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Part One: THE WEALTH OF THE CHRISTIAN
(continued) by Ruth Paxson
8. The Wealth Revealed
Paul in one breath, as it were, has proclaimed the wonderful message of redemption according to the riches of His grace. He has told it out; now he must pray it in. So without laying down his pen, -- for Paul has only begun to tell of the unsearchable riches of Christ, -- he prays. His prayer is for those who already belong to the company of saints through faith in the Lord Jesus (1:15). He asks that through divine revelation they may know what Christ possesses in them and what they possess in Christ.
As he prays with his mind steadfastly fixed upon the Saviour in whom he personally had found such immeasurable wealth, his thought goes up, up, up, until it is quite out of the realm of earth and reaches the highest heavenly heights of revealed truth about Christ and His Church.
This, then, is a prayer that we, too, should pray for ourselves and for all saints (6:18). So let us enter with reverent hearts into a study of this inspired prayer.
|Christ||seated in the heavenlies.|
exalted far above all.
|Head of the Church.|
Lord of the Universe.
|Christ --||The fulness of the Church.||Church -- the Fulness of Christ.|
This word links 1:4-14 with 1:15-23. The prayer is not a parenthesis, but is closely connected with what has gone before. Paul seems to be thinking aloud: I have written what the triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, have done to redeem you. But oh! do you grasp the full scope of it? Do you truly appreciate how precious and priceless is your inheritance in Christ? I know of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love unto all the saints, which proves that you not only have life in Him, but even a measure of abundant life; yet I long for you to have a full knowledge of Christ that you may know all that you possess in Him: and that your potential riches may be made personal and actual. "Wherefore I pray."
1: 17. "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened."
We have the revelation of the Spirit in the Word, but we must also have the Spirit of revelation in our hearts. The same Spirit who indited the Scriptures must illumine them if we are to have spiritual apprehension, for no human intellect can apprehend spiritual things unaided. So Paul prays.
"That God may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation." This was not a prayer for the bestowal of the initial gift of the Spirit, for He was already theirs. Now, as the indwelling Spirit, He was to function as their Teacher and Revealer.
There is amazing ignorance among us Christians of our unsearchable riches in Christ, and tremendous need of supernatural light to be shed upon the Word as we study it, that the nuggets of gold contained in every part may be found. We all need this Spirit of revelation made ours by prayer. But it is not enough merely to find the gold; it must be mined if it is to be of practical use. The heavenly principles revealed must be inwrought into experience. To transmute this heavenly truth into our earthly life, we need the divine operation of the Spirit of wisdom. What the Spirit of revelation makes objective, the Spirit of wisdom makes subjective
"In the full knowledge of him." The prayer is restricted in its range. Paul is not praying that the saints may be made intelligent students of truth in general, or even of particular segments of truth. There are Christians who have made a special study of the Lord's Second Coming who have never yet clearly grasped the essential truths nor richly appropriated the blessings of His first coming. A minister of the Gospel for seventeen years, who ardently preached on the millennium, declared before a Conference assembly that he had known almost nothing of the truth about the Holy Spirit, and had at that Conference received the fulness of the Spirit for the first time. It is one thing to be conversant with Bible themes; yet quite another to have full knowledge of the theme of the Bible -- the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is for just this that Paul prays.
They already knew Christ, but it was for a deeper, growing knowledge that Paul prayed; for a thorough versus a superficial understanding; for a heart versus a head knowledge. Paul could never be content to have his converts know only the elementary principles of salvation. Now that they were in Christ he longed to see them grow up into Christ in all things (4:15). Having received Christ into their hearts as Saviour by faith (1: 13), he prayed that Christ might dwell there in full possession and become the very Life of their life (3:17).
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened." Paul prays that their innermost being might be flooded with light. So far the petitions have been preparatory. The real subject and scope of the prayer is for spiritual apprehension of the three "whats" of the following petition:
1:18, 19. "That ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe."
"What -- the hope of his calling"
God has called the Church to be Christ's Body, the fulness of Christ, the visible part of the invisible Christ to an ungodly world. God has called the Christian, as a member of Christ's Body, to be as holy and as heavenly as Christ is.
What, then, is the hope of His calling? Hope is a word that looks to the future. It always leads our thought onward in expectation; belonging as truly to the to-morrow of time as to the eternity beyond time; having both a near and a far horizon.
For the Church it means the expectation now of steady growth unto an ever-increasing spiritual maturity reaching toward the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (4:13). What of the hope when the last chapter of the Church's life on earth is written and, God's cycle for this age having run out, the eternal morrow dawns? Oh! what a hope! The Church now sanctified becomes the Church glorified.
5:27. "That he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
For the Christian the hope means that he will be more like Christ to-morrow than he has been to-day; filled more and more unto all the fulness of God; transformed into Christ's image from moment to moment.
II Corinthians 3:18 (R.V.). "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."
One day Christ will come again to take every Christian into His immediate presence. In that eternal to-morrow there will be perfect likeness of every Christian to his Lord, for he will be glorified both in spirit and in body.
I John 3:2. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
Oh! is it any wonder that Scripture describes such a calling as high (Philippians 3:14); holy (II Timothy 1:9); and heavenly (Hebrews 3:1)? What does the hope of such a calling inspire in you? Is it glorious enough to inspire hatred of all that is of the world, the flesh and the devil? Is it attractive enough to wean you from the world with all its soul-destroying pleasures and pursuits? Is it real enough to make you loathe self that would dethrone Christ as your Lord? Is it precious enough to make you seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God? Is it strong enough to create within you the passionate desire to have Christ all and in all to you?
"What -- the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"
Could any words express more perfectly the preciousness to God of His purchased possession? Ponder the words prayerfully:
"His inheritance in the saints."
"The glory of his inheritance in the saints."
"The riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
How seldom we think of what we are to God! We so selfishly begin in our thinking with ourselves. What we can get from God rather than what we can be to God is our continued concern. But Ephesians emphasizes God's inheritance in the saints.
Someone has so well said, "God was not satisfied in possessing suns and stars; He wanted sons and saints." We are dearer to Him than all the worlds He has ever made; more precious than all His other creation. When this heaven and earth shall have passed away and a new heaven and earth shall have come, God's child, the redeemed sinner made a saint in Christ, shall abide forever.
The Church as Christ's Body and the Christian as a member of that Body are the manifestation of God's glory on earth to-day, feeble and inadequate as it is. But a day is coming -- oh! that it might be soon! -- when His heart shall be fully satisfied in His inheritance, for His glory shall be perfectly manifested in the saints. Let this incomparable truth stir within your heart a passionate desire that He may be glorified in you more fully each day until that great day dawns for which both He and we look with such fervent expectation.
Dear fellow-Christian, are you ready to give up in complete discouragement because you think of how miserably you have failed in walking worthily of so high a calling and in glorifying your Lord? Are you saying that the standard set is too high and the life required impossible? So would Paul himself have given up, and every saint since his time, if the power to live such a life were required of them.
"What -- the exceeding riches of his power to usward who believe"
Let us consider the meaning, the manifestation, and the measure of His power.
"His power" -- From the Greek word for power come the words dynamo and dynamite. The power of which God speaks here is that which is inherently His as God; a power of surpassing, incalculable greatness which reveals the full strength of His might.
"To usward" -- God would then tell us that in this wonder-working power is all that is needed for the commencement, continuance and consummation of our salvation: that it is all-sufficient for every demand made upon the saint in appropriating his wealth, in walking worthily of his high calling, and in wrestling victoriously against Satanic powers.
"Who believe." This mighty power is at the Christian's disposal upon one condition only -- that of faith. The surpassing-all-limit power of God can be limited in its working only by the believer's failure to believe. The only check that can ever be imposed upon the continuous current of His mighty power to usward is the self-imposed check of unbelief.
No true believer should ever doubt His power. All His marvelous work in creation proves His mighty power; again, it is revealed so clearly in His deliverance of the children of Israel out of the bondage of Pharaoh and out of Egypt. But what guarantee is given to the present-day Christian that in its working it is able to overcome all the counter-working of sin and death in us, and to overthrow all the powers of evil working against us? God gives an absolutely assuring answer.
"According to the working of his mighty power." The only hindrance to the continuous, active working of His mighty power in us is found within us. Back of every purpose of God is the power for its fulfillment.
"Which he wrought in Christ." It is a power tested and proven; able to work in us as it wrought in Christ.
How much power dare we depend upon to be manifested in our case? Dare we believe it will be sufficient to conquer all our foes; to break the hold of all our old sinful habits; to give deliverance from all temptations? To live above all our handicaps in environment and circumstances?
God gives the exact measurement of His power as He tells us what He wrought in Christ. The measure is foursquare and is summed up in four words: resurrection, exaltation, lordship, and headship.
1:20. "When he raised him from the dead."
Christ dead -- Christ raised. What a mighty chasm is bridged by the mighty working of God's power! Christ not dormant, as some say, but dead. Christ under the power of death and held by "the pains of death" (Acts 2:24); Christ buried in a tomb sealed with a stone "to make it as sure as ye can" (Matthew 27:65), and guarded by a watch lest "that deceiver should rise again, as he said he would." But God's mighty power in-worked in Christ to break the bonds of death. Christ arose.
This same power that wrought in Christ is to work in us who believe and in the same way. Having already in-worked to bring us out of death into life, its working will continue to make us walk in newness of life. Christ was raised as the representative Man who became the Head of a new race of men, each one of whom was to become like Himself.
1:20. "And set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." The Father welcomes His Beloved home to glory and exalts Him to the place of greatest honour and power in relation to the throne.
1:21, 22. "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet."
"Far above all." Christ was crowned Lord of all, having become victor over all human, angelic and Satanic power. He has been placed in a position of supreme authority over all created beings, which includes every rank and order of celestial hierarchy, whether good or bad.
Still further is His unique Lordship shown in the pre-eminence of His Name over the name of every created object in this age or in the age to come. How terrifying to-day are the names of even some men who seem to have an almost uncanny power which is being wielded to the hurt and death of many! How even more, the very names "Satan"; "the devil"; "the great dragon," fill us often with stultifying fear. But oh! how precious to know and to rest upon that Name that is above every name!
"Hath put all things under his feet." Christ, -- "far above all" and "all things" far beneath Him! "Hath put" -- a past tense, an accomplished fact. "All things." Let us not tone it down by our wretched unbelief to mean some things. "Under his feet," -- the place of accomplished defeat and complete subjection. Christ has become both Victor and Ruler. While the full realization of the subjection of all things to the absolute Lordship of Christ awaits His triumphal return to rule on the earth, yet in God's purpose His Son is already King of kings and Lord of lords.
|BEHOLD THE MAN||Commander of hosts of loyal angels.|
Conqueror of hosts of rebel angels.
Controller of all things.
1:22, 23. "And gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
"Gave him to be head over all things to the church." Headship gave Christ full dominion in the affairs of the Church to direct all things pertaining both to its inner life and outer activity.
"To the church" -- that company of saints chosen in Him; called out and separated from the world, the flesh and the devil; identified with Christ in His death, resurrection and ascension by which He becomes their Saviour, Lord and Life.
"His body," -- that company of saints gathered from both Jews and Gentiles; united to the Lord and to one another through reconciliation by the Cross and made one Body.
"The head -- His body" -- The Head and the Body become organically one so that each is vitally necessary to the other. All that the Head is and has in the heavenlies is the possession of the Body. And all that the Body is and has on earth is the possession of the Head.
"The fulness of him that filleth all in all." In Himself as God Christ is absolutely complete. He needs nothing added to Himself to make for perfection. "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the God head bodily" (Colossians 2:9); and out of this fulness He meets the need of the Church and of every Christian. "Ye are made full in him" (Colossians 2:10).
"The fulness of him" -- But as the God-man He is not complete without the Church. As His Body, the Church is the complement of Christ. "He would be no more complete in His resurrection glory without the Church than Adam would have been without Eve."
Thus Christ is seen to be the invisible Head of the Church in the heavenlies, while the Church is the visible Body of Christ on earth and each is the fulness of the other.
|Christ the Head||Source of Wealth|
Sufficiency for Walk
Strength in Warfare
|Fulness of Church|
|Church the Body||Filled with the Spirit|
Filled unto all fulness with God
Filled with Christ
|Fulness of Christ.|
Oh! just here will you pause for a moment to bow in silence before Him as you think of the sacred privilege and the solemn responsibility of the position and possession you have in Christ! To just what extent have you claimed Him as your fulness, and in what measure are you the complement of Him? Do you cower and collapse before human and Satanic powers, or do you conquer as one "far above all"? Do you yield in repeated defeat to discouragement and depression, or are you the victor through your unshakable confidence in the victory of your Lord and Head? Are you above or beneath your circumstances? Is the measure of your faith according to the measurement of His power?
This page Copyright © 2004 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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