Like Saviour Like Saint. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

1Jesus was fully human. He never ceased being the fullness of the Godhead even when he was a microscopic egg fertilised by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary while she was still a virgin. However, from the moment of conception onwards He was – and still is – fully human. There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Yes indeed! There is a man in the glory. “This man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who has built the house has more honour than the house” (Hebrews 3:3). It is God that builds the house that Hebrews is talking about. The moment He ceases to be man, He ceases to be head of the church. “This man, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24). He is a man who will never die again, and lives forever in the power of an indestructible life.

 

This man became flesh like all humankind, excepting that the egg in Mary’s womb was fertilised miraculously from the direct action of the Holy Spirit. The egg became a child in the womb just like the readers and the writer of this article. He went through the bloody mess of human childbirth, just like people do.  He became a toddler. He learned how to talk, walk and make Himself understood. He grew. He developed. He learned things. Luke 2:51-52 educates us to Doctorate level about Christ’s humanity when it tells us about his growth from the age of 12 onward: “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued to be in subjection to Joseph and Mary, remaining always obedient to them. His mother was carefully storing, keeping and treasuring all these incidents and sayings in her heart. And Jesus grew and kept advancing and increasing in wisdom, grace and stature, becoming wiser and more mature, and in favour with God and all the children of men.” (My own translation cum paraphrase)

 

Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, yet he humbled Himself throughout His life as any man who submits to God would humble himself. He consciously and wilfully submitted to His mum and His supposed earthly father.  He never leaned on or exercised His omniscience, omnipotence or omnipresence throughout “the days of His flesh.” Even during and after His baptism in the Jordan and the descent of the Holy Spirit, He was human and fully identifying with fallen man.  Many in the crowd who saw Him in the Jordan with the Baptist could not tell who He was because He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” That phrase simply means that He was not shining with glory and/or heavenly light. Outwardly He looked like any other person. John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ and remain on Him. Even the son of God, deity incarnate, could not and would not preach or heal any sick person without being endued with power by the Holy Spirit. But Luke 2:51-52 above, as well as the Gospel account of what happened after His enduement with the Holy Spirit reveals to us that His actions and responses are all those of a human being finding His way through life.  There was no change made in the nature of Christ at the baptism. His entire existence since conception has never altered. He has always been and will always be totally human concurrent to Him being the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in a body. His enduement of power had the same dynamics and purpose as that of the redeemed 120 in the upper room in Acts 2. Throughout the pressures of the temptation in the wilderness, like all people, He had to bring to His mind the teachings of scripture and fight the devil armed with His faith in those inspired and inerrant words. Why would He who was God need to bring the scriptures into the fray if He was not fully human? All His quotes against Satan comprised of His own command for Satan to leave, with that command substantiated with the statement and logic of scripture. He was man, dependent on His practical knowledge of the Bible. In the gathering of many and the selection of the twelve disciples, He shows Himself as fully man in the process of decisionmaking. In the healing of the sick, as well as the wisdom He imparted to all He ministered to, the whole body of the biblical text showing His thoughts and actions leads us to conclude that His life was filled with the questions and challenges that is the lot of all humanity.

 

2My point in all this is that the Lord Jesus, living in this time space world with a linear existence needed to understand and be motivated by a sure and certain knowledge of what He was doing “tabernacling” among men, and the full purpose for which He had come. He needed to know the full details of his relationship with God His Father, and the nature and extent of the power and grace that was granted Him in order to fulfil whatever the plan and purpose for His life was. These three issues are fundamental to all human life no matter what terminology we use. The why, what and how of life comprises everything.

 

And the personal “what, why and how of life” is exactly what Paul is praying for in the last verses of Ephesians 1. For these reasons the prayer of Ephesians 1 has to be one of the most powerful sequences of thought and spiritual logic in all of the epistles. The straightforward lucidity of its content and the goals for which the apostle prays seem to this writer also to have fitted the life and motivation of the Saviour.

 

Paul told the Ephesians that he was praying that they would see clearly three things.

 

  1. 3The “why” of their life in Christ. All Christians need to know and be aware of the certain hope of what they were called to be.  I do not mean simply: “We live with God forever.” We cannot ignore that thought, but we need to have some vision of our destiny in time as well as in eternity. In plainer English, the prayer was that they would see their future destiny as plain as could be possible, both, in this life and the next, to the degree that would content and mobilise us. The clearer human beings are with their goals and their sense of destiny in this life and their reception in the embrace of Christ in the hereafter, the more productive they obviously become at whatever it is that they are called to. Paul prayed that the eyes of their understanding would be opened to see and grasp what was “the hope of their calling.” It is all about an understanding of life in Christ with a mature outlook and expectancy in the process of serving Him.

 

  1. The “what” of their life in Christ. The defining of who and what they are in Christ and the overall grasp of their relationship with God greatly pours action and strength into a person’s faith. Paul wanted the Ephesians to know what were “the riches of God’s inheritance in the saints.”  Whether that phrase refers to the pleasure that God has in those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, or whether it refers to God Himself being the riches of the Christian’s inheritance, the overriding issue is that Paul wants them to be in tranquillity of heart and peace of mind as they revel in the rock solid relationship of love and acceptance with their heavenly Father.

 

  1. Then “how” of their life in Christ. The third thing Paul prayed for was that the Ephesian Christians would know and fully understand the greatness of God’s power that was available to the believer both within their mortal frame and in the surroundings of their circumstances and pressures in this fallen world. He goes on to explain clearly that all Christians are walking in and with the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The inference is, of course, that even though they were walking in love to all people and proving their faith to the point that the population could see Christ in them, nevertheless they were living beneath their full privilege in Christ as far as the resurrection power of God was concerned.

 

4The wisdom of the prayer is startlingly perceptive. It is all about seeking the God initiated plan for each of us as individuals. It is a prayer that is asking that the joy both divine and human for all parties involved in this relationship is filled with the pleasure and long-term purpose of their mutual existence together. It is a prayer for them to see and understand the active and available resurrection power that is “running the show. It is the manifestation of the resurrection power that leads the Christian on in triumph.  The power that has fallen on the Christian, just as the dove alighted on Christ at the Jordan River, reveals a comprehensive motivational and edifying series of factors that enables a Christian to walk with God and take authority over evil. It is all there in the substance of the prayer.

These three key motivational factors that need to fill the Christian’s life, whether they aware of it or not, are basic to human existence. Even though these three factors may not be seen as succinctly and as authoritatively as Paul sees them, nevertheless they are aspects of knowledge and understanding that are basic for all Christians.  Every Christian who is truly born again should have some grasp of these three issues no matter how small. I think it is possibly because Paul understood how these three issues were vital for the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus that caused him to pray this way for the Asian church – and possibly for every Christian that he ever prayed for.

Jesus also made much of these three issues in His own life, and when they are mentioned they are not only motivational in the mind of Christ, but they comprise the very gospel that Christ preached.

The “Why?” of Christ’s life.

Jesus Christ plainly stated, and was heard to say, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). How’s that for knowing the equivalent of the hope of His calling. Some would say, “But it is Christ that does the calling!” Yes! But the Father’s will was His calling. Jesus was crystal clear and pointedly detailed in explaining why He was here. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 was asking Heavenly Father to open the eyes of the understanding of the Asian believers so that they could talk in such equally concrete language concerning the hope of their calling.

When it comes to knowing His own destiny and calling, Jesus said in the early days of His 3 years of activity, “Destroy this temple and in three days I shall raise it up.” He knew what He had come for and what He was to do. He was on a mission, the details and goal of which were clear to Him. Paul prayed for the same kind of revelation to come all Christians in Asia.

I don’t know whether it is right and sober to expect to see our future direction and mission as clear as Jesus did, but if I could see my own call and future with just a minimal of Christ’s own perception, I would consider myself blessed.

The overriding point is that Jesus knew by revelation where He was going. Do we? We can, by prayer have a taste of that kind of revelation, even if it is only a few crumbs that we taste.

He told the disciples plainly what His “end” was to be like. I put the word “end” in inverted commas simply because it is the world’s normal perception that death is the end. For the Christian, it is actually the beginning.

The resurrection was part of the intelligent revelation Jesus had to motivate His actions. He plainly said that He had power to lay His life down and then take it up again. He also said that He had to die and then return to the Father in resurrection power and that if He did not go through such experiences He would not have been free to send the Holy Spirit.

“I am come that you may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” Yes indeed! The Master knew exactly why He was amongst us and why He was sent. He definitely felt an imperative about His mission and purpose, for as a 12 year old He explained to Mary and Joseph that He had to be about His Father’s business.

5The “What?” of Christ’s life.

Jesus Christ was enveloped and clothed with the sure and certain knowledge of who and what He was. “I and my Father are one,” He said. Around the table of the last supper He was recorded as saying, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.” In John 17 Jesus talks of the glory He had with the Father previous to His incarnation. His food, He said, was just to do the will of He who sent Him. In the intimacy of His knowledge of His Heavenly Father, He was aware He had been sent.  “As my Father sent me, so I send you,” is what He declared in the upper room discourse. He knew He was sent and absolutely so.

The “How?” of Christ’s life.

By what means was He to bring into being the hope of His calling out of the riches of His inheritance in the Father? After the descent of the Holy Spirit that remained upon Him, and immediately thereafter led Him into the wilderness to be tempted, Jesus later stood up at the synagogue in Capernaum, read the opening verses of Isaiah 61 about the Spirit of the Lord being upon Him, and definitely claimed that the verse referred to Him.  His filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit was the how to the entire kingdom of God, and the entire ministry and life of Christ. Jesus said, “If I am casting out demons by the power of God, then know that the Kingdom of God has arrived among you” (Luke 11:20).

Jesus Christ was tempted in every way such as us. He never faced anybody’s crisis for healing, deliverance or the need for some prophetic guidance without having to trust in Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit to provide the means, the word, the healing and/or the insight. He never drew on His deity, that is, His pre-existent omniscience, omnipotence or omnipresence as a man in the days of His flesh prior to His death. He was fully God, but came as a man. For that reason He came to identify with us, and live fully with all the restrictions that humanity lives with.

Christ Himself knew the hope of His calling. He knew fully all the whys and wherefores of His mission.

All this is to affirm that the the desire of the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1 is relevant to all believers today, and fascinatingly enough, was a prayer for factors of life that were also relevant to Jesus Christ Himself.

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Wise, Full of Insight and Knowing God yet Paul Asks for more in their lives.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you might grow in your perfect and thorough knowledge of God.  (Ephesians 1:17)

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This verse is a suitable case for dissection and analysis. Paul lived and breathed in the realm of Holy Spirit revelation. What he was writing has been received and been declared as divine revelation for two millennia. The context of the prayer he discusses from verse seventeen through to the end of the first chapter explains a lot about His motivation and drive in the area of prayer and his logic that perceives what needs to be prayed for. This is indeed revelation of the dynamics of things in the spiritual realm. So; I suggest some sermonic bullet points and relevant explanations for the headings.

 

PAUL  ASKS

Hey! Hold on! Just a few verses earlier in this chapter, verse eight to be precise, Paul had said that God had already abounded toward them (and, as fellow Christians  it means that God has also abounded to us) in all wisdom and prudence and that He had actually made known to them and to us the mystery of His will. Now he is praying that the recipients of his letter would receive the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”  It is for this observation that many have asked; “Doesn’t that make this statement of verse 17 somewhat contradictory of what has gone before?” Not at all!

 

It is true that all true born again Christians already have the wisdom and prudence of God seeded in our spirits. These things came as part of our package deal of salvation when the Christian repented of his or her sin and exercised faith towards Jesus Christ.  Here, Paul is praying that what has already been seeded and planted in our spirits will become the dominating and ruling factor in our mental and attitudinal disposition as that seed is cultivated by the washing of water by the word and the renewing of the mind as the Christian positively engages with the word. The apostle is praying for a release and manifestation into the realm of the visible, temporal and physical world what is already present and alive in our spirit. It is that “Deep, Deeper and Deepest” principle raising its head again. There are degrees of growth, measurable levels of development that differ in us all, yet the seeding in the human heart of the Spirit of God makes a level playing field for us all to journey in.  In plain English, there is no variableness in what God gives the believing heart, but there are huge variations on the hearts of believing humanity when considering hunger and desire for more of God. What God does to and for man is absolute and uniform. Man’s response to His word however has as many degrees and variations as there are Christians who have ever lived.

 

So the apostle is asking God for something. This is interaction with God. This is a fervent seeking of a personal Divine transaction. This is a one to one, face to face exchange with the Almighty. This is the occupation in which Christians should by rights be world leaders.  Those who say they love God and believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that the Holy Spirit dwells within them should be effortlessly proving to a watching world how alive and personal God is by their dialogue with Him, the answers to prayer that they enjoy and the radiance of the light of Christ in their entire demeanour.

 

Notice that Paul does not pray that God will give them more and more temporal “things” such as affluence, physical strength, and all things visible. That is without doubt the ultimate manifestation, of the gospel in a person’s life, and indeed these things were lavishly seen in the life of the apostle Paul. There is, however, the incredibly sure and solid foundation that needs to be placed in a person’s life and faith in order to bring out such fruit, i.e. a spirit of revelation and wisdom in the knowledge of God Himself. What Christians have received in their hearts from God when they were converted needs deepening, chewing over, meditating on and absorbing.  Paul is asking that these people will have an ever-deepening experience of understanding more of their relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 

It should be made plain. The Christian life is not a continuous life long struggle to get more faith or more anointing, or to get closer to the Lord. We already have these things in their glorious fullness as per Romans 12:3.  We just need a fuller and more comprehensive revelation of what is already ours. If we could only see clearly what we have in Christ  there would be no holding any of us back. But what we have in Christ is infinite and widespread in one’s spiritual vision and constantly needs to be expanding.

 

Understanding this aspect of biblical truth takes a lot of frustration and doubt away from the hungry heart.  It is much easier to release within us something we already have than to try and attain something we don’t have. Through Christ, we are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. All we have to do is appropriate what is already ours through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-3 ). Peter also tells us the same thing when he stated that God has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. We have it absolutely, but we need more of it. It is a paradox most glorious!

 

PAUL HAS HEARD OF THE LOVE AND FAITH OF THE PEOPLE TO WHOM HE IS WRITING

Paul is not praying blindly. “Somebody I know in Asia needs prayer, Paul. Could you pray please?”  No! It is simply not that sort of general, blanket praying.  Whether we are talking of small numbers or huge crowds that need prayer, the principle is the same. Whether it is a group of twelve meeting in the catacombs somewhere, or whether it is the Christian population of thousands worshipping in  many churches in a widespread area, Paul has absorbed certain facts about the Asians (assuming it was not just the Christians in Ephesus). This facilitates and enables the apostle to  pray intelligently, prosecuting their case before the throne of God. The apostle informs us that he has heard of their faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ and love towards all of God’s people. These facts, together with anecdotal accounts of how their love and faith were being expressed induced him to unceasing thanksgiving on their behalf. He thanked God for these people because he owned them as a father to their faith. He is excited at the fruit of the gospel in their lives that has birthed such practical love. For those reasons he continually makes mention of it in his interaction with the Almighty to the end that God might give these people more of what they already are experiencing.

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PAUL KEEPS ON ASKING

Repetition and persistence are basic to a true life of prayer.  Paul continually gives thanks for their testimony, and he also continually prays for them to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  Some prayers can be uttered once and left in His almighty hand, but Jesus also encouraged us to ask and keep on asking, to knock and keep on knocking, and to seek and keep on seeking. Character is built through persistent prayer. I am not referring to vain repetitions. I am referring to diligent heartfelt faith filled prayer. Intimacy with God does not just happen, it is built. Power in prayer does not happen it is built by consistent perseverance.

 

PAUL KEEPS ON ASKING GOD

It is not that there is any virtue in the “saying of prayers”. There is a difference between “saying prayers” and “praying.” The point to be made here is that prayer is dialogue and engagement with God Himself. If it is not an exchange between God and the one praying, biblically speaking, it isn’t prayer. It isn’t the saying of a learned prayer per se. It may be a heartfelt cry of the heart that is read from a page, but it must be a confrontational eyeball to eyeball period of time with God Almighty Himself. This is how we are taught to pray in scripture. Whether it is spontaneous outbursts of words, or long rehearsed phrases, or even written prayers is a total irrelevancy. It needs to be the whole person meeting with God. The more fully we put our body, soul and spirit into engaging with him, the more fully we will see in the spirit and have things revealed.

 

PAUL ADDRESSES GOD THE FATHER IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

Prayer is approaching Heavenly Father through the mediation of Christ our Savior by the power and intimacy with the Holy Spirit. The biblical idea of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not something just to debate in the classroom or lecture hall. There are practical applications in the revealing of the Godhead. Nowhere does it impact more than in the approach of the believer to God Himself.  Paul addresses his prayer to Him who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his prayer is for manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

 

PAUL KNOWS THAT HEAVENLY FATHER IS THE SOURCE AND INTRINSIC FOUNTAIN OF ALL GLORY

With this thought, we see something that is profound in Paul’s understanding of the nature of the Character and Being that is God Almighty.  His descriptive language in verse 18 of God the Father is that He is the “Father of glory.”  He is not merely “the glorious Father,” but the Father who is the origin and infinite fountain of all that is meant by “eternal glory.”  Compare the words, “the Lord of glory,” in James 2:1 that are used concerning Christ. The verse suggests to me that the “glory” in this verse involves the thought of Christ being the true Shekinah presence of God, in whom the true glory of the Godhead shines forth and who is intrinsically within Himself the true “Glory of God.” However, no matter how beautiful and true that inference may be, its inference appears far-fetched to be applied here in Ephesians 1. Paul is referring to the Person of the Father rather than the Son. It is yet another component of the engaging issue of dividing the word correctly when considering One God yet three Persons.

 

The Father of glory, or better still “of the glory,” is a unique phrase. We have, indeed, other such phrases as “Father of Mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3), and “Father of Lights” (James 1:7). One does not necessarily need a degree in theology to unmistakably recognise that those verses are referring to our Father who is in heaven. On the other hand, “the King of Glory” in Psalm 28:5, “the God of Glory” in Acts 7:2, and, “the Lord of Glory” in 1 Corinthians 2:8 and James 2:1 are when studied  phrases where “the glory” seems certainly to be the Shekinah of God’s manifested presence, and in all cases but this one, that glory is a direct reference to Christ the Son. Nevertheless “the Father of the glory,” seems a phrase different from all these phrases referred to above.

 

I see this terminology as having a dual meaning. Firstly, that Heavenly Father is glorious and magnificent in His own person. I do not mean that Christ and the Spirit of God are not glorious, God forbid, yet I do mean that the term “the Father of Glory,” refers to Heavenly Father’s personage.  To this writer the term “glory” must mean something mysteriously visible in the “appearance” of the Father.  The visible manifestation of God as a cloud, or as fire is referred to by the Hebrew word, “Shekinah.”

 

Secondly, I also see an inference of meaning that I do not insist upon, yet I confess it also dominates my mind as I read the verse.  I see in Paul’s statement that, “the Father of glory,” is Heavenly Father being referred to as “the Father of the glory that is manifested in Christ.”  I am suggesting that the “Father of Glory” means that He is the Father of the glory of the incarnate Deity in Jesus Christ (see John 1:14).  This visible Shekinah and weight of the glory of God is, in 2 Corinthians 4:6 referred to as “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” I have noticed in reading Jewish commentaries and articles both old and new that they often identify God’s Word with the Shekinah glory of God.  The prayer that continues through to the end of this chapter quite clearly connects the knowledge of the glory of God that is part of the believer’s inheritance with the exaltation of our Lord in glory.

 

 

ZZZZZ jesus feetPAUL ASKS GOD THE FATHER FOR MORE OF GOD’S SPIRIT IN PEOPLE’S LIVES

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all seen in initiating the activity within the human heart that bursts open with Paul’s prayer, and they would be seen to be active in the divine activity of deity when Paul’s prayer is answered. Paradoxically the desire and goals of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 are the same as the reason and ground for him making the prayer.  The grounds and rationale for Paul to be bowing the knee and making the prayer is that the recipients of the letter have reportedly experienced God the Father enlightening their minds with his Holy Spirit. This has caused and motivated the people to embrace Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel message. This, in turn, leads towards a more solid understanding of their obtaining everlasting life, and the setting forth of God’s glory.   Those grounds for prayer are identical to the goal and purpose of the apostle’s intercession. It’s a dynamic circle of logic.

 

 

 

PAUL KEEPS ASKING FOR THE INCREASE OF GOD’S BLESSINGS UPON OTHERS

Wherever the reader is in God – there must be more than what you have. There is always more. God is infinite, His love and power is infinite, and I read nowhere in the Bible of a limitation set upon humankind restricting what the grace of God can do in a person’s life. Whatever blessings one has received, even when referring to the most blessed person on the planet (whoever he or she may be) there is always more. Paul the apostle is driven to earnestly pray for more in the lives of the people to whom he wrote this letter.

 

PAUL ASKS THAT THEY MAY HAVE MORE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

There are gradations in the receiving of and utility within the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the desire of this writer that he may experience an ever increasing manifestation of the Holy Spirit in his life.  There is always more of the Holy Spirit to explore, be guided by and thus to experience. The word of God and it’s revelation to the heart always has precedence over any experience.

 

PAUL ASKS FOR THEM TO RECEIVE A PARTICULAR MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We are talking of character building wisdom and revelation. Yes! There is natural growth and character development. There is natural understanding and insight. That is the sort of wisdom and understanding that comes to even the most Godless person with the passing of time. However, here we are talking of divinely imparted gifts and characteristics that are communicated by the Spirit of God. Whether this impartation of gifting comes chronologically before character, or vica verca, or whether they are both given and developed concurrently is something I will leave for the psychologists to conclude. There is one Holy Spirit, but there are many manifestations and ministrations  of that Spirit. He is, after all, omniscient, omnipotent and infinite in the variety of His own operation. Paul asks that these people be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation. That is only a narrow choice of the awesome variety of Holy Spirit manifestations. It is what is needed to build character that would be fitted to face and cope with the onslaught of persecution and physical temptation similar to that which Paul endured whilst he was in the vicinity of the folks whom this letter was sent to.

 

PAUL ASKS FOR THEM EXACTLY WHAT ISAIAH 11:2 STATES RESTED UPON MESSIAH

Isaiah 11:1-3 is an amazing description of what facilitated Christ to meet all the satanic onslaughts and temptations  that militated against Him in His life and during His passion. The NIV expresses it this way:

 

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears (Emphasis mine)

 

It is these lines that teach us that when Paul states he is praying that the readers of the Ephesian letter will receive a “spirit of wisdom and revelation,” he is clearly referring to the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Paul was using the same phrase that Isaiah used and it was clearly referring to the same person of the Holy Spirit that is referred to in the previous line. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him.” That line is self evidently referring to the Holy Spirit. The next line is dealing with an expansion of what has just been written; “The Spirit of wisdom and understanding.”

 

Paul is asking that there will be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the same manner as He was manifest in the life and dealings of Jesus Christ. This is deep and expansive praying, the results of which would have impacted the readers.

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PAUL ASKS FOR A SPIRIT OF WISDOM

Paul desires that God would give to them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of him. Despite my own explanation above that Isaiah 11:2 fully justifies Paul’s usage of the phrase as referring to the Holy Spirit, it is a fact of life that when properly received the wisdom and revelation that comes to people  seems very much to become part and parcel of the warp and woof of their character. In other words, even though  the phrase refers especially to the Holy Spirit being the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that Paul refers to, in terms of its result in people’s hearts and understanding, I fully understand why many claim that the phrase refers to the human spirit being dominated by wisdom and revelation. The dominant usage in scripture of the word “spirit” is to refer to either the Spirit of God (as in Romans 8:10, or the spirit of man as referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.  However, the word spirit can also describe a mental disposition or a settled attitude of mind. This is the same kind of thing that we mean when we refer to “team spirit,” or to “School spirit,” or the “spirit of a game.”  Although Isaiah 11:2 forces us to conclude that the term specifically refers to the Holy Spirit, the verse makes perfect sense with all three of the above meanings of the word.

 

PAUL ASKS FOR A SPIRIT OF REVELATION

It is illogical, and, dare I say,“Impossible” to receive a revelation of something that does not already exist. The Greek word that is translated “revelation” here is “Apocalupsis” which means “a disclosure.” It comes from a root word that means, “to remove the covering,” or “a revealing of something that was hidden” and “an opening of a curtain that previously hid something from view.” Paul is not praying for the Lord to give them something new, or anything that they did not, at that moment, already have in their possession. The apostle is praying for them to receive a revelation of what is already theirs in Christ. The presupposition is that they have received more than what they are aware of at that moment. A fortune of spiritual wealth has been deposited in their account, and even though their lives are plainly expressing love and faith, they are utilising pennies when God has developed a huge fortune.

 

For the recipients of Paul’s letter to receive “A spirit of revelation” meant that there would be an act of the Holy Spirit, as well as activity of the human spirit that would receive the God dispensed understanding, insights and ever deepening revelation that both opens up the true meaning of the scriptures, and facilitates the renewing of the mind for Godly living.  The Spirit of God accomplishes this by the removing of the covering, or veil of natural ignorance (Psalm 119:18. Luke 24:45), shining into the receptive human mind, and allowing it to see what before it saw not. This process would be facilitating an understanding of what was previously non-perceptible. The Spirit of God continually wants to reveal what is sometimes new objects of spiritual value, sometimes new excellences in objects before known. Thus the Spirit works not only in the beginning of faith and spiritual knowledge, but in its further progress he lets in new light into the mind, and removes some remaining degree of natural darkness.

 

 

THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION WOULD BE THE MEANS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH

The point of the letter and the prayers within the letter is, of course, ministry that would be a causative factor of growth in Christ.  All ministry of the word, and all true ministry by men of God is first and foremost to bring the unsaved to faith in Christ, and to bring the converted person toa deeper understanding of God’s wisdom and revelation.  When every other motive and purpose for preaching and teaching the gospel  has been discovered and explained, these two purposes are the ultimate source of motivation for a person’s ministry of the word.

 

 

PAUL ASKS THAT THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM & REVELATION WILL LEAD TO A DEEPER KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

God can be known by man. God wants the whole of mankind to know Him. I do not mean to “know about God” like one knows “about the moon, or the sun.” I mean that one can know God in the same way that one knows their spouse, or their children or friends.  It is an engagement of friendship, dialogue and purpose. This is what Paul is hungry for in the lives of the Christian people to whom he was writing. This knowledge of God is personal and intimate. It should be the desire if one who has their human spirit illumined by conversion to know God ever increasingly better.

 

Would that I could consistently pray with the insight power and wisdom of the Apostle Paul. Would that others would pray for me as Paul did for the Ephesians.

 

 

reflections on Christ - crucifixion

God?  Lavish?  (Ephesians 1:7b – 8)

“He is so rich in his kindness towards us that He lavished ( poured out, showered, abounded, super abounded)  towards us in all wisdom and prudence (intelligence, understanding and insight)” (Ephesians 1:7b-8 My own translation). 006 Ephesus  Get hold of the concept.  God has been and is being lavish.  Being lavish is just His nature. He cannot be anything else apart from what He is, i.e. lavish.  As an adjective, “lavish,” in this context could mean luxurious or elaborate; perhaps affluent and even sumptuous is appropriate. Other words that one could use are costly, opulent, splendid, or regal.  As a verb it plainly means that something has been given and/or somebody has been endowed in a profoundly generous measure or with extravagant volume with a gift of whatever nature. When God “lavishes” grace upon us we need to assimilate the fact that He has deluged upon us freely and unstintingly an enormous heap of blessing and strength.  When one trusts Christ it is like a Tsunami of goodness rushing in and flooding our lives.  It is a Krakatoa type volcanic explosion of love and blessing that has erupted from the very heart of God impacting on all that a person has or is.  God has lavished His practical and tangible love upon us.  It’s no wonder Jesus referred to it as th “Gospel.” When used in secular historical documents the word means “The almost too good to be true message.”   It has to be said that whatever it is that Paul is struggling to explain to us in Ephesians 1, it is something that God has lavishly shovelled into our lives in a manner that suggests that it is randomly and extravagantly generous. It is so huge and has such a broad impact on people that Paul has to invent a new set of adjectives and nouns to paint the picture clearly.  It is so excessive in its measure I could even imagine the legitimacy of declaring that it is God’s random acts of lavish kindness, inasmuch as He has poured it out in the same plentiful generosity on literally anybody who believes. Not that God does anything at all that is random, but what He has given us in Christ is so full, voluptuous and dynamic and can be received by absolutely anybody who believes the gospel, that to us humans it looks as if it is totally random. I, personally have met men who were killers, murderers and hatefully violent in their earlier lives, and yet, when I met them and spent time with them they were the gentlest and deeply Godly people. Bank robbers and muggers turned to Christ are glorious trophies of the results of God’s lavish expression of lgracious kindness.   God is lavish in His love towards us.  In Greek it is “perisseuo.”  “Peri,” as in “periscope,” means all around and comprehensive.  Perisseuo means to exceed all limitations, to go far beyond what anybody would or could expect.  That is God for you!   And, as if this was not enough, intense power is added to this idea of God being lavish in the way He deals with us and saves us, by the added data that informs us that God intelligently and wisely thought the whole thing through, and with His infinite understanding and prudence decided to lavishly give.  What we have in Christ is truly beyond what we could reasonably expect and well beyond normal comprehension of what is reasonable behaviour.  I have in my life heard several songs, read one or two books and heard quite a few sermons entitled, “Love Beyond Reason.”  That is exactly what we are talking about here.  However, Paul is striving to put a system of reason, a body of thought and rationale behind his explanation of the fact that God has come looking for lost humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. It would seem – and this is the logic of scripture – that the worse we became the more lavish were His attempts to win us.   I know all these excessive superlatives sounds like pink and fluffy poetry, like majestically noble sentiments that could never be practically implemented or carried through, but I swear to anybody reading these lines that I am utterly understating the rock hard truth. This thing is bigger and better than any human mind has ever got their head around. It’s all about the character of God. The divine character in the eyes of the unbeliever is dull, boring and apathetic about most things. But that is a far removed from the truth as the east is from the west.   God made this planet in the midst of a universe with billions and billions of stars. I would say that is lavish. Wouldn’t you? In the entire expanse of earth, He made two people to live on it. Now if any reader does not consider that extravagantly lavish we need to sit down together and come to some agreement about the definition of language and the meaning of words. God promised Abraham that the entire planet would be blessed because of him. Is that lavish, or what?!  Joseph got up one day in a prison that he had been in for many years, and that night, before he went to bed he was the second most powerful man in the world. Surely that meets anybodies criteria for a lavish divine blessing.   There are instances and examples of God’s lavish attitude of giving right throughout the Bible. It is for the assurance of faith and the understanding of the believer that Paul tells us how lavish Heavenly Father is towards all men, but especially those that believe the gospel, Believing the gospel gives us access to more grace. How gloriously lavish is that!

The Entire Package of the Divine purpose is wrapped up in the Person of Christ (Ephesians 1:7)

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”  (Ephesians1:7)

 

00001These papers are all under the heading of, “Revelations of the Invisible.”  The entire first chapter of Ephesians is a series of statements that the apostle Paul swears to as being just plain straightforward facts.  These are facts that read as if Paul had been reading God’s own diary or notebook. It is as if the man of God from Tarsus had been given a copy of the divine project file.  God is invisible. His plans are therefore invisible.  They are undoubtedly cryptically mentioned here, there and everywhere within the Old Testament.  The description of God’s plans, pleasures and pass-times is nothing short of downright remarkable. In God’s dealings with Paul, and his dealings with God, Paul came to grips with the entire vista of God’s dealings with mankind. I would say Paul saw it all from A to Z, however, I believe it is more accurate to say that he understood what God was doing before the first A of time and after the last Z.  The man who wrote Ephesians 1 had a mind and a spirit that was utterly at home and thoroughly domiciled  in the purpose of God, the mind of Christ and the unleashed power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The sequential points of logic in Ephesians 1 are so straightforward they can be missed.  The opening verses explain to us God’s motives, thoughts, ideas and plans about how to save mankind and renew them so that they can live eternally with God in glory.

 

It starts with the statement of how God has blessed the Christian with every blessing that it is possible for God to give us, and all those blessings are encapsulated, wrapped in and embodied in Jesus Christ (1:3).  To do this He chose people by name, before He even founded the world (1:4).  His aim in choosing each Christian was so that each one could be presented before Him, not sinless – but blameless nevertheless; not intrinsically holy of themselves, but because they have received every heavenly blessing through Christ, they are made holy for the same reason. This is all accomplished and activated by God’s love that is actively moving towards us. That blamelessness and holiness is what allows us to walk and live before Him, invisible though His presence may be. The Christian lives “before Him” and it is that fact that sets them apart from others.

 

In order for this to happen each Christian has been predestined  us to be adopted into the Divine family by Jesus Christ Himself, simply because Jesus Christ was not only fully man, but fully God. We meet God through Him. We own God and are owned by Him through Christ.  We are adopted into the family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit through our relationship with Christ.

 

00002All this is being done because it gives God great pleasure, and therefore He has willed it to be so (1:5).  This is so wonderful that when properly perceived and understood all of creation will praise the very weight and authority of His grace.  While this whole process is in dynamic motion, the Christian is made to be accepted in the beloved Christ (1.6).  To be accepted into the presence of God blameless and holy (1:4), it requires that the human being who is a Christian needed to be bought from the domination and control of the devil and translated into the “ownership” of Christ, the blessing of Christ and the divine family. That purchase is referred to in Jewish terms as “redemption.” That redemption was fought for and purchased by Christ’s blood which was spilled for man’s salvation in the passion of Christ.  That gloriously kind and gracious act, perpetrated on behalf of humankind, gives Christians the forgiveness of their sins to the same depth of the riches of God’s grace – and that is deep-Deep -DEEP!  (1:7)

 

All this was not randomly or thoughtlessly activated, but with eternal forethought, forward planning and meticulously detailed love, it was utterly lavished on the Christian in all the eternal depth and breadth of God’s wisdom and prudence. No rubbish here! No mistakes here! It all happens from the deep and purposed well of God’s will, His plan, His intention and His own end.

 

All this amazing invisibly thought out plan God has made known to us. This is what Paul refers to as the mystery of His will; a will that was intended according to God’s own delight and pleasure which He had planned and purposed within Himself. It started before time had begun. It has taken since creation to bring His purpose thus far. It will be fulfilled as far as it extends within time right upto time’s end, and then continue on throughout timeless eternity (1:9).

 

When time has reached its fullness and end (assuming that time’s fullness refers to its end) God the Father will gather together in one glorious and wonderful unity all people and things that are in Christ (1:10). “Things in Christ,” refers to things in heaven and on earth, things we see and things that we at present cannot see, and it will all be those things that are “in Christ.”

 

In all this, the Christians true inheritance is revealed. It is a fixed, settled and eternally permanent inheritance. This inheritance has been predestined according as God has purposed. The inheritance is huge and magnificent. It is planned solely according to His purpose – God’s purpose, and God purposes everything according to the advice and counsel of His own will and intention.(1:11)

 

00003It takes those first eleven verses of radical heavenly revelation while Paul tells us who and what God is, how and why he makes plans, and in what manner He labours to bring His will about before he mentions anything that humankind can do to appropriate his place in this breath-taking eternal plan and purpose.

 

It is all “to the praise of His glory” to… who? “Those who trusted in Christ!” and Paul’s generation was the first generation to step into this plan.

 

The glorious revelation is that this plan has been being worked out and implemented since Adam and Eve strutted across earth’s perfect garden before human sin was a factual element of man’s existence.  Even though the entire working of the power of God is within each Christian, the only part that man actually plays in the process is to hear the message and believe it, and then to have the entire process guaranteed by the down payment of being sealed with the holy Spirit who had been promised long before through the prophets. That sealing is an act of God as well (1:12-13).

That sealing of the Spirit, this writer believes to be the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  It is the reality of that baptism which is the earnest, the guarantee of the fulfilment of the inheritance which is to sustain the believer until “the redemption of the purchased possession,” meaning the resurrection to life in a new and immortal body.

 

When the plan of God reaches that stage of fulfilment it will be to the praise of His glory beyond any praise that man has given to God hitherto.

 

That is the plan.  It started pre historically and will not be complete until post history. Its length, breadth, height and depth is beyond finity and goes to the most extreme parameters of infinity. This thing we call Christianity is a God thing, a Christ thing, a Holy Spirit thing that is bigger than any of us can properly measure. The more I read scripture and meditate upon its truths, the bigger the whole plan and purpose seems to become. All glory and praise to the Lord Almighty.

 

The incredible revelation that is startling to most people is that all people have to do is to LISTEN to the gospel message, the word of truth that brings salvation and BELIEVE the message as received. By all means the message should be checked against the scriptures and discussed and thought through, but the message is that the whole kingdom and purpose of God is wrapped up entirely in who Jesus was, what He did, and what God did in raising Him from the dead, and then to practically implement the dynamics of that faith by emulating the love, life, morality and spirit of Christ Himself. Love Him! Hear Him! Follow Him! Emulate Him! Trust Him! It’s all about Him. There is nothing and nobody else to hang our thoughts or faith on. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything that mankind is blessed with in the gospel is all summed up wrapped up and packed up in the person of Jesus Christ.

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When, in numerous parts of the New Testament we are told that the believer has the various aspects of salvation, “in Him,” that is, “in Christ,” it is a statement of how the person, the man Jesus Christ came to give us a full revelation of God. Christ is the full and total revelation of God. When we are talking of the “Big Picture” of God, we are talking of the Lord Jesus Christ. All He said, did and was is a relevant and ever contemporary revelation of His Heavenly Father. Christian scholars refer to “General Revelation” as in what we can see of God in creation, and “Special Revelation.”  Special revelation is all about concepts and facts that we would not generally know if God had not revealed them to us in the Bible. What God has revealed to us in special revelation needs to be received, believed, and applied. The ultimate of that message is the gospel that saves.

 

Moses wrote, “The secret things belong unto Yahweh: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).  What is revealed needs to be held tight and meditated on in order to nourish our faith and understanding of His ways. We all desperately need revelation, both from the Spirit and from the Word.

 

Revelation directly from the Spirit of God comes internally. In the usual Hebrew idiomatic way Isaiah relates revelation to hearing the preached word and believing it.  “Who hath believed our report?  and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”  (Isaiah 53:1). It is by the Spirit that prophetic people receive the word from heaven The prophet Amos declares, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7).  It is by the Spirit that Peter understood that Jesus was “the Christ the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus, undoubtedly with a smile of joy on His face, declared, “Blessed art thou, Simon son of Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 16:17). Paul’s constant elucidation of his authority was that his understanding of Christ and the gospel was not learnt by book reading or college lecturing. “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery” (Ephesians 3:3). The New Testament apostles and prophets continued to be tutored after Christ’s ascension. Although they would have heard the gospel from Christ Himself in the days of His flesh, Paul talked of the whole arc of New Testament truth, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).

 

All Christians should be recipients of spiritual revelation by the active agency of the Holy Spirit Himself. We know this is a fact because of the words he used when he prayed for the Christians at Ephesus, “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” (Ephesians 1:17).  We are certain that what was stated and promised to one Christian is a blanket statement of divine intent for all Christians of all ages.

 

The regular interaction with the written word should also cause faith to sprout and spring, for faith comes by Hearing and Hearing by the word of God.

 

This vision and overall insight into God’s plans and purposes, His mind and mentality, His incremental revelation as well as His absolute declaration of things is all there in the Old Testament.  Talking of the prophets and the Old Testament  writers Peter, a man who walked and talked with Jesus for over three years later wrote, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).  It cannot but bring a sense of deep reverential awe to those who realise that by reading the scriptures, including Ephesians, we are delving into the very heart of God. We are getting our minds around revelations of the invisible.

From Eternity to Here and from Here back to eternity

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The Lamb slain from before the Foundation of the World.

Eternity is not simply a long – long time that has no end.  It cannot be!

Eternity is outside of time.  It is debatable whether our concept of time is even paralleled in the world of what we call “Eternity.”  As things are, human beings find it almost impossible to imagine a concept of an everlasting “NOW” without a past or a future.  It hurts the human brain to even attempt to think that one through.  An eternal now moment without any perspective of time seems to the human brain to be illogical.  This writer believes eternity is outside of time and has properties we, at present, cannot perceive.

I remember many years ago seeing a TV mini-series entitled, “The Martian Chronicles.”  It was of course, with a title like that, pure science fiction.  The film was adapted from a book of the same name (The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury).  I remember the now deceased Film actor Rock Hudson was the leading player in the single episode I saw.  In the film, he was an astronaut who landed on Mars and was infested by Martian beings.  The Martians however were invisible and silent.  They hung in the air and had total access to the memories stored in the human brain.  In finding a person’s most precious memories the Martians then reproduced the home, the loved relatives now deceased, even the mountain ranges and lakes from where the earthling had come from.  Why do I choose this point of time to discuss Science Fiction?  Simply because I remember thinking on the wonder of other beings (even fictional fantasies such as this) that had no parallel existence to us on earth.  No carbon based being, no need of oxygen, weightless and taking up no space whatsoever.  Just light years away from us in form and being is how I believe eternity is from our space-time world and physical being.  Eternity is utterly different than the concept of never ending time.

reflections on Christ - crucifixion

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Eternity has nothing to do with time.

The concept I hold of eternity is, I believe, nearer to the truth than the normal perception of “eternity” and aids me to grasp and understand why God never ages.  It is a contributing factor in helping us to understand how He can see all things and know all things that are in progress in all of time.  He sees everybody and everything in the “now.”  He watches from eternity.

I do not say that my thesis here is necessary for us to understand God’s omniscience or His omnipresence.  My concept of God, outside of time, looking into time, and presencing Himself amongst us within the parameters of time is, simply part of how I believe the universe to be after extrapolating all I know of the Bible.  God has no eternal past from which He developed, nor an eternal future to develope into.  As the Bible presents Him, God cannot develope in any way whatsoever in eternity.  He knows everything and fills everything.  He has made creation separate from Himself.  He is not intrinsically in the sun, the moon, the trees and the mountains, no matter how these things display aspects of His greatness.  In the same way, all is made by Him does not mean He is within those things He has made.

He has created time for our benefit.

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His eternal plan is set and completed in eternity.  Only in time, to accommodate man, do His plans and purposes require development.  By not living in a linear dimension there cannot be any progress in God’s knowledge, power, or wisdom – nor in the slow development of His purpose that is necessary in time.  If God could know anything more than He does, or have anything added to His knowledge, He could not ever be omniscient.  He actually lives in eternity, and whatever that term does mean, it cannot mean a linear existence.  However, chew on this: If God is not subject to gravity, space or distance – and He clearly is not – neither is He subject to time.  Time is part of creation.  Outside of time when there was no space, no stars, and even no heavens in existence – there was God; nothing more, nothing less and nothing but – God.  When God created the heavens and the earth, there and then He also created time.

YAHWEH INHABITS ETERNITY

Isaiah 57:15 radically declares “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite (English Standard Version).  The Boldface font is obviously my own insertion.  The only equivalent concept we have of living comes from our linear time-space world existence.  “Eternity” simply means a “place” (I think that is a misleading word when referring to eternity) or “state of being” that lasts into infinity.  I wanted to write, “Lasts for an infinite length of time,” but “oops!”  I am talking of eternity outside of time.  I do not believe that time is in the discussion  when we are defining eternity.  Whatever the dimensions and architecture of “eternity” is, it must be infinite and capable of containing the infinite Almighty.”

002aETERNITY IS NOT NEVER ENDING TIME.

There are those translators who, imagining eternity as simply “forever” – meaning time without end – drop the concept that I am suggesting here altogether.  They call God, “He who lives forever.”  This term is used in the NIV, the NASB, the Holman Christian Bible, God’s Word and others.  I do not believe that is correct.  The phrase neither has the power nor the authenticity of “He who dwells in eternity.”  “Forever,” as often used, simply suggests that God never ends in time.  Inasmuch as it tells us that God is the ever living and will never age or pass away I accept is a half truth, but I insist that it gives the reader a misleading context.  Eternity is another very different concept of existence that omits time, a completely different platform where one can “be.”  The person with faith in Christ has eternal life (John 3:16).  This teaches us that somehow or other eternity can touch and enter our time space world.  God has made us body, soul, and spirit.  Our spirits do not age.  Our spirits have no concept of time.  That is why and how God speaks to us – in our spirits.  This is why Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has put “eternity in our hearts.”  It is that centre of eternity in our beings that is born again and through which God speaks to us.  Eternal life in Christ is not just life that lasts a long time, but in coming from timelessness into our time-space consciousness we have the eternity and the life already, buried deep in our hearts.

TIME IS PART OF CREATION

Jesus was the only human being to have known a pre-existence.  To meditate on Christ, as He was before the world began is brain stretching.  It feels in the brain as if we are fumbling in the revelatory darkness looking for insights, and newly created language in order to express what is commonly inexpressible when discussing the pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We cannot find appropriate language to explain what happened before creation.  Taken literally, before creation is unintelligible because there is no such thing as a “before” or an “after” until there is a creation.  According to Einstein time doesn’t exist without mass and matter.  Time, therefore, begins with creation. Before creation- no such thing as time.

NO SUCH THING AS TIME BEFORE TIME

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Being pedantic and thinking literally therefore, phrases like “in a day before time” or “before creation” are nonsensical.  This kind of terminology only makes sense when we see them as intuitive aids to give our mind’s eye graspable metaphors.  When we talk about what God was doing before creation, it is impossible to avoid language that sounds as though we are talking about a time that existed before time.  Nonetheless, we use the same analogies and parables that Scripture uses.  The phrases “before the foundation of the world” and “before the world began” are used frequently in the New Testament.  The entire 66 books of the Bible make much of God’s eternal nature and the fact that He inhabits eternity.  What happened before God created the world is critical as far as the apostle Paul is concerned.  It is in eternity that the plan and purpose of God was set according to the good pleasure of His will.  It is for that reason that the Scriptures are not silent on the matter.  What God was actively doing before creation belongs to the unseen and eternal – but we are told in the scriptures what was taking place.

TIME COMMENCED BEFORE DAY ONE

Genesis 1:1 seems to inform us that the world was created actually before Day 1 took place.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Time had obviously begun at that moment.  The earth was in darkness or classically stated as, “without form and void.”  The first day, per se, did not commence until God said, “Light be!”  Whenever the moment of God’s fiat in the creation of light took place, it was that evening and morning that is registered as the first day.  However, Genesis 1:1 was the moment that time actually began.  Time was moving before the first day, from the moment God created the Heavens and the earth.

THE VARIABLES OF TIME

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Other concepts we need to grasp to get some sort of handle on this are issues concerning the nature and attributes of time.  We nearly all take it for granted that time is absolute and non-variable as well as linear.  However, it has been proven that time measurement actually changes with height and depth on the planet, and speed of movement.  It was Einstein’s thesis that if people were to travel at the speed of light weird and wonderful things would surely happen to the process of time and the aging process of mankind and living beings.  Synchronised atomic powered clocks ascending or moving east or westward have differences when brought back together to the same spot.  It is only fractions of a millisecond, but it clearly and demonstrably takes place: Time literally can travel faster or slower.  Time varies with mass, acceleration and gravity.  Einstein suggested that time has physical properties, and because of that, it can be altered.  He wrote somewhere, “People like us who believe in Physics know that the distinction between the past, the present, and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

When one thinks of it, for the Bible to be consistently carrying the same message with the same presuppositions and teachings, spread over two millennia with forty different authors in its creation, is plainly suggesting that something supernatural from another world or dimension is here in our hands when we open its pages.  Its inspiration comes from outside our time-space world.  We clearly exist in more than 3 dimensions; most people go with four; i.e. Length, breadth, height and time.  But there are more than four dimensions as presented in scripture.

God speaks in a revelatory manner that suggests He is in our past present and future simultaneously.  Surely this fact suggests that because of His eternal nature, and because of the fact that He inhabits eternity, from the perspective of eternity, when Adam died (history to us), and whenever the last death will take place on earth before the end of time (future to us), those two demised spirits arrive in eternity at the same eternal moment.

THE GEOMETRY AND ARCHITECTURE OF ETERNITY NEXT TO TIME

See the geometry of eternity alongside the architecture of time.  One single dot signifies the whole of eternity.  The arched curve that is creating an arch around eternity is the time line of creation.  Eternity can contact all points of time simultaneously.  Eternity is the same distance away from all parts of history.  People at points of time in the past, the present and the future can all contact eternity through prayer, and eternity hears it all at the same point.

As a further meditation to query long established “status quo’s” in this dimension of thought, I would propose that people often confuse  the mind with the physical brain.  The mind has no mass, the brain does.  The spirit has no mass, the body does.  Those human parts that take mass, age as part of this space-time world.  The Spirit, however has no mass and is eternal.  No mass equals no time or space dimension restriction.  The mind and the human spirit can contact God in eternity in the same manner that God can contacts a human being,  i.e. through their spirit.  The human spirit, as well as the human mind can be paralleled with the purchase of a computer programme.

A blank unformatted CD weighs between 0.55 to 0.58 of an ounce;  A CD loaded with software weighs exactly the same.  A computer programme, no matter how large or how expensive is without mass, without weight, without visibility until manifested on the computer monitor.  A computer programme increases the purpose and the utilitarian value of one’s computer, and there are some programmes that are purchased at a greater price than the computer itself.  What’s my point?  My point is that the computer can become run down with age, but the software is not susceptible to the external wear and tear of the hardware. The hardware ages and breaks down while the software does not.  The physical parts of the human being, age and decay in time.  The human spirit does not age but has eternity as one of its characteristics.

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THE TEXT OF EPHESIANS 1:3-14

What comes last here is in actuality what should come first if we were attempting to put the thoughts of Paul in chronological sequence.  The entire scenario the apostle gives us stems initially from God’s ultimate intention which is to head up all things in Christ (1:10) to the praise of His glory (1:14).  God is to consummate, centre and visibly control the entire universe as it is consistently and increasingly given over to worship by those that follow and submit to Jesus Christ.  It seems there is quite some way to go if we judge by what we see.  Yet, we are clearly called not to judge in such a manner.

No matter what our five senses tell us, the rule of Christ fills the cosmos.  Seen and unseen, visible and invisible, celestial and terrestrial, heavens and earth, demonic and human, Jesus Christ is Lord of all (1:10), yet in the time space world there is still futile rebellion.  The intention of God is to make  this rule of Christ, visible and universal as well as of a free choice to submit to the King or not.  There are also rewards and benefits for those that submit to the rule of Christ in this life.

The purpose of God chronologically presented.

Before Time Began

  1. God chose us for Himself before the Foundation of the world, i.e. before time had begun (1:4).
  2. Within the parameters of that choice were were destined as well as chosen to be Holy and Blameless. Holiness imputed by faith, and imparted by obedient works of faith. We will never be sinless or perfect, but we shall be blameless.  That blamelessness is imparted by a constant attitude of faith and a denial of self as well as selfishness (1:4).  That blamelessness is to be the context of our lives once we have entered into faith, and maintained until we are at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
  3. Although the above was set in God’s plan and purpose before time had begun, the most important aspects of the plan were kept as a mystery to humankind until Christ came.  The mystery was further de mystified when all was revealed to the original apostles as well as Paul. The mystery was including the simplicity of the gospel for all of mankind, and how Jew and gentile were invited to the same standing in Christ’s church (1:9).  We therefore have:
    1. The intention was set in the mind of God before time
    2. Made known to mankind within time
    3. Fully exhibited and completed after time.
    4. The entire detail and fullness of God’s intentions and plans was set out before time and will be clear to all in eternity when all is wrapped up (1:3-14).

IN TIME – PRESENT POSSESSIONS

  1. The plans and intentions are all intrinsically given to humankind in and through Jesus Christ. All is sourced in Him, imparted by Him, and summed up in Him. Faith in Him is the key to access all of the blessings that are given in Him. Faith is our communication point for relationship purposes with Christ. Everything that God can give is embodied in Christ (1:3).  We have Him now.
  2. Christ and all that comes to us in Him is the Father’s glorious gift, which He presented to us in love (1:6).  The entire operation is a gift of His love. We enjoy that gift in the present.
  3. We are taken from the kingdom of darkness, and have all our sins past, present a future forgiven.  Sins we have committed are divorced from us, sins committed against us and the resulting bondages are released from us.  The apostle refers to this as redemption (i.e. a purchase).  It is in Christ that we have “redemption, through His blood, the release from our sins” (1:7-8).  We have that redemption now, even though the redemption of the body is future in the resurrection.
  4. The contents of God’s plans and purposes have been revealed to us.  God Himself has made known to us the mystery of his will (1:9). We have the information that explains the mystery now.
  5. The baptism in the Holy Spirit was a normal experience by the truth delivered and acted upon in apostolic times.  It is this writers conviction that we are sealed as God’s own property in the visible manifestation of the baptism of the Spirit on top of being converted, as opposed to simply being born of the Spirit when we come to Christ.  In whatever way the verse is read, we are/ were sealed with or by the Holy Spirit (1:14).
  6. Every believer is adopted in this present life and to be fully developed in the manifestation of the sons of God in the resurrection (1:5)

IN THE FUTURE

  1. In the future, all believers are to be presented Holy and blameless. It is future to us. I believe this presentation will be outside of time in eternity (1:4).  Christians are judged at the Judgement Seat of Christ, and then presented holy and blameless to the Father. What is in the confines of time and what is in the liberty of eternity is unknown.
  2. It is God’s determination to administer and centre all things in the entire universe in Christ at the completion of all the ages, all the times, all the worlds and all those beings that are to be judged (1:10).
  3. Christians are to be redeemed by the possession of the pledge at a future point already set.  In plain English, the Christian will receive his resurrection body – a body better suited for eternity (1:14).

CONSTANTLY FACTUAL IN THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE CHILD OF GOD

  1. God’s choice in the believer is set eternally. His choice was made in eternity and has always stood to be fulfilled throughout all time. His choices are eternal and unchanging (1:4).
  2. Preparation through adoption through Christ is eternally set (1:5).  God has preveniently prepared people’s entire lives to bring them to adoption.  Every relationship, every non-relationship, every achievement and non-achievement, God has worked on us all to bring us to Himself.
  3. The wisdom and intelligence of God are eternally effectual in the manifestation of His plan (1:8)
  4. The decision to administer the plan is eternally set (1:9)
  5. His foreknowing and energising all things is a constantly experienced fact (1:11)
  6. It is an eternal fact that all things were made in time to accomplish the intention of His will (1:11).

So we have the incredible discovery that no matter what and how it effects the universe, the plan was set in eternity past, to be completed and progressed in eternity to come and being fully effected here in time and space on planet earth.

There are several understandings that come out of these glorious discoveries.

  1. God never changes.
  2. People will live forever in the resurrection.  The plan for the saved is eternally set. The plan for those who choose not to be saved is also eternally set.
  3. It is obvious by the whole chapter that some will be saved, and some will not be.
  4. Reincarnation is therefore a total and complete lie. No second chance is as much as hinted at in the whole of scripture.
  5. Pre existent life for the human soul is therefore non-existent.  We are seen and known by God from eternity, but created at conception and not before.
  6. There is a plan for everybody’s life, without exception.  As individuals, it is the joy and challenge of life to align ourselves with God’s pre-destined plan for us.
  7. Nobody is alive by accident, no matter what the circumstances of conception and birth are.
  8. Nobody is converted by accident. Conversion is predestined, transcending all logistical “accidents” that get people to the point where they make the choice of faith.
  9. God is after people’s heart, not externals.
  10. Jesus Christ is incomparable as a man. He is to be worshipped as God.
  11. Anything that can be deemed a blessing, a gift, an outpouring of God – is totally embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.
  12. Death is not so much as considered in the outworking of this plan.  It is a non-starter as far as problems go.  If one was made aware of what is present at the other side of death, then death itself would clearly have become an absolute non-starter of a fear carrying issue.
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Adopted as God’s children (Ephesians 1:5)

Adopted as God’s children (Ephesians 1:5)

“He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,” (English Standard Version Ephesians 1:5a)

“And he has constituted us as children by Yeshua the Messiah,” (Aramaic version in plain English Ephesians 1:5a)

“Having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself” (Darby Translation Ephesians 1:5a)

The word "ADOPTION" written in old vintage letterpress type.

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We all know what adoption means in Western society and culture.  Embedded in the term is somebody from one family legally becoming a member of another family.  In the New Testament, it is used of God engrafting human beings who by faith come into relationship with Jesus Christ, into becoming members of His own family, i.e. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The average person in most western cultures straightforwardly understands this.  However, there is a little more to it than that westernised sanitised shallow statement.

LEGAL ADOPTION AS PER COVENANT

When the New Testament talks of Christians being adopted in to God’s family, we are talking of covenant language.  Christians refer to the Hebrew Scriptures as, “The Old Testament,” or better still, “The Old Covenant.”  The New Testament is aka “The New Covenant.”  “Cutting Covenant,” though none existent in western culture where covenants are replaced by legal contracts with riders, sanctions and expensive bills, is still entered into in certain parts of the world where written contracts, caveats, signatures, and expensive lawyers are not known.  The Bible is a book about covenants. If a person is to seek the full revelation and meaning of both Testaments, one cannot sidestep the issue of defining  exactly what a covenant is.  It becomes compulsory reading.

A covenant is where two parties or more (and a party could be a single human being all the way up to a nation of millions) swear allegiance, relationship maintenance and support in certain situations defined by the covenant made.  The situation may be political, familial, or even militarily protecting one in favour of agricultural favours from the other.  A covenant is made with vows and conditions that would bind the party’s together.  There would also be curses on each party if anybody from either side broke any of the covenantal promises. One member of each party, usually the senior member – but not always – would make a cut on the palms of their hands, or wrists and join hands together, mixing their blood as a sign of deep commitment.  Not all covenants are blood covenants, but blood covenants by their very nature and language are extremely serious and binding. Covenants come out of relationship and are rarely made hastily.

0002MODERN USAGE OF COVENANTS

The history and notes of David Livingstone ploughing his way through Africa and then after being presumed lost, being sought after by Sir Henry Stanley are filled with references to Blood Covenants made with African tribes and chiefs as they plodded across what was then the dark Continent.  Livingstone cut covenant with people to ensure safety as well as protection across the jungle routes, while Stanley later made covenants with many of the same people to ensure that he too could be kept safe while searching for the lost Doctor.

Let us assume that a man called “John” was the chief of one party.  Let us assume I am a member of John’s tribe.  I encounter a situation where I need help and I am away from my family members.  I go to meet a member of the second party that John had entered into covenant with.  Because I was “in John,” People from the other party would acknowledge that I was, by “adoption,” a member of their tribe and they would not – indeed they could not – refuse me help without breaking the Covenant. Adoption is a term most fundamental to blood covenant.

COVENANT LANGUAGE CLARIFIES BIBLICAL TERMINOLOGY

By this extremely brief reference to the culture of covenant, so common and part of social culture in certain parts of the world; we gain insight into the subject of being a Christian by faith.  It adds a postscript to the term we discussed earlier, namely the status of being “in Christ.”  We immediately have clarifying thoughts of being in Him by covenant and being “adopted” into God’s protective family.  In scripture, adoption is merely one of several family-related terms used to explain different aspects of the process of salvation and its ongoing benefits to the believer.  God is the Father of Christ, and through the saviour He is the Father of our new birth.  He is a father who kindly and graciously adopts believers in Christ into his family and grants them all the privileges of being heirs of His salvation.  Salvation is light years more than forgiveness of sins and deliverance from condemnation, no matter how incredible those things are.

THE ALLROUND RELEVANCE OF “ADOPTION” IN GOD’S SAVING PROCESS

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The Greek word for adoption literally means to “place as a son” and is used only by the apostle Paul in the New Testament.  He mentions adoption five times in his writings.  In Romans 9:4 Paul refers to the Old Testament idea of Israel’s special position as the children of God and says, “Theirs is the adoption as sons.”  This tells us that although “adoption,” per se is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the spirit of the meaning is very much present in those first thirty-nine books of scripture concerning Israel’s relationship with God.  The remaining four references describe how New Testament believers become children of God through His gracious choice.

The full scope of God’s work of salvation past, present and future is seen in the significance of the word “adoption.”  The verse we are camping on at the moment, i.e. Ephesians 1:5 explains how God determined the believer’s adoption as a child of His from eternity, that is, before time began.  It states plainly that God “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”  This adoption, therefore, is not the result of any merit earned on the part of the believer, but solely the outworking of God’s love and grace (Ephesians 1:7).  The present reality of the believer’s adoption into the family of God is a literal release from the slavery of sin and the law, giving the believer a new position as a free heir of God.  Entering into salvation brings the rights and privileges of free sonship in relationship to God: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15 ).  Paul tells the Galatians that Christians were redeemed from the law so that they might receive adoption as sons.  Because of this redemption, the Holy Spirit comes into the believer’s heart crying, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:5).  The intimacy of a relationship with God the Father in contrast to the ownership of slavery is a remarkable feature of the biblical definition of salvation.

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Adoption of s different, but still very real kind.

Like many aspects of salvation, there is an eschatological component of adoption.  Believers “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23 ).  The full revelation of the believer’s adoption is freedom from the corruption present in the world.  Being a member of God’s family includes the ultimate privilege of being like him (1 John 3:2 ) and being conformed to the glorious body of Christ ( Philippians 3:21 ).  This is part of the promised inheritance for all God’s children ( Romans 8:16-17 ).  In the light of all this we declare adoption a most marvellous truth for inculcating a genuine peace of heart and mind in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

ADOPTION AS PER ENTRY INTO THE FAMILY WAY

Think of Him who was the eternal son, made flesh.  Jesus of Nazareth lived a perfect life.  Jesus did not ever think evil, plan evil, dwell on evil or commit evil.  His Heavenly Father utterly approved of Him in the most positive and affirmative manner. His obedience to the plan and precepts of the Father’s instructions and directions was absolute and total. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ was tempted in every way such as us, “yet without sin.”  When Jesus asked the highly critical Pharisaic public who had been studying His every word and move, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” there was utter silence from His most severe and murderous critics.  From the combination of these biblical statements we take the ground to declare that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.  If the “lamb of God that takes away the sins of the whole world,” had any sins of His own to account for it would have disqualified Him from dying for the sins of anybody else.

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At the age of thirty, Jesus had seen no miracle, preached no sermon, and led nobody to faith.  This writer utterly rejects some of the legends and stories that the academics of Roman Catholicism suggest of Christ performing miracles in his childhood.  Stories like the one promulgated in some Catholic circles concerning Jesus in his youth, raising a teenage friend of His from the dead purely to prove that He did not push Him off a roof in order to kill him, I personally find ridiculous.  It is an incredibly important observation to make that Jesus did not, would not, and I would add, even could not minister until three things had happened.

  • WATER BAPTISM.  Jesus had to identify with fallen humanity and submit Himself to John’s message and be baptised in water. John’s baptism, of course, was a baptism of repentance.  However, Jesus had nothing to repent of (1 Peter 2:22), so why should He be baptised at all?

 

By being baptised in water and by the descent of the Holy Spirit and thereafter His remaining upon Jesus, and also by the Father’s pronouncement, it verified to John that Jesus was the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world, a fact that the Baptist declared clearly.  The baptism of Jesus, performed by John the Baptist, showed the people that were present, that the voice of the Father, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the response of the Son of God Himself were all concurring together of one mind and one purpose. It was to declare that Messiah had arrived and had come to the moment when His life’s ministry was to commence in earnest.  They are seen as three different persons, knowing that the Hebrew scriptures had declared that, “The Lord our God is one Lord.”  Christ’s baptism in water and the experience that immediately followed was necessary before any Messianic ministry could begin.

  • SPIRIT BAPTISM.  This was the experience immediately after.  The descent of the Spirit empowering and anointing Jesus for His ministry was the fulfilment of that last phrase of Daniel 9:24 (See Acts 10:38).  I would like to call this the point where the man, Jesus of Nazareth, was also immersed in the Holy Spirit.  However Scripture does not use this appellation at all when referring to Jesus. The truth however, surely must be that the experience of the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove and the fact that the Spirit remained on Him, were all necessitated for Christ’s ministry as it is necessitated by fallen mankind in the same criteria of ministry via the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus was fully human, and fully God, His life was perfect and sinless YET even He could not minister without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 2 it was a mighty wind, tongues of fire, and a gush of tongues of various languages from the mouth. It was a crisis moment, a one off.  With Christ, in the same manner, it was the heavens opening, the wings of the heavenly dove descending upon Jesus, and the voice of the Father declaring His approval of His family member from heaven itself.  Even though it was a one off experience the rest of His life was lived under the anointing and the empowering that was imparted at that moment (Acts 10:38. The anointing referred to was imparted at the Jordan.). In the same manner the entire Christian life is to be lived under the anointing and enduement of power that comes with the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
  • SEEING WHAT HEAVENLY FATHER WAS DOING AND HEARING WHAT HE WAS SAYING –CONTINUEING IN HIS WORD.  It was not only the one off anointing of the Spirit that was essential, but living under the power of the Holy Spirit was also a prerequisite.  The water baptism was an exemplary act of Christ to be emulated by all sinners converted to the faith, an example that was to be emulated and experienced every believer that has ever lived.  That is the first outward demonstration of knowing Christ, a wilful choice to be baptised.  The descent of the Spirit was a precedent of a gift from the Father to the Son that was to be repeated in and with every Christian believer.  As the Father sent the Spirit to rest on Christ, in the same way Jesus Christ is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God, sent by Christ, falls on men and women for exactly the same reason that the Father sent the Spirit to rest on Christ.  My point  from these observations is that if Jesus Himself dared not commence ministry until He had enjoyed a supernatural experience of an encounter with the Holy Spirit, how dare we attempt the same kind of ministry without the same process. It isn’t the way of the heavenly family. We are made partakers of the divine nature by the exceeding precious promises of God
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The temptation of Christ, and His successful victory over such a temptation caused Him to return to society in the “power” of the Spirit.  The ultimate lesson is that human beings cannot minister for God without the power of the Holy Spirit resting on their lives.  Jesus said that He only spoke what He heard His Father say and did what He saw His Father do.  The miracles He performed, therefore, were miracles that His Father did through means of the Holy Spirit through the faith of human person.  As the King who rules the kingdom of God, as the son of David who was the rightful heir to the Davidic throne, He was the son of God.  Father Son and Holy Spirit were the complete and harmonious family of heaven.

The purpose of the King in His earthly mission was to pay for sin and to bring others into the joy of God’s family.  This is plainly the entire purpose of spreading the word of God in order to expand God’s kingdom.

By faith in Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God.  Jesus was also born (literally and physically) of the Spirit of God, yet still required the enduement of power from heaven by means of being “anointed” – or should we say “filled” – or should we even say “baptised” in the Holy Spirit.  Just as the Spirit falling on the house of Cornelius settled the issue with Peter that they were all adopted members of the family (even though they were gentiles), the process of faith, water baptism and Spirit baptism, followed by a life of obedience is validation to this world of  adoption ( see Acts chapters 10 and 11).

0004Justification by faith is therefore a complete transaction, it cannot be added to or subtracted from.  There are no degrees in justification. Justification before God is a biblical term for an absolute resolution of anything and everything to do with sin and evil, by action or by thought, by motive or by inward selfishness that stands between a sinner and Almighty God.  If one is justified by faith in Christ one is declared clean, without blame and spotless.  The battle and goal of life is to walk in that justified state and to stay clean. The account is settled, and was settled before the foundation of the world.

Nevertheless, having settled the account of a sinful state, i.e. sins committed against the Father, one then has to function in a Godly manner whilst the account is in the black.  It may or may not be possible to hereafter walk in a sinless manner, but we MUST be blameless.  If we cannot become sinless, we are called to be blameless.  That’s what faith in Christ resolves.  The power to “walk the world in white,” comes by no other way that walking in the power of the Holy Spirit under the grace of forgiveness that is absolute.  Short accounts with God, meaning confession of any wrong doing quickly is a profound secret of the Christian life.

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When seen in their proper light these issues are revelatory.  Lights are switched on in the inner man. We all need faith in Christ.  This is what saves us.  Faith that is given us from God to believe that Christ is who He said He was and that His death, burial and resurrection was for us.  It brings home to the heart of all believers that their birth in the Spirit was a direct act of God in our lives.  The issue thereafter is not sins and forgiveness, but obedience and power, and therefore water baptism is a statement of what has already happened, not a part of the saving process per se, but a statement of the transaction with heaven that has already taken place.  Christians are baptised in water because they are already saved, not in order to be saved.  Salvation is a thing of the Spirit effected purely by faith in Christ’s atoning death.  To suggest that one needs to be immersed in water to “aid” being saved or to “complete” becoming saved can only be seen as nonsense; in effect blasphemously claiming that what Christ achieved on the cross was insufficient.  We are justified by faith, not by immersion in water.  Obedience to the model of the life of Christ, requires and anointing and infusion of the power of the Holy Spirit.  The cross of Christ is about forgiveness.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit is purely about power.

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It must always be kept in mind, that even though Christ had told the twelve that they were all clean – apart from Judas Iscariot – and even though He breathed on them after His resurrection and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” Jesus still  “commanded” the disciples (some translations say He “ordered them”) not to even think of preaching until they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit.

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On Having It and Owning It Before We Even See It.

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A thought comes to me at this point of our meditations and search for insights into what we refer to as, “Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.”  The gist of what came to me is that the letter is upside down to the common modus operandi of Christian thought.  Perhaps I should say it the other way round as I, as an evangelical Christian, accept the authority of Ephesians as absolute.  Widely held Christian thought is upside down in the light of Ephesians. That sounds better!

What do I mean?  It is commonly conceived that, “We must have faith in order to get God to answer prayer!  Only faith moves God!  So in order to receive any blessing from heaven we need to pray, fast and agonise to bend God’s arm up His back in order to get Him to give.”  However, according to Ephesians, God has moved as much as He is going to, which is more than we could ever dream of or ask for.  He has plainly given us all that we need and require.  It is He who has to twist our arms up our backs to understand that He has already given us everything.  Then He has to shout and scream to get us to alter the way we have always understood.  The truth is that your healing, your deliverance, your provision etc is already provided for you – just receive what the scripture tells us has already been given.  Faith simply steps into what a person has given according to all the promises of God.  It is all about Christians simply aligning themselves with God’s plan and purpose and understanding what He has already in reality given us.  Read these scriptures aloud and hear what it tells us that you, as a Christian believer, already have.  (The Boldface highlights are, of course, my own):

  • For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  (Romans 6:14  ESVUK)

This means that because the Christian believer was in the Spirit crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, buried with Christ, risen and ascended with Christ and now seated with Christ, we can receive victory over sin altogether. It’s a done deal. It simply requires us to step into the provided victory.

  • “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” but we have the mind of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 2:16 ESVUK)

First Corinthians tells us that we have something that our irrational and sometimes ungodly attitudes to life seem to flatly contradict, i.e. the mind of Christ.  “We” in the sentence refers to all the Christians who were partakers of the grace of God in the church at Corinth.  The context of both the Corinthian letters in the Bible let us know that the moral character of people in the church at Corinth was not exactly the best testimony of Christ like living. But Paul asserts that they have the very mind of Christ within them.

  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 1:3 ESVUK)

10This verse we have earlier examined.  We have every blessing that God can bestow.  Yes!  The blessing of God is already fallen upon us. These blessings are not to fight for, or argue with God for.  He has already given us more than what we could possibly require.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  (Ephesians 2:8 ESVUK)

Ephesians 2:8 is the only verse of this kind that is widely understood and believed upon throughout the protestant world. This is evangelical Bread and butter.  We believe that Salvation was provided for us before we were born.  God was waiting for us to simply appropriate by faith the salvation He had planned for us.  The provision was effected long before we were even conceived and as we believe we appropriate God’s salvation.

  • Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  (Colossians 3:9-10 ESVUK)

Colossians 3:9-10 lets us into a truth that many Christians have not seen.  In my years interacting with Christians I have heard so many talk about how their lives are tormented by their “old man” that seems to not want to lie down. But there is no “old man” to get up.  To have an “old man” fighting with the “new man” when quite clearly both old and new are referring to the same person sounds like Schizophrenia to me.  The Old man is dead, gone and none existent. The new man lives!  Continuing sins or bad habits are nothing to do with the old man, but it is everything to do with the renewal of the mind.  The new man is the new spirit in the converted person.  So, it is true of every Christian, that  their proper biblical confession is, “I have put off the old man and put on the new self.”  That is the truth, no matter what one’s exterior circumstances, or inner frame of mind are.

  • For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified.  (Hebrews 10:14 ESVUK)

Here is another line of scripture that is referring to the Christian believer. A person who trusts in Christ for their eternal salvation is a sanctified person, set apart for God’s purposes. The saving power of God is working in a person’s life and the sacrifice that Christ offered on Calvary need never be repeated.  The means of being saved and renewed is a perfect and complete means to a perfect and complete end.  With all this in mind, the writer to the Hebrews declares that by Christ’s perfect sacrifice He has perfected forever those that are sanctified.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds, you have been healed.  (1 Peter 2:24 ESVUK)

Here we have the concept being presented to us that healings purchased by the sufferings of Christ were effected for us before we were even conceived.  The job has been done, the healing performed and ready to be delivered.  My friend just receive what God has waiting for you.

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Faith therefore does not move God – God has already moved.  It is when we align ourselves with God that our faith, though it is as a grain of mustard seed, shall move the mountains.  God has put something in us, and given things to us and it is the claim of Christ upon us to walk out that which He has worked in.  Christians are therefore living well below their privileges.

The usual human desperation to want to “earn” things from God is utterly defeated by the plain straightforward truth.  The brain that feels the need to justify self and earn what God wants to give, cannot resolve this dilemma without an incredible renewing of the mind and the concept of “gifts from God.”  Dear brain, just stop for a moment while I tell you something – “It’s a special gift, a present from God to our souls.  There is nothing you can do to get it, apart from believing it.”  To put it in another way, God is not in the process of blessing us – He has already done so.  All He wants is for us to receive what He has already given to us.

Because of the subject matter that we have been reading and discussing together through these pages, we know and are aware that God in His infinite foreknowledge foresaw sin.  God was the ultimate positive thinker inasmuch as he knew all about us, every sin we would ever commit – and this was before we were even conceived – yet He saw the good in us, and what was virtuous in us and did not shudder in the least at the evil we would get up to.  He knew how to cleanse us, redeem us and how to set us off onto a new road of integrity and obedience.  God wanted relationship with man, and so made plans towards that end before there was any such thing as a human being in existence.

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We need revelation on things like this because not only is the world lying and deceiving us every single day that we live in it, but without revelation after we know Christ as our Saviour, we are still believing lies and submitting to some mental concepts and philosophical points that, as Christians we should not be having any truck with.

Therefore, God sees us at the end, not without sin, but clearly without blame.  He has grafted us into His family circle, adopted us simply for His good pleasure – but not good pleasure as an end in itself, it was His good pleasure “according to His will” and purpose that He had delightedly planned towards, and it was all before the foundation of the world  – i.e. before  time had begun.

God put a value on we humans that is seriously astonishing.  He placed an intrinsic value on us that we do not even put on ourselves.  It is the value that He placed on us, and the full price He paid in order to gain us access into His family that makes us accepted “in Christ.”  It is God’s wilful and deliberate graciousness towards us, that is appropriate to the price He paid to gain us, that makes us justly accepted.  It is all about the pricelessness of the person of Christ.

Whatever the deepest depths of are of what actually transpires in the Christians new birth, few of us really understand.  What God imparted to us at that glorious moment of conversion is so devalued and undervalued that I believe it is a root cause behind ineffectual Christian living in the lives of millions.

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If one lists the full number of scriptures where past tense is used concerning what God has given us, we need to acknowledge that as we stand in Christ there are very few that Christians generally accede to what I am stating in this document.  The abbreviated list above only has Ephesians 2:8 as one verse that is accepted widespread throughout the evangelical protestant world.  That verse, of course, is a rallying call to all evangelicals no matter what colour or hue.

This writer is absolutely convinced that somehow, residing in my innermost spirit are secrets of the Christian life and its full resources that God is eager to reveal to us if only we would reach for them, asking Heavenly Father to show them to us.  This is the full significance of, “You have the mind of Christ,” while we walk in worldly ignorance, or “by His stripes you have been healed,” while we still walk in sickness of body and soul.  This is the full discovery of how the Bible can boldly state, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit,” and yet God knows how many Christians there are that walk in the flesh and are filled with condemnation.  Many would not know whether they are walking in the Spirit or the flesh. It is a scenario that Christian ministers need to confront.

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I trust my readers hear where I am coming from.  I do not talk with tones of judgement or condemnation towards anybody.  I preach to myself before I speak of others, lest I become a castaway.  My point is that what we have in Christ needs to be explored both subjectively within ourselves as well as objectively through scripture.  Without any shadow of a doubt I believe that the church as a whole, generally speaking walks far beneath its privileges and its power.  There are secrets held within our hearts that need unscrambling.  Like computer programmes that cannot be activated until the correct protocols are utilised.  We have been blessed with all that heaven has.  We do know the mind of Christ.  We are the sanctified made perfect forever.  God has gifted us with so much from eternity, placed them within us, within our time-space existence, yet we are governed so much by our five senses that we fail to press the right buttons, or rather, we refuse to step through the right door of revelation.

It says a little later in Ephesians 1 that God has, “made known to us the mystery of His will.”  This is telling us that we already know His will.  But many of us stop and cry, “But I don’t know the mystery of His will!”  I believe this understanding concerning the whys and wherefores of the will and purposes of God is planted within our hearts, buried in our human spirit.  Christians in their spirits know these things, but we in the west know so little about our spirits that it makes the issue even more complex.

I believe things are revealed to us from our own hearts when we pray violently and purposefully in tongues.  I believe things are also revealed as we prayerfully read scripture and meditate upon what we read.  As we dig into scripture we read so much that resonates within us as we feel we have just discovered new truth. But it is not new, and it isn’t even knew to us, it was already their dwelling within us through the occupancy of the Spirit of God.  We need to activate the revelation within our spirits so that it is released to our understanding.  There are aspects of power and grace that we should all know more of but do not.  The heavenly inheritance given to us for the “now” is much more than commonly discussed or agreed upon amongst Christians.  Faith releases the grace, the power and the wisdom of God.  We need to release those things graciously placed within us from above.

Father, allow us to go further and deeper with You!

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Ephesus Today