Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Ephesians 1:18 says, “The eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” According to this verse, we need to know two things: the hope of God’s calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. The Apostle Paul’s first prayer in the book of Ephesians is that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to know certain things, the first of which is the hope of God’s calling.
Before we were saved, we had no hope. As 2:12 says, we were “apart from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” But after being saved, we are no longer aliens having no hope; instead, we are full of hope. However, because many believers do not know what a hope is theirs, Paul prayed that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to know the hope of God’s calling.
As God’s called people, we are full of hope. Firstly, our hope is Christ Himself. Colossians 1:27 says that Christ in us is the hope of glory. Moreover, 1 Timothy 1:1 speaks of Jesus Christ being our hope. Christ is not only our life and holiness; He is also our hope. Our hope is singly and uniquely Christ. Every aspect of our hope is related to Him.
The second aspect of our hope is the rapturous transfer from the earthly and physical realm to the heavenly spiritual sphere and glorification (Rom. 8:23-25, 30; Phil. 3:21). The word “rapture” means ecstasy, to be beside ourselves with joy. To us Christians the rapture denotes being taken up. Bible teachers use this word to describe the taking up because, according to them, being taken up is a kind of ecstasy. However, I doubt that many Christians truly believe that their being taken up will be an ecstasy. Would you be happy if the Lord came today? Would you be in an ecstasy, or would you weep? Most Christians would either weep or be frightened. Although the rapture is an aspect of the hope of God’s calling, this hope depends upon whether or not we live by the Lord. If we live by Him and walk with Him, our being taken up will be ecstasy. But if we do not live by Him and walk with Him, I doubt that it will be ecstasy.
A great many Christians take this matter of the rapture in a loose way. Some hold the concept that no matter what they are doing or where they are, they will be raptured when the Lord comes back. But what if you are in a theater or are arguing with your wife or husband? Would rapture during such circumstances be an ecstasy? Certainly not! I would not want to be quarreling when the Lord Jesus comes back. In 2 Timothy 4:1 Paul said to Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” This indicates that Timothy was to live in the light of the appearing of the Lord and in the kingdom. Whatever the kingdom will reject in the future must be rejected in our living today. I do not believe that many, even among us, are living in the appearing of the Lord. If we lived in His appearing, we would certainly refrain from quarreling; we would not want to be found arguing when the Lord appears. Not many Christians regard the Lord’s coming as a warning. If you read the New Testament, especially the Epistles, you will see that the Apostles lived with the appearing of the Lord in view. The Lord’s appearing was constantly a warning to them and regulated their living. They did not dare to do certain things because they believed that the Lord could appear at any time. If we take seriously the matters of the Lord’s appearing and the kingdom, they will greatly affect our daily living.
Many Christians, however, talk a great deal about the rapture and the Lord’s coming; but after their talk they indulge in worldly amusements. What a pitiful situation! Some Christians have been known to use the same table for gambling as for a gathering to study the Bible. Others have a discussion about the Lord’s coming, then go to sporting events, to the movies, or dancing. Have you seen that the appearing of Christ must be a basic factor in our daily living? We must live today in the light of the Lord’s appearing. If we do, our being taken up will be an ecstasy.
After we are taken up, we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ and settle our account with Him. At that time we shall have to deal with all our shortcomings, unfaithfulness, failures, and dishonesty. Many Christians have heaped up many such things in the course of their Christian life. When the Lord comes and they appear before the judgment seat, they certainly will not be full of joy. On the contrary, they will be terrified. We all need to reconsider our living. Many make excuses for themselves, especially for their weaknesses. Some say, “The Lord knows how weak we are, and He will be merciful with us. It doesn’t matter whether or not we fail or make mistakes. The Lord is merciful.” Others excuse themselves by saying that they do not want to be so spiritual or religious. When the Lord comes, however, there will be no excuses. Whether or not His coming will be an ecstasy depends upon our daily living. If we live a life of failure, defeat, dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and rebellion, the Lord’s coming will not be an ecstasy, but a judgment. We need to take heed to the Lord’s word to watch and pray (Luke 21:36). If we are watchful, praying seekers of the Lord, His coming will be our ecstasy. This is our hope.
How much hope we have in the days to come depends upon our being built up today. If we are not built up in the Lord, we shall have very little hope. Christ is in us as the hope of glory, but even this hope is dependent upon how much we are built up. When Christ comes back, will He be your Judge or your Bridegroom? He may be a Bridegroom to others, but a Judge to you. If that is the case, as far as you are concerned, He will not be your hope of glory. Whether or not He is your hope in this respect depends upon the kind of Christian life you are living today. This is serious, and it should cause us to reconsider our ways. If our living is normal, Christ is our hope, and rapture will be an ecstasy.
At the time of rapture our body will be transfigured, and we shall be glorified. However, I say these things cautiously because of the deplorable situation among today’s Christians. By the Lord’s grace, we in the Lord’s recovery must come up to His standard and live the life that He requires. We need to be His living witnesses bearing a testimony for Him outside the camp. If we are like this, the returning Christ and our being taken up will be our hope. Furthermore, the transfiguration of our body and our glorification will also be a hope to us.
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