In the prayer in the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul prays that we may perceive, among other things, what are the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of God's allotment among the saints. Notice this phrase carefully; it is another treasure in our chest. It is not our allotment, but God's, that is being referred to. Our allotment is in Christ; but God has an allotment among the saints. What is God's allotment? Why, it is just this, that the ecclesia is a vital feature in God's purpose. It is through the ecclesia that the word of the cross is proclaimed; it is in the ecclesia that the grace of God is seen. God has a tremendous allotment in the saints. If the cross of Christ is the hub of the wheel, then the saints are the spokes that radiate from the center.
But in that prayer of Ephesians 1, there is a remarkable phrase which we should note particularly. "The eyes of your heart having been enlightened." Not, "your eyes having been enlightened, that you may perceive," but "the eyes of your HEART having been enlightened."
The Authorized (King James) Version renders this phrase, "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened," and this would seem to take its application away from the heart and transfer it to the head - to the mind. The English Revised Version, Rotherham and Moffatt all use the word "heart," so does Weymouth in a footnote, and so, of course, does the Concordant Version. For the Greek word is kardia, and every medical student knows that a cardiac condition has to do with the heart and not with the head. We need an illuminated heart to be able to grasp and enjoy the blessings of the Ephesian epistle.
In the second prayer of Paul, in chapter 3, the point is carried a stage further, for here the apostle prays that Christ should "dwell in your hearts [not in your heads] through faith, that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, should be strong to grasp, together with all the saints, what is its breadth and length and depth and height - to know besides the knowledge transcending love of Christ - that you may be completed for the entire complement of God."
What a beautiful phrase is this, "having been rooted and grounded in love." Does this apply to you? Of course it does! It applies to all the members of the ecclesia. The whole ecclesia has been rooted and grounded in the love of God. It was in love that He designated us beforehand for the place of a son in Him. It is because of the vast love with which He loves us that we are vivified together in Christ. Yes, the foundations of the ecclesia are firm indeed - rooted and grounded in the vastness of God's love. And we, as individual members of the ecclesia, should be strong to grasp this fact with all its implications - its breadth and length and depth and height - and to know, besides, the knowledge transcending love of Christ, that we may be completely fitted out for the purpose for which God has chosen us.
THE SECOND KEY
We cannot be completed for the entire complement of God, and we cannot walk worthily of the calling with which we are called, unless the evangel of the grace of God has entered our hearts as well as our heads. That is why the whole of the second half of Ephesians is devoted to deportment, or behavior. We can walk worthily of the calling with which we were called only if, with all humility and meekness, with patience, we bear with one another in love and endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of peace.
Back in an earlier letter of Paul (Rom.5:5) we read that "the love of God is being poured out in our hearts through the holy Spirit which is being given to us." And here, in Ephesians 4:30, we are besought not to be giving sorrow to the holy Spirit of God by which we are sealed for the day of deliverance. And the way that we could cause sorrow to the holy Spirit of God is by allowing bitterness and malice to enter our hearts, and by saying unkind things about one another, and by engaging in malicious gossip and silly tittle-tattle. It is a sound principle: if we hear good about another, repeat it if we like, but if we hear evil, keep it as far as possible to ourselves, for evil generally becomes exaggerated in the telling of it. Paul says, "Let all bitterness and fury and anger and clamor and calumny be taken away from you with all malice, yet become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, dealing graciously among yourselves, according as God also, in Christ, deals graciously with you"
In the oncoming eons we are to be used of God to display His grace among the celestials. Ought we not to be conditioning ourselves, preparing ourselves, for that service by being gracious to those with whom we are now in contact? Ought we not to become, as far as lies in our power, imitators of God, as beloved children, and be walking in love, according as Christ also loves us? Should not this be our daily aim, for only thus can we walk worthily of that supreme calling with which we are called?
The same advice is given to us in Philippians and Colossians. In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul pleads, "If, then, there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any communion of spirit, if any compassion and pity, fill my joy full, that you may be mutually disposed, having mutual love, joined in soul, being disposed to one thing - nothing according with faction, nor yet according with vainglory - but with humility, deeming one another superior to one's self, not each noting that which is his own, but each that of the others also. For let this disposition be in you, which is in Christ Jesus also." And in Colossians, we are entreated to put off anger, fury, malice, calumny, obscenity, out of our mouths. We are not to lie to one another. Rather, we are to "put on, then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, pitiful compassions, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another and dealing graciously among yourselves, if anyone should be having a complaint against any. According as the Lord also deals graciously with you, thus also you. Now over all these put on love, which is the tie of maturity. And let the peace of God be arbitrating in your hearts, for which you were called also in one body; and become thankful."
Only by following these entreaties of Paul can we be true - true to the spirit by which we are sealed - true to the calling with which we are called. Then, being true, in love we should be making all grow into Him, Who is the Head, Christ, for out of Him the entire body is making for the growth of itself, for the upbuilding of itself in love (Eph.4:15,16).
This will not be easy, because, almost alone of God's creations, the ecclesia in this special era of grace has its spiritual enemies, who are constantly poised to attack. It is a fact that those who most need the grace of God are the ones who are the most virulent in their opposition to it. We refer to the sovereignties and authorities among the celestials, for it is against them that we wrestle - "the spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials" (Eph.6:12). It is against them and the Adversary, who is always opposed to God's purpose wherever it is revealed (and it is being revealed in the ecclesia today), that we need the protective panoply of God - another treasure in our chest! We are given only one offensive weapon, and that is the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. In the hands of Jesus, it destroyed the power of the Adversary in person; in our hands it will be used to destroy the antagonism of his minions to the grace of God. In our hands, it becomes a weapon of conciliation, if that is not a contradiction in terms, for we can use it in the light of the preaching of the cross.
. . .
Reluctantly, we close down our chest for the moment with a last glance at its many treasures, and what priceless treasures they are! The love of God has become to the ecclesia "the vast love with which He loves us." The love of Christ has become "the knowledge transcending love of Christ." The grace of God is now "the riches of His grace," and, in the oncoming eons, will be "the transcendent riches of His grace." The power of God is now "the transcendent greatness of His power for us who are believing." And the ecclesia itself, which is the body of Christ, becomes "the complement by which all in all is being completed."
What, then, are we to say about the calling with which we are being called? In another epistle, Paul describes it as "a holy calling, not in accord with our acts" (which would immediately and permanently disqualify us), "but in accord with God's own purpose, and the grace which is given to us before times eonian" (2 Tim.1:9). Yes, the ecclesia was in the purpose of God even before He created the eons, and its ministry will not be completed until the final consummation, when God is All in all.
So we close down the lid of the first half of our chest with the doxology (or hymn of praise to God) that comes at the end of the third chapter of Ephesians:
"Now to Him Who is able to do superexcessively above all that we are requesting or apprehending, according to the power that is operating in us, to Him be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of the eon of the eons! Amen!"
And we close down the lid of the second half with the benediction (or blessing from God and the Lord Jesus Christ) that comes at the end of the sixth chapter:
"Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who are loving our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption! Amen!"
May our love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our love for one another be unfeigned; then shall we indeed walk worthily of the calling wherewith we are called. Amen!
THE ECCLESIA, WHICH IS HIS BODY.
This ecclesia, which is the one specifically referred to in Paul's epistles, is presented to us in two distinct, yet related aspects. They are like the two sides of the same coin. From whichever side we look, we recognize the coin, yet the two aspects are different.
Individually, the ecclesia is composed of many members, each of which is foreknown, designated beforehand, called, justified and glorified (Rom.8:28-30). Each is brought into Christ through baptism into His death (Rom.6:3). Each is essential to the rest, and has his, or her, individual part to play in the upbuilding of the whole (1 Cor.12:12-31; Eph.4:11-14).
Collectively, the ecclesia is a unified body, chosen in Christ from before the disruption of the world, and seen by God as holy and flawless, its realm being inherent in the heavens and its service among the celestials. As such, it is the complement of Christ by which all in all is being completed.
It is in the individual aspect that members of the ecclesia were once sinners, all being by nature children of indignation even as the rest. This is changed when they come into Christ, for then they are "a new creation" (2 Cor.5:17). But collectively, the ecclesia is always seen by God as being holy and flawless, for it was conceived in His purpose before the disruption which is the evidence of rebellion in the universe, and becomes a separate entity only after the question of sin has been settled once and for all on the cross.