Notes of Reading on Ephesians 1:15-23.
G. V. Wigram.
Christian Friend Vol. 4 p. 33.
All the blessings are revealed. (vv. 3-14.) The apostle is saying, "All this future is before you. I want you now to know the basis on which it all hangs." He then takes them up (v. 15) on their faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints. Whether in this epistle, where he is speaking of the heavenly status, or whether in the epistle to the Romans, where he is speaking of the old man, taken up as a creature down here, the point where they come together is in faith and love. Where you see the heart really trusting in God through Christ, and caring for His saints, there you can accredit as one of God's people. (v. 16.) Thanksgiving for them. (v. 17.) The special form in which the blessings that were revealed were summed up before God as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. In the next prayer it is the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." We get things in the first persons.
Knowledge of certain blessings in Ephesians 1, and communion by faith Ephesians 3. You never get to the end of chapter 3. In chapter 1 he brings out blessing in connection with the Son of man sitting at the right hand of God. Life comes down to you, and then flows out. It is not philanthropy. We get the Lord Jesus Christ, or Son of the Father, the Father's delight resting on Him. There are children by adoption, and the same love that centres on the only-begotten flows out through Him to the children. "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26.) It is an immensely strong thing practically. I find the children in trial, in darkness. I say, "Never mind; the Father loves the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. The Son is before me. I cannot ask too great things. I will ask Him to bring all that really say, Abba, Father." The same with the difficulties we have to meet; we find a power in proportion as we bring in the love of the Father to the Son.
Mark another thing about faith. It is faith and hope in God. It comes through the knowledge of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ; but when you come to God you will be able to say, "He is for me today." You will not need to put any prayer between you and the blessing tomorrow. God is for me TODAY.
The difference in prayer, when you are praying up to a certain point, and when you are praying from it, is immense. There is a great want of that repose in the Father's love in saints, counting on His being what He is for us. Because of all that He is, we take our place of seeking the things that are wanted for the people for whom He is; but if you seek the blessing because He is for you personally, you bring the law in underhandedly. If you got that, it would be testimony that He is for you? No; you must believe that He is for you, because of what He has done. He recognizes every groaning, every breathing after Himself; but that is not properly Christian prayer. There may be the groaning and the grasping for something, you do not know what, as in Romans 8; but, for a Christian, it is in the full confidence that He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit; for He maketh intercession for the saints according to God.
Several of these subjects of petition I feel are too much forgotten; for instance, that He might give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I suppose it is not the Holy Ghost. As a believer, I cannot pray to receive the Spirit, because I am in the place where the Spirit is; but if I am there, and know I am there, I must seek the spirit of wisdom from God.
"For the acknowledgment of Him." It is not proclaiming, but recognizing Him. It is remarkable in many places where he speaks of God, and when he speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, the "Him" is common to both.
"What is the hope of His calling?" You get two things — the place where Christ is, and the character connected with Him. The Father's house will be the place; but there is the having a character fit for Himself, and being irreproachable. It is that I, as an individual, am to be brought to Him so completely, that He can rest in perfect satisfaction on me.
"Holy and without blame before Him in love." In Christ we are it now; but when I get into communion with Him at the present time, I am perfectly conscious that being in the Beloved is one thing, and my soul being free in it is quite another. There are a quantity of elements which, while under restraint, are not brought out.
The Father's house is connected with His coming to fetch us; but, when there, He will have subjected all that in any way produces a jar. If you get into close communion, you find in your communion how unfit you are for it. You cannot have the power of enjoyment that you will have when you are brought home. When we see Him we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. The external glory is one thing, and the glory of character is another. "His servants shall serve Him; and His name shall be in their foreheads;" two very different things from walking the golden streets. In Revelation you get external glory — manifestation; in the Father's house you get the thought of repose. Then, besides its being the Father's house (which by right and title belongs to the only-begotten Son), and my being brought there, I find that when with this one there I shall be thoroughly fit for His presence; I, individually.
He divides it into terms: "That ye may know what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ," etc. (vv. 18, 19.) This last is more connected with circumstances, circumstances which can only be occupied with blessing by a people of a certain character. "His inheritance in the saints" (v. 18), not "the Lord's portion is His people." That is earth, not heaven. He meant to have a heavenly people with His Son, and there were two things in His mind — for God the Son to become a man, and He in heaven, then, according to God, to bring sons into adoption. God inherited the land through Israel. His glory will have to be in the house at Jerusalem; but He would have heavenly people become the medium through which Christ is seen down here on earth — all the Father revealed in the Son, all the glory shining out through the New Jerusalem; so that, wonderful as the earthly glory is, men shall have to say, "What things there are in heaven." The One rejected eighteen hundred years. His glory shines out there, to them. It will be the inheritance in heaven. The saints will not be the inheritance. It will be heaven according to God — God upon His throne, His Son in the majesty that He has won: saints with Him there. He comes out to associate His heavenly Bride with Himself. A relationship is so different from a question of property. A wife is not accounted property. It is not association merely, but relationship. When all the pageantry of the kingdom comes out, when it becomes the manifested thing, God will have the very humiliation of the Lamb in view. God manifest in flesh as the Lamb that had been slain. He was crucified through weakness. Power could not step in there. He liveth by the power of God. I shall worship the Lamb.
God claimed Palestine as His land, and He took possession of, or He put His people into it. He claims me not for a millennial city, but a city in the heavenly places. He will bring in the children by adoption. The heavenly places form the character of the children. It is love taking possession of life. When you get the glory you get the manifestation. It is heaven, not earth, here. It is all that is connected with a certain man there who had been buffeted down here. He is shown there sitting quietly in the divine glory. Never a man on earth had had that place. "That man," God is saying, He "took the place of being my servant. He is my Son. As the Father of the glory, I will show you what my thoughts about Him are. Look up! See where He is! I have given Him glory surpassing everything. For you, saints, called through this rejected One."
In the New Jerusalem there will be manifestation. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Everything that is in the Father will be manifested, so that the people there will be able to say, "Well, there is no difference at all." The Father reveals Himself in the Son, the Son reveals Himself in the adopted children. God will shine out into this people, and will shine through them now. As far as I understand "the inheritance in the saints," it is God taking possession of heaven in His people. In Him the lot is fallen to us. It is not, as people have sometimes said, our inheriting Christ. The thought of inheriting Christ is not in Scripture. In Him we have a certain thing just as it is. A man of very large property marrying a person very poor — she. may speak of obtaining an inheritance in him. I should understand she had acquired estates. I could not understand a man talking of his wife as an "inheritance."
The heavenly places are not taken possession of yet. The saints shall take possession of these places. Satan shall be cast out, and Christ come in. The title "heir" is dropped when a person comes into the inheritance. He is then possessor. Remark that Ephesians is in measure like Deuteronomy, strongly in contrast too. We get Israel brought into the land, and the church having it in glory. There is no sin at all in heaven; all evil is put out. If I bought a house, that would not be my "inheritance." I inherit from my father. If I had property entailed upon me, I should be heir until I came into possession. The power that wrought in Christ works towards us. (v. 19.) "If children, then heirs." I am a minor now. When you see me in possession, clothed upon with the glory, you will not think me a fool.
I have certain expectancies. Until I have seen the Lord, and been taken up by Him, I am not in actual possession. It is the difference between the earnest of the inheritance and the redemption of the purchased possession. All that glory of the millennial city. I shall be in it. The Holy Ghost will form it all, and He has taken up His abode in me, that I may know it all. If God has given me the spirit of the glory, it is no great thing for Hint to give me the glory afterward. The Spirit will form the glory. He is the earnest now. You say to labourers working in the field, I will pay you so much in advance. It is understood that the compact is made. They have received part of the money, the master is pledged to fulfil the rest of the compact.
In this case He does not give me part of the glory, but He gives me the Former of the glory, the Holy Ghost. The time will be when He will come gild appropriate to Himself the purchased possession "the thing treated about," περιποιήσις. It is a very peculiar expression. The earnest is the first-fruit of the inheritance, until the redemption of the thing treated about to the praise of His glory. I should not think it here more than the place. I should define our inheritance "riches of the glory," distinctive to the mystery. The other might be quite true; but when I get Eve looked upon as the help-meet to Adam, it is a peculiar light in which it is shown. Other things might be true, but she is the confidante. "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."
We lose a great deal in Scripture, if we want to make parallelisms. There are no "parallel passages." There is something that illumines each passage, and brings out peculiarities of mind. Losing that, we lose the thread; we lose that in the passage which brings out the finer touches. "When He raised Him from the dead." (v. 20.) The Lord waited in the grave; He was raised to His place at God's right hand. The same power that accomplished that resurrection works in us who believe. He unfolds it more in the next chapter. One power it is that carries us through this scene, and that binds us up with Christ in heaven. One power. Do you believe that literally in God's mind you are inseparable from Christ at His right hand? Not one in a thousand says, "God says I am." The same power that wrought in Him works now in us. A person needs to know that for his own establishment. Old Bishop Hall and Goodwin say distinctly, that unquestionably a man that is a believer in Christ ought to know himself inseparable in life from the Man at God's right hand. If there, they must know the Man who is there. It is the Man who in Phil. 2 was down here, and did not care what He did, if God had His way with Him. The great peculiarity of the Lord Jesus Christ here is this: He brought all His Sonship into His servantship. Every part of His life here was the unqualified force of His Sonship expressing itself in service. If we know Him. The Spirit of God says, "Well, the same power that put Him there, puts you."
Where are you with regard to the world, the flesh, and the devil? If the blessed Son, the only-begotten Son, when He came down here, expressed the whole of the Father — the whole of His Sonship in His servantship — are you saying, "I am a son of God, and I am going to walk exactly as He did"? If you have everything in Him, are you living as He lived? He never made allowance for the flesh. He knew thoroughly all the weakness of humanity; what it was to be weary, no one to understand Him. The whole thing He was after was to express His Sonship in His servantship. You must know that in God's mind you are so identified with Him that you walk in the spirit in which He walked.
What is wanted so much is the person brought to GOD. Eternal life always turns around the Father and the Son. What we have in Him is in assured grace, so that we are perfectly sheltered. Have you eternal life? Are you walking in it? There is exercise always. If it makes the wilderness very rough, it is the more bright for this. We find the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.
It is remarkable the contrast between the terms used. Speaking about us, it is "the exceeding greatness, the surpassingness of the greatness of His power;" "according to the energy of the strength of His might."
I always feel that after all it was no such wonderful thing that He should take Him up, or that He, having left the grave, should go up to God's right hand. When I look at where we were, I say, Well this is a marvellous thing, that He should find me out, and set me in Christ who created it all. It ought to be far more our Habit to look at things as connected with Him up there. "Head over all things." (v. 21.) We have the category of what is in Him. Everything will be headed up in Him. All Adam's possessions were for the use of Eve. It becomes practically so, even where it is not that in which the wife would interfere. "Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all." Plenty of thorns to be driven into you. Satan to buffet you. Everything is in His hand to use for your blessing. Amazing revelation of what is His portion as Man at God's right band. A portion wonderfully little thought of. You will find very rarely, if you live with people, that they have the thought of there being a Man up there. It changes everything. You delight in God, in all the thought of God Himself: I am down here, and I see groaning, trouble, sorrow. There is one Man in heaven, and the eyes of that Man are always upon me, and the heart of that Man always with me. The river of refreshing flows into one's soul. He is like a cool place on a scorching day. Generally there is a curtain drawn in the mind between what is up there and down here. "That is in heaven," people say. Scripture takes it for granted that you are in heaven now. One Person is there; the Man who down here never would have His own will. There He is, with a heart looking down on us, gathering now to the place where He is; and all the heart I have is with Him and upon Him there.