Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The church is the expression of Christ. It is not the expression of such things as doctrine, gifts, or power. Nevertheless, subconsciously or unconsciously, many think that the church should be characterized by the manifestation of spiritual gifts. Some believe that whenever Christians meet together there should be the exercise and demonstration of the so-called charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, the book of Ephesians, a book on the church, does not mention this kind of gift. There is not a word in this Epistle about speaking in tongues or healing. When Paul speaks of gifts in Ephesians 4, he is referring to persons who are made gifts to the Body. For example, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers are gifts. As we have pointed out elsewhere, every member of the Body is a gift to the church. Hence, in Ephesians a gift is not what we have or what we do; it is what we are. To be such a gift is to be constituted with Christ as life. This causes our very being to become a gift to the Body.
We thank the Lord for the many Christians who have been helped through the experience of charismatic gifts. However, we cannot agree with the claim that all Christians will become one if they have certain charismatic experiences. According to my experience and observation, those who emphasize the Pentecostal or charismatic experiences are the most divisive. The more certain believers exercise their spiritual gifts, the more individualistic and divisive they become. This is the reason that there have been so many divisions among those who stress spiritual gifts. In Christian meetings they may not care much for the edification of others, but care primarily for the manifestation of their own gifts. Some excuse their individualism by saying that they take heed only to God, not to man, and claiming that everything they do is of the Spirit’s inspiration.
In 1:22 and 23 Paul indicates that the church is the Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. The church is the fullness of Christ. In 3:8 Paul says that he preached the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Paul does not say here that he preached doctrine or gifts.) We need to know the difference between the riches of Christ and the fullness of Christ. Most Christians confuse these terms, thinking that the riches of Christ are the same as the fullness of Christ.
In chapter three Paul goes on to speak of Christ making His home in our heart, with the result that we are filled unto all the fullness of God. Furthermore, in 4:13 he says that we need to arrive “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” In 5:18 he says that we should be filled in our spirit. Surely this is related to being filled unto all the fullness of God. Such a filling takes place in our spirit, not in the mind. In 5:18 Paul is not saying that we are filled with the Holy Spirit; he is emphasizing the fact that we need to be filled in our spirit, even filled unto all the fullness of God.
In 5:18 Paul presents a contrast between being drunk with wine and being filled in spirit. To be drunk with wine is to be filled in the body, whereas to be filled in our regenerated spirit is to be filled with Christ unto all the fullness of God. To be drunk with wine in the body causes us to be dissipated, but to be filled with Christ, the fullness of God, causes us to overflow with Him in speaking, singing, psalming, and giving thanks to God (vv. 19-20) and to subject ourselves one to another (v. 21). How important it is for us to be filled in spirit unto all the fullness of God!
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