Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Verses 3 through 14 of Ephesians chapter one are actually one long sentence. Therefore, we should not isolate any verse, clause, or phrase from the whole sentence. Verse 5 says that God has predestinated us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. The praise of the glory of God’s grace spoken of in verse 6 is the issue of the sonship in verse 5. Sonship is altogether a matter of grace. God’s grace makes us sons of God. The Spirit of the Son, the life of the Son, the position of the Son, the image of the Son, the completion of sonship, and the inheritance of all that God is in the sonship are all matters of grace. As we have pointed out, grace is God Himself. God Himself has come to accomplish everything for us that we may be His sons with the full sonship. With this grace God has graced us in the Beloved (v. 6).
Verse 7 reveals that God’s grace has accomplished redemption for us and has applied forgiveness to us. The accomplishment of redemption began with Christ’s incarnation and continued through His ascension. When He ascended to the heavens, redemption was fully accomplished. In His ascension God gave Him repentance and forgiveness to pour out through the coming of the Spirit (Acts 5:31). The coming of the Spirit refers to Christ’s descension. Beginning at the time of His descension, repentance and forgiveness were brought down to earth and poured out upon God’s chosen ones. As a result, we have repentance; repentance has been poured into our heart. After repentance came forgiveness. Through the accomplishment of redemption and the application of forgiveness, we have been regenerated to become sons of God. All this is according to the riches of God’s grace.
Even more of God’s grace is revealed in verse 8, which says that God has caused His grace to abound to us in all wisdom and prudence. Then verse 9 says, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” Verse 10 speaks of the heading up of all things in Christ, and verse 11, of the fact that we have been made an inheritance, “having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One Who operates all things according to the counsel of His will.” God’s abounding grace has made us God’s inheritance, God’s possession. Verse 14 indicates that we also shall have an inheritance. By God’s grace we are made His inheritance, and by His grace He is made our inheritance. What abounding grace! Verses 3 through 14 are filled with God’s well-speaking concerning us. These verses also need to be our well-speaking concerning Him.
The phrase “the praise of His glory” is found three times in this portion of the Word, in verses 6, 12, and 14. Each time it is used as a conclusion to the well-speaking of the Triune God. In verse 6 it is a conclusion of the well-speaking of God the Father; in verse 12, of the well-speaking of God the Son; and in verse 14, of the well-speaking of God the Spirit. The three uses of this phrase point to the Three of the Godhead in His well-speaking.
In this message we come to the mystery of God’s will. God’s will has a mystery, a mystery that has been hidden through the ages (3:5; Col. 1:26). The universe is a mystery. Why is there a heaven, and why does the earth exist? Why are there so many millions of items in the universe? Why is man here on earth? All these questions are mysteries and have given rise to many different philosophies. The mystery, which is the will of God, has been made known to the church through the apostles. A will is an intention, and the will of God is God’s intention. God’s intention is intimately related to the desire of His heart. Thus, the mystery of the universe is a matter of God’s will, which is related to the desire of God’s heart. We need to know the mystery, the will of God, and the desire of God’s heart.
Some may say that God’s will and intention is to have the church and that the church is the desire of His heart. This is correct, but we need to ask what the church is. Many Christians, including Christian teachers, do not have a clear understanding concerning the church. The church is not simply a group of people. In ourselves we are not the church; we are pitiful sinners. The only way we can become the church is for God in His Son to work Himself into our being. Most Christians today do not see the crucial and vital matter that God in His Son is working Himself into His chosen and redeemed ones. They may know about God’s selection and redemption, and they may realize that they are the chosen and redeemed ones. But they do not see that the very God who has chosen and redeemed them desires, in the Person of the Son, to work Himself into them. Neither selection nor redemption is the goal. Both are steps toward the goal. God’s goal is to work Himself into our being.
I realize that such a word may sound strange to many. For years I was in various branches of Christianity: fundamental Christianity, the Brethren Assemblies, the inner life practices, and the Pentecostal movement. But I was never told that in the Person of the Son, God is working Himself into His redeemed ones. Nevertheless, this is the mystery of the universe.
The New Testament proves that God is working Himself into us. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all in us (Eph. 4:6; 2 Cor. 13:5; John 14:17). According to 1 John, we are in God, and God is in us (4:15). Furthermore, we abide in Him, and He abides in us (John 15:4). In Philippians 1:21 the Apostle Paul could even say, “To me to live is Christ.” In Galatians 2:20 he said that he lived no longer, but that Christ lived in him. All these verses indicate that God in the Son is working Himself into us.
A proper understanding of the church also reveals the same truth. The Bible says that the church is the Body of Christ. Some Christians, however, take this not as a fact, or reality, but merely as an illustration. How terrible! The church is the Body of Christ, the Head of which is Christ Himself (Col. 1:18). Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 12:12 reveals that the Body is Christ. Thus, Christ is not only the Head, but also the Body. This indicates that God is being wrought into us who are the members of the Body. This is also proved by the illustration of the vine in John 15. In John 15:5 the Lord Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Is not the vine in the branches? Certainly it is! This is the reason the Lord says, “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). Whatever the vine is, is in the branches. As branches of the vine and as members of the Body of Christ, whatever Christ is, is in us. This means that we have been made parts of Christ. Are not the branches of the vine parts of the vine? Yes, they are. Therefore, we must have the boldness to say, “I am a part of Christ.” Because the believers are parts of Christ, Paul could say that to him to live was Christ.
The mystery of the universe is the church, and the church is a group of people into whom God is working Himself. Eventually, the church will be fully saturated with God and will consummately become the holy city, the New Jerusalem. The church will not only be saturated with God, but also mingled with Him. This does not mean, however, that we shall become the Godhead. No, this is neither what we say nor what we mean. Nevertheless, as those who are being saturated with God and mingled with Him, we shall become the very expression of God. The New Jerusalem will be the corporate expression of God. As we have pointed out a number of times, both God on the throne (Rev. 4:3) and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11) have the appearance of jasper. This means that the entire city has the appearance of God and is the expression of God. This is the mystery of the universe.
What a deliverance it would be for Christians if they could only see this! Many know only about being saved, being regenerated, becoming the children of God, and going to heaven some day. But the concept of being saved for the goal of going to heaven is much lower than the mystery of God’s will. The mystery of God’s will is to have a church constituted with those who have been saturated and mingled with God.
When some of you hear this definition of the church, you may say, “I have been in the church for many years, but I have never seen a church that matches this description.” The reason for this is that we are still “cooking” in the “kitchen” of the messed-up church life. During this time of “cooking” we need to be patient. Actually, the “cooking” is the abounding grace.
Many have come to me saddened about the condition of the church in their locality. They have told me that they can no longer tolerate this particular situation. Whether we feel that we can bear the situation or not, we must bear it. This is the “cooking” and the “baking” in the church life. The church life today is a “cooking” church life. Do not be disappointed about the situation, and do not look at the church only from the angle of the problems. Everyone in the church has a portion of Christ, for Christ has been wrought into us. Whether you are happy or unhappy, I am certain that some amount of Christ has been wrought into you since you came into the church life. No matter what you do, that portion of Christ remains in you because it has been wrought into you. I am comforted by seeing the portion of Christ that has been wrought into all the saints. I rejoice to see that the saints have more of Christ today than they did some years ago. Although we may not always be happy with the church life, Christ is nevertheless being wrought into us. What a mystery!
The mystery of the universe is that God is working Himself into us. Everything is working together for this purpose (Rom. 8:28). All things serve this goal. Everything is for God’s working of Himself into our being. This is much different from merely having a happy life. You may be very happy today, but not tomorrow. You may be happy in a meeting, but when you return home, your wife or husband may give you a difficult time. The mystery of God’s will is not that we are becoming happy people. Today is not the time for us to be fully happy, because the time is not yet ripe. Because many do not have the adequate vision or revelation, they do not know what is actually taking place in the church life. They think that we are simply here to have a good time. But this is not the mystery of God’s will. This mystery is that God is dispensing Himself into us to produce the church for Himself. This is a mystery hidden through the ages.
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