Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
God’s eternal purpose is to have the church. His purpose is not just to create man, to rescue him from his fallen condition, and to bring him to heaven. Furthermore, God’s purpose is not simply to have us be holy, spiritual, and victorious. Creation, salvation, sanctification, spirituality, and victory are all part of God’s procedure to reach His goal, but they are not the goal itself.
In order to share in the recovery of the proper church life, we need to see what God’s purpose was in the beginning. We need to understand that there are three different beginnings. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word.” The beginning here is the beginning in eternity. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Heb.). In this verse the beginning denotes the time of creation. Finally, the beginning also refers to the start of the church life. Therefore, to go back to the beginning is to go back to the beginning in eternity, to the beginning in God’s creation, or to the beginning of the church.
The book of Ephesians reveals that the church came into existence according to the eternal purpose which God purposed in Christ. Ephesians 3:11 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. This is the purpose made by God in eternity past for eternity future. God is a God of purpose. Before creation, before the foundation of the world, He made a plan. This plan is the purpose of the ages, or the eternal purpose.
In 1:9 Paul says, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” This verse also speaks of God’s purpose, but here Paul uses the word purpose as a verb instead of as a noun. A good pleasure according to God’s will has been purposed by God in Himself. This will which He has purposed is a mystery. It was hidden in God; it was not revealed to the saints in the Old Testament. In 1:11 Paul also speaks of God’s purpose: “In Whom also we were 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 purpose in these verses refers to what God planned in the beginning, in eternity past.
In the beginning God planned to have the church. The Bible definitely reveals that this is God’s intention. God created the heavens, the earth, and billions of items because He desired to have the church. The first two chapters of Genesis are apparently a record of God’s creation. Actually these chapters reveal God’s intention. The minerals are for the plants, the plants are for the animals, the animals are for man, and man is for God. In other words, all things are for us, and we are for God in order that He may fulfill His desire to have the church. Therefore, God created all things so that He could have the church.
Furthermore, God’s redemption, regeneration, and calling are also for the church. God accomplished redemption so He could have the church. He also came to you, called you, and regenerated you for the church. Moreover, He dwells in you today for the sake of the church.
Now we come to the crucial and difficult matter of giving a definition of the church. The church may be called a hybrid, because it is one entity produced by the mingling together of two lives. The two lives that are mingled to produce the church are the divine life and the human life. Therefore, the church is an entity constituted not just of the divine life or merely of the human life, but of the divine-human life. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He lived a divine-human life. The church also has a divine-human life. We thank the Lord that although this has been hidden from the saints for centuries, He has revealed it to us in His recovery.
It is vital to see that the church is a hybrid produced by the mingling of the divine life with the human life. God desires to dispense Himself into man and to work Himself into man. In his book, The Spirit of Christ, Andrew Murray says that the divine life is interwoven with the human life. Although interwoven is a very good term, it is still not adequate. The divine life is not only interwoven with the human life, but the divine life and the human life are mingled to form one entity. Paul’s word in Galatians 2:20 illustrates this. Here he says, “I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gk.). Paul says that it is he who lives; yet it is not he, but Christ. This indicates the mingling of Christ with Paul. The church is the product of such a mingling.
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