A Corporate Man Fulfilling God’s Great Plan

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A Corporate Man In Genesis 1:26

Out of the desire of God’s heart, and for the fulfilling of His eternal purpose, God made a decision to create man. He did this in eternity past. The Bible then describes this creation in Genesis.

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Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

In the verse above, the word “man” is singular, while the word “them” is plural. How can this be? This indicates that this man created by God is a corporate man, a collective man, including all mankind. God created mankind collectively in one person, Adam. God created such a corporate man in His image and according to His likeness with the intention that this man might express God corporately. However, we also know that Adam sinned and fell away from God. This is what we call the fall of man. The ensuing corporate man failed God. He did not ultimately express God.

The eternal purpose of God, however, could never be deterred. God sent His only Begotten Son to die for man and redeem man. In Christ, man has come back to God. Dear friends, this is truly wonderful, but we have to say, there is still more! God is still looking for that man that is not only redeemed, but also corporate. How could many men be made into one man?

In the last Bible study, we saw the goal of God’s selection: to make us His many sons. Sons in the Bible show the reproduction of their father, that is, the impartation of the life of the father into his sons. Thus, man becomes the expression of God by receiving the impartation of God’s life. Furthermore, God not only wants us to receive His life, He also wants us to be built together. It is by receiving God’s life and by being built together that we are made into this corporate man which fulfills God’s plan. Genesis 1:26 shows us the creation of man. It also reveals that God’s heart was for this man to be filled with Him and for this man to be a corporate man.

  • How can we see the corporate man in Genesis 1:26?
  • How can we say that this verse reveals that God’s heart was for this man to be filled with Him?

The Church

Ephesians 1:22-23 And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, 23 Which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.

Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 Being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; 21 In whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

As we saw in the last lesson, the sons of God all have God’s life. Actually, God’s life is not a thing but a Person, God Himself. To have this life is just to have a living Person in us, the living God Himself. When these many individual people become filled with the one living God, they become one corporate God-man. They are no longer many individuals. They have all become the many parts of this one corporate man, the many members of the Body of Christ.

What is the church? The church is a people filled up with God as their life. They are no more just individuals who care for their own things. Instead, they are many individuals who are being filled up with God as their life and are being built up together in Him. When they are living in this one life, they have the one image of God. They are His one expression and they represent God with His authority. (Lesson Book, Level1: Salvation, published by Living stream Ministry)

A Holy Priesthood

The matter of a corporate man is also seen in the priesthood.

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.

1 Peter 2:5 You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

We can see from both the Old and New Testaments that God’s heart is to gain a group of people. This group of people serve God together and are called the priesthood. Exodus 19:6 uses the words, a kingdom of priests, which surely refers to a group of people and not just individuals. The word priesthood is used in 1 Peter 2:5 to indicate a serving body of priests. We can read it with an emphasis on hood, priest-HOOD. The priesthood can refer to the plurality and togetherness of the priests and it can also refer to the work of the priests. The Old Testament priests served in a physical building and had physical duties. The New Testament priests offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.

  • Who are the “living stones”?
  • How does the “spiritual house” relate to the “holy priesthood”
  • What does Peter mean when he says, “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”?

This priesthood includes all the believers. Even the Old Testament verse says, “be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. This means that the words were not for a special class of people but to all God’s people, to the whole nation. The verse continues, “these are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 1 Peter 2:5 in The New Testament says, “you yourselves also, ” and 1 Peter 2:9 speaks of “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people.”

If you are a Christian, then you are part of God’s people. You are also part of God’s holy nation, and you are certainly part of His royal priesthood. There should not be spectators in the Christian life, like there are at professional sports games. Rather, all the believers are the professional athletes that need to suit-up and play the game at the highest level.

  • Have you ever thought of yourself as a priest?
  • Take some time to discuss among you about what it takes to become a priest?
  • How does God gain the priest-HOOD?

God’s calling of us to be saved and to serve Him is the highest calling and the most noble. God is the highest. Furthermore, on the cross, His Son Jesus Christ also bought us with a price; He paid the price for all our sins with His precious blood and we actually belong wholly to Him. In God’s heart He has a deep longing, purpose, and plan. This plan includes you, your being filled with Him, and your being built up with others. Just consider this.

Yes, This is Our Destiny

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In this Bible study we zoom in on the first steps of God’s economy and see how they are altogether for God’s goal, which is to gain His many sons.

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God’s Economy to carry out His Heart’s desire and eternal purpose

Ephesians 1:5 Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:9 Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself,

Ephesians 1:10 Unto the economy of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him;

Ephesians 3:9 And to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things,

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This diagram is a carry-over from last week. Review its significance with your group.

If you would like, you can review last week’s post here: A Rare View of Eternity Past

God’s Selection for His Economy

Ephesians 1:4 Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love,

Romans 9:20-21 But rather, O man, who are you who answer back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him who molded it, Why did you make me thus? 21 Or does not the potter have authority over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?

The first step of God’s economy happened before creation. This step is God’s selection.
As the sovereign God, He is free to choose what He wants and do what He wants. He is like a potter molding the clay in whatever way He chooses. As the clay, we cannot say to our creator, “why…?”

His choosing is His selection. From among innumerable people, He selected us. This He did in Christ. Christ was the sphere in which we were selected by God. Outside of Christ we are not God’s choice. This took place in eternity past. God chose us according to His infinite foresight before He created us.

Have you ever been impressed with the fact that God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world? Whenever I think of God choosing me in eternity past, I am filled with worship and praise to Him. I do not need to be chosen by man, for I have been chosen by the Triune God.

Christians often say to the Lord, “O Lord, we did not first love You. You were the One who first loved us.” However, concerning God’s selection, we need to say. “Lord, we didn’t choose You—You chose us.” We all need to thank the Lord for His eternal selection, the selection made in eternity past for eternity future. We have been selected not to occupy a position of prominence in the world, but to be in the church. God’s selection was for the church. (Life Study of Ephesians, Chapter 75)

Fellowship with your group about God’s selection. Compare God’s selection with being selected for prominent positions in the world.

To the genuine Christians, those who have believed in Jesus Christ, the Bible says: you have been chosen. You have been selected. Is this not cause for rejoicing and worship? Praise the Lord!

God’s Predestination for His Economy

Ephesians 1:5 Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Romans 8:29 Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers;

The second step in God’s economy is His Predestination. God knows all things, the past, the present, and the future. He is the source and initiator. Therefore, before you and I were born, He knew us. Not only so, but He looked at all those whom He would create and marked them for a certain destiny. This was His predestinating us as is mentioned in Ephesians 1:5. In his translation of the Bible, John Nelson Darby used the words “having marked out”. In fact, God marked us out for something really special, to be His many sons and to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

What have you previously heard about predestination, and what do you now see concerning God’s predestination?

Sonship – the goal of God’s Selection

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how is it that you say, Show us the Father?

Colossians 1:15 [Christ] Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation,

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Matthew 5:48 You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Romans 8:23 And not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been manifested what we will be. We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is.

God uses a human concept to represent the goal of His economy. That concept is sonship.  Sons in the Bible show the reproduction of their father, that is, the impartation of the life of the father into his sons. In the Bible there is also a strong tie between sons and expression. How does the father get expressed? It is through the son. We can also see the concept of inheritance. As they grow to maturity, it is the sons who receive the inheritance of their father. Therefore, sons show the matter of life, expression, and maturity.

This concept of sonship in the Bible does not have to do with gender. All the dear sisters in the church are also the sons of God and the brothers of Christ. When the Lord Jesus refers to His brothers in the Bible, He is also including all the sisters.

How can the many sons of God fulfill the desire of God’s heart?

You can learn more about our predestination in this related post:
Predestinated

Having been predestinated, God calls us. Have you experienced God’s calling? This related post sheds light on our calling:
Called