The Book of Ephesians
Paul’s Revelation of God’s Plan,
Chapter 3 continues the theme of our “positional relocation” from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. It continues the “new position” side of the equation, speaking further of the unique spiritual life of the Church Age believer as the Temple Home of God.
What began in the second half of Chapter 2 continues into the first half of Chapter 3; The New Position in the Household, Unity in Christ, Eph 2:11-3:13. Likewise we see the Church as a temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit that runs through the end of Chapter 3, Eph 2:19-3:21.
We can break this chapter into two main parts:
- Revelation, Paul’s Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, vs. 1-13.
- Reverence; Paul’s Prayer and Doxology, vs. 14-21.
When breaking down this chapter we see three main themes:
- The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6.
- The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.
- Prayer for Realization, God’s Fullness for the Church, Eph 3:14-21.
God revealed the mystery of the Church to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, and made him a steward of that message for the new Dispensation, The Church Age, and authorized him to proclaim it to the Gentiles.
This message takes us, the believer, from entrance into and position within the Family of God, all the way to “Super Grace” status. Therefore, we have a progression of spiritual growth outlined in these passages as well; the progression from spiritual birth to spiritual maturity that has four basic doctrines:
- The Doctrine of the Mystery, vs. 1-6.
- The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
- The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
- The Doctrine of the Super Grace Life, vs. 19-21.
Section 1: The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6.
Eph 3:1, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.”
“For this reason,” is HOUTOS CHARIN, χάριν, “because of, for the sake of, or by reason of.” This stands for all that Paul has just said in his letter, chapters 1 and 2, that reveal that the Gentiles are co-heirs in the family of God with the Jews.
“I Paul,” EGO PAULOS, not just identifying the writer but reminding us of his “new name” given to him by the Lord. Similar to Abram being changed to Abraham, and Jacob being changed to Israel, it reflects the new life each believer has in Christ, Acts 9. And with Paul that new life in Christ was a call to be the chief apostle to the Gentiles.
The first mention of Paul is in Acts 7:58 with his former name Saul, at the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Church. Here he bears the Jewish name Saul. He was born a Jew but was also a Roman citizen, a privileged position. His education was as a rabbi of the Pharisaic school under the famous rabbi Gamaliel. As a trained rabbi, he had also learned the trade of tent making, and at times earned his living by it, Acts 18:3.
We see him first as a violent persecutor of the Church, Acts 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1f, then he meets the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. The dramatic story is important enough to be told three times in Acts, Chapters 9, 22, and 26. Paul was given authority as an Apostle directly from the Lord, 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8-10. Not only did his position come directly from God, but also the gospel he preached that changed the world, Gal 1:11 – 2:10.
Now, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul identifies himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles,” HO DESMIOS HO CHRISTOS IESOUS HUPER HUMON HO ETHNOS.
The key word here is the subject Nominative of DESMIOS, δέσμιος that means, “prisoner or bound with fetters.” Paul often referred to himself in his letters as a “prisoner of Christ,” Philemon 1, 9; or as in Eph 4:1, a “prisoner of the Lord”; or even just, “his prisoner,” 2 Tim 1:8. At the writing of this letter, Paul was literally under house arrest awaiting trial, but he does not say he was the prisoner of the Emperor Nero. No, he says he was the prisoner of Christ Jesus, the One he was truly serving.
The relationship that Paul has with Christ is gained through positional truth; therefore, he has been purchased by Christ and possessed by Him. Paul has believed in Christ and Christ is now his Royal High Priest; therefore, he has a relationship with Christ. This is an expression of his relationship with Christ, which he is able to do only because he is in super-grace. No man can express his relationship to Christ unless he is in super-grace. And Paul exhorts us to join in that super-grace status of relationship with Christ, 2 Tim 2:3.
Two thoughts come together with these sayings:
- Paul was literally a prisoner of Rome because of his evangelism activities, and he knew his stay in prison was part of God’s will for his life.
- He was also a captive to Christ and imprisoned for His cause, just as we all who believe are imprisoned to Christ for His cause.
So Paul here is the suffering servant of the Lord, where his suffering, i.e., confinement, resulted in great benefit and blessings for himself and especially for the Gentiles. Had he never been imprisoned in Rome, Paul probably would not have had such a tremendous impact upon the believers in Rome, Phil 1:14, and throughout the entire Roman Empire, if he had not been imprisoned. Cf. 2 Tim 1:12; 2:9.
Doctrine of Suffering
1) Suffering acts as a guardian or parent in life. The disciplines and restraints imposed by our parents in childhood are now replaced by the disciplines and restraints of suffering in adulthood. It is a warning that we are doing something wrong, or it is a means of greater blessing when we are doing it right. In both instances it is a teaching aide to propel us forward in our walk with Christ.
2) As a guardian in our life, suffering is designed by God for our good because it does two things.
- It restrains us from sin, human good, and evil.
- It challenges us to advance in the plan of God, to grow up spiritually.
3) Suffering never leaves the believer as it found him. He either is the better or the worse for it; you will never be the same again. If during suffering you react through arrogance with bitterness, vindictiveness, self‑pity, or implacability, you will become a loser and start to go backward. On the other hand, if, when you are suffering, you respond through the application of metabolized Bible doctrine and occupation with the person of Christ, you will advance to the point of becoming more mature with a faith rest life and a relaxed mental attitude resulting in being a winner of rewards believer. No one stands still when under pressure, you either move forward or backwards.
4) Suffering for blessing is accomplished while you are going through some form of adversity in your life, while at the same time remaining predominantly under God’s Divine Power system, (GPS), which is the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit (i.e., being filled with the Holy Spirit through Rebound), while also applying God’s Word that is resident within your soul to your life. As a result, you will have momentum from the Word applied from your soul, and all suffering will be for blessing. In other words, while in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, as you reside in the temple of your soul, any suffering that comes to you is designed for your blessing, for your wisdom, for the function of your common sense, and for the correct application of doctrine to the situation. All of which results in Divine Good Production with blessings and rewards in eternity, (i.e., the gold, silver and precious gems of 1 Cor 3:10-16, the brighter star resurrection body of 1 Cor 15:41; or the rewards for being an overcomer beyond salvation in Rev 2-3).
1 Peter 3:14, “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED.”
1 Peter 3:17, “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
5) Yet, if you live outside of God’s GPS, which means you are functioning in sin and are not Rebounding, 1 John 1:9, for recovery of fellowship with God, (including the filling of the Spirit), all suffering is designed for blessing on a limited basis; (i.e., to bring you back to reality, to bring you to the point of rebound, to bring you to the point of recovery, and to show you that your scale of values is wrong and you must change your priorities). This is called Punitive Suffering or Divine Discipline.
6) Punitive Suffering originates from the believer’s negative volition toward Bible doctrine and his accumulated bad decisions related to sin and evil. But even punitive suffering is resolved by Rebound and Recovery. When you Rebound the result is that all suffering left over is change from suffering for discipline to suffering for blessing. Therefore, whatever suffering comes into your life, it is designed for blessing, 1 Cor 11:27-32.
1 Peter 4:15, “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.”
7) Suffering for Blessing has three categories. These concepts come from the application of John 15 where God prunes us, the branches, so that we can produce “fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.” These three align with the three stages of spiritual adulthood; Spiritual Self Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy and Spiritual Maturity. The three categories of suffering for blessing then includes:
- Spiritual Self-Esteem – Providential Preventative Suffering.
- Spiritual Autonomy – Momentum Testing.
- Spiritual Maturity – Evidence Testing.
8) Providential Preventative Suffering, (PPS), is used when the believer reaches Spiritual Self-Esteem, (SSE), to keep him from getting arrogant as a result of success, achievement, and advancement in the Spiritual life. It is the first category of suffering for blessing, from the context of 2 Cor 12:7‑10, the thorn testing.
2 Cor 12:7, “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, to keep me from exalting myself!”
These thorns include four areas of testing called weaknesses in 2 Cor 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, 1) with insults, 2) with distresses, 3) with persecutions, 4) with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“Weaknesses” is the Greek Noun ASTHENEIA, ἀσθένεια that means, “Weakness, sickness, distress, lack of strength.” It is the opposite of “A” STHENOS, strength. Initially the terms referred to physical weakness and to sickness, and later took on a broader meaning to include vulnerability, poverty, or economic powerlessness. Paul used it to emphasize the “inability” of man to do the will of God apart from the grace and power of God, and to give us an awareness of our dependency on God.
“Insults” is the Greek Noun HUBRI, ὕβρις that means, “insult, insolence, mistreatment, damage, loss, hurt, or disaster.” It means a sin or trespass against you, either physically or mentally, due to arrogance, insult, violence, and contempt towards you by another.
“Distresses” is the Greek the Noun ANANKE, ἀνάγκη that means, “Necessity, compulsion; distress.” It means the lack of human necessities for existence, poverty, trials, and hardships.
“Persecutions” is the Greek Noun DIOGMOS, διωγμός. It means to be chased after, pursued, with the intent to cause harm, due to your faith and relationship with Christ. It also includes the anti-Christian principles of the world’s system, (Satan’s cosmic system), that will clash with the values and morality of faithful believers. As evil men and wickedness increase, persecution will not lessen but will come to a climax during the reign of the Antichrist.
“Difficulties” is the Greek Noun STENOCHORIA, στενοχωρία that means, “Narrowness of space, confined space, affliction, distress, or anguish.” Used only here and in Rom 2:9; 8:35; 2 Cor 6:4. It is related to “being anxious,” but here it would be that which tries to make you anxious and cause anguish.
Paul did not consider these “weakness” as hindrances from God; rather, he saw them as opportunities for the Lord to demonstrate His power through us. As He had told Paul in 2 Cor 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” cf. 13:4. As long as his suffering was for Christ’s sake, he rested in the assurance that when circumstances pressed him to helplessness, he would then, and only then, experience the help of the Lord, when he faith-rested in Him.
So PPS prevents, restrains, intercepts, and insulates against sin and evil in the life of the believer, while challenging his SSE to suffer for blessing and profit. It has several goals.
- It insulates against the arrogance complex of sins, that means you begin to eliminate jealousy, self‑pity, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, inordinate ambition, inordinate competition, and all the other mental attitude sins in the arrogance complex.
- It is a warm‑up testing that matches the four Momentum Tests under Spiritual Autonomy. There is a warm‑up for people testing (Insults), for thought testing (Distresses), for system testing (Persecutions), and for disaster testing (Difficulties).
When SSE combines with PPS, it forms Spiritual Autonomy (SA), which is SSE with muscle minus arrogance.
1 Peter 1:6-8, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
9) Remember that Paul prayed three times for the removal of this PPS, just as our Lord prayed for the “cup” of His Evidence Testing to be removed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mat 26:39-44; Mark 14:36. Yet, in both instances the suffering for blessing remained. Therefore, Suffering for Blessing it is not always removed as a result of prayer, and in fact, it usually is not removed because it is designed for great benefit and blessing. What God does not remove, He intends for us to bear. Therefore, if you do pray for the removal of any suffering, make sure you also remember and say something like, “if it is your will,” or “not my will, but your will be done.” And instead of praying for its removal, pray for the strength and wisdom to endure and overcome the suffering. Keep in mind that the reason God does not remove the suffering, is because without suffering, the believer cannot fulfill the Plan of God for their life.
Psa 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Phil 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
As you know, there are many things in life which you must do for yourself. The most basic of these is that no one can live your life for you, and no one can die for you. In both living and dying, you have to go it alone. There are certain aspects of living you must do alone, like suffering, feeling pain, making your own decisions, thinking your own thoughts, establishing your own priorities, and eventually doing your own dying. No one can die for you; you must do your own dying. No one can bear your pain; you must bear your own pain. No one can make your decisions for you; you must make your own decisions. You have to live by your own standards. You cannot look to someone else and copy and emulate them. All this requires spiritual adulthood. In learning how to live and how to die, you will have the key to happiness. You can have tranquility, great happiness, and blessing in suffering as well as in prosperity. The only way to be on top of life in both adversity and prosperity is to be a spiritual adult where you walk in faith with the Lord on a consistent basis. No one else can do that for you, and only you can enjoy that walk.
Eph 3:2, “If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you.”
“If indeed” is the subordinating Conjunction EI plus the Particle GE, that introduce the sentence with a first class “if” statement, “if and you have.”
What they have done is “heard,” something over and over again that Paul had taught them. “Heard” is the verb AKOUO in the constative Aorist, Active, Indicative, for the reality of the past action of being taught by Paul through GAP of his stewardship of the mystery Doctrines for the Church Age. Therefore, the Gentiles in Asia had been taught this doctrine of Paul’s position and the Dispensation of the Church many times before. And now, all that Paul was teaching them in Chapters 1-2 thus far, and what he will teach them in the rest of this letter are part of the mystery doctrines of this new dispensation called, the Age of Grace or the Church Age.
“Stewardship,” is the Noun OIKONOMIA, οἰκονομία that means “stewardship, administration, or management.” We noted this word in Eph 1:10, and also have it in vs. 9. It is derived from the words OIKOS meaning, “house,” and NEMO meaning, “to deal out or to administrate.” From the time of Xenophon and Plato using Attic Greek, it represented the administration of a household, the management of a household, or of household affairs. Generally, it was also used for the administration of the state and was eventually used to designate every kind of activity that accrued from that position.
Here, it denotes Paul’s attitude toward the duties of his apostolic office. In 1 Cor 9:17, Paul used it to describe the responsibility he had of preaching the gospel entrusted to him by God as a “commission” from which he could not deny. He also used it to designate his responsibility to “fulfill the Word of God” in Col 1:25, by which he meant he had been entrusted to impart to the Colossians the unfolding of the Plan of God that has been consummated in the Church, the body of Christ, just as he does hear in regard to the churches in the Ephesus region. This plan, as vs. 9 tells us, was a MUSTERION, mystery, hidden from eternity in God, by which He, in the fullness of time, will sum up all things in Christ.
The KJV typically translates it as “dispensation,” and as Vine’s comment notes, “a dispensation is not just a period of time or epoch, a common, but erroneous, use of the word, but a mode of dealing, an arrangement or administration of affairs,” (Expository Dictionary, “Dispensation”). Even though we speak of “dispensations” in a matter of time periods, it really must be understood as God’s various administrations of human affairs to further His will and plan during the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
Here, Paul calls this dispensation, “of God’s grace,” HO CHARIS HO THEOS in the Genitive Singular. That is why we call this current time period the “Age of Grace.”
Then we have, “which was given to me for you,” HO DIDOMAI, (Aor., Pass., Genitive Part.), EGO EIS HUMAS. Paul was given this responsibility directly by God, so that He could communicate the Mystery Doctrines of the Age of Grace to the Church. Therefore, God had given him the responsibility of making known to the world the meaning of the mystery God had revealed to him, which is, the amazing unity of the New Testament Church being incorporated into the “one body,” with no distinction and with equal privileges and responsibilities between Gentiles and Jews, because of their union with Jesus Christ.
The Doctrine of Dispensations
A dispensation is a period of human history expressed in terms of Divine revelation of God’s administration of human affairs during the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. It is a technical theological term used primarily by the apostle Paul in the presentation of the Mystery Doctrine of this Church Age. While OIKONOMIA means God’s administration of human history, Eph 1:10, 3:2, 9; Col 1:25, several other Greek words emphasize time periods in communicating the concept of dispensations. They include:
1) AION that means, “an age or a period of time,” Gal 1:4; 1 Cor 2:6-8.
2) KAIROS meaning, “an epoch, age, a chronological order or system, or a period of time characterized by distinctive development within that period,” Luke 21:24; Rom 8:18; 11:5; 13:11; 1 Thes 5:1.
3) KRONOS that means, “time as a succession of events.” It is used to portray the chronology of history or time as a series of points. Occasionally, it is used for a section of time in chronology, which then refers to a dispensation, Rom 16:25; 1 Peter 1:20.
Dispensations are Divine categories of human history; it is both the Divine outline and the Divine interpretation of human history. There are many interpretations of history, but the only Biblically accurate interpretation of God’s administration of human history is dispensational, i.e., Divine.
Dispensations are the vehicle, by which believers living at a specific time in history can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for their lives. God’s plan is not the same for every dispensation. In fact, the plan is quite different in each dispensation. The most difficult and subtle plan to learn by a believer is the Church Age or Age of Grace. Old Testament believers during the time of the Law were under the ritual plan of God, today we are under the Grace Plan of God. The believer’s orientation to time and history is vitally necessary for understanding God’s plan and reaching the objective of the super-grace life.
While there is a different plan for believers in each dispensation, there is only one way of salvation throughout human history; i.e., personal faith in Jesus Christ. In all of human history, there is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, and He is revealed in different ways in different dispensations. Further, while salvation is always the same in each dispensation (faith in Christ), the tactical objective of reaching the super-grace life is also the same. Each dispensation, however defines the function and the ministry of the believer in terms of Divine revelation pertinent to that period of history.
Dispensational study is beneficial. It will keep you out of confusion. It is the only correct interpretation of the Scriptures that accounts for all of God’s inner workings of human affairs in different ways and at different times, to fulfill His great plan. Therefore, it will keep you from trying to function in the wrong dispensation and allow you to rightly divide the word of God for accurate interpretation and application.
The Dispensation of the Church is a technical dispensation. It requires understanding technical words and knowing the modus operandi. This is the first time in history that the ordinary believer must think in terms of doctrine, must think like a prophet or an apostle, and must reconstruct his entire mental attitude. Therefore, every believer is given the ability to think through the filling of the Holy Spirit, and is given the complete Canon as the information about which to think. In order to think, you must know the doctrine and be able to think in terms of its application. You think for yourself and do not need others to think for you.
- The Various Dispensations of Human History
The Age of Innocence.
1) Scripture: Genesis chapters 1-3.
- a) The period of positive volition; the time in the Garden of Eden of Adam and the woman that is known theologically as Innocence.
2) The general characteristics of this Age included a special angelic attack upon establishment, free will and marriage.
The Age of the Gentiles.
1) Scripture: Genesis Chapters 4-11.
- The period of negative volition, the period of the fall and conscience, including Noah and the Flood.
- The period of Divine establishment, the beginning of human government at the tower of Babel through to the time of the giving of the Law.
3) The general characteristics of this Age includes: One language, one race (Gentiles only), a special angelic attack upon establishment (the family, Genesis 6, and nationalism, Genesis 11:1-9).
4) The scope of this dispensation is from the exile from Eden to the tower of Babel, the first United Nations building. God expresses His attitude toward it by destroying that building.
5) During this Dispensation there was no written canon of scripture. God communicated His doctrine in other ways.
6) There was no specific missionary agency.
7) Salvation was by faith in Jesus Christ as He was revealed in that Dispensation.
The Age of the Jews (Israel).
1) Scripture: Most of the Old Testament minus the Millennial passages, and the Gospels minus John chapters 13-17.
2) Outline: The period of the nation Israel from the Exodus of Moses and receiving the Law to Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection, plus the period of the Tribulation.
- There are many languages;
- Many races;
- The development of Israel from a race to a nation; Israel becomes the custodian of the written Canon as well as the missionary agency representing God.
4) Security for Israel was given through the unconditional covenants; the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants to Israel which acted as both spiritual and eternal security.
5) National security, prosperity, and blessing came through the establishment teaching of the Mosaic law. National discipline was given to this nation under five cycles, Lev 26.
6) Salvation was by faith in Jesus Christ the Messiah / Anointed One, looking forward to the Cross.
7) Spirituality was the faith-rest technique. This is demonstrated in the N.T. in Heb 11; Rom 4:17-21.
The Doctrine of Intercalation: The Insertion of the Church Age.
1) Intercalation basically means “insertion.” The Jewish dispensation was interrupted by the strategical victory of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. Before it would come to a conclusion, God the Father inserted a new Age called Grace or the Church Age. This intercalation also included the insertion of new Bible doctrine not previously known, so that people could orient to this new Age, the Church Age. Whatever God intended for this age, we had to know about it, so we have the N.T. epistles as the concept of intercalation.
2) Intercalation or the insertion of information goes with the Dispensation. Intercalation is the intensified stage of the Angelic Conflict. It is expressed in another way: mystery. The Church Age is a mystery in the Greek sense of the word MUSTERION. It was something hidden in the past but known to others. The Church Age is a mystery not known to the Old Testament writers.
3) Doctrines pertaining to the Church Age were not found in the O.T. Where Church Age information would have occurred, the O.T. simply skipped over it. The O.T. would talk about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and then it would stop, it would move over to the Tribulation and talk about the Second Advent and the Millennium. But it would never talk about anything in between the ascension of Christ and the beginning of the Tribulation. This is the great parenthesis of Scripture. So now, we must have intercalation, the insertion of doctrine where before there was a complete blank. Doctrine pertinent to the Church Age is therefore intercalated, inserted, by the N.T. epistles.
4) We have a large number of the great parenthesis passages. The great parenthesis occurs between Dan 2:40 and 41; between 7:23 and 24; between 8:22 and 23; between 11:35 and 36; between Hosea 3:4 and 5; between 5:15 and 6:1; between Psa 22:22 and 23; between Isa 61:2a and 2b.
The Church Age.
1) The scripture: John chapters 14-17 and the New Testament epistles.
2) The outline: Broken down into two parts, the pre-Canon period, which is the book of Acts and the post-Canon period which is the New Testament epistles.
- The baptism of the Holy Spirit produced union with Jesus Christ and/or positional sanctification.
- The universal royal priesthood of all believers.
- The universal indwelling of Christ.
- The universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit which never occurred before.
- The completed Canon of scripture. All divine revelation is now reduced to writing; there is no extra-Biblical revelation such as dreams, trances, visions, voices, and so on.
- Every believer is in full time Christian service; every believer is an ambassador representing the Lord Jesus Christ on earth in the devil’s world.
- The intensification of the devil’s world in the Angelic Conflict is a characteristic of this Dispensation.
- Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, looking back to the Cross.
- All believers are commanded to GAP it to super-grace as the means of glorifying God.
The Tribulation, 7 year time period to complete the Age of Israel as noted above; the time of the Antichrist.
The Age of Christ – The Millennial Reign.
1) Scripture: Isa 11, 35, 62, 65; Psa 72; Rev 20.
2) Outline: The Second Advent of Christ, Armageddon where Jesus Christ breaks His record in killing the enemy, the baptism of fire, the 1,000 years of perfect environment, the Second Advent of Satan and the Gog revolution, the destruction of the universe and the Great White Throne or final judgement.
- There is perfect environment because Satan is bound. Demons are removed from the earth. There is no religion in Christ’s kingdom, Rev 20:1-3. However, in this perfect environment people are still saved the same way, by faith in Christ, and the objective is still to go to super-grace in this dispensation; super-grace giving the capacity to enjoy the environment as well as the blessings.
- Optimum spirituality will exist among believers during that dispensation, Isa 65:24; Joel 2:28,29; Zech 14:16-17.
- Israel will be restored as a nation, Isa 5:26-30; 10:19-23; 11:11-16; 65:19; Joel 2:16ff; Zech 8:20-23; 10:6-12.
- There will be the fulfillment of the unconditional covenants to Israel, Dan 9:24.
- The nations of the earth enjoy perfect environment under the reign of Christ. This includes: For the first time in history, there will be universal peace, Psa 46:9; Isa 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Micah 4:3. There will be universal prosperity, Psa 72:7, 16. There will be a perfect world government under Christ, Isa 11:1-2;Zech 14:9. There will be a universal knowledge of God, Isa 11:9. There will be perfect environment which is reflected in longevity. People will live a thousand years easily, Isa 65:20. There will be perfect objectivity in the administration of justice. Therefore, there will be no crime, Isa 11:3-5; Psa 72:12-14.
- Perfect environment will exist in nature. This means creation will be released from the bondage of sin, Rom 8:19-22. Plant life will abound, Isa 35:1-2, 7. Animals will lose their ferocity, Isa 11:6-9; 65:25.
- The human population in the Millennium. The baptism of fire removes all unbelievers from the earth so the population begins with believers only, Ezek 20:34-38; Mat 25:31-46. As the Millennium continues with perfect environment, there will be a population explosion. This will result in a population of believers and unbelievers, and the unbelievers will be involved in the Gog revolution at the end of the Millennium.
- The Gog revolution terminates the Millennium, Rev 20:7-10. It starts with the second advent of Satan and terminates with the great white throne judgement. The Gog revolution indicates once again that perfect environment is not the solution to man’s problems.
Eph 3:3, “That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.”
Paul received the revelation of the mystery of the Church and the mystery doctrines of the Church Age by direct communication from God / Jesus Christ.
“That by revelation,” is HOTI KATA APOKALUPSIS. The Accusative Singular Noun APOKALUPSIS, ἀποκάλυψις means, “revelation, disclosure, unveiling, or manifestation.” It is from APO, “separation from, out from, etc.” and KALUPTO, “to cover or hide.” So it comes to mean that which is unhidden, uncovered, or revealed, as the corresponding verb APOKALUPTO also indicates. It is one of the most prominent words in the New Testament, used 26 times, for conveying the Biblical concept of Divine revelation, and is the same word used for the title of the last book of the Bible. Here it denotes God’s tangible self-revelation to Paul. Cf. Eph 1:6-10; cf. vs. 17.
This word was rarely used in common Greek in religious contexts, but is used prominently in the N.T. Yet, it was a very common term to people of that day. For example, it was used of the unveiling of a statue the public had not seen until that time. Likewise, the Septuagint rarely understands this word as having any theological meaning. So here, again, we see Paul using a rather ordinary word to convey significant religious meaning, as we encounter the phenomenon that the new spiritual realities of Christianity are explained with this word. Therefore, in the N.T., APOKALUPSIS means, “something undiscoverable by humans unless God makes it known to them.” In addition, “revelation” in the N.T. is more concerned with the content of the revelation than with the phenomenon itself.
And finally, the new revelation of the N.T. is Jesus Christ Himself and our unique relationship with Him, Col 1:26-27.
“There was made known,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb GNORIZO, γνωρίζω that means, “make known, reveal, or declare.” The consummative Aorist is for past tense, viewing the entirety of the action with a focus on the completion of the action. The Passive Voice, means Paul received the action of being educated to the fact of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age, which is also emphasized in the phrase, “to me,” the Dative singular of EGO; MOI. The Indicative Mood of GNORIZO is for the reality that Paul received this information, (this mystery of the Church, the Church Age and its accompanying doctrines), by means of Divine revelation.
“The mystery” is the definite Article HO, with the subject Nominative Noun MUSTERION, μυστήριον that means, “mystery, secret, secret teaching, anything hidden, or unrevealed.” This word had special meaning for Paul to use with the Gentiles, as it was also used in regard to the various pagan religions from the 7th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Even the Gnostics misused this term in their false teachings. The LXX of the O.T. uses MUSTERION for the Hebrew word RAZ in Dan 2:18-19, 27, 30, 47, regarding the revelation of a mystery to Daniel from God. The important factor is that in Daniel we have evidence of the transition MUSTERION makes from the notion of just simply a “secret” to a “revealed secret.” And that is what we have in the N.T. usage. In the Biblical sense, the mystery is not some unexplainable puzzle; rather, the “mystery” has now been openly revealed and can be potentially known by all. Therefore, “mystery” does not mean something mystical, but something that is incomprehensible until God chooses to reveal it.
Of the 27 uses of MUSTERION in the N.T., 20 are attributed to Paul, 3 are in the Gospels, and 4 are in Revelation.
Under the first mention principle, we see MUSTERION in Mat 12:11-15 and Mark 4:11f. In those passages Jesus disclosed the secrets of the kingdom of God to those who came to Him in faith, where the reception of such mystery is firmly tied to repentance, Mark 4:11ff. Yet, unwilling ears will not hear the Kingdom’s secrets, and covered eyes will not see them, Mat 13:11-15, because the message of the Kingdom is a call to repent and believe. And to live the Kingdom life, is to persevere in the face of adversity, Mark 4:17; Luke 8:15.
Therefore, the greatest Divine secret of all time, is the now revealed mystery of Christ, who has come to redeem the world through His death on the Cross, 1 Cor 2:1-2; cf. vs. 9-10. Another essential factor to this mystery is the “radical” revelation that this salvation is offered to both the Jews and Gentiles on the same basis, which “has been made known” to Paul and is reflected in his preaching, e.g., Eph 2:1f; 3:3-4ff, especially vs. 6. Paul regarded this revelation of the universal scope of God’s redemption as his purpose, the reason he has received this “stewardship” from God, Eph 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 4:3, as the “apostle of the Gentiles,” Rom 11:13.
Eph 1:9 “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”
In 1 Tim 3:9, 16, the “mystery of the faith” and the “mystery of godliness” are linked to the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Note that following the statement “great is the mystery of godliness” we have the famous Christ-hymn that summarizes the gospel story of Jesus.
As we noted in Eph 3:2, Paul being a prisoner of Christ Jesus, endured undeserved suffering for blessing, in 2 Cor 12:7, “because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,” he received from God regarding the Church Age dispensation with its mystery doctrines.
2 Cor 12:7, “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, to keep me from exalting myself!”
In fact, Paul credited all of His spiritual wisdom and knowledge, especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to “a revelation of Jesus Christ,” Gal 1:12. That is, the direct communication of the mystery doctrine for the Church Age by Christ Himself. In Gal 1:13-24, Paul relays the story of how he received the revelation; first by Christ’s direct appearance on the road to Damascus, and then in Arabia where he spent an undisclosed amount of time. Then 3 plus 14 years later, he began his greater ministry. So over a period of 17 plus years, the Lord was revealing Himself more and more to Paul in preparation for His great missionary journeys. Then, after the 17 plus years were completed, Paul received another revelation from God to go to Jerusalem and witness the gospel to the leaders of the early Church, Gal 2:1-10.
Once on the mission field, Paul prayed that we too may receive a “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Jesus Christ),” Eph 1:17.
Finally, in the Book of Revelation, the idea that “mysteries” are now “revelations” is also represented. John explained the “mystery” of the seven lampstands, Rev 1:20, being the 7 churches, which each would receive the following short epistles. Likewise, in Rev 10:7, the mystery of God that is “finished / completed,” refers to the eschatological program in the rest of the book, which has already been heralded by the prophets and is destined to reach its fulfillment.
And finishing our verse, Eph 3:3, Paul reminds them that they have been taught theses mystery doctrines previously, as he states, “as I wrote before in brief,” KATHOS PROGRAPHO EN OLIGOS. This could mean several things; 1) What Paul wrote in Chapters 1-2. 2) What he wrote in the book of Galatians or even Colossians. 3) That Paul had previously written a little epistle of Ephesians that contained this same information.
Doctrine of Revelation
1) Definition: The Greek word APOKALUPSIS means, “revelation, disclosure, unveiling, or manifestation.” It is from APO, “separation from, out from, etc.” and KALUPTO, “to cover or hide.” So it comes to mean that which is unhidden, uncovered, or revealed. The words “revelation” and “reveal,” imply an unveiling or disclosing of things unknown that are coming into view. In Scripture, it is defined as God making known to man what is otherwise unknowable. It tells us that God speaks, in various ways, to His creatures whom He has made quite capable of such communion. In its theological usage, the term revelation is restricted to the Divine act of communicating to man what otherwise man would not know.
Rom 16:25, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past.”
A Divine revelation is accomplished whenever any manifestation of God is discerned, or any evidence of His presence, purpose, or power is communicated. And through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, they are discernable so that man may know God and enter into a relationship with Him. As such, God reveals Himself to man in many ways. There are seven modes by which we receive Divine revelation:
- God revealed through nature, Psa 19:1-6; Rom 1:19-23; Gen 3:18-19; Rom 8:19-21.
- God revealed through providence, Deut 30:1-10; Dan 2:31-45; 7:1-28; 9:24-27; Hosea 3:4-5; Mat 23:37; 25:46; Acts 15:13-18; Rom 8:28; 11:13-29; 2 Thes 2:1-12; Rev 2:1-22:21.
- God revealed through preservation, Mat 6:31-33; Phil 4:19.
- God revealed through miracles, Mat 11:20, 25.
- God revealed by direct communication, Num 12:8; Deut 34:10.
- God revealed through the incarnation, the Living Word, Isa 40:5; John 1:1-2, 14, 18; Rom 9:5; 1 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 1:24; Heb 1:1-2; 1 John 5:9.
- God revealed through the Scriptures, the written Word, 2 Tim 3:16.
God, having made man in His Own image and having endowed him with the capacity to commune with Himself, created man as such to exercise a relationship with Him, where in due time, God would disclose to man truth concerning Himself and His purposes, as well as man’s true place in the Divine plan of creation: e.g., his relation to God, to eternity, to time, to virtue, to sin, to redemption, as well as to all other beings in this universe. Man is the object of that creation. Therefore, communication from the Creator to mankind is to be expected, and that communication from God to man is called revelation. So the noun APOKALUPSIS implies unveiling, disclosure by God Himself regarding things previously unknown and things that cannot be explained.
As we have noted and will see, Divine revelation comes in many forms, but God has specifically chosen the Bible during the Church Age, to be the specific and essential feature of Divine revelation. Although nature tells us there is a God, nature cannot give us one iota of information about God’s purpose or will for your life, the way of salvation, or any other factor. Only the written Word and the living Word, Jesus Christ, can reveal God to us and His will for us.
2) Back in the Garden of Eden, God came to man in the cool of the evening and imparted knowledge and wisdom to him. If unfallen man needed the impartation of knowledge, how much more does fallen man need to be taught of God and His plan for mankind. To this end the Bible has been written, and the revelation to man of that great body of truth, which man could not acquire for himself, and which the Bible discloses, is its sublime and supreme purpose.
3) In God imparting His Word to man, there are three categories that are distinct but sometimes confused; Revelation, Inspiration and Illumination. These three must concur or converge to one point in securing the infallible communication of the Bible. The Bible is not only a revealed body of truth, but is THE ONLY revealed body of truth. It is a supernatural interposition into the affairs of men. Therefore, three Divine operations are necessary for the delivery of Divine truth:
- Revelation, which is the direct Divine influence that communicates truth from God to man.
- Inspiration, which is the direct Divine influence that secures an accurate transfer of truth into language so that others may understand.
These two at times operate concurrently, but other times independently. For example; by revelation Joseph was warned by God in a dream that he should flee into Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus. Yet, he was not inspired to record the revelation for the benefit of others. That occurred through the apostles and the writers of the Gospels many years later. Those men were inspired to present facts with an accuracy which only inspiration could secure, which facts were not, strictly speaking, revelations which they personally participated in.
- Then we have a third aspect of God’s impartation of Divine truth called Illumination. Illumination is the influence or ministry of the Holy Spirit that enables all who are in right relation with God to understand the Scriptures. For example:
- Of Christ it is written that He “opened” their understanding of the Scriptures, Luke 24:32, 45.
- Christ Himself promised that when the Spirit came He would “guide” them into all truth, John 16:13.
- Likewise, Paul writes in 1 Cor 2:12, “We have received . . . the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
- John states of the Spirit in 1 John 2:27 that He “teaches you of all things.”
Likewise, under the Common Grace Ministry of the Holy Spirit, even unregenerated man can come to discern God that can lead to salvation. Therefore, illumination is plainly being given the understanding and comprehension of the Scripture, or sometimes just God consciousness, by means of the Holy Spirit. There is reference to all three in one passage, 1 Cor 2:9-13, to revelation vs. 10, to illumination in vs. 12, and to inspiration in vs. 13.
1 Cor 2:9-13, “But just as it is written, ” THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 10For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,13which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual with spiritual.”
4) Other than the Gospel, unregenerated man does not receive the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and therefore cannot understand the innumerous truths found in the Scripture, 1 Cor 2:14.
1 Cor 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
5) With the combination of revelation, inspiration and illumination combined with the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), which is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit to the believer of spiritual truths, the believer develops a Spiritual I.Q. to understand the spiritual phenomenon that is God and His Word, 1 Cor 2:12-13. As such, the believer is not restricted to his human I.Q. to come to understand the things of God. He is not restricted to the sphere of his own being in which he was placed by creation. With the combination of Human I.Q. and spiritual I.Q., the way is open for him to move on into realms celestial and to know, even now, something of the exalted privilege of “fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” being In Christ, to possess eternal life, and to anticipate a final conformity to Christ.
Divine revelation is the making known to man of all he must come to know, which lies between the zero point of Divine knowledge in which we begin our lives as a creature, and the finality of understanding who God is and our relationship with Him, because of being redeemed, which means we will hold uninterrupted communion with God in heaven and respond intelligently to the things of God in the eternal realm. Therefore, Divine revelation is thus supernatural, and the message given is the pure Word of God.
6) As we will see later in Ephesian Chapter 3, the value of the incarnation revelation, while existing quite apart from any written records, has become a message of infinite riches extending to all the knowledge of God and the way into, and assurance of, eternal life. The life and death of Christ are indisputable facts of history, but the Divine blessing is assured to all those who believe the record God has given concerning His Son, 1 John 5:9-12.
7) Therefore, we can conclude that the Bible is a specific and essential feature of all Divine revelation. It presents seven important features:
- Divine revelation is varied in its themes. It embraces that which is doctrinal, devotional, historical, prophetical, and practical.
- Divine revelation is partial. It is written, Deut 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God: but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”
- Divine revelation is complete. As to the Son, He is the PLEROMA “fullness” of the godhead bodily, Col 2:9, and as to the final salvation of all who believe, they are PEPLEROMENOI, “complete” in Him, Col 2:10. Though complete in Him now, they are yet to be conformed to His image, Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:2.
- Divine revelation is progressive. Its plan of procedure is expressed by the words in Mark 4:28, “First the blade, then the head, after that the mature grain in the head.” Each book of the Bible lends itself of the accumulated truth that has gone before, and the last book is its consummation, like a vast union station into which all the great highways of revelation and prediction converge and terminate. No complete understanding of revealed truth can be gained apart from its consummation in that book, and that book, in turn, cannot be understood apart from the apprehension of all that has gone before. The last book of the Bible is the revelation supreme. Likewise, Dispensations are similar in the progressive revelation of God: His nature, plan, and purpose.
- Divine revelation is primarily unto redemption. Its progress of doctrine develops hand in hand with the doctrine of redemption. God has spoken to the end that man may be “wise to salvation,” 2 Tim 3:15. God has caused a record concerning His Son to be written and men who believe that record are saved, and those who do not believe that record are lost, 1 John 5:9-12.
1 John 5:10, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.”
1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
- Divine revelation is final. It incorporates the truth, Jude 1:3, “Which was once delivered to the saints.” From it, nothing is to be taken, nor to it, is anything to be added, cf. Rev 22:18-19.
- Divine revelation is accurate to the point of infinity. 2 Tim 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and is God’s Word written.
Eph 3:4, “And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.”
This passage needs a little cleaning up from the NASB translations. “And by referring to this” is more of a commentary, as the Greek reads, “by which,” with the Preposition PROS meaning, “face to face relationship, toward, or with” and the Relative Pronoun HOS meaning, “which.”
Next in the Greek is the Present, Middle Deponent, Indicative of DUNAMAI that means, “to be able, have power to do, or capacity for.” It is translated, “you can” in our passage, but should be, “you ought to be able to.”
So it should read, “With which, (the mystery doctrines), you ought to be able to.”
Next we have the Present, Active, Participle of ANAGINOSKO, ἀναγινώσκω that means, “read or to recognize.” Here it means to read Paul’s letter, as the Pastors were given this letter to read and understand and then teach to their congregations. We translate this, “by reading” referring to this letter to the churches in Asia Minor of the Roman Empire.
Then we have the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of NOEO, νοέω that means, “to perceive (with the eyes), understand, realize, think over, etc.” In Classical Greek it does not simply refer to someone’s physical sight, but meant the intellectual perception resulting from sight. So it is learning through the eye gate by means of GAP. Later in Greek literature it simply meant to “understand.” The infinitive denotes purpose; therefore, Paul desires that his readers “understand” his knowledge that he gained by revelation of the “mystery of Christ.”
Then we have, “my insight” which is TEN SUNESIS MOU for “the understanding of my” or “my understanding.” Here SUNESIS, σύνεσις means, “to understand, knowledge, comprehension, insight, or intelligence.” This is Paul’s knowledge that he received by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ as to the mystery doctrines for the Church Age, which is “the mystery of Christ;” the Dative of Sphere case of EN HO MUSTERION HO CHRISTOS.
Our translation is: “With which, (Paul’s revelation of the mystery doctrines), you ought to be able to, by reading (this letter), perceive, (through the eye gate), my knowledge, (received by direct revelation), in the (sphere of the) mystery of the Christ.”
Paul had the doctrine of the mystery in his frame of reference, in his memory center; it was a part of his own vocabulary, he had completely categorized it in his right lobe before he attempted to communicate any part of it. In other words, he had a complete saturation of this information. Now it becomes a case of face to face teaching, necessary for this doctrine to be communicated to the royal priesthood.
So this passage reminds of the importance of learning, storing, and applying God’s Word on a consistent basis. It reminds us of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), which is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, whereby we perceive God’s Word, through either the ear gate or the eye gate, into the left lobe of our soul called the mind or NOUS in the Greek. When we mix what we have learned with faith, meaning we believe in what we have read or heard from the Bible, the Holy Spirit transfers that knowledge, called GNOSIS in the Greek, to our Human Spirit where it is stored as EPIGNOSIS Doctrine, (full or complete knowledge), within our soul. As we take in more and more Bible doctrine, it builds up our soul called the Edification Complex of the Soul. This is the beautification of the temple of God within us. Then when we need to apply God’s Word to life’s situations, the EPIGNOSIS doctrine in our soul is transferred by the OIDA (knowledge) pump, to the right lobe of our soul, called in the Bible the Heart, or KARDIA in the Greek. Once in the heart, EPIGNOSIS doctrine is on the Launching Pad of our soul to be applied through our thoughts, words, and actions to life’s situations.
This process begins with the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, which is a ministry of God the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s Word, transfer and store that Word within our souls, and make it available for faith application from the launching pad/heart of our souls.
Human I.Q. is not an issue in the function of GAP. GAP is a grace system for perception, Col 1:9‑10; 1 Cor 3:16 (as the temple of God); 1 Thes 5:23 (part of your sanctification); 1 Cor 1:19‑2:16.
Ps 139:13-14 tells us, “You have formed my inner parts; I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully (awesomely) and wonderfully (separately/distinctly) made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.”This was Font/Pitch 2,12 – Off.Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (1) must be converted manually.
Now, from the storage, recall, and application perspective of Bible Doctrine within your soul, your heart / KARDIA is like a filing cabinet for God’s Word. It’s the central resource center of your soul where you store, recall, and apply Bible doctrine. There are six compartments to this filing cabinet / the heart of your soul.
We now address the topic of the knowledge (SUNESIS) that Paul acquired by revelation from God that he wants us to have as well. He wants us to know his, “knowledge in the (sphere of the) mystery of the Christ.”
Therefore, we are going to note the Doctrine of the Mystery, the mystery doctrines for the Church Age. And in fact, (comma) vs. 5 and 6 give us some of the information related to the mystery doctrines.
Eph 3:5, “Which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.”
This verse tells us the means by which the mystery was revealed to the Church!
The first thing we note here is that this knowledge, “was not made known,” which is the Greek negative OUK, with the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of GNORIZO, γνωρίζω that means, “to make known, reveal, or declare.” In early Greek literature, it was used to mean, “make known or point out,” and sometimes, “to become acquainted with” and “to recognize.” So it had the resultant idea of causing someone to know something that he previously did not know, comprehend, or understand. In contrast, APOKALUPTO the root used in vs. 3, and later here in this verse, emphasizes a revelation of that which was previously hidden, but GNORIZO stresses the obtaining of new information or understanding, which is appropriate for the context of this statement. Because previously to the Church Age this information was not known, this is the emphasis of the beginning of this passage.
The Passive Voice with the negative OUK means, they did not receive this information.
The Aorist Tense views the entirety of the action that they did not know this information.
The Indicative Mood is for the dogmatic reality that they did not receive nor obtain this information.
The “they” we are talking about is noted in the phrase, “which in other Generations,” HO EN HETEROS GENEA. GENEA, γενεά is a noun in the Dative Plural that means “generations, offspring, family, race, or kind.” “Generations” typically means the “descendants,” although this can be temporally qualified as a “period” as it is here and in Mat1:17; Acts 13:36; 14:16. Given the context of vs. 2 and 9 with OIKONOMIA, we could also gloss this as “previous dispensations,” but “generations” gets it even more personal, speaking of the knowledge the ancient peoples did not have, i.e., “the sons of men,” the Dative of HO HIOS and the Genitive of HO ANTHROPOS.
“Sons of men,” is a Hebraism common in the LXX, but occurring only once elsewhere in the NT, Mark 3:28. It is not intended as a contrast with “holy apostles and prophets,” as being men of God, but rather with “sons of Israel,” the normal designation of Jews.
Therefore, the first emphasis of this passage is that the people of the previous generations / dispensations, (i.e., mankind), did not receive, nor know the mystery doctrines for the Church Age.
Although the blessing of the Gentiles through the people of God was revealed in the OT from Gen 12:3 onward, it was not proclaimed so fully or so extensively as under the new Dispensation.
The second emphasis is then, “as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.”
“As now” is HOS NUN meaning, “now” is the time! Now is the greatest opportunity in history. You have been given more information and more invisible assets to become an invisible hero than has ever existed before!
“Has been revealed,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of APOKALUPTO, ἀποκαλύπτω, “To reveal, uncover, disclose.” It is a principal verbal bearer of the concept of “revelation” that emphasizes a revelation of that which was previously hidden, i.e., the mystery doctrines.
The Passive Voice means, they received this information that was previously hidden.
The Aorist Tense views the entirety of the action that this information was revealed to them.
The Indicative Mood is for the dogmatic reality that they did receive and obtain this information.
In the parallel passage found in Col 1:26, in the place of “as,” it uses the adversative Conjunction “but,” DE, to indicate a distinct contrast between the revelation given to the previous generations / dispensations, compared to the Church Age.
The “they” we are speaking about are those who received the revelation of the mystery doctrines for the first time.
First, they are classified as “His,” AUTOS, referring back to vs. 4 and Christ. They are “His” in the Genitive of Possession, meaning that Christ Jesus owns them, because He purchased them from the slave market of sin and they have dedicated their lives to serve and worship Him.
Secondly, they are classified as being “holy,” HAGIOS, speaking of the Positional Sanctification they have received at the moment of their salvation, and the Experiential Sanctification they walked in, in order to receive the Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age. This designation also signifies that the apostles and prophets were set apart for the special task of proclaiming Christ and the mystery doctrines.
Then we see who these holy servants of Christ are, “apostles and prophets,” APOSTOLOS, ἀπόστολος, KAI PROPHETES, προφήτης. These were two of the key communication spiritual gifts given in the early Church that no longer exist today in the Church Age. Some believe that “prophets” is an adjective describing or emphasizing the “apostles.” But as Daniel Wallace in, “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics,” notes on pages 284-286, grammatically these are two groups of people who received the mystery doctrines in the early church to communicate them to the church. We will note both of these in more detail in Eph 4:11. But it is important to note here that men with these two key communication gifts were given the revelation of the mystery doctrines first, so that they could communicate them to the other believers in their current “generation.” These gifts were important then because they did not have the completed canon of Scripture. Once the N.T. was completed, these communication gifts ceased to be given, along with several others. Now it is up to “Pastor-Teachers” to communication the Mystery Doctrines to the Church, as found within the N.T., and for the “evangelists” to communicate the Gospel message with the name “Jesus Christ,” both of which being unrevealed in previous dispensations and now being fully made known.
A third classification for these communicators, who received the mystery doctrines, is that they were, “In the Spirit,” EN PNEUMA, in the Dative Case. This is an instrumental Dative and should be translated, “by means of the Spirit.” It was by the Holy Spirit’s revelation that these men received the mystery doctrines, and then had the spiritual power to communicate them. As a result, every believer was and is given the ability to learn, store, and apply the mystery doctrines through the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP), and is given the complete canon as the information about which to think. In order to think, you must know the doctrine and be able to think in terms of its application.
Principles of the Mystery Doctrines from vs. 5:
- In previous dispensations, believers, even the prophets, did not receive the complete revelation of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age.
- Now, in our Dispensation, called the Church Age, the mystery doctrines have been fully revealed.
- The Mystery doctrines were first revealed to the Apostles and Prophets to communicate to the early Church.
- Now the Mystery doctrines are found solely in the Epistles of the N.T. and communicated by your right Pastor teacher.
- Evangelists now use the revealed name, Jesus Christ, in the presentation of the Gospel message.
- These apostles and prophets of the early church are, as are all believers, holy positionally and must walk experientially sanctified, to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.
- These men are Christ’s, purchased from the slave market of sin and wholly dedicated to serve and worship Him, as we too are, and should be!
- These men received the revelation of the mystery doctrines through the power of the filling and teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Eph 3:6, “To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
This tells us of some of the content of the Mystery! This is not only a key verse, but the key theme of the entire letter, which is the mystery, unrevealed truth, of the Church. It relates us back to Eph 2:5-6, 12 and 1:3-6, 11.
It begins with the Present, Active, Infinitive of EIMI that means, “to be, exist, live, reside, am, etc.” It speaks of the new state or position the “Gentiles,” ETHNOS, are in. “That” is added to make the Infinitive of EIMI to be a purpose clause. So what follows is God’s Predesigned purpose for the Gentiles of the Church Age.
So what are the Gentiles now? Three things: Each of the following three Adjectives utilize the Preposition SUN meaning, “with,” as a prefix to the root, and are linked with the Conjunction KAI, “and” in between, to describe the mystery blessings of Church Age believers.
- “Fellow Heirs,” SUNKLERONOMOS, συγκληρονόμος that comes from KLEROO, “to make or obtain an inheritance” and NOMOS, “law.” So the compound word means, “with others made an heir by law,” and comes to mean, “Fellow or joint heir.” It suggests a joint or common eternal inheritance between two people or two groups of people, Jews and Gentiles. The inheritance is Christ in you and all that it entails, now and into eternity. It means you are entered into the Royal Family of God and will rule with Him for all of eternity. It tells us we are one with Him; our union with Christ. As such, it also means to have the same privilege and opportunity to fulfill God’s Plan for our lives. There is also an eschatological sense to the use of the word in the N.T.: the inheritance at stake is not material goods but the inheritance of God’s promises. So both Jews and Gentiles of the Church Age are noted as “fellow heirs.” Both share in the promise of Christ and as we see in the next point, we are therefore now “one body” in Christ.
- “Fellow members of the body,” SUSSOMOS, σύσσωμος from the root SOMA meaning, “body.” It is a term unique to Christian literature and used only once here in the N.T. It comes to mean, “Belonging to the same body.” Paul used the term to emphasize that Gentiles were of the same body as were the Jews, not attached nor distinguishable from the original members. Neither schism, nor national variety, nor previous condition, nor any lines of separation, exist in the Church, the body of Christ; Jew and Gentiles together make up the one body of Jesus Christ in the Church Age.
This also tells us that the first Adam was provided by Jesus Christ with a right woman. At the same time Jesus Christ said, “Not good that Adam should be alone.” The same principle applies to the last Adam, Jesus Christ. So God the Father provided for the last Adam, the Lord Jesus, a body, (i.e., a right woman). The Church is the right woman. Because we are Jesus’ right woman, just as He is royalty, so too is the Church Age believer. And so we are the body of Christ and therefore we are royalty. We will reign with Him forever as royalty. This is the concept of Eph 5:22-33.
Therefore, we are fellow heirs, which means we are heirs of royalty, but we are of the same body, which means we are members of the royal family of God.
- “Fellow partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus,” SUMMETOCHOS, συμμέτοχος from the root METECHO that means, “share, have a share, partake, or participate.” So SUMMETOCHOS comes to mean, “partaker, sharer, or joint possessor.” It is used only here and in Eph 5:7. Here it emphasizes that the Gentiles were partakers, or sharers with the Jews “of the promise of Christ,” HO EPANGELIA EN CHRISTOS. “Jesus” is added in the English translations; it is not in the Greek. Christ is where we entered into the Royal Family. It refers to positional truth, our union with the Lord Jesus Christ. And that salvation is only found through the name Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
This blessing is further qualified with, “through the Gospel,” DIA HO EUANGELION. This is how we entered into the Royal Family. Good news started it, there is good news afterwards. The good news is that once we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, the next objective is spiritual adulthood and the super-grace life. Therefore, the blessing here is salvation by believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether we are Jewish or Gentile, where the promise of Christ being in your life now and throughout eternity will be fulfilled. So this is the blessing of having an eternal relationship with Christ.
This means that every one of us has a joint account with God. This means that we can draw on Him for anything and everything, and also it means He has unlimited resources. The joint account of His promise means that we as believers should have in time: happiness, God’s happiness, blessings, prosperity, success, promotion, etc.
Principles of the Mystery Doctrines from vs. 6:
- All believers in Jesus Christ during the Church Age are equal before the Lord as His children and as citizens of His eternal kingdom.
- We are fellow heirs of the eternal inheritance waiting for Christ.
- We are one Body in Christ. No distinction exists between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the resultant positional sanctification, every Gentile believer in the Church Age is in union with Christ and coequal with all Jewish believers.
- We all have salvation through one person, Jesus Christ, by believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Our life as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has meaning, purpose, and definition. We are not only priests, we are royal priests, and our objective is to reach the super-grace life.
- Every believer, whatever he does in this life, is in full time Christian service. His full time Christian service is his job, his business, his profession, and his activities in life. He is a member of the Royal Priesthood.
- It is God’s objective to bless him in these activities and to utilize these activities for his promotion, his happiness, and for his success in life.
Doctrine of the Mystery
1) Origin and meaning of the word “mystery.” The Greek word MUSTERION is derived from an Attic noun (the Classical Greek of the age of Pericles) MUSTES. The MUSTES is a person who has been initiated into a fraternity or club in the ancient world. These fraternities had doctrines and policies, and these policies are called doctrines or mysteries. Once a person had memorized these things and had passed all the tests, he is then a MUSTES, a member of the fraternity. It is also derived from a verb in the Classical Greek, MUEO, which means, “to initiate, or to instruct in the doctrines of the fraternity.” Therefore, the doctrines of the fraternity were only instructed to those who were in them. The people on the outside never knew what was taught, the doctrines of the fraternity were kept secret and they were called MUSTERION; hidden from the outside, but known to the members of the fraternity/club.
MUSTERION corresponds to the Aramaic RAZ meaning, “secret,” frequently found in the book of Daniel, Dan 2:18, 19, 27-30, 47, which denotes, “an eschatological mystery, a concealed intimation of Divinely ordained future events whose disclosure and interpretation is reserved for God alone.”
MUSTERION was especially significant in the religious sphere in antiquity. There were “mystery cults,” from around the 7th Century B.C. to the 4th Century A.D., which were typified by their secrecy; hence the term mystery. These mystery cults gradually infiltrated philosophical circles with terminology, concepts, and speculation, e.g., Plato. Likewise, the Gnostics used “mysteries” those “secrets” that were disclosed to the Gnostic practitioner, where such knowledge was linked to redemption and to the power to escape the world.
The word “mystery” in the Bible is simply a series of doctrines hidden from the O.T. saints that are now revealed to the N.T. saints.
2) Definition: The word mystery in modern speech means a sublime or unclear truth that is marveled at but only partly understood. The Greek MUSTERION, however, describes any divine or heavenly reality, which is regarded as hidden or secret, and can be known only when revealed by the gods.
The Noun MUSTERION, μυστήριον means, “Secret, rite, secret teaching, mystery, or anything hidden or unrevealed.” It meant “teachings” that the initiate knows but no one else knows. The precise origin of MUSTERION is disputed, but it suggests that a silence is to be kept, e.g., a “secret rite.” The root idea then is information known only to those on the inside, but hidden to those who are on the outside, Mark 4:11. It refers to information which has been kept secret, veiled, Rom 16:25-26.
It comes from the root verb MUO that means, “to shut the mouth, a secret or mystery through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites.” Another cognate is MUEO, that means, “Initiate into (the mysteries), learn a secret, instruct, teach, or to make known special secrets.”
3) The Biblical Significance and Use of the Word “Mystery”
In the Bible the word “mysteries” refers to truth that was not revealed in the O.T. but is revealed in the N.T. More than a dozen such truths are revealed in the N.T., all following the basic definition of Col 1:26, which defines a mystery as that “which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints.”
A mystery truth, accordingly, has two elements: a) It has to be hidden in the O.T. and not revealed there; b) It has to be revealed in the N.T. It is not necessarily a reference to a truth difficult to understand, but rather to truths that can be understood only on the basis of Divine revelation.
The O.T. clearly reveals the earthly reign of Christ, when He comes as King to reign on the throne of David. Therefore, they are not a mystery. Yet, Mat 13 introduces a different form of the kingdom, namely the present spiritual reign of the King during the period He is physically absent from the earth, prior to His Second Coming. Accordingly, theses “mysteries of the kingdom,” deal with the period between the First and Second Advent of Christ and not the Millennial kingdom, which follows His Second Advent.
Jesus used the term once, as we will note below, to explain parables to the disciples. Paul used it 21 times, as we will also note below.
It refers to God’s secrets, His counsels and purposes which are not known to man apart from His special revelation in Scripture or by His prophets, Dan 2:18-23, 27-30. The secret thoughts, plans, and dispensations of God, which are hidden from human reason, as well as from all other comprehension below God’s level, await either fulfillment or revelation to those for whom they are intended.
In most cases in the N.T., it refers to Church truth, which was not known in the O.T., but has become revealed in the N.T. cf. Eph. 3:1-9. The O.T. revealed the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the Gentiles, etc. But there was no mention of the Church and certain aspects of the Church Age. These things were mysteries, Rom 16: 25-26.
It is also used of spiritual-truth revealed in Scripture, Old or New Testament, but which remains a secret. It is veiled truth to the unbeliever, because he cannot fathom or spiritually understand it. It refers to truth which man cannot comprehend by experience, trial and error, testing, or by his own reason or human philosophy, 1 Cor 2:6 -14; Mark 4:11.
Through the Word of God, the new nature, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the believer becomes the initiate of God’s mysteries, cf. Phil 4:12, (where Paul uses the Greek word MUEO. For this more general use, compare also 1 Cor 4:1; Eph 6:19; Col. 4:3; 1 Tim 3:9.
4) Jesus used MUSTERION with the disciples in Mat 13:11; Mark 4:10-11, in regard to the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. This is the mystery of the interim program of God between Christ’s First and Second Advents.
5) In the epistles of the N.T., the word “mystery” refers to Church Age doctrine, either all of it or some specific part of it, e.g., Eph 3:2-6.
6) Mystery doctrine of the Church Age was not revealed to the O.T. prophets, Rom 16:25-26; Col 1:26-27.
7) The mystery as Church Age doctrine was a part of the Divine decrees in eternity past, 1 Cor 2:7.
1 Cor 2:7, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”
8) The mystery included the indwelling of Christ as the hope of glory or spiritual deliverance by the power of the indwelling Christ, Col 1:26-27; 2:2.
9) Mystery is used for the blindness of Israel and God’s purpose with Israel’s blindness, Rom 11:1-25. So part of the Mystery Doctrine includes the blindness or hardness of Israel during the Church Age. It also includes part of the 5th cycle of discipline to Israel, Rom 11:25.
Rom 11:25, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
10) Mystery doctrine is understood through the function of GAP, Col 2:2; 1 Tim 3:9.
11) The Pastor/Teacher is responsible for communicating Church Age doctrine as his stewardship of the mysteries, 1 Cor 4:1. That means that he must be able to teach everything from the Baptism of the Spirit, to Ultimate Sanctification, to every detail of the road to super-grace, what the super-grace life is all about, the Rapture of the Church and how it is not in the Tribulation, what happens after the Rapture and what time the Church becomes the body of Christ and the bride of Christ at another time, and what the analogy is all about.
12)The mystery doctrine is always related to the dispensation of the Church, Eph 1:9; 3:2, and the mystery of the Church as the body of Christ, where Jew and Gentile become one new man in Christ, Eph 3:1-11; 2:11f.
13) It also includes the mystery of the Church as the bride of Christ, Eph 5:25-32, where the relation between Christ and the Christian community or Church is spoken of on the basis of Gen 2:24.
14) It includes the “mystery of godliness,” or the process by which man becomes God-like in character through the person, work, and life of Jesus Christ, as He is faithfully proclaimed and defended, 1 Tim 3:16.
15) There is also the mystery of the Church as the seven stars in Rev 1:20.
16) There is the mystery of lawlessness, the continuation and gradual buildup of the state of lawlessness, which will culminate in the man of lawlessness; the Antichrist of the Tribulation, 1 Thes 2:7.
17) There is the mystery of the departure of the Church at the end of this age. This is the Rapture of the Church, when we receive our final resurrection bodies, 1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thes 4:13f.
18) There is the mystery of God, the answer to the age old question, why has God allowed Satan and evil to continue to exist, Rev 10:7. Note that the answer to this is found in Scripture, it was preached to God’s prophets. There are two key parts to this answer:
- To resolve the Angelic Conflict, to answer and demonstrate that Satan, the accuser and slanderer of God’s character, is wrong in his accusations and that he is worthy of God’s judgment for his sin.
- To demonstrate God’s patience and love, and to provide ample opportunity for men to come to Christ, 2 Peter 3:7-8.
So when the angel of Rev 10:7 says, “time is up,” he means that once the 7th Trumpet is sounded, this time of demonstrating God’s character and of demonstrating man and Satan for what they are, this time of allowing Satan and rebellion to continue, will be over; God will act swiftly now to establish His rule of righteousness on earth. This period of the patience of God is over.
19) There is the mystery of Babylon, the truth regarding the source of the ancient and godless mother-child cult, Rev 17:5, 7.
20) And finally, the possession of all mysteries gives you great joy, 1 Cor 13:2.
Section 2: The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.
As part of Paul’s “Revelation of the Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age,” vs. 1-13, and having noted the first section of Chapter 3, “The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6,” we now turn to the second section, “The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.” Therefore, having taught the Doctrine of the Mystery, Paul now teaches us the Doctrine of Ministry.
This passage shows us the attitude Paul had concerning the great responsibility God had given him; to broadcast this mystery and the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the world. To do so, Paul recognized the power and strength given to him by God to accomplish the ministry He was placed in.
Eph 3:7, “Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.”
The first phrase, “Of which I was made a minister,” HOS GINOMAI DIAKONOS. GINOMAI means, “to be, to come into being, to be made, or become.” In the Aorist, Passive, Indicative it means, “I became,” which speaks to the overall events that absolutely brought Paul into the true ministry of Jesus Christ. This included His Damascus encounter, but even prior to that, God was working in his life to prepare him for the ministry he would one day fulfill. And in fact it was not until 17+ years after the Damascus encounter that Paul began his great ministry. And even that started slowly with his first of three great journeys recorded in Scripture. Therefore, just as our Lord was working in Paul’s life before and during his ministry, the Lord was working in your life to bring you to the day of your salvation and is continually working in your life as you walk in your own personal ministry.
“Minister,” DIAKONOS, διάκονος means, “servant, waiter, or deacon.” Its origin in the Greek language is from the title for waiters and waitresses in restaurants who served the customers of their establishment. In the Bible, it is used for several things, all of which include the concept of service or servanthood. It is used as a technical word for those who hold the office of Deacon within the church, like the martyr Stephen, Acts 6:5, who was chosen to serve God’s people within the Church. Another Greek word for servant is DOULOS that emphasizes subjecting one’s self to a master, whereas DIAKONOS stresses the activity of the servant. In fact, the N.T. concept of servanthood evolved directly from Jesus’ own model as the servant of God, e.g., Luke 22:26ff; Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45.
Luke 22:26-27, “But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
According to the world, the one sitting at the table is greater than the server, but in God’s eyes, the server is greater than the one being served, Mat 20:26; 23:11; John 12:26.
Paul had previously told us he was a “prisoner” of Christ Jesus. Now he tells us he is also a servant. Yet this servanthood has a specific meaning here and elsewhere in the N.T., as it speaks to Paul’s service as a Minister, Elder, or Pastor-Teacher, cf. Eph 6:21; Col 1:23-25; 1 Tim 4:6. So here DIAKONOS emphasizes Paul’s teaching ministry of the Mystery doctrines for the Church Age, as he discusses his ministry of dispensing this mystery to the Gentiles. So DIAKONOS here speaks to the spiritual Gift of Apostleship alluding to the teaching aspect of that gift with the emphasis being on the servanthood of God and Christ he was under. Just as all of us who have unique spiritual gifts should walk in them as servants unto the Lord, rather than wanting to be known for the gift we have.
Paul does not take credit for his servanthood as stated in the Passive voice of GINOMAI. And what comes next, “according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me.” “Gift” here is DOREA, δωρεά that means, “gift or present,” that emphasizes the nature of the gift given as a “free gift.” In fact the Adjective DOREAN means, “freely, without cause or reason, or undeservedly.”
DOREA is synonymous to CHARISMA. CHARISMA is typically used regarding the spiritual gift we receive from God the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. But DOREA is used here to emphasize the “freeness” of the gift, meaning we do not earn it or deserve it.
This freeness is also noted in the words, “God’s grace,” THEOS CHARIS, where CHARIS means, “grace, graciousness, kindness, goodwill, a gift, or a favor.” This free gift of God’s grace to Paul “was given,” the Aorist, Passive, Participle of DIDOMI. Notice once again the use of the Passive Voice. So the spiritual gift of being a “Minster” that was “given” to Paul was a “free gift of God’s grace!” The source of this gift is the same source of every blessing to the believer; God’s grace!
Finally, we note that this free gift of God’s grace given to Paul was, “according to the working of His power.” This is what provides for and enables our spiritual gift.
“Working” is the Accusative Noun ENERGEIA that means, “working, power, or efficiency.” It means “effectual working or the operational function.” This effectual work performed by the free grace of God in making Paul a Minister was performed by God’s “power,” DUNAMIS that means, “power, might, ability, or force.” It is God’s inherent power, His omnipotence.
Paul recognizes that the dramatic intervention that transformed him from an enemy into a friend of Christ was nothing less than an act of Divine omnipotence. Now his apostleship reflects God’s power at work in the Church. Therefore, the gift Paul received was bestowed in accordance with that efficiency which could transform Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.
Both of these words, ENERGEIA and DUNAMIS, are the same words used in Eph 1:19-20, regarding the work and power of God the Father in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, is the same power that gives us our spiritual gift and empowers it for use in the service of the ministry God has chosen for us, 1 Cor 12:4-7.
Therefore, the same God who gave Paul the tremendous responsibility to reveal God’s Plan to the world for this new dispensation, performed this act purely out of His grace, and promises to give the ability or power necessary to carry out the responsibility. Just has He does and will do for you and I!
Paul realized, as we should too, that to be a servant of God is “the gift of the grace of God,” where His grace puts you into ministries in His church, and His power makes it possible for you to fulfill these ministries. It is not by your human works, power, or effort that you fulfill God’s Plan, but it is by His work, power, and effort working through you that fulfills His Plan.
Therefore, this doctrine of ministry begins by reminding us of the servanthood we have been entered into by God, along with the power He provides us with for the fulfillment of our ministry.
In Rom 1:9, Paul tells us something about himself and his relationship with God.
Rom 1:9, “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you.”
In this verse we have a blue print for our service unto the Lord. Here Our Lord is telling us the “Who, What, and How” of service.
The first question is, “Who do we serve?” The simple answer is, “For God, whom I serve.”
Plain and simple, there is no one else we are to serve other than God. In every aspect of our lives, God is to be served. Not just at church, in study, or in prayer, but in all aspects of our lives; on the job, at school, at home, in our marriage, in relation to our parents, on the sports field, in recreation, in relationships. In all aspects we are to serve God, Col 3:24; 1 Thes 1:9.
Bringing the point home that we are to serve God in all things our Lord said in Mat 6:24 and Luke 16:13, “No one servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
The second question is, “How do we serve?” The answer is “In my spirit.”
Paul is saying that the way to serve is through the human Spirit. The human spirit is the new spiritual nature you received at moment of your salvation. In order to serve God, we must operate by the new nature and not our old nature called the flesh which is led by sin. That is the topic of Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 2:13.
Operating the by your human spirit is accomplished when you adjust to the justice of God through Rebound and Recovery, 1 John 1:9 cf. Heb 9:14, if you have sinned.
Heb 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The third question is, “What is my service?” Paul said, “in the preaching of the gospel of His Son.”
Even though Paul’s gift was one primarily to witness the gospel and preach the word of God, in everyone’s ministry the main object is to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That means not only in your words but also in your actions, your Divine good works, the end goal should always be “preach Christ.”
If there is any other predominant or competing goal in your service, other than to serve God and preach Christ, your work will be tainted. Even when the Bible tells us to “server one another,” that should not be our goal because we will have our eyes on people and ourselves. But when we have the objective to serve God and Him alone, then our service in all other areas will be effectual.
When Jesus said to Peter, “… do you love Me? … Tend My sheep,” John 21:16, He did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him.
We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him.
Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. Our Lord said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not love less his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” A person touched by the Spirit of God says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”, that is the source of devotion.
Sometimes we substitute doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ.
People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way.
Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, Mat 26:39, not to the needs of people, the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.
If you are devoted solely to the cause of humanity, you will soon be exhausted and come to the point where your love will waver and stumble. But if you love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, you can serve humanity, even though people may treat you like a “doormat.”
The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies,” John 12:24, it will spring up and change the entire landscape.
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Eph 3:8, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”
“The very least,” is ELACHISTOTEROS, ἐλαχιστότερος that is an unusual comparative formed from the superlative Adjective ELACHISTOS meaning, “least.” So it means, “less than the least, far less, far inferior.” This is the only time it is used in the N.T. and is not found in ancient Greek prior to Paul’s usage.
The comparative Paul is making between himself is with the rest of believers, “of all saints,” PAS HAGIOS.
He states that he “was given,” the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of DIDOMI, “grace,” CHARIS, “to preach,” the Aorist, Middle, Infinitive of EUAGGELIZO that means, “to bring or announce good news,” that is, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as we will see next, it is more than just the Gospel. His preaching begins with the gospel, but it goes far beyond that.
Therefore, the grace of God gave Paul the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, “to the Gentiles,” the Dative of HO ETHNOS, including, “the unfathomable riches of Christ,” the Adjective ANEXICHNIASTOS, ἀνεξιχνίαστος that means, “inscrutable, incomprehensible, or cannot be explored,” with the Noun PLOUTOS meaning, “wealth, riches, or abundance,” plus HO CHRISTOS. These unfathomable riches describe the super-grace life of the believer that is the “Life Beyond GNOSIS” and the “Life Beyond Dreams,” which is the discussion to follow in vs. 14-21.
So Paul is saying he is ministering this grace, by God’s strength, not his own, was Paul’s responsibility though he considered himself less than the least of all God’s people. This denotes Paul’s deep humility in view of God’s incomparably generous grace. Instead of boasting about his own abilities and the fact that God had given him such an important task, the apostle considered himself an unworthy servant, mainly because previous to his conversion he had persecuted Christ by persecuting His church, Acts 9:5; 1 Cor 15:9; Phil 3:6; 1 Tim 1:13. In spite of his previous position of violently opposing the N.T. Church, the grace of God gave Paul the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming to the world the mystery of that Church.
Paul is not putting himself down here. That would be false humility, which really is just another form of pride, as people sometimes become proud of their humility by trying to manifest it to other people. Here he is simply drawing attention away from himself and putting it squarely where it belongs, on God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is emphasizing God’s grace by explaining the lowly place he came from. And it is that grace of God that called him to the ministry and gave him all of the resources, assets, materials, and opportunities to glorify God, even though he absolutely did not deserve them.
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With the grace of God in view, now we can look at the Doctrine of the Minister.
The Doctrine of the Minister
1) There are five different uses in the Bible for the words DIAKONOS and DIAKONIA that tell us something more about the roles of Ministers and Deacons:
- The political use. This is for the head of a state in Rom 13:4. The word DIAKONOSis used once in the Bible for those who are in charge of a country.
- A general use. It is the universal ministry of every believer in the Church Age as a Royal Priests, 2 Cor 3:6; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3-4.
- It is used of church administrators or deacons, Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13. Deacons administer the activities of the church, so it connotes administration.
- It is used in a specialized way for the Pastor-Teacher of the local church. It is used in the sense of his authority, his communication of the Word of God, and his policy-making, Acts 6:4; 1 Cor 3:5; Eph 3:7; Col 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7; 1 Thes 3:2; 1 Tim 1:12; Heb 6:10.
- There is also an evil usage of the word in 2 Cor 11:15 where it is used for Satan’s ministers. This is a counterfeit of the local church concept and Satan uses his ministers in religion.
2) There are several synonymous Greek words for “service or minister.”
- DOULEUOwhich means to serve as a slave.
- THERAPEUO, which means to serve in a medical sense, medical practice. This is where we get the word “therapy.”
- LATREUO, which means to serve for wages; a bona fide system of service.
- LEITOURGEO, which refers to public service; police, military, government administration, etc.
- HUPERETEO, means to be helpful to someone.
- DIAKONEO, the verb. The noun is DIAKONIA. One other is DIAKONOS. Sometimes this word is transliterated “deacon.” Sometimes it is translated “minister” and that is a good translation.
3) In addition to the above, there are three other words which identify the Pastor-Teacher or the Minister of the local church. The function of the Pastor-Teacher is not religious; he is the teacher of the Word of God. It is his objective to so communicate doctrine that the Royal Priesthood under his jurisdiction in the local church will move to super-grace status, which is the normal function of the priesthood. These three words all indicate something different in the Pastor-Teacher.
- The first is the authority of his position. The Greek word is PRESBUTEROS, often translated “elder.” It is found in 1 Tim 5:17, 19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1. It always refers to the Pastor. It does not refer to a church officer in the Bible. The distortion of this is to utilize this for a church officer. There is only one elder in a local church. The word means originally, “old man,” not in the sense of age, but in the sense of his authority. It is a title of authority. It means the one in command of the local church. It always possesses a positive element of respect and honor, as the “elders” of ancient communities were respected for their wisdom and insight; they deserved honor because of this. So this is the authority of his position.
- The authority of his policy. The Greek word for this is EPISKOPOS. Unfortunately, this is translated “bishop.” The reason for that is because of the Church of England and the translators being related to the Church of England who saw fit to translate this word as “bishop,” which actually means “overseer, inspector, or superintendent.” It refers to the one who is an overseer, the one who has charge of observing what is going on, the one who sets up the policy for the workers on the job. So it comes to mean the authority of his policy. Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7.
In comparison, the term “elder” contemplates the authority inherent in the position of Pastor-Teacher, while the term bishop contemplates the authority of the Pastor’s decision making regarding policy of the local church.
- The authority of his message is found in two words: Pastor-Teacher of Eph 4:11.
i.) The first word, POIMEN, means, “shepherd.” So “shepherd-teacher” would be a better translation. This has the connotation that the sheep need feeding and protection; therefore, they need to be led and guarded properly. POIMEN then emphasizes the ministry of the Pastor as a leader to feed and protect the congregation with the truth of spiritual food. There are seven areas of sheep helplessness.
a) A sheep cannot guide himself.
b) A sheep cannot cleanse himself.
c) A sheep is a defenseless animal.
d) A sheep is helpless when injured.
e) The sheep cannot find food or water for himself.
f) A sheep is easily frightened or panicked
g) The sheep produces wool as a result of the care of the shepherd.
In all seven areas the Pastor is given to the congregation by God so that they can overcome their helplessness and their every spiritual need is provided for.
ii.) Secondly, we have his function, DIDASKALOS, which means, “to teach a group.” Most often this concerns cognitive learning, (in a didactic manner), rather than practical experience, cf. Eph 3:8. This means that a pastor does not have to run around and personally spend time with members of his congregation, instead he is to feed them with the truth of God’s Word so that their souls are edified with righteousness that will also protect them from the false doctrines of Satan’s cosmic system, cf. Mat 7:15; 10:16; Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29.
4) We see in Acts 20:17, 28 synonymous identification of these three words, referring to one person. In vs. 17 the Elders of Ephesus are called Pastors in Acts 20:28. In this same context we have PRESBUTEROS, EPISKOPOS, and POIMAINO; they are told to feed the sheep, and all three of them are words used in the previous point.
5) Another word to describe the Minister is KERUX that means, “a herald” and emphasizes the fact that the Pastor is to clearly and emphatically declare God’s Word to whoever will give it a hearing, regardless of response, 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11; 2 Peter 2:5; cf. Mat12:41; 1 Cor1:21; 2:4. The verb occurs 61 times.
While the verb DIDASKO, “to teach,” emphasizes explanation in discourse, KERUSSO emphasizes simple declaration.
6) The appointment of the Pastor is described in 1 Cor 12:11, 28. God the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows this gift on the Pastor-Teacher apart from human merit. The appointment of the Pastor has nothing to do with the people. No congregation makes a Pastor, a Pastor makes a congregation. A Pastor makes a great congregation by sticking to his job of teaching the Word of God and not allowing any portion or any individual in the congregation to run over him. In Eph 4:11, the gift of the Pastor-Teacher is strictly a gift of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, not of the individual involved.
7) The principle of the right Pastor-Teacher, right congregation is taught in 1 Peter 5:2-3; 1 Thes 5:12. Every believer has a right Pastor. Geography is usually the issue but there has to be a right Pastor, your right Pastor, the one who gets to you with doctrine, the one who causes you to be occupied with the person of Christ because you see who and what He is.
8) The authority of the right Pastor is given in Heb 13:7, 17; 1 Thes 5:12-13. His authority is absolute within the church, second only to the God and His Word.
9) The concept of the Pastor as the total product of God’s grace is taught in 1 Cor 15:10; Eph 3:7; 1 Tim 1:12-16.
10) The reward of the Pastor, the Crown of Glory, is taught in, Heb 6:10; 1 Peter 5:4.
11) The Biblical documentation for the existence of Pastors: Col 1:23-29; 1 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Tim 2:24-26; Titus 1:6-9; Eph 3:7-13.
A Pastor-Teacher or Minister, is a male believer in a local congregation. As he grows spiritually, he becomes aware of the existence inside of him of the residence of a spiritual gift. The spiritual gift was received at salvation. His awareness of the gift is based upon his daily intake of doctrine where the daily function of GAP causes him to become aware of this gift. It is not an emotional thing although certainly he has the right to get emotional about it if he is enjoying what he is doing in life.
Part of the challenge of the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher is found in Eph 3:9, “To bring to light what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been concealed from the ages by the God, who created all things.”
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Eph 3:9, “And to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things.”
Here we have the commission or stewardship of Paul, and the responsibility of all Pastor-Teachers / Ministers who would follow. The second purpose is now given for the ministry, the first being to bring the believer to the super-grace status and the normal function of the Royal Priesthood. The second purpose is to orient the believer to the uniqueness of the Church Age and the resultant intensification of the Angelic Conflict, vs. 10
“To bring to light,” is the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of PHOTIZO, φωτίζω that means, “give light to, light up; bring to light, reveal, make evident, or enlighten.” Figuratively its meanings include, “enlighten, illuminate, instruct, teach, or to throw light upon.” Its transitive use, as here, conveys the idea of bringing someone or something to light, i.e., to reveal it. This is where we get our English word “photo” from.
Its use here makes it synonymous to APOKALUPSIS, “reveal,” of vs. 3, yet with greater emphasis on leading others to the understanding of the revelation, rather than the fact of revelation. It also gives the end result for the purpose of EUANGELIZO, “preaching,” to lead them to understanding the mystery doctrine for the Church Age. So Paul’s stewardship involves exposing the entire world to the revelation that God had made known to him.
The Lord made it very clear to His disciples in His commission to them, Mat 28:19- 20, that believers have two main responsibilities relative to people in this world. One is to evangelize them. The apostle Paul took this challenge seriously. The second responsibility Jesus gave His disciples was to help other believers to mature in their faith. Again, Paul took this matter seriously, and much of his ministry was involved in training people to minister to others.
Specifically, Paul’s preaching was to enlighten the Church of “the dispensation of the mystery,” OIKONOMIA MUSTERION. This is one of the functions of the Pastor‑Teacher; the context is Eph 3:2‑6. Never before in human history has the grace policy of God promised so much for the ordinary believer, no matter how insignificant his life may be.
There are two categories of communicators of this mystery doctrine for the Church Age.
1) The Apostles and Prophets communicated Mystery doctrine in the pre‑Canon period of the Church Age, and some wrote it down, especially Paul after being confined in the first Roman imprisonment.
2)The Pastor‑Teacher communicates the Mystery doctrine in the post‑Canon period of the Church Age to his generation as he is prepared to do so.
1 Cor 2:7, “But we communicate God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden assets which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”
1 Cor 4:1, “Let mankind regard us (Paul, Apollos, Peter), in this manner as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The same principle is found in our passage, Eph 3:7‑9.
1 Tim 3:9, “With a pure conscience, keep holding the mystery of the doctrine.”
Col 2:2, “That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself.”
You too have a special mission in this life: to glorify God! You do so by becoming an invisible hero.
Next in vs. 9 we have, “which for ages has been hidden in God,” AION APOKRUPTO EN THEOS. The teaching of dispensations is most important. It helps to orient us to the time in which we live, the circumstances under which we live as members of the Royal Family on this earth.
“Has been hidden,” is APOKRUPTO, ἀποκρύπτω in the Perfect, Passive, Participle. It means, “hidden from, hide from, to conceal, or hide from sight.” It is the antonym of PHOTIZO. This mystery had been hidden, APOKRUPTO, from the ages past, but has now been made manifest to His saints. It is also used this way in 1 Cor 2:7; Col 1:26.
The Perfect Tense is a consummative perfect. This denotes a completed action. Here the action focuses on the fact that the action has been completed, rather than the result of the completed action. Therefore, the consummative Perfect emphasizes the process by which the state was completed. Up until the time of the Church Age, this doctrine was completely hidden from all members of the human race. This doctrine was only known for the first time when it was announced by the Lord Jesus Christ during the Upper Room Discourse, where He merely outlined what was to come. The detailed announcement was given by the apostle Paul. The doctrine of the Mystery in past dispensations was concealed so that no one had a clue as to what it was all about. Furthermore, the Church Age is the only dispensation that comes in as an interruption.
The Passive Voice: The mystery doctrine of the Church Age receives the action of the verb.
This is a Telic Participle, which indicates God’s purpose to hide Church Age doctrine until the Church Age interrupts the Age of Israel. It is translated “having been hidden” or “having been concealed.”
“In God” is incorrectly translated. This is not e)n plus the locative, it is e)n plus the instrumental of qeoj. There is also a definite article and it should be translated “by the God.” It is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the creator of all things, according to John 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16-17.
A “mystery” cannot be found out by the searching of men. God alone must reveal it. Human wisdom never stumbled on such a plan. A veil of secrecy had covered the truth of the dispensation of grace to the Gentiles until God revealed it in Paul’s day.
The one who has previously hidden this information is God, Jesus Christ Himself, the One “who created all things,” HO KITZO PAS. KITZO, κτίζω means, “create, form, shape, or found.” In classical Greek, it is used to talk about something that is “conceived or existing in the mind,” and it refers to things actually “brought into being” or “established.” That is what God did regarding the world and all that is on it. Therefore, the power / omnipotence of God that created the heavens and the earth, and all that reside in them, is the same God who planned to parse out human history by various dispensations with unique doctrines for each, to be revealed according to His choosing and timing.
Jesus Christ ordered the concealment of Church Age doctrine until His own incarnation when the God-Man in His humanity could reveal this information. In hypostatic union Christ made the first declaration of Church Age doctrine in John 14-17. The Creator of all things is the initial revealer of Church Age doctrine.
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So this leads us to:
The Divine Hiding of the Mystery Doctrine in Old Testament Times.
1) The Church Age and its unique doctrines are classified as the Mystery. The Church Age is an interruption of the Jewish dispensation, the Age of Israel. The Age of Israel has not been completed, it is interrupted. The interruption caused trauma in Israel. Now we are in the dispensation of the Mystery and intercalation.
The strategic victory of Christ on the Cross brought the Age of Israel to a halt temporarily. The Church Age or Mystery Age was inserted to provide a Royal Family for our Lord’s third royal patent. Yet, the mechanics of salvation are not a mystery; it has always been the same. The mystery begins with the Church Age believer after salvation, i.e., the Christian Way of Life. The mystery then, is the sum total of the unique doctrines of the great power experiment of the Church Age. As noted previously, the O.T. reveals all details of the First Advent but then skips to the Tribulation.
2) More scripture for the Dispensation of the Church is found in John 14‑17; Mat 16:18. This is the dispensation in which the ordinary man has the most fantastic privileges. This dispensation has more emphasis on the individual than any other age. None of the following unique doctrines were known to the O.T. writers of Scripture:
– The baptism of the Holy Spirit with its eight results.
– The new spiritual species of the Royal Family of God.
– The unique Protocol Plan of God with its precisely correct procedure,
– The equal privilege and equal opportunity of every Church Age believer to execute the Plan of God.
– Our portfolio of Invisible Assets.
– The unique royal commissions of the Royal Priesthood and the Royal Ambassadorship.
– The indwelling of each member of the Trinity in the body of every Church Age believer,
– The 100% availability of Divine power, (the omnipotence of the Father, Son, and Spirit).
– The Dispensation of invisible heroes having personal, national, international, and angelic impact.
3) The Lord left out of the O.T. Scriptures these important Church Age doctrines. He could have mentioned them but chose to pass over it. For example, between the following passages the Church Age occurred and so could have been revealed, but it was passed over in silence:
Dan 2:40 ( ) 41, 7:23 ( ) 24, 8:22 ( ) 23, 11:35 ( ) 36; Hos 5:15 ( ) 6:1.
4) Furthermore, God never deals with Israel and the Church at the same time. Therefore, there is a vast difference between Israel and the Church regarding doctrines pertaining to the spiritual life. For example:
|Specialized priesthood||Universal priesthood|
|Shadow Christology||Historical Christology|
|Ritual plan of God||Protocol plan of God|
|Election to new racial species||Election to new spiritual species|
|Related to God through unconditional covenants||Related to God through the Baptism of Spirit|
|Old Testament Canon||New Testament Canon|
|Only Jewish client nations||Only Gentile client nations|
|Christ indwelt the temple||Christ indwells the believer|
|Enduement of the Holy Spirit||Indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit|
|Spirituality by faith‑rest||Spirituality by the filling of the Spirit|
|Salvation by faith in Christ||Salvation by faith in Christ|
|Limited spiritual gifts||Everyone has a spiritual gift|
|Some Problem Solving Devices||Eleven Problem Solving Devices|
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Eph 3:10, “In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
This verse tells us of the significant part the Church plays, with its mystery doctrines, inside the Angelic Conflict, during the appeal trial of Satan and the fallen angels.
In the Greek this verse is reversed and reads, “That it might be made known now to the principalities and the authorities in the heavenlies, through the Church, the diversified wisdom of the God.”
There are five parts to this verse.
1) When is God’s wisdom to be revealed?
“Now,” NUN. The Greek text includes the adverb “now” to indicate that God’s multifaceted wisdom regarding the revelation of His secret Plan, (the mystery doctrines), is displayed “now” during the Church Age, as opposed to in O.T. times.
2) What is to be accomplished?
The action of this verse is to “make something known,” which is the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of GNORIZO that means, “to make known, reveal, or declare.” We saw this word in Eph 1:9, 3:3, 5, and will see it again in Eph 6:19, 21. In all of these cases, it emphasizes the making known of Paul’s revelation of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age, as it does here too. The Aorist tense views the entirety of the action with a focus on the end result of making God’s wisdom known through the mystery doctrines. The Passive voice tells us the intent that some will receive this knowledge. The Subjunctive Mood tells us the intended desire for the audience to receive this information, which is a potential. So we translate it “might be made known.”
3) What is to be made known?
The thing that is desired to be made known is the “manifold or diversified wisdom of God,” which is the subject Nominative of POLUPOIKILOS SOPHIA with the Genitive of possession of HO THEOS. POLUPOIKILOS πολυποίκιλος means, “variegated, many-sided, or manifold.” It is a compound word from POLUS that means, “much, many, or great,” and POIKILOS that means, “Of various colors, of many kinds, diverse, or manifold.”
POLUPOIKILOS is used only here in Scripture, and describes the SOPHIA, wisdom, of God, which is His Omniscience personified that has many facets to it. Often it refers to insight into spiritual things, as God has insight into everything. So this is the total sum of everything that omniscience knows, ever has known, or ever will know. Omniscience does not learn anything new; it already knows everything. As such, in relation to man and angels, it reveals itself in a variety of forms according to whatever the need of the moment might be, and is beyond our way of thinking, Isa 55:8-9.
Isa 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Here the wisdom of God is “made known” or revealed in the knowledge of Dispensational Theology and specifically the mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, founded on the fact of Christ indwelling every Church Age believer and the accompanying blessings associated with His indwelling. Therefore, the Church Age is different than the Age of the Law, or the previous dispensations, as God’s plan for mankind inside the Angelic Conflict is diversified.
4) Who is going to make known God’s wisdom?
The agent or agency used to make the manifold wisdom of God known is “through the Church,” DIA HO EKKLESIA, ἐκκλησία that means, “assembly, congregation, church, etc.” It comes from the root words EK and KALEO meaning “from the called ones, or those summoned.” It is synonymous with SUNAGOGE, which was primarily used for Jewish congregations, except in James 2:2 where it was used for a Christian congregation. The early Church chose EKKLESIA to distinguish themselves from the Jewish religion, and pagan Greek religions that used other various words for their assemblies. This word is used for both the overall body of Christ, Mat 16:18, and for the various Christian local assemblies, Mat 18:17. Paul uses it over 60 times.
A significant element of the thought of Jesus is the relationship of the congregation to the kingdom of God. These are two distinct threads which are woven together in a most intimate way. The congregation is the manifestation of and a piece of the eschatological reality of the kingdom of God, representative of the royal power of God in the world. The congregation is the people to whom God, by His Messiah, has promised the blessings of the latter time, Mat 5:3-11, including:
- The forgiveness of sins, Mat 26:28.
- The gift of the Holy Spirit, Luke 24:49; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7.
- The right to address God as “Father,” Mat 6:9.
- Victory over the power of Satan, Luke 11:20-22.
- Participation in the gift of eternal life, John 5:24-27.
This new expression of the kingdom of God was characterized by several distinct traits:
- The unifying of the people around the mystery doctrines of the apostles, Acts 2:42.
- The breaking of bread together, Acts 2:42.
- Participation in the daily prayers, Acts 2:42.
- Unique love and sense of brotherly fellowship created by the Holy Spirit resulting in a sharing of property, Acts 2:44f.
- The powers of the coming world, which were mightily active in the healing of the sick, Acts 3:2f.; 4:29f.; 5:15; the raising of the dead, Acts 9:36-40, and victory over demonic powers, Acts 19:11-12.
“The surprising thing in vs. 10 is not what is made known, but how and to whom. First, God’s wisdom is made known through the very existence of a multi-ethnic Church.” (The Moody Bible Commentary.)
Therefore, God operates in and through the local church with Christ as its head. The early churches were diverse geographically, ethnically, and culturally. Nevertheless a single thread, union with Jesus Christ the Son of God, bound them together into a Body, with Christ as its head. Therefore, God uses the Church to demonstrate His manifold wisdom to others, especially the fallen angels.
5) Who will be made known of God’s Wisdom?
The Moody Bible Commentary states, “Second, evil spiritual forces (rulers and the authorities, cf. Eph 1:21) come to see that God is overturning their work of sowing hatred and division.”
Therefore, the ones to whom God’s manifold wisdom is shown through the Church are, “the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places,” which is the Dative case of HO ARCHE KAI HO EXOUSIA EN HO EPOURANIOS. These are the first two classes of fallen angels also noted in Eph 1:21; 6:12.
“Rulers” or ARCHE ἀρχή means, “beginning, origin, authority, rule, domain, or sphere of influence.” In Classical Greek it represented primacy in time or rank; rank is used here, as was also the case in Eph 1:21. So these are the highest ranking in authority fallen angels; the demon general officers.
“Authorities” or EXOUSIA, ἐξουσία means, “authority or power.” It is the authority to rule, one bearing such authority, the sphere controlled by this authority, and the power to do something. It is closely related to DUNAMIS, but differs by its intent of the delegation of authority, rather than the capability of the inherent power of DUNAMIS. Here it is used for the “commissioned officers” of the demonic ranks.
They are both linked with EPOURANIOS, ἐπουράνιος that means, “heavenlies or in the heavenlies.” Here it is speaking, as in Eph 1:21; 2:2; 6:12; Col 1:16, of Satan and his horde of fallen angels that rule his cosmic system. They constitute the entire demon leadership under the command of Satan. These are the ones that the manifold wisdom of God will be revealed to through Church Age believers.
1) “The heavenlies,” refers to the third heaven, the abode of God; the courtroom of heaven, the place of trying the case called the Angelic Conflict. Satan’s case was tried in heaven. The third heaven is the place of angelic convocation and that means that the Angelic Conflict not only occurs on this earth, this is the battleground, but it also occurs in heaven.
2) The use of “heavenlies” in Ephesians.
- It is the sphere of Divine blessing, Eph 1:3.
- It is the sphere of strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic Conflict, Eph 1:20.
- It is the sphere of positional victory for the believer, Eph 2:6.
- It is the sphere of angelic judgement, Eph 3:10.
- It is the sphere of the Angelic Conflict, Eph 6:12.
Satan and his horde thought that they had defeated God’s plan and evidence of the appeal trial, when they turned the Law upside down through the people of Israel. But God’s wisdom and plan triumphed, when He sent His Son to the Cross, which is now being manifested throughout the Church Age, also called the Age of Grace, with its mystery doctrines. Satan believed the promises of God to Israel through the Covenants could not be fulfilled through Israel, thereby abrogating the promises and word of God. Yet, God’s wisdom prevailed through His Son, where now both Jew and Gentile are now “heirs, members of the Body of Christ, and partakers in the promises of God, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Eph 3:6. What had been veiled from the angelic hierarchy, is now to be declared through the body of Christ on earth, a letter that will be for all of eternity, Eph 2:6-7; cf. 2 Cor 3:2-3, 6, in condemnation of Satan and his league of fallen angels.
1 Peter 1:12, “It was revealed to them (O.T. prophets) that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
Even the elect angels did not previously know what God had planned for the Church Age. Therefore, all heavenly beings, described in this verse as “the principalities and powers,” did not understand the “mystery” of the New Testament Church until God chose to reveal it through His Son, the apostle Paul, and now through us.
“The Church becomes a mirror through which the bright ones of heaven see the glory of God. And in order to show them this glory, God committed the gospel to Paul, (Beet, p. 319).” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary.)
A final point is that of the responsibility of the Pastor-Teacher is to orient his right congregation with the mystery doctrines for the Church Age in regard to the Angelic Conflict. It explains so much of God’s Word, His plan, and purpose for our lives here on earth, inside the Angelic Conflict.
- Part of the mystery doctrine is the fact that the Church Age with its Royal Priesthood is the means of resolving the Angelic Conflict.
- The Church is used to make known to fallen angels, (the condemned), the validity of Divine judgement on Satan and his adherents in the angelic realm.
- The angels learn through the Church that God’s wisdom has many sides; many ways and means.
- The Church is also an integral part of Operation Footstool, 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:8.
- The Church teaches fallen angels in the future that it, being the body of Christ, will remove them under Operation Footstool, Zech 13:2; 1 Cor 15:24 25; Col 2:15.
The Four Phases of Satan’s Appeal Trial.
Before the restoration of planet earth, Gen 1:2ff, Satan and the angels rebelled against God. At that time, God held a trial and found Satan and one third of the angels guilty of remaining in rebellion. Also at the time, God sentenced Satan and one third of the “fallen angels” to the Eternal Lake of Fire, Mat 25:41. Upon that sentencing, Satan, on behalf of all the fallen angels, appealed God’s sentencing. As a result, the Righteousness and Justice of God granted the appeal trial. For this appeal God called for the creation of a lower creature called man to resolve the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. There are four phases to Satan’s appeal.
The Formal Appeal Trial:
- The prosecution, God, presents His case, and the defense, Satan, cross‑examines many of the witnesses, (mature believers of the O.T. were entered as evidence, Heb 11). This phase is now over.
- Satan presented his case, e.g., the infiltration of fallen angels in Gen 6, Job and the cross- examination of the high priest Joshua in Zech 3:1‑2.
The Rebuttal Phase of the Appeal Trial:
- It first starts with the two rebuttal arguments of the prosecution: the great power experiment of the hypostatic union, resulting in our Lord’s strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict, and the great power experiment of the Church Age, in which some mature believers win the tactical victory of the Angelic Conflict. The Church Age is the most intensive time of the Angelic Conflict. When any Church Age believer utilizes the omnipotence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit to advance to spiritual maturity, there is a tactical victory in the Angelic Conflict.
- This is followed by the rebuttal arguments of the defense: the violence of the Tribulation. Violence is all that is left to Satan, a demonstration that Satan lost in the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict by our Lord, and in the Church Age by the tactical victory of a few believers in every generation.
The Closing Arguments and Summary:
- For the prosecution, the Second Advent and Millennial reign of Christ. In contrast to the terrible violence during the Tribulation, the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ will be one of perfect environment in every way.
- For the defense, the violence of the Gog and Magog revolution at the end of the Millennium.
The Final Sentencing: Then there is a post‑historic sentence carried out against Satan and all fallen angels when they are cast into the Lake of Fire forever, Rev 20:10. Unbelievers of the human race are resurrected and also cast into the Lake of Fire forever, Rev 20:11‑15. This ends the trial and appeal trial of Satan and the fallen angels, and the Angelic Conflict, where they will never be seen or heard from again, and never to negatively influence angelic or humankind ever again.
*As always, the eternal purpose of God is accomplished through Christ.*
Eph 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
*Jesus is the Star witness of the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.*
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As always, the eternal purpose of God is accomplished through Christ. Jesus is the Star witness of the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
Eph 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose,” is from the Preposition, KATA, “according to,” with the Noun AION for “ages,” and the Noun PROTHESIS that means, “setting forth, presentation, or purpose.” It has the idea of a public presentation to demonstrate something. In Aristotle PROTHESIS, literally, “presentation,” is used in rhetoric for the statement of a case. In other classical writers it frequently denotes a deliberate plan or scheme.
In the Greek this reads “according to the purpose of the ages,” which once again gives us a dispensational perspective of theology. It tells us that God had a specific plan and purpose that has now been revealed. That plan was to hide the mystery doctrines from the previous dispensations and now reveal them in the Church Age. The emphasis here is on the revelation of the mystery doctrine for the Church Age during the Church Age.
Paul has more than its conception and predetermination in mind here. He is concerned with its historical realization. So the emphasis is on the “making known of the manifold wisdom of God to the fallen angels through the Church, NOW!” It also tells us that God’s administration of human history resolves the Angelic Conflict. Therefore, the revelation of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the fallen angelic hierarchy is God’s purpose.
Even though God had planned this from “before the creation of the world,” Eph 1:4-5, He did not reveal these facts until He allowed Paul the glorious privilege of making this truth known to the world at the beginning of the Church Age. In that light, the decrees of God are constructed around dispensations of human history. That is why we have PROTHESIS here with the descriptive genitive of AION for “the ages or dispensations.”
This emphasizes the importance of understanding what day and age we are currently living in so that we can correctly execute God’s plan for our lives. God has a plan for your life, but you will never understand that plan for your life unless you understand the dispensation in which you live. Likewise, unless you understand the doctrine of the mystery, you are never going to understand that our dispensation is the only one that has interrupted another dispensation. Our dispensation broke right in on another dispensation, (i.e., the Age of the Law, a.k.a., the Age of Israel), and stopped it. The Age of Israel is an interrupted dispensation. Now we are in the Church Age, with its unique mystery doctrines. To fulfill God’s plan for your life, you must know and apply the doctrines for the Church and not try to live by the Doctrines for the Age of the Law. If you live by the Law, you will be disoriented to God’s Plan for your life. The reason is, God has “manifold wisdom” specifically for the Church Age that we must abide by. Anything else disorients us from living the spiritual life for today!
Then we have “which He,” HOS, (that refers to God the Father and His plan and purpose for the Church Age), “carried out in Christ Jesus,” POIEO EN CHRISTOS IESUS.
“Carried out” is the Verb POIEO in the Aorist, Active, Indicative, that means, “made, did, created, produced, worked, accomplished, performed, etc.” The Culminative Aorist Tense views the entirety of past action as a snapshot in time with the emphasis on the existing results. God has accomplished His Plan. The doctrine of the mystery actually presents the principles and the mechanics by which the Plan of God is executed. The Active Voice says that God produces the action of fulfilling His Plan. The Indicative Mood is for the reality that God the Father performed this work in the past.
So “carrying out” His purpose emphasizes God’s fulfillment of His Plan for the Dispensations of Human History, especially the making known of the many-sided wisdom of God via the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the Fallen Angels, via the Church, (which is the body of Christ), through Paul’s preaching.
“In Christ Jesus” is in the Instrumental Dative of Means. Jesus Christ was the “means” by which God the Father carried out the revelation of His dispensational Plan for the Ages. The Cross of Christ and His indwelling of the Church Age believer are the signifying events that differentiate this Age from the previous Ages.
God’s eternal purpose was to send His Son to the Cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world for their salvation and then indwell the Church Age believer, making them co-heirs and fellow partakers of the promises of God, because they are in union with Jesus Christ as His body. This was the great demonstration of God’s grace to the fallen angles. It was accomplished through Christ Jesus who is also, “our Lord,” HEMEIS KURIOS. KURIOS means, “Lord, Master, Ruler.” It is another name of God that emphasizes His rule and authority.
“Christ” emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah / Anointed One, the son of David, who would bring salvation both to the Jews and Gentiles.
“Jesus” emphasizes His Humanity as Savior.
“Lord” speaks of His Deity with emphasis on His authority and lordship.
He is all that plus much more!
Eph 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So God’s purpose for establishing the Church Age, with its mystery Doctrines was to condemn the Principalities and Powers, (Fallen Angels), in the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. And His purpose was fulfilled by Christ Jesus our Lord, through the Cross and His indwelling of every Church Age believer. God worked out that purpose in a way that only illustrates to the utmost, by its difficulty, His grace and glory, cf. Eph 1:11-12.
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Finally, we see in the last two verses of this section, the encouragement factor for the believer.
Eph 3:12, “In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Having just told us of the unseen Angelic Conflict that we are a part of that can easily freak us out, God, through Paul, now wants to lift us up with encouragement. In these last two passages we are encouraged in two ways, and that encouragement also includes all of the blessings that have previously been mentioned in this letter regarding the mystery doctrines for the Church Age that promise us blessings in time and eternity.
Vs. 12 is given to encourage the believer in his daily faith-rest walk; and specifically in his prayer life.
Vs. 13 is given so that we are encouraged when we see a fellow believer going forward in the Plan of God and enduring undeserved suffering for blessing, especially communicators of the mystery doctrines.
In both instances our encouragement, as always, comes through Christ Jesus!
Vs. 12 has two themes of encouragement:
1) Boldness to operate openly and freely in our daily spiritual lives.
“We have boldness” is the Verb ECHO in the Present, Active, Indicative, with the noun PARRHESIA. PARRHESIA, παῤῥησία means, “Outspokenness, frankness, unreservedness in speech, plainness, freely, openly publicly, courage, assurance, boldness, fearlessness.” In the book of Acts, it is used to show the primary characteristic of the early apostolic preaching and testifying. They “boldly, fearlessly” and “frankly” proclaimed the good news, Acts 28:31.
Here it is used not just for our inner thoughts, but that we function openly and freely in our faith, regardless of what others think. When we do, it fulfills the witness we have in our actions and deeds. So we could say, “keep on having confident assurance to speak out in your words and deeds.”
2) The second theme of encouragement is to have complete confidence in our prayer life.
“Confident access” is the Noun PEPOITHESIS πεποίθησις that means, “confidence or trust.” It comes from the root word PEITHO that means to be, “convinced or persuaded” and “to trust, rely upon, or have confidence in.” So PEPOITHESIS comes to mean the confidence or trust one has, who is in a state of mental and volitional commitment. It is confidence that arises from personal faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. Confidence is a characteristic of royalty.
Then we have the process in which we express our faith-rest in Christ, “access,” PROSAGOGE, προσαγωγή. It is used primarily for having an audience with the king or being in the presence of the king. Here it means we have admission into the presence of God. The noun only occurs three times in the N.T., Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12.
Rom 5:2, “Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
This verse also tells us that believers have access to God the Father, “through faith in Him,” “Faith” is the Noun PISTIS that means, “faith, trust, confidence, assurance, conviction, or belief.” This means that Jesus Christ and His Cross are the means by which we have access to the Father. Our faith in the Cross of Jesus Christ enters us positionally into union with Jesus Christ, as a result of His indwelling us. Our faith in His Word gives us experiential sanctification, meaning we are functioning in God’s righteousness. Both faiths provide for our access to God the Father in our prayers.
Therefore, you can enter the Father’s presence in prayer with “boldness and confidence,” because you are covered with the righteousness of Christ. Those who have placed their faith in Him have done so because they realize He is the only One who met the requirements of God laid down in the O.T. Law. Therefore, when God looks at those people who live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, He sees the righteousness of Christ in them. As a result, you can petition the Father directly.
The access is always through Jesus Christ, John 14:13; 15:16; 16:26. In Rom 5:2 Paul wrote that through Jesus Christ “we have access . . . into this grace.” Eph 2:18 states that through Jesus Christ, we have “access by one Spirit unto the Father.” And in our verse, the access is “through faith in Him,” DIA HO PISTIS AUTOS
Heb 4:16, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
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Eph 3:13, “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Here Paul is petitioning for us to be encouraged by the faithful walk of another believer, especially those who communicate the Word of God.
R.B. Thieme Jr. notes, “Doctrinal communication on a consistent basis means a great deal of pressure to the pastor. Just communicating doctrine becomes a source of great pressure.”
Here Paul petitions, (“I ask” – AITEO), the saints “not to lose heart,” ME EKKAKEO where EKKAKEO means, “to lose heart, become tired, or to despair.” The verb always occurs in a negative construction in the N.T. and becomes, in turn, a positive admonition to “endure” and to be “persistent.” The root words EK and KAKOS mean, “out from” and “worrisome.” So this means, do not worry.
The thing that might have caused the early Church to worry was Paul’s “tribulations,” which is the Noun THLIPSIS, θλῖψις that means, “oppression, affliction, tribulation, pressure, or distress.” This is an adjective describing Paul’s imprisonment referenced in vs.1 and 4:1.
The main reason they were not to worry about this is the context of this chapter, the predesigned plan, will and purpose of God. Just as the various Dispensations of human history are the revelation of God’s manifold wisdom, so too is Paul’s current predicament. It is all part of God’s Plan for his life and the Church. You see, Paul’s imprisonment, even though seeming to be an horrific dilemma, is actually a grace blessing from God to the Church, just as any believer’s underserved suffering is a grace blessing from God to themselves and others.
So Paul’s tribulations are a grace blessing to the Church, as noted in the phrases:
1) “On your behalf,” which is HUPER HUMEIS, “for the sake of you,” i.e, “for your sake.”
2) “For your glory,” which is HUMEIS DOXA, and should be translated, “which is for your glory.”
The noun DOXA means, “brightness, radiance, splendor, glory, magnificence, fame, renown, and honor.” In the plural, DOXAI, it is used for both angels and illustrious persons. There is also a verb, DOXAZO, which means, “to praise, to honor, to glorify, or to magnify.”
Therefore, we are to have encouragement in the faith-rest life by trusting in God the Father to hear and answer our prayers, because of Christ in us, and at the underserved suffering of our fellow believers, especially the Pastor-Teachers and Evangelists, because it is all part of God’s plan for our glory!
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Section 3, Prayer for Realization, God’s Fullness for the Church, Eph 3:14-21.
In the concluding section of this chapter, Paul enters into prayer on behalf of the Church. This prayer shows his desire for us and the framework for the super-grace life of the spiritually mature believer.
In our outline of this chapter, we noted that there are four doctrines given that lead us to the super-grace life. This progression is from spiritual birth to spiritual maturity that has four basic doctrines. The last two of those doctrines are noted in this section:
- The Doctrine of the Mystery, vs. 1-6.
- The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
- The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
- The Doctrine of the Super-Grace Life, vs. 19-21.
This is the second prayer we are noting in this Book. Paul’s first prayer, Eph 1:15-23, was concerned with the necessity of Christian growth. Now this second prayer concerns the necessity of reaching spiritual adulthood / the super-grace life.
In this prayer of Paul, vs. 14-15 tell us that this is a prayer; while vs. 16-21 tell us of the actual prayer Paul makes on your behalf. Vs. 14-15 also give us the mechanics for beginning a prayer; humbling ourselves before and glorifying God the Father, cf. Mat 6:9.
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Vs. 14 – Humbling Ourselves Before God.
Eph 3:14, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father”
The first factor for effective prayer is to humble ourselves before God the Father.
“For this reason” is the Demonstrative Pronoun, HOUTOS, “this, this one, that, etc.,” in the Genitive Singular, with the Preposition, CHARIN, “because of, for the sake of, by reason of, etc.” This is the same construction we saw in vs. 1 of this Chapter, so we have an idiom. Therefore, the prayer which should have been begun in vs. 1 was postponed to vs. 14. In between, Paul gave us the doctrines of the Mystery and the Ministry to prepare us for the realization of the doctrine of the Super-Grace Life. While Paul was ready to pray for them, those to whom he addressed this epistle were not ready to hear his prayer. So instead, he laid the ground work necessary for their comprehension with the doctrines of the Mystery and the Ministry. Now that the ground work has been laid, he can begin the prayer for the Church so that they can understand the greater grace blessings of living the super-grace life.
- Only doctrine can postpone a prayer in order to make that prayer more effective.
- The effectiveness of prayer is based upon doctrine residing in the soul.
Another interesting fact here is regarding the interruption of Paul’s prayer. Our Lord is giving us some typology here. Paul’s prayer was interrupted, just as the Dispensation of Israel was interrupted. And what interrupted Paul’s prayer were two doctrines; the Mystery and the Ministry, which is exactly what the Church Age is all about. Now that those doctrines are complete, he can get back to his prayer in vs. 14, HOUTOS CHARIN, “For this reason,” just as when the Church Age is complete, the Age of Israel will resume with the Tribulation. And in fact, this prayer is for believers of the Church Age to move from infancy to maturity and the greater grace blessings of the supergrace life, just as the closing of the Church Age ushers in the Millennial promises of greater grace blessing for Israel, albeit after the Tribulation, which Paul also gives a type of regarding himself in vs. 13.
So from a Dispensation typology perspective, the timeline would look like this.
Vs. 1 – End of the Jewish Dispensation.
Vs. 2-12 – The interruption of the Age of the Law with the Church Age.
Vs. 13-15 – The Tribulation, (last 7 years of the Jewish Dispensation).
Vs. 16-21 – The Millennial Reign.
Yet, this entire Chapter is for the Church Age believer and his spiritual growth from infancy to adulthood.
Now, back to Paul’s prayer for Church Age believers, he continues with the humility factor that is so important to apply every time we enter into prayer. The humility factor is shown by his genuflexing, “I bow my knees before the Father.” This is an analogy; Paul is not bowing as he writes this letter.
“I Bow” is the Present, Active, Indicative of KAMPTO, κάμπτω that means, “to bow or bend.” It is used four times; three regarding God, Rom 14:11; Eph 3:14; Phil 2:10, and once with the negative regarding the refusal of Elijah and 7,000 men who would not bow to worship false gods, Rom 11:4; cf. 1 Kings 19:18. KAMPTO is also always linked with GONU, γόνυ that means, “knee.”
Combined they represent the prayer life of the believer priest. It reflects the posture of the Royal Priesthood in the function of prayer and true humility.
Humility is an objective recognition of the greatness of someone outside of yourself and a true orientation to that greatness. One of the most basic principles of prayer is the principle of humility. God is everything, we are nothing. We address our prayers to God the Father because He is totally capable and we are incapable.
KAMPTO is the Iterative Present Tense as it describes what recurs at successive intervals. It is repeated action at various times.
The Active Voice tells us that Paul produces the action of the verb as his second apostolic prayer.
The Indicative Mood is for the reality that Paul is praying on behalf of the Church once age.
Because this is Paul’s second prayer, we have an important principle. Many people think you have to get on your knees to pray but that is ridiculous. You do not have to get on your knees. Prayer requires humility and concentration. Posture is not important. This description of posture represents humility, and that is the mentality that is always required when entering into prayer. Posture is optional.
“Before the Father” is PROS HO PATER, which should be translated, “face to face with the Father.” It tells us who Paul is submitting to in worship and prayer, God the Father. He is the One we are to direct our prayers to at all times. We do not pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or to anyone or anything else, but only to God the Father.
Some ancient Greek texts also have “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But the majority of reliable texts do not have this phrase.
So the second important principle of our prayer life is who we pray to. It is always to God the Father. As Jesus said in Mat 6:6, 9, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. … 9Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”
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Vs. 15 – Glorifying God the Father.
Eph 3:15, “From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
The second factor of effective prayer is to praise and glorify God in some way; Paul gives us one that has a specific message and meaning.
“From whom,” is the Genitive of Source for EK HOS refers back to the God the Father as the object of our worship and direction for our prayers. It also tells us that God the Father is the source of our family status and name.
“Every Family,” is the Subject Nominative of PAS PATRIA. PATRIA means, “family, clan, lineage, descent, tribe, etc.” It is used specifically to speak of descendants of God the Father.
Here linked with PATER for “God the Father,” in vs. 14, PATRIA speaks of the family that comes from God the Father, the Royal Family of God, the believers of the Church Age!
Unfortunately, this statement about the fatherhood of God has confuses some people. They take this verse and others like it, to mean that everyone is a child of God by virtue of being part of His creation. But there is a definite distinction between the fatherhood of God relative to creation and the fatherhood of God relative to conversion. Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are the children of God, cf. John 8:42-47; James 2:8; 1 Peter 2:9. In our verse Paul was referring to the fatherhood of God relative to conversion. So the family in view here is the Royal Family of God; every Church Age believer. So it should read, “the entire royal family.”
Now with the Greek word PATER in vs. 14 and PATRIA in vs. 15, we have a paronomasia, that is, a play on words or pun. This is play on words speaks of our spiritual descent based upon regeneration. And because we are in union with the King of king and Lord of Lords, our spiritual heritage is royalty. Therefore, we are the Royal Family of God.
This is the only dispensation in which there is royalty in the family of God. We are the PATRIA and the first person of the Trinity is the PATER. The entire human race is not the family of God, only those who are born again, and in this dispensation, Royal Family. To be born again one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only savior, John 3:1-18, 36; Gal 3:26; John 20:31. Likewise, we are also distinguished from other members of the family of God in that we are royalty.
PATER communicates to PATRIA through Bible doctrine; we communicate with Him through prayer. Our daily relationship with PATER is first based on hearing from Him through the daily function of GAP. Secondly, we communicate to Him through our prayers. Prayer is a result of the relationship we build with Him. The daily function of GAP builds that relationship and makes prayer, witnessing, and all other production effective. We must know Him before we try to communicate with Him. You must know the person with whom you are communicating, before you seek to communicate with Him in prayer.
Next we have the residence of this family, “in heaven,” the Dative of Place of EN HOURANOS, “and,” KAI, “on earth,” the Genitive of Place of EPI GE. So we are taking about the Royal family of God that includes believers who have already died and are in heaven, and those still alive who are on the earth, Satan’s cosmic system.
This is another verse that alludes to the fact that believers go directly to heaven upon their death, 1 Cor 13:12, and that there is no such thing as “death sleep” where the believer or unbeliever is held in a state of “unconsciousness” until the resurrections.
1 Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
“Derives its name,” is the Present, Passive, Indicative of ONOMAZO, ὀνομάζω that means, “name, entitle, call, or mention.” It comes from the root word ONOMA that means “name,” but ONOMAZO has a greater meaning than just “your name.” It means, what is your title, or what do people call you. In the Passive voice, as it is here, it can mean “to make famous, a person of renown or to be named – be known.” Therefore, the “name” of the Church Age believer is presently known as “a member of the Royal Family of God.” The first person of the Trinity, PATER, has given His name to Church Age born again believers, PATRIA; the Royal Family of God.
Therefore, in Paul’s doxology of God the Father, He tells us something unique and special regarding the Church Age believer. He tells us of our family name, “PATRIA,” that was given to us by God the Father; we are the Royal Family of God. By recognizing this, Paul is glorifying the Father. This also tells us that when we are glorifying God, we are really just recognizing or giving back to Him what He has already done. In other words, God glorifies Himself through us. Therefore, to glorify the Father, all you need to do is recognize or apply something about Him, or that He has done.
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Doctrine of Prayer
Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP)
Eph 3:14-15, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
The Doctrine of Prayer
There are Three Categories of Prayer Received by God the Father:
- Prayer from the High Priest. The royal high priest is Jesus Christ, and right now at the right hand of the Father, He offers prayer, Rom 8:35; Heb 7:25.
- Prayer is from God the Holy Spirit. This is the age of the royal priesthood, the royal family. We are members of the body of Christ, Christ is royalty, we are one with Him, and we are royalty spiritually. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit does something in this dispensation He has never done before and will never do again; He offers prayer on our behalf, Rom 8:26-27.
- Prayers from the Royal Family of God, 1 John 5:14-15; Heb 4:16.
Prayer Approach for the Royal Priesthood.
- All prayer is addressed to the Father, Mat 6:9; Eph 3:14; 1 Peter 1:17.
- The channel of approach is through the high priest, “In His name”, Jesus Christ, John 14:13-14.
- The power of approach is the filling of the Holy Spirit, Eph 6:18.
Extrapolation of Prayer Promises.
- Prayer is related to the faith-rest technique, Mat 18:19; 21:22; Mark 11:24.
- Prayer promises are to give you confidence as you approach the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Spirit.
1) O.T. promises, Psa 116:1-2; Isa 65:24; Jer 33:3.
2) N.T. promises, Mat 7:7-8; John 14:13-14; 15:7; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; 1 Thes 5:17; Heb 4:16.
There are Eight Basic Principles of Prayer.
- Prayer effectiveness depends on the consistent function of GAP and resultant Bible doctrine in the soul. John 15:7; Eph 3:16-19.
- Prayer is an extension of the faith-rest technique. It is actually a faith-rest exhale toward God, Mat 21:22.
- Prayer demands cognizance of the will of God and therefore demands maximum doctrine in the soul through GAP, 1 John 5:14.
- Generally prayer must be offered in the spiritual status of the filling of the Spirit, Eph 6:18. The exception is a rebound prayer for a carnal believer or a repentance prayer for a reversionist.
- Mental attitude sins result from both carnality and reversionism and these destroy the effectiveness of prayer, Psa 66:18.
- Efficacious prayer exists to the extent that the believer is grace oriented. Therefore, when you begin to build your ECS, your prayers are more effective.
- God’s eternal decree fully knew, took into consideration and applied all effective prayer from His children in time, Mat 6:8.
- Prayer effectiveness reaches its zenith at the time of super-grace status, Psa 116:1-2.
The Agenda for Private Prayer.
- Confession of sin or rebound, 1 John 1:9; 1 Cor 11:31.
- Glorification / Thanksgiving, Eph 5:20; 1 Thes 5:18.
- Intercession, Eph 6:18.
- Petition, Heb 4:16.
The Doctrine of Intercession.
- The dynamics of intercessory prayer is taught in passages like 1 Kings 18:42-46, the principle being found in James 5:16-18.
- The power of prevailing prayer, Acts 12.
- The prayer for the unbeliever, Rom 10:1. (You cannot pray for something that will coerce their volition, so you pray that the gospel message will be made clear to them, will be revealed to them)
- Prayer for an unknown believer, Col 1:3-11.
- Prayer for the known believer, Eph 1:15-23.
- The Lord’s prayer, John 17.
There are Four Categories for Petition Prayers Being Answered.
- The petition is answered but the desire is not. In 1 Sam 8:5-9, 19-20, the prayer petition was a simple one, they wanted a king. That was their desire. The petition was answered but the desire to be like other nations was not, they were in a jam all the time.
- The petition is not answered but the desire is, Gen 17:18; 18:23-33; 2 Cor 12:17-10.
- The ideal one where the petition is answered and the desire is answered, 1 Kings 18:36-37; Judges 16:28; Luke 23:42-43: John 11:41-42, 45.
- And finally, the answer is no to both the petition and the desire; in other words, God does not answer either. Yet, a no is still an answer. The illustration for why this happens is given in, Mat 26:36‑46.
Nine Reasons Why Prayer is Not Answered.
- Carnality or reversionism, or both, causing failure to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, Eph 6:18.
- Mental attitude sins caused by either carnality or reversionism, Psa 66:18.
- A specific Satanic sin of pride and a resultant self-righteous state, Job 35:12-13.
- A lust type selfishness, James 4:2-4.
- Malfunction or failure of faith-rest, Mark 11:24.
- A general lack of obedience or subordination to God’s will, 1 John 3:22.
- Insubordination to the known will of God, 1 John 5:14.
- Malfunction of marriage, lack of domestic tranquility, 1 Peter 3:7.
- Reversionistic lack of compassion and grace orientation, Prov 21:13.
Principles of Grace in Prayer, Heb 4:16; 1 Peter 1:7.
- Prayer is the privilege of the Royal Priesthood. Since grace is the basis of prayer no believer can come to God in prayer and expect to be heard on the basis of human merit, human ability, human function, or human ingenuity.
- Every believer approaches God in prayer on the basis of the merit of Jesus Christ. The Father is propitiated with Christ but is no respecter of persons as far as believers are concerned.
- In other words, God does not hear and answer prayer because I am good, moral, benevolent, sincere, or religious.
- God hears and answers prayer on the basis of who and what Christ is. Every believer is in union with Christ and gets through to the throne of grace on the basis of approach through the high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Vs. 16 – The Beginning of the Petition of Paul’s Prayer for the Church Age Believer.
Eph 3:16, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man”
We begin with subject and object of the prayer with “That He would grant you.”
Paul’s actual prayer consists of five petitions. The first two are introduced in vs. 16 in the original language by HINA, “in order that,” which denotes a purpose and includes vs. 17. The third and fourth petitions are introduced by another HINA in vs. 18 and runs through vs. 19a. The fifth petition is introduced by the third HINA in the latter part of vs. 19. It is as if the apostle was saying, “If you really want to serve God properly, these five items must be considered important matters.”
First, he prayed that God would strengthen the believers through the power of the Holy Spirit. “To be strengthened with might” comes from two Greek words put together to state that no one can serve God adequately without the ability the Holy Spirit gives, which we will note below.
Notice also the grace provision of God, as Paul’s petition begins with the subject “He”, (God the Father), and the action, “would grant” something, and the object, “you,” (Church Age believers). It is God the Father’s grace that gives us the Holy Spirit, the Word, and the power to apply it in execution of His plan for our lives.
“Grant” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive, Third Person Singular of DIDOMI that means, “to give, give out, hand out, etc.,” that gives us both the action and the subject of the sentence. That is, God the Father granting us something. It is Paul’s desire that God would give us something. The Culminative Aorist is used for giving in the past tense; looking at it as a completed action with existing results. This is how all prayer should be offered to God, as if it were already answered. The Subjunctive Mood is for the element of contingency. The element of contingency is the daily function of GAP. If you do not take in the Word of God on a daily basis, you will never reach spiritual adult and super-grace. You will never know the super-grace blessing.
Next we have the means by which God could grant us Paul’s desire, “according to the riches of His glory,” KATA HO PLOUTOS HO DOXA. PLOUTOS means “wealth, riches, abundance, etc.” This refers to God’s unlimited resources that are available to grant us Paul’s desire, including our Portfolio of Invisible Assets.
This is another “riches of” passage in Ephesians that are the means by which God provides blessings to the believer:
Eph 1:7, “The riches of His grace, to forgive our sin.”
Eph 1:18, “The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
Eph 2:7, “The riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Eph 3:8, “The unfathomable riches of Christ.”
Eph 3:16, “The riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
In Romans, Philippians, and Colossians, we see other “riches of God” poured out towards us:
Rom 2:4, “The riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience.”
Rom 9:23, “The riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, (giving us salvation).”
Phil 4:19, “The riches in glory in Christ Jesus supply all your needs.”
Col 1:27, “The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
God’s glory, DOXA, to the Church Age believer is to strengthen our soul by the power of the Holy Spirit teaching us the mind of Christ.
So with the “riches of God” being poured out towards us, next we see Paul’s desire for what we should receive, “to be strengthened with power,” KRATAIOO DUNAMIS.
Here we have two words for power and strength that are ascribed to God in the Bible, yet here it is Paul’s desire that we receive this power and strength.
“Strengthened” is the verb KRATAIOO, κραταιόω that means, “to strengthen, become strong, or empower.” It is in the Aorist, Passive, Infinitive. Its cognate is where the noun KRATOS derives its meaning of, “strength, power, might, dominion, or authority,” which is God’s “manifested strength.”
Related to the Church Age believer, it has to do with our spiritual strength, rather than our physical strength. It is the manifestation of God’s power through the application of Bible Doctrine from our soul to grow spiritually to the point of super-grace status.
The Aorist Tense is once again culminative; viewing the action’s results of the believer having attained super-grace status through the consistent function of GAP.
The Passive Voice means the believer through the consistent function of GAP receives the actions of being strength spiritually to the point of achieving the super-grace status.
The Infinitive Mood denotes God’s purpose in setting up GAP, so that believers might receive super-grace blessings.
“Power” is the noun DUNAMIS that means, “power, might, ability, or force.” We noted this word in Chapter 1:19-23 and in Chapter 3:7, regarding God’s power that speaks to His essence, His omnipotence, being the all-powerful One, and His “inherent ability, power, might, strength, ability, capability, and force.” It is His power / authority to rule. But this too is ascribed to the believer here. It is in the Instrumental of Means Dative case and should be translated, “by means of power.” So Paul is praying that we receive the inherent power of God to rule within our lives. We can only do that when we have Bible Doctrine resident in our souls through the consistent function of GAP. The Word of God is where we get our strength and power to overcome our sin nature and Satan’s cosmic system.
Therefore, DUNAMIS relates to “inherent ability,” as in Acts 1:8, to be witnesses unto Christ, and KRATOS relates to “manifested strength” and shows that power in action.
Then we have the agent for providing us strength and power, “Through His Spirit”, which is speaking of God the Holy Spirit, which is the Genitive of Agency of DIA HO PNEUMA AUTOS, for “by His Spirit.” This is the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit who is the agent by which we receive Bible Doctrine that empowers and enables us in the spiritual life, by means of the GAP.
Finally, the place of this petition for blessing to occur is, “in the inner man,” HO ESO ANTHROPOS, where ANTHROPOS is in the “Accusative Subject of the Infinitive” verb above, “to be strengthened.” So this is the location for which Paul is praying that the power and strength of God reside, in the believer. The “inner man,” speaks of the right lobe of your soul called the Heart or KARDIA that works with your human spirit to store, retain, and apply God’s Word.
In Rom 7:22 it is used to refer to the inward or spiritual side of man’s nature. This does not refer to the introspective, inward-looking man, but to his essential being, often expressed in terms of the heart, KARDIA, (i.e., right lobe of the soul), versus his outward appearance, cf. 2 Cor 4:16.
2 Cor 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
- The standard for providing super-grace blessings is the attainment of the super-grace status.
- This is accomplished through a consistent daily intake of doctrine through GAP.
- Therefore, the purpose of GAP is to advance the believer to the tactical victory of the super-grace life.
- God has provided the grace apparatus for maximum provision of grace benefits in the devil’s world.
- Doctrine in the soul provides the capacity for super-grace blessings.
- Super-grace blessings could never be enjoyed apart from occupation with the person of Christ and doctrinal capacity of the soul. These blessings include wealth, success, promotion, prosperity, happiness, and they are not generally associated with spiritual things or spiritual phenomena. But in the super-grace frame of reference, these things are the result of spiritual phenomena. While they do not have a connotation of spiritual phenomena, they are related to spiritual phenomena through the consistent intake of Bible doctrine.
- Since the devil’s world does not give a frame of reference for the enjoyment of these things, God provides a frame of reference in the heart or the right lobe of the soul.
- This frame of reference filled to the maximum with doctrine, provides capacity for every category of super-grace blessing.
- “In order that He might give you according to the riches of His glory,” the “riches of His glory” is also found in Eph 1:18; Phil 4:19; Col 1:27. The standard for Divine giving to the believer is the highest possible norm; super-grace. This, by the way, is giving in time.
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Vs. 17 – The Purpose for the Grace Apparatus for Perception.
Eph 3:17, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love.”
“So that” is not in the original Greek, but is added for context to indicate the purpose of vs. 16 that is, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
“Dwell” is the first word of this passage in the Greek and is in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of the Verb KATOIKEO. It is a compound word from KATA, that means, “down, toward or in,” and OIKEO that means, “to dwell or live,” where the word OIKOS for “dwelling or house,” comes from.
The meaning of KATOIKEO and its usage is similar to OIKEO, especially in contexts designating places of residence, but KATOIKEO is a more forceful, intensive term.
“Although in several instances it has special religious connotations designating the “dwelling place of God” in the LXX, e.g., Isa 8:18; 57:15, Philo extended the meaning of the term to include spiritual virtues and vices “inhabiting” persons.” (cf. Liddell-Scott).
As such, the spiritual aspect of the term is most evident in Col 1:19; 2:9, and in our passage and means the advancement of the spiritual life toward “super-grace,” because of the Word of God / mind of Christ that is resident and functioning with the heart of your soul.
Col 1:19, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.”
Col 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
Therefore, the reason or purpose of God the Holy Spirit teaching us God’s Word is so that we would have the mind of Jesus Christ / God’s Word / Bible Doctrine resident within our souls.
This is not a passage speaking of the permanent indwelling of Jesus Christ in the body of every believer from the moment of salvation, which is part of your positional sanctification, John 14:19-20; 17:22-23, 26; 2 Cor 13:4-6; Rom 8:10; Gal 2:20; and any verse that uses the phrase “in Christ, in Him, etc.”
This is a verse that speaks to the experiential sanctification of having the mind of Christ resident and operating within the mentality of your soul, the “heart,” KARDIA, to be exact, which we call the right lobe of our soul. So it means to have the mind of Christ / Bible Doctrine resident within the heart of your soul. This is also related to the 11th Problem Solving Device of being “Occupied with Christ,” cf. Gal 4:19.
Gal 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.”
Before we venture into this type of the “dwelling of Christ,” this is a good time to review the Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), whose purpose it is to establish this dwelling of Christ in the heart of your soul.
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The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP)
GAP Stands for Grace Apparatus for Perception. It is a grace system, whereby God has made it possible for all believers to learn doctrine and advance tactically to the super-grace status. Consequently, it is the Divine provision for spiritual growth and advancement. God has found a way for every believer regardless of his IQ, his educational background, or his natural perception and discernment, to understand and assimilate Bible doctrine into his soul and life. Therefore, GAP stands for learning Bible doctrine, knowledge of Bible doctrine, and the assimilation of Bible doctrine into the soul.
There is a distinction between the human and the spiritual IQ. Spiritual IQ is determined by the amount of doctrine, the amount of EPIGNOSIS, stored in the human spirit and in the right lobe, Col 1:9.
Col 1:9, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,”
The Exclusion of Human IQ from GAP, 1 Cor 1:9-2:16.
- Human IQ has often been considered a factor in learning doctrine. This is a false statement. It would imply that a low IQ believer is handicapped in the perception of God’s Word. God never allows under grace human handicaps to keep a person from learning the Word. However, in eternity past, God found a way through grace for every believer, regardless of human ability of human handicap, to learn doctrine.
- For this reason, every believer receives at salvation the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a human spirit is attached to his soul. The Holy Spirit is given primarily to indicate royalty in the Family of God. The food of royalty is Bible doctrine, the sign of royalty is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the means of royalty is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Receptive Comprehension. (see Diagrams & Maps – Grace Apparatus for Perception (G.A.P.) Diagram)
- The believer’s soul possesses mentality. Mentality is divided into two frontal lobes: The left lobe called the NOUS or mind, and the right lobe called the KARDIA or heart.
- The left lobe called NOUS, is designed to assimilate objective information. Knowledge or objective information in the NOUS is called GNOSIS. However, GNOSIS cannot be applied to experience. This means that the left lobe is a staging area in learning doctrine.
- The residence of doctrine in the perceptive lobe makes the believer a hearer of the Word, but not a doer of the Word, James 1:21-25. The thinking of the left lobe is generally called NOEO that means, “to perceive, realize, see, consider, to think, etc.” It is the simple verb for thinking. Occasionally it is associated with the KARDIA but primarily with the NOUS.
- There are two kinds of thinking in the left lobe. When doctrine goes into the mind, it is called GNOSIS. First, there is objective thinking, which is called PHRONEO. Sometimes we have subjective thinking, which is DOKEO. All of this is receptive comprehension; understanding different types of data.
Receptive Comprehension Involves the Following Factors:
- Attendance at a local church, which is a classroom when it functions properly.
- The ministry of God the Holy Spirit converting the content of what is communicated into receptive comprehension. As the Pastor communicates, the information goes into the left lobe, the NOUS, and if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit converts this to GNOSIS. If you start to think about this GNOISIS, you are going to come up with either PHRONEO or DOKEO. Are you going to think about it objectively (positively) or subjectively (negatively)? If you think about it subjectively, (i.e., you are negative toward the Word and reject it), it dies right there. If you think about it objectively, (i.e., you are positive towards the Word and believe it), you are now in a position to move it into the staging area of the human spirit. The residence of doctrinal data in the left lobe is only a staging area.
- It must be remembered that GNOSIS can exist to a large degree in the left lobe of any believer without spiritual benefit. Remembering that this is a staging area, it must be moved on to be beneficial. Doctrine in the left lobe is not beneficial if it stays there. GNOSIS has no spiritual benefit or application of Divine viewpoint to this life until it becomes EPIGNOSIS.
Grace Provision for Learning Bible doctrine.
- The first grace provision is the formation and preservation of the canon of Scripture.
- The second is that we have Divine authorization of the local church as the classroom for learning Bible doctrine. All worship is centered around learning Bible doctrine. The believer assembled in the local church is a student under strict academic discipline under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
- The spiritual gift of Pastor-Teacher is also a grace provision. This spiritual gift has both authority and ability to communicate doctrine in the local church. God sovereignly bestows this gift at the point of salvation. The gift is restricted to males only and the function of the gift in communication is by monologue.
- The royal priesthood of the believer makes each believer a member of the Royal Family, and therefore, he has extreme privacy and freedom to receive and reject doctrine, and privacy and freedom, if he is positive to take it in without interference.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is for the function of GAP. GAP runs on the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 2:9-16.
- However, the believer must be filled with the Spirit for GAP to be effective. Therefore, the grace provision of the rebound technique, 1 John 1:9.
- The provision of the human spirit as the second target of GAP. The first target is the left lobe, the second is the human spirit, Job 32:8; 1 Cor 2:12.
- The provision of the Laws of Divine Establishment, whereby a nation’s freedom and privacy is protected by these Divine laws.
- The anatomy of grace, whereby certain non-meritorious functions of the human body provide the ability to think and concentrate; they are strictly grace provisions.
The Mechanics of GAP.
Stage One is operation ICE. I is for Isagogics; C is for Categories; E is for Exegesis. The Pastor communicates doctrine to the local church under the concept of the Greek verb DIDASKO. It means one person is communicating to a group. The system is monologue, no dialogue. We also have the word KERUSSO, which means to announce something of great importance as the heralds of the king. DIDASKO means, to teach doctrine, one person teaching to a group.
The content is where we get ICE. First of all is isagogics which means the interpretation of the Bible within the framework of its historical setting. The Bible must be interpreted in the time in which it was written. For that reason, isagogics demand that we reproduce the historical backgrounds and customs of the people, and these can be determined from etymology and extant literature, and so on.
Secondly, the categorical teaching is based upon a hermeneutical principle of comparing scripture with scripture, to determine the classification of doctrine. Categories simply take a doctrine which is located in a passage and relate it to all the other passages dealing with the same doctrine.
Thirdly, exegesis is the analysis of each verse in its context, emphasizing its grammar, its syntax, and the etymology of the words in the original languages.
Stage Two occurs simultaneously if and when believers concentrate on what is being taught. This is operation GNOSIS. It is, in effect, the same as receptive comprehension. Based on objective perception of doctrine by listening, we have doctrine coming into the left lobe and it is assimilated under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Prerequisites include positive volition toward doctrine, recognition of the authority of the Pastor-Teacher, good manners when in the assembly, poise, concentration, and alertness. All of these must be accomplished through the filling of the Spirit plus certain other factors. Receptive comprehension does not mean that you agree or disagree with what is taught, it means you merely understand it.
Stage Three is operation EPIGNOSIS. This is the important part of the assimilation of doctrine. This is where doctrine becomes usable. Under operation EPIGNOSIS, doctrine is converted from GNOSIS and it goes down into the human spirit. Volition comes into action. Volition is non-meritorious, so volition is really faith-rest. You actually believe what is residing in the NOUS and the moment you believe it, you transfer it down into the human spirit where it becomes EPIGNOSIS. The converter is non-meritorious. Doctrine is not applicable or usable to you personally until you convert it from GNOSIS to EPIGNOSIS, and this is accomplished in compatibility with the concept of grace and that means you convert it by means of faith-rest. Negative volition locks it up in the left lobe. Positive volition transfers it to the human spirit where it is usable.
The moment that EPIGNOSIS hits the human spirit it begins to go into action. First of all, there is the heart or the right lobe, the second lobe in the mentality of the soul. A vacuum comes out of the frame of reference into the human spirit and sucks EPIGNOSIS up into the frame of reference. EPIGNOSIS also begins to become building material for the construction of the ECS. So there are two actions of EPIGNOSIS. Immediately it is sucked into the right lobe and it begins to work on the ECS.
Stage Four is operation heart.
The heart is the right lobe made up of a frame of reference, a memory center, an area for vocabulary storage, an area for categorical storage, the conscience of the soul (norms and standards), and it has a launching pad. The right lobe is called KARDIA or heart. In the Bible KARDIA is never used for the physiological part of the body called the heart that circulates the blood, it is always used for the right lobe.
The essence of the right lobe. The frame of reference has in it a vacuum pump and that pulls EPIGNOSIS up from the human spirit into the frame of reference. Now it starts to be processed. The memory center does the processing. It immediately sends anything off to vocabulary that must go there, which is not there already. To learn doctrine, you must have a technical vocabulary. The vocabulary will eventually become paragraphs, paragraphs will become chapters, and chapters will become books. So there must also be categories. As you are able to put together the technicalities of theological vocabulary and to categories, then your norms and standards begin to change and begin to comply with Divine norms and standards. All of these have lines going out to the launching pad and every correct application you make in all of your life, you will make on the basis of the frame of reference, on the basis of recalling from your categories, from your conscience, information. And doctrine on the launching pad is the dynamics of the Christian way of life. In other words, what you think is what counts. As a man thinks in his right lobe, so he is. The real you is what goes on in your right lobe.
The heart or KARDIA is the dominant lobe of the soul. It is also the right man, as far as the emotion is concerned. The emotion is designed to respond to what is in the right lobe; what is in the frame of reference, what is out on the launching pad, the vocabulary, the categories, every part of the right lobe. So the heart becomes the right man, the emotion becomes the right woman. In effect, emotion does not think, it responds to what you think in your right lobe. When emotion dominates the soul, you stop thinking.
The storage of doctrine in the right lobe is called SOPHIA or wisdom. When you utilize SOPHIA that is distributed to the memory center, it is called SUNESIS, which is often correctly translated, “discernment.”
The heart is the right man of the soul. The emotion is the right woman of the soul designed to respond to what resides in the heart, it does no thinking. Once again, the word “heart” must never be confused with emotion. The heart is the thinking part of the soul in the Bible.
The Function of the Frame of Reference.
- It is the basis for comprehension of more advanced doctrine when such doctrine is taught.
- It establishes a new conscience, which is compatible with God’s norms and standards.
- It forms Divine viewpoint dynamics, (the same as bringing every thought into captivity for Christ).
- It deals with problems of the subconscious and handles the guilt complex.
- It provides an alarm system to detect and protect from false doctrine and false teaching.
- It provides soul capacity and discernment to detect right man or right woman.
- It provides the furniture of the soul, whereby God is able to share His happiness with the believer.
- It provides the basis for the production of Divine good.
- It causes the proper function of the priesthood until the believer reaches super-grace, and then continues to cause the proper function of the priesthood.
The Results of GAP.
- GAP removes scar tissue from the soul and makes it possible for reversion recovery.
- It is the basis for construction of the ECS, which is necessary for super-grace.
- It provides attainment of super-grace status, which produces occupation with the person of Christ, super-grace capacity, and super-grace blessings.
- It provides the basis for maximum production of Divine good.
- It glorifies God in this stage of the Angelic Conflict.
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So far, we have noted vs. 14-16, Paul’s prayer, that begins in vs. 14 and runs through vs. 22. In that, we have noted principles regarding our prayer life including:
- Pray to God the Father only.
- Have humility in approaching the Father in prayer.
- Glorify God in your prayers.
- Offer petitions to the Father for various needs; in this case intercessory petitions for others.
In this prayer of Paul, we have also noted that there are five intercessory petitions for Church Age believers in vs. 16-19. We have noted the first one.
- A petition to receive God’s inherent power through the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit of God’s Word, which we call the Grace Apparatus for Perception – GAP, that is manifested in your life through Divine Good Production, vs. 16.
Now we turn to the second intercessory petition in vs. 17a, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
- This is a petition that the Church Age believers might receive God’s Word through GAP so that the mind of Christ is resident within the heart of our soul, 17a,
The four key words in this petition are “Christ,” “dwell,” “heart,” and “faith.”
“Christ” is CHRISTOS in the Greek. This is emphasizing the Deity of Christ that already indwells us from the moment of salvation. Here with “dwell in your heart,” it speaks of our experiential relationship and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, which is based on having His Word, “the mind of Christ,” resident within your soul.
Next we have “dwell,” which we noted above, that is in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of the Verb KATOIKEO, where the Infinitive Mood establishes a purpose or even the result of vs. 16. The purpose of the strengthening by the Spirit is now given. The purpose of the GAP is for the “mind of Christ” to “dwell in the heart,” (right lobe) of your soul. The personal presence of the Lord Jesus in the heart of the believer is not in view here. That is taken for granted. The Aorist tense shows finality, speaking of your experiential relationship with Christ as you grow to spiritual adulthood.
KATOIKEO is a compound word from KATA, that means, “down, toward, or in,” and OIKEO that means, “to dwell or live,” where the word OIKOS for “dwelling or house,” comes from, thus KATOIKEO means, “to settle down and be at home.”
The meaning of KATOIKEO and its usage is similar to OIKEO, especially in contexts designating places of residence, but KATOIKEO is a more forceful, intensive term. It is an old verb that means, “to make one’s home, or to be at home.”
Liddell-Scott lexicon notes, “Although in several instances it has special religious connotations designating the “dwelling place of God” in the LXX, e.g., Isa 8:18; 57:15, Philo extended the meaning of the term to include spiritual virtues and vices “inhabiting” persons.” (cf. Liddell-Scott).
As such, the spiritual aspect of the term in our passage means, the consistent intake of Bible Doctrine via GAP, with the result of spiritual advancement toward the super-grace life, because of the Word of God / mind of Christ that is resident and functioning within the heart of your soul. Therefore, the reason or purpose of God the Holy Spirit teaching us God’s Word is, so that we would have the mind of Jesus Christ / God’s Word / Bible Doctrine resident within our souls.
The place of residency of Christ is the “heart,” KARDIA, which we call the right lobe of your soul where you store and retain God’s Word for application.
Then finally, we see the basis for the attainment of “Christ being at home in your heart,” via the GAP; “through faith,” which in the Greek is DIA HO PISTIS for “through the faith.”
PISTIS πίστις here is in the Genitive Singular. It can mean, “faith, trust, confidence, conviction, belief, or doctrine.” It denotes the trust one has in another, but it may also indicate the trustworthiness, reliability, of someone or something. BDAG notes a “ranging in meaning from subjective confidence to objective basis for confidence,” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.) Therefore because of the Genitive use in our passage, it is used objectively meaning, “That which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith,” which is God’s Word / Bible Doctrine. Therefore, in order to have “Christ being at home in your heart,” you must take in, store, and retain God’s Word / Bible Doctrine / The Mind of Christ, via GAP, which is the application of faith towards the Word of God.
Col 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Here it relates to the Word of God that is taught by the Holy Spirit via GAP. So the context points to this being the “mind of Christ,” i.e., the Word of God.
1 Cor 2:16, “For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.”
We could translate this portion as, “that Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts (right lobe).”
This is not a passage speaking of the permanent indwelling of Jesus Christ in the body of every believer from the moment of salvation, which is part of the 40 Things you receive at the moment of salvations, (John 14:19-20; 17:22-23, 26; Rom 8:9-10; 2 Cor 13:4-6; Gal 2:20; Col 1:27; 1 John 2:24, and any verse that uses the phrase “in Christ, in Him,” etc.), which speaks to our position in Christ, our positional sanctification.
This is a verse that speaks to the experiential sanctification of having the mind of Christ resident and operating within the mentality of your soul, the “heart,” KARDIA, to be exact, which we call the right lobe of our soul. So it means to have the mind of Christ / Bible Doctrine resident within the heart of your soul in the advancement of the spiritual life towards super-grace. This is synonymous with the 11th Problem Solving Device of being “Occupied with Christ,” and having “Christ formed in you,” Gal 4:19.
Gal 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.”
“Dr. Max Reich once said in the hearing of the writer, “If we make room for the Holy Spirit, He will make room for the Lord Jesus.” That is, if the saint lives in conscious dependence upon and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will make room for the Lord Jesus in the heart and life of the saint by eliminating from his life things that are sinful and of the world, and thus enable the saint to make the Lord Jesus feel completely at home in his heart.” (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.)
Adam Clarke noted, “That man’s heart which is not God’s house, must be a hold of every foul and unclean spirit; for Satan and his angels will endeavor to fill what God does not.” (The Classical Study Bible.)
Therefore, every believer is indwelt by Christ at the moment of salvation, Rom 8:9-10; Gal 2:20, but Christ is “at home,” finding comfort and satisfaction, only where hearts are cleansed of sin, filled with His Spirit, and have maximum Bible Doctrine cycling through the heart of your soul, cf. John 14:23.
John 14:23-24, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. 24He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
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Distinctions Between the Indwelling of Christ in Your Body & the Dwelling of Christ in Your Heart.
1) “Christ dwelling in your heart,” Eph 3:17, is the experience of spiritual adulthood as a result of consistent Occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ through the persistent intake and application of God’s Word / Bible Doctrine / The mind of Christ, through the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP. It is Christ being at home in your heart as a result of your experiential fellowship with Christ.
2) On the other hand, the indwelling of Christ in your body is not an experience. It speaks to your position in Christ, (your union with Jesus Christ), that you receive at the moment of your salvation as a result of His indwelling you. While the Indwelling of Christ is not an experience, it provides for your experience with Christ to be at home in your heart, as you are able to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 3:18, by means of GAP.
3) Every believer, whether he is a winner or a loser, is indwelt by the person of Christ. That is the permanent status quo of the Plan of God. This is taught in John 14:19-20; 17:22-23, 26; Rom 8:9-10; 2 Cor 13:4-6; Gal 2:20; Col 1:27; 1 John 2:24, and any verse that uses the phrases “in Christ or in Him,” or the like. Yet, the experience of “Christ dwelling in your heart” is achieved and maintained only when the priority of your life is to grow spiritually and become occupied with Christ in your life.
4) Being occupied with Christ is our side of the equation, when we are focused on the person of Jesus Christ through His Word. Christ being at home in your heart is Christ’s side of the equation, where He enjoys fellowship with you on a consistent basis due to the Word of God consistently cycling through the heart of your soul.
5) Occupation with Christ is a main solution to the problems of life, the focal point of worship, the basis of your spiritual motivation, and the ultimate means of glorifying God, 1 John 3:23‑24.
1 John 3:23-24, “And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
Christ keeps on residing in the heart of the believer who keeps on residing and functioning inside of God’s Power System, (GPS), for their life, (i.e., the Filling of the Holy Spirit, plus the Word of God resident within your soul). This is for the purpose of motivation for momentum inside the spiritual life.
6) Occupation with Christ is one of the Problem Solving Devices, (PSD):
- The Rebound Technique, application of 1 John 1:9.
- The Filling of the Spirit.
- The Faith-Rest Drill.
- Doctrinal Orientation.
- Grace Orientation.
- Authority Orientation.
- Personal Sense of Destiny.
- Personal Love for God. This is distinguished from Occupation with Christ as a problem solving device.
- Impersonal Love for all Mankind.
- +H or Sharing the Happiness of God.
- The priority solution: Occupation with Jesus Christ.
Occupation with Christ is the ultimate PSD. It prevents the outside pressure of adversity from being converted into the inside pressure of stress in the soul.
7) Occupation with Christ is personal love for our Lord Jesus Christ through the Balance of Residency, (maximum metabolized doctrine circulating in the stream of consciousness of the heart, (pre-frontal right lobe of the soul), plus the filling of the Holy Spirit).
1 Peter 1:8, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
8) Capacity to love someone who is invisible requires a tremendous amount of information in the right lobe of the soul. The Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age is described as the thinking or the mind of Christ in 1 Cor 2:16, which we must know well, in order for us to be occupied with Him and for Christ to be at home in our heart. Those who love Christ have made a role model out of our Lord and are occupied with Him, resulting in Him being at home in their heart.
Phil 2:5, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Heb 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
1 Cor 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
9) Essentially, the distinction between Christ indwelling our bodies and Christ being at home in our hearts is the glorification of Christ as an experience in spiritual adulthood. God the Father glorifies Christ as a result of having Him indwell the believer at salvation. The believer, (and technically God the Holy Spirit), glorifies Christ as a result of growing spiritually. You glorify God in your body by the knowledge of, and then the execution of, the Plan of God for your life, which is the lifestyle of wisdom and the unique life.
- We will always have the indwelling of Christ whether we are winner or loser believers.
- Yet, Christ dwelling in your heart is an experience that belongs only to the positive believer who advances to spiritual adulthood by means of the consistent intake and application of God’s Word through the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP.
- You cannot have Christ dwelling in your heart, (i.e., be Occupied with Christ), and at the same time be living in sin and Satan’s cosmic system, which the status of the loser of rewards believer who is failing to execute the Plan of God.
10) Jesus Christ indwells the body of every believer for the following reasons.
- As the badge or sign of the Royal Family of God.
- As the Shekinah Glory that guarantees our Portfolio of Invisible Assets, the “riches of glory.”
- As a depositary and escrow officer, (i.e., the guarantee of your escrow blessings for time and eternity provided by God the Father in eternity past).
- As a guarantee of eternal life, (i.e., life after death in the presence of God forever), John 10:27-30.
- As motivation for momentum in spiritual adulthood. This is especially true when we experience underserved suffering for blessing. Undeserved suffering is necessary for advancement to spiritual maturity.
- As the basis for assigning number one priority to relationship with God over relationship with mankind.
11) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides a temple in us for the indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah glory, 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:18-22.
1 Cor 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
1 Cor 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
2 Cor 6:16, “Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, (Lev 26:12), ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE’.”
12) Just as God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells every believer, so does Jesus Christ permanently indwelling the body of every believer. Just as we are commanded to be filled with God the Holy Spirit, which is temporary, so are we to have Christ dwell in our hearts, which can be temporary.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is positional – permanent.
- The filling of the Holy Spirit is experiential – temporal.
- The indwelling of Jesus Christ is positional – permanent.
- Christ at home in your heart / Occupation with Christ is experiential – temporal.
13) The indwelling of Jesus Christ is the beginning of the unique life of the Church Age believer. The combination of the indwelling of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the basis for the unique life, Rom 8:10.
Rom 8:10, “And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
14) The attainment of Christ being at home in your heart is gradual. The Lord becoming your role model starts by the command in Eph 3:19, “And to come to know the love for Christ which goes beyond GNOSIS that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” The fullness of God is EPIGNOSIS doctrine circulating in the stream of consciousness.
So we have to get to the place where we understand that we need help. We have to come to the point of helplessness to learn. You have to know that you know nothing before you can know something. We often do not know how helpless we are until we get into a jam. When we do, The Lord Jesus Christ becomes our best friend.
15) Fellowship with God the Son is found in 1 Cor 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Our fellowship with Christ comes from learning doctrine and is infinitely more important than our fellowship with people. Fellowship with Christ is synonymous with Occupation with Christ and is a part of God’s will, plan, and purpose for your life. Christian fellowship is no substitute for Occupation with Christ; hence, social intercourse with Christians is never a substitute for learning doctrine. We were not called into fellowship with people, but into fellowship with God’s Son. Yet, we know less about Jesus Christ after salvation, than we do about people.
16) Jesus Christ is invisible to us. Therefore, we must learn about Him. Since you were called into fellowship with God’s Son, this should be your number one priority in life. But this priority cannot be fulfilled without making Bible doctrine the number one priority from the start of your spiritual life. Occupation with Christ is the ultimate in fellowship with Christ and provides for Christ to be at home in your heart.
17) The experience related to Christ in spiritual adulthood, is not the same as Jesus Christ indwelling our bodies. The indwelling of Christ is a status quo, not an experience. Christ at home in your heart, right lobes, is an experience, related first to Spiritual Self-Esteem, then Spiritual Autonomy, and finally Spiritual Maturity.
18) Each stage of spiritual adulthood has a corresponding experience related to Christ.
- The experience of Spiritual Self-Esteem is found in Gal 4:19, “Christ being formed in you.”
- The experience of Spiritual Autonomy is found in Eph 3:17, “Christ at home in your heart / right lobes.”
- The experience of Spiritual Maturity related to our Lord is found in Phil 1:20, “Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
19) All believers, winners or losers, are indwelt by the person of Jesus Christ forever. Only those believers in spiritual adulthood, (winners), have the above experiences. In spiritual adulthood, such experience related to Christ is the means of handling many of the problems related to that category of life, i.e., the stages of suffering for blessing that accompany the stages of spiritual adulthood.
20) You cannot be Occupied with Christ and have “Christ at home in your heart” while making an issue of yourself. Occupation with Christ makes an issue out of Bible doctrine, right priorities, execution of the Plan of God for your life, the manufacture of invisible heroes, and the glorification of God in this dispensation of the Church.
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2 Cor 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
The “Unveiled Face.”
This is first the Jewish believer, in contrast to the Jewish unbeliever, whose mind is veiled when he reads the Old Testament Scriptures. Just as the veiled face means ignorance of doctrine, so the unveiled face means cognition of doctrine. The unveiled face is the result of “renewing the mind” via Bible Doctrine. It speaks to the unveiled face of Moses whose face shinned because he was in the presence of the Lord. As such it is the person who comes to know Jesus as Lord. It is also the believer filled with the Holy Spirit, having residence, function, and momentum inside of God’s Power System, (GPS); the enabling power of the Spirit and momentum from metabolized doctrine in the soul, i.e., the capability of understanding Mystery Doctrine.
The “unveiled face” means:
To understand our status quo as Royal Family, the Portfolio of Invisible Assets, the Plan of God, the lifestyle of wisdom, the unique life, and everything related to our equal privilege and equal opportunity. It includes passing all three categories of suffering for blessing: Providential Preventative Suffering, Momentum Testing, and Evidence testing.
“Beholding as in a mirror.”
The mirror is the Word of God. As we persist in learning Bible doctrine inside GPS, we not only see a reflection of ourselves, but we also learn the Mystery Doctrines of the Church Age, and we see the Shekinah glory; Jesus Christ.
“The glory of the Lord.”
As a reference to the Shekinah Glory, this also refers to the indwelling of Christ without saying so. However, the point here is not the indwelling of Jesus Christ, but seeing the glory of the Lord, from Bible doctrine, which results in Occupation with Christ and personal love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this context, the believer, through his persistence in living inside of GPS and in learning Bible doctrine, comes to a knowledge of the indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah Glory.
- The Jews profited from understanding that which they could not see. They could not see the Shekinah Glory dwelling between the cherubs in the Holy of Holies, but they knew He was there by the presence of the cloud over the tabernacle/temple. The analogy to this concept is found in Ex 40:34, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
- In the Holy of Holies, Jesus Christ was present, but He was invisible to the people. This is analogous to the indwelling of Christ in the Church Age believer. He actually indwells your body, but He is invisible to you.
- The visible manifestation that the Shekinah Glory was indwelling the Tabernacle was the cloud, a theophany, which covered the Tabernacle. The visible manifestation today that the Shekinah Glory indwells the believer is his attainment of spiritual adulthood through residence, function, and momentum inside of GPS.
Jesus Christ, as the Shekinah Glory, indwells every believer. His reflection becomes apparent through metabolized doctrine and resultant momentum in the believer. The indwelling of the Shekinah Glory makes it possible for the believer to be transformed into the same image, which is tantamount to spiritual adulthood. The indwelling of Jesus Christ as the Shekinah Glory today is just as invisible as He was in the O.T., but the cloud of His reflected glory is seen in the Church Age believer who advances through the stages of spiritual adulthood to spiritual maturity.
“Are being transformed.”
The Progressive, Present Tense of METAMORPHOO presents a scene in progress of the believer being transformed through residence, function, and momentum inside GPS. We are never transformed through any personal self‑improvement. The Passive Voice means the believer is acted upon by metabolized doctrine, resulting in spiritual adulthood. The Indicative mood is for the reality of the positive believer’s spiritual growth, with the result of being transformed into the Christ like nature and having Christ be at home in his heart.
“Into the same image.”
This is quite a problem, because Jesus Christ is God. There is no way we can be God‑like; that is impossible and blasphemous. But we can emulate our Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity. From the point of His virgin birth, Jesus Christ occupied the prototype GPS and rapidly advanced while in childhood. He reached spiritual maturity and subsequently faced Evidence Testing from Satan before His public ministry began, (wandering in the wilderness).
Not at any time did His humanity ever leave the prototype GPS. He had respect for and obedience of authority. He was teachable and continued to grow in grace and favor with God and man. We can do likewise, thus being in the image of Christ.
In GPS we can emulate Christ, i.e., emulate the image of His humanity. We can advance through GPS in exactly the same manner, for we have the exact same enabling power of the Spirit, and we have even greater Mystery doctrine! So, “the same image” means, the same as Jesus Christ, the indwelling Shekinah Glory, and the transformation “into the same image” refers to the three stages of spiritual adulthood, which manifest the invisible indwelling Christ.
This is a reference to John 1:14, where the Shekinah Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ, became flesh and “tabernacled” among us. Hence, this is a reference to the Shekinah Glory residing in the body of every believer and the human body of Christ residing in the prototype GPS. So “from glory” is Jesus Christ, the Shekinah Glory, becoming true humanity and residing in the prototype GPS during His entire incarnation. Now He indwells the Church Age believer.
The preposition EIS plus the Adverbial Accusative of Measure from DOXZA, indicates how far the action of the main verb extends. The action of METAMORPHOO, or “being transformed,” extends all the way to Church Age believers who, through residence, function, and momentum inside GPS, attain spiritual adulthood. So “from glory to glory” means, “from the Shekinah Glory becoming true humanity and residing in the prototype GPS, to the believer of the Church Age residing in the operational GPS attaining spiritual adulthood and glorifying the Lord.”
The last phrase is actually, “As it were, by the Spirit of the Lord.”
This refers to two functions of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit inside GPS:
- The ministry of spirituality and/or the filling of the Spirit. Generally the phrase, “filling of the Spirit,” from Eph 5:18, refers to your soul. For when the Holy Spirit who indwells your body has control of your soul, you are said to be filled with the Spirit. That is the status quo of being inside GPS and “walking by means of the Spirit,” Gal 5:16; 26.
- The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit; Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP).
This is the person who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, and is consistently occupied with Him throughout their spiritual lives, achieving the three stages of Spiritual adulthood, having the unveiled face and living the transformed life. They have the Christ like nature in them as they walk by the Spirit consistently. As such, they glorify the Lord more and more each and every day, as Christ is formed in them, at home in their heart, and exalted in their body.
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Now that we have understood what it means to have “Christ be at home in our hearts, (right lobe of the soul),” we move to the last phrase of vs. 17, “that you being rooted and grounded in love.”
This phrase is not only the end of vs. 17, speaking to the resultant aspects of “Christ being at home in our hearts,” but is the beginning of vs. 18, which we will not shortly, that is the basis for being able to comprehend the supergrace life; the Life Beyond GNOSIS, leading to the Life Beyond Dreams.
The words, “rooted” and “grounded,” are both in the Perfect Tense, Passive Voice, and are Participles in the Masc., Nom., Plural in the Greek text.
The Perfect tense is for completed past action with results that continue into the present. That is, that we have taken in the Word through GAP where Christ is at home in our hearts, and now we continue to walk in that AGAPE love.
The Passive voice tells us, like all other aspects of our spiritual life, we receive the action of being rooted and grounded in AGAPE love by receiving EPIGNOSIS doctrine into our souls through GAP.
The Nominative Participle along with the Perfect tense forms these action items into a position in which we stand; that we are rooted and grounded in AGAPE love.
“Rooted” is the Greek verb RHIZOO, ῥιζόω that means, “Cause to take root; be or become firmly rooted, or established.” Figuratively it means, “fix firmly, establish, or put on a firm foundation.” This speaks to our position in Christ Jesus from the point of salvation.
It is used only here and in Col 2:7, “6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
“Grounded” is the Greek verb THEMELIOO, θεμελιόω that means, “To found, to lay the foundation of, make stable, or establish.” Its cognate noun THEMELIOS means, “foundation,” and verb TITHEMI means, “to place, set, or lay.” THEMELIOO is used 6 times in the N.T., Mat 7:25; Luke 6:48 in the parable of the wise man building on a rock, then in Heb 1:10 of God laying the foundation of the earth, which is a quote from Psa 102:25, and metaphorically of the believer being firmly grounded and settled, Eph 3:17; Col 1:23; 1 Peter 5:10. This speaks to our experience in Christ where He is “at home in our hearts.”
Col 1:23, “If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”
1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
Therefore, the word “rooted” has the idea of securely settled, and “grounded,” that of deeply founded. Both of these terms being in the Perfect, Passive, Participle shows both our position and experience in Christ, respectfully, by means of GAP. First is the necessity of the initial work of salvation being accomplished by God the Holy Spirit in His Common and Efficacious Grace ministry, and secondly, the necessity of the continued results by means of the strengthening by the Holy Spirit through GAP of our experience of the consequent “at-home-ness” of the Lord Jesus in our heart, along with our fellowship with Him. Therefore, our salvation gave us the position in Christ through the Efficacious Grace ministry of the H.S., and now our positive volition towards GAP gives us the experience of Christ in our hearts.
The thing that we are to be rooted and grounded in is “love,” AGAPE in the Dative of Sphere. Being in the sphere of love means two things:
- It refers to the filling of God the Holy Spirit, Rom 5:5, “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The Holy Spirit spreads throughout the soul of the positive believer who is growing toward or has achieved spiritual adulthood through GAP, APAGE love.
- AGAPE love means a Relaxed Mental Attitude, (RMA) as you think in terms of impersonal and unconditional love towards all things and everyone. It is not an overt type love; it is a love in the mental attitude of the soul where you are totally free from mental attitude sins. It is a RMA toward the human race.
So love here is that love which the Holy Spirit produces and with which He floods the heart of the yielded saint. This inner spiritual condition of heart enables the saint “to comprehend,” vs. 18, and “to know,” vs. 19.
The primary functional objective of the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling of the believer post salvation is the function of GAP, John 14:26; 16:12-15; 1 Cor 2:9-16; 1 John 2:27. The universal priesthood of the believer demands the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the achievement of the objective of the super-grace life, which comes through the believer’s positive volition, (faith rest), towards the intake and application of Bible Doctrine by means of GAP. It is also the objective of the indwelling Holy Spirit to suppress, to control, and to neutralize the function of the Old Sin Nature, Gal 5:17.
Gal 5:17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
An analogy of the indwelling Holy Spirit is “oil,” as the anointing of the Holy Spirit. So oil becomes an illustration of the functions and ministries of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that root and ground the believer in love. Chafer notes, “In type (cf. Lev. 2:4-5, 7) the fine flour is mingled with oil, suggesting that, with regard to His humanity, Christ was generated by the Holy Spirit; and, again (cf. Lev. 2:1, 6, 15), the oil poured over the meal foresees the Spirit coming upon Christ, as was true at His baptism. There is real significance in the requirement that the priest, when cleansing the leper (Lev. 14:10-32), should apply oil in the specific manner prescribed. The work of Christ in physical healing, as in spiritual transformation, was wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit. The cleansing of the leper is one of the most evident types of Christ since it foreviews salvation from sin.” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology.)
Examples of Oil as a type of the Indwelling Spirit include:
1) Oil lubricates. Friction ruins machines. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to remove friction in the mentality of your soul in two ways:
- The friction of the conflicted mind that is tempted to sin but wants to walk in righteousness. The Holy Spirit utilizing the Word of God resident within your souls leads us to overcome the temptations that lead to sin, Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
- The friction among believers, so that we function as a team, being members of the body of Christ, as well as, a Royal Family, Gal 5:25-26, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
2) Oil heals. This was true in the ancient world where there was an extensive use of oil in healing. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit heals the sorrows, the sufferings, the pressures that come our way.
Acts 10:38, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”
3) Oil was used as a system for lighting, just as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word under the function of GAP. The Israelites were directed to provide oil for the lights in the Tabernacle, cf. Ex 25:6, the Golden candle stick. For the light to shine, there had to be three things; oil, (the Holy Spirit); a wick, (the believer); and a flame, (the Word of God). Two vital truths are implied in this particular typology:
- God the Holy Spirit is the essential oil for light and the believer is to walk in the light which the Holy Spirit sheds upon his mind and heart.
- By doing so, believers are themselves “as lights in the world,” Phil 2:15. The light which the believer may display is a manifestation of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in his life.
John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Cf. 16:12.
1 John 2:27, “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” This passage does not mean we do not need our right Pastor-Teacher. It means that the Holy Spirit is our true teacher via GAP.
4) Oil also propels. We learn this from diesel engines both on land and on sea. This illustrates walking in the Spirit, moving toward our tactical objective, cf. Phil 3:12-14.
5) Oil invigorates. For this reason athletes in the ancient world were anointed with oil before they entered their contest. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit invigorates the life of the believer, cf. 1 Cor 9:24-27.
6) Oil warms. Oil was used for heating fuel. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit warms the categories of love through His indwelling ministry.
Rev 3:15, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.”
Prov 15:4, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.”
7) Oil adorns. Oil has been used since time immemorial for grooming. The Holy Spirit produces the grooming of the soul through His indwelling, Eph 2:20-22; Titus 2:10.
Therefore, the function of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit is to provide for the believer to be firmly rooted and grounded in AGAPE Love by means of the intake and application of Bible Doctrine during this intensified stage of the Angelic Conflict, called the Church Age. When you are rooted and grounded in AGAPE love by means of the Word of God resident within your soul, you will be an overcomer / winner / super-grace believer.
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Paul’s prayer continues. The Four Dimensional Love of Jesus Christ.
Eph 3:18, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth.”
This sentence begins with HINA for “that,” showing this is the second part, yet third petition of Paul’s prayer. The third petition is a request that believers may know the dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ.
“May be able” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of the verb EXISCHUO, ἐξισχύω that means, “be able, be strong enough, or be capable.” It comes from the root word for power ISCHUO. Although DUNAMAI is the more common term for “ability,” ISCHUO is more forceful and stronger. With ISCHUO, there is more emphasis on the power one possesses than with DUNAMAI. And ISCHUS means, “having strength in reserve.”
The Aorist tense views the entirety of the action of being able to do something. The Active voice, the believer produces the action of being more than capable. And the Subjunctive mood is for volitional potential, maybe you will be able to and maybe you will not. It depends on your volition towards the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP). True positive volition is the consistent intake of Bible Doctrine on a daily basis that gives you the knowledge of the mind of Christ, which is noted in the next word, “comprehend.”
Next we see that it is God’s desire for us to have strength in reserve so that we can “comprehend,” the full dimensional knowledge of the love of Christ. “Comprehend” is the verb KATALAMBANO, καταλαμβάνω that means, “Take over, seize, obtain, grasp, comprehend, understand, or perceive.” It comes from KATA, “in accordance with or corresponding to,” and LAMBANO, “take, take hold of, grasp, seize, etc.” Here KATALAMBANO is in the Aorist, Middle, Infinitive.
The Aorist tense once again views the entirety of the action of comprehending, seizing Bible Doctrine and holding on to it, with a view towards its intended results. The Middle voice says that the believer performs the action of seizing and holding on to Bible Doctrine, which has a benefit back to himself; comprehension of the mind of Christ. The Infinitive is for purpose, as this is one of Paul’s petitions on our behalf and he desires that we are rooted and grounded in AGAPE love, so that we can comprehend even more so the dimensional love of Christ for us. Therefore, the “power to understand” refers to the “ability to understand,” which is given to us in grace through GAP.
“With all the saints,” SUN PAS HO HAGIOS, means that this petition and desire is for all believers of the Church age, all those set apart for God and His service, not just those at Ephesus or in the early Church. So the petition is that all believers apprehend the multi-dimensional knowledge of Christ’s Love.
“What is,” is the Interrogative Pronoun TIS in the Neuter that introduces a question dealing with “things.” The list of things this is dealing with is given next.
Here we have four dimensions, “breath, length, height, and depth” that describe the multi-dimensional love of Christ in a spatial and poetic way, plus something else, which we are more than capable of comprehending by means of GAP, cf. Rom 8:35-39. These four dimensions have been variously defined to depict aspects of Christ’s love and God’s great plan for our lives; some even use them to define the temple as typology. Here we will define each word and then review its significance regarding Christ’s love.
“The Breadth,” HO PLATOS, “width, breadth, or expanse.” It is the extent from side to side. It is used a number of times, literally and figuratively, to indicate the great extent of something. It is used here and in Rev 20:9; 21:16, to describe the Gog army and a description of the New Jerusalem. This is the first point in space. We could say this represents our salvation.
“And Length,” KAI MEKOS, “length.” It is used only here and in Rev 21:16, regarding the measurement of the New Jerusalem. In these passages it takes on the meaning of space and is translated “length.” In extra Biblical writings, it was also used to describe length of speeches, greatness or magnitude, and even longitude. But in regard to length of space, in fact, this is the first aspect of describing space, as two points are connected to create a line. So Paul spoke of linear space, the “length,” as he prayed for the believer to know the full magnitude of Christ’s love. We could say this is the connection of our salvation with our spiritual life.
“And Height,” KAI HUPSOS, “height.” (Some Greek translations reverse the order of the last two.) Used in Luke 1:78; 24:49 and Eph 4:8 describing the heights of God and godliness. Then in James 1:9 of high positions, “seated at the right hand of God,” and also in Rev 21:16 when John measured the New Jerusalem, he added a third dimension: “The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” In the Greek language, this word is also used figuratively to refer to the concept of royalty, dignity, sublimity, or grandeur, which all describe what the Word of God is that teaches us what Christ’s love is, and depicts our status as Royalty in Christ.
As the third aspect of measurement, it creates spatial dimensions. As two points can be connected, (breadth), to create a line segment, and two parallel line segments can be connected, (length), to form a square, now two parallel squares can be connected, (height), to form a cube. These three measurements make up what man comprehends as space. But there is one more aspect of our Lord’s love that goes beyond space.
“And Depth,” KAI BATHOS, “depth.” This is the most used of the four measurement words in Scripture. It is both negatively as in Mat 13:5; Mark 4:5, regarding the seed sown on rocky soil whose roots that penetrate it have no depth and it soon withers away, and positively as in Rom 11:33; 1 Cor 2:10 describing the depths, (deepness and richness), of God, His Word, and decisions.
Rom 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
1 Cor 2:10, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
What is fascinating about this is that it is a fourth dimension of the knowledge of Christ’s love. In geometry and mathematics, the first three dimensions describe what is called Euclidean space. It is named after the Ancient Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria. Euclidean space is also generalized to mean higher dimensions. But now we have a fourth element and that element is time. In mathematical physics, Minkowski space or Minkowski space-time is a combination of Euclidean space and time into a four-dimensional manifold, also known as the space-time continuum. The space-time continuum adds time as the fourth dimension to the three planes of space. Minkowski space is closely associated with Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and is the most common mathematical structure on which special relativity is formulated. Below is a representation of the 4D’s of space and time.
- Two points can be connected to create a line segment.
- Two parallel line segments can be connected to form a square.
- Two parallel squares can be connected to form a cube.
- Two parallel cubes can be connected to form a tesseract.
Now what does this means to us. Well, here is a picture of a 2D and 3D object.
Notice the enhancement of the object in 3D compared to 2D, well that is a good visual of the enhanced knowledge we gain through GAP of the Love of Jesus Christ as we grow from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood. But now we have 4D knowledge through GAP at Supergrace. We have the added element of time to space that speaks of the never ending love God has for us that He wants us to know, realize, and live in. With the element of time added, we have the addition of envelopment.
The following motion picture gives you an idea of the incredible leap of knowledge we gain in 4D Love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xN4DxdiFrs&feature=youtu.be&t=10
Unfortunately, on paper you cannot see the motion of this image, as you can on the power point presentation. But notice the cube within the cube that is connected. In that space of motion, the inner cube comes out and then surrounds the outer cube without losing its space and connection. One envelops the other and the other envelops the first, and it continues over and over again. Now maybe you can imagine the picture of Christ’s love for you, when you know the love of Christ and have it in your heart where Christ is at home. In other words, His love envelops you and your love envelops Him, over and over again, without end.
Comparing Scriptures like Job 11:5-9; 28:12-28, we see that depth speaks of knowledge, the manifold or multifaceted wisdom that we noted in in Eph 3:10.
Job 11:7, “Can you discover the depths of God? … 8They are … Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?”
In order to know and live in 4D love, you must know and live in the 4D wisdom of God, which describes the spiritual adult believer in the supergrace life.
Paul’s petition here is that we lay hold of the vast expanses of the love of God. He wants us to live in four dimensions. When God gave the land to Abraham, He told him to “walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it,” Gen 13:17. Abraham had to step out by faith and claim his inheritance. But we today have an inheritance in four dimensions: breadth, length, height, and depth, and God’s fourth dimension is time without beginning and without end for His love for us!
Therefore, Paul is expressing the strongest sense of the greatness of the love of the Redeemer, and to show, in the most emphatic manner, how-much he wished that we should fully understand it.
So this four dimensional knowledge of the Love of Christ means that this is a higher type of love than what mere humans can have or even comprehend. It is a Godly love. Paul prayed that the believer would be able to comprehend “what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth,” which is the overwhelming richness of the gospel and love of Christ. Therefore, Paul’s third petition in Eph 3:18-19a, is that all believers would be able to comprehend spiritually and to know experientially, the infinite and eternal love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for them.
Eph 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. 4Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
Eph 2:4-7, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). 6And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Eph 3:18-19, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Having noted the four dimensions of the knowledge of Christ’s love that the believer is to apprehend, (seize and hold onto), for himself, we see that this also describes four categories of believers.
Breadth – This is the one dimensional (1D – Breadth), believer who recognizes Christ’s love in paying for their sins leading to salvation, which the believer apprehends at the moment of his faith in Christ. This is the new born baby believer. Many believers remain at this stage and never grow spiritually as they should.
Length – This is the two dimensional, (2D, Breadth and Length), believer who recognizes there is a spiritual life for the believer to live, and the love of Christ has given him His Word and sent His Spirit to live that life. This is the growing believer, (adolescent believer), who apprehends the spiritual life through the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP).
Height – This is the three dimensional, (3D, breadth, length, and height), believer who has grown spiritually and apprehended spiritual adulthood. They know the love of God in their lives as they, “love their neighbor as they love themselves,” Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8; Lev 19:18.
Depth – This is the four dimensional, (4D, breadth, length, height, and depth), believer who has grown through the three stages of spiritual adulthood, (Spiritual Self-Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy, and Spiritual Maturity), and is in Evidence Testing as a star witness for the prosecution inside the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. They are living the Supergrace life, and know and live in the sphere of “John 15:13-14, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” This does not mean martyrdom, although it can include it, but rather, laying down your life means making God your A #1 priority at all times in life that includes a total commitment to God and people as you serve them in your daily walk, where yourself is not even an issue.
Believers in any given generation are spread throughout the four dimensions of spiritual growth, based on their individual / personal positive or negative volition towards God and His Word; with few reaching 3D or 4D. But in this prayer, it is Paul’s and God’s desire that we all attain the 4D or Tesseract Love of Jesus Christ.
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Paul’s and God’s desire is emphasized in vs. 19.
Eph 3:19, “And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
“And” is not the typical KAI here, but is TE an unique enclitic particle. As an enclitic particle of connection, it describes a word that depends on a preceding word, clause, or phrase for its formation. It connects a clause or phrase where a close relationship exists and when one depends upon the other. It is rare in the epistles outside of Romans and Hebrews. Here, it connects Paul’s desire to “know the love of Christ” in this verse, with the four dimensions we just noted in vs. 18. Because of its rare usage, it is also emphatic, so we could say, “even or especially to know the love of Christ,” and with the following construction of the Greek word “to know,” we could actually say, “namely, to know,” as the four dimensions are describing the “love of Christ,” and it is Paul’s desire that we come “to know,” GINOSKO, this love.
GINOSKO means, “know, become aware, perceive, understand, be conscious of, or to comprehend intellectually.” “A distinct characteristic of “to know” in ancient Greek thought was that it accented to a certain extent the idea of “understanding” what is known in contrast to “experiencing” something to acquire knowledge (cf. the verb AISTHANOMAI, “to perceive, understand”; Bultmann, “GINŌSKŌ,” Kittel, 1:690),” (The Complete Biblical Library.) As such, GINOSKO means to see things as they truly are; it excludes opinion or speculation. Therefore, “to know” transpires on the plane of reality, and it means the mind reaches out and apprehends certain things; taking them in. It describes the GAP.
GINOSKO is also used of personal relationships. “To know” someone was to be personally acquainted with them, and expresses trust and friendship. As you know, (pun intended). the Biblical concept of knowing God extends beyond mere intellectual apprehension and moves into the arena of obedience towards His Word. So to have genuine knowledge, one must respond to God who has graciously made Himself known to us.
GINOSKO is used here in the Aorist, Active, and Infinitive. The Aorist tense, views the entirety of the action “to know” the love of Christ. The Active voice, the believer is the one who actively attains this knowledge. And the Infinitive functions grammatically as an “appositional” Infinitive, meaning it is defining for us what Paul is talking about when he uses the terms, “breadth, length, height, and “depth,” in vs. 18.
All of this describes the intent of Paul’s prayer; that through learning the Word of God via GAP, we enter into a personal 4D love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, we personally encounter His love through the process of fellowship and are affected by this encounter in the gaining of practical spiritual wisdom, which is the character and nature of Christ, that becomes our character and nature.
Next is the phrase, “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,” which transliterated from the Greek reads, “the surpassing of the knowledge of the love of Christ,” HO HUPERBALLO HO GNOSIS AGAPE HO CHRISTOS.
“Surpassing” is the Present, Active, Participle of the compound verb HUPERBALLO, ὑπερβάλλω that means, “Surpass, excel, or exceed.” It comes from HUPER in its comparative use that means, “above, more than, or beyond,” (this especially complements the 4th Dimension above), and BALLO that means, “throw, cast, put, lay, or rush.” So HUPERBALLO carries the idea resulting from the compounding of doing or going beyond that which is usual or expected, i.e., “outdoing, surpassing, or excelling.”
It is used only here and in 2 Cor 3:10; 9:14; Eph 1:19; 2:7. In all five passages, the participle is used to describe the overwhelming greatness of some attribute or work of God.
Eph 1:19, “And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”
Eph 2:7, “In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
And now we have the “surpassing knowledge of Christ’s love.”
Next we have the possessive Genitive noun, “knowledge,” which is GNOSIS that means, “Knowledge, science, doctrine, or wisdom.”
The “surpassing knowledge” we are to “know” is the Accusative of AGAPE and the Genitive of HO CHRISTOS for, “the love of Christ,” or “Christ’s love.”
No one knows how to love instinctively. Everyone has to learn how to love. No one is a natural lover. True love depends upon the capacity of the soul and you have to learn to love. AGAPE love is that impersonal and unconditional love of God that is expressed through our souls. It is freedom from mental attitude sins because you cannot love and have mental attitude sins in the soul at the same time. If we are ever going to get into the plan of God for our lives, as to fulfilling the reason why we are here, we are going to have to know how to love Him as He loves us.
Paul is simply telling us that the love of Christ, exemplified in His magnanimity to the Gentiles, is too large to be confined by any geometrical measurements. It is wide enough to rescue people from sin’s degradation and even from the grip of Satan himself, Eph 2:1-5; 6:11-12. It is long enough to propel us through the spiritual life while here on earth, Eph 1:4-6, 18; 3:9. It is high enough to raise both Gentiles and Jews to heavenly places in Christ Jesus as we grow to adulthood, Eph 1:13; 2:6; 3:17. It is deep enough to reach the whole world and reach beyond time and space, Eph 1:9-10, 20. The love of Christ is the love He has for the Church as a united body, Eph 5:25, 29, 30, and for those who trust in Him as individuals, Eph 3:17.
Only the Holy Spirit can lead a believer into this vast knowledge and experience of the love of Christ. Since it is infinite, it is beyond human comprehension, but it is not beyond the reach of the positive believer, 1 Cor 2:6-16. What Paul is praying for is a deeper experience between Christ and His people. He yearns for Christ to settle down and feel at home in their hearts and enjoy an ever-deepening fellowship.
So Paul prayed that believers might be able to comprehend the vast dimensions of Christ’s love, with the result that they might know experientially that love that surpasses human knowledge. To fully comprehend the sacrificial love of Christ is beyond the capability of any human being. But with the power of the Holy Spirit and GAP, the believer can come to know the spiritual phenomena of Christ’s love, and His continued love for believers. Yet, no matter how much knowledge believers have about Christ, His amazing love surpasses that knowledge, and the more we know of that love, the more we should praise Him for it. It is like exploring a diamond mine. The farther and deeper we go, the more treasures we discover and the more desire we have to acquire all that God desires to provide for us. However, the mere knowledge of His love is not the end; rather, it issues into a final purpose, namely, “that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
“That” is HINA once again, the 3rd use in this prayer giving us the 4th petition.
“May be filled up,” is Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the verb PLEROO, πληρόω, “Fill, make full, supply fully, or complete.” It has the idea of attaining a standard of measurement or reaching the saturation point or level of containment. It is the idea of totality or fullness. Thus, the word means, “to fill something completely” or “to complete a measure.” The fullness or completed measure here is the knowledge of the love of Christ exercised in our lives. The Subjunctive mood is for potential. Based on the volition of the individual believer, they will either be filled up or not be filled up. The Passive voice, says that the positive believer receives the filling up of God.
“To all the fullness” is EIS PAS and the noun PLEROMA that means, “that which fills, complement, fulfillment, or that which makes something complete.” The fullness we are to have is “of God,” HO THEOS in the Genitive.
This is a reference to the super-grace life and blessings; the sum total of superabundant blessings, which completes the Royal Priesthood. This refers to the perfect happiness, the wealth, the success, the promotion, the prosperity, and all the blessing from God the Father provided for every believer as a part of the Royal Family. The provision was made in the Divine decrees in eternity past, but is only realized by those believers who achieve supergrace status in the Church Age.
This means that Paul’s and God’s desire in this prayer is that the believer might realize the total nature and significance of what has transpired in Christ. Believers have various levels of capacity, which can be increased, and they all can be recipients of those qualities which constitute the “fullness of God.” The concept of Christian maturity comes to the fore here, a principle noted again in Eph 4:13, in a more corporate setting. The “fullness of Christ” is that completeness, that maturity of character, which is already realized in Christ both as an individual and as the Body of which believers are a part of.
Knowledge of His love is both intellectual and personal, cf. Phil 2:1-2, both individual and corporate. The goal of this knowledge is fullness; being all that God wants us to be, cf. Eph 4:13.
Phil 2:1-2, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Eph 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”
So this “surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ that fills us up to all the fullness of God” is where we get the phrase, “Life Beyond GNOSIS.” You have to get past GNOSIS before you understand how much God loves you and before you can love God. You have to get beyond the GNOSIS stage.
In vs. 19 we noted the phrase “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”
This surpassing knowledge, as we saw in the Greek above, is HUPERBALLO GNOSIS. It tells us that the love of Christ is beyond what mere human knowledge of love can comprehend, BDAG defines HUPERBALLO as, “to attain a degree that extraordinarily exceeds a point on a scale of extent, to go beyond, surpass, or outdo.” To go beyond the extraordinary love of Christ, it takes a supernatural influence, (called the Holy Spirit, your human spirit, and the Word of God working in conjunction), to come to know this type of love. It tells us that we need grow spiritually to a certain level, in order to know this type of love. Therefore, the believer is exhorted to grow to a spiritual stage of adulthood called the “Life Beyond GNOSIS,” to know and walk in the love of Christ. Then, when we get to vs. 20, we will see the next stage of spiritual growth called the “Life Beyond Dreams,” which is noted in the phrase, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”
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But before turning to vs. 20 and the “Life Beyond Dreams,” we first need to understand what it means to live the “Life Beyond GNOSIS.” So that leads us to understand the doctrine of the “Life Beyond GNOSIS.”
“Doctrine of the “Life Beyond GNOSIS”
For the believer in Jesus Christ, there is a fantastic Life Beyond GNOSIS, which is having EPIGNOSIS doctrine in the right lobe of the soul. EPIGNOSIS means full or completed knowledge. EPIGNOSIS doctrine is having a well-developed understanding of the Scriptures through faith, and how to apply them within your life. EPIGNOSIS doctrine is then converted into motivation, decision making, and action. It is the basis for the manufacturing of the invisible heroes.
Those who move beyond the barrier of GNOSIS into EPIGNOSIS eventually become winner believers. They will win their eternal rewards at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ. Believers who do not move beyond the barrier of GNOSIS are losers. They lose their escrow blessings for time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
The Life Beyond GNOSIS then is having EPIGNOSIS doctrine in your soul; the dynamics of metabolization and application of Bible doctrine through consistent function of post-salvation renewing of your mind, Rom 12:2. Therefore, the Life Beyond GNOSIS is attained, through perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine through consistent function of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), which is the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
The Life Beyond GNOSIS is the life of spiritual adulthood related to the perception of the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age.
- The fantastic Life Beyond GNOSIS starts with cognitive self-confidence in the first stage of spiritual adulthood, Spiritual Self-Esteem.
- The Life Beyond GNOSIS moves to cognitive independence in the second stage, Spiritual Autonomy.
- It becomes the life of the invisible hero in the status of the third stage of spiritual adulthood, Spiritual Maturity
The Life Beyond GNOSIS is the function of that great Problem Solving Device: Occupation with Christ, Eph 3:19, “And to come to know the love for Christ which surpasses, (goes beyond), GNOSIS that you may be filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
This means that Life Beyond GNOSIS is both cognition and the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices of the Plan of God for your life. The result of using the Problem Solving Devices is two-fold.
- You equate adversity with prosperity. You have the same happiness in one or the other. There is no change in your life based upon your circumstances. Whether you are in adversity or prosperity makes no difference once you begin to function with the Problem Solving Devices.
- You equate living with dying. Whether you are living or dying makes no difference, for you have exactly the same wonderful mental attitudes, happiness, and blessings. This is the ultimate function of the invisible hero in the Christian life, Rom 14:8; Phil 1:20-24.
The context of Eph 3:16-21 describes six characteristics of The Life Beyond GNOSIS.
- In 16, it begins by being “strengthened in your human spirit” by the Word of God through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, GAP.
- In 17, it is characterized by having “Christ being at home in your heart, (right lobe of your soul).”
- in 18, it is described by comprehending the 4 dimensions of Christ’s love, (i.e., His tesseract love).
- In 19, it is described as being “filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
- In 20, beneficiaries are described as receiving “all they could ever ask or imagine.” This describes the spiritual adult on his way to becoming an invisible hero.
- in 21, it teaches the glorification of God in the Church Age.
In answer to the question, “What is beyond GNOSIS?” This passage has three answers.
- In 19, there is great blessing beyond GNOSIS.
- In 20, there is great power beyond GNOSIS.
- In 21, there is great glory beyond GNOSIS.
These are made possible because of the great love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, vs. 16-19a.
Illustrations of Life Beyond GNOSIS: Matthew 8.
Having just completed the Sermon on the Mount, Mat 5-7, many followed Him as He came down from the mountain. At that time they witnessed Jesus perform several miracles in vs. 1-17. Then, beginning in vs. 18-22, we have two examples of believers who would NOT go beyond the Life of GNOSIS, and then in vs. 23-27 we see an example of believers, (the apostles), who were currently living in the life of GNOSIS, who we know would eventually enter into the Life Beyond GNOSIS and the Life Beyond Dreams.
We are given these three examples to see what it means to live the life of GNOSIS and what are the stumbling blocks to getting over the hurdle and entering into the Life Beyond GNOSIS. In addition, we also have the example of the large crowd that was following Jesus from the mount to His miracles.
The Mob Mentality Factor: The Crowd.
They, like most crowds or mobs, are interest in the “wow” factor. They come to be entertained. They were entertained by first Christ’s knowledge and then by the miracles. They had heard something new and different in the Sermon on the Mount. However, that message did resonate within their souls and did not “renew” them. This was basically a GNOSIS crowd. They were fickle, emotional, and irrational.
In fact, large crowds are a distraction to the teaching, training, and inculcation of the true disciples of our Lord, especially during His first Advent. The true disciples, with several exceptions, were true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were positive believers. Yet, there has to be a separation of those who are positive from the rest of the crowd, who mostly want to be entertained. In that crowd were a large number of believers who would never go beyond GNOSIS. To them, it was all simply academic. Further, when a crowd becomes a mob, it has rejected authority, and authority is necessary for our Lord’s teaching ministry.
Principle: It is always the few who go beyond GNOSIS into EPIGNOSIS, who advance to spiritual maturity, who form the pivot that delivers the client nation.
The Application: The local church in this dispensation takes the believer out of the mob or crowd, and places him in the environment for learning the plan of God and executing the same through post-salvation renewing of the mind.
The Impressed and Intellect Factor: The Scribe.
Then we have our first example, vs. 19-20. He was a Scribe from the Jewish Sanhedrin, (the leadership council of the Israelite religion). As a scribe he was an expert in the Law of Moses. Jesus, just having given the Sermon on the Mount that applied the Law but with the view towards how it will be applied in the Millennial reign, impressed this Scribe with His knowledge of the Law.
He proclaimed that He would, “follow Jesus wherever he would go.” That sounds like a person with a great heart and love for Christ. But there is something missing in our translation. Between “wherever” and “you go,” should be the word “if.” It is there in the Greek EAN and in the Subjunctive mood of APERCHOMAI. Rather than saying “I’ll go wherever you go,” he actually said, “I’ll follow, IF you go anywhere.” That third class conditional “if” states that maybe you will and maybe you will not. The disciple, who is ready to follow Jesus, does not have any conditions on his discipleship. He will follow Jesus anywhere at any time. If this were the case, the Scribe would have made this statement in the Indicative mood rather that the Subjunctive. But this Scribe was impressed by Jesus’s knowledge of the Law and the large crowds. He really doubts that Jesus would ever leave such a crowd. He doubts His departure, for that would be leaving behind a large audience. The scribe thinks of success in terms of having a large following. Therefore, he would never think of leaving the place of popularity and approbation.
Further, a Scribe is a one-subject person, a student of the Mosaic Law only and of nothing else. All scribes were intellectuals. They were the most brilliant people in the land. They were way ahead of the Pharisees and Sadducees who were politically minded. But the scribes were oriented to the Mosaic Law. All he was interested in was the Mosaic Law. Therefore, like all Scribes he was very legalistic and very smart. This scribe had a high I.Q. and had been impressed with our Lord’s dissertation of the Law, as interpreted by the Sermon on the Mount. It was new and different to him, for it went beyond the overt act to motivation. Therefore, he was following to learn more. And why not? The Sermon on the Mount will be the mode of operation during the Millennium. However, he was not ready for the Sermon on the Mount at the moment.
So the scribe represents the believer who is only interested in one subject. When that subject is dropped, he loses interest. Ask yourself: are you interested in only subject? Many people are only interested in romance and marriage.
The Scribe will never go beyond GNOSIS; he is intellectual. The scribe represents a large segment of Christianity at the time in which we live, when we have the philosophical approach to Scripture, trying to reconcile the Word of God with philosophical concepts, not realizing that Heb 4:12, “For the Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit and of the joints and the marrow, and is a critic of the thoughts and intents (motivations) of the heart.”
The Scribe is very arrogant and self-righteous, guilty of crusader arrogance. He ascribes to Jesus, in his arrogance, his own motivation. After all, the Jesus would never leave such a large crowd.
So the scribe recognizes Jesus as being intellectually on a par with himself. He assumes that He has exactly the same arrogant motivation. The scribe will not ever leave a large crowd; that is important to him. Therefore, he thinks he is safe in saying “I will follow you anywhere – if you go.” For he assumes our Lord was not going.
Actually, the scribe will follow Jesus all the way to the ship, maybe 100 yards away. But when he discovers there are no hotel reservations on the other side of the sea, he will remain behind.
As a student of the Mosaic Law, he has no interest in departing into the unknown. He may have been sincere in his offer to follow Jesus, but he has no intention of being inconvenienced. He is definitely not prepared to go beyond GNOSIS. Therefore, the scribe possesses what can be classified as spurious enthusiasm; i.e., enthusiasm without Bible doctrine, enthusiasm based upon the excitement and irrationality of a large mob. But he has no enthusiasm for doctrine or for Problem Solving Devices. Therefore, his spurious enthusiasm is artificial, emotional, and useless. The scribe has been enthusiastic about the Sermon on the Mount. But our Lord changed the subject, and the Scribe is no longer interested.
The scribe represents the arrogance of the ignorant believer. He is impressed with the large crowds. He is impressed with our Lord’s popularity and he wants to take advantage of it. For he wants to become popular in identification with Christ, not as in the baptism of the Spirit, but by being associated with the Lord while He is popular. So the scribe represents the arrogance of the believer who never goes beyond GNOSIS. He is impressed with large crowds and popularity. Therefore, the importance of Bible doctrine being converted into EPIGNOSIS has totally eluded him.
The superficialities of life crowd out Bible doctrine, (pun intended). They cause the loser to establish the wrong priorities in life. Momentary emotion and temporary impulse distract from post-salvation renewing, so that the objectives of the plan of God become obscure and fleeting. This describes the believer who never goes beyond GNOSIS.
This is why believers forget the doctrine, because it is not EPIGNOSIS in the right lobe of their soul. It is not in their frame of reference or memory center, and therefore, cannot be recalled.
1) Enthusiasm without doctrine destroys momentum in the Plan of God.
2) Sincerity has no carrying power, and is no substitute for the Problem Solving Devices of the plan of God.
3) Emotion has no reasoning power, no perception or application of doctrine, no function in the Problem Solving Devices, no replacement of Divine viewpoint thought in the right lobe of the soul.
I recently received a proverb from a fortune cookie that read, “If you do not run your subconscious mind yourself, someone else will.” Marcus Aurelius said, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Prov 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart / right lobe, so he is.” The scribe failed in his thinking, because he was overcome with lust for approbation.
That is why we see such an odd, but simplistic response from our Lord to weed out the GNOSIS believer in Mat 8:20, “Then Jesus replied to him, `The foxes have dens, and the birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’”
This simply says that there are no hotel reservations on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. It is a very rugged land and there are no hotels. Therefore, our Lord states that even the animals have a better deal with their dens and nests than He does. He does not even have that. And that is the end of the line for the Scribe. Little does he realize that he has just established for himself a life of insecurity by being security-conscious. He does not understand the principle of Rom 8:31, “If God be for us, who shall be against us?”
Principles as to why some do not get beyond GNOSIS:
1) Where there is a conflict between human comfort and security on the one hand, and the plan of God on the other hand, legalism has no staying power and no Problem Solving Devices.
2) There are believers who will not go beyond GNOSIS. They have no staying power. Their priorities are just as mixed up as they have always been. They are social animals, people emphasizing people, and therefore, they have never nor will ever, learn about God.
3) The greatest insecurity results from being security-conscious. The only real security in life is contained in the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age and the Problem Solving Devices.
4) The person who clings to convention and conventional accessories of security is never prepared for historical crisis and disaster. This is what happens when the believer does not enter the Life Beyond GNOSIS.
5) The believer minus doctrine is defeated by uncertainty in normal times, and therefore cannot cope with disaster in abnormal times.
The Wrong Priorities Factor: Details of Life.
The next disciple in Mat 8:21-22, fears disapprobation. He too does not move beyond GNOSIS.
At least this disciple first uses a different vocative in addressing our Lord, which is better than that of the scribe, signifying he knows a little more doctrine. He uses KURIOS. He at least recognizes Jesus as his “Lord” rather than just being a mere “teacher,” DIDASKALOS, although that too was an appropriate title for Jesus. Nevertheless, he is a failure because it is all GNOSIS.
Mat 8:21, “And another of the disciples said to him, `Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’”
Here we note the wrong priorities of the disciple because he says, “permit me first….” “First” is the Greek adverb of time PROTON that means he has a set of priorities, but they are strictly conventional priorities, i.e., based on human viewpoint.
Remember the mechanics of the priority solution to the problems in life: Your #1 priority determines your concentration, around which you organize your life and your thinking, and it becomes the basis for your concentration and motivation in life.
This disciple’s request is certainly a legitimate one and a legitimate function. There is no sin or evil connected with attending a funeral. However, whether his father was a believer or unbeliever, he cannot help his father in any way. He can grieve for his father right where he is, and by getting into the boat with our Lord. But this believer has a serious priority problem, which is not being solved because he has never gone beyond GNOSIS. This believer has given #1 priority to the conventional function of society, rather than to the function of God’s plan.
This is analogous today to a believer who gives #1 priority to the conventional function of society rather than to God’s Plan. This believer thinks more of approbation from people than approbation from God. As such, he has people emphasis over God emphasis.
As long as there is no conflict, which up to this moment there has not been, it was convenient to follow the Lord. He is conventional in following the Lord up to this moment. But now there is a conflict that shows that he has not gone beyond GNOSIS. He has no Problem Solving Device to handle the situation. The father has died, the funeral is pending, and the son can do nothing more for him now. It would be desirable to go to the funeral, but the Lord has established a mandate: to get into the boat and cross the sea, analogous to going beyond GNOSIS in our study.
No matter how much the son loves the father and grieves for him, there is nothing he can do for him now. He has a right to grieve and sorrow, but our Lord has given a mandate, which conflicts with him attending a funeral. There is a good possibility that this father has departed to be with the Lord. The only thing the son can do by attending his father’s funeral is to satisfy the protocol of society and express his own love. Yet, there comes a time when you have to express your love for God over your love for people with whom you are intimate. In this passage, our Lord’s challenge is to give #1 priority to the Lord Himself. By analogy, we should give #1 priority to Bible doctrine related to God’s Plan for our lives.
Public opinion and the approbation of society is often much more important to believers than the execution of God’s plan, will, and purpose. This believer’s priority problem will frustrate his ever going beyond GNOSIS. It can only be solved by the utilization of Problem Solving Devices as they existed then.
So we see another seemingly odd and terse response by our Lord. But it was a test and challenge to the disciple.
Mat 8:22, “But Jesus said to him, `Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’”
This does not mean you cannot attend funerals. That is not even the issue. Yet, for those who can only think in terms of GNOSIS that is all they can extrapolate from this message. In fact, Christ is teaching about people emphasis taking precedence over God emphasis. He is saying that people are more influenced by what society thinks than by what God thinks. You can never understand what God thinks until you move into EPIGNOSIS.
This man’s priority problem will only be solved by the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices, which include a Personal Sense of Destiny and Occupation with the Person of Christ.
“Let the dead,” refers to society. Once you go beyond GNOSIS, society is dead. Society is located under culture and spiritual death. Even the best of cultures do not bring you into contact with God; it takes the Gospel to do that. This man is involved in a culture that places tremendous emphasis on that funeral. Because he has his eyes on people and on self, he has lost his focus on the person of Jesus Christ.
The funeral represents the legitimate function of society: the protocol and conventionality of society. There is nothing wrong with attending funerals. The funeral represents normal functions in life that are placed beyond or above the intake of Bible doctrine. When you must choose between something pleasant and Bible class, which do you choose? It is not a matter of wrong versus right. It is a matter of which right has priority in your life? Things are very simple when it is wrong versus right, but that is not the issue here; the issue is priority.
Our Lord is about to provide suffering for blessing testing. We see the failure in the disciples in the ship below. But we must remember that those who are on the ship in the storm will eventually go beyond GNOSIS. Even though they fail and are losers at that moment, they will recover. They use the first Problem Solving Device, rebound. Failure does not make a loser. Yet, even if it does, the loser is still alive and has the chance of rebound. But this subject deals with those who did not go beyond GNOSIS, who did not get into the ship and the storm, who did not have the opportunity of reward from underserved suffering.
Society says that this believer has a duty to attend his father’s funeral. However, our Lord has given a command, which supersedes the protocol and conventionality of society. Therefore, here is a conflict between two legitimate functions in life. This conflict can only be resolved by the priority solution of Occupation with Christ and the experience of a Personal Sense of Destiny.
Also, note that there are two kinds of death in this verse. The first “dead” are people who are spiritually dead. Though physically alive, they have no relationship with God. The second “dead” is the physical death of this believer’s father. The spiritually dead unbeliever can fulfil the conventions of society, but they have no meaning as far as the spiritual life is concerned. Only the believer in Jesus Christ can execute God’s plan, will, and purpose for his life. Do not allow the entanglements of the protocol of society to hinder you from executing the protocol Plan of God!
This is a priority problem; it demands a priority solution. Because this disciple has the wrong priorities, he has been eliminated from one of the greatest opportunities in life. He has been eliminated from suffering for blessing testing, which is primarily designed for the believer who has gone beyond GNOSIS. Only in spiritual adulthood does the believer have enough command of the Problem Solving Devices to pass the test.
The Baby Believer Factor: The early spiritual age of the disciples.
The next example is found in Mat 8:23-27. This is the example of the immature believer who is not yet applying the Life Beyond GNOSIS when he faces adversity and disaster.
Mat 8:23, “And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.”
Before the believer can advance to spiritual maturity and execute the Plan of God, he has to face three categories of suffering for blessing.
1) In Spiritual Self-Esteem, he faces Providential Preventative Suffering. Passing its four categories of testing, (People, Thought, System, and Disaster Testing), it moves him on to Spiritual Autonomy.
2) In Spiritual Autonomy, he faces Momentum Testing, (i.e., the same four categories but intensified, plus prosperity testing), the passing of these carries him into Spiritual Maturity.
3) In Spiritual Maturity, he becomes an Invisible Hero passing Evidence Testing, which glorifies God to the maximum in this phase of the Angelic Conflict.
Four Areas of Testing or Suffering for Blessing.
2 Cor 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In 2 Cor 12:10, Paul is content with his own inability to handle these testing from his flesh, which he relates to as “his weaknesses.” When you go through these testings and pass them, it breeds contentment in your soul as you apply the faith rest technique. Weaknesses is the Greek noun ASTHENEIA (as-then’-i-ah) and means “weakness, or frailty.” It is also sometimes used for “sicknesses, illnesses, or aliments.” But the context here is simply the inability of the human flesh to solve the problems of Suffering for Blessing, see vs. 9. Then, Paul tells us of what situations he is well content in, which are the:
Four areas of Suffering for Blessing.
People Testing is seen in the Greek noun for “insults,” which is HUBRIS that means, “insolence, mental injury, injury inflicted by the violence of a tempest, shame, insult or mistreatment.” In Attic Greek law HUBRIS comprehended “all the more serious injuries done to the person,” that is grievous assaults. Compare with Acts 27:10(damage).
Thought Testing is seen in the Greek noun for “distresses” which is ANAGKE (an-ang-kay) that means “compulsion, constraint, distress, force, or necessity imposed either by the circumstances or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, or argument. BDAG defines it as “a state of distress or trouble, distress, calamity or pressure.” It was used to mean of necessity as a result of calamity, distress, or persecutions. So it is speaking about the mental anguish that is brought on by outward troubles. Compare with 2 Cor 6:4-5 (hardships); 1 Thes 3:7(distresses); Philemon 1:14 (compulsion)
System Testing is seen in the Greek noun DIOGMOS that simply means, “persecutions.” It comes from the verb DIOKO that means, “to put to flight, pursue, and by implication to persecute.” BDAG defines DIOGMOS as “a program or process designed to harass and oppress someone, persecution.” Our English definition of persecution means, “the subjecting of a race or group of people to cruel or unfair treatment, e.g. because of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs.” So we see that it takes a “system” or group of people to bring about this type of suffering. Compare with 2 Thes 1:4; 2 Tim 3:10-11.
Disaster Testing is seen in the Greek noun for “difficulties,” which is STENOCHORIA (sten-okh-o-ree’-ah). Literally, it means, “narrowness of space” and figuratively it means, “difficulties or distresses, dire calamity or extreme affliction.” BDAG defines it as “a set of stressful circumstances, anguish or trouble.” Compare with Rom 8:35-39; 2 Cor 6:4-5.
Rom 8:35, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
By utilizing the Problem Solving Devices in suffering for blessing, the believer is able to overcome all four categories of testing and continue in his walk to execute God’s Plan for his life.
The disciples who followed our Lord into the boat were at the point where they needed suffering for blessing and testing. It came by the way of disaster Testing. Suffering for blessing is designed for the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices. This is the way we advance in the spiritual life, and the way we glorify God.
This does not imply that the disciples who boarded the boat were all prepared in spiritual adulthood. In fact, since they all flunked the test, such a conclusion would not be valid at all. However, these disciples followed the Lord into the boat not knowing where they were going, taking it one step further than the previous disciples. The boat represents post-salvation renewing of the mind through the inculcation of Bible doctrine leading to some faith-resting in life.
Only in the boat with Jesus Christ can the believer face the storms of life, both personal and historical disaster. Therefore, the disciples of vs. 23 represent believers who have given #1 priority to Bible doctrine. In the priority solution mechanics, making Bible doctrine your priority #1 results in concentrating on priority #1. That results in organizing your life around priority #1, which results in organizing your thinking around priority #1, which results in concentrating on the Lord Jesus Christ for your motivation, which results in Occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the 11th Problem Solving Device.
Being in the boat with the Lord sets up an analogy: you start concentrating on Bible doctrine, the written Word, and you end up with personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word. This is the ultimate in spiritual experience.
Before these believers face the storms of life, they must get into the boat with our Lord Jesus Christ. This is an illustration of Occupation with Christ. There is no such thing as reward testing or suffering for blessing until the believer comes aboard. The boat is analogous to the operational type of God’s Power System, GPS, provided for every Church Age believer as a part of his Portfolio of Invisible Assets.
Mat 8:24, “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but He Himself, (the Lord Jesus Christ) was asleep.”
The Sea of Galilee is very shallow. High winds cause great waves. The waves were so high that they were breaking over the boat. Nevertheless, our Lord continued sleeping through all the tremendous noise of the wind and waves, and the great instability of the boat. His sleeping is analogous to maximizing the faith-rest life by mixing faith with the promises of God.
Heb 4:1-3 teaches the basic doctrine of the faith-rest drill, the third Problem Solving Device. “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering into His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we had the Gospel preached to us, just as they also, (Jews of the Exodus), but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united (mixed) by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed, (the promises of God), enter that rest…”
In order to relax under adverse circumstances and have a Relaxed Mental Attitude, RMA, towards life’s circumstances, you must claim the promises of God. These disciples were not claiming the promises of God and not utilizing doctrinal rationales. The power of this storm was designed to teach the futility of human resources in facing the problems of life. So great was the storm that it placed the disciples beyond their human resources. There was no human Problem Solving Device that would have handled the fury of the storm.
Jesus Christ, the God-man, was aboard and He was sleeping. In the storm, believers learn who and what Jesus Christ is: undiminished Deity and true humanity in one person forever. Therefore, the storms of life teach the importance of Occupation with Christ as the ultimate Problem Solving Device.
The sleeping of our Lord taught that since He was sleeping, there was no problem. Therefore, they could have enjoyed the storm. The failure of the disciples meant they did not have the 9th Problem Solving Device, a Personal Sense of Destiny.
The sea is like the circumstances of life; it is variable. The sea can be calm, representing prosperity. The sea can be stormy, representing adversity. The boat represents GPS, the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union, the principle of potential for Occupation with Christ and therefore for having great blessing.
Circumstances are never the basis for happiness. Sharing the happiness of God is a Problem Solving Device for spiritual adulthood. Like the great storm, adverse circumstances provide uncertainty. They teach the inadequacy of human resources, the fragile nature of human security, and the total need for Bible doctrine and the Problem Solving Devices of the protocol plan of God. Just as the boat was the only place of safety in the storm, so perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine is the only place of blessing, security, and help in this life, especially in time of disaster.
Many believers never follow our Lord into the boat because they are losers living in the cosmic system and functioning under reversionism. Hence, the believers in the boat in the storm at least represent those who are positive toward Bible doctrine. No matter how intense the storm, no matter how great the disaster, the boat of GPS is always stabilized and safe. The use of the Problem Solving Devices equates living with dying and adversity with prosperity.
The storm is a real storm. Before there is suffering for blessing, there must be disaster and adversity applied to the believer so that he is using Divine resources and not his own. The storm became progressively worse, as noted by the fact that waves began to go over the boat, no matter what its height. Seventy to eighty foot waves would not be unusual in the Sea of Galilee with a hurricane force storm. The fact that the storm became worse sets up the principle that God does not always deliver in the crisis by cancelling the disaster. Many times the blessing comes from riding out the storm in the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices; that is what the storms are for. First, you master the Problem Solving Devices, then you use them in both prosperity and adversity. The believer in spiritual adulthood is delivered in and through the storm, not necessarily from the storm. We are strengthened by going through the adversity and using the Problem Solving Devices.
When the disciples embarked with our Lord, the sea was calm and gave no indication of a storm to come. The principle is that it is always calm before the storm. If you are now enjoying calm before the storm, it is to give you the opportunity to learn, master, and understand the Problem Solving Devices of the Christian way of life. The calm before the storm is God’s grace provision to be prepared by learning the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age and to learn the Problem Solving Devices. Then the storm will come suddenly without warning.
The prepared believer needs no warning, because during the calm he has prepared himself through the perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine. While the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, our Lord Jesus Christ continued to sleep. As eternal God, He never sleeps. So only His humanity was sleeping. But why did the humanity of Christ not awaken and give assurance to the disciples? It teaches the whole point of adversity. If you have to seek counselling on the outside, it is because you do not have doctrine on the inside your soul and you have failed. The whole point is that the Lord did not wake up and give them assurance because He had been providing that through His teaching! Even from what He taught in the Sermon on the Mount, they could have extrapolated the pertinent doctrines and applied them. It is too late to learn once you are in disaster and panicking; you have flunked that test.
The believer in disaster or “suffering for blessing,” does not need personal attention or encouragement. He does not need counselling. He is prepared for it all by Occupation with the Person of Christ. Your status quo in the storm of adversity depends on Bible doctrine in your soul, the Bible doctrine you have learned during the calm period, not Bible doctrine that is still on the written page of the Word of God.
Therefore, our Lord sleeping means, “school is out!” It is time to apply; it is time for practical experience in the storm. The disciples in the boat are believers. They understand the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union. Therefore, they should have realized that the deity of Christ was in complete control of the storm. After all, Jesus Christ not only controls history, but Jesus Christ controls nature as well.
In Col 1:16-17, He is said to be the Creator and the One who holds the universe together. “For by Him (Jesus Christ), all things are created that are in heaven, that are in earth, visible or invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him, and without him nothing is made that is made.”
Heb 1:3 says Jesus Christ is “the flashing forth of His glory, the exact representation of His nature (essence of God). Furthermore, He holds all things together by the Word of His power.”
This is why sometimes God might seem to be silent in your life too. Because you already have the doctrine in your soul, now it is time to use it!
All the disciples should have understood this since they recognized Christ as Messiah. Messiah has a number of titles, one of which is Emmanuel, meaning God with us. They understood that Jesus Christ is not only true humanity, the Son of David, but that He is also undiminished deity and the Son of God. Metabolized doctrine results in spiritual adulthood. That means that you have cognitive self-confidence in the storm in spiritual self-esteem, cognitive independence in spiritual autonomy, and cognitive invincibility in spiritual maturity.
No matter how strong the wind or how high the waves, and no matter how the boat pitches, rolls; with our Lord Jesus Christ aboard, it is impossible for the boat to go down. No storm in life is greater than the power of God! By sleeping during the storm, our Lord teaches the importance of having the inner resources of Bible doctrine, the importance of having the Problem Solving Devices. Therefore, our Lord was doing them a favor by remaining asleep.
The disciples should have been enjoying the storm. They are all fishermen and would not get seasick. So they should have been exhilarated in the storm. Yet, a panic occurs when believers get their eyes on the storm rather than on the Lord. They had a choice of being occupied with Christ, keeping their eyes on the Lord who was sleeping, or getting their eyes on the storm, which was threatening.
Vs. 25 tells us of their panic under pressure and their fear in disaster.
Mat 8:25, “Consequently, they approached and woke Him up screaming, `Lord, deliver us! We are perishing!”
They had to scream just to be heard in the storm. Fear and panic assumes the Lord was not paying attention to the situation. But He always is, even before you are in the storm, He is preparing you for when it comes. Yet obviously, the solution is not screaming for help. In fact, the solution is not going to anyone else for help including the Lord in prayer. Once you get into suffering for blessing, you never rely solely on prayer. You make it a matter of using the Problem Solving Devices.
The solution is not waking the Lord up, as you do when you pray, “O God help!” When you make that prayer in panic, you have failed, for you do not know that God has provided for you in His Portfolio of Invisible Assets these fantastic Problem Solving Devices. Use them! The fact that you are a believer-priest means that you should be spiritually self-sustaining. When you are in disaster and when everything is collapsing around you, use the Problem Solving Devices. That is why they are so important.
You cannot harbor fear in your soul and receive the reward of suffering for blessing. Neglect or rejection of the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age results in problems like fear. Fear is lack of thinking under pressure. For the believer, fear is failure to apply Bible doctrine to the problems of life, or failure to use the Problem Solving Devices.
There are actually two categories of help.
1) Application of metabolized doctrine.
2) Use of the mechanical Problem Solving Devices. These are learned through doctrine, and are designed for you to use in the privacy of your priesthood to handle the storms of life to the glory of God.
The more things you surrender to fear, the more things you fear. The extent to which you surrender to fear, you increase the power of fear in your life. Fear is failure to use the Problem Solving Devices. The more things that acquire the power of fear in your life, the greater your capacity for arrogance and becoming a loser.
Arrogance, fear, worry, and anxiety are emotional sins. Emotionalism means irrationality, a contradiction to the Plan of God for the Church Age. That is why 2 Tim 1:7 tells us, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline, (SOPHRONISMOS= sound rational thinking).” Fear neutralized the Problem Solving Devices these disciples had learned.
Remember that only the humanity of Christ is sleeping; the deity of Christ is holding the universe together and protecting them from the storms of life. This is no time for fear; this is time for courage which is thinking under pressure. This is the time for the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices.
Bible doctrine must be more real to the believer than the storm. That was their problem. At this point, doctrine was not more real to them than the storm. They have had too much calm and no reward suffering; i.e., suffering for blessing. Blessing in the storm comes from concentration, application, and utilization of Bible doctrine.
Irrationality is manifest in the fact that they were begging for deliverance. That is a contradiction. It is impossible for them to go down; God is aboard, as it were. Of course, God is imminent and transcendent, but in Hypostatic Union He was there. So it was irrational for them to beg for deliverance when they were already delivered by the very presence of Jesus Christ, the God-man.
There is great blessing to be derived from disaster. The disciples should have been enjoying the storm, revelling in the power of the storm, the size of the waves, exhilarating in the roll of the boat! Today, people pay money for thrills like this! So why should the disciples not enjoy one of the most exciting rides in all of history? The fact that Jesus was asleep was an invitation to the disciples to relax and enjoy an experience that no one had ever had in their day and few have had since. The incorrect procedure is to awaken the Lord and ask for help. You can always tell when you are losing in adversity, because you start praying and asking for help; it is the only thing you know to do. The very fact that you are able to pray means you are still alive. However, you are not alive to go running and crying; you are alive to utilize the Word of God, which is alive and powerful.
This is analogous to trying to solve the problems and disasters of life through prayer. Prayer has many wonderful uses, but one is not as a Problem Solving Device in disaster, especially in suffering for blessing. Of course, the prayer of rebound is appropriate for disasters that involve Divine discipline. The disciples had all the help they needed. They had metabolized doctrine in the soul, Problem Solving Devices, and doctrinal rationales such as the Hypostatic Union. The storm was not designed to put their corpses in Davy Jones’ locker, but to provide blessing and momentum in their spiritual lives. The disciples woke up the Lord at the wrong time, for they should have awakened Him after the storm simply to thank Him for the wonderful ride.
Finally, from vs. 25, the sleeping of the Lord is a demonstration of parenting as well. As your child grows physically and mentally you teach, train, and discipline them as you are making most, if not all, of the decisions for them. But when they get to a certain age, you have to step back and let them make decisions for themselves, hoping that they have learned from your teaching and decision making. Therefore, our Lord stayed asleep during the storm, as He “stepped back” and let them make decisions to apply or not apply the previous Bible doctrine He had taught them.
Next in vs. 26, our Lord is awake, and He issues a double reprimand. First, He reprimands the disciples, and then He reprimands the storm.
Mat 8:26, “He said to them, ‘Why are you cowards, (DEILOS – cowardly, fearful, timid), you who have a little faith, (OLIGOPISTOS)?’ Then He got up and He reprimanded the winds and the sea. And instantly they became perfectly calm.” Cf. Mark 4:40; Luke 8:25.
Jesus replied by reprimanding them for their fear, using a word that normally means, “cowardly fear,” a fear that does not come from the Spirit of God, as we noted in 2 Tim 1:7 above. That fear goes along with a lack of faith. Therefore, the cowardly fear they had was the result of having no faith in the situation.
“Of little faith,” is the Nominative, Plural, Adjective of OLIGOPISTOS that is made up from the Adjective OLIGOS that means, “little, small, short, or few,” of number, quantity, time, or space. In the plural, as prefixed here, it means of number, that is, small or little. With this is the word for “faith,” PISTIS, which sometimes means Bible Doctrine. So having only a little Bible Doctrine in your soul leads to having little or no faith in times of the storm. The phrase “little faith” really means they do not have any faith at this time.
They were “of little faith” because they had enough faith to get into the boat, unlike the Scribe with conditions, and the disciple with wrong priorities. They showed some faith by getting into the boat when everything was calm, when there was no storm. But now, they have no faith in the storm. They trust the Lord in the calm of prosperity; they fail to trust Him in the storm of adversity. They are “fair-weather” believers.
A loser is not a believer who fails, but a believer who does nothing about his failure. Therefore, this shows the importance of the #1 Problem Solving Device of Rebound and recovery. For the believer to be spiritually self-sustaining in the storm, he must do two things while he is alive.
1) Consistently function in post-salvation renewing of the mind, the Life Beyond GNOSIS, the daily perception of doctrine.
2) Consistently use the Problem Solving Devices of the Plan of God in faith-rest application.
Next we see our Lord Jesus rebuke the wind and waves. This may suggest that this particular storm was the work of Satan. Possibly it was an attempt by demons to stop or delay Jesus and the disciples from reaching land and continuing the ministry, just as Satan attempts to put road blocks in your life through “thought, people, system, or disaster testing,”
Notice that our Lord was still lying down when He chewed out the disciples, “then he arose and reprimanded the winds.” His power comes in any position He chooses. He does not even get up to chew them out! But He does get up to talk to the storm. Our Lord’s calming of the wind and sea was worth a ride in itself. Here was a hurricane force storm, (winds over 75 mph), which, combined with the shallow Sea of Galilee, produced giant waves. When He spoke, the storm went instantly from hurricane force or more, to zero! When Jesus spoke, everything became calm.
Note that the voice of the Lord was heard and there was instant obedience and the power of the sea subsided. With one command, there was instant calm. Satan recognized the authority of the Lord just as the sea recognized the authority of the Lord, even though it had been kicking up a fuss. That is what will happen to your soul when you apply the Word of God to the storms of your life. The power of the Word of God applied from your soul, calms your soul down and rights your ship.
Yet, the disciples did not recognize Christ’s authority, over their souls or creation for that matter. Authority is always a very important principle. Until you recognize the authority of the Lord through His Word, you will lose the battles in your soul and give over to fear, worry, anxiety, panic, hysteria, etc., and miss out on blessings too.
Authority Orientation is in the Word of God, and is a very important Problem Solving Devices. It teaches us to have humility; recognizing the weakness of our flesh and the power of God and His Word. When you hear the voice of the Lord (His Word), there should be instant obedience, as there was with the waves and the storm. The voice of the Lord is heard through the teaching and application of Bible doctrine. Do you recognize the authority of the Word of God? Do you accept the authority of your right Pastor-Teacher? Are you a winner or loser?
In addition, what appeared to be a miracle was merely the Lord controlling His own creation. The reason the disciples failed is now given in a very interesting way in vs. 27.
Mat 8:27, “Now the men were amazed and they kept saying, `What kind of a person is this that even the winds and the sea obey?’”
The disciples were amazed and surprised at this! That is why they were losers. They could not get over it; they kept talking about it. They knew “what kind of a person” this was before they started in that boat, but the storm shook them up and shook doctrine right out of their soul. Now they have to start over.
The disciples failed because they were impressed with the wrong thing. They were impressed with our Lord’s power in performing a miracle rather than the power of Bible doctrine, which He had taught them. No believer can be impressed with the Lord until he is impressed with the Word of God, which is the thinking or mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16.
It is easy for the Lord to perform a miracle. He merely uses His own power and sovereignty, and only His own essence is involved. But to cause believers to grow is much more difficult, because it involves their volition as well. Two categories of volition are involved in growing in grace: the volition or sovereignty of God and your volition.
The winds of the sea have no soul. They respond to the omnipotence and sovereignty of God. The believer has a soul, which includes volition, which can accept or reject Bible doctrine. Therefore, Bible doctrine must become a reality in the soul before there can be Occupation with Christ and the other Problem Solving Devices.
In addition, the disciples were impressed with the reality of the storm’s power, but they were not impressed with the reality of Jesus sleeping during the storm. They were impressed with the wrong thing, the storm, just as you will fail when you are impressed with the wrong thing. The wrong thing is being impressed with the suffering for blessing, or with the disaster, rather than being impressed with the Lord. However, when you are occupied with Jesus Christ, it will be cleared up.
To know Jesus Christ from EPIGNOSIS doctrine is to love Him. To be occupied with Him in the storm, EPIGNOSIS doctrine must function instead of fear. Doctrine must be more real than the storms of life. The disciples are confused because they are more impressed with a miracle than with doctrine in the right lobe. Losers are always emphasizing the wrong thing. The disciples were impressed with miracles rather than with doctrinal teaching.
Similarly today, some people are more excited about the end times, prophesy and the Book of Revelation, than they are with learning about the person of Jesus Christ. They are more impressed with the miracles and escapism from this life through the Rapture, than they are with living the spiritual life each and every day. They are like the disciples in the storm, of little faith and loser believers, occupied with the wrong things and having wrong priorities.
A miracle cannot cause spiritual growth. A miracle cannot execute the Plan of God. The easiest thing our Lord does is to perform a miracle, since it only involves His own volition. The most difficult thing God does for us as believers is to promote us and to give us escrow blessings, since it involves our consistent positive volition toward doctrine.
The emotional reaction to the storm blotted out the doctrine in their right lobes. Our life on earth is what we think. Prov 23:7, “As a person thinks in his right lobe, so he is.” As Marcus Aurelius said, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” And as I told you about an ancient proverb, “If you do not control your subconscious, something or someone else will.”
The disciples did not think. Courage is thinking under disastrous situations. Doctrine provides us with Divine viewpoint, with thoughts of doctrine; while a miracle only stimulates emotion. You cannot execute the Christian way of life through emotion. The Plan of God can only be executed through perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine, and the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices of the Plan of God.
Therefore, courage is thinking under pressure or disastrous situations, thinking Divine viewpoint that leads to victory over your soul and the situation!
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Now back in Eph 3:19 we noted, “That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” As we noted above, “fullness” is the Greek word PLEROMA that means, “that which fills, complement, fulfillment, or that which makes something complete.” The fullness we are to have is “of God,” HO THEOS in the Genitive.
This is a reference to the Super-Grace Life and blessings; the sum total of superabundant blessings, which completes the Royal Priesthood. This means that Paul’s and God’s desire is that the believer might realize the total nature and significance of what has transpired being “in Christ.” Therefore, “the fullness, (PLEROMA), of God,” means to have a relationship with Him through knowledge of who and what He is. This is also emphasized for us in Phil 3:7-10.
Phil 3:7-10, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, (vs. 4-6), and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
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That leads us to understand:
“The Privilege of Knowing God.”
It is a tragedy that many people go through life without ever becoming acquainted with their Creator. To overlook that relationship is to miss the purpose of your existence and the greatest privilege available to mankind: knowing God, John 6:69; Acts 22:14; Gal 4:9; Eph 3:19; 1 John 4:16.
Many times even believers undervalue the honor of getting to know Christ more intimately. Yet, Paul’s all-consuming passion to “know God” caused him to count everything else as worthless in comparison to that tremendous blessing. This is our example!
Though believers can accept Christ as their Savior, faithfully serve Him, and anticipate being with Him in heaven, many have no hunger to know Him right now. How can we be satisfied with simply being saved and have so little interest in the most gratifying relationship available to us?
Pursuing Christ with passion requires sacrifice, something most believers do not want to hear, that means spending time with the Lord to learn His Word and then surrendering our will to His will, and knowing Him through suffering, (i.e., Thought, People, System, and Disaster testing).
Although salvation is a free gift, intimacy with God is a costly process, but the rewards are invaluable, unbelievable, and eternal.
Today our culture, (Satan’s Cosmic System), floods us with distractions that fill our minds and hearts, leaving us indifferent about developing a deeper relationship with Christ. Some people even substitute learning facts about the Lord for knowing Him relationally. That is, they know about Him, but they do not know Him, and believe that knowing about Him is all they need. Yet, knowing the facts comes up short when it comes to knowing how He thinks and operates. You are far better off to know how your Lord thinks, than to know the historical facts of his life and what He accomplished.
So you need to find out what is hindering your passion for God and truly getting to know Him and remove that from your life. Also, consider ways to carve out time each day to be alone with Him and read His Word. Then, as you go about your daily routine, seek His guidance and listen for His voice in the recollection of His Word that you have read. When you do this consistently over a short period of time, you too will eventually count everything else as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.
God’s goal for every believer, (and in fact every member of the human race), is to know experientially the love of Christ that supersedes all knowledge, Eph 3:16-19; Phil 4:7.
Phil 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The more you know about Christ, the more amazed you will be at Christ’s love for you.
And finally, the purpose for knowing Christ is that “you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” (NIV). With the Greek preposition EIS, which denotes a goal, this is translated, “to the measure.” As such, the fullness of the Godhead is only in Christ, and only through Him is a believer made complete, Col 2:9-10.
Col 2:9-10, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”
Though in Christ, this Divine fullness is ideally a believer’s already, Paul prayed that it might be experientially realized in each one of us, cf. Eph 4:13.
Eph 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Experiencing God’s moral excellence and perfection causes believers to love God and in turn love each other. Positionally, we are one in Christ; experientially we are to love each other as one in Him, Luke 10:27; John 15:13; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Eph 3:19.
Eph 3:19, “And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Luke 10:27, “And he answered and said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’.”
Loving God in our human four dimensions, “heart, soul, strength, and mind,” leads to loving your neighbor and “being filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
James 2:8, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,’ you are doing well.”
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That then leads us to:
The Doctrine of the Super-Grace Life
General Definition of Grace.
Grace is all that God is free to do for man on the basis of the Cross. Grace is God’s freedom and consistency to express His love through grace to mankind without compromise of His essence. In the concept of grace, everything depends on God’s essence.
- Under the principle of grace, God provides a series of blessings for man totally apart from man’s merit, ability, planning, thinking, or energy.
- Under the policy of grace, God gives and man receives. God does all the work and providing, while man does all the receiving and benefiting.
- Under the mechanics of grace, man has a relationship with God in two categories: before the fall and after the fall. The first category is based on creation. God provided everything man would ever need in the garden. After the fall, man’s relationship with God is based on regeneration.
Under God’s plan, grace is all that God can do for man from salvation until eternity. It is the genius of God, and Bible doctrine is the revelation and manifestation of that genius.
Categories of Grace.
- Saving Grace, (phase one); Eph 2:8‑9, everything the Trinity has done to save man. There is non-meritorious involvement by the believer, faith in Jesus Christ, which is the way of salvation. Salvation grace involves the strategic victory in the Angelic Conflict as well, Heb 2:14; Col 2:14-15.
- Logistical Grace, (phase two); This is all that the Trinity provides by way of power, security, and provision to keep the believer alive in the devil’s world, so that the Divine objective in the Angelic Conflict can be achieved by the believer. This includes both spiritual provisions such as the Bible, local church, Pastor‑Teacher, and temporal provisions such as food, shelter, clothing, and money.
- Supergrace is maximum growth resulting in Occupation with Christ and God providing certain blessings. It is the tactical victory of the Angelic Conflict, or spiritual maturity.
- Ultra‑Supergrace is the sphere of the Angelic Conflict between the unfairness of the devil’s world and the total fairness of God to mature believers, whom God places under maximum testing and pressure. The blessings of Supergrace are intensified and protected by God even under undeserved suffering; the most intense pressure, persecution, and attack from Satan, 2 Tim 2:10, 3:8‑12.
- Dying Grace is the greatest blessing for passing from time to eternity. This blessing is even greater than the greatest blessings of time.
- Surpassing Grace (phase three); is the blessing, awards, and decorations for the mature believer for all eternity, Eph 2:7. This is all that God will do for us in eternity.
The Nomenclature for the Term “Super-Grace” is Taken from James 4:6, where we have the term “greater grace,” which is MEIZON CHARIS in the Greek. In fact, James 3:13-18, tells us how to achieve the Supergrace life, while James 4-5 tells us how to live in the Supergrace life with examples of both what not to do, (in others words, do the opposite of what it says), and positive examples, (that is, to do what it says to do).
Definition of Supergrace.
Super-Grace is the realization of spiritual growth in the Christian life to spiritual adulthood. It is the stage beyond the construction of the Edification Complex of the Soul (ECS). It is the ultimate in spiritual achievement and it is the normal area for the function of the Royal Priesthood. It is characterized by the analogy of a cup running over, Psa 23:5-6; 16:5. The cup represents Supergrace capacity to receive blessings from God that is built within your soul through maximum intake and application of Bible doctrine. There are actually three basic characteristics:
- Occupation with the Person of Christ, which comes from the construction of the ECS via GAP.
- The Super-Grace capacity, which is doctrine in the soul.
- The pouring of Super-Grace blessing onto the believer.
It is the believer reaping through positive volition of Bible doctrine that which God sowed in eternity past.
Therefore, Supergrace is the condition of spiritual maturity. It is related to God’s power, Eph 1:19 and is also described as pursuing grace, Psa 23:5-6; Eph 1:6. The blessings are beyond human imagination, Eph 3:20f, and 1 Tim 1:14 describes it as “abundant grace.” As such, by definition, Supergrace is the highest adult stage of the spiritual life in the Royal Family of God. It is maximum glorification of Jesus Christ, and where the normal function of the Royal Priesthood and maximum production of Divine good resides.
Areas of Super-Grace Capacity that Provide for God’s Grace Blessings.
- Capacity for freedom. This comes from Bible doctrine, Rom 8:21; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 5:1; James 1:25-2:12.
Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
- Capacity for life, 1 Sam 17:47.
1 Sam 17:47, “And that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
- Capacity for love: Category #1, toward God, Deut 6:5; 30:20; Category #2, toward right man/woman, Song of Solomon 8:7; Category #3, toward all mankind, 2 Sam 1:26.
- Capacity for happiness, Psa 9:1-2; 21:1; 31:7; 43:4; 97:12; John 17:13; 1 John 1:4.
- Capacity for suffering. This means we are always on top of any suffering that comes our way, when we are in the Super-Grace life, 2 Cor 12:7-10.
Synonyms of Supergrace.
The Hebrew word CHAKMAH and Greek SOPHIA mean, “wisdom,” the nomenclature for maximum Bible doctrine in the soul that results in the supergrace life. The following are various synonymous terms for the “Supergrace” life.
- Theological: “Greater grace,” James 4:6.
- Priestly: “The altar of the soul,” Heb 13:10.
- Building: “The Edification Complex of the Soul,” Eph 4:12, 16.
- Sanctification: “Godliness,” 1 Tim 6:3‑6; 2 Tim 3:12; 2 Peter 1:3.
- Chemical: “Salt,” Mat 5:13.
- Crucifixion: “Take up your Cross,” Mat 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27.
- Military: “Put on the full armor of God,” Eph 6:11‑18.
- Athletic: “Run the race,” Heb 12:1‑2.
- Central command and control system: “Be strong in the Lord,” Eph 6:10; “Good discipline and stability,” Col 2:5-8. Bible doctrine is the command and control center in the soul of the mature believer.
Supergrace Consists of Six Categories of Special Blessings for the Mature Believer:
1) Spiritual Blessings are the inherent reward of virtue directed toward God. The virtues of confidence, worship, and personal love toward God give the believer strength and happiness, while motivating the virtues of courage, morality, and impersonal love toward man. This includes:
- Sharing the perfect happiness of God, (+H), and Occupation with Christ.
- Capacity for life, love, happiness, blessing, and total appreciation for grace.
- The ability to face undeserved suffering in life.
- The ability to correctly interpret contemporary history, to evaluate current events in the light of the word of God.
- Freedom from slavery to circumstances in life and adaptability to changing circumstances. The mature believer is the greatest innovator in time of historical disaster.
- Grace orientation, freedom orientation, authority orientation, and common sense.
- A total sense of security, whether in prosperity or disaster.
2) Temporal Blessings are designed uniquely for each mature believer. God gives the right blessings at the right time, which may include wealth, success, promotion, mental, and cultural enrichment, leadership dynamics, social life, romantic love, and improved health. For example:
- Wealth, material blessings either received or acquired.
- Professional prosperity: great influence, leadership dynamics, success, promotion, recognition in one’s sphere of life. When God promotes you, you are qualified for the job. This is the ability to assume responsibility and authority without emotional inspiration or pseudo motivation.
- Technical prosperity or mental prosperity: the ability to think and concentrate increase.
- Social prosperity, great friends.
- Cultural prosperity: maximum enjoyment of drama, art, literature, music, and history.
- Romantic love where you find your right man or right woman and enjoy that relationship, including sexual prosperity with your right man or right woman.
- Establishment prosperity: enjoyment of freedom, privacy, protection of life and property from criminals and reprisal.
- Health; physically, mentally, spiritually.
3) Blessing by association overflow to family, friends, or business acquaintances as God prospers the supergrace believer through blessing those in his periphery.
- Those around a mature believer are blessed by their association or relationship with that person. They are blessed either directly by God or indirectly from the supergrace believer as a result of the overflow of his supergrace blessings. The supergrace believer shares his blessings with others.
- There are peripheral areas of blessing by association such as loved ones, in business life, in social life, and to those in a local church.
- There are also geographical blessings to the supergrace believer’s city, state, and nation.
4) Historical impact is blessing by association extended to the believer’s community, state, and nation. The Lord Jesus Christ (TLJC) controls history for the purpose of protecting and blessing those who love Him, Lev 26:3-13; 2 Tim 1:5. The mature believer carries his generation. He stabilizes his generation and becomes a stabilizer for future historical generations. The ebb and flow of history does not disturb the tranquility or impact of the mature believer. The supergrace believer is on the right side of history; the reversionist is on the wrong side of history. The reversionist is caught up in the disasters of history and swept along with them. But the supergrace believer rides on the crest of the wave of blessing. He rises above historical disaster.
5) Undeserved suffering demands intensified application of Bible doctrine, accelerating spiritual growth, and increasing the believer’s appreciation of the Lord.
- Only in time does God have the opportunity to give us pressure, disaster, and undeserved suffering to prove to Satan and the fallen angels that Bible doctrine can handle any situation.
- God gives us the ability to handle suffering and turn suffering into blessing, Rom 8:28.
- No rebound or soul searching is involved. A mature believer knows when he is under Divine discipline or undeserved suffering. The former is unbearable suffering, the latter is bearable.
- The supergrace believer’s ability to handle undeserved suffering glorifies God and becomes evidence against Satan in his appeal trial.
- Undeserved suffering is also used by God to help you keep your eyes on God and your focus on eternity, Rev 2:10; 2 Cor 12:9‑10.
- Undeserved suffering teaches us the value of Bible doctrine, Psa 119:67‑71.
- Undeserved suffering is designed to manifest the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, 2 Cor 4:8‑11.
- Undeserved suffering is designed to put muscle on your faith and occupy the believer with eternal values, Rom 8:36-37, 5:3‑5.
6) Dying grace is the mature believer’s final, glorious experience of Divine grace on earth with supernatural tranquility and eager anticipation. The “friend of God” crosses the high golden bridge from the blessings of time to greater blessings in eternity. Every believer has a choice in time between being positive to Bible doctrine and receiving dying grace, or being negative to doctrine and dying the sin unto death. The curse of death with its fear is removed, and the pain is removed or overcome through faith. It is the greatest experience in life. It is the antithesis of the sin unto death. The perfect happiness of the supergrace believer in time is exceeded by his +H in dying grace. Therefore, the mature believer has the best of life, better in dying and better than the best for all eternity. Psa 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his Godly ones.”
Supergrace is the objective of the believer after salvation, Eph 3:16‑19, and top priority in the believer’s scale of values, Phil 3:4‑8. All human achievement and good must be considered as piles of dung. Human celebrityship is loss compared with reaching maturity.
God is waiting to provide supergrace blessings, Isa 30:18, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you, because he is a God of justice.”
The command to advance to supergrace is found in, Heb 12:1‑3. The importance of Bible doctrine in reaching supergrace and executing that command is found in Heb 11:1‑3.
The importance of retaining the objective of supergrace and continuing to advance in the spiritual life is noted in, Phil 3:12‑14.
The issue of God’s love related to supergrace, Rom 8:28; Eph 3:19; 1 John 4:19.
- God loves every believer with maximum love regardless of the believer’s spiritual status based on propitiation and imputation.
- 1 John 4:19, teaches that the believer can love God with maximum love in time. However, no believer loves God until he first of all knows God, and no believer knows God until he has maximum Bible doctrine in the soul and attains Spiritual Self‑Esteem. Therefore, the supergrace or mature believer has maximum love for God because he has maximum metabolized doctrine in his soul, which produces Spiritual Self‑Esteem, which is characterized by personal love for God, Rom 8:28; Eph 3:19.
- God expresses His love to the believer in time under different categories:
- To the supergrace believer His love is expressed by blessing and reward.
- To the reversionist it is expressed by Divine discipline and the sin unto death.
Some historical illustrations of supergrace.
- Abraham had sexual prosperity resulting in a new race, Gen 17; Rom 4.
- Joseph had great power and authority. He delivered his people.
- David had promotion, prosperity, leadership, wealth, and military success.
- Isaiah had fantastic Bible teaching.
- Daniel had great promotion and leadership outside of the land of Israel.
- Moses had intense blessing in national leadership wrapped up in the mantle of great pressure and persecution from Satan and demons, believers and unbelievers, and even his family.
- Jeremiah had intense blessing in old age while the nation was going out under the fifth cycle of discipline. He was a stabilizer for future generations.
- Paul had maximum pressure from Satan as the greatest Bible teacher of all time, Acts 9:15. The demons put Paul on a par with Christ.
The promotion principle of supergrace, Psa 84. When God promotes you, you are promoted, but if God does not promote you, and you promote yourself, you are not promoted. When God provides something it is worth having, but if God is not the provider of it, it is not worth having.
The intensity of blessing in supergrace is taught in 2 Tim 3; Lam 3:21‑25. In ultra-supergrace, you have constant opposition, pressure, and persecution.
The role of happiness in the supergrace life. The key to supergrace is sharing the perfect happiness (+H) of God. The supergrace life is characterized by the total +H spectrum, which ranges from tranquility to ecstatics (not the emotional ecstatics of the tongues crowd). The same Bible doctrine that provides supergrace blessings, also provides +H from God. The +H of God is attained by the believer when he reaches the top floor of the Edification Complex of the Soul (ECS), Phil 4:4; 1 Thes 5:16. Fulfillment of +H through the accumulation of Bible doctrine in the soul is the entrance into the supergrace life, 1 John 4:4.
Supergrace is part of the road to glory. There is a relationship between the supergrace blessings for time and the eternal rewards and blessings at the judgment seat of Christ. Dying grace is the link between the two. It bridges the gap. From saving grace, we go to logistical grace, then to supergrace, through dying grace, to surpassing grace. All types of grace are related. You are in God’s grace plan and cannot get out.
Attitude toward Bible doctrine in time determines all grace blessings in time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15. In eternity past God designed supergrace blessings for time and surpassing grace blessings for eternity. The believer cannot lose his salvation or eternal life in heaven, but he can lose his supergrace blessings for time and surpassing grace blessings. He can lose supergrace blessings through negative volition to Bible doctrine and subsequent reversionism. Loss of supergrace blessings in time means loss of surpassing grace blessings in eternity. Therefore, attitude toward Bible doctrine on a daily basis is the determining factor in the Angelic Conflict, and for the Royal Family Bible doctrine is the means of glorifying God. Yet, negative volition means loss of blessing in time and eternity, thus the importance of seizing and holding the high ground of supergrace.
The attainment of supergrace reaches the objective and immediately establishes a new objective. In Phil 3:12‑14, you not only attain supergrace, but press on to hold it through periods of undeserved suffering. Saving grace, attained by faith in Christ, advances us into the Royal Family forever. Logistical grace keeps us alive in phase two of the plan of God (time) for the attainment of blessing or discipline. Supergrace is the provision of maximum blessing for the mature believer. Dying grace is the bridge between supergrace blessings for time and surpassing grace blessings for eternity. Surpassing grace is the rewards and decorations of the mature believer at the judgment seat of Christ.
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Eph 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”
In this passage we are given the 2nd stage of the supergrace life, which we call the “Life Beyond Dreams.”
The Life Beyond GNOSIS, Vs. 19.
The Life Beyond Dreams, Vs. 20.
The Life of Glory, Vs. 21.
Here we see Paul breaking out into a doxology because of the possibility of always reaching out for more of the ability of the Holy Spirit, expressed in the fact that God does “exceeding or superabundantly more than we can request or even imagine, according to His power that works within us.”
This, including vs. 21, is both a doxology and conclusion to Paul’s benediction prayer which he began in vs. 14, that is clearly the climax of the first half of Ephesians. It is a fitting conclusion to his prayer, as well as to the previous section in which the Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age was revealed, Eph 2:11-3:13. It also concludes the first main division of this Epistle and can be regarded as the climax of the whole letter, which rises to a spiritual peak of the “Life Beyond GNOSIS, Dreams, and of Glory,” and then goes forward to concentrate on practical out workings of the supergrace life in the rest of the letter.
In this doxology, Paul reminds us of several themes already touched upon; The abundance of God’s gift, Eph 1:18-19; 2:7; 3:19; The power made available to the believer, Eph 1:19; 3:7, 16, 18; and the unbreakable link between Christ and the Church, Eph 1:22-23; 3:10.
We begin with “now to Him,” which is the connective Conjunction DE that begins the doxology and conclusion of the prayer. With it is the Dative Article of HO used as a pronoun translated “Him” that refers to God the Father. God the Father is the one who is able to provide for us beyond our dreams.
“Who is able” is the Present, Middle, Participle in the Dative case of the Verb DUNAMIA that means, “be able, have power to do, or have capacity for.” It expresses the ability and capacity to accomplish something. Here it refers to the inherent power and authority that God has to bless the supergrace believer far beyond what he thinks God can do. From His omnipotence and sovereignty, God has the ability and all of the assets necessary to provide supergrace blessings, without limitation, to any and every believer.
This is reinforced with “to do,” which is the Verb POIEO in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive that means, “to do, create, produce, work, accomplish, etc.” What God is able “to do” is bless the supergrace believer in any of the six categories of blessings we noted above. Notice the Aorist Tense here that views the entirety of the action of God’s blessings to the supergrace believer with a focus on its finished results. It speaks of what God is able to do for us in time, but alludes to escrow blessings He has designed from eternity past. The Infinitive tells us of God’s purpose; to provide supergrace blessings to each of us.
Then comes, “exceeding abundantly,” HUPEREKPERISSOU, ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, which is a late and rare double compound word from HUPER, EK, and PERISSOS. Interestingly, PERISSOS and HUPER both can mean, “above, beyond, abundance, or abundantly.” So we have a double emphasis with EK in the middle for “beyond from beyond,” “abundance from abundance,” or even “over from above.” Putting them together it means, “superabundantly, exceeding abundantly, beyond all measure, or exceedingly above and beyond all measure.” “This heightened form of comparative almost defies any single, simple English translation,” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary). It gives us the sense of infinite capacity and ability by God to bless the supergrace believer. This word is only used by Paul and only here and in 1 Thes 3:10; 5:13.
Then we have “beyond all,” which is the Preposition HUPER that can mean, as noted above, “over, above, more than, or beyond,” and the Adjective PAS for “all.” In the Accusative, Plural, Neuter gender it means, “beyond all things.”
Next we have the “measure” by which God exceeds, “what we ask or think,” which is the Relative Pronoun HOS for, “what, that, or that which,” with the Verb AITEO in the Present, Middle, Indicative, that means, “ask, request, or demand,” and is one of the main words used in the NT for “prayer.” It expresses both the humble petition and the urgent demand. Therefore, AITEO stands for our petition and intercessory prayers.
Then we have the comparative Conjunction E, ἤ, for “or,” and the Present, Active, Indicative of the Verb NOEO, νοέω that means, “Perceive, understand, realize, consider, take note of, perceive with the eyes, or think over.” Its origin included learning through the eye gate, but that died off and later the word just emphasized perception and understanding. BDAG translates it, “to form an idea about something, think, or imagine,” and specifically in our verse as “far beyond what we imagine,” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature). So it means that the highest aspirations we have are not beyond God’s “power” to bestow on us.
As such, God is able to bless the supergrace believer beyond what he asks for in his prayers, and also above and beyond what he is capable of learning and knowing. God’s capacity to meet your spiritual needs far exceeds anything you can either request in prayer or conceive by way of anticipation, Phil 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Therefore, when you think God can do something for you, because you have learned that He can from His Word, Eph 3:4, or through prior experience, remember that He can easily exceed that too, and He will, as His plan of supergrace blessings calls for it.
Mat 21:22, tells us, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” This reminds us of the Faith-Rest life we must possess for our prayers to be answered, yet we also have to understand and believe whole heartedly that God will exceed what we ask for or can imagine, as the situation calls for.
Now, in the last portion of vs. 20, we understand how God is able to meet and exceed our wildest imaginations, “according to the power that works within us,” which is KATA HO DUNAMIS HO ENERGEO EN HEMEIS.
ENERGEO is a Verb in the Present, Middle, Participle, that means, “works or operates.” Notice first that the power of God that works is already “in us,” EN HUMEIS, when we are living the supergrace life. This “power in us” is a combination of the Word of God / Bible Doctrine resident in your soul, plus the filling of God the Holy Spirit. This is what we call the “Balance of Residency,” which is Maximum Bible doctrine in the soul ready for application, plus the filling of God the Holy Spirit, (M.B.D. / S. R.4A. + F.G.H.S.).
So the power of God to bless us beyond our wildest dreams is inherent to the supergrace believer, which reminds us of Eph 1:19, “And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”
However, with KATA that means, “according to,” it makes this great promise conditional. That is, the degree to which we allow God’s power, (Word and Spirit), to work in us, determines the extent of what He can do for us. In other words, the more of the word of God that we have in our souls and apply in our lives, the more God is able to bless us. The potential is how much Doctrine you are receiving and applying determines how much God is able to bless you with exceeding abundance.
McGee noted, “We are not able to so much as touch the hem of the garment of the spiritual gifts that God is prepared to give to His own. How wonderful this is! He wants to give to us super-abundantly. How good He is, and how small we are. We cannot even contain all of His blessings,” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
In view of this passage are the doctrines of Prayer, the Faith-Rest Life, the Sovereignty of God, the Omnipotence of God, the Essence of God, etc., as well as, the doctrine of the Life Beyond Dreams which we will note below.
In conclusion, Paul’s words focus our attention on the power of God which is at work in us. God’s power is the means by which His glory is achieved. It is He from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, Rom 11:36. The power of God is infinite. The power of God is at work in us. The infinite power of God is at work in us to bring glory to Him. To God be the glory! This should be the theme of our lives, as it was with the Apostle Paul.
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Doctrine of the Life Beyond Dreams
Eph 3:20 describes the Life Beyond Dreams, which is a life beyond our most fervent prayers, beyond the scenarios of our imagination, and our most extravagant expectations. The life beyond expectation is a result of the four spiritual dimensions, (breadth, length, height, depth), of Bible Doctrine in your soul that leads to spiritual adulthood and teaches you what the love of Christ truly is, Eph 3:18-19.
In Eph 3:20, when it says, “God is able,” it means God’s sovereignty and omnipotence that is functioning within your life is able to bless you in any of the six categories of supergrace blessing. It also reminds us of pertinent doctrine which tells us:
- God can do all He wills to do, but He may not will to do all He can do.
- God’s decisions (judgments) are perfect, and He knows what we need better than we do.
- Divine omnipotence is always compatible with doing a right thing in a right way.
Therefore, in the function of His Divine power, God is able to do anything compatible with His perfect Divine essence; however, He will never do anything that is incompatible with His Divine essence. The end never justifies the means, nor do the means justify the end.
As such, the Life Beyond Dreams is the function of the Predesigned Protocol Plan of God from day one of spiritual maturity to the point of physical death or the Rapture, whichever occurs first. It is defined as the normal mode of operation for the mature believer, as he is both a winner and an invisible hero in the great power experiment of the Church Age. His Life Beyond Dreams is a continuation of his perception and application of Bible doctrine. It is a maximum use of the Ten Problem Solving Devices, and receiving maximum blessing from the distribution of escrow blessings for time, as well as, maximum invisible impact in human history.
The Life Beyond Dreams is God’s fantastic grace provision which is far beyond:
- Your most fervent prayers. You have never prayed for anything that even comes close to the Life Beyond Dreams.
- Things for which you have asked from others. You ask parents, people, friends, spouses, and children for things throughout your lifetime. But the Life Beyond Dreams is far beyond anything for which you have ever asked from anyone.
- Your fondest dreams. No matter how wild and seemingly impossible your dreams, God has provided something far greater than any thinking or imagination in any dream you have ever had. What God has provided for the mature believer in the Life Beyond Dreams staggers the imagination.
Therefore, in the Life Beyond Dreams, God does infinitely more than two things stated in Eph 3:20. He does infinitely more than all we ask, i.e., in prayer to God and in request to people. He does infinitely more than all we think or imagine, i.e., our personal desires, expectations, and our thoughts associated with happiness symbols.
The Life Beyond Dreams is the direct result of fulfilling the Faith-Rest life of the Life Beyond GNOSIS. The Life Beyond GNOSIS is the means of executing the Plan, and the Life Beyond Dreams is the result of executing His Plan.
Dreams represent what we want to be, what we want to have, with whom we desire to associate, to what we want to be promoted, where we desire approbation, and whom we desire to marry. Dreams carry us to the farthest extent of our imagination.
Yet, for the Church Age believer, for every member of the Royal Family of God, as a member of the body of Christ, there is a life which goes beyond anything for which we can ask of anyone, whether God or man, or our dreams and imaginations. It is a fantastic life. This is the ultimate, and is what God expects from every believer. For this goal God has made complete and total provision.
But, dreams can often be a simple lust and desire to escape from reality, yet there is nothing but reality and indescribable blessing in the Life Beyond Dreams. In other words, the Life Beyond Dreams does not escape from reality, but it is fantastic, indescribable reality.
We do not even have the imagination to dream or the power to ask for the things which God has prepared for us in the Life Beyond Dreams, 1 Cor 2:9-10; Isa 55:8-9, Psa 103:11-18.
1 Cor 2:9, “But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him’.”Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (1) must be converted manually.
- Paul quoting Isa 64:4 and 65:17, tells us that God’s thoughts, plans, intentions and ways are not only different from ours, they are infinitely higher.
- “Eyes and ears,” is a reference to wonder beyond the senses, perception, or imagination of men.
- “Heart,” does not refer to the emotions, but to the right lobe of the soul. Therefore, it tells us that this revelation was beyond the ability of man to discover.
- “Those who love Him,” refers to mature believers who have been consistent with the intake and application of His Word, and through the Holy Spirit we can learn and know these things.
1 Cor 2:10, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
- God has prepared these supergrace blessings for us today! So, how does God reveal these blessings to us? Through His Spirit.
- Just as a man’s spirit within him understands what outsiders never know, so the Spirit of God understands the heart and mind of God and reveals these truths to us through the Word.
- What we cannot get through the eye-gate or the ear-gate, the Spirit of God can teach us.
- God wants His children to be “in the know” about the Life Beyond GNOSIS, the Life Beyond Dreams, and the Life of Glory, and not be in the dark. This is why He has given us the Word of God and the Spirit to teach us.
Isa 55:8, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.”
- This means God has done some thinking way beyond our thinking. His thinking becomes a reality for us once we enter the Life Beyond Dreams.
- The ways of God are way beyond our understanding. But once we reach the Life Beyond Dreams, we begin to comprehend God’s ways in a way which gives worship an entirely new meaning.
Isa 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (1) must be converted manually.
- Those ways of God, though higher, are not beyond our grasp. Because in the Life Beyond Dreams, we learn about and have some of those ways that are higher than our ways.
- You cannot even begin to think, imagine, or dream of the fantastic things that God has for you in the Life Beyond Dreams.
- God, however, has bridged the gap between us and Him through a new and living “resurrected” Way, Jesus who is “the Way,” Heb 10:19f; John 14:6.
The Application of the Life Beyond Dreams.
In the Life Beyond GNOSIS, the Church glorifies God through the attainment of spiritual maturity. In the Life Beyond Dreams, the Church glorifies God through receiving their escrow blessings for time. The poor attempt of the Pastor to teach about your escrow blessings does not even begin to describe what God has for you personally in the Life Beyond Dreams.
Escrow blessings for time are infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine. They are the Life Beyond our Dreams. If you are normal, you want things in life. People dream about what they want or desire in life. These dreams are associated with happiness symbols, including.
- Greatness or success.
- Approbation from people; dreaming about being respected and receiving approbation.
- Money and security.
- Social life and romance.
- The possession of materialistic things which are coveted for pleasure or which are desired as a status symbol.
- Achievement in some field in which they are interested.
- Possessing beauty, strength, attractiveness, and/or health.
- Being married to the ideal person, etc.
These dreams express what we want, what we desire, what we think, and what we imagine. Yet, dreams can express arrogance, lust, desire, insecurity, covetousness, inordinate ambition, or inordinate competition. But above all, these dreams represent what we want, what we want to have or possess, and what we want to be to the extent that our imagination can project.
Every believer has a choice as he begins his Christian life. He can choose his own plans, his own dreams, his own desires, the subject of his fervent prayers, and the extension of his imagination, or he can choose the Plan of God, which is the Life Beyond GNOSIS and the Life Beyond Dreams.
The moment you believed in Jesus Christ, God did forty things for you; some were done by God the Father, some by the Son, and some by the Spirit. In addition, the wisdom of God has provided something far greater than the desires expressed in our prayers or petitions to others, or in the dreams of our imagination.
To choose the Plan of God results in a Life Beyond our fondest dreams and imaginations. But to choose our own plan is blasphemy. We imply, by choosing our own plan, that we have a better plan than God’s, and that we can do more for ourselves to make us happy than God can do for us to make us happy.
The believer who chooses his own plan inevitably becomes a loser. He does not lose his salvation, but he loses his escrow blessings for time. Does he have the life beyond GNOSIS? No, because of no doctrine. Does he receive the Life Beyond Dreams? No, that is out of the question. He has chosen his own plan and his own life. He has chosen to reject doctrine, to be casual about doctrine, or to be haphazard about doctrine, to take it in only when he feels like it, or when he is in serious trouble and is looking for a one-shot solution to bail him out.
In choosing your own plans remember, there are no excuses at the BEMA (judgment) Seat of Christ for not understanding or executing what was expected of you as a believer. You will take responsibility for your failures, but not for your sins, which were judged on the Cross. The biggest failure you could ever commit is to have your Portfolio of Invisible Assets and reject it.
Yet, the believer who chooses God’s plan is a winner, for God, “Is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine.”
Therefore, God has provided for the believer a better and greater life and for the mature believer a Life Beyond Dreams, beyond imagination, and beyond our greatest solicitation to self-interest. For dreams, imagination, prayers, and asking favors of others all add up to solicitation to self-interest. Yet, God provides for the mature believer the Life Beyond Dreams, which is beyond all of that. There is nothing like the Life Beyond Dreams.
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Vs. 20 which says God “is able to do infinitely more abundantly above all that we ask or think,” is the link between the doxology and the preceding prayer, which reflects the transition from request to praise. In the formulation of the praise, glory is ascribed to God in the Church and in Christ, and then two more features round off the doxology, an affirmation that such glory will last forever and an Amen.
Eph 3:21, “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
The main word of this sentence is DOXA, δόξα, the Greek noun for “glory.” It can mean, “glory, splendor, radiance, fame, renown, or honor.” DOXA was a secular word for “what one thought of another or reputation.” The Biblical writers used and radically redefined this word to align with its Hebrew counterpart, KABOD. DOXA then absorbed the more objective and absolute character associated in the Hebrew term KABOD, which denotes the majesty and splendor of God. Therefore, the terms noted above have come to stand for DOXA in the NT.
This is the last time “glory” is used in the letter. It conveys the reflection of the essence of one’s being, the summation of all of one’s attributes, and here it refers to God’s splendor, power, and radiance. It includes here God’s great work of reconciling Jewish and Gentile believers into one body, which was noted previously in this chapter, and prompted Paul with an outflow of praise to Him who is glorified “in the Church.”
The next important phrase is “in the Church,” which is EN HO EKKLESIA, ἐκκλησία, that means, “assembly, congregation, or church.” This word comes from KALEO, “called,” meaning the “called out ones”, and is used for the gathering of the body of Christ in any given location, as opposed to the Hebrew term SUNAGOGE. And, as it is used here, it means all believers of the Church Age collectively. This tells us who glorifies God; every Church Age born again believer whether they are Jewish or Gentile.
Secondly, we see by what means the Church glorifies: CHRISTOS IESOUS, “Christ Jesus,” the anointed Savior. This is the uniqueness of the Church Age in which we currently live; that we are in union with Jesus Christ eternally and through Him we glorify God the Father. This is also part of the Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age, which Paul has now revealed.
Through the indwelling of Jesus Christ in every Church Age believer, and with Christ being at home in the heart of the Supergrace believer who achieves the Life Beyond GNOSIS, or the Life Beyond Dreams, or the Life of Glory, God is glorified. Therefore, the believer glorifies God based on the salvation he has received from God the Father that is based on the work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. And God is further glorified by the believer who advances in the spiritual life to Supergrace by means of the filling of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of Christ being resident within his soul by means of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), and applied on a consistent basis.
After having Christ at Home in your heart, and knowing the 4D Love of Christ, you have The Life Beyond GNOSIS, then as you continue to advance in the spiritual life you achieve The Life Beyond Dreams, and then you have the third result of the spiritual dimensions of vs. 18, the ultimate objective of the Church Age, The Life of Glory. This is the life of the invisible hero who brings maximum glory to God.
As noted at the conclusion of vs. 20, Paul’s words focus our attention on the power of God, which is at work in us. God’s power is the means by which His glory is achieved. It is He from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, Rom 11:36. The power of God is infinite. The power of God is at work in us. The infinite power of God is at work in us to bring glory to Him. To God be the glory! This should be the theme of our lives, as it was with the Apostle Paul.
Then we see that this glorification of God through the Church by means of Jesus Christ will occur “to all generations forever and ever,” EIS PAS HO GENEA HO AIONOS HO AIONON, or literally, “to all generations of the age of the ages.” The distinctive formula of the double use joined with the plural is literally, “of the age of the ages.” It occurs regularly in Paul’s writings and in Revelation; also in Heb 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; 5:11. This device of using repetition is a Hebrew idiom indicating a superlative, e.g., Holy of Holies = the most Holy Place. Thus, here it means, “of the age of the ages” or “to the farthest age,” and hence, “forever and ever.” These constructions stress most emphatically the concept of eternality. In the Epistles, the double form is used only in contexts of praise to God or Christ, Gal 1:5; Eph 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 2 Tim 4:18; Heb 1:8; 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; 5:11.
Therefore, the Church will glorify God in time, until time ends at the conclusion of the Millennial Reign, and on into eternity that will never end. The Church will glorify God for all of eternity, which is what God is meant to receive.
Paul ends his prayer and doxology with “Amen,” AMEN, ἀμήν the Interjection that means, “Truly, surely, so let it be, indeed, or amen.” It is a transliteration of the Hebrew into the Greek into the English. In the NT it functions as a solemn affirmation. It is a term Paul used almost exclusively to end doxologies, and this is the end of the second apostolic prayer in Ephesians. Its basic use is to confirm what has just been stated. Here it is a “yes” to the praise just expressed. It does not reflect Paul’s pride in his own writing or prayer, but rather his sense of being overwhelmed by God’s grace and glory. He was essentially saying, “Let me repeat that again.”
This “amen” not only concludes his prayer and doxology, but also concludes the doctrinal section of this book. It is a truly fitting response to the powerful message Paul has imparted in these three chapters.
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So that leads us to our final doctrine of this chapter:
The Doctrine of the Life of Glory, the Glorification of God.
As we have noted in this passage, the glorification of God by means of the Church occurs especially when the believer attains spiritual adulthood and moves to spiritual maturity. Then the believer is said to be “filled with all the fullness of God,” Eph 3:19. The three categories of spiritual adulthood in the Supergrace life include.
- Spiritual self-esteem, which is cognitive self-confidence.
- Spiritual autonomy, which is cognitive independence.
- Spiritual maturity, which is cognitive invincibility, when you are manufactured into an invisible hero.
The believer glorifies God when he parlays the Life Beyond GNOSIS vs. 19, into the Life Beyond Dreams, vs. 20, which are the two categories of the Supergrace life in Predesigned Protocol Plan of God.
The Life Beyond GNOSIS is EPIGNOSIS doctrine in the soul, meaning consistent function of post-salvation renewing of the mind through cognition of Bible doctrine through perception, metabolization, and application of the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age. Learning doctrine in the OT will not advance you in the Life Beyond GNOSIS. You must understand the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age which is found in the NT epistles, for it contains all the mechanics for the Plan of God in this dispensation. The result is the attainment of spiritual adulthood. Then you begin to gather fantastic and dynamic momentum. Spiritual maturity parlays the Life Beyond GNOSIS into the Life Beyond Dreams, which becomes the basis for glorifying God. And because they are achieved by Divine good production, God is glorified.
No one glorifies God with legalistic religious human motivated service, sacrifice, or works. All this is wood, hay, and stubble; it will all be burned at the Judgment Seat (BEMA) of Christ, 1 Cor 3:10-15. The only Christian service and production that counts is the production that results from faith perception of Bible doctrine coupled with the filling of God the Holy Spirit in faith application of the Word of God. Therefore, human service and human works are not the means of attaining spiritual maturity or of glorifying God.
Spiritual growth is not measured in works; spiritual growth is measured in momentum. When there is momentum, there will be production with resultant glorification of God. That production will be gold, silver, and precious stones; it will be rewardable at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The way we glorify God in the Church Age is by post-salvation renewing of the mind, the pattern of the three R’s.
- Reception of Bible doctrine is the #1 priority. Therefore, your #1 priority is the daily reception of the Mystery doctrine of the Church Age.
- Retention refers to the metabolization of Bible doctrine, so that EPIGNOSIS doctrine in the right lobe is the basis of momentum in the Plan of God.
- Recall is comparable to the concept of wisdom; it refers to the application of Bible doctrine.
This results in understanding the Ten Unique Characteristics of the Church Age. Those ten characteristics are the basis for your mode of operation. This also results in the understanding of the Eleven Problem Solving Devices for the Christian way of life. Momentum is based on solving problems. Momentum is based upon handling the problem of suffering. There is x-amount of suffering for blessing involved in momentum, because this is the way you apply doctrine to your experience. Therefore, glorification of God is the execution of the Predesigned Protocol Plan through the advance to spiritual maturity. This means advancing through the three stages of spiritual adulthood. It also includes Suffering for Blessing, not Divine discipline or self-induced misery under the law of volitional responsibility.
Self-induced misery results in Divine discipline, which is designed to cause us to rebound and recover life inside of God’s Power System (GPS). Only suffering for blessing has momentum, with its three categories.
- Providential Preventative Suffering.
- Momentum Testing.
- Evidence Testing.
Finally, glorification of God is related to the distribution of your escrow blessings for time. That is when the life Beyond Dreams begins. This is then the mode of operation for the mature believer who becomes an invisible hero with maximum glorification of God as a witness for the prosecution in the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
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Summary and Conclusion to Chapter 3
1.) Chapter 3 continued the theme from Chapter 2 of our “positional relocation” from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. The believer has been transformed from being an enemy of Christ to being built into a holy temple for the dwelling of God. So Chapter 3 continues the “new position” side of the equation, speaking further of the unique spiritual life of the Church Age believer and our unity in Christ as the Temple Home of God.
We broke this chapter into two main parts:
- Revelation, Paul’s Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, vs. 1-13.
- Reverence; Paul’s Prayer and Doxology, vs. 14-21.
Within this chapter we saw three main themes:
- The Mystery doctrines, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6.
- The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.
- Prayer for Realization, God’s Fullness for the Church, Eph 3:14-21.
We also note that this message takes us, the believer, from entrance into and position within the Family of God, all the way to “Supergrace” status of Spiritual Adulthood. Therefore, we noted the progression of spiritual growth outlined in these passages from spiritual birth to spiritual maturity that has four basic doctrines:
- The Doctrine of the Mystery of the Church, vs. 1-6.
- The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
- The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
- The Doctrine of the Super Grace Life, vs. 19-21.
In addition, along the way, we also noted several other doctrines including:
- Underserved Suffering for Blessing, in Paul and our lives.
- Dispensations; God’s administration of human history.
- Revelation; How God reveals the mystery to man.
- The Heart; Compartments for learning, storing, and applying Bible doctrine in your soul.
- The Heavenlies; The Angelic Conflict – Four phases of the appeal trial of fallen angels.
- Grace Apparatus for Perceptions, (GAP); The teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
- Distinction between the Indwelling of Christ in your body, and Christ being at home in your heart.
- The Unveiled Face.
- Oil used as typology of the Holy Spirit.
- Four Dimensions of the Knowledge of Christ’s Love, (Tesseract Love).
- The Life Beyond GNOSIS.
- The Privilege of Knowing God.
- The Supergrace Life.
- The Life Beyond Dreams.
- The Life of Glory, glorification of God.
We also noted how Chapter 3 shows us a type of the insertion of the Church Age into the Age of Israel, as vs. 1 is interrupted with vs. 2-13, (the explanation of the Mystery Church), and then resumed again in vs. 13 with Paul’s Tribulation, and vs. 14 -21 that speak of the unique advanced spiritual life of the Church Age believer, which is a type of the unique spiritual life during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.
2.) Specifics topics of this Chapter included:
- Paul’s Imprisonment, vs. 1, 13.
Concerning his status as a prisoner for Christ, Paul avoids speaking of his circumstances, or of the details of his suffering. He speaks rather of the reason for his incarceration. His imprisonment was due to his faithfulness to his calling. His arrest in Jerusalem, which led to his incarceration in Rome, Acts 21-28, was brought about by unbelieving, legalistic Jews, who understood the nature and implications of Paul’s calling and wanted to kill him to keep the gospel he preached from spreading, Acts 22:21-22. Although Paul was falsely accused of taking a gentile into the Temple, Acts 21:28, he chose not to focus on the negative aspects of his circumstances, but on the positive dimension of the mystery, which had been revealed to Him. So too should we, as we face various forms of Suffering for Blessings.
Further, Paul’s imprisonment was mentioned as a part of his credentials, as a minster / ambassador for Christ, showing that he was Divinely appointed to proclaim the Gospel. Unlike some television evangelists of our day who promise prosperity to their followers and who flaunt their own extravagance as proof of their message, Paul points to his prison chains as proof of his calling, showing that the gospel does not promise present prosperity, but does assure the Christian of eternal blessing. How different Paul is from the religious hucksters of our time. They have learned the “secret to prosperity;” Paul learned the secret of the Gospel, which led to suffering. Let the frauds be compared with Paul and see how they and their message stand up to the scrutiny of Scripture.
- The Mystery Revealed, vs. 2-6.
In Chapter three we also saw that God revealed the Mystery of the Church, along with its mystery doctrines to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, and made him a steward of that message for the new Dispensation, the Church Age, and authorized him to proclaim it to the Gentiles. Paul spoke of the gospel as a “mystery,” as the “summing up of all things in Christ,” Eph 1:9-10. In Chapter 2, the term “mystery” is not used, but it is a prominent theme in Chapter 3.
While God had clearly revealed the fact that He purposed to save and to bless both Jews and Gentiles through the seed of Abraham, it was not revealed that this would be accomplished in such a way as to make Jewish and Gentile saints one in Christ and to unite them in the Church, the body of Christ. This was indeed a mystery which no Old Testament saint or prophet anticipated. It is no wonder that the Jewish apostles required some time to grasp this fact and to see it as a vital part of the gospel. So Paul summarized the mystery in vs. 6 as Gentiles are equal members of the Body of Christ and fellow heirs to the eternal inheritance.
Paul’s proclamation of the mystery, which was not fully disclosed in the O.T., and which the Jews so strongly opposed, was that of the gospel, that in Jesus Christ Jews and Gentiles would be reconciled to God and to each other, not as two different categories of Christian, but as “one new man,” as “one body” in Christ, as one dwelling temple of God, Eph 2:22.
- Paul’s Calling to Minister, vs. 7-12.
Paul’s calling was, first and foremost, to become a believer in Jesus Christ. His conversion delivered him from the condemnation which he rightly deserved as a self-righteous Pharisee, making him an unworthy soul saved by grace, Phil 3:1-16; 1 Tim 1:12-17. He was also called as an apostle to the Gentiles to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, reveal the mystery of the Church, and expound on End Times prophecy for the Church, Rom 1:5; Gal 2:9; 1 – 2 Thes. Paul, having grasped the destiny God had given him, walked in that Plan and fulfilled it in his life. We too need to understand God’s Plan for our life and walk with a Personal Sense of Destiny.
- The Intercessory Prayer, vs. 14-21.
Paul’s great intercessory prayer in vs. 14-21 reflects his thoughts, love and desire for the Gentiles of the early Church, which ironically is for those whom he would have tortured or put to death before his conversion. His prayer was for their spiritual growth, not for their physical and material well-being. He prayed for what God purposed in the lives of His elect;
- That the Holy Spirit would strengthen our souls through the Grace Apparatus of Perception, vs. 16.
- That Christ would be at home in our hearts through the residency of Bible Doctrine in our soul, vs. 17a.
- We would be rooted and grounded in love, (being both positionally and experientially sanctified), vs. 17b.
- All believers would have the 4 dimensional knowledge of Christ, His Tesseract Love, vs. 18.
- Resulting in the Supergrace Life of the “Life Beyond Gnosis,” vs. 19a.
- And be filled up to all the fullness of God, vs. 19b.
- Then advance to the “Life Beyond Dreams,” vs. 20.
- Resulting in the eternal “Life of Glory,” to God, Vs. 21.
3.) We Need to Understand and Appreciate the Mysterious Dimensions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Various Elements of our Christian Faith.
- The Gospel is Mysterious.
Not only was the Savior revealed through the person of Jesus Christ, but an eternal union was established with all Church Age believers with their Savior, that never before occurred, Rom 16:25-27; Col 1:24-29.
- All Spiritual Truth is Mysterious.
Human thinking and wisdom, Human I.Q., cannot comprehend the reality of and relationship with Jesus Christ. It is only through our Spiritual I.Q. from the power of the Holy Spirit working with our born again human spirit that we can comprehend the mystery relationship with Christ and doctrines. It is by grace that God gives the believer such ability, 1 Cor 2:6-13.
- Christianity is Mysterious because God is Mysterious.
God is infinitely wiser than we are. He is all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful. He often employs things which are paradoxical or even incompatible to us. He can use sinful men to achieve His purposes and to demonstrate His power and majesty, Rom 9:17. He chooses the weak and foolish things to confound the wisdom of the wise, Isa 55:6-8; Rom 11:33-36; 1 Cor 18-31.
- The Christian Life is Mysterious because God has Chosen to Reveal Himself and His Purposes Progressively.
The term “progressive revelation” is often used with reference to the Bible. God does not reveal His plans and purposes immediately in the Bible, but progressively. And so we find the first promise of Messiah in Gen 3:15, and throughout the rest of the Old and New Testament, more and more is revealed about God’s purposes for Messiah. What we may fail to see is that God’s revelation is still partial and income-plete, 1 Cor 13:9-12; 1 John 3:2.
God is not only revealing Himself to men, but also to the angelic host. The angels are stooping (PARAKUPSAI) to see what is happening, 1 Peter 1:12. The angels are learning from what is going on in the Church, 1 Cor 11:10. Paul tells the saints that the Church is the classroom for angelic beings, Eph 3:10. You may never have thought about it, but many of the mysteries for us as saints are also mysteries for the angelic host. God is keeping the angels in suspense. He is keeping the angels “on their toes” because He is progressively revealing the mysteries of His will to them throughout history and into eternity.
- The Christian Life is Mysterious because there is much going on of which we are ignorant, which is beyond the scope of our knowledge and understanding.
Job did not know that God was teaching Satan through his sufferings, Job 1-2. Elisha’s servant was not aware of the involvement of the angelic hosts in the affairs of men, 2 Kings 6. Finite men are not naturally aware of those things beyond our own understanding and frame of reference. We think in terms of time, and not in terms of God’s eternal purposes. We think in terms of what is seen, but there is much that is going on that is unseen, Heb 11:1. And so it is in Ephesians that Paul speaks of God’s plans and purposes, established before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:3-14. He speaks of their fulfillment, which is yet to occur at the Second Coming of Christ, Eph 1:10-14, 18. He tells us of the instruction of the angelic hosts, which are unseen to us, and of the spiritual war which is currently going on and in which we are engaged, Eph 2:7; 3:10; 6:10-20.
- The Christian Faith must therefore Rest on Divine Revelation, not on Human Reasoning.
Men will not find God on their own because they do not seek Him. There is none who understands God’s ways, Rom 3:9-18. We would not know God apart from His self-revelation in nature and in His Word, Psa 19; Rom 1-3; Heb 1:1-3; 2:1-3; 4:12-13.
- Even the Revealed Word of God is Beyond the Grasp of Man’s Understanding, apart from Divine Illumination of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 2:11-16; John 16:7-14.
4.) Several Implications to this Mysterious Nature of God’s Dealings with His Creation.
- If God and His working is mysterious, then we should expect that there will be much we do not understand.
If we expect to understand all that God is doing we are self-deceived. We do not need to understand why God has commanded us to act in a certain way, but only to know that He has commanded it, and that we are to obey.
- We should not focus our attention on the things which God has chosen to conceal, but rather endeavor to understand and obey what He has clearly revealed to us in His Word, Deut 29:29; 1 Tim 4:6-7; 2 Tim 2:14-15, 23; 3:14-17.
- We should expect to live by faith, not by sight, in obedience to the Word of God, as illuminated by the Spirit of God.
Think of all the times in the Bible when the people of God were called upon to act, solely on the basis of God’s Word and God’s faithfulness. Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat of one tree, when that tree would have given them the knowledge of good and evil, Gen 2:16-17. Abraham was directed to leave his homeland and family, and was not even told where he was going, Gen 12:1. He was promised a son through Sarah, when this couple was “as good as dead” with respect to child-bearing, Rom 4:17-22. By faith, Abraham was ready to take the life of this child, when all of God’s promises rested on him, Heb 11:17-19. All of the Old Testament saints lived as though God’s promises were true even though they did not receive them in their own lifetime, Heb 11:13-16.
You and I are called upon to live in time in the light of eternity. We are to live on earth in the light of heaven. We are commanded not to lay up treasures on earth, but to lay up treasure in heaven. We are told not to take revenge, but to leave justice to God. We are to walk by faith, and not by sight.
- We should not be as intent to know the particulars of God’s plan as we are to understand the overall plan and purpose of God as He has revealed it, and to live in a way that is consistent with that plan.
More and more I am convinced that Christians are too self-centered. They wish to know “God’s will for their life,” and they ignore God’s plan for creation. As I understand Paul’s life and writings, Paul sought to understand God’s plan—the big picture—and then endeavored to live his life consistent with the big plan. Let us take heed, then, to this exhortation of Paul, and seek to practice it as he did, Eph 5:15-17.
- If the angels are being instructed by the conduct and the practice of the church, it is imperative that we obey God’s imperatives for the church, whether we understand and agree with them or not.
If the angels learn from the conduct and the practice of the church, then what we do is vitally important. If we only practice the Scriptures we understand and agree with, we limit ourselves to obeying only what is not a mystery, of acting only apart from faith, and of trusting our own judgment above God’s Word, 1 Cor 11:10.
- Finally, if God’s ways are a mystery to men, which men will not arrive at through their own reasoning, we should be diligent to faithfully proclaim the Word of Truth, the good news of the gospel, to those who are perishing.
The gospel was not merely Paul’s stewardship; it is our as well. Let us seek to be good stewards of the gospel as we proclaim it to a lost and dying world, Rom 10:14-15.
Rom 10:14-15, “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!”
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Principles to Discover Living the Extraordinary Life.
Dr. Charles F. Stanley
Your life as a masterpiece
1.) Complete surrender to God brings complete life.
2.) God’s grace is the starting point.
3.) True effectiveness comes through intimacy with God.
4.) Trust the Lord, and He will move Heaven and earth to accomplish His purpose.
5.) Obedience always brings blessing
- The key to God’s heart is obedience.
- Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.
6.) Knowing God’s will is worth the wait.
- God has a plan for your life.
7.) God refines us by fire.
8.) Fight your battles on your knees, and you will win every time.
- We stand tallest and strongest on our knees.
- Ask, Seek, Knock, Trust.
- Identify the enemy, Dress in the full armor of God, Stand firm, Appropriate the strength of the living God, Pray.
9.) The Bible is the Sourcebook of Life.
10.) Trust God for all your needs.
11.) Trust God, He will protect you, leaving a legacy.