"Not of the world"

Ephesians 1

<27008E> 122

We get here the whole scope of God's thoughts and purposes. The Epistle to the Ephesians takes in two things: the presence and power of the Holy Ghost on earth, and the condition that we are in as the result of it; and what this is founded on, the exaltation of Christ at God's right hand. Ephesians does not speak of the coming of the Lord, because the way our glory is brought about is not its subject, but the present blessing of the saints. There is a distinct part at the end where our conflict with Satan comes in, but the general scope is what I have said: the basis, the exaltation of Christ; then purpose, what is in God's mind; and then the knowledge of it, by the Holy Ghost come down. "He raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand"; this was needed for us to know our place and the most important consequences flowing from it down here. The presence of the Holy Ghost who has come down from heaven, the seal of our being heirs, and the earnest of the inheritance, is our present condition, based upon Christ raised to the right hand of God. A Man is sitting at the right hand of God: a wonderful truth for us. His "delights are with the sons of men." Being a Man, and having died and therein perfectly glorified God, God has raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand; and thereupon the Holy Ghost is come down here, so that we are associated with Him and the things that are on high, in heart and mind, though not yet there as to our bodies. This is where the heart has to be; our conversation is in heaven, for the Lord is there, not here; He is coming to make our bodies like unto His glorious body, but at present we have the Holy Ghost associating us with the place where He is.

God has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." That is God's mind. We are not yet there in fact, but it is the thought of God about us, and we ought to have it always before us. Blessings of the Jews in earthly places under Christ will be fulfilled in time, but for us it is "spiritual blessings," and "in heavenly places," and "in Christ" Himself; and our present connection with it all comes through the Holy Ghost.

We next get, in verses 4 and 5, two aspects of these spiritual blessings: they are brought before us in connection with the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, Christ is looked at as Son and looked at as Man. The Father owned Him in manhood as the Son in Matthew 3, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." God is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ as Man; He is called His Father as Son.

123 This is the great basis of the wonderful place in which we are. It is man that God has in His mind put in this place of glory in His own Son. And this is not without its consequences, and those of the very highest nature.

God's choosing us before the foundation of the world is not what affirms in the time of choosing the sovereignty of grace, for, supposing for a moment that God were to choose us now, it would be just as sovereign an act as doing it then. The practical truth brought out in His choosing us before the foundation of the world is, that it proves that we have nothing whatever to do with the world; before its very foundation we were chosen; we have nothing to do with it but to get through it. God would bring us into this blessedness with Himself which has nothing to do with the world. We have just to go through it "unspotted"; that is all we have to do with it. Our living place was settled with God before ever it existed. God had this thought to have a people in Christ, "holy and without blame before him in love." This is what God Himself is. He thus brings us to be according to His own nature - "holy and without blame" before Himself. We have an infinite object before whom we are, and having the divine nature we can enjoy that object. We are not taken out of the world yet, nor are meant to be; but we are to pass through it as Christ did. If one look at it in another point of view, it is just what Christ was Himself, and that before God. This is the thought of God.

Then (v. 5) I get the Father. He might have had servants like the angels, but this was not His thought: "He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself." He insists on that, it is the blessed part of it - that it is before God, and to Himself as Father. If it be a relationship, it is to Himself.

Thus we have the nature, "holy and without blame." It does not say there "according to the good pleasure of his will," for God could not have beings in His presence in a sinful state. But when it is relationship, it is "according to the good pleasure of his will": He chooses to have us as sons. I get love, the nature of God - "in love" - and love of predilection too. The place we get into is one that is according to the good pleasure of His will, and He brings us according to His own nature before Himself; there is not a cloud because He has "made us accepted in the beloved" - Christ assuredly; but He gives that name to Him to mark the full character of the blessedness, and thus brings us into His own presence.

124 This is the purpose; it does not say here how much of it is accomplished: it will not be fully until we are in the glory. Only in the end of the chapter we get what is accomplished in fact, as the groundwork of all our present enjoyment of it in spirit. God takes Christ out of death and sets Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. This is an accomplished thing; it is "wrought in Christ": Christ as Man is in the glory of God.

And then we get the third thing: the Holy Ghost has come down meanwhile. Before the purpose is accomplished, but when the work in Christ is accomplished, the Holy Ghost comes down, the seal with which God has sealed those here who have part in His purpose, and the earnest of their inheritance. We are then competent to see God's plans about Christ Himself, His purpose "to gather together in one all things in him, both which are in heaven and which are on earth." Then it is glory.

The first verses were our calling; now it is our inheritance. And this inheritance is "after the counsel of his own will." It is sovereign grace to poor sinners that brings us into this place. It will not be accomplished until He come; it is in Him we have obtained it, being "predestinated according to his purpose." That which is believed in order to our being sealed is "the gospel of our salvation." John the Baptist was the forerunner of Him who was to accomplish it; but now we have the glad tidings of it consequent on the actual exaltation of Christ, and the seal of the Holy Ghost as the earnest of what is to come.

This is where we are whilst still in the world which is no part of the purpose of God, but in which, passing through discipline, we learn the difference between flesh and spirit; it is His ways, but not part of His purpose. The Holy Ghost comes down from heaven, gives us to know Christ, reveals to us our inheritance, bears witness to us that we are "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." He makes us know where we are; that we belong to heaven and not to this earth at all. As we read in Proverbs: "In the beginning of his way, before his works of old, from the beginning or ever the earth was, then I was by him, as one brought up with him, and my delights were with the sons of men," so Christ became Man, and is gone into glory as our forerunner.

125 I desire that our hearts may feel that in God's thoughts and purposes He has given us a place that is not of the world at all, and that all our business in this world is to keep ourselves unspotted from it. I do not belong to this world; before the foundation of it I was chosen. It is not thus simply the sovereignty that does what it pleases, but that we, as Christians, do not belong to earth at all. Epistle of Christ is what we are; we may not live up to it, but it is what we are called to: to manifest the second Man in the midst of the world that has rejected Him.