The Prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23 and Ephesians 3:14-21

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One prayer is attached to the name of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, because He is looked at as Man; the other to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because He is looked at as Son. The beginning of chapter I gave us God's calling, that we should be "holy and without blame before him in love," that we might receive "the adoption of sons." After stating His purpose concerning Christ Himself, that all things are to be gathered together in one in Him, the apostle goes on to the inheritance of which the Holy Ghost is the earnest, and then to the prayer for them on this ground. At the very close of the chapter he adds our relationship to Christ Himself, "the church which is his body." It is always well for us to remember that Christ has purified to Himself a peculiar people, a people of possession, and we cannot rise up to the counsels of God and mind of Christ unless we be brought into these intentions of God. The most immediate and closest object of His thoughts is His saints. I necessarily take in all saints if I am in His thoughts; I cannot have the mind of Christ without taking in all of them; it is the very spirit of Christ Himself.

There are two parts in this prayer of the apostle. The first is, that they might know the place itself; the second, that they should know the power that brought them there. The very fulness of the blessing we have got is that we are blessed with Him. As we were associated with the first Adam in ruin, so we are associated with the second Man in glory. There is nothing He has that He does not bring us into. This is the character of perfect love. Christ gives "not as the world giveth." The world may give generously sometimes, but it has done with what it gives; Christ gives by introducing His own into what He is enjoying Himself. Take glory: "the glory which thou gavest me I have given them." Take joy: "that my joy might remain in you." Take peace: "peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." Take love: "that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me." Having become man and accomplished perfect redemption, He would not take the inheritance without His joint-heirs. He is the source and head of all the glory that is given. "What is the hope of His calling?" Not of your calling - this would not do at all. Here it has the fullest and highest character. He takes the heart up to these thoughts and counsels of God. We are called to be before God holy and without blame; we are called to be in Christ's place before God, before the Father, perfectly answering to His love. He does not pray that they may have it, but that they may know it.

117 As to His inheritance in the saints, if our minds took in the Jewish place compared with our own, this would be extremely simple. Whose land was Israel's? It was God's inheritance; and those in whom He inherited it were Israel. We are not an inheritance, but we are heirs of God. We have nothing below what God would have in His mind here.

Observe the prayer is, "that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened." We must not think that we ought not to know these things. The New Testament carefully tells us that we have them laid open to us expressly. "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" - such was the state of the Jews; but it is not our state. These things are not only given to us, but we are given to understand them; we are not in the condition of the Old Testament at all. In 1 Corinthians 2 we have the three steps; revelation by the Holy Ghost; communication of the word given by the Holy Ghost; and the reception of the word by the Holy Ghost.

Take the account of the heavenly city in the Apocalypse - it means something. All those images are characteristic in Scripture; I quite admit they are only figures, but they convey thoughts. The more we live in the mind of God, the more intelligent we are. The same things I see through a glass darkly, I shall see more clearly, but not differently. Thus the "white stone" is a symbol full of power. We have common joys, but there is the immediate approbation of Christ to the individual. "Gold" is always the sign of divine righteousness in itself. In the laver the priests were to wash and be clean; but with the sea of glass like crystal I walk upon purity. So "fire" is judgment, as "a sea of glass mingled with fire"; it is perfect purity as the result of judgment. "The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." Instead of walking through the dirt of this world, I am to walk in holiness and righteousness according to God. In the Apocalypse we do not go beyond the idea of God in government.

118 Now we come to the power that brings us into these things. "According to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." What an immense truth there is in connection with this! The Messiah was not merely the promised Son of David, but the One in whom all God's counsels would be accomplished. He went down below all things, and then goes far above all heavens. This dead Man is raised above all principality and power. He had gone down into the place of death, and men are consequently looked at as dead in sins, not as living in them.

It is well to note here that to look at the sinner as alive in sins, or as dead in them, is just the same state, but a different aspect of it. In Romans man is seen alive in sins, and Christ meeting that state. There is nothing of justification in Ephesians, not a single stir of life there; we were dead in the sins, and Christ died for the sins. God comes in and takes us all up together, looked at as in the mind and counsels of God. God quickens us together with Him. Christ comes down to this place of death, having cleansed our sins on the road, and God raises Him. Man is looked at consequently as united to Christ. This you do not find in the other epistles. The same power has wrought in every individual who believes in Christ that wrought in Him. Christ had gone into death for us, entering into the whole thing in grace and finding us where we were, and, He having wrought the work that entitles Him to take us out of it, we are raised with Him, seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is your place; He does not ask you what you think about it! There is no person who has the Spirit of Christ without this as his place. We are waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body, but one must be either in Christ or out of Christ. There are never two places for the Christian.

All things are to be put under Christ's feet as Man, for God "gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body" - a short sentence, but the whole mystery is in it. It is a quotation of Psalm 8, "all things are put under his feet." In Psalm 2 He is seen as Son of David, King of Zion, Son of God. Nathanael refers to this psalm; and Jesus says to him, "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man." He is rejected, and then comes out Psalm 8. Now He is crowned with glory and honour, but we do not see all things put under His feet yet. He is now sitting on the Father's throne. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." "Sit thou on my right hand," says Jehovah, "till I make thine enemies thy footstool." The day of grace is before that "till." There is our comfort and blessing, that He has finished the work for His friends. "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them which are sanctified." We stand therefore between the work which He perfected at His first coming, and His second coming. We are not, like the Jews, waiting to see that His offering is accepted, because the Holy Ghost is come out meanwhile and seals those who believe in Christ. I know the acceptance; I know that He is our forerunner. Then He deals with His enemies. When thus set over all things, the Son Himself will be subject to Him who put all things under Him - a most blessed truth for us. He will reign while He brings all into absolute order for God; when this has been done, He will take His place as Man and never give it up. He is the first-born among many brethren. Over everything He created, He is set as Man: but a head without a body would not be complete. The supplement is wanting; the church is His body.

119 No one ever mentions the church but Paul. Others may speak of a local church; and Christ said, "On this rock I will build my church"; but I am not speaking of this either. If the church had been revealed before the cross, you must make every Jew who was in it break the law. The essence of the church is that all are one, Jew and Gentile.

The prayer in chapter 3 is addressed to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There the apostle does not ask that they may know all these thoughts and counsels of God, but that Christ may dwell in their hearts. He is not now looking at them objectively, but at Christ in them. He desires that they should have Christ actually, consciously, by faith dwelling in their hearts, settled in the perfectness of divine love, that they may be able to comprehend the breadth and length and depth and height - he does not say of what - while putting Christ in the centre of all that glory. If I look at the breadth and length and depth and height, it is dazzling. If I found my closest friend the centre of the Queen's court, I should be at home there at once. Is it that I have lost anything by this, that it is the humble lowly One who is dwelling in my heart? Not a bit.

120 Thus, if in chapter 1 we have exterior power bringing up Christ, or ourselves by grace, into a position of glory at God's right hand, in chapter 3 we find divine power in us as in the position, and we sought to be strengthened and filled accordingly, in order to realise what it and God Himself is in the fulness of it. It is not God dealing with man, but Christ's relation as Son and dwelling in us by faith - He, the centre and divinely entitled light of the fulness and display, dwelling in us to give competency to enter into all the scene. Rooted and grounded in love we are at the centre thus in its moral or rather divine springs, and so embrace all that partake of the divine nature, because it is the action of that nature. Thus we look out into the wide extended scene of glory, whose limit none can tell; yet still this is a display, not a source, a scene, not Himself. In love we are at the source of all. We know the love of Christ that passes knowledge. What I know it in has made it wholly and peculiarly mine, yes, mine as being nothing in it. Christ is divine, infinite in nature. It is so proved in the way it adapts itself to all my wants and weakness, known in adapting itself to them, yet known in itself. As Christ's love it is for man, is manifested in man, and adapts itself to man; yet therein as divine it passes knowledge and brings man, as spiritual (he can feel, think, and apprehend as man), into the enjoyment of the scene, in which God is displayed, and to God Himself according to His own fulness, and this filled with love as in the centre of it consciously. It is we, not brought into a scene by power, but filled up to the measure of the fulness of God, Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. Thus love is the spring of power in us, so that we estimate the scene of that fulness according to the title, character, and nature of God in it, He Himself being the ultimate blessedness of which we are conscious. What makes us familiar there is, that that which is in us, and which is the central light of all, is One we know, who dwells in us by faith, the nearest and most confided in of all, yet the fulness of Deity is in Him. Compare Rev. 21:23.

121 God "is able to do exceeding abundantly according to the power that worketh in us." This is what we are to look for now: has your heart got hold of this? There is a power that works in us, and He can do exceeding abundantly above all we ask and think according to it. How little faith there is in the power of God!

I believe everything is in ruin or confusion; but there is no ruin or confusion in the power of Christ. I never can think of a power of evil that is not below His power.