Okay, so last time we looked at light and dark a little bit. We examined that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of light, and that the kingdom of darkness is the kingdom of Satan. I didn’t get to express everything I wanted simply because I didn’t want to write something too lengthy. I said we would pick up in Ephesians 1.
Lets first glance at Luke 1:31-33:
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This is the Christmas story, right? Well, at least it’s part of it. The idea of Christmas is that a kingdom has invaded Earth from Heaven. This heavenly kingdom is ruled by one known as Jesus – the Christ/Messiah. Jesus did not gain the rule of this kingdom by merit or by His deserving. He inherited the kingdom through suffering. He was fully obedient to His Father, even unto death. In that suffering to obedience, He was raised by the glory of the Father – this is known as the resurrection.
If by means of the resurrection Christ inherited the kingdom of God to rule over even the angels and spiritual beings, then we too must enter this kingdom through death and resurrection. We too must come down before we rise up. In our rising by that same glory that raised Christ, we too are brought above even the angels that one day we will judge them.
This Kingdom of Light (Kingdom of God) is open to all who will willingly forfeit everything – for anyone who loses his life for Jesus’ sake will find it. And this is where we find ourselves in Ephesians.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Here we have the connection back to the beginning of the world, and the redemption being brought forth from that beginning. Now I can follow pretty well that we have been forgiven by the blood of Christ, but when we hit verse 8 and read, “With all wisdom and understanding,” or in the King James version it uses the word prudence for understanding, I start to get a little lost. What does it mean that God lavished His grace upon us in wisdom and understanding?
The idea behind the understanding is a judicious one. It is portraying a sense of reality and sanity. God sees as things really are, and is therefore just. Through His seeing (reality) He is able to decree one way or the other whether we are forgiven or condemned. Wisdom is described in Proverbs 8 in a way that makes me assume that it is the Holy Spirit. So God lavished His grace upon us by the Spirit and through reality.
The mystery of His will in Ephesians 1:9 was described in the last blog posting. It is the cosmic setting of darkness being judged once and for all. This isn’t a question of who should I marry, and what college should I go to, and where should I live… This will of God is that we are wrapped up in the story told from the beginning unto the very end. We are now children of the light, and we are in the story of God to push back the darkness and bring down the stronghold of Satan.
The mystery of His will is directly related to the redemption of all things, which is the cosmic restoration, which is “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess,” which is beyond Eden and into the “New Heaven and New Earth.” Wisdom is the basis by which we understand these things, which is to say: unless by the Spirit, then not at all. Prudence is a statement of ultimate reality, which is ultimate sanity. Until we are apprehended by these things (instead of intellectually apprehending them), we do not possess the prudence (therefore authenticity and true sanity) to see and display to the cosmos His will – the redemption stated in verse 7.
In this we have so much to digest. This would require that we are somehow connected to the world around us. We were created physical, but also spiritual. We have connection with the spiritual atmosphere around us, but at the same time we have just as deep of a connection to the natural world around us. You cannot be a spiritual man without the physical. The one only goes as deep as the other. Our redemption and righteousness that we can attain to (the blamelessness and holiness mentioned in verse 4) actually transmits something in the airwaves to the rest of creation. We are the fragrance of Christ, and by our being in Him, we bring salvation and redemption to the world around us.
Think about this. Our witnessing is nothing until we have been brought into the realm where we can fight off the darkness and the rulers of that darkness by our very character and conduct. Our spiritual warfare isn’t prayer; it is a mode of living. Our lifestyles need to be that of which characterizes the Kingdom of God and His glory, otherwise we are only drinking of the same cup that the world drinks from. We are to be the bearers of light because of our life, not because of our words. Our prayers and our worship and other things that cause the darkness to flee can only be from the overflow of our reality and our lifestyle being in Christ Jesus. In Him we must live and move and have our being.
I read in verse 10: the dispensation of the fullness of times. The NIV words it: when the times reach their fulfillment. What does that mean? It is to bring all things in heaven and earth under Christ. Still, I want to know what that means. So I grabbed the dictionary. A dispensation is speaking of order or arrangement – especially of nature. So we’re still talking about God bringing redemption to all things – order out of chaos. Paul is making the statement that we are a part of the story of God to bring all things in heaven and earth together in one in Christ. This is the dispensation of the fulness of the times: God’s story of redemption.
We’ve reach verse 11: In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Our inheritance is to be a part of this story. We want to think that our inheritance is Heaven. It is not Heaven. Our inheritance is that here and now we can be instruments and tools of God for the cosmic salvation. We are here on earth, but at the same time we’re there in Heaven. We bring the two together. Through the Body of Christ, heaven and earth kiss.
This isn’t to lessen what Heaven will be after darkness has been defeated. We can’t begin to describe what that will be like. We can only know in part, and cherish that which God has chosen to reveal.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
This is the final bit I want to tackle today. it is by and through the Holy Spirit that we attain this inheritance. The Holy Spirit is then called “the assurance of our inheritance” in verse 14. The assurance that we have attained to such a place in God is the seal of the Holy Spirit. We cannot begin to conceive these things and walk out this reality without it. There is an absolute demand in forsaking all trust in the flesh and cleaving to the power of the Spirit. Nothing less can save us; nothing less can preserve us. Paul ends this statement with a reference back to verse 7 about the purchase of Christ’s blood. We’re still walking this out and waring against the powers of darkness at every step. Don’t forget that He who began a good work in you will finish it.
Next time we’ll try to get into our warfare against Satan himself. Maybe we’ll look at Ephesians 3 or 6 (or both?). I want to be able to get to making a statement about where we’re heading in the future, and the Kingdom of God being established here on Earth for 1000 years, and then hopefully discoursing Heaven itself.
Grace and Peace