Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider three aspects of well-speaking concerning God. Such a subject may be considered very unusual. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” The words “blessed” and “blessing” have the same root in Greek. The Greek word for blessed means well spoken of, praised with adoration; and the Greek word for blessing means good speech, good utterance, fine speaking, fine speech, implying bounty and benefit. Used with respect to God, this blessing is a laudation, a genuine praise, even a praise to God on the highest level. The Greek word with the basic meaning of well-speaking is the word used by the Apostle Paul in 1:3 for the praise of God. Paul uses this word to speak well concerning God, to utter fine praise, even beautiful praise, to Him. He uses it to praise, extol, and exalt God. Thus, to praise God means to speak well concerning God.
In this high praise of God, Paul did not say, “Blessed be God whose mercy endureth forever.” Many of the young people like to sing the Psalms, especially the Psalm that says, “His mercy endureth forever.” Such a praise to God is not nearly as high as that uttered by Paul in 1:3. Although we find it difficult to understand such a verse as 1:3, we can easily understand what it means for God’s mercy to endure forever because this fits in with our natural concept.
In Christianity today there are two main sources of mixture. The first is the mixture created by the Catholic Church, which has blended the New Testament economy with the Old Testament rituals. The second mixture is that made by the Pentecostal movement. The Pentecostals bring Christians back to the Old Testament praises in the Psalms. I do not, of course, condemn the Psalms, but I condemn the way of singing them that is according to the natural concept. For example, not one verse in the New Testament says that God’s mercy endures forever. Nevertheless, the Pentecostals continue to sing the Psalms according to the natural concept. I have never heard Pentecostals singing on the book of Ephesians, for to those in Pentecostalism this book is closed. In their praises there is no sense of the incarnation, no indication that God has become one with man. In order to praise God for His mercy which endures forever, there is no need of revelation. Anyone who cares for God knows that His mercy endures forever. However, it takes revelation to praise God according to Paul’s utterance in 1:3.
In 1:3 Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Since Jesus Christ is God, why does Paul speak of the God of Jesus Christ? How can God be His God? Furthermore, Paul mentions the Father of Jesus Christ. How can God have a Father? God is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man, and God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. According to His humanity, God is His God; and according to His divinity, God is His Father.
In verse 3 Paul also speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Lord Jesus Christ is ours, whatever God is to Him is also ours. Our Lord refers to the lordship of our Savior (Acts 2:36), Jesus to the man as our Savior (1 Tim. 2:5), and Christ to God’s anointed One (John 20:31).
It is absolutely correct to say that God is full of mercy and that His mercy endures forever. This is to speak well and beautifully concerning God. However, such speaking is according to the natural concept. Today we are in the heavenlies, in eternity, in God’s heart, and in God’s purpose. Thus, we should speak well of God, not according to our natural concept, but according to His revelation concerning Himself. The praise that speaks well of God’s mercy and greatness is elementary, whereas the praise in 1:3 is the praise in graduate school. In the meetings we need more of the praises that are on a higher level.
The praise in 1:3 is deep and profound, encompassing the entire New Testament economy. Here we have not only creation, indicated by the title “God,” but also incarnation, indicated by the title “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The first revelation of God in the Bible is in creation, for the Bible opens with the words, “In the beginning God created....” Following creation is the incarnation. One day God the Creator became incarnated as a man. The Word that was with God and was God became flesh (John 1:1, 14). When God Himself became a man, the God who created all things became His God. This is incarnation, not merely the greatness or mercy of God. Thus, in Ephesians 1:3 the God of our Lord Jesus Christ refers to incarnation.
God not only created, but one day He became incarnated. In the incarnation He is the Father to impart His life to all His sons. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ indicates that the Lord Jesus was a man. If He were only God, God could never be His God. In order for God to be His God, He had to be a man. The God whom the Jews worship is only the God of creation, not the God of incarnation. We today worship not only the God of creation, but also the God of incarnation and the Father of the impartation of life. The highest praise to God says that our God the Creator became a man and that our God is also the life-imparting Father. In incarnation, the God of creation became the very God of Jesus. At the same time, God is the Father of Christ as the Son of God. In Christ’s humanity, God is His God; but in His divinity, God is His Father. Before His crucifixion and resurrection, He was the only begotten Son of God, but after His resurrection He became the firstborn Son of God to produce the many sons of God. Therefore, the inspired praise of God spoken by Paul in 1:3 implies creation, incarnation, and impartation of life.
But to praise God that His mercy endures forever does not imply anything of incarnation or the impartation of life. It simply says that God is very merciful. Such praise has nothing to do with God becoming a man or with the impartation of His life. It is not related at all to the Father’s imparting His life into His creatures to make them the sons of God. For this reason, I say that the high praise in 1:3, unlike the praise of God for His enduring mercy, is on the level of graduate school.
Because Paul’s well-speaking in 1:3 is difficult to understand, he prayed elsewhere in Ephesians 1 for a spirit of wisdom and revelation. We certainly need such a spirit today. We need revelation to see, and we need wisdom to understand, realize, and comprehend. But instead of revelation and wisdom, many of us have only our natural concept. Hence, we praise God that His mercy endures forever. Instead of such elementary praise, we need to praise God according to the well-speaking in 1:3. We need to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praising Him for creation, incarnation, and the impartation of life.
Whatever God is to Christ is transmitted to us. God is His, and He is ours. God is His God and Father, and He is our Lord. In 1:22 God gave Christ to be Head over all things to the church. The little word “to” implies a transmission, indicating that whatever Christ has attained and obtained is transmitted to the church.
The title “Our Lord Jesus Christ” is rich in meaning. “Lord” signifies Christ’s lordship, “Jesus” signifies His humanity to be our Redeemer and Savior, and “Christ” signifies that He is God’s anointed One. This is a further indication that 1:3 is the top praise, the highest well-speaking of God. We all need to speak well concerning God in this way: in the way of creation, incarnation, impartation of life, and transmission, with redemption, the Redeemer, the Savior, and the anointed One to accomplish God’s eternal purpose.
When the Father in the heavens heard Paul’s high praise, He must have been very happy. He might have said, “Paul, before you spoke these words, I had never heard anyone speak well of Me in such a way. I had heard the Jews praising Me and saying that My mercy endures forever. I had also heard them praising Me for My greatness. But I have become weary with this kind of praise. But, Paul, your praise has touched My heart.” God the Father certainly understood the meaning of Paul’s well-speaking. We all need to praise God according to the high praise in 1:3.
If we know to praise God only for His mercy, we are still in a pitiful condition. This type of praise does not indicate that something of Him has come into us. Thus, we need to see that the very Creator, the God of Jesus Christ, has been incarnated as a man. He is also the life-imparting Father who imparts Himself as life into us that we may become His sons. According to John 20:17, the Lord Jesus told Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, “Go to My brothers and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” Because Christ has become ours, whatever God is to Him has been transmitted into us. This is something far greater than mercy. God is no longer merely merciful to us. He is our God and our Father; and we are His sons, not only His creatures. We are not only God’s creatures who have been created, fallen, and redeemed. We are also His sons having His life and nature within us. Thus, we are one with Him. Oh, may the Lord open our eyes to see this! We need to speak well concerning God according to the New Testament economy. In our well-speaking we need to have the thought of incarnation, the impartation of life, and the heavenly, spiritual transmission. We also need to include the thought of Christ as the Lord and the Head and of Jesus being Jehovah our Savior to accomplish redemption and salvation for us. We also need to think of Christ as God’s anointed One who fully accomplishes God’s purpose. Our well-speaking, our high praise concerning God, should not be natural, but filled with the revelation of all the wonderful aspects of God’s New Testament economy.
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