1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
...the Heavenlies in Christ are not luoghi, heux, or places, but STATES, the foundation of which is laid in Jesus Christ - Deity manifested in the Flesh. "The Man Christ Jesus" is a real man. When on earth he was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and sinless," as to character; yet imperfect as to his material nature.
He is now perfect - a perfect man "justified by spirit," and therefore incorruptible and immortal - a perfect character or moral nature, developed by Divine power, or spirit, into a perfect material nature.
That is His work. We cannot make ourselves holy, but we can present ourselves to Him that He may make us holy. We can want to be holy, strive to be holy, hunger and thirst for the beauty of holiness, and He will clothe us with it, according to the mercies of His grace toward us...
"For His great love wherewith He loved us, He made us alive in Christ and raised as up with him."
"It is not of yourselves (2: 8) -- it is the gift of God."
There is the crux of the matter.
"We are HIS workmanship, created unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." *
The Heavenlies in Christ
An Association of true believers is termed in scripture "a heavenly;" and, as the Lord Jesus, their Elder Brother and High Priest, is reconciling his household, which is composed of the believers of the manifold wisdom of God of all past and present ages and generations, where he is now, is also "a heavenly," in relation to the said association.
These two heavenlies stand related to one another as the Holy, and the Most Holy, of the temple; divided the one from the other by the Veil of the Covering, or the flesh. The first heavenly is now upon earth, the second heavenly is not yet manifested.
When the Veil is abolished with regard to the true believers, which will be at the appearing of the High Priest, they will be like him, and in the angelic nature will constitute the Most Holy, or second heavenly. Alluding to these two heavenlies, the apostle says to the saints in Ephesus,
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ," ch. 1:3;
and, speaking of the exaltation of the Son, he says,
"Having raised him from the dead, the father set him on his right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality and authority, and power and lordship, and every dignity that is named, not only in this Aion, but in the future; and put all things under his feet: and appointed him Head over all things to the Ecclesia, which is his Body, the fulness of him that perfecteth all things in all." Eph. 1:20.
In this testimony the reader will remark that there are qualifying words which distinguish these heavenlies from those in which "the spirituals of the wickedness" flourish. They are designated by the apostle as "the heavenlies in Christ." The other heavenlies in which Queen Victoria, Louis Napoleon, the Pope, and Stars of that order shed their rays, are the heavenlies in Anti-Christ, which are blessed with no spiritual blessing, unless it be a blessing to be made merchandize of for their glorification and profit.
But in "the Heavenlies in Christ" the spiritual blessings are notable and well defined. Jews and Gentiles have introduction into the heavenlies by believing "the manifold wisdom of God," and by being thereupon immersed. Consequent upon this, they enjoy the spiritual blessings of justification from all past sins; of being "free indeed" from bondage to "the spirituals of wickedness in the (Gentile) heavenlies," with all their traditions, schemes, and gospel-nullifying impositions; of having free access to the Father, to whom they are privileged to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, which is acceptable to him through Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Heavenly within the Veil; of being honoured to
"show forth the excellencies of him who hath called them out of the darkness into his wonderful light;"
and of having a right to the Kingdom of the coming Aion, with its glory, honor, incorruptibility, life, power, riches, and delights, the full appreciation of which can only be appropriated in their manifestation.
We perceive, then, that there are "heavenly things," even now upon the earth. An obedient believer of the manifold wisdom of God, styled by Paul "a new creation," or "a new man," is a heavenly thing. He is a creation which the truth of God alone can form. All the Spirituals of wickedness combined in one general camp-meeting, or revival, could not develop one such.
They can make papists, and protestant sectarians of all "the names and denominations" of blasphemy in Anti-Christendom, by thousands; but one enlightened new creature, "rich in faith, and heir of the kingdom of God," they cannot develope; for he is created by exact knowledge after the Image of God; and of that knowledge they are ignorant as Brigham Young, or his oriental prototype, the Camel-driver of Mecca.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1860
The Heavenlies in Christ
"The heavenly things themselves are purified," says Paul,
"with better sacrifices than the Mosaic victims of whose blood the patterns of those things were consecrated."
This is his teaching in Heb. 9. He tells us that the better sacrifice was "the once offering of Christ to bear the sins of many;" whatever, therefore, is sanctified by his blood, as the blood of the Covenant, is a heavenly thing in Christ. Upon this principle, the covenants made with Abraham and David; and the throne and kingdom hereafter to be established in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, are heavenly things.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is a heavenly thing; and is styled by Paul, "the heavenly calling." The Holy Land, also, is termed "a heavenly country," because it is the subject-matter of a divine covenant confirmed by the blood of its Mediator: and lastly, the One Body of Christ, immortalized and glorified, is called "The heavenly Jerusalem."
For the sake, then, of distinctness, we state that there are in contemporaneous existence,
1. Gentile Heavenly Places; and
2. Heavenly Places in Christ.
3. That the Gentile Heavenlies constitute the Political Aerial, the locality of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, Political;
4. That the Sovereign Power of the Political Air is Sin, "the Prince of the Dominion of the Air;"
5. That this in relation to the Saints, the Gospel of the Kingdom, and God, is the Satan and the Devil, politically developed;
6. That the orders and degrees of men, styled "world-rulers of the Darkness," and "Spirituals of the wickedness," through which Sin governs the nations, are the "Angels of the Devil:"
7. That the Ecclesia, which is Christ's Body, is the Holy Heavenly in Christ, in which burns in the Word-Lamp the light of truth; and where the bread of the Presence is eaten: and,
8. That the Ecclesia manifested in glory is the Most Holy Heavenly State, in which Jesus now is, then visible upon the earth—"heaven opened."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1860
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
The saints are said not only to have that now, for which they wait by faith (John 6:47), but to have had it given to them from before the foundation of the world (2 Tim. 1:9), and to have been chosen also from the same date.—(Eph. 1:4.)
The explanation is, they have received it, or been chosen for that length of time in His purpose. Everything that will be, exists already in the purpose of God; and then, again, what to us is a whole millennium off, is but to him, as it were, a thousand minutes away. Past, present, and future are terms related only to finite apprehension; with God they are all alike.
The Christadelphian, July 1873
Above, and around, and through all the activities of the Ecclesia is the Mind and Power of God. All is of Him, and by Him, and for Him. As the Head, Jesus yielded himself in all things to the will of the Father, and in turn received all his strength and wisdom and joy from Him, so must the Body do likewise. "When I am weak," Paul says elsewhere (2 Cor. 12:10), "then am I strong." This is the theme of this epistle, and indeed of all the epistles. All things are of God. All things are created by Him and for His purpose, and to contribute to His ultimate glorious end.
The Ecclesia, the Body of Christ, is taken from the weakest of His creatures -- the low ones, the weak, the despised, the poor. Not the wise, mighty, and noble; not the able and self-reliant; none who are contaminated with the wisdom of this world, or pride, or vanity, or ambitions. "When I am weak, then am I strong," for
"My strength (saith the Lord) is made perfect in weakness."
And from this lowly human clay, God is building a temple of glory, eternal for the ages. His method is slow, gradual transformation. In little steps from one shade of glory to a brighter shade until we come to the perfect man in Christ Jesus.
The power for all this comes from God. We cannot make ourselves good or pure or holy, any more than we can make ourselves beautiful. A beautiful character is like a beautiful form -- it is the work and glory of the Creator, not of itself. We present ourselves as mediums for manifestation of God's glory by allowing Him to transform us to His likeness. See how Paul emphasizes this basic fact throughout this Epistle:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly." *
These "spiritual blessings in the heavenly" are His transforming works upon us, transforming us from dross to gold --
"That we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS before Him."*Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
The adoption - Brethren of Christ.
The Lord the Spirit
"Go and tell that fox that I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected:"
and "though a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."-(Luke 13:32; Heb. 5:8, 9.)
While, then, he was preaching the gospel of the kingdom, he was imperfect; not morally, but as to flesh, which was mortal flesh, and susceptible of disease, as evinced by the morbid condition of sweating blood in agony.
In the third year of his ministry, and on the first and second days, the imperfection of crucified sin's flesh culminated in its death, and burial in the tomb. But in the third year, and on the third day from the crucifixion, through weakness (2 Cor. 13:4) it was made to live again, and come forth
"by the power of Deity."
It was now in a condition to be perfected by the same power. What his flesh required now was ascent to the Father, exaltation to consubstantiality with Him; so that, on this raising of flesh to Spirit he might be made "the Lord the Spirit," or "both Lord and Christ," upon the principle he had laid down to Nicodemus, saying,
"that which hath been born of spirit is spirit."
...Christ Jesus is the
"Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature."
He is the intellectual, moral, and material image of the Deity,
"whom no man hath seen, nor can see:"
to which image, as the model man, all foreknown of the Father are predestinated to be conformed in character and substance.
His intellectual and moral image is delineated in the simple records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The pre-existent Word, by whom all things were made, manifested Himself in the nature that transgressed in Eden; because the many sons to be led to glory are partakers of the same.
The divine purpose to be accomplished in regard to them, made it necessary that the captain of salvation should be "made in all things like to his brethren, " in the first stage of divine manifestation.
He partook with them, in this imperfect state, and they will partake with Him in the perfect state of divine manifestation in glory; because of their having been, in this evil world, conformed to his moral image.
Being like him here in character, being in him, and he being in them, they will be like what he is now in substance; and thus being conformed to him as the central figure of the group, he will be fully manifested, both in character and in substance, as "the firstborn among many brethren."
When the divine family of sons and daughters shall be perfected in all its members, they will all be images of the invisible Father, developed upon the principle of knowledge, faith, obedience, love, and power, by which all things are subdued.
Flesh first, and spirit afterwards-divine moral nature primarily manifested in flesh of the first man from the earth; and, secondarily, manifested in the flesh and bones of the second man, the Lord from heaven, "Christ, who is over all, Deity blessed for the ages."-(Rom. 9:5)
This is the Firstborn among many Firstborns, who aggregately constitute a "general assembly and ecclesia in heavens," or heavenlies in Christ-(Heb. 12:23; Eph. 1:3.)
The Christ-Deity is the head of these, upon whom he will write the name of his own Deity, when he makes them "equal to the angels," and like unto himself.-(Rev. 3:12; 14:1.)
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, April 1869
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
...the Father is inaccessible apart from Christ; that Christ, as the way, is open only to those who are no longer "strangers and foreigners," but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God (5:19). Christ is the "High Priest of our profession," and of that profession only (Heb. 3:1-6; 4:14; 9:24; 10:19-22; 1 Tim., 3:15).
If thanks or praise be given, they are to be presented in Christ's name (Col. 3:17; Heb. 13:15). All wants are to be made known through Christ (Jno. 16:24). And it is through him also that remission of sins is to be sought (1 Jno. 2:1).
...Man can only reach Deity through his son. In Christ, man is accounted perfect (Col. 1:22; 2:10; I Cor. 1:30; Hebrew 10:14; Eph. 1:6, ) and this qualification is essential to give him a standing before God.
"This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us" (I John 5:14.)
Those in Christ have recognised the holiness of God and their own sinfulness, and have availed themselves of the only provision he has made for justification. Thus fulfilling the necessary principle set forth in the words
"I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto me."
Bro AT Jannaway - TC 07/1886 "Worship in relation to the Alien
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Economy of the fullness of the times
in which "all things in the heavens," thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and "all things upon the earth," peoples, nations, and languages, are gathered together under one head, anakephalaiosasthai, is termed "A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH".
See Rev 21.1.
The Almighty Builder of all things intended not to translate the whole human race from a state of sin and death at once into a state of unmingled good and glory. He foresaw that the living race would never be fit for this, but that they must be previously disciplined and prepared for the transition.
Hence, He proposed to develope an INTERMEDIATE STATE upon the earth, and among the nations of mortal men contemporary with it, in which, good and evil would still be commingled, but differing from the preceding state (the present) in this, that, though evil would continue to be, sin should not have dominion over the world, but be dethroned by righteousness.
We have styled this state intermediate, because it is designed to occupy a middle place between the present times of the Gentiles, and the unchangeable constitution of the globe, when there will be "no more sea," and all men will be immortal.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
Among the many and various titles of the Supreme Being in the Scriptures of truth, is that of a Builder and Architect, as it is written, "The BUILDER of all things is God." Pursuing this suggestion, I remark, that "a wise master builder" never begins to build without a design. He draughts this after a scale of so much to the foot. This is the extension, or time, so to speak, of the building, or edifice, to be erected.
Having well considered the whole, he concludes that it is the best possible plan that can be devised in harmony with the rules and principles of architecture. The plan then becomes his "purpose," his "foreordination," "predestination," or design.
All subsequent arrangements are made to conform to this recorded purpose, because it is the very best his most deliberate wisdom and ingenuity could devise; and no extraneous suggestions, or considerations, will cause him to diverge in the smallest iota from his predetermination.
The next thing the builder does is to collect together all the necessary materials, whether of brick, stone, lime, sand, wood, or aught else that may be needed. If a spectator desired to know what all these crude matters were heaped up together in one place for, the architect would reveal to him "the mystery of his will which he had purposed in himself" (Eph. 1:9), by submitting the draught of his plan, in all its lines, circles, angles, &c.; and he would describe to him such an arrangement of the materials as would impress the spectator's mind with an image of the edifice, though it would fall infinitely short of the reality when perfected.
If we suppose the edifice, call it temple, or palace, to be now finished, the architect would next order the rubbish, or materials which were left as unfit to work into the building, and therefore worthless, such as broken bricks, splinters, shavings, sand, and so forth, to be cast out to be trodden under foot, to burn (Mal. 4:3; Matt. 5:13), &c.
Thus the edifice is built out of the accumulated materials, according to the outline of the draught, or purpose of the builder; and the work is done.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
The Spirit of God will show us wonders in this way that we have not dreamt of, and fill our mouth with laughter and our lips with singing. We shall never be tired of the gladness or forgetful of our indebtedness to God for the goodness which will be ours through Christ in those happy days.
Is there not everything in such a prospect to encourage in that patient continuance in well doing which belongs to our present lot?
If there is anything to mar its satisfaction, it may sometimes be the thought that so few of earth's multitude will attain to it. It may give a twinge of distress to think that if we may be chosen for such a great salvation, so many will not. We are apt to painfully wonder why we should be brought into relation with such unspeakable goodness, and so many left to grope and perish in the darkness that covers all the earth.
This thought has been so painful with some minds as to deter them from embracing their own privileges, and led them to let a salvation slip that does not seem intended for all. We may quell such thoughts by the exercise of reason. We must remember, first, that the whole affair belongs to God, who is working it out "according to the counsel of His own will;" and who has a perfectly good reason for everything He does or omits to do, if we could only know it.
The words of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth suggest some help on the point.
"There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent save unto Sarepta, a city of Zidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the times of Elisha, the prophet, and none of them were cleansed save Naaman the Syrian."
So we may say with reference to the matter in hand. There are many poor and needy people in the earth, but only unto some is the healing of the gospel sent. It is God's work, and God's wisdom regulates it. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Cannot we, therefore, trust Him to work out His plan rightly? It really comes to this. Here we find rest at last. We may be quite sure that we shall see the wisdom of God's ways at last, and His wisdom, therefore, in not inviting many people that we might like to see invited.
If we do not see it now, it is because we cannot see all. The people we know are known only to us as they appear. To judge competently, we should require to see them as God in His omniscience sees them. As God said to Samuel in the house of Jesse when he went to anoint David
"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,"
and it is not every heart of which He can make suitable use. Exercising our minds in this way, we shall find it easy to suspend judgment on problems that would otherwise distress; and be left free to bend our whole energies to the part that practically belongs to us in the place we occupy in God's scheme of things.
Do our own part faithfully. This is the sum of all wisdom for us and the end of all anxiety. What that part is we learn from the revelation of His will in the Word of His inspiration. We are here only for a short day to do it. Our little day is infinitesimal in the countless ages before and behind.
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
WE have a great and continuing duty to our brethren and sisters, and that is the duty of fervent prayer for them - not meaninglessly by habit and rote as a group, but thoughtfully and individually, one by one, entering into the joys and sorrows of each. Paul said to several
"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers."
And his greetings show personal remembrance and care for individuals as such. His mind was ALWAYS filled with the things of God and of God's people. Until we have achieved the same "mind of Christ," we are not fully on the Way of Life.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
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,
Those who Dwell in the Heaven
Paul tells the saints in Ephesus, that he with them were "blessed with all spiritual blessings" in these heavenlies; in which they and Christ, though the latter is at the Right Hand of the Divine Majesty, and they in Ephesus and elsewhere, were regarded as sitting together (Eph. 1:20; 2:6).
A heavenly is a constituted supernal state. It may be Divinely constituted, or constituted by human authority. We have these two kinds of heaven-ies in Paul's letter to the saints in Ephesus. In ch. 6:12, he alludes to the heavenlies constituted by human authority. The Common Version styles them "High Places;" but Paul used the same word to indicate them as that rendered "heavenly places" in ch. 1:3,20; 2:6. There is no reason why the translation should not be uniform after the manner of the original.
....It is, however, to be remembered that Paul so expresses himself as not to be misunderstood by the enlightened. He defines the heavenlies in which they "sit together with Christ" as being "in Christ;" but he omits the phrase "in Christ" when he speaks of the heavenlies in which "the spirituals of wickedness" are found.
Hence, the two kinds of supernal states are characterized by being "in Christ" or not in Christ; which is equivalent to being out of Christ - outside, or not included in the things, of which the manifestation of Deity in the Flesh is the great and glorious centre.
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
We must FILL our mind with God's Word, and FILL our life with His character and actions. If we are content in our low animal way to do less than this, then we do not really care very much about Him, and we can hardly expect Him to care very much about us.
His conception of love is totality: He is willing to give it - and He requires it of all who would be associated with Him.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God