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Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 3: Ephesians 3

By G.V. Wigram

      In the first chapter there were two things especially the apostle wanted these Ephesians to know. First, What was the hope of the calling of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory? God had so used the brightness of the light of His Son to shine into their souls, that they knew they were called by Him. Then there was a certain hope connected with the calling, and He wanted them to know it also. Secondly, he wanted them to know the field that had been thrown open, the inheritance, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." It will be a much more brilliant display of glory when all those rescued from Satan are there, and God is enjoying that display in glory. Then, thirdly, it required that the Son should come down to be raised again, and the very power that raised Christ, works in them to give fellowship with Christ.

      There are two things brought out in this third chapter, and I think they escape believers very much. (Eph. 3: 10-12.) The first thing is the way that the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the Church to principalities and powers in heavenly places. You know one of the things that the Holy Ghost by the apostle warns us about is not to intrude into the question of angels. (Col. 2: 18.) It is very important not to go on ground on which the Spirit of God does not lead us; but then I find that Christians have got wrong thoughts about angels. For one thing, they give the angels a power of intelligence the word of God never does. They think angels know the mind of God, and they do not; we lose an immense deal by not understanding it. That these Ephesians were part of a glorified body connected with a Head in heaven, did the angels know? People quietly assumed that they did. They had learned certain things about God in providence and redemption, but they had not learned, until the Spirit of God began to unfold it by the apostle, what this manifold wisdom of God was in the Church. The word "church" means any number gathered together. The Church of God means those gathered together by Him out of the world.

      I would make one remark in passing, and that is the question of association with Christ while sitting at the right hand of God. I never get this truth until I see the place assigned to Christ at that particular time. Rejected on earth, He is taken up to heaven, and is testified to by the Holy Ghost as the One in whom all fulness is. It was when He had ascended up to heaven, that He is testified to as Head of the body. If it is a question of being received, why am I received? It is a righteous thing with God to receive anyone who comes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then as to the question of responsibility. Enoch walked with God, seeing by faith Him who is invisible, and God took him. Abraham was told to walk before God, and he did, and God cared for him; and what is the character of the Christian's walk? Not merely walking before God, but it should be God walking in me. I am to walk like a son of God, but not by human effort, but by the free Spirit in me, and all the light working in me a certain loving of the things of God, and a certain shrinking from all things contrary to Him. Did Christ walk as a good man down here? Did that characterize Him? He did walk as a good man surely, but He walked as the Son of God, and that is what is also to characterize us. He "made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a Servant," and passes on to the cross where He was alone with God -- just the expression of what His mind was -- perfect subjection to the Father -- Nazarite perfectness. I get an almost perfect expression of what that life was in Paul, but I get no power to communicate life in Paul. When I look at Christ I am changed into the same image.

      Now for the second part of this chapter. It is quite natural for the apostle to feel for what an important thing he was called. One of the constant, frequent thoughts of my soul for the last forty years has been, Where is this church down here? And how can I get the souls of the saints, loved by God, into such a state so that I could say, "There is the expression of what Paul spoke of"? If He is coming; well, what is the state in which He will find His people? Can it be said now of the children of God in London, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come"? I know many of you have had the same exercises about it -- even deeper perhaps -- the same intense desire to see the children of God like, those who wait for their Lord, knowing the sweetness of looking up to God, the sweetness of looking up, and being fed by the droppings of that love. I have the strongest desire to see it brought out more and more, not only for the children's sake, but for the blessed Lord's sake, when He shall come on that cloud of glory.

      Eph. 3: 15. "Of whom every family" (right translation). There is no company of any kind whatever that God puts this sanction upon which is not connected with Christ. Abraham's family was connected with the state that was to come. Eph. 3: 16. Now he prays for them, for us, dear friends, for me. Eph. 3: 19. Am I as he speaks of here? Are you as he speaks of here? Verse 16. "The riches of His glory" -- "by His Spirit." I incline to take it more as the Spirit connected with the moral glory. Nothing will be more beautiful than the outward glory of the new Jerusalem; but now he is not talking of the glory of the city, but of the moral glory of the Father's house. The only begotten Son bringing them to His Father's house, and there He will show them all His Father's love and explain it all to them. The external glory of the city is very different There all will be brilliant; but the Father's satisfaction is the expression of the house. There, there is the rest of love; that is the moral glory. Oh, the ways of God are beautiful! When we think of it, it is not only beautiful in itself, but in connection with a poor saint on earth finding his way along. When God created the earth it was very good. Then what led Him, when man had made nothing of God, to make the Seed of the woman bruise the serpent's head? God knew who it was, knew there was no one He could send into the conflict but that Son of His. He sent Him to Israel, but they would not have Him; and He would not be King, if they would not own Him as God's King. But God's ways are beautiful! I will have My own way; I will bless them to please My own heart. For My own Son's sake the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, and Israel shall be there.

      Eph. 3: 17. That is not John 20: 22. The Spirit is always there, but there is something more than that, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Does He dwell in your heart? If I dwell in a house I should be expected to be found there; a person coming there would always find me at home. The Spirit never leaves the house. He is always at home there, but does Christ ever leave the house? When anyone comes to see you, do they find Christ there? Well, if I could catechize you when you got up in the morning, was the thought of your mind, "Well, what a blessed person that Christ is" -- and you go on your business with that? If so, God says "There is a man where Christ dwells." If I had met Paul at any time, I should have found that he had got one subject, and that was always Christ; one object in his heart, that was Christ. If you called on me at any time, would you really find that Christ was the Master of the house, and that He was dwelling there? It is not the apostle's mind to can you off from circumstances. Christ puts the circumstances for you to do everything to Him; it comes into all the details of life. He has got a large heart enough for a man sweeping a crossing, and He can say to him, "Sweep this crossing for Me." It is not work apart from life, but works manifesting Christ in your life in little things. Looking at the history of the disciples, it made all the difference whether Christ were in the boat or not; if the Almighty Son of God was in the boat they could not be swallowed up. It will characterize the whole life. They may kill us in one way or another; never mind! Paul says Christ is there; if they break the earthly tenement they let me out to go to Christ.

      God has a vast plan, and He has spread it out in His, word; am I to know all that glory to come? Ah, but there is the centre of it all, and that is Christ. All God's plans and counsels roll round Christ. He is the end of them all, the beginning of them an, the centre of them all. God says, "I am set for the glory of My Son; I have got My plan about Him, and, poor sinner, do you not know Him? do you not love Him?" Well, -- let Him dwell in your heart, and you will be filled unto all the fulness of God. "I shrink," do you say, "from being one of that company for whom that prayer was offered." Oh, what a silly thought! A poor feeble person like myself, or you, some poor old thing, if we have Christ directly in our hearts by faith; well, God says, "I can add nothing there." I look and see Christ in that heart, and I can sit down in holy communion with Him in spite of all infirmities. I have often to tell God that I do not understand the worth of the blood, but I say, "Thou knowest it." It is simple faith; we have got the Spirit, and can lay hold of it. When there is all the perception of what the mind of God was, that was what the apostle wanted. I know there is no name so delightful to God as the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He never could send a soul coming in that name away empty. I do not want to get to the end of it; I bless God I never can when I am in the Father's house, when I see all the blessed intercourse between the Father and the Son. I bless God it is perfect and unexplorable in the vast compass of it. It is infinite as God is infinite.

      Eph. 3: 18. This is interpreted to us in human language by the blessed Son Himself. (vv. 19-21.) People say, "Oh, Paul was in an ecstasy when he was in that prayer!" Well, he took care to say that he had not asked as much as he might have asked. "According to the mighty power that worketh in us;" well, it has wrought in you if you are a believer. But people say "Paul was an apostle." But you must not run down the life that Paul had; as an apostle he taught always that the divine life which he had as a believer was beyond the apostleship. The soul by the Spirit gives back to God what He had given to it. (Eph. 3: 21.)

      It is not an unimportant thing that there should be great joy among Christians: "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Have we learned that we are really dealing with God? If God loves a cheerful giver, He has shown us how large a giver He is; He has given His only begotten Son; He has given His Spirit, and has brought us into the enjoyment of all that He is as our God and Father.

      from Memorials of the Ministry of G. V. Wigram. Vol. 1.
      [Notes on Scripture; Lectures and Letters.
      Second Edition, Broom 1881 (First Edition 1880)]

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See Also:
   Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 1: Ephesians 1
   Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 2: Ephesians 2:4
   Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 3: Ephesians 3
   Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 4: Ephesians 4
   Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians: Lecture 5: Ephesians 6:10-24


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