Ephesians

The Calling and Hope of the Christian

Ephesians 1:3-14

(B.T. Vol. 7, p. 89-92.)

The right application of the truth of the Church in both its calling and its hopes depends, more than many Christians are aware, upon the spiritual condition of the soul. I doubt not, indeed, that spiritual condition has much to do with all apprehension of divine truth, but of this beyond all others, for the simple reason that the Church’s privileges are so boundless and so special that the mind of mail and even the heart of the believer find no small difficulty in accepting them simply in their integrity. The very conscience of the believer makes a difficulty unless there be a child-like acceptance of the word and grace of God. We can easily understand this; for it is natural even to the believer to mingle the question of his own feelings of acceptance with the reception of the truth of God. He examines himseIf, but finds only unworthiness; he feels painfully, humiliatingly, day by day, his own shortcomings and positive faults. Such being the fact, it looks a hard thing to receive the astonishing truth that grace has given even him oneness with Christ.

The Purpose of God for His Sons and Heirs

Eph. 1:3-7

The Old Testament makes it clear that God, even in His aspect of Jehovah, the God of Israel, never limited Himself to Israel. He made them His particular people. He made known His name, His will for a people on earth to Israel only. He abounded in every kind of privilege that could be to a people in the flesh. Israel as naturally, were the chosen people who belonged to Him here below. They were objects of favour and goodness and mercy in a way that no other nation received, except the people in the land of Palestine.

But even before that, God had His blessed intention to set up a kingdom that would in no way be confined to Israel. This we find explicitly from the Gospel of Matthew in the last section of the great prophecy on the Mount of Olives; at the end of this age will be the accomplishment of these last words. Not only will the godly remnant be formed out of the Jews as in Matt. 24 down to ver. 44, and the heavenly saints, or the Christian company, which forms the central part from ver. 45 to Matt. 25:30, but lastly there will be the future sheep, or living believers, of all the nations, brought into marked blessing and favour. The King bids them, not reign with Him like the heavenly saints, but “inherit the kingdom prepared for” them “from the foundation of the world.” It is well to have this clearly, as a preliminary principle. Had we only this single prophecy, it is a plain proof that others are to be blessed, in their several places on earth under the reign of the Lord Jesus, whilst the risen saints reign over it with Him. It is a mere delusion that to the church belongs every elect soul from the beginning to the end, and that God has not varied companies, both for heaven and for earth, destined to be objects of His grace for His glory.

The Blessedness and Scope of the New Creation

2 Cor. 5:14-19; Gal. 6:12-16; Eph. 1:19 - 2:10

When looking at the crossing of Jordan by the children of Israel, we observed that the case of believers now is not like that of God’s people of old who, when they crossed the Jordan, left the wilderness and had done with it for ever. With us it is not so; we are, in a certain sense, both in the wilderness and in Canaan at the same time. Egypt we have done with totally and for ever, because in fact the wilderness is just what Egypt becomes to the child of God. That is to say, the world, where once we had all our pleasures, and all our resources, becomes to us now a place which can only be described as a moral desert, where we find nothing to strengthen, to refresh, or to cheer.

In connection with the same subject we noticed the remarkable fact, that of the great army of six hundred thousand men who came out of Egypt only two crossed the Jordan and entered the land — Caleb (the man of faith), and Joshua (type of the energy of the Spirit of Christ in a man). This, I have no doubt, is intended to teach us that we can only take possession of our heavenly inheritance on the principle of faith and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Jordan, no doubt, presents to us the death of Christ, but not His death for us; it is rather our death with Him, where all that we are in nature disappears. This does not mean, as some have fancied, that we are, or should be, dead to nature. A person claiming to be dead to nature is not a Christian. But while this foolish thought is totally absent from, and contrary to, the scriptures, the serious truth which we do find there is that we are dead in nature. This is what is very definitely presented to us in the portion of the epistle to the Ephesians which we read together.

The Administration of the Fullness of the Seasons

Ehesians 1:10

Christ is the true and only center of the purposes of God, as it is only by Him the Holy Ghost reveals them. Hence it is, and must be in the proportion of our Spirit-taught acquaintance with Christ, that the divine plans are understood and appreciated. When He is not steadily kept before the soul, what becomes of the study of scripture itself? It is no longer truth which sanctifies, but barren theology which puffs up. And why has prophecy been perverted to unfruitful and injurious speculation? Because God's grand object has been lost sight of (“that in all things he might have the preeminence” one might perhaps apply here); and thereby the Spirit has been grieved, and has blown upon the busy exercises of man's mind. “He shall glorify me,” said the Lord, “for He shall take of mine and show it unto you” (John 6:14). The moment the view of the glory of Christ is supplanted by researches into providence for instance, important as this may be in its place, the temple of prophecy degenerates into a counting-house of human intellect; and the tables of those traffic in mere erudition crowd its courts, until by the just judgment of God it is left desolate. But by His grace a better sanctuary is opened for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see Jesus crowned with glory and honor in the heavens. May we have grace to draw near through the rent veil, and there by our Master's side, with unshod feet and worshiping hearts, follow His eye and finger as they rest upon the spheres of His varied but harmonious glory!

Ephesians 2

We now enter upon a new portion of our epistle; is not so exalted in its tone as that which we have glanced over in chapter 1, equally important in its place and of the utmost moment to us. But then we must carefully bear in mind that what is of interest to us is not an adequate measure in looking at either the word of God or His ways. God never acts for anything short of His own glory. So that although we find many parts of the word of God which in the very closest way touch our condition, ...

Ephesians 3

We have here a remarkable instance of the parenthetical style of the epistle; for the whole chapter on which we are entering is an example of it. We shall find parenthesis within parenthesis, the want of seeing which increases the misunderstanding of the epistle; but once observed, all is easy, and the moral fitness of such a form of describing what is in itself a sort of parenthesis in God’s ways has been and should be noticed by the way. We can seek, by the grace of God, to learn and con...

Ephesians 4

Before entering upon the subject of ministerial gifts, which is brought before us later on in the chapter, the Holy Ghost dwells upon the unity that belongs to the saints of God in Christ now. It was necessary that this should be laid down as a grand platform upon and in connection with which ministry takes its course. For ministry rather brings into prominence individual members of Christ and not so much the entire body. For although it is a common statement that the Church teaches, it is r...

Ephesians 5

What a mighty principle opens here on the saints! “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.” (Ver. 1.) What limits can there be if we are exhorted to imitate God Himself! Nor is it in any way now an assertion of claim, as the law was, on man, standing on his own responsibility before God as a creature. God has revealed Himself in grace; still He is God and none other; and if He has communicated to us His own nature, a lesser, lower standard there could not be. It would dishonou...

Ephesians 6

Let us briefly look at the relations of children and fathers, as well as of servants and masters. Here, obedience is the grand point pressed on the inferior in each case. As all saints are called to submit themselves one to another in the fear of Christ, and wives especially to their own husbands, subject to them in every thing, so children are to obey their parents in the Lord. (Ver. 1.) It is not that the Holy Ghost has not a suited and a serious word for their fathers; but, in general, ho...

Ephesians 1

Lectures on the Epistle of Paul, the Apostle, to the Ephesians with a new translation. It must be manifest to the most casual reader of the epistle that we are upon very high and holy ground here. Let none suppose that this is to impeach other portions of the inspired scriptures. But who can deny that in revealing His mind, God has been pleased to employ different instruments and with various measures? He could, if He pleased, have written all by one. He could have revealed Himself by all...
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