Five messages were spoken in the January 25-26 International Chinese-Speaking Conference in Taipei. The general subject of the conference was The Heart of the Divine Revelation. This post (a mild digression from my concentration on New Jerusalem) is part of a cooperation by five brothers to get into and then post a review of these messages with our appreciation of and light from these messages. The five message titles with links to our posts are:
An Overview of the Four Focal Books—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians
Galatians—Christ Formed in Us
Ephesians—Paul’s Prayer for the Church regarding Revelation
Philippians—Experiencing Christ by Taking Him as Everything
Colossians—the All-inclusive, Extensive Christ versus Culture
Christ is the Reality of the Church
This post is on the third message. The second message was on Christ being revealed in us, living in us, and especially being formed in us (Gal. 1:15-16, 2:20, 4:19). Christ in us is a firm and eternal fact. However, Christ living in us and living through us is experiential and unfortunately is variable. We need to give Him more cooperation that He may become our practical living. When He is our living, we can testify “to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). By such a daily living, Christ will saturate us, mature in us, and be expressed from us. When Christ is formed in us and expressed through us corporately, this is the reality of the church.
If we are concerned for God’s eternal will, we will care for the church. If our concern is only for our own spiritual needs, we will care little for the church. If we get into Ephesians we see that church is not a physical building nor an organization. The church not merely a group of Christians coming together. It is an organism. We need a revelation of this.
The title of this message is, Paul’s Prayer for the Church regarding Revelation. This is the second part of Ephesians chapter 1. We need a revelation of Christ in us as the reality of the church. In Ephesians 3 is a second prayer, for our experience of Christ, but we need revelation before we can have experience.
Seven Aspects of the Church in Ephesians
In Ephesians the church is presented in seven ways that express God’s will and desire.
• The church is the Body of Christ, a living organism, the fullness of Christ (1:22b-23)
• The church is the new man, having Christ as the unique Person (2:15)
• The church is the kingdom of God, with us as the citizens under God’s rule (2:19)
• The church is the household, the family of God (2:19)
• The church is God’s home, the place where He is at rest (2:21-22)
• The church is the wife of Christ in an intimate, loving relationship (5:24-25)
• The church is a warrior to exercise God’s authority and defeat His enemy (6:11-12).
To see the church in these seven aspects requires revelation in our spirit. We need to pray the prayer in Ephesians 1.
The Need for Prayer
Ephesians 1:15-23 is Paul’s prayer for the church regarding revelation. To see the church we need to exercise our spirit because the church is in the realm of the spirit. To see the church cannot be by anything natural. What we have learned and how many degrees we have mean nothing. We need both the exercise of our spirit and the revelation from God. We must come to God and ask Him to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation (v. 17). Revelation is from God; wisdom enables us to apprehend what is revealed. Revelation is in our spirit. In Psalm 73, the Psalmist was discouraged (v. 2-16). Then he went into sanctuary of God and received light (v. 17). The sanctuary is where God is—our spirit. To see spiritual matters, we need to come into this sanctuary, not remaining in our mind to analyze humanly.
Paul prayed not only for our spirit but also for heart to be enlightened. To see spiritual things we need to exercise the eyes of our heart. They need to be enlightened. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Whether we can see God depends on condition of our heart. When we have a sober mind, tempered emotions, a submissive will, and a clear conscience, then the eyes of our heart will see spiritual things.
A Three-fold Seeing: Hope, Glory, Power
Paul prayed for us to see the hope of God’s calling (Eph. 1:18), the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance (v. 18), and the surpassing greatness of God’s power (v. 19). The hope of God’s calling is Christ in us, our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Sooner or later, everything other than Christ will become a disappointment to us. God’s calling is both once for all and a moment-by-moment reminder to turn to Him in every situation. Through our response to this calling Christ will saturate our being to glorify us (Rom. 8:30), making us the same as He is (1 John 3:2). Thus, we will express Him in full.
Paul prayed for us to see the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in us. What does God desire to inherit? Twice in Matthew (3:17; 17:5), God declared that Christ is His beloved Son, His Delight. God delights to inherit the Christ wrought into our being. By beholding Christ day by day we are being transformed into His image through the infusion of His element. The result will be our conformation to Christ, with which God will be well pleased.
Paul also prayed that we see the surpassing greatness of God’s four-fold power: the power that raised Christ from the dead, that seated Him in the heavenlies far above all, that put all things under His feet, and that gave Him to be Head over all things to the church (v. 1:19-23). God caused this power to operate in Christ 2000 years ago. Today, this power is continually “toward us who believe” (v. 19) and “to the church” (v. 22). Electric lights are useless without electricity. Likewise, if we do not experience this power, the church is merely an outward shell. The genuine church is that which receives this four-fold power. It is being transmitted to us and operates through our believing, a believing which is from God.
Now is not the time to do something nor to resolve to be better. Our cooperation is to beseech the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, who is also our God and Father, according to what Paul prayed. We could pray something along this line: “Father God, thank You for this rich portion in Your word. Energize my spirit to be a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Enlighten the eyes of my heart that I may see Christ as my hope, that I may see Christ as the riches of Your inheritance in me, that I may experience Your four-fold power to me. Father, cause me to enter into the reality of the church as it is revealed in Ephesians.”