The other day I explained that during our church gatherings we are going through Watchmen Nee’s book, “Sit, Walk, Stand.” Nee’s book is a commentary on various aspects of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
1-2 Paul, messenger of Jesus Christ by God’s choice, to all faithful Christians at Ephesus (and other places where this letter is read): grace and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
3-6 Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ—that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son (Ephesians 1:1-6)
In just six verses, Paul established the foundation of our Christian faith. First, he addressed this letter to “all faithful Christians at Ephesus,” but it goes way beyond only them.
In many ways, this epistle should not be called “Ephesians” because we actually do not know who the intended readers were. Yes, the Christians at Ephesus were certainly some of the recipients, but there were others. In the original Greek manuscripts, there is a blank where King Jim’s translation put the words “at Ephesus;” just a line where the names of other churches would be filled in. That is why some Bible Versions do not say, “To the saints at Ephesus,” but simply “To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus . . .”
Another thing that is interesting, the phrase, “the heavenly places,” appears over and over in this letter, referring to heaven after we die. However, if that is the only aspect you think about in these verses, you miss everything Paul is trying to say. Yes, it does refer to some day going to heaven, but it is primarily talking about the life we live right here and now. The heavenly places are not off in some distant galaxies far, far away; they are simply the realm of the invisible reality we Christians now live, in contact with our Father, and don’t minimize this, in daily conflict with the devil, who is our enemy.
These “heavenly places” are where Christ’s power and glory reside! Do I fully understand it? No, but I don’t have to comprehend all of it, simply believe and enjoy the benefits of it in my existence where I plant my feet every morning. Then, in chapter two, we are told,
God has brought us back to life together with Christ Yeshua and has given us a position in heaven with him (Ephesians 2:6)
Holy Moly, Batman! That is the baffling, yet, delightful part of our relationship with Jesus! We were dead in our sins, but now, in our lives that we are living at this moment, we are living together, united to our Savior! The Amplified Version renders verse six as, “He raised us up together with Him when we believed, and seated us with Him in the Heavenly places because we are in Christ Jesus . . .”
It gets even better! The Expanded Bible tells us, “He [Yahweh Himself] raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens [heavenly places/realms]. He did this for those in Christ Jesus . . .”
Eugene Peterson in The Message explains it this way:
“He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah” (Ephesians 2:6)
What all this is telling us, what Paul was so excited to share with us, is that when we bowed our knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we received all that God ever intended to give us! All that we will ever need! This News is remarkable! Even the weakest believer out there holds in his hands all that the mightiest saint of God ever possessed!
Each believer, you and the fella sitting next to you possess everything you will need, simply because you have Christ. In Him is every spiritual blessing and everything that pertains to life and godliness. Right now, not when we reach Glory, but now, in our everyday, normal life, we have what it takes to live life as God intended. Any failure we may experience is not because we are lacking anything, but because we have not appropriated what is already ours! No, I am not saying that it is a lack of faith, perse, but rather, a lack of knowledge. We don’t know, what we don’t know.
Of course, this eliminates any foundation for the notion of a “second blessing,” or a third, or a fourth. It is all here, now, today, in this life we are living. Yes, there will be a fuller blessing in Eternity; a blessing after blessing, as long as we take them, one by one, moment by moment. That is what it means when we sing, “Jesus; I am resting, resting” — every moment receiving from him all that he is — resting in his power, resting in his life.
Paul goes on to explain that the Church is the whole body of Christ. But sometimes, it is difficult for people to fully comprehend the significance of what Paul is witing about. All of us have the tendency to think of ourselves as somewhat remote from the Church. A special entity all to ourselves. When I was Pastoring, I would often have someone say, “Um, our Church should do so-and-so.” I would smile and respond, “I agree, you are the Church; go to it.” They would always seem shocked by that, but each one of us makes up the Church. Someone would say, “The Church should be more friendly.” How in the world could anyone argue with that? So, in response, I would say, “All right, you and I are the Church, let’s be more friendly.” They would simply smile.
My dear friends, the Church is people. Every believer is a member of the body of Christ — the Church — so I would prefer to go through this letter using not the word “church,” but “Christian,” because every believer is a small replica of the whole Church. If we understand that God lives within the Church, we see that he also lives within each believer. Each one of us, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, is a microcosm of the whole body. Because we are each a part of the whole, we can claim this to be a letter for every disciple of Jesus, not just to the Church in Ephesus.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.