amiable disposition, but it takes in all, no matter what they are, and where they are, all who are born of God. He loveth them all and His Love in our hearts must needs embrace all whom He loveth. How little of this love unto all the Saints is in evidence in our days! May we always think whenever we come in touch with Saints who appear unlovable, who either oppose us or who do not share all our views, that the Lord Jesus loves them, loves them as much as He loves us.
We must bear with them as He bears with us. This is one of the true tests of spirituality, love unto all the Saints. In the peculiar days in which we live, the last days of this age, when Satan tries to divide the flock of God as never before, may we love all His beloved people and reach out after the weak and stumbling ones of the flock. Let us remember that God hath chosen them with us before the foundation of the world, that He has accepted them as He has accepted us in the Beloved. May we never forget that the Lord Jesus died for them as He died for us, and that the same Holy Spirit who abides in us, is also in them. Then we shall make mention of all the Saints in our prayers. It is a blessed occupation, into which the Holy Spirit will lead us to pray for the Saints of God, besides giving thanks for them. Whenever a fellow believer has misunderstood us or the enemy attempts to sow the evil seed of jealousy between ourselves and other Saints, the best way, yea the only way, to overcome the evil is by prayer. When there is prayer for the Saints and the love for them is nourished by the prayer of intercession, the enemy will find it difficult to bring in his discord. Paul made mention of them in prayer and what he asked for all the Saints we find revealed in the verses which follow. But we must remember the mighty One, who stood behind the penman of these words, the Holy Spirit. It is therefore more than the prayer of the Apostle Paul for the Ephesian Christians. It is the prayer of the Holy Spirit for all the Saints. What the Holy Spirit desires for those who belong to Christ, to know and to enjoy, is now made known. The Spirit who prays is the Spirit of power, who can and will make all good to us.
B. The Prayer for Enlightenment in the Knowledge of Him, verses 17-18.
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revela-tion in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your heart being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to usward, who believe, according to the working of His mighty power."
The prayer here is addressed to "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory." The prayer in the third chapter is made to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." This corresponds most beautifully to the blessed revelation in the first 14 verses of this chapter. "God and Father" are the blessed words, which stand in the foreground of this Epistle. God is Light and God is Love. The first prayer is a prayer for light, that His redeemed people may know, be enlightened; therefore it is addressed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second prayer in the third chapter is for love, and therefore addressed to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look a little closer at the words "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory," we shall discover their marvellous meaning. God who hath chosen us and predestinated us before the foundation of the world is "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ." The whole blessed story of the Gospel is revealed in this sentence. Here is the fact that God gave Him, who is His Only Begotten. The Son of God came to this earth and humbled Himself, appearing in the form of a servant; this is expressed in the word "Jesus," His Name in humiliation. The titles "Christ and Lord" tell us of His resurrection. "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts ii :36). The only time the Lord Jesus spoke of God as His God was on the Cross, when he said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
But after His resurrection He speaks again of His God and in a most blessed connection. He said to Mary "Go unto My brethren and say to them I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to My God and your God" (John xx:17). Thus His God, the God who gave Him, who delivered Him up for us, who raised Him from the dead, is our God. We are brought into the same blessed relationship with Him. This is the only correct and scriptural way how we should address God "Our God and our Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; anything less than that cannot have the approval of the Spirit of God. *(Sir Robert Anderson in a recent volume, "The Honour of His Name," has called attention to the unscriptural use of the name of our ever blessed and adorable Lord, a very timely warning.)
And what does the expression "the Father of Glory" signify? From Him, "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ," He who raised Him from the dead and gave Him Glory, Glory proceeds. First He gave to Him, who was made sin for us, glory. We see Him now crowned with Glory and Honor at the right hand of God. But the Glory He has received will be by-and-by shared by the church, His body. Thus the words "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" takes us in the past; the title "Father of Glory" looks forward into the future. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished the work for us in His Son and Glory, eternal Glory is now before us.
In verses 17-19 we find three petitions and with these, in which we see the three persons of the Godhead indicated, we shall now be occupied. First we notice, however, that the desire is expressed that God "may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your heart being enlightened." This does not mean that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. We saw they were, as every true believer is, sealed by that Spirit of promise, which means, the gift of the Spirit. There is no second giving of the Spirit promised. It means that the Spirit might operate as the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. He is in all believers, but in few He can manifest His full power as the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. And the Holy Spirit will impart "the knowledge of Him." If we desire to know Christ more fully, the Spirit of God as the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation will give us this knowledge. He enlightens the eyes of our hearts. It is the heart, the new nature in the believer, which alone can take in the great truths revealed in the Masterpiece of God. The human intellect cannot grasp these truths; the Spirit of God must enlighten the eyes of our spiritual nature.
And now the three petitions "that ye may know."
1. The first is "that ye may know what is the Hope of His calling." This is the calling of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory. What then is His calling? For what has He called us? Into what is He bringing those whom His Son redeemed? It is infinitely more than to have our sins forgiven, as some have explained it; or to get to heaven. We do not hope to have our sins put away, but we know they are put away. We do not hope to get to heaven, we know that we are there in Christ, through Grace. Romans viii :29 gives us the Hope of God's calling. "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." The hope of His calling is to be One with Him, whom God raised from the dead and gave Him Glory. Every sinner saved by Grace will eventually bear the full image of the Firstborn from the dead. "We shall see Him as He is and shall be like Him."
The church, the body of Christ this Masterpiece of God, will be joined to the Head and they shall be One. This is God's calling; this is into what He brings redeemed sinners. The Holy Spirit must enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we can get fresh glimpses of this high and holy calling, and He must keep this calling constantly before our eyes. There is no other way to have and to enjoy the reality of this. If but this knowledge of His calling, our glorious destiny in Christ and with Him, is entered in by God's children, it would mould their lives and keep them in the place of separation. May it please the Holy Spirit to enlighten afresh the eyes of all His people, so that they may know this great calling and walk worthy of it. And how soon this calling of God for which we earnestly hope may become an actual fact! A little while longer and "He that shall come will come." It is then that we shall come into possession of our inheritance.
2. The second petition is that we may know "the riches of the Glory of His inheritance in the Saints." Now again we read of "riches." "For ye know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that ye by His poverty might be rich" (2 Cor viii 9) The riches into which God, the Father of Glory, has brought us through Him, who laid His Glory by, is told out in this Epistle. It is the rich Epistle of our riches in Christ. "The Riches of His Grace" (Ep. i:7); "the Riches of the Glory of His Inheritance" (i:18); "Rich in Mercy" (ii:4); "the exceeding Riches of His Grace" (ii:7); "the unsearchable Riches of Christ" (iii:8); "according to the Riches of His Glory" (iii :16); these are the passages in which we read of His Riches towards us and our Riches in Him.
And what is the meaning "the riches of the Glory of His inheritance in the Saints?" We have an inheritance, and He has us for His inheritance. He is our inheritance, and we are His inheritance. The Glory of Christ's inheritance are the Saints, for whom He died, the many sons He brings to Glory. The church is the fulness of Him, who filleth all in all. The Saints are the gift of the Father to the Son. He said in His high-priestly prayer, "I am glorified in them." What are the riches of the Glory of His inheritance in us, we cannot fully fathom at this time. In that blessed day, when He receives His inheritance from the Father's hands, we shall inherit with Him, and He will have His inheritance in the glorified Saints. "He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zeph. iii :17). Though this is spoken of Israel it is equally true of the church. Knowing this, that before us is a future of Glory with Him, though we cannot grasp the fulness of that Glory of His inheritance in the Saints, our hearts even now rejoice and give to Him the praise and adoration, which belongs to Him. Oneness of Glory with Him and the Father is the never ending destiny of the blood-bought Saints.
3. And the third petition is that we may know "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe." The context shows what the power is, which is mentioned here and which is on our side. When God called His Masterpiece, the Universe, into existence He manifested His great power. He called all into existence out of nothing. What great power it was by which He created all things! In His great Masterpiece in Redemption, He also made known His power and the exceeding greatness of His power is now to usward, who believe. It is put on our side.
What is this power? The concluding verses of this chapter give the answer. Look to the Cross. There the ever blessed Son of God suffered and died. He bowed His blessed head after he had spoken the precious, never to be forgotten words, "It is finished." He who knew no sin was made sin for us, and by the shedding of His blood paid our debt. His body was laid in the tomb. On the third day the mighty power of God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, opened the tomb and "He raised Him from the dead." But more than that, the mighty power of God lifted Him up. He passed through the heavens, higher and higher, until He was carried by the mighty power of God into the highest heaven and seated at God's own right hand, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. And still more than that. The mighty power of God put all things under His feet and made Him head over all to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him, that filleth all in all. In the highest Glory, with the highest possible Glory upon Him, is the Man Christ Jesus. His presence there, taken from the tomb, through the heavens into Glory, tells of the fullest accomplishment of God's Masterpiece.
And now the power which raised Him from the dead, which seated Him at God's own right hand, which put all things under His feet (though we do not yet see all things put under Him) is on our side. It is to usward who believe. We can count as His redeemed ones on this resurrection power. How is it to usward? When we believe and that life is imparted unto us, even eternal life, that power is there. In our lives as His people down here, in the conflict, in temptations, every step of the way, this mighty power is on our side. Oh! for faith to realize this constantly, that we are indeed risen with Christ. The Holy Spirit is in us as the Spirit of power to give us the victory. And finally the mighty power of God will be to usward in "that day" when the blessed Head, our Lord Jesus Christ will give the shout from the air, when the saints, who fell asleep (as to the body) will rise first, when we who are alive and remain will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, in a moment, and caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The same power which raised Him and carried Him through the heavens, will bring His complete church into Glory. In the presence of the words of verse 23 one feels more like worshipping than trying to expound its meaning. Marvellous words! It tells out the blessed Masterpiece of God. Christ the Head, the church, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, the body. The Head is in Glory; the body not yet joined to the Head. He waits in Glory; the saints wait on earth. The Body needs the Head' but the Head also needs the Body. "The Christ" will be complete when the Body is joined to the Head by the mighty power of God. The church as His Body is His fulness; it makes Him complete. And when that is reached, when Head and Body, Christ and the church, are united in Glory, then will the hope of His calling be realized and He will have the Glory of His inheritance in the Saints, and we shall know the exceeding greatness of His power to usward.
Concerning the church, as the Body, the Masterpiece of God, we shall hear more in the chapters which follow.
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