First Corinthians 1:24 speaks of God’s power, which is a crucial item of the divine attributes. “To those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, God’s power and God’s wisdom.” Christ crucified is God’s power. This power of God destroys Satan, judges the world, deals with sin, crucifies the fallen man, the flesh, the natural life, and the old creation, and annuls the ordinances. It is the power of crucifixion, the power of the wonderful death of Christ. This power not only deals with the negative things, but also carries out God’s plan. Whereas the divine wisdom is for God’s planning and purposing, the divine power is for carrying out what is planned and purposed by God.
Ephesians 1:19 says, “The surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength.” God’s power toward us is surpassingly great. It is according to the operation of the might of His strength. It is the power which God wrought in Christ (Eph. 1:20a). God’s power toward us is the same power which God wrought in Christ. First it has raised Christ from among the dead. This power has overcome death and Hades where the dead are held. Because of this power, death and Hades could not hold Christ (Acts 2:24).
Second, God’s great power which God wrought in Christ has seated Him at God’s right hand in the heavenlies far above all (Eph. 1:20b-21). God’s right hand, where Christ has been seated by the surpassingly great power of God, is the most honorable place, the place of supreme authority.
Third, God’s great power which God wrought in Christ has subjected all things under Christ’s feet (Eph. 1:22a). To seat Christ far above all is one thing; to subject all things under His feet is another. The former is Christ’s transcendency; the latter is the subjection of all things to Him.
Fourth, God’s great power which God wrought in Christ gave Christ to be Head over all things to the church (Eph. l:22b). The headship of Christ over all things is a gift from God to Him. It was by God’s great power that Christ received the headship in the universe.
In these verses God’s great power which God wrought in Christ, is revealed in four aspects: resurrection power, transcending power, subjecting power, and heading-up power. This fourfold power is to the church. The phrase “to the church” in verse 22 implies a transmission. Whatever Christ, the Head, has attained and obtained is now being transmitted to the church, His Body.
Actually, God’s great power which He wrought in Christ is the Triune God, who has passed through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, and who has been installed in us as the all-inclusive power. The Apostle Paul prayed that we may have a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know the surpassing greatness of this divine power. Surely we need to pray the same prayer!
Ephesians 1:19 speaks of the might of God’s strength, and Revelation 5:12 also refers to it. God has the attribute of strength as well as power. Inherently God has strength. According to M. R. Vincent, the Greek word ischuos for strength in Ephesians 1:19 and Revelation 5:12 denotes indwelling strength. It is intrinsic, not outward.
Finally, God has the attribute of might. Ephesians 1:19 speaks of “the might of His strength.” Revelation 1:6 declares, “To Him be the glory and the might forever and ever.” In Revelation 5:13 all the creatures say, “To Him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb, be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.” Jude 25 ascribes might to God, and 1 Timothy 6:16 says that to Him should be “honor and eternal might.” The Greek word for “might” (kratos) denotes manifested power. Strength is greater than might, power is greater than strength, authority is greater than power, and sovereignty is greater than authority. Our God has might, strength, power, authority, and sovereignty. All these are His attributes.
In these messages we have seen the many aspects of what God is in His person. We have also considered God’s attributes. This God is now dispensing Himself into us. This means that God with all that He is and with all that He has is being dispensed into us. The more we are under God’s dispensing, the more the divine attributes are infused into our being. While God is dispensing Himself into us, He is dispensing all that He is and has.
Let us quickly review the divine attributes: life, love, light, riches, fullness, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, prudence, faithfulness, truthfulness, simplicity, sincerity, goodness, mercy, compassion, grace, peace, joy, hope, encouragement, kindness, forbearance, longsuffering, endurance, jealousy, severity, impartiality, immortality, immutability, glory, honor, majesty, sovereignty, authority, power, strength, and might. How wonderful that these attributes are being dispensed into us! As we remain under God’s dispensing day by day, His attributes will be dispensed and infused into us. After God’s attributes have been dispensed and infused into us, they will all become our virtues.
In this message we shall consider:
Ephesians 1:5 says, “Having predestinated us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:9 goes on to say, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” God has a will in which is His good pleasure. This good pleasure is the desire of His heart. God’s good pleasure is the delight of His heart.
God’s good pleasure, God’s heart’s desire, is to have many sons. God has predestinated us, marked us out beforehand, that is, before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), unto a certain destiny. The destiny of God’s marking us out beforehand is sonship. The goal of God’s predestination is to have many sons. This is God’s heart’s desire and is emphatically revealed in the book of Romans.
The central thought of the book of Romans is that God’s salvation makes sinners His sons with His life and nature to express Him so that they may become constituents of the Body of Christ for His expression.
Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” The Spirit’s leading in our daily life is a sign that we are the sons of God. As sons of God, we have God’s life and nature. The Spirit’s leading always corresponds with God’s life and nature to prove that we are sons of God.
Romans 8:15 says, “You have not received a spirit of slavery to fear again, but you have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father.” As sons of God, we cry, “Abba, Father.” Through the dispensing of the Triune God, we have truly become God’s sons in life; hence, we can call Him, “Abba, Father.” As sons of God, we have within us the life of God, the nature of God, and the Spirit of the Son of God.
Romans 8:29 goes on to say, “Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the Firstborn among many brothers.” In the initial stage we are children of God (Rom. 8:16). In the advanced stage we are sons of God (Rom. 8:14). Romans 8:29 does not say that we shall be conformed to the image of the children of God; it says that we shall be conformed to the image of the Son of God. Through the process of conformation, the firstborn Son of God, Jesus Christ, will have many brothers. As the Son of God, Christ was the unique, only begotten Son. Now through His incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, He has become the firstborn Son of God, and the many sons of God, who are His brothers, are being conformed to His image.
In Romans 1:4 the Firstborn of God is designated, but in 8:29 the many sons of God are conformed. The designation of the Firstborn of God is the work on the prototype; the conformation of the many sons of God is the work of mass production. Having gained the prototype, God is now seeking to have the mass production in order to produce many sons in the image of the Firstborn.
God’s goal according to His good pleasure, the desire of His heart, is to produce many sons. This goal of producing many sons of God requires redemption, the imparting of life, and the living by this life so that they may be regenerated, transformed, and conformed to the image of the Firstborn of God. God uses His firstborn Son as a prototype, a model, a pattern, to produce many sons. Thus, God’s only begotten Son has become the Firstborn among many brothers. This is the issue of the dispensing of the Triune God into us.
Hebrews 2:10 says that God is “leading many sons into glory.” The many sons here are the many brothers in Romans 8:29. The last step of God’s great salvation is to bring His many sons into glory. Romans 8 tells us that God’s work of grace upon us began with His foreknowing through His predestination, calling, and justification and will end with His glorification (vv. 29-30). Romans 8 also says that the whole creation eagerly expects the revelation, the glorification, of the sons of God, hoping that the creation itself will enter into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (vv. 19-21). This will take place at the Lord’s coming back, at which time we shall appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). This glorification of the sons of God, as the goal of God’s salvation, will last through the millennial kingdom and will be manifested in full in the New Jerusalem for eternity (Rev. 21:11, 23).
The Triune God is still working today to bring His many sons into glory. We are sons of God, but we are not yet in glory. One day we shall all be in glory. That will be the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23). Our body has not yet been redeemed, but one day it will be transfigured into a glorious body (Phil. 3:21). This redemption of our body is our full sonship.
Revelation 21:7 says, “He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be God to him, and he shall be a son to Me.” This speaks of the sons of God in eternity in the New Jerusalem. Here “overcomes” means to overcome by believing, as in 1 John 5:4 and 5. This overcoming qualifies all believers to participate in the New Jerusalem with all its enjoyment as a common portion of God’s eternal salvation for His sons. Actually, the sons of God in the New Jerusalem will be the constituents of the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem will be a composition of all the regenerated sons of God to fulfill the desire of God’s heart.
It is God’s good pleasure, the desire of His heart, to have many sons for the expression of His Son. As we have seen, Romans 8:29 says that God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son. To have us conformed to the image of His Son is for the expression of His Son. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” This corresponds with Romans 8:29 that we, the sons of God, should be transformed and conformed to the image of the Son of God to express Him. In Philippians 1:20, the Apostle Paul, one of God’s many sons, says that Christ shall be magnified in his body, whether through life or through death. This is to express the Son of God. In Philippians 1:21 Paul continues to say, “To me to live is Christ.” Paul’s life was one that expressed Christ the Son of God. First John 3:2 says, “If He is manifested, we shall be like Him.” To be like the Lord is also to express the Son of God. According to God’s desire and His plan, we, as the sons of God, should express His Son today, and we are destined to express His Son at the coming of His Son.
Concerning the expression of the Son of God, Ephesians 1:23 indicates that His Body is the fullness of the One who fills all in all. This fullness is the expression of Christ the Son of God. Christ, who is the embodiment of the infinite God without any limitation, is so great that He fills all things in all things. Such a great Christ needs the Body, constituted of the many sons of God, for His complete expression. As the expression of the unsearchably rich Christ, the church is the unlimited expression of the unlimited Christ. The church is the fullness of Christ, who is Himself the embodiment of the fullness of God (Col. 2:9). It is God’s desire that the church today be such an expression of Christ, His Son. Eventually in Revelation 21 the New Jerusalem, which is the composition of all the sons of God (Rev. 21:7) and the consummation of the church, will be a corporate expression of Christ the Son of God, who will be the temple within the holy city and the lamp to shine out through the city (vv. 22-23).
God desires to have many sons for the expression of His Son so that He may be expressed in the Son through the Spirit. Through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, the firstborn Son of God, God has produced millions of sons. These sons are for the expression of His Son. God’s desire is to have many sons to express His Son, who is now the Firstborn among many brothers. When this Son is expressed, God is expressed in the Son through the Spirit.
Paul refers to the expression of God in Ephesians 3:19 when he speaks of our being “filled unto all the fullness of God.” The fullness of God here is the corporate expression of God by the church. To be filled unto all the fullness of God is to be filled with the result that we, as the church, become the corporate expression of God. In Ephesians 3 Paul prayed that the Father would strengthen us with power through His Spirit into our inner man so that Christ might make His home in our hearts and that we might know Christ’s dimensions—the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth—that we might be filled unto, resulting in, the fullness of God, which is His corporate expression, the church.
In Ephesians 3:19 we have the expression of God, and in Ephesians 3:16 we have a word concerning the Spirit. God’s many sons are the expression of His Son so that God Himself may be expressed in the Son through the Spirit. This is God’s good pleasure, His heart’s desire.
For God to be expressed in the Son through the Spirit needs God’s dispensing of Himself into His chosen people to produce a corporate expression. In Ephesians 3 the Father answers and fulfills the apostle’s prayer through the Spirit that Christ the Son may make His home in our hearts. As a result, we are filled unto the fullness of God. This is the dispensing of the Triune God into our being for His corporate expression. This expression is in the church today, and it will consummate in the New Jerusalem, the eternal corporate expression of the Triune God.
God desires to dispense Himself into His chosen people for the producing of the church so that He may be expressed in a corporate way. We have seen the many aspects of God’s person and the items of His attributes. All the aspects of God’s person and all the items of His attributes are the ingredients of God as our food to be dispensed into our being.