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 3:9-13. Verse 9 says, “And to bring to light what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the ages has been hidden in God, Who created all things.” God’s mystery is His hidden purpose, which is to dispense Himself into His chosen people. Hence, there is the dispensation of the mystery of God. This mystery was hidden in God from the ages (that is, from eternity) and through all past ages, but now it has been brought to light to the New Testament believers.
Verse 10 continues, “In order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies might be made known through the church the multifarious wisdom of God.” This verse speaks of God’s wisdom. Chapter one speaks of the power of God (vv. 19-20), chapter two, of the grace of God (vv. 5-8), and chapter three, of the wisdom of God. God is very wise, and the universe reveals His wisdom.
We need to see the difference between wisdom and knowledge. In Colossians 2:3 the two are mentioned together. Wisdom is both higher and deeper than knowledge. Wisdom is seen in the initiation of something, for example, in the formulation of a new invention, and knowledge is seen in the practical application. If you have only knowledge and lack wisdom, you will not be able to initiate anything nor to invent anything. God is the unique Initiator. He has initiated many things, not by His knowledge, but by His wisdom. When He comes in to apply what He has initiated, He displays His knowledge.
In our case, wisdom is in our spirit, and knowledge is in our mind. If you do not know how to get into your spirit, you may have a great deal of knowledge, but you will not have any wisdom. But if you are a person in the spirit, you will be wise. Furthermore, in your mind you will have knowledge, prudence.
Verse 10 says that through the church the multifarious wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies. These rulers and authorities are the angelic rulers and authorities, both good and evil. The passage here especially refers to the evil ones—Satan and his angels. According to the New Testament, Satan has his kingdom, his angels, and his sphere of rule. Satan’s sphere of rule is in the air and on the earth. The book of Daniel indicates that all nations on earth are under the rule of Satan in the air. Therefore, through the church God makes His wisdom known not mainly to human beings but to those rebellious angels who are the followers of God’s enemy.
Verse 8 reveals that the church is produced from the unsearchable riches of Christ. When God’s chosen people partake of and enjoy the riches of Christ, these riches constitute them the church, through which God’s multifarious wisdom is made known to the angelic rulers and authorities in the heavenlies. Hence, the church is God’s wise exhibition of all that Christ is.
Even the rebellion of Satan is within the realm of God’s wisdom. If it were not for Satan’s rebellion, God’s wisdom could not be made known in a full way. If you are a person full of wisdom, the more troubles and difficulties you have, the more wisdom you will express. But if everything related to you is peaceful and without problems, you will have no opportunity to express your wisdom. Actually, when everything is going well, there is little need of wisdom. You need trouble in order to display your wisdom.
God also needs trouble. He even needs an adversary, Satan. Few Christians realize that God actually needs Satan. Although God needs us, He needs Satan even more. When I was young, I wondered why God did not cast Satan into the lake of fire immediately when he rebelled against Him. I questioned why God gave Satan so much freedom. I also asked why God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden. If this tree had not been there, man would not have fallen. But without Satan and without the tree of knowledge, God’s wisdom cannot be fully manifested. Satan and the tree of knowledge have created many opportunities for God’s wisdom to be manifested in a multifarious way, that is, in various ways and aspects and from many angles. The Greek word translated “multifarious” indicates that God’s wisdom has many sides, aspects, and directions. Only through problems can all the aspects of God’s wisdom be manifested.
When some hear of such a word, they may be tempted to say, “Let us create more trouble for God. Let us do evil that good may come.” Never say this. If you intend to create trouble or to do evil, you may find yourself unable to do so. For example, although it is easy to stand up, it is difficult to fall purposely. We need to realize our nothingness. On our own, we cannot succeed either in being defeated or in being victorious. If you try not to be defeated, you may be defeated. But if you want to be defeated, you may find that you cannot be defeated.
Consider the example of David. With respect to Bath-sheba, David had a great failure. If God had not allowed him to fall in this matter, David could not have fallen. David’s fall gave God an opportunity to express His wisdom. Through David’s fall and repentance combined with God’s forgiveness, David gained a son, Solomon, to be the builder of the temple. Later, David fell again, this time in numbering the army of Israel. But through this second fall David acquired the site on which the temple was built. For the building of the temple there was the need for both the builder and the site. If you read the Bible with understanding, you will see that David’s falls were neither of David nor of God; they were of Satan. It was Satan who tempted David to commit immorality and to number the army of Israel. When David yielded to these temptations, Satan was pleased, convinced that he had damaged an excellent king whose heart was absolute for God. Satan, however, did not know that his temptations created opportunities for God’s wisdom to be manifested.
Whatever the enemy of God does gives God the opportunity to show forth His wisdom. If we had never been poisoned and corrupted, we would not have needed God very much, and there would have been no need for God’s salvation. The more sinful, corrupt, and damaged we are, the greater is our need for God and the more opportunity there is for God to do something for us.
In verse 10 Paul declares that God’s multifarious wisdom is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies through the church. The church is the Body of Christ, the joint-heirs, and the joint-partakers. The church is composed of those who once were ruined, corrupted, and damaged. Before we were saved, we were vipers, poisonous serpents. Furthermore, we were dead in trespasses and sins. Moreover, we were scattered and divided, utterly unable to be one. Thus, all the members of the church were in a hopeless situation. Nevertheless, God in His wisdom is able to make us the church. Now we are not only redeemed, saved, cleansed, freed, liberated, and regenerated—we are also united. We are one with God and with one another. Therefore, we are the church.
The church is God’s greatest boast. Although you may not care that much for the church, God cares very much for the church. Sometimes God may say, “Look, Satan, I have taken the very people whom you have ruined and I have made them into the church. Do you have the wisdom to do such a thing? You do not have this wisdom, but I have it.”
After God had created man and had put him into the garden, Satan came in to intervene, convinced that the best way to ruin the man created by God for Himself was to inject his own evil nature into him. At the time of the fall, Satan as sin entered into man and, in many respects, caused man to be the same as he is. For this reason the Bible refers to fallen men as the offspring of vipers. Having come into man as sin, Satan has made himself one with man and has transmuted man’s body into the flesh. But one day God became flesh (John 1:14). Eventually, Satan caused this One who had become flesh to be crucified. Firstly Satan instigated Judas to betray the Lord Jesus, and secondly he stirred up the Jews and the Gentiles to cooperate in crucifying Him. What Satan did not realize, however, was that in putting this One on the cross, he was actually crucifying himself. As Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children have partaken of blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the Devil.” Through His own death on the cross, the Lord Jesus destroyed Satan. What a display of God’s marvelous wisdom! This is one aspect of God’s wisdom.
Another aspect of God’s wisdom is revealed in 1 Corinthians 1. In this chapter Paul says that the Greeks, the philosophical people, seek wisdom. However, to us, the ones called by God and those who believe in the Lord Jesus, wisdom is Christ. Christ is God’s wisdom. First Corinthians 1:30 says that it is of God that we are in Christ Jesus. For us to be in Christ is the wisdom of God. I cannot explain how God put us in Christ. Nevertheless, I have the deep conviction and assurance that we are in Christ. Praise the Lord that we are all in Him! In His wisdom God has put us in Christ.
According to 1 Corinthians 1:30, Christ is our wisdom with respect to righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. As our righteousness, Christ has dealt with our past, which was altogether unrighteous. For our present situation, Christ is our sanctification, and for the future, He is our redemption. One day our body will be redeemed, that is, transfigured. For Christ to be our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption requires much wisdom on God’s part. Although Christ is our righteousness for the past, our sanctification for the present, and our redemption for the future, He is also our daily righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
In order to understand this adequately, we need to see the full scope of God’s economy. After the creation and the fall of man, God became flesh through incarnation. Then the Lord Jesus went to the cross and there crucified the flesh. After passing through death and resurrection, He ascended into the heavens, then descended, and entered into us as the life-giving Spirit in order to enliven our deadened spirit and to regenerate us. Having regenerated us, He now dwells in our spirit as life. In this life, the divine life, we have the law of life, the sense of life, and the fellowship of life. The Lord, however, is not only life to us; He is also the anointing within us. Furthermore, He is daily sealing us, saturating us, anointing us, and permeating us. As this takes place, we spontaneously live Him, and He becomes our righteousness. This is God’s wisdom. Because of His wisdom God can boast to Satan of what He has done with corrupted and ruined man. Have you ever realized that what we are as believers today is of God’s wisdom? Only God has the wisdom to initiate such a wonderful thing, to make sinful and corrupted people the members of Christ.
Through the work of the Spirit of life, a change is taking place in our very nature. It is a metabolic change, a change that sanctifies and transforms us. Thus, Christ is not only our righteousness, but also our sanctification. Furthermore, we are daily being redeemed, and eventually we shall be glorified. Christ is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, not only in an objective way, but in a very subjective way, in the way of mingling and changing us metabolically. All this is a testimony to God’s multifarious wisdom. Many aspects of God’s wisdom are manifested in His making Christ our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Our experience of Christ in these matters is according to God’s manifold wisdom.
The church through which God’s wisdom is so marvelously displayed is God’s masterpiece. In the eyes of God the most wonderful thing in the universe is the church, for through the church God’s multifarious wisdom is made known to Satan and his angels. The day is coming when Satan and his angels will be put to shame. They will realize that everything they have done has given God the opportunity to manifest His wisdom. In the same principle, our failures, mistakes, defeats, and wrongdoings have also given God opportunities to display His wisdom. None of us likes to be mistaken; on the contrary, we all want to be right. Although I have always intended to do the right thing, I have nevertheless made many mistakes, even some big mistakes. I certainly hate these mistakes, but I can testify that they have afforded God the opportunity to show forth His wisdom. Therefore, I can thank the Lord for all my mistakes.
If we review our past, we shall realize that we have received more grace through our mistakes than through the things we have done without any mistake. Although I have made some major mistakes, through them I have received much mercy and grace. It seems as if the amount of mercy and grace received has been in proportion to the seriousness of the mistakes. Hallelujah, we are God’s chosen people, and even through our failures He manifests His multifarious wisdom! However, we should not intentionally try to fail in order to receive God’s mercy and grace.
Verse 11 says, “According to the purpose of the ages which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The purpose of the ages is the purpose of eternity, the eternal purpose, the eternal plan of God made in eternity past. It was made in Christ with a threefold intention for God’s glory, for the blessing of God’s chosen people, and for the shame of God’s enemy. The main intention of God’s purpose is to glorify God, to express Him through His chosen people. This is the greatest blessing to us. In this God’s enemy is shamed to the uttermost.
Verse 12 continues, “In Whom we have boldness and access in confidence through the faith of Him.” In Christ we have access, entry, not only to approach God, but also to partake of His New Testament economy. Through the faith of Christ, we have such access with boldness in confidence to enjoy God and His eternal plan. We have boldness in Christ, we have access to God, we have confidence in God’s purpose, and we also have the glory in the apostle’s afflictions (v. 13).
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