The Church, God’s Masterpiece
Ephesians Series #63
April 26, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father we’re so thankful that we have Your Word, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It is only through Your Word that we have the vital information we need to be able to properly understand who we are, Who You are. To understand the plight of our lives that we are born spiritually dead, we are born alienated from Your life, and that we are born separated from You. The only hope is Jesus Christ and the only way in which we can have life is by trusting in Him, for He is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to You except by Him.
“Father, we’re so thankful that You have given us Your Word, and as we study it we have learned so much about Your grace and Your goodness and all that You have given us. As we studied in Ephesians 1:3 on, learning that You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. That means You have enriched and strengthened us with more than we can ask or think as Paul mentions in his closing prayer in the section.
“Father, we pray that today as we continue to study who we are in Christ, in the body of Christ, the nature of the church, that we may come to have a higher understanding, higher appreciation for all that You have given us in the church, that we are in this unique organism, the body of Christ.
“Father, we pray that You would open our eyes to these things that we study today. In Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2:11 as we continue to go forward in this epistle. In this section as we go from Ephesians 2:11 on into Ephesians 3, we are studying about the church, God’s masterpiece.
This is a continuation of what we studied last time and the conclusion to the previous section Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship …” We studied POIEMA, which has the idea of a work of art, as something that has been specifically, intentionally crafted, artistically designed.
This elevates our understanding of who we are in Christ. For this applies to us corporately as the body of Christ and individually as members of the body of Christ.
As we talk about the church, we often realize the church is important, and in denominations people talk about the church. What’s funny is that when I was a young pastor and went to a church that did not have as strong of teaching background as they should have, or a lot of the people didn’t.
It was a union church, an old name for an interdenominational church—not in the modernistic sense. But in the early days of this country when new towns or cities were founded, and there wasn’t enough Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians, or whatever to form their independent denominational churches, they would come together and they would call their church a union church.
For many years in smaller communities, they would have itinerant ministers come through. One week it might be a Presbyterian, the next week a Methodist, the next week Baptist, and so on. They had constitutions that would allow for different denominational practices, and if the current pastor didn’t believe in the practice, didn’t think that was biblical, then he would agree to bring in someone from that particular denomination, who would carry that out.
There were older people in this congregation that had really come out of different backgrounds. A lot of the younger ones, in fact, had come out of Bible churches in the Houston area. Interestingly, I kept hearing this phrase, and it struck me as odd because I’d really never heard it, and spending a lifetime growing up in church, and not just one church, but I had been in many different churches.
I’d never really heard Christians use this phrase, but I would hear someone say, “Well, you know that lady “So and So” has a lot of problems with her husband; if we could just get him in church,” or “ ‘So-and-so’ has a problem teenager; if we could just get them in church.” The solution for so many things was always defined as “If we could just get them in church.”
I kept thinking about that. You can get all kinds of people in church and that’s not going to change them. What they need is to get the Word of God in them—that’s what transforms them. It’s not being physically present in church. It’s not attending church. That’s often part of the religiosity that has attached itself to some forms of Christianity.
We are, of course, to be involved in a local church. But it is not being involved in a local church that transforms us, it is learning the Word of God in that context of a local church. There we learn to serve the Lord, and there we learn to relate to others in the body of Christ. We will touch on a lot of these topics as we go through the remainder of the epistle to the Ephesians.
But the focus on this section of Ephesians has in fact been foreshadowed in the first chapter and the first half of the second chapter: the emphasis on this new entity, this new organism that came into existence after the death of Christ called the church. The church is identified as the body of Christ and also the bride of Christ. These are terms that have tremendous honor associated with them.
It’s one thing to say we are a work of art, but then this work of art that we are as the church is then identified as the bride of Christ. What greater honor can one we be given than to be called the bride of Christ or the body of Christ? This should elevate our whole image of who we are after salvation as members of the church.
To begin with we will go through the remainder of this opening section of Ephesians 1–3. Remember there are three sections to Ephesians.
There is the emphasis on the wealth that we have in Christ, all of the riches that we have in Christ, all of the blessings that we have. Ephesians 1:3 we’re told that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.
The word “blessing” has the idea of enrichments, the things that God has given us, the things that He has bestowed upon us, all of the assets that He has given us in the spiritual life. No other group of God’s people in all of history has ever had these kinds of enhancements or enrichments. They are given to each one of us as members of the body of Christ; it is very different.
That’s why when Paul begins this next section in Ephesians 2:11, he tells the Ephesian believers, “Remember who you once were. You were Gentiles in the flesh.” When we start working through that verse, we will go back and see in the Old Testament the Age of the Gentiles between Adam and Abraham, where all that there were on the earth were Gentiles.
They were not a special organized people of God like we have today. It was a patriarchal system, and spiritual life was more focused on the family: family sacrifice, family worship, and family ritual. Then because of the failure at the Tower of Babel, God calls out Abraham to be the father of a new special people, and that’s the Jewish people.
They had more enhanced rituals and more revelation, and God had a specific purpose for them in order to communicate His Word. It would be through the Jewish people that God would provide revelation and would provide a Savior. So there’s this distinction that came between the Gentiles and the Jews that causes great separation.
Then with Christ you have something new where there is now a union of Jew and Gentile. This is brought out through the use of the various pronouns that are used. The second-person plural “you” which addresses “you Gentiles,” in Ephesians 2:11, “Therefore, remember that you—you all, plural—once Gentiles in the flesh …”
That clearly identifies the “you” as Gentiles. Then there’s a distinction with the “we.” The “we” refers earlier to “we Jews who first came to Christ,” who were first believers. First, there’s “we” Jews; then by the time you get to this section, as we’ve already seen in Ephesians 2, the “we” begins to shift from “we” being Jews to “we” being Jew and Gentile together.”
For example, in Ephesians 2:4, we’re introduced to the main subject of the first section, Ephesians 2:1–7, “But God …” What did God do? He loved us, and the “us” there is now Jew and Gentile together.
In Ephesians 2:5, “even when we—that is we Jew and Gentile—even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, made us alive together.”
I want you to watch this word as we go forward, especially in the next section, Ephesians 2:11–22. Highlight or underline the words “together” and “both” because the emphasis will be on what God is doing in bringing Jew and Gentile together in the body of Christ.
By way of review, we saw that the Ephesians 1 opening section emphasized these enrichments, these blessings that are bestowed upon us through ministries of the three members of the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each assigned different enrichments or blessings to us in the body of Christ. It introduces the idea of what we have “in Him,” the idea of the corporate body of Christ.
One analogy that came to mind was when we are emphasizing the corporate body and the blessings for the corporate body, it doesn’t mean it’s just corporate. Because if you have a sports team, for example, what applies to the team applies to each individual on the team.
If you think about what the mission is of any sports team—pick your favorite: college football, professional basketball, hockey, whatever it may be—what is the mission? What is the primary objective of every sports team? It’s to win! That’s their job. That’s their mission. That corporate objective is applied to each member of the team. Their job is to help the team win.
You have things that are true both corporately and individually. Because each individual team member has different roles and responsibilities on that team, not everything that may be stated about the corporate entity applies equally to each and every individual. Sometimes there are distinctions between individual responsibilities, but overall the corporate responsibilities apply to each and every member on the team.
The same is true for the body of Christ. What is ours corporately is also ours individually, and this is brought out in that first section from Ephesians 1:3–14: this emphasis on what God has provided for us both corporately and individually.
At the end of that introduction, a prayer; just as we’ll see a a prayer at the end of Ephesians 3. Ephesians 1:1–14 is the introduction, followed by a prayer. The next section, Ephesians 2:1–3:13 is followed by prayer in Ephesians 2:14–22.
The prayer in Ephesians 1:15–23 is a prayer of understanding that which God has revealed to us so that we might grow spiritually. Paul is praying this for them, with thanksgiving in Ephesians 1:16. He reminds them that he frequently mentions them in prayer, Ephesians 1:17, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation …”
We learned that “Spirit” there should be capitalized; it’s the Holy Spirit. He’s the One who reveals things to them, Ephesians 1:18, “… that their eyes of their understanding might be enlightened that they might know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance,” which I translated “the wealth of the glory of His inheritance,” the focal point of that prayer.
At the end of the Ephesians 1 prayer, he emphasizes that which will be significant for the body of Christ. We see this foreshadowing to his subject, which is the church. Ephesians 1:22, “And He—God the Father—put all things under His feet—God the Son—and gave Him—God the Son—to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
He drives to this clear focus: what is the church, the body of Christ? And how do we fit within that in terms of our roles and responsibilities based on understanding all that God has provided for us?
Ephesians 2:1–10 he describes who we were before we were saved, what God did for us in making us alive together in Christ, and what our purpose is in Ephesians 1:10.
Ephesians 2:1–2, about the Gentiles: they are spiritually dead, dead in their trespasses and sins. Ephesians 4:18 defines that as being separated or alienated from the life of God. This is not like a dead person who can’t do anything because there’s no longer any capabilities there.
It is simply someone who no longer has the real life that God had given them. They’re separated from the life of God, and so they must be given life. This is why Jesus came. He is the way, the truth and the life. He provides life for us.
Ephesians 2:1–2 describes the life of the unsaved Gentile: they walked according to the course of this world. We will see that shift—that contrast—at the end of Ephesians 2:10 that we are now to walk in good deeds.
Ephesians 2:3 brings the Jews into it, “… among whom—that is among the sons of disobedience in Ephesians 2:2—we also all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh.”
Gentiles are spiritually dead, Jews are spiritually dead, Ephesians 2:4–5, “But God, who is rich in mercy,”—did what?—“even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ.”
That’s when we first see this word “together.” We’re made alive together, Jew and Gentile. Not Paul and Ephesus, but Jew and Gentile are made alive together in Christ.
Ephesians 2:5–6, “(by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Paul concludes that section in Ephesians 2:10, “For we …” That now is we Jew and Gentile, we the church. It emphasizes their individuality just as when it says we were dead in trespasses and sins He made us alive together. That applies individually, but it is also corporately true when he says, “we are His workmanship.” We individually are this work of art, this masterpiece, but it is also true of the whole body.
The whole body of Christ is this masterpiece, this work of art that’s “created in Christ Jesus.” That distinguishes it from the people of God before Abraham. Nothing like that was ever said of the Gentiles as believers in the pre-Abrahamic period. Nothing like that was said of the Jews in the Old Testament from Abraham to Christ. There is a lot that is said about how God loved Israel, but nothing like this.
Somebody raised the question yesterday, “Well, isn’t somebody going to object or are we going to feel bad about this when we’re in Heaven? That we’re going to be with other believers, and they’re going to say, ‘Well, we didn’t have all the privileges and positions that you Church Age believers had!’”
Of course not! They’re not going to have a sin nature, so they’re not going to be jealous, they’re not going to be envious. All of us will have our eyes open to understand the perfect plan of God and righteousness, and we will all rejoice in every aspect of it in whatever part we each had to play in that.
Ephesians 2:10 now elevates who we are in Christ, which sets us up for what’s coming in Ephesians 2:11 and following.
Paul is moving into this, indicated in Ephesians 2:11, “Therefore—‘therefore’ indicates he’s moving to an application of what he has said in Ephesians 2:1–2—remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision …”
This introduces a new section, Ephesians 2:1–3:13. The beginning of this new section emphasizes who composes the body of Christ. In Ephesians 2:11–22 we have our first part, and we learn how God brought this new entity into existence. He talks about the plight of the Gentiles, Ephesians 2:11–12. It reminds us to some degree of what he said in Ephesians 2:1–2, but he expands it just a little bit.
He talks about five problems that Gentiles had:
1. They were without Christ, and we should understand that, not just in the simple sense of they weren’t saved, they didn’t have Christ, but they didn’t have a Messiah. There was no Messiah given to the Gentiles. The Messiah was coming to the Jewish people. There’s no understanding among the Gentiles of a Messiah, so they are without a Messiah without Christ.
2. They’re aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise.
Look at that language in Ephesians 2:11. It says that they were aliens and strangers. Look down at Ephesians 2:19, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens.”
So, we have the problem in Ephesians 2:12, but the solution comes to Christ on the Cross where these problems are corrected.
3. Strangers from the covenants of promise. These are the covenants related to the Abrahamic Covenant. They all had a promise of the future.
In the Abrahamic Covenant; the main components were land, seed, and blessing. Then the Land Covenant, then the Seed Covenant or the Davidic Covenant. Then you have the New Covenant, which relates to worldwide blessing.
4. Gentiles in the Age of Israel were separated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise. As a result they had no hope, no conviction, no certainty of a future because they had no revelation, other than that which came to the Jews.
5. They were without God in the world.
We will study the implications of all of those. Paul says in Ephesians 2:13, “but now—this is the solution—now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off—you were alienated and strangers, but now you—have been brought near …”
The Greek is interesting; it means that you have become near. “You were far off, now you’ve become near.” It is the Greek GINOMAI, which indicates that you are now in a state which is something that you were not prior to that.
How does that happen? It is explained in Ephesians 2:14–18, which presents the reconciliation solution. That the problem is that they were far off, and now they’re going to be brought together. How does this happen? That’s important to understand here at the beginning.
Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace—Christ is our peace—who has made both one.”
Look at the word “both.” How many are in both? Can three be both? Can four be both? No. Both is two. Who are the two? We’ve already been introduced to this earlier in the chapter. The two are the Gentiles and Jews. When it says He made both one, he’s talking about Jew and Gentile are now made one.
He’s broken down the middle wall of separation—that was the Law. Christ broke down that middle wall of separation, which means He’s the end of the Law—that the Law’s no longer in effect. The Law created this middle wall, and now, according to Ephesians 2:15, He’s nullified that “in His flesh.”
Nullifying it ends the enmity that was embedded in the Law. Jews could not have relations with Gentiles. They couldn’t go over to their house for dinner or it would render them ceremonially unclean.
We saw that with Peter in Acts 10. Peter is given this vision from God. A huge tablecloth comes down from heaven with all this food on it, and God says, “Eat it.” Most of the food was unclean, and Peter says, “No, I can’t do that.” It relates to what was about to happen, that Gentiles were coming to invite Peter to their home back in Caesarea by the Sea, and he knew that under the Law he couldn’t do that. But God was making it clear that He had now made this possible, and that Peter was to go with them.
Prior to Christ, there is this enmity between Jew and Gentile, there is this wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, there’s an antagonism and hostility between Jew and Gentile. But by Christ’s death, He destroys that middle wall of separation and creates in Himself, Ephesians 2:15 “one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
Again, he’s bringing these two together—Jew and Gentile “in Christ.” There is now going to be no enmity between them.
We see the purpose of His death in Ephesians 2:16: for the purpose of producing this one new body. Actually, you have two barriers that are described here. Barrier #1 is the barrier of the Law between Jew and Gentile, but then both Jew and Gentile are separated from God by a barrier. Jesus Christ destroys both barriers, so that He can create in Himself one new body that is reconciled to God.
Ephesians 2:16, “… that He might reconcile them—what’s the next word?—both—there we have it again. Circle it, connect it to the other both; both is two—He might reconcile them both—that is Jew and Gentile—to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity”—ending the enmity.
Something has radically taken place now. This is not the adding of Gentiles to Israel, but it is replacing both the Israel economy—the dispensation of Israel—and He is replacing the Gentile, so that now there will no longer be Jew or Gentile in the body of Christ. These ethnic distinctions will no longer apply.
Ephesians 2:17, the result of this is that Jesus could come through His apostles to preach or proclaim “peace to you who are far off—peace is the opposite of anxiety, the opposite of enmity, the opposite of antagonism—preach peace to you who are far off, and to those who were near.”
This is a peace with God where there’s no longer a spiritual barrier. It is not like world peace or the kind of peace that most people think of today.
Ephesians 2:18, the conclusion, “For through Him what we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
That’s the third time we have the use of the word “both.” This emphasizes that it is the Jew and the Gentile brought together in Christ. This is our new role; this is our new place because Christ has destroyed the wall of enmity by His death on the Cross.
Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul comes back to give the results and the new reality of this union of these two now—Jew and Gentile—into one body. Ephesians 2:19, “Now, therefore,—now as a result of this or here’s a consequence of it—you—you Gentiles.”
How did he start this? You (Gentiles) were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, Ephesians 2:12.
Now, Ephesians 2:19 he says, “… you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens … Before they were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, but now they’re going to be, fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
You might think that “the saints and members of the household of God,” refers to Old Testament saints. How do you know it doesn’t?
Ephesians 2:20, the household of God has been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. That’s not talking about Old Testament prophets; that’s why he puts apostles first.
Apostles are a Church-Age authority structure. You don’t have apostles in the Old Testament. If it was prophets and apostles, it would be Old Testament prophets and then New Testament apostles. But because it’s apostles and prophets, we’re talking about New Testament gifts of apostles and prophets.
Furthermore, Ephesians 2:20, the apostles and prophets are the foundation, and that can’t be Israel because the apostles and prophets are the foundation, and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. None of that can apply to Israel.
This morning when I first woke up … part of what I usually do on Sunday mornings having thought through the passage and worked through things in my head a lot, I will sit down and while I’m drinking my morning coffee, I’ll skim through some different commentaries.
One of the commentaries, a rather recent commentary—I won’t mention it by name—is written by a man who is extremely reformed in his theology. He’s a very strong, if not high Calvinist, and he argues in his opening introduction to this section that the Gentiles are now, because of the cross, they’re added to Israel, which, of course, in reformed theology is the church of the Old Testament.
This is one of the examples I give, especially when I talk to a Jewish audience, of the difference between a figurative and literal interpretation of Scripture. In a figurative interpretation of scripture, Israel is the church of the Old Testament. They’re never called that, but that’s what they say, that Israel’s the church of the Old Testament, and the church is the Israel of the New Testament.
They don’t take the words “church” and “Israel,” literally. That’s why reformed theology and other theological systems like that have really adopted forms of replacement theology. In literal interpretation Israel means Israel—the ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Not all Israel is true spiritual Israel, but all spiritual Israel in the Old Testament is what? Ethnic Israel also. Israel means Israel in the literal interpretation, and the church means the church in a literal interpretation.
Here the household of God is another name for the church because that’s what’s built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets; and Christ is the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:22, “in whom the whole building being built fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
We will study that to see how it relates to the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells each of us.
Ephesians 3:1 introduces something new to this discussion, that is the idea that the church as a new organism, a new entity unlike anything that precedes it, was never revealed before. It was never revealed in the Old Testament. It was a mystery. The word “mystery” means it is previously unrevealed information.
Ephesians 3:1, “For this reason—because of all that I’ve just said about what Christ has done in removing the enmity between Jew and Gentile—For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—” and then he stops.
You’ll see in your Bible probably something like and em dash (—), which indicates he breaks off that thought. Because his mind is moving so fast, he just jumps right into what he is starting to say, leaves off his main thought, and doesn’t pick it up again until Ephesians 3:7.
Ephesians 3:7, “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.”
He breaks off and Ephesians 3:2–6 expresses this one thought developing the idea that the church had been a mystery. It was never previously revealed at all.
Paul breaks into his opening sentence, and the whole thing is emphasizing that Christ has called him as an apostle for the mystery. It is his responsibility to give this new information. It’s not that it wasn’t given to the other apostles, but that he was the primary one. The majority of the revelation related to the church was given to him, and his special mission as an apostle was to the Gentiles.
Ephesians 3:1–2, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—then he breaks into that—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you …” Here is one of the key verses for the idea of dispensationalism.
Dispensation means to distribute something. It’s the Greek word related to OIKONOMOS, which means the house law, and that shows something distinct about this period that emphasizes the grace of God.
This isn’t just the dispensation of the grace of God, but it’s “the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me.” It is the information about this present dispensation of the grace of God which was given to Paul for them to help them understand their new role.
That would be us—all in this room are Gentiles; many of those listening are Gentiles—that we have all been given the special privileges as believers in this dispensation.
Ephesians 3:3-4, “… how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery—the previously unrevealed information—as I have briefly written about already … that you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.”
He defines what he means by “mystery,” Ephesians 3:5, “which in other ages was not known to the sons of men, as it has been revealed by the Spirit to His holy—what—apostles and prophets.”
The use of that phrase again, “apostles and prophets,” tells us it can’t refer to Old Testament prophets because they were not given this information in the Old Testament. This phrase, “apostles and prophets,” has to refer to New Testament apostles and prophets who are the ones through whom new revelation was given once the Church Age began.
The giving of this new information through the apostles and prophets establishes the uniqueness of this Church Age, Ephesians 3:6, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
They were previously excluded from the covenants of promise, Ephesians 2:12, but now they have a new promise: they are partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel.
For the purpose, Ephesians 3:6, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body—fellow heirs with who? the Jews—fellow heirs—with the Jews—and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,”
Ephesians 3:7, “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
Ephesians 3:8–13 the purpose of this mystery doctrine; the purpose of the church:
Ephesians 3:8, “To me, who am less than the least of the saints, this grace was given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable wealth of Christ” He comes back to that theme in the first three chapters, the wealth that we have in Christ,
Ephesians 3:9, “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery—the partnership in the body of Christ, that mystery the church—which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Christ Jesus,”
Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
Part of our role and responsibility is to be witnesses to the angels: to the holy angels and to the fallen angels. We are witnesses, we’re testimonies to the angels, and that brings in the whole issue of the angelic conflict.
Ephesians 3:11–12, all of this is according to God’s purpose, so that we can “… have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”
It is extremely important to understand this; it drives us to a point where now Paul says, Ephesians 3:13, “Don’t worry about me and the tribulations I go through because this is your glory.” This demonstrates the importance of you, in other words.
He closes in prayer, Ephesians 3:14–15, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” He shows his submission to the authority of Christ and focuses on his mission.
Ephesians 3:16, “that God would grant you—the Gentiles—according to the wealth of His glory to be strengthened with might through His Spirit.” That’s what we should be praying for ourselves, that we can be strengthened in this might.
Ephesians 3:17, “that Christ might dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love …” Important phrase: that is the foundation for the spiritual life.
Ephesians 3:18-19, “…may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…”
That phrase “width and length and depth and height” has confused a lot of people. People have tried to figure out what each one of those things are. When you say that something has width length, depth and height, what are you saying? It has dimensions. That’s just a metaphor. What Paul is saying here is that we can understand the dimensions of God’s love.
His love is infinite but, we can know the extent of God’s love in our life, and it’s boundless, so we’re going to constantly be exploring that, and we will never come to a point where we fully comprehend all of it. But what we are to comprehend is the love of Christ which passes knowledge.
That doesn’t mean that knowledge is irrelevant. For something to pass knowledge, first you have to have knowledge, then you go beyond in terms of the application and expansion of that. Knowledge here is GNOSIS, and it goes beyond that into a more directive application of that knowledge. We’ve dealt with that some in Peter understanding EPIGNOSIS; we will go through that again when we get there.
Ephesians 3:19b, for the purpose that we “… may be filled with all the fullness of God.” That is another phrase describing the spiritual maturity that God is producing in our lives to make us like Christ. We are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
He closes with this tremendous benediction, Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
I’ve talked about that, used that phrase over and over again in the first chapter and a half. What God has given us is beyond anything that we ever thought about asking for, anything that we can imagine, or anything that we think about. God has given us more than that already.
Ephesians 3:20b, it is “according to the power—the power of the Holy Spirit—that works in us.”
Ephesians 3:21, he closes out, “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”
As we go through this, our concepts of the church and who we are as members of the church and the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the church will be expanded beyond anything that we thought of before. Because it is through us, this masterpiece, this artistic expression of God, this artistic creation that is greater than anything else is going to put on display His grace.
Which he talks about in Ephesians 2:7, “… that in the ages to come He might show—or demonstrate—the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
That’s what we have to look forward to. Next Sunday morning we will get into more of an introduction to what the church is, so we have some idea. Because what he’s talking about here is not the local church. Not once in Ephesians does he talk about the local church. He talks about the universal church, the body of Christ and the bride of Christ.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to focus on what You’re doing now, to understand this overview of the rest of Ephesians 2–3, elevating our thoughts about who we are in Christ, who we are in the church, the significance of the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. All that’s involved in this, taking us to a new level of thought and appreciation for what You are doing in and through us in this Church Age.
“Father, we pray that anyone listening would understand the gospel. The gospel is good news about what You have provided for us, the good news about what You’ve given us. The good news is that we were born spiritually dead, separated from You, alienated from life, but You’ve given us life in Christ. By simply believing in Him, trusting in His Person, trusting in His work, that He died for us, paid the penalty for sin, and sin is no longer the issue. The issue is trusting in Christ, and by trusting in Him, we have everlasting life.
“Father, we pray that You will challenge all of us to think on a higher plane about who we are in Christ, in the body of Christ and our roles and responsibilities as Church Age believers. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”