Chapter 1

John Ritchie, Publisher Of Christian Literature

Chapter 1

Here is an Epistle to the saints. And, blessed be God, we are saints, though we do not deserve to be. People in their ignorance, say, “Saint” Peter, and “Saint “Paul, but God calls all His people saints. “Sanctified by God “that is, separated by God, —the “garden enclosed,”—a holy people to begin with. Then we are to live holily. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” As we are holy, we are to pursue after holiness. Just to remember what God has made us! When tempted to sin, to remember God has made us saints. Only in this Epistle and Colossians are they called “faithful “as well, showing a striking resemblance between them. They particularly fit together.

It implies that the truths they contain are specially meant to comfort the hearts of His faithful saints. “To the saints and to the faithful,”—as if those who were faithful required showing from God’s Word those things which would keep them strong.

Verse 2.—“Grace be to you, and peace,” etc. I am not tired of that expression, and the Lord repeats it, as we needed line upon line, and precept upon precept, as if we needed it fresh and fresh. The grace and peace of yesterday is not enough. God wants us to have it fresh. It assumes that God would have .us in the perfect enjoyment of peace. He still says “Peace,” as if He would rid our hearts of every quiver and make us quite at home. If the Lord Jesus and the Queen of England walked into this room, which would make our hearts flutter most? The Lord Jesus would say “Peace”; the Queen could not. There would be no cause to flutter if the Lord Jesus came bodily. He would not allow anything like the contradiction of peace. He would make us free and easy in His presence. God our Father loves us as much as Christ, and Christ as much as God. What a comfort.

Verse 3.—“Blessed be the God and Father,” etc. The Epistle begins with God in relation to Christ. It is remarkable how frequently the name “Christ” is mentioned in this first chapter. Nothing without Christ! The apostle is going to open out grand things; that is the reason it does not say “Paul, and Timotheus, and Silvanus.” It was truth only revealed to himself.

“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” An expression in Scripture we should always notice. Not a strange God; not merely the God of creation: but the God with whom we have to do is the God of Christ, so our God. The Father of Christ, and so our Father. I stand in relation to Christ, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is the way I get relationship with God. A living, holy God who made all things, came down and got to me, and lifts me right up to Himself through His beloved Son. Then there is a relationship to His beloved Son: He is my “Lord.”

“Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings,” etc. Not who will, not who wants to, but who “hath blessed us.” What a beautiful “hath!” He has given us everything already, given us His Son, His Spirit. What can He withhold when He has given Christ? “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.” Observe, they are spiritual blessings,—that is, blessings for the spirit. My spirit, by nature, is dead, with no desire for God. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” And now, though the body I have, drags me down, He will presently change my body, and give me one suited to my spirit, which will be a help and not a drag. In these opening verses we see God intends us for Himself,—specially, peculiarly, and our new-born spirits rejoice in God’s purpose.

“In heavenly places,” or “in the heavenlies,” we have our home. Our proper home is above. You will never be at home until you get to heaven. We have never been fully, completely, in our home yet. What a strange thing, we have never really seen our home yet, but God has given us a new nature, and made us strangers here. We long to be where Jesus is,—to have our “affection set on things above.” Wicked spirits are in the heavenlies at present, as in chap.6:9: and we know from Rev. 12:7, that the church will then fight under Michael and cast the devil and his angels out of heaven.

How wonderful that God should use sinners as we were to cast them out for ever. “They overcame him through the blood of the Lamb.” God will make us finally quite at home in His presence for ever. “Rejoice, ye heavens,”‘ etc., that you and I are at last at home.

“I go to prepare a place for you.” The place is not now being prepared, but ready,—ready for you. I go the way of death and resurrection to prepare a place for you. And now that He has died and risen again, the place is prepared.

When it says, “the heavenlies,” it means God is working in a way different to any He has worked before. He has made everything suited to the place where He has put them in creation, as birds for the air, fishes for the sea, etc. But God is going to do a new thing,—take a number of poor things and put them where His Son is. Our place is where Christ is. Oh! what a thought! That is the true meaning of John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He drops the word place, and puts in “Myself.” If I may so say, the private apartments of the Lord Jesus in the uncreated glory where He now is. Where Christ is, is our home. When he says, “Come unto Me,” that is where we are welcome. “The heavenlies.” That expression occurs several times in Ephesians. This is the first time. The great God, who does everything according to His own will, determines to put us where no creature ever got, and where the blood of Jesus alone entitles us.

Verse 4.—“According as He hath chosen,” etc. The heavens are His. He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies,” and chooses us to be before Him, to be in our home in heaven. God has called us to His own eternal glory. Oh! what a wonderful word. Once God was in man’s home, and the Lord God walked in the garden. He came to look after His creature man. Man cast Him out, and now He calls us to His home, and His eternal glory. That thought is brought out in many Scriptures. In Jude, verse 24, we read “Now unto Him,” etc., so in this Epistle, chapter 5:25, 27, “Christ loved the church,” etc. “Before Him “under His eye. What a strange thing that I shall never feel quite at home till I am in the very presence of God, the very place I should once have shuddered at. What a change! and what a grand future to be “before Him.” “Thou settest me before Thy face for ever.” It is wonderful! People choose their companions, and God chooses His. He chooses us in Christ. Oh! to take these things into one’s soul and spirit. How it endears God!

“Before the foundation of the world.” That expression shows we have nothing to do with this world,—we only pass through it. The earthly people are chosen from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; Matt. 25:34), the heavenly people before the world began. God thought of us before He thought of Israel, and yet we hear of Israel first. This world is something like a hotel, where people put up for a little time. We are going home. The only singular thing is, we are going to a home we have never seen,—grander than our hearts can conceive. I don’t feel I half enter into these wonderful, deep counsels of God, but God will do it for all that. “Hath He said, and shall He not do it? “He has loved us, chosen us, called us, sealed us, and “those whom He justifies He glorifies.” Chose us that we should be holy? “Is anything too hard for the Lord? “It is wonderful that God should look at me and love me, who was a wretch and a rebel. Anyone else would have said, “What! that one to become holy? “Yet, blessed be God, He has done it.

“In love.” In Colossians we read, chap 1, ver. 22, “To present you, holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.” He would have us grounded and settled in His love. He chose us in order that we should be surrounded on all sides by His love, as we are by the atmosphere. We are to be brought home before Him “in love.”

The right way of looking at verses 3 to 6 is to look at them as a chain. They are the links of a chain; then whichever end you touch first, it is the way of reaching the other end. “God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” there is the first link. Why did He do so? Because He “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” He does not intend that when we come to heaven we should be penniless, empty beggars. God in Christ has blessed us, because He chose us in Him, “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love “that we should have everything suited to the place. Not merely in there, and before Him, but everything there ours. The next link. He chose us “having predestinated us.” It implies that He predestinated us before He chose us, to sonship. He determined we should be sons, so he chose us, notwithstanding all the mess and misery we had got into: that did not alter His purpose. He chose to lift us out of the mire, even before we got into it. How was it that He predestinated us to sonship? Because He took us into favour in the Beloved One. (Verse 6.) Then we get to the end: “To the praise of the glory of His grace.” Whichever way you look at it, whether from ver. 3 to 6, or 6 to 3, it is a chain. When He saw us in Christ He could do nothing less than make us His sons. It is a beautiful way of looking at those verses. God hanging everything of ours to that Foundation Stone, “taken into favour in the Beloved One.” It is enough to make our hearts leap for joy. “The Beloved “is vague. It should be “The Beloved One.” So in the Lord’s prayer, “Deliver us from the Evil One,” and “the whole world lieth in the Wicked One.” (1 John 5:10.) It makes it more distinct. So here: “The Beloved One.” There is the foundation of all our blessing.

Verse 4 gives an answer to an important question, which was much discussed about two hundred years ago. Some persons say God loved us when He saw us in our misery; others, before—which is right? Verse 4, shows that God loved us apart from our wickedness; then there was provision for our misery. He chose us before the world began. He knew we should tumble into the mire, still He said: “I must have them in my presence.” It assumes that predestination was the foundation of election.

Verse 5.—“Having predestinated us,” etc. There are four links of the chain. He took us into favour in the Beloved One. As if God said—“That Beloved One is my Son,” I must have them for sons too. I must get them out of the mire to be before me. They must have everything. So He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings.” A chain of things, all in the heart of God when the creature knew nothing about it. They were deep counsels in the heart of God, “or ever the earth was.” Thoughts of love and grace towards us, who should be living now. Oh! when I get before Him, how I’ll praise Him! Oh! my God, to think Thou didst look at me in Thy love, predestinated me and made me holy! Oh! what cause I shall have to praise Thee!

There are two great reasons why we should praise God. 1. What we are saved from. 2. What we are saved to. (1), When I think of all the wretchedness, mire and sin His mighty arm has lifted me out of; and (2), When I see that dazzling brightness that mighty arm has lifted me to, I shall indeed have cause to praise Him. It is mentioned three times, to “the praise of the glory.” (Verses 6, 12, 14.) 1. About God. 2. About Christ. 3. About the Holy Ghost. As if, really and truly, we had enough to make us praise Him. We shall praise Him, we have been saved from Hell. “Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” Praise, praise, praise! Shall we not praise Him? Oh! if God did all this on purpose that Pie might get praise, shall we withhold it? Whoever praises Him, surely we should.

“The more Thy glory strikes mine eye,
The humbler I should lie.”

Oh! to think of God taking up such wretched objects and making them fit for His own glory and presence. Why does He do it? God answers: “That I may get praise.”

Verse 6.—To the Father it is, “Praise to the glory of His grace.” Verse 12.—To Christ, “To the praise of His glory.” Verse 14.—To the Holy Ghost, “To the praise of His glory.” Anyhow the great lesson is “Praise, praise, praise.” Oh! if angels praise Him, how much more should we? “To Him be glory in the church throughout all ages.” God wants praise. God wants worship. He gives us everything; He wants praise. Surely we may give Him that.

Verse 5.—We could not be sons without Christ. So in John 1:12: “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” Sonship through One who is the Son. The Son makes us sons. God is “bringing many sons to glory.” What a singular way He is bringing them, and what a singular world He is getting them from. It is remarkable how the sovereign will of God is referred to. God is seen to be acting as an absolute Sovereign, doing as He likes.

He does it “According to His own will.” Three times we are told about His own will. “I will it.” As if God’s will bore down all opposition. Had he willed it, He could have done it otherwise; it shows He could have left us. It reminds me of a passage in Matthew where Jesus said: “I thank Thee, O Father, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” (Matt. 11:25, 26.) The sovereign will of God, “I’ll have it so.” That infinite God who gives no account of His matters, only so far as He pleases, does as He will “in the armies of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth.” Oh! how comforting it is, that that will of God has willed that we should be saved! Sometimes we find it hard to say, “Thy will be done.” If we thought, “It is His will,” it ought to be easy.

Verse 6.—“Wherein (in which grace) He has graced us (or taken us into favour) in the Beloved One.” In John 1:17, we read: “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came (or became) by Jesus Christ.” If there had been no Christ, there had been no grace. God could not have shown favour without Christ. Christ was His resource to carry out these deep counsels of His love.

“Made us accepted in the Beloved One.” Great force is in that expression; it implies, in the Beloved One I am loved. It is a great wonder why God should love me, and yet easy, because He loved Christ, and I am in Christ. Most wonderful, and yet most simple. As we sing sometimes:

“The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.”

Another question arises, Why did God take us into favour, and leave others? I cannot answer that. No explanation can be given. Not merely He chose the Church in Christ, but He chose each one separately in Christ. In chapter 1, God deals with individuals; in chapters 2, 3, 4, collectively. Before God shows us about building a Temple, in chapter 2, a Body, in chapter 3, or a Bride, chapter 5, there are the individuals in chapter 1. Each stone in the building is dear to God. We all know that God loves the Son more than angels. Then He has taken us into favour in the Son; that is, He loves us as much as His Beloved Son. I was reading to-day of the people beginning to lower His Christ. “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? “They said “David’s.” A very little answer. God’s way of lifting up sinners is in Christ, to the association of His Beloved Son.

“To the praise of the glory of His grace.” God wants praise; He wants worship from those He has thus blessed. He does not get much. We are prone to be occupied with our wants and our trials; but if He has loved us in such a way, why surely we ought to praise Him.

Verse 7.—“We have redemption through His blood”— the Beloved One. How precious that blood must be! It explains why that blood is so powerful when you plead it: it is the Blood of the Beloved One. My sins have been very awful. That is a matter between me and God. But after all, they don’t reach up to this—the blood of the Beloved One. “Oh, my sins, my sins!” I should shriek if I were dying, if it were not for the blood of that Beloved One. The more I know of the wickedness of my sins, the more I know the value of that precious blood. God teaches us all our lives through, these two together. I see more of the wickedness of my sins now than I did ten years ago, and I see also the blood of Christ more precious. They go together.

“In whom we have redemption through His blood.” What a wonderful word.

“Redemption” is an Old Testament word. A redeemer had to do three things: 1. To redeem a person who was sold; 2. To redeem his kinsman if taken captive; 3. To avenge the enemy who had wronged him. Now Jesus is our Redeemer. An old saint said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth;” and we are here taught that Jesus is our Redeemer. “In whom we have redemption.” We were sold captives of Satan at His will. Christ has redeemed us; paid the full price for our deliverance; and now Satan has no claim on us whatever. We have redemption. We have been brought near. We belong to that Redeemer, and He will also inflict vengeance on the foe. Satan will be dealt with, and cast into the lake of fire.

“Redemption through His blood.” We had got away from God by sin, but the blood puts away our sin and brings us nigh to God. Thus we are “redeemed. We had sold ourselves, and are now brought back to God. What a beautiful word. “We have,” “Being justified by faith, we have peace,” etc. (Rom, 5:1.) “Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” We are not poor and empty now. (Heb. 10:20.) In Christ we have redemption, peace, boldness; and God has us.

“In whom we have redemption.” “According to the riches of His Grace,” so not merely forgiveness, but according to the riches of His grace, and love. It shows how heartily, thoroughly, and fully, God forgives. Could you conceive of God giving niggardly or grudgingly? One person may only half forgive another. That is not God’s way. He forgives frankly, so that we hear nothing more about it. So there is great emphasis on these words. God does nothing niggardly, so, of course, He can’t forgive niggardly, for that is what He loves to do. How Jesus loved to forgive sins when on earth! “Daughter thy sins be forgiven thee.” Oh! if we knew God better!

We have forgiveness of sins in a divine measure, “According to the riches of His grace.” God must cease to be Himself, before He could forgive sins in a niggardly way. Do we realise God forgiving sins in this hearty way? Have we the consciousness of sin forgiven? If we have committed a million sins, He does not forgive all but two. “When they had nothing to pay, He frankly forgave them both.” (Luke 7:42.) Do I believe that? Does my soul enjoy that? Am I sure there is not a sin left? “Clean every whit.” We have the “forgiveness of sins.”

“Riches,” imply He gives it liberally. “According,” shows what measure God uses. And that measure is “According to the riches of His grace.” That suits me. The whole passage is a very precious one. I don’t know a more precious verse in Ephesians than this verse 7. There is no other allusion in chapter 1 to sins. If it were not for the blood of Christ, God could not have forgiven sins. May the Lord write this word on the consciences of every depressed soul.

The two expressions are put as if to explain each other. Redemption is forgiveness of sins. As long as there is sin in the way, God is not our God. Christ has put that out of the way which hindered me from coming to God and enjoying the love of God. “Forgive us our trespasses “refers to daily failures. It is right that every day, as we commit sins, we should confess our failures to God; but it is one thing for the lump of sin to remain unforgiven, and another thing for me, having Him for my God and Father, to know I fail constantly, and to confess it,—knowing that nothing alters the relationship. I am still his child, “clean every whit;” (John 15:3). But although God is my God and Father, alas! do I never give way to temper, or indulge in anything contrary to God? And it is then I should look to Him as my Father, and confess these things to Him. He is our loving Father, who has done so much for us, and that makes us sorry we grieve and sin against Him. May we never get above confessing our failures and shortcomings and sins. It is a very healthy exercise. Let us keep on believing in that blood, so shall we enjoy it more and more. It is a grand thing to know that my Heavenly Father has nothing against me. What He has to say is about the precious blood of Jesus. When I commit sin, I don’t enjoy God until I have confessed it.

“We have redemption through His blood.” It is the blood of the Beloved One. Only to think of the Beloved One hanging on the Cross! The Beloved One did not shed His tears only, but His blood. God has a great many who are taken into favour in the Beloved One. Where are they? Many of them on beds of pain, some knowing not where they shall get their next meal. Does Satan tempt you by suggesting that God does not love you much to let you suffer so much. Look at the Beloved One on the Cross. If He let Him suffer so much, you must not be surprised if you suffer too. It may be all the beloved children sigh, groan and shed tears, but only the Beloved One endured such agony on the Cross. “The blood of the Beloved One!” He was spit upon, He sank to death, was put in the grave, a stone was put upon it in derision. At last God spoke out, and now there is a Man on the throne of God. God brought Him out, and so He will us. It does not follow we are not loved because we suffer. Dispensa-tional truth is a grand thing to study. Ever since the Cross of Christ, it is rather a mark of favour to suffer righteously. “If ye be reproached for Christ, happy are ye.” (1 Peter 4:14.) Oh, what a plea I have, when I talk to my Father about the blood of the Beloved One. In Exodus 12:13, we read, “When I see the blood,” but here, what blood? The blood of the Beloved One! “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet.” (Song of Solomon 4:3). Why compared to a thread of scarlet? Because I talk about the blood. I don’t know the preciousness of that blood, but Thou dost. I can dare to think about my sins when I have the blood of His beloved Son. It makes it easy for God to forgive, when it is the blood of the Beloved One. Christ said to the woman who washed His feet, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” The Pharisees murmured. They little knew though He spoke it so easily, what He had to pass through to earn it. His blood shows it was a hard thing. God could make a million worlds easier than forgive one of my sins.

“In whom we have redemption.” I don’t know which word is the most delightful. Until all the work of the Cross can be undone, I have redemption. There is no blood in the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus. “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have.” What a beautiful illustration is the Lord’s Supper! The loaf and the cup denote the blood and body have been separated. If there were blood in the body, there would be no redemption. The blood of Jesus has been shed, Jesus has died, and I “have redemption through His blood.” Within twenty-four hours I may die, or Jesus may come, but whatever comes, I have forgiveness of sins.

Verses 8 and 9.—God is called “the only wise God.” He has made known unto us “the mystery of His will,” made us to see things from God’s standpoint,—what He is doing with us, and what He is going to do. We are not only saved, but we know we are saved, and God weaves our circumstances according to His own purposes, and the Holy Ghost has been given to us that we may know Christ and His glory, and our calling,—that we may “know the things that are freely given unto us.” Then there is the mystery of the Gentiles being brought in; (chapter 3:8) then the mystery of His coining,— (1 Cor. 20:51) “we shall not all sleep.” This is a mystery, a secret which God has told us; so then, we are put into possession of it. Then this mystery, that Christ gave Himself to and for the Church,—Christ as a Bridegroom. Oh, this is a great mystery, a great secret! Now, here is another,—“Having made known to us the mystery of His will.”

Verse 10.—He will head up “all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and on earth.” God is preparing all things for heaven, calling His own for heaven, training them for heaven. The earthly people are set aside for awhile. He is now preparing a people for Himself. He has two spheres, earth and heaven. Now He is not dealing with the earth, but with the heavenlies. He is now preparing the church for Himself. Oh! what a wonderful way. God is to train His people for Himself before we get there. He is teaching us that our Head and Lord is Christ. He is the Head of authority. All fulness flows to the church from Him. He is the Head of all affection: He is always thinking about us, watching over us: and He is the Head of all fulness. We are trained to regard Christ as the supreme One. All our life proceeds from Him, day by day, minute by minute, and that Head is the “Beloved One,” and He is coming for us. Then He is the Head of the angels. He is called, “The Archangel.” (1 Thess. 4:16.) We only read of one Archangel. Jesus is the Plead of all heaven, always put first in His place by God. God’s first thought is about His Son. Here you see then, God is determined to put His Son as the supreme One both in heaven and on earth, and God would have every one in heaven to own everything to Him. We are learning to give Him the supreme place in our hearts, in our affections, but we let earthly care or something else get between us and Him. Then God has to fight with us for the supreme place. He will have it; so God’s first thought, His middle thought, and His last thought is, His Christ. That He might head up “all things in Him”—in Him,— in Him. Some people talk about having an interest in Christ, but it is God having an interest in Christ, and for Christ’s sake, having an interest in His people. Yet another mystery. “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” (2 Thess. 2:7.) Things are getting worse and worse and will; but Christ is secretly looking after us. He is, as it were, hiding Himself,—that is, from the world at present. We are not of the world; we are Gershonites,— “Strangers there,” a heavenly people. It is as if we were up there and looking down. We are only waiting for the liberty of the glory, then we shall be thoroughly at liberty, perfect freedom.

I once had a little linnet, but he longed to be out of his cage, so I let him out. We that are in this tabernacle do groan. Mr. Angel once said, “We do groan, but we don’t grumble; but we long to be at home.” We want to be headed up in Christ,—the Church all home together. One day there won’t be a speck in this world, but what will be filled with His glory. God knows the exact time, the exact moment He is going to send His Son to fetch us home. God will put all things under His feet. Oh, what counsels God has to accomplish for us! All we have to do is to go on quietly plodding along “till He come.”

“Both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” Everything will be in its proper place. There will be unity in the entire heaven and earth, like as everything is in its place in the human body. God is working now to bring the heavenly family to the place He has prepared for them. Heaven and earth are all to be put right, clean and beautiful and perfect, then Christ will hand up the kingdom, that God may be all in all. In Ezek. 1, we see the same idea. There is much about the cherubim, and the wheels, and the fire enfolding itself:—

Wheels—God’s government in heaven and earth. So in Ezekiel 41:18. It is all designed in God’s own heart to put everything right. Then He has made known to us His purposes (ver. 9). He seems to love to put us into His secrets, to tell us everything about His counsels, and our place in those deep counsels.

Verse 11.—“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.” That is the very thing God is doing now. He is attending to the heavenly people.

“Being predestinated.” It is all His own sovereign will and pleasure. So it seems good in His sight, and He will do it.

Verse 12.—“That we should be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ.” In the original it is in the plural, “The first trusters in Christ.” It refers to us, that we are the first since His Son has been rejected and His name cast out. It is so lovely in the sight of God that He finds us a special place, after this there will be the others as in Rev. 7. We being connected with Christ in rejection, shall be associated with Him in the glory. Some even say, “who first trusted in Christ before the glory,”—that makes it more vivid still.

“To the praise of His glory.” When it speaks of our inheritance, of our getting a place in heaven, then it is, to “the praise of His glory.” That will be to the glory of God, we shall have our place in all that system of glory according as God has determined. “Those who first trusted in Christ.” As if God were so pleased at those who trusted Christ where He is despised and rejected of men, as if it were such a grand thing, that He could not stay His hand in blessing them. Though many persons do not care for Christ, God does, and He has special blessings for those who do. It is assumed as if we got everything if we trust in Christ. It is worth a million of rivers of tears.

We” properly means the Jews, and in verse 13, in whom “Ye” that is the Gentiles, put together as one. God knows His people that trust in Him. They are all one in Christ, neither Jew nor Gentile now.

Verse 13.—“After that ye heard the word of truth.” It traces how we are brought to be saved. You hear the Word. It has got down from God, having predestinated us to hearing the message. It is God’s Word, so it is “the Word of truth.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but that word shall never pass away.” God gives the gospel, commands His servants to preach it. We are to believe it and to trust in Christ,—that pleases God. The gospel does us no good if it does not lead to this.

“The gospel of your salvation.” That shows we are to know we are saved. Not my salvation but yours. is no good if is not yours. It is sometimes called God’s because God gives it. Here it is called your salvation. Thank God I am saved, whether Christ comes or I die. “Your salvation.” Notice the beautiful way the Epistle to the Ephesians is written. It begins from the tip-top, till it gets down to you. Not merely salvation from hell, but from sin. The gospel is to save me from self, and from bad temper, etc.

Then God gives us the Holy Ghost; everything follows in beautiful order. “Sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” God gives us His Spirit to seal us, to christen us, to anoint us, to put His Name on us. Saying “They are mine.” Like as a farmer puts a mark on his sheep. The mark God puts upon me is His Holy Spirit. His Spirit makes me like to Christ. If there is no likeness to Christ there is no sealing of the Holy Ghost. When God gives me the Spirit, He never takes Him away. “That He may abide with you forever.” He is called here “The Holy Spirit of promise.” When Christ was on earth He said, “I will send the Holy Ghost,” and He has come, that is why He is called the “Spirit of promise.” The promise is in John 14. It shows that God remembers Christ’s promise, and that Christ keeps His promise. The greatest promise of all is “I am coming again,” and He will keep that too. And this is a great promise: “The Comforter shall come.” We all know how much we need a Comforter in this weary world, and He has come. How faithful God is! What a blessed thing it is to believe in Christ! How do I know I have the Holy Ghost? I have His Word, He promised, and I feel His Spirit in me. The Spirit gives me to enjoy Christ. The freer and happier I am with God, the more markedly I have the Spirit of God. “Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.” The Holy Ghost draws us and makes us believe in Christ, then He comes to indwell. No time elapses between a a man believing in Christ and the Spirit of God dwelling in him.

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost came as a rushing mighty wind to show God did not delay to keep His word. So the Holy Ghost came down at once. If the Holy Ghost had delayed, it would have looked as if God were not quite satisfied with Christ’s work. Oh! what a mercy it is that in this wilderness world we have the Holy Ghost to enable us to enjoy God now. As one of our hymns says,

“We are not left to walk alone,”

So it is not all future.

The Holy Ghost has come, and wants to be our Comforter. May we be led by the Holy Ghost as Eliezer led Rebecca of old, telling us of the love of God, and the grace of Christ, giving us tastes of heaven before we get there. How good of God to give us the Holy Ghost! What a difference from the last dispensation! What a high honour is put upon the saints in this dispensation, to have the Holy Ghost to dwell in them personally! Oh how I should seek to walk carefully and holily, humbly and godly, in this wilderness world.

How solicitous God must be for my welfare. How carefully I should walk when I think what a Spirit dwells in me! How I should take care not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God! “Let all anger and wrath and malice and evil speaking be put away.” (Chap. 4:29.) May I be careful not to grieve that good Holy Ghost.

Verse 14.—In 1 Cor. 2:12, we read that God has given us the Spirit that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God. Like as the spies brought the fruits of Canaan to the people in the wilderness, so the Holy Ghost brings us something of heaven before we get there. Oh! if you want, to have much, the way is, to think much of God’s love, and as you think of it, believe it. Think of what the Scriptures say about God’s love, and be sure to take it in, and the Spirit of God will give you a little sip of heaven. That is the earnest, when your heart begins to expand and almost makes you wish to be at home. The seal is more clearly seen on some Christians than others. Some Christians are more like Christ than others. May we seek to be filled with the Spirit. The babe, and the man of forty both have life, but it is stronger in the man of forty; so if we have divine life, we cannot perish. All saints are in Christ, but the likeness to Christ is more manifest in some than others. So with the earnest. Some have more joy of heaven in their souls than others. The great hindrance in one is unbelief; in another worldliness; taken up with the things of this life. If persons don’t allow themselves time to read the Bible, no wonder their souls are lean. Have we really the earnest of the inheritance? Do we really know something of heaven before we get there? It is solemn and searching,—“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Feelings are right in their place. There is a deal about feeling in Rom. 8. Faith first, feeling second.

“After that ye believed.” You cannot feel till you believe, because, God puts honour on His Son. “At Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Strictly speaking, we are not there yet because we are not in heaven, but the Holy Ghost has come on purpose to give us tastes now, and we should take care we get a bit too. The Spirit is also given to help our infirmities. We have infirmities. “The earnest of our inheritance.” We cannot have the earnest without feeling, for, it is having the heart brimful of God’s love. “The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 5:4.) We cannot taste the love of God without feeling it. We cannot enjoy all the love of God. But the more we believe, the more we enjoy. “According to your faith, so be it unto you.” If we live a worldly life, or if we are taken up with the cares or pleasures of this life, we cannot enjoy the love of God.

What is our inheritance? In one sense God is. “Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Heirs of all the love of God; we begin to see God is our Father and Friend.

Verse 14.—“Until the redemption of the purchased possession.” When Christ will be Lord of every thing in heaven and earth in power. He has not yet asserted His power, He is waiting for the co-heirs, then we shall be the sharers in all, as the purchased possession. “To the praise of His glory.” This leads Paul to go on his knees, verse 15. We need the Holy Ghost to reveal these things unto us, and keep on petitioning God to teach us these things by His Spirit. In verse 14, it is called “our inheritance.” In verse 18, “His inheritance.” God is our portion; we are His. God owns us, we have claims on God. God is our Father, we are His children. God will get glory through us, God is our glory. O God grant that we may be filled with Thy Spirit, that we may have as much of heaven now as God can give us. The flesh hinders. “We see through a glass darkly,” it is better than nothing. But “What will it be to be there? “God only gives us enough to whet our appetites. God will never love us more in heaven than He does now. He owns us now as much as ever He will, and we shall be sure to get there and enjoy those heavenly blessings. Now we only enjoy them by faith, but then, faith ebbs and flows, sometimes strong, sometimes weak. Cares, and the flesh drag us down, but it is His holy and blessed will to cheer our hearts with tastes and sips of His love in the wilderness. It is a beautiful arrangement of God. If some one has property coming to him at twenty-one, he cannot touch it till then. That is not God’s way with us. He wants us to touch it, gives us the Spirit that we may enjoy heaven now. He can give us as much as we can bear. We ought to be exercised how much we enjoy of the love of God and heaven now. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes.”

“The earnest of our inheritance until.” My faith may be weak “until.” I may be very downhearted “until.” “Fightings without and fears within,” only until. Until Christ assumes His rights in power, and brings us home, where He prayed God we might be brought. You enjoy a little of the love of God two or three times a day, “until.” Ah! then you will enjoy it all the day, all the week, all the month, all the year, all through eternity. Thank God for that word, “until!”

What a blessed word, too, that word “our” is. It is ours. In this world they say there is nothing more sure than an inheritance. God says, “He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings.” How long have we to wait? Until Christ redeems in power everything He has redeemed in blood. “Ask of Me and I will give thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” (Psa. 2:5.) He is not asking that yet. He is asking, “Father, I will that those whom Thou hast given me may be with me.” When that is fulfilled, He will ask the other. There were two kinds of redemption in the Old Testament,— by blood and power. Christ has redeemed all by blood. “The earth is the Lord’s.” When we “see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man,” He filling all creation, then He will redeem in power. (John 1:31.) That is the time of the inheritance: when He reigns we shall reign; when He is crowned Lord of All, and we sitting by Him. Christ is waiting, and we are to wait. When Christ gets possession, we shall too. When He comes, it will be no more “the earnest.” May we seek to walk in the Spirit, and not grieve the Spirit, and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. May God’s Spirit be poured into our souls.

Verses 15-20.—What a grand prayer. Paul prays this for other people, not for himself. Our prayers are nearly all taken up with ourselves. This prayer was for saints He had not even seen, for He says, “When I heard,” etc. (ver. 15.) Think of us praying for saints, say in Japan, a prayer like this, “Making mention of you.” God grant we may give a large place in our prayers for others. I believe it does us good. We have not much, comparatively speaking, to pray for, as we have to praise for. If we prayed for others, we should take more interest in them; it would warm our hearts.

Verse 17.—He prayed that prayer for those who had the Holy Ghost (ver. 13). Hence we learn that many saints who are even sealed with the Holy Ghost are not very well up in His ways,—not wise to understand the things spoken of in this prayer. Many Christians do not understand their heavenly calling and place in Christ, so Paul prays “that He may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom,” etc. We may not be wise in Greek and Hebrew, but wisdom in “the knowledge of Him” that is wisdom To study Christ, God’s thoughts of Christ, and God’s dealings with us in Christ.

Verse 18.—“The eyes of your heart being enlightened.” (r.v.) It shows us the heart has eyes as well as the body, and that the eyes of the heart should be occupied with Christ, as much as the eyes of the body can gaze on the sun.

It is a thing of the affections. If your heart is disposed toward Christ rightly, you will begin to understand God’s thoughts rightly.

Now follow three prayers, and very wonderful prayers they are. The more I keep my eye on Christ, the wiser I shall get with heavenly wisdom,—with eternal wisdom.

1. “That we may know what is the hope of His calling.” When God calls us, He gives us a hope. “The God of the hope.” (Rom. 15:13.) He calls us for something: what is that? Not merely to be saved and to go to heaven, but a distinct thing—“the hope of His calling.” Twice in this Epistle we read of “the hope of His calling,”—here and in chapter 4:4. The idea of “hope” is something in the future. We have not got all yet. “One hope.” It is very beautiful. It shows that all the people of God have one single hope. All that believe have precisely the same hope. “One hope:” a very important word is that word one. It shows that all the people of God will be lifted up together into heaven. The coming of Christ is the hope of the weakest, the poorest saint, as well as of the strongest and most advanced saint. The moment He gives the signal, every saint in all the whole world will go up. “The hope of His calling.” It implies that God’s love in giving His Son to die for me, is not so great as in God’s Son lifting me up to heaven along with Him. The one is the means to the other. He fixes our eye, not merely on the Cross, but on the glory. Was it greater grace for Christ to come into my place, or to lift me up to His? It seems as if this passage answers the question.

2. “That ye may know what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” There are such a number of “ofs,” one is quite overpowered. “His inheritance.” God has an inheritance. In verse 14, we read of “our inheritance.” God has an inheritance in prospect, so have we. What is God’s inheritance? His saints. God has everything,—glory, grace,—but He wants vessels, and that is what He has in us. It is a wonderful thing that we should be God’s inheritance,— “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” I read here of God’s inheritance in the saints. He is not rich in possessing stars, but possessing sons. It is not His inheritance through the saints, but in them. That He might own us as His peculiar possession, His peculiar treasure. Rest assured He will carry out all His purposes and counsels. All we have to do is to have patience, and keep a good conscience, and if we study Christ, we shall learn His deep counsels. “The Lord’s portion is His people.” He needs poor sinners to enjoy all, as the sun needs the earth to shine upon, and He has got them.

“The riches of His glory.” He wants to pour out His glory; He wants His saints to flood them with His grace and glory. Oh, this good God! If God wants us to know these things, we must study Christ. All these great prayers are that you may know Him. All to be made like Him! Oh, what a time it will be when we are all made like Christ? It seems almost too wonderful to be true.

3. Verse 19.—“What is the exceeding greatness of His power,” etc. When God raised Christ, He began a work which has been carried on until now. The same life with which He raised Christ, is the same resurrection power He puts in me. Christ was raised the third day, and the Church will be raised at His coming. “Destroy this Temple and I will raise it again.” Life is coming down from Christ. He is “the God of the living.” Every time you draw nigh to God, that is an exercise of divine power. You sometimes find it hard to believe: then, the power is not so acting upon you at that particular moment. When you enjoy the love of God and drink it in, then the power is being exercised in you. It is a power that sustains us in the believing. It requires God to keep the stars in existence every moment. “By Him all things consist.” So with us: we needed the power of God to enable us to come to Him at first, and we need the same power to enable us to keep on coming. These things are wonderful, for Paul prayed that we might know them. God grant we may know them.

Verses 19, 20.—That is the connection between us and the same power. It requires some power to lift up this Bible, but if there were heavy chains attached to it, it would require an extra amount of power. God begins to work upon our spirits: He will work upon our bodies in time. Now, when God lifted Christ out of the grave, it seemed comparatively easy, but a number of things were connected with it. When God raised Christ, all our spirits were dead, and He wanted to raise Christ and all our spirits too. When God lifted up Christ, He has lifted us up with Christ; and the process has been going on for 2,000 years. It was a wonderful feat on the part of Christ, to lift us from earth, and to get us to believe in the love of God. It also points to heaven (verse 20): “And set Him at His own right hand.”

“And you” (chapter 2:1, 5, 6). Chapter 1:21-23 is parenthetic. Leave out “hath he quickened,” in chapter 2:1: it spoils the sense.

God, when He lifted up Christ, lifted up a tremendous, ponderous weight. It involved the quickening of our dead spirits. Every time a believer takes in more of the love of Christ, it is in connection with the resurrection of Christ. “He has made us sit together,”—that is, He has put us in His very presence. Suppose the chains were changed into wings: that is what God does with us. We were dead in sins; God raised Christ, and us in Christ; and instead of being dead, we delight to be in His presence. God has raised us and made us His children. Oh, what a wonderful God ours is!

With verse 20, read chapter 2:1, 5, 6. It is implied it is the masterpiece of God’s work. It is a beautiful way of talking about God. “More to follow.” But He wants more faith to follow,—to take in more of the love of God to-day than yesterday. When some verse comes with more power, you are feeding on the truth. I was reading John 17:24, “Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me,” and never so enjoyed it before. Thus God is working to bring us to believe, and all in connection with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He has got all His predestinated ones to believe, He will raise our bodies in an instant; thus this mighty work in connection with the resurrection of Christ will be finished. (Romans 8:11). It is the Holy Ghost in me that enables me to say “Lord, I believe,” and enjoy God,—it is the same power, and the Holy Ghost is to quicken my body when Christ comes. The wicked will be raised by the fiat of Omnipotence,—the same power that made the stars. In Rev. 20:they are called “dead” three times, because the spirit is dead though the body is raised. He raises our spirits, and then gives us suitable bodies. (1 Cor. 15:45.) Jesus is a quickening Spirit. This poor mortal body, the subject of disease and infirmity, shall be raised. This is a wonderful passage.

“My spirit longs for thine embrace.” Like a bird seeking its home, my poor body holds it down, but God will put forth His power on the body as He has on the spirit. Chapter 2:2-4 are partly parenthetic. What a change when God does change my body. I can’t read my Bible as I like; there is a clog. Oh, to think of a body to help and not to clog! “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” After we are brought to believe, we are kept here on purpose that the little chink in the heart may get wider, and the darkness will go altogether. “The Lord direct your heart into the love of God.” (2 Thess. 3:8.) Our hearts are dull and dark by nature, and God pours out His love that at last we believe in the love of God (what a strange thing!) and come to believe in it more and more. Every time you feed on the Scriptures you grow. It’s a grand thing to take in a little more of the meaning of a text. “The darkness is passing.” I wish it were passing more from my heart. God is scattering it, and we are getting more into the love of God. I believe in the love of God more than I did ten years ago, but the more I know, the more it makes me long to know. God is my Father, the Friend who loves me most.

Verse 22.—Grand words these are, the winding up of verse 21. “All things under His feet” (verse 21). It implies our Lord Jesus Christ is in the place of intimacy; the One who has taken up our cause is where creatures never came. “Far above all principality.” Jesus is also the Head of the Church: we shall see it more by contrast. See where the devil is (chap. 2:2). “The prince of the power of the air.” How different to Christ, as respects exaltation. The sphere—the air, and Christ up there in the presence of God, where Christ and God can have that glory with Christ.

The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church in three senses.

1. As regards fulness. Everything that God can create in us in the way of want is supplied in Christ. All fulness dwells in Him. All life is in Him. First, God trusted it to Adam. He ruined His work. God does not trust the source, the spring of a new life to us; it is in Christ. “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3.) So believers can’t perish till the Head is touched. The life is in the Head. He raised Christ first, and you. 1. God raised up Christ. 2. Christ raised Himself, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it.” 3. He was “quickened by the Spirit.” All cooperate in the resurrection. As long as Christ lives, I live. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” All in Christ. In fact, there is so much in Christ, we could not tell everything; and a great deal more than we do or can want is in Christ.

2. Christ is the Head of all authority. “Head over all things to the Church.” Christ’s will is our law, Christ’s commands we are to attend to, we should always ask, “Will it exalt Christ? “We should give the Lord His place. People want to get a republic,—rule from beneath, like the toes of the image, clay. God knows nothing of that. The Lord Jesus, He is to be supreme. We gladly give Thee the homage of our hearts. “He is the Lord thy God, worship thou Him.”

3. Christ is Head of all affection. Eph. 5:25-29 shows that so sweetly. Oh, to think what an intensely divine yet human love is in our Lord Jesus Christ for us,—“to the church, which is His body.” Wonderful love! One single, divine piece of mechanism, this mystical body, Christ and all His members. He wouldn’t be full without us. Like as a man is not complete without his wife, so Christ is not complete without His Church—any more than the Head would be complete without the body. God contrived this all in love; Christ wrought this all in grace. He could have done without us, but now that He has died, He could not do without us. He has got nothing but in association with us, blessed be His Name. “Complete (or filled full) in Him.” See the difference: when it says, Col. 2:9, 10, “filled full in Him,” it shows He is our fulness; in Eph. 1, we are His fulness,—“the fulness of Him,”—we go to fill Him up. He is incomplete without us. “Ye are filled full in Him.” The church is His fulness, and Christ is our fulness. It has been compared to a cup and saucer,—each requires the other: the one is the completeness of the other. Your completeness is Christ. He needs us; we need Him. He cannot do without us; we cannot do without Him. Blessed be His Name!