Ephesians 1: 1-4, 2: 13, 3: 20-21
I suppose as we consider the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, which we understand them to be, and appreciate them that way, there are times when one particular book of the Bible may become especially precious to us: it could be individually, it could be householdly, it could be collectively. Since Lord’s day, I have been very impressed with the value of the epistle to the Ephesians. This is one of the treasuries of heaven that were opened to Paul, a prisoner there in his prison cell, and without hesitation I would say that heavenly light was shining in as he penned the epistle to the Ephesians. He loved the saints at Ephesus. He had spent three years with them. He knew them so intimately. He had gone from house to house, prayed with them, admonished them, had not shrunk from announcing the whole counsel of God for the three years he was with them, Acts 20: 31. One of the things that impresses me is the scope of this epistle. In chapter 1, we look back to an eternity that was there even before what we have in Genesis 1: 1. In chapter 3, we look on to eternity, after the rapture, after the millennium, in which there will be glory to God “in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages”. Beloved brethren, let us value Ephesian light; it is the light for the last days, Mr James Taylor made a lot of the reference in Isaiah 60, “Arise, shine! For thy light is come”, He called it Ephesian light, vol 27 p110. Do we understand that expression?
I would just like to suggest one or two things as we think of it. Think of an eternity in chapter 1 that was there before there was anything at all that had been made, and the marvel of it is that through sovereign operations God chose us, you and me in Christ before the foundation of the world. If anything ought to draw out worship from our hearts, that is one of the glories of the scope which is in the epistle to the Ephesians. You may say that it is quoted every Lord’s day in the service of God, and that may be the case. I trust every one of us values the wonderful dignity and privilege to be chosen in Christ before the world’s foundation. God chose me in Christ before I was ever here. I trust you believe that. That is a rock to your soul in relation to anything that could possibly come into your lifetime, that God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world. Someone once said that he picked this Scripture up once, and he read this verse, and before he knew it tears were streaming down his cheeks at the magnitude of the scope that is included in Ephesian light. What a great matter to consider the scope which is in the epistle to the Ephesians; it impressed me on Lord’s Day. What a privilege it is to have the epistle to the Ephesians in our hands. You could say, ’Well there is the gospel’ and, of course, there is. I would not decry that, but sometimes a particular epistle or a particular book comes home to you for the moment and you value it as being distinctly inspired of God, written by Paul, one who was given distinctive assembly light; and here he is writing about eternity before he was here, an eternity before God was known in revelation in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when love existed in a unique and glorious way. And such language! Paul seems to have an insight given of God, divine light shining into his soul, that he can speak and write like this, “according as he has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation”. What a matter! What a rock! What a consideration! Is it affected by my state? No. Is it affected by what comes in? No: it is an absolute sovereign divine operation, part of the purpose of God because God had His purpose in a past eternity. God purposed in Himself, as we would understand, and brought it out that He had in mind that men in Christ would be in His presence eternally. How precious!
Now chapter 2, I would just quote - there are so many parts to be referred to. I will use it for the moment to think of what has been spoken of as the ’dip down into time’, JT vol 33: p199. Man has fallen; but thankfully we were sons in purpose before we were ever sinners in practice. The divine operation was in Christ, a divine Person coming into manhood in the time scene, in the ‘dip down into time’ as I have referred to it, and in His work was such that, “now in Christ Jesus ye” - that is us - “who once were afar off”, far off morally, far off in our sins, dead in sins and trespasses, “are become nigh”. How precious it is to see how Paul contemplated God operating. Chapter 1 presents a view of love at home, and chapter 2 displays love as it were away from home, and God operating in Christ to secure those that were the object of His purpose because He wanted them nigh, “ye who once were afar off are become nigh by the blood of the Christ”. What blessed matters these are! So you get an impression in the scope of what we can cover, as we consider it, of the greatness of the blood of the Christ. What a precious expression that is, the blood meeting what was outstanding, the blood always being able to meet the history of man as far as God is concerned. Man could never accomplish his own redemption; so we are told also in chapter 1, “in whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of offences”. That is another of the great truths which come into Ephesians at this level. What glorious matters these are! In chapter 1 you have redemption, you have an inheritance, you have the light and glory that God will head up all things in the Christ, and in chapter 2 you begin to see how God has operated, in the time scene in Christ to secure those that were the objects of His purpose and they “become nigh by the blood of the Christ”. How precious these matters are.
What a chapter chapter 3 is! Practically the whole of it is in parenthesis as Paul opens out his own intelligence in the mystery and his own feelings, and his humility as he says, “To me, less than the least of all saints has this grace been given”. How precious that is to consider. What must have been welling up in Paul’s heart as he wrote. He is in full flow in chapter 3, bringing out his own feelings, and his intelligence in the mystery. How precious all these things are; and he bows his knees to the Father, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named”. But he does not cease until he closes this whole part, the first three chapters of Ephesians, by looking on to an eternity that is yet to come. We will be ushered into that precious eternal day of which so little is said in Scripture, but this is one of the verses in which it is referred to, where, in the assembly that was in divine purpose and secured in the time scene, there will be glory to God “in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages”. How precious, and you and I, covered by redemption, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as part of that august vessel, will be active, participating in an eternity - without end - for the glory of God. How precious! What scope is in this for us to consider.
Oh, may we appreciate the epistle to the Ephesians, may we appreciate Ephesian light, and appreciate it such that with tenacity we would hold to it in the glory of it and all that it speaks of. All the exhortations come in in chapter 4 and onwards as to the functioning of the body, and chapter 5 the functioning of various relationships and so on. In chapter 6 we come to the defence in relation to the heavenly truth that it be protected, that we be strong in the Lord and put on the panoply of God. All these things are there. You think of what flowed from Paul in a distinctive way. Ephesians is an opening up of a treasure. May we all appreciate it more! For His Name’s sake.
4th September 2012
(this word was not revised by the author)