In the New Testament, we are told certain things that the Holy Spirit will do and be to us. He is the Life-giving Spirit, our helper, our intercessor, the one to guide us into all truth, teach us all things, and disclose to us what is to come. He will glorify Jesus and disclose Him to us, along with all things that the Father has.
We must realize that the Holy Spirit is nourishing us with Jesus Christ as our life so that we, as the body of Christ, may grow “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13, NASV) It is only by this that we may fulfill our part in God’s purpose.
God, who is love, loves His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the “Son of His Love”. (Colossians 1:13, Recovery) We cannot fathom with the natural mind just how deep God’s love is for Jesus. Since we simply cannot understand how great God’s love is apart from Him revealing it, it is a very good thing to ask God to show us. If we ask and believe, He will show us.
One astonishing thing is that as much as God loves His Son, Jesus, He loves us enough to allow Him to live amongst us as the testimony of God and then subject Himself to the shameful and painful torture of being spit upon, mocked, and beaten, then led away in humiliation and crucified in order to take away our sins and make the way to come as the Father and the Son into us in the Spirit. We can just begin to fathom the love of God when we believe this great truth and enter into His covenant. What God would like to further reveal is the desired end of His purpose – that this Jesus, whom God loves so much, is who He wants to fill us with so that He sees us, whom He loves so much, filled with Him that He loves so much.
Seeing God’s purpose is a key to us arriving at God’s goal. We must never lose sight of God’s goal and purpose for us as the church, otherwise, the things we do as Christians will become meaningless activities. We will be like wild horses, unrestrained and running wild. Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision (revelation), the people are unrestrained (run wild).” (NASV & Hebrew) Psalms 32:9 says: “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” (NASV) The Lord’s people need to be restrained by the vision of God’s goal and held in check and brought near to God by their understanding of His goal and purpose for them as the body of Christ.
Knowing God’s Purpose
How may we obtain a revelation of God’s purpose? The answer is that we must spend time with the Lord in His Word. Through prayer in God’s Word, He will enlighten, teach, and give us a vision of His eternal purpose.
Enlightenment of the understanding is a process, which takes place, by degree, as we behold the Lord through His Spirit and His Word. II Corinthians 3:18 says: “And all of us, as with unveiled face, (because we) continued to behold (in the Word of God) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; (for this comes) from the Lord (Who is) the Spirit.” (Amplified)
We receive light from the Lord as we come to Him in the Word. The light is just the Lord, Himself, transfusing us with Himself. As we continue to behold Him, the light becomes part of us, as much as we can receive at a time. As we receive many such “shinings”, we are transfigured and transformed into the glorious image of the Lord, from one degree of glory to another. Therefore, we can expect to receive fresh and living light and renewed vision every time we come to the Lord in His Word.
God’s Purpose Revealed
Ephesians 1:4-6 reads: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons (sonship) through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (NASV & Greek)
As we see what God has prepared for us, we won’t be able to stop saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” We will want to bless Him every minute of the day for all the blessings that He has given to us and for the revelation of the reason He has blessed us. What we have, in this portion of Scripture, is a window that extends from eternity past to eternity future to show us our position and condition before God, according to His eternal purpose.
We see, first of all, that before the foundation of the world, God saw us in Christ Jesus, His Son. He saw us, and He chose us in Him. He determined that those of us who would believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, would be completely set apart unto Him and saturated with the life and nature of God. Knowing beforehand about the fall of man, God determined that He would perfect us, make us absolutely righteous and without one trace of a blemish. Knowing that man would be bent on self and filled with bitterness and hatred, as a result of the sin nature he was to inherit, God determined to fill man to overflowing with His selfless, holy love.
God’s Purpose – Sonship
This is what is called sonship: to receive the life of God and be conformed to the image of God’s Son. God, in His great love, and according to the good pleasure of His own will, predestined us into sonship. When this sonship is fully manifested, we will be radiant with glory. The glory will be the result of the operation of God’s grace, which is operating in us. We will be standing in God’s presence, saying, “WONDERFUL! GLORIOUS! MARVELOUS!” We will be praising the glory of His grace with which we are now being graced.
In the book of Revelation, there is a picture of some of the sons of God manifested. Revelation 7:9-12: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever, Amen.” (NASV)
God’s Purpose – Heading Up Of All
Things Ushering in God’s Goal
The sonship is only one aspect of God’s purpose. Ephesians 1:10 says: “with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up (heading up) of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth, in Him.” (NASV & Greek) Everything in the universe is being headed up in Christ, and we, the church, are called “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:23, NASV) Wow, what a calling! We, as the church and body of Christ, are called to be participants in Christ in heading up all of the things in the universe.
Once all things are made subject to Jesus Christ, then He will be subject to the Father “so that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:28) A few verses prior to this, Paul writes, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” (I Corinthians 15:24) So we see that the sons of God being brought into glory, which is at a point in time, is the means to the end that God will be all in all in eternity. God saved us from eternal death by destroying him that had the power of death, the devil, and by giving to us eternal life. It is by the power of this life, God’s life, which works in us, God’s sons, to transform us and conform us fully to the image of Christ. As this is happening, and in the degree that it happens, we, in and through and with Jesus Christ: (1) glorify God and (2) defeat and subdue God’s enemy and fulfill God’s purpose. God gets great pleasure in beholding the process. This shows that God’s purpose and His good pleasure go hand in hand and really are one and the same.
We Must “See” to “Be”
This is what brother Paul was so desirous of: that we would have our heart enlightened to see with the eyes of our heart what the awe-inspiring hope of our calling is and what are the riches of glory of God’s inheritance in us which is this precious, glorious, sweet Jesus worked into us day by day until finally He takes us fully over and the glory of His unsearchably rich life breaks forth. Oh, how God desires to see the manifestation of His inheritance in us! How He loves to see His Son, Jesus, overflowing and oozing forth! Jesus, we need more of You. Amen, Lord, we love You.
Paul states in Ephesians 3:8-10: “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places, this was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASV) Paul had a full realization of the fact that he was not worthy in himself of the grace or the task of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. This was mainly because he had been an enemy and persecutor of the church. Now Paul, through his preaching and his letters to the churches, was imparting the revelation and the grace by which he received it.
“To bring to light” is to reveal. “The mystery” is God in Christ in the church. “The dispensation of the mystery” is the plan, the means, and the carrying out of the plan of the church becoming the fullness of Christ, and Jesus Christ (the Head) with His body subduing and heading up all things in the universe.
Part of this dispensation is taking place now, even as it was in Paul’s day. As a result, God’s wisdom (which has many parts, elements, and forms) is being made known through the church to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies.
For this reason, Paul had a strong burden for prayer. With the understanding of what we have covered, we should have much deeper insight into Paul’s prayer and the end of his speaking at the end of chapter 3 in Ephesians. As we read this prayer, be aware of the intensity of inspiration, love, and purpose which moves Paul, and allow yourself to be deeply moved as well. Ephesians 3:14-19: “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (NASV)
Paul realized that only the Spirit of God can transmit revelation, love, power, and life into the saints. So, he prays a prayer that is more than obviously inspired of God’s Spirit, the words of which have inspired many saints throughout the centuries. The words, themselves, are so rich that if we take them as food, they will nourish us and transmit God’s life into us to accomplish the very thing that Paul was praying for.
The first thing we must realize is that God’s work to accomplish His purpose with the church takes place mainly in the inner man. There is a place in God’s administration for healing of the body and outward signs, wonders, and miracles, but the main work is done by God’s Spirit in the inner man. The resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ must flow richly into us and spread into all our mind, will, conscience, emotions, and intuition. This is what it means for the Lord to make home in our heart. When this fully happens, whatever the Lord’s thoughts are will be our thoughts and, likewise, with all the other faculties and operations of our inner man.
This does not mean that we will have no thoughts of our own, but all of our thoughts and functions of our inner man will have been transformed completely to correspond in perfect harmony with Christ’s through the process of co-death and resurrection. By our union with Jesus Christ, we have died with Him, and thus, the sin nature is destroyed. The manifestation of this co-death is only partial while we are in our mortal bodies and is accomplished simultaneously by resurrection. The sin is destroyed through death, and the place it occupied is then filled with the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus.
Here is a great mystery unveiled: (Genesis 1:27) “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”, (Colossians 1:15) “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation”, and (I Corinthians 12:12) “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (NASV) In Genesis, we see that man was created in God’s image. Colossians shows us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. I Corinthians shows us that the church, as the body of Christ along with Jesus, is the Christ. In one sense, we have an individual identity as members in particular of the body of Christ. In another sense, we are filled with the life and nature of Christ and are blended, fused, and mingled to form the corporate expression of the body of Christ. In both aspects, we become absolutely transformed by the life of Jesus Christ into the very image of God. Praise God! We become partakers of the very life and nature of God.
To really understand and lay hold of all the vast riches of our wonderful and inexhaustibly rich Lord and Christ, we must learn to function as the body of Christ. It is only as we apprehend with all the saints all the many and varied aspects of Christ and have the blending of the knowledge and experience through our interaction with the other members of the body that we may become the corporate expression of Christ. For the corporate expression of the body of Christ, we need to know and experience the love of God in a dimension, which we have not yet. As we enter into the the kind of church life that Paul was praying about, we will both see the extreme need and find the inexhaustible supply of God’s love. It is our absolute need and God’s deep desire that we come to know His love in a way that we can now only begin to comprehend.
The Practical Need –
God’s Great Provision
The major part of the church is in babyhood. We are far from the place where all the members of the body can function in a coordinated and harmonious way. We must break loose of the traditions of men and get to a place where each member can respond to the directions of the Head of the body, Jesus Christ. Some Christian people are so set in the ways of the clergy-laity system that if someone in the meeting stood up and began to function in the way of teaching or sharing a revelation (as the Bible says to do in I Corinthians 14:26), they would be severely rebuked, if not kicked out. The saddest part is that they are so steeped in tradition they feel that they are fully justified in doing so. Sometimes, it can be discouraging when we see what God wants, in contrast with what we are prepared to give Him, but it is the words of Paul’s at the end of chapter 3 of Ephesians that give me great encouragement and faith that God can and will accomplish what He has set out to do, even with us. Ephesians 3:20 & 21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (NASV)
It is my full heart’s prayer that you may know by revelation of the Spirit the great power and love that God has waiting for you in the person of His Son, Jesus, and that this may be yours in all His fullness in your experience of Him. Amen!
© 1997 Bruce Archer