Exploring God's Amazing Word
18 Bible Studies on Positive Living in Christ.
The Word is amazing in its effect upon humanity. Lives have been changed as its truths have been applied. You will be inspired to see yourself as blessed with Heaven's best. Word studies, topical studies, expository studies. How far do you want to go with God's Word? 180 pages. IN STOCK.
You can save this page as a text file from your browser (File / Save As) and read it off-line. It is about 19K.
Ephesians: God's General Purpose
by F.E. Marsh (Part One)
Johnson once said to his friend Boswell: "Sir, you have two subjects -- yourself and myself -- and I am sick of both." The best of men soon tire of the best in man. Not so with Christ. He is the same, yesterday, to-day and forever, without any sameness. He is always fresh. There are infinite resources in Him, therefore, He can ever satisfy the need of the finite. This is brought out in Ephesians, this wonderful Epistle of Divine riches. Everything is summarized and summed up "in Christ" Himself.
Renan calls this Epistle "a third-rate composition!" Of such a statement we say, "It is low-rate impudence." We agree with Samuel Taylor Coleridge when he calls the Epistle "one of the Divinest compositions of men." Even this commendation is deficient: I would rather speak of the Epistle as the Divine unfolding of God Himself in the Man of men. Huxley, on one occasion, in looking at the evolution of a minute form of life under the microscope, spoke of "The Unseen Worker." As we take this Epistle and ponder it in its Divine unfolding, we see the perfect plan of the Divine Worker, God Himself, for it is essentially and distinctly a revelation of the Divine. The sweep of the Epistle contains seven Divine things, namely --
The first two verses of the Epistle embody the salutation, then comes the unfolding of the counsels relating to the Divine purpose in Christ in connection with the redeemed.
- I. The Divine Purpose (1:3-14).
- II. The Divine Power (1:15--2:22).
- III. The Divine Proclamation (3:1-13).
- IV. The Divine Presence (3:14-21).
- V. The Divine Provision (4:1-16).
- VI. The Divine Pattern (4:17--6:9).
- VII. The Divine Panoply (6:10-20).
There are three points to ponder -- the Centralizer, the Centralization, and the Centralized.
Hence we read of --
Not in the national blessing of Israel, not in the doom of the world, not in the many-headed monster of mystified twentieth century development, but "in Christ."
- His blessing us with all spiritual blessing (verse 3).
- His choice of us before Creation (verse 4).
- His placing us before Himself" without blemish"(verse 4 R.V.).
- His foreordination of us to Himself in adoption as His children (verse 5). This refers to place, and not to nature.
- His sovereign act in doing all according to His good pleasure (verse 5).
- His enhancing of His glory through His grace (verses 6, 12).
- His bestowment of grace "in the Beloved" (verse 6, R.V.).
- His redemptive act by means of Christ's blood (verse 7).
- His wisdom made known in His actions (verse 8).
- His will unfolded in His revealed secret (verse 9).
- His goal in summing all up in the Christ (verse 10, R.V.).
- His mind revealed in our association with Christ (verse 11).
- His sealing with the Spirit in claiming us as His own (verse 13).
- His possession of the redeemed and their glory (verse 14).
- In the Christ of Deity -- "Lord" (verse 2).
- In the Christ of Calvary -- "His Blood" (verse 7).
- In the Christ of Sonship "by Jesus Christ" (verse 5).
- In the Christ of the heavenly places (verse 3).
- In the Christ of God's Purpose (verse 10).
- In the Christ of the Holy Spirit (verse 13).
- In the Christ of the coming glory (verse 14).
- All blessing is in Him, and in no one else beside.
All this makes known to us the sovereignty of God's grace in blessing us. A lady once objected to the truth of election, to a servant of God. He advised her to read the 5th, 6th, and 17th chapters of John, where the words "elect" and "election" do not occur. He said to her, "And have you chosen Him, or do you think Christ has chosen you?"
- "Saints" as to standing (verse 1).
- "Faithful" as to service (verse 1).
- "Blessed" as to enrichment (verse 3).
- "Children" as to relationship (verse 5).
- "Accepted" as to position (verse 6).
- "Redeemed" as to liberty (verse 7).
- "Sealed" as to possession (verse 13).
"Yes, He has chosen me, and I have chosen Him."
"If you chose Him first," he rejoined, "you make your self to differ, and salvation is of works: if the Divine choice was first, your choice of Christ was the effect of it, and salvation is of grace."
The Divine power is demonstrated in two ways: First, in the resurrection of Christ from the dead; and, second, in the salvation of the believer.
Christ's Resurrection (1:18-20). There are three "what's" of meanful importance which the Spirit's illumination enables us to see: --
"What is the hope of His calling."
"What is the riches of the glory of His inheritance."
"What is the greatness of His power."
"The Hope of His calling" is what He will have when the Lord has accomplished all His purpose.
"The riches of His inheritance" is what the Lord has in His people.
And "the greatness of His power" is what He demonstrated in Christ's resurrection on our behalf, and what He can do for us, and in us.
The sweep and substance of that power is apprehended as we ponder the seven words -- "Power," "Greatness," "Exceeding," "Power," "Mighty," "Working," "Wrought."
The Divine power which raised Christ from the dead is the same which operates in the believer's salvation, for no other power can meet the case. Chapter 2 opens with the significant words, "And you." If the italicised words are left out -- "hath He quickened" -- it will give clearness to the thought, that as the dead body of Christ was quickened by the powerful act of God, so that same power is needed to quicken from the death of sin. Rotherham renders it, "Unto you also." What the Lord has wrought for us is brought out or suggested in chapter 2 if we ponder what we were and what we are.
- "Power." The first word rendered "power "in verse 19 signifies power as an inherent quality, and then the manifestation of power in action. Power is latent in the inactive dynamite, but its power is patent when it explodes and rends the massive rock. Power was latent in Christ before the woman touched the hem of His garment, but it was patent in her, when it flowed from Him into her, and healed her of her disease. The word "virtue "in Luke 8:46 is the same as rendered "power"in Eph. 1:19.
- "Greatness." This word only occurs here, but it is derived from a word which signifies magnitude and magnificence, hence we read of "The Great God," "The Great High Priest," and "The Great Shepherd."
- "Exceeding." This is a compound word, one part meaning that which is over and above something else, and the other part meaning to throw, hence the word means to go beyond a given point.
- "Power." The second word in verse 19 denotes the manifestation of power, as when we read, "He shewed strength with His arm."
- "Mighty" expresses inherent power. We speak of a statesman as being "wise," a soldier as being "valiant," and a powerful person as being "strong." Personal force and ability is meant.
- "Working" and "Wrought." These words come from one and the same source. They denote right and might, with the added thought of efficiency.
||What we were...
Separated from God -- "dead".
Walking after the world.
Dominated by Satan.
Children of disobedience.
Living after the flesh.
Children of wrath.
|What we are... |
Walking in Love.
United to Christ.
Children of God.
Indwelt by the Spirit.
Saved by Grace.
Habitation of God.
Access to the Father.
Household of Faith.
| || ||
The Apostle was in no doubt as to his message and the power which was behind him to make it effectual. His topic was Christ. The best kind of preacher is the one who preaches Christ, and the one through whom Christ preaches. One friend once asked another, "Where can I hear a good sermon?" The friend in reply said, "There are two preachers whom you might hear. The first will give you an eloquent sermon, and will make you conscious of his ability; and the second will put himself in the background, and you will see his Master alone." "Let us go and hear the latter," was the immediate reply.|
There are seven things in relation to the Divine Proclamation --
There are seven things about the presence of the Holy One --
- Commission, or Divine Appointment (verse 2). The word "dispensation" should be "stewardship." It is so rendered in Luke 16:2-4. A steward is one who is put in trust, and stewardship is the designation of his office.
- Revelation, or Divine Communication (verses 3-6). The words "revelation" and "revealed" indicate the making known of what could not be apprehended by any research of man. Revelation takes us beyond the realm of natural reason, and shuts out all human speculation.
- Construction, or Divine Creation (verse 7). The word is rendered "made" and "become" in John 1:3,12, in referring to Christ's creative acts and God's acts of grace in constituting believers His children. The minister who is made is the minister who makes.
- Proclamation, or Divine riches (verse 8). The theme of the preacher is the "unsearchable riches" of Christ. The word "unsearchable" is rendered "past finding out" in Rom. 11:33, and points to the labyrinthine wealth and the untrackable and boundless resources there are in Christ. He is richer than the richest, higher than the highest, greater than the greatest, deeper than the deepest, and better than the best.
- Illumination, or Divine Light (verse 9). The word translated "to make see" means to shed rays, to shine all around, thus to illuminate. The word is rendered "light" in speaking of a lighted candle in Luke 11: 36, and "enlightened" in Eph. 1:18. The natural man is blinded by sin and unbelief, and it is the business of the spiritual man to give spiritual light through the operation of the Illuminator acting in and through him.
- Demonstration, or Divine Reflection (verses 10-13). The Church (God's called out assembly -- called out from the world to Himself) is the object of Heaven's "principalities and powers." They find their attention arrested and their admiration excited as they study "the manifold wisdom of God" displayed in the redeemed. The word "manifold" means many and varied, and much variegated, multifarious.
- Exhibition, or Divine Working (verse 7). The man who is made is the man who makes, hence we read of the "effectual working" of God's power through him, for that power is the effectiveness of his making. The words rendered "worketh" and "effectual working" occur seven times in Ephesians, and is translated "worketh" in 1:11, 2:2, 3:20; "working" in 1:19; "wrought" in 1:20; and "effectual working" in 3:7 and 4:16.
- It is Profound in its Nature. The three persons of the Godhead are seen in the activities of grace, hence the "Father" is granting His grace; the Spirit is strengthening in His power (verse 16); and the Christ is dwelling in the heart of His love.
- This Presence is Permanent in its Dwelling (verse 17). The meaning of the word to "dwell" is to make one's home. Christ is no lodger, He is the Permanent Occupier of the house of the believer's inner nature.
- This Presence is Definite in its Purpose. Christ's indwelling is "that we may be rooted and grounded in love." Rooted like a tree, firmly; and grounded like a building, securely. The soil in which we are to grow, and the base on which we ground, is the love of God in Christ.
- This Presence is Centralising in its Attraction (verse 18). The centre around which believers gather is Christ Himself when He indwells them, for they have a mutuality of interest in seeking to apprehend Him in the "breadth" of His love, in the "length" of His service, in the "depth" of His suffering, and in the "height" of His glory.
- This Presence is Satisfying in its Knowledge. To know the love of Christ means to have an anchor to hold, a joy to thrill, a power to move, a sap to fructify, a foundation to uphold, a rule to guide, and a fulness to satisfy. To be "filled with the fulness of God" is an impossibility, but to be filled "unto "or into it, as an empty vessel may be dropped into a tub of water, is what is meant, then we are filled full to our satisfaction, and filled all around for our protection.
- This Presence is Unlimited in its Blessing (verse 20). There is a pyramid of thought in this verse on answered prayer --
"All we ask."
"All we think."
"Above all we ask or think."
"Abundantly above all we ask."
"Exceeding abundantly above all we," etc.
The words "exceeding abundantly above" are worthy of careful analysis. The word "abundantly" means "beyond measure" and "overmuch, " and is so rendered in Mark 6:5 and II Cor. 2:7. "Exceeding" means what is "beyond measure" and beyond measure; and "above" means what is beyond what is beyond measure and what is beyond what is beyond measure. And this is not all, for this passage is an elliptical one, that is, there is something wanting yet, so God is able to do beyond what is beyond measure, and what is beyond what is beyond what is beyond measure, and what is beyond what is beyond what is beyond measure, yea, what is beyond what is beyond what is beyond what is beyond of beyond measure.
We must not forget the two "according's": what He can do for us is according to what we allow Him to do in us. If we allow Him to work unhindered in us, He can work unlimlted for us (verses 16, 20).
- His Presence is Marvellous in its Display (verse 21). All God's acts of grace to and in us are leading up to the display of His glory through us. Grace never acts with the intent of bringing glory to itself. Grace is its own glory. There is no glory so glorious as grace acting in its disinterestedness. The beauty of grace is, it loves to beautify others to its own loss and displacement, but therein its beauty and glory are enhanced.
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/
Check out our Catalog of books and CDs.