Lecture 1 on the Epistle to the Ephesians

Ephesians 1  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 6
IF you look at the 3rd verse,. and down to the end of the 6th, it gives in a simple way the key of the epistle. If you attend to the superscription in the 1st and 2nd verses, you will find that you have the key-note of the whole epistle. A man when going to write on any subject will just drop in the beginning what he is going to enlarge on. The 3rd and 6th verses bring out to light the peculiar aspects of truth in this epistle.
Remark, before the apostle can get on he stops; his heart bubbles up with, " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Blessing that his heart has laid hold of by faith, and which has been substantiated to his own soul. " Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Man gropes through the world without a bit of evidence of these things till, like Paul, he has a ray of light from heaven, and his faith becomes a reality, and he acts on it. " Blessed be the God and Father," &c.
Observe, first, the God of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, second, the Father. If I say, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, I could also say He was the God of Israel, or He is my God; but here it is God and Father of the Son-not a Son by adoption or creation, but the Only Begotten in the bosom of the Father, before all worlds, possessor of a being that never had any commencement. Next, there is the display of His glory as the "God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory." (Read 17th to 23rd.) I get there the person of the Lord Jesus presented in the place where He is distinctly able to call God, "God." When on earth He called God His Father, but never, save on the cross, "My God." If all He said down here is gathered up, you will find a guardedness until where there could be no question of using the term, " My God," as if He were only like Paul or John The forsaking of Him was as wonderful as the honoring; He, the only One who could possibly be in that place, standing between God and Satan, bearing the whole wrath of God, carrying out the perfect mind of God. There could be no mistake there, as to who He was when He said, "My God, My God." When He rose He again used it, saying, I go " to My God and your God." He was going where all in heaven and on earth would know Him, not only as the Servant, but as the One (because having been sack, a Servant) seated at God's right hand. A Man in glory, not a glory of subserviency, but of government; every knee to bow to Him, "of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth," &c. If all up there see none but this Lamb on the throne, as the only One from whom blessing can flow, we know Him not only as that, but as Head of a body-" the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." If you compare all the displays the divine Being has made of Himself, you will find no glory anywhere in the old creation like this; this throws all the rest into the shade. If He has power, where am I to look for the mightiest display of it? Ah His power and wisdom shine nowhere as in this scene where the Lord Jesus Christ is raised up from the dead, and is sitting in glory at the right-hand of God as Man.
This title, "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," is needful here; it is the relationship that is presented. God is presented associating Himself with that very Person, that Man who down here was God manifest in the flesh. If I say, " God," I get into a scene either of the old creation or the new. In Adam I am in the old scene, and I get the new in Him who is up there, Head of the new creation; but if I say, " Father," that title brings me into God's own proper eternity, into infinitude, into what the Father was with the Son before all worlds. A creature mind cannot lay hold of the thought of a Being whose existence never had a beginning. I can only receive it on the credit of another. The end of the third chapter brings out infinitude which the mind cannot grasp. The heart can lay hold of it, but only because of the Lord Jesus Christ being there. If I turn my mind to the breadth and length and depth and height in connection with the infinitude of the divine Being, my mind cannot grasp it; but when I see the central object is Christ, Christ loving me, love presented in a human heart, and He Himself mine, He in the very center of the infinitude of God, able as Man then to fill me with all the fullness of God, I can lay hold of it; and it is the only way that a creature could have to do with infinitude. I am brought by the Father to this Lord Jesus Christ, blessed in Him, and the love in His heart is made to bear on my heart. He has got a people down here, and He is filling them with all the divine infinitude, "all the fullness of God." Can we say He is filling us? How He has to empty me to get the heart filled with it! Wondrous to look up there and say, There is He, my eternal Lover; I cannot grasp the infinitude of God, but I can say, He does love me. He has gone up there as the communicator of eternal life. He can communicate life to you and bring you into connection with every blessing in Himself. He can touch your eyes to make you see Him the center of all the infinitude of God, the only One from whom all the fullness of God flows out.
Remark the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is something so sweet in putting in our. You can say, He is yours, as I can, He is mine; as much yours as mine. Observe the distinction between putting an object before the soul and the soul adopting it. Look at the Lord Jesus seated at the right hand of God, and hear God saying to Him of Saul of Tarsus, when on his way to Damascus, " That one is your property." Saul could not admit as a Jew that he was the property of some one else, much less of the Nazarene; but when the ray of light shines into his heart lie says, " Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" He was no longer his own, but Another's, and in the keeping of Another who could say, " Now I have made you mine, I shall watch over you as one of My sheep, and when you get into thorny ways I must have My eye everywhere looking after you." He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleep's. He is the universal Master of everything. Faith says, " I own Him Lord of all, I mean to be His servant, not taking a step till I know what He would have me to do."
There is peculiar sweetness in being able to say, " Our Lord," to Him of whom God says, " That is My only begotten Son, the One in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead." And to think that He can love a poor thing like me, and I can love Him! Our Lord, the one to whom we belong; our Proprietor who can do just as He pleases with us.
The word Lord has two meanings. In the Old Testament it almost always means Jehovah when printed in capital letters, and in the New, " Lord " is often applied to the Lord Jesus because of His being Jehovah, God manifest in flesh, the self-existent One. It would mortify a Jew beyond measure to apply this title to any but the divine Being. As Peter said, " God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." All was to be given into His hands, to be recognized by all as the anointed servant-the Man who has all power everywhere. They did not know why they were to call the babe Jesus, but God knew. He was the only one to whom that name could be given; He was to be the exponent of what God is (names were always given thus in the Old Testament). God knew that He was the only One who could settle the whole question of sin. God must find One, holy and undefiled; He alone could go and stand in the gap, He alone in redemption could bring them into a new place, breaking the power of Egypt.
We never find in Scripture the term "anointed Son." It was the anointed Son of man, the One who alone could settle everything. God gave Him the Spirit without measure; He was anointed with the Holy Ghost. Here it is the relationship of this anointed Man with Him, who quickened and raised us up together with Him who is now at His own right hand in the glory. Unless we see this we cannot get hold of all the glories connected with the Lord Jesus, and put them in their right place. God must have the first place, and He will be first. He must display Himself in His own sphere. He could not by coming into my little circumstances to express all that He is; He must take me into a scene where the Son of His love opens out to me the sphere where His glory is all displayed; and there I 'see the largeness of it. This Son is in circumstances quite large enough to bring it all out.
The thing that makes it so difficult with us to deal with God is; that the root of sin is within us, and it always wants to bring in something of self, and God will not have it. If you want blessing you must let God be first, and get into the second place yourself. It is a most blessed place-God saying, " I have got you there to fill you with all the fullness of blessings in Christ." If you do not keep in the second place you will not get a continuous flow of blessing. If you watch you will find yourself continually slipping out of the second place, and beginning with " I," instead of Christ—saying, " What am I to have?" God says, " What is Christ to have?" He can pick you up as a stone for the temple, but for nothing in yourself, only as the fruit of what the Son of His love has done. Selfishness is awful for a creature. If you say God has put the Son of, His love for Himself in glory, to fill up the hearts of His people with all His own fullness, having raised "them up and seated them in heavenly places in Him, what place is there for self there? It is not only the broad fact of our blessing in Christ brought out; but, what has He left out? Nothing; "all spiritual blessings," everything. He can fill us up with. You are wrong in speaking of God as if He cared for nothing but the rod. Ought not He to be well spoken of, to have brought you to this place, to be filled up with blessings? The want of speaking well of God comes from the want of faith in Him as the Blesser.
Whatever God says, it is done. He said, "Let there be light," and it was done; and God said, " I shall be the Blesser of a people chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world," and it is done. What could they who are in heaven understand by it? No angel now can understand it as a poor sinner who believes can. They are not ruined creatures saved by grace, and identified with the Man at God's right hand. When He spice the word it stood. Not merely was choosing us in Christ the act of One who could speak the word, and it was done; but the act of One who remains, and is, the Blesser of that people forever. First, filled with all spiritual blessings, then in heavenly places, then in Christ. What an amazing thought, ALL blessing ours in Christ. If one single thing in Christ is not mine I have not all. God says ALL. A Jew began with earthly blessings, getting his store houses filled. God begins with filling us with spiritual blessings in Christ. It is blessing connected with the working of the Spirit in us.
In what sense is Christ connected with the Spirit of God? Not only did He send the Holy Ghost down, but with one little word He converted Saul, and gave him the Spirit of life. If I belong to Christ, I may find myself a sheep of slaughter; but I think not of that, but of my Lord Jesus up there, Head of a body vitally united with me. I may be a sheep of slaughter down here perhaps; but Christ my portion is up there, and He is saying, " I am the only begotten Son of my Father; I who have been in His bosom from all eternity know the heart of love and infinite fullness of that Father, and if you are a son, I want you to have the full idea of the blessedness of believing in My name, because His heart's delight is to fill you up with blessings in Me." And has the eternal Lover of our souls such thoughts towards us? I cannot get a more blessed thought than that I am His and He is mine; that this anointed Man; the center of all the divine fullness, loves me, saying, " I have loved, and shall love you unto the end." It was in Christ God's choice was made; Christ having done the work to make those chosen fit for the Father's house. He is up there without a veil, a living Person, and people who believe in Him can look up and feel the affections of the Father flowing through His bosom to them.
Man handles what he calls "high doctrine," making himself the center. God's doctrine is making Christ the center. What a God this is, having in His own proper eternity proposed a plan that should bring forth all His glory, bring it forth for us poor sinners to be sharers of it as being one with Christ. It is important to see the personality of God and of Jesus of Nazareth. People have got their own range of thought and habits: man has got his ways, and God has His. Adam in the garden of Eden could not be compared with the last Adam. The first Adam was told to take care not to do what God told him not. The last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, came down, in obedience to the Father's will, to empty Himself and go to the death of the cross. He was to be the display of all that God is.
When people speak of the sovereignty of God, they think that He is arbitrary. Here God says, " I have taken My own line; I have taken My own Son and made Him head of a people chosen in Him before the foundation of the world." It is arbitrary, but, oh! the largeness of the grace that thought about such desperately evil and ruined things; and, long before you ever existed, knew all about you and wanted you to be one with that Son of His love, and the expression of what He is. Do you begin with yourself or with God? Hive not we served that apprenticeship long enough-continually looking at what we are, and what we can do? The place to begin at it is, to see God first, having given you that Son of His love as a free gift, having chosen you in Him before the world was.