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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Re-integration of All Things # 3

God's Secret

But God had a secret. He knew all about that; He knew what would happen; He knew what would come; and He devised His own way of meeting it. He had a secret in His own heart as to how He would solve this terrible problem. This secret is what Paul, in this and other letters, calls 'the mystery.' How would God do it? He would 'sum up,' He would 'gather together all things in Christ.' He would make His Son the integrating Center and Sphere of a new creation, in which all these diversities and conflicts would never again be found. That is the sum of this Letter to the Ephesians - to 'gather together all things in Christ.' I say, surely that is something to send a thrill through us, however often we may have heard it before.

And so, in that connection, three things come into view.

First of all, the Cross of Christ. You notice here that Paul says: 'the enmity was slain' (2:16). We have many conceptions and teachings on the Cross, but here is one wonderful thing, that in the Cross this enmity was taken hold of and destroyed. Where there is a true work of the Cross in any of us, that kind of national, or international, or personal, or social, or even Christian division ceases. The Cross is the instrument for dealing with all that - and it will deal with it. If the Cross really gets down to the depths of our being, the whole situation, both in ourselves and between ourselves and others, will change. The Cross does something, so that we no longer meet one another on natural ground at all. We meet one another on heavenly ground, on spiritual ground, on the ground of Christ.

Secondly, Christ Himself is the focal center and sphere of that. We meet 'in Christ' - that is the great word: 'to sum up all things in Christ." Notice how often that little phrase 'in Christ' occurs: everything is 'in Christ.' He is the center and sphere of this wonderful new integration. "In one Spirit," says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Thirdly, as clearly emerges from this letter, the Church is the vessel of all this. God's secret was not only that His Son would be the focal center, but that the Church should be the vessel in which this unity should be displayed. What a tragedy that it is not more so! And yet, as I have said, where you get a true expression of the Church, this is what you find - that these disintegrating things are outside and the mighty integration of Divine love is within. You get a real testimony to the Body of Christ.

We are so familiar, of course, with the phrases and terminology. But it is a most wonderful thing to realize that, in the fullness of the times (we have not yet reached 'the fullness of the times,' but I think we are getting very near to it), God purposes to gather together - not geographically and physically, but into one glorious unity of spirit - all things in Christ. God has determined to do that, and it will be a wonderful day when that purpose is realized.

'Slaying the enmity by the Cross' (2:16). Dear brother, dear sister, do give heed to this. If there is any enmity between you and another brother or sister in Christ, that is a denial of the Cross; it is a denial of Christ; and it is a denial of the Church. That is very solemn. Have you enmity with another brother? Or another sister? It says here that in the Cross  enmity was destroyed! Where is the Cross - where is Christ - where is the Spirit - where is the Church - if there is still present that which the Cross is supposed to have - yes, and in reality did - put away? It has no place here.

In the great prayer that Paul prays in the third chapter (vv. 14-19), he says: "I bow my knees unto the Father ..." Then we are a family! There you have the heart of things. And what is the chief characteristic of a true fatherhood and a true family? It is what Paul says here - it is love. Listen to what he says: "...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with ALL the saints" - note that - "strong to apprehend with ALL the saints" what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge..." There is a love in such dimensions that can do this thing, that can achieve this end of gathering together all the brokenness in Christ. It is only going to be done by that mighty, mighty love, with its breadth and its length and its height and its depth. That love is great enough to do it; but you and I have got to be strong, with all saints, to apprehend it. Apprehend that love, and God gets His end.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with #  - " Colossians: The Fullness  Restored")

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