How many things to which we give such importance would lose that importance and just recede from a first, or even secondary place if truly we saw the Lord! What change in manner of speech and conduct would just happen without effort if we truly saw Him in the Spirit! Costly, yes, costly. All true light costs. So the man in John nine found, but ask him whether he would exchange his new sight for the old acceptance. Read again Paul's evaluation of his revelation of Christ in Philippians three.
But let us insist and stress very strongly that, although Christ in all His fullness has been revealed and presented in the New Testament, that same New Testament makes it very clear that, through the Word and by the Holy Spirit, that objective presentation has to have a subjective counterpart in the heart - the spirit - of the believer. It will tell us that it was for this purpose that the Holy Spirit came; for this very purpose we have the indwelling Spirit. Paul earnestly prayed for already well-taught believers that they might be given a spirit of revelation in the full knowledge of Christ. This open-heaven endowment and given spiritual faculty is meant for ALL believers. But remember, the demand is for an absolutely pure and honest spirit and a preparedness to accept and go through with all that is involved. Here, the Cross, that is, Christ crucified, in its deepest application to self-interest in every form is the Rock of Offence, or the Chief Corner Stone; stumbling and falling or building and rising. Any pride, prejudice, or reserve will find us out sooner or later in that we shall have been side-tracked from the fullest intention of God in calling us. It will be a tragedy if, in the end, we are found to be in a "backwater," a cul-de-sac; perhaps snug and free from all the stresses of the battle, but - from heaven's standpoint - out! Such a possibility was an ever-present dread of Paul. "Lest, having heralded to others, I myself should be rejected;" and there is much more like that. "If by any means ...," he says.
We must return to the great matter of the "Mystery," for there are things related thereto in our Letter which need clarifying. In all his Letters Paul uses this word some twenty times:
1. The mystery of the blindness which has happened to Israel. (Romans 11:25).
2. The mystery of the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:7)
3. The mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1)
4. The mysteries in speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:2)
5. The mystery of the Rapture and change of body (1 Cor. 15:51)
6. The mystery of His will (Eph. 1:9)
7. The mystery made known to Paul (Eph. 3:3, 4)
8. The fellowship of the mystery (Eph. 3:9)
9. The mystery of the union between Christ and the Church ((Eph. 5:32)
10. The mystery of the Gospel (Eph. 6:19)
11. The mystery which hath been hid (Col. 1:26)
12. The mystery of Christ within or in the midst (Col. 1:27)
13. The mystery of God - Christ (Col. 2:2; 4:3)
14. The mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 3:9)
15. The mystery of the faith (1 Tim. 3:9)
16. The mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)
(Some of the above are duplicated elsewhere.)
It looks as though there are many mysteries, but if we look again we shall find that, at least in the majority of cases, the mystery relates - in some way - to Christ and the Church. There are very few exceptions to this, and when it comes to Paul's particular conception it is not in the plural, but "The mystery," and invariably it is connected with Christ personal and Christ corporate.
The next thing that we must take account of in this connection is Paul's particular viewpoint. It is from above. Five times in this Letter to the Ephesians he uses the phrase "in the heavenlies" (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). and in that form it is found nowhere else. This is one of the most difficult of Paul's phrases for any of us to understand. We are not altogether helped by other phrases referring to heaven, such as "every knee should bow, of things in heaven..." (Phil. 2:10). The translation "in the heavenly places" is not too fortunate. But let us look at the various references.
1. The present realm and nature of the believer's blessings is in the heavenlies. !:3
2. Christ is now seated in the heavenlies "above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name ..." 1:20, 21)
3. The position of Christ is said to be that also of the Church (2:6).
4. There are principalities and powers in the heavenlies which are having made known unto them, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God (3:10)
5. The warfare of the Church is not now in the realm of flesh and blood, but in the heavenlies with principalities and powers, etc. (6:12).
Very well, then, what have we? Just this: there is a realm or sphere above and around the material, the sense and tangible realm, where spiritual interests are supreme, where rival spiritual activities go on. Great forces are at work in that realm, and they have a constitution,system or organization suitable to this purpose. It is a divided realm between celestial and demonic principalities. On the one side there is both interest in and cooperation with Christ's interests in the Church. On the other side there is not only bitter and relentless hostility to those interests, but an impact upon this world, "this darkness," which is intended to destroy both the people and the earth as the inheritance of God's Son. We know that natural elements above the earth have a powerful influence upon the physical life here. In the same way there are spiritual intelligences and forces which exert a tremendous influence upon the moral and spiritual life in this world. It is in this realm that Paul sees several things belonging to "the Mystery." One, that, admist the strife, confusion and all that seems to the contrary, God is working our a "Purpose" which, because He is absolute Lord, will not just have to contend with adverse forces, but will both show His superiority and make the adverse forces serve the furtherance of that Purpose. This is the long view and the above view of the heavenlies.
Then, because Christ risen and exalted is "seated at God's right hand," He is in that position representatively and inclusively of the Church. The Church, therefore, is "seated together with Him in the heavenlies"; that is, in the present and ultimate good of His sovereignty.
(continued with # 6)