Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
I was recently asked the question, “how do we train (equip) church leaders?” This question was asked by one of the leaders in China in light of the Chinese government oppression to the church in breaking up the larger churches into smaller groups of 25-30 people. I have pondered this question and in prayer I have sought an answer from the Lord. I believe that He has answered me by directing me to the passage in Ephesians 1:14-23, and more specifically verses 15-20. I will attempt to answer it in three consecutive blogs of which this one is the first.
The first point that needs to be made is that the answer has two sides, like a coin. On the one side we are wholly inadequate to equip anyone. God alone is qualified to equip the believer. The Scriptures declare Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. It is God, Himself that calls us, qualifies us and empowers us to do His work. He is busy completing His image in us as we attempt to follow His Spirit by faith. Notice in Paul’s prayer in verse 17, that it is God who gives the spirit of wisdom as well as the revelation of knowing God personally and opens the eyes of your understanding to spiritual truths.
The second side of the answer is that we are also part of the working of God. It is in our response to God to know Him and to receive from Him those gifts that He chooses that we are used by Him to equip the saints so that they are enabled to do the work of ministry. We are created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works. Simply put, Christ is the head and we are the torso of the body which acts under the lordship of the head.
Paul prayed that there would be three things that God would grant to the believers in Ephesus. The first is found in verse18, that ye may know, what is the hope of His calling. Ponder with me for a few moments and try to answer to yourself this question, what is the hope of your calling? Why you created and what is it that you hope for? A common thought is that I might go to heaven, but that is only a destination. Getting there is not a hope, only a destination. Then what? God is not nearly as concerned about getting you to heaven as he is about fitting you for heaven. When you do arrive it should afford you all of the fulfillment that you seek.
Another common answer is that you will be rejoined with your loved ones and with Jesus. It is true that we will be rejoined with some of our loved ones, but not all of them will make it. Jesus declared that the way to destruction was a broad way but the way to eternal life was a narrow and restrictive way and only a few will enter there.
Let’s look at what the Bible says is God’s plan for man. Ge 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. This verse declares God’s plan for man prior to his fall into sin. Man was to be made after the fashion of God in three ways: In His likeness; In His Image; and with dominion. This is a message by itself and many things can be said about it. For now we will look only at the overall picture and that is that it is a description of God’s plan for man which will not be completed until we receive our resurrected body at the return of the Lord Jesus. God is a trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We were made in the same likeness as God is and have a body, soul and spirit. God’s plan wasn’t completed in the Garden of Eden and Sin did not catch God off guard and did not wreck God’s plan. God’s plan is eternal so He planned ahead for the new creation of man mentioned in II Corinthians 5:17 that the new man would be created in Christ Jesus. So we have a temporal body, soul and spirit which must go through a transformation for a new body, soul and spirit. We can see this pictured in the process of a worm becoming a butterfly. The order of completion is in reverse order: first the spirit is united with the Holy Spirit and then sealed for eternity so that the bond cannot be broken. Who he is, is changed forever. Then God goes to work on the soul so that he is transformed in his values, method of thinking and all aspects of his will. We call this Sanctification, which means literally, separated. Through this process which takes a lifetime, we move further and further from sin and its environment. Finally, when the Lord Jesus returns in a cloud in the air, we will be changed and get our resurrected body and then our transformation will be completed. This is our Hope and what we long for to not only be with the Lord but also to be like the Lord and to be separated from the power of sin (at regeneration), to be separated from the persuasion of sin (through sanctification) and to be separated from the presence of sin (at glorification); as so shall we ever be with the Lord.