A Flowing River and a Tree

A Flowing River and a Tree, this is the first line of a classic hymn. These two represent a certain way that God takes to carry out His eternal purpose. In Genesis chapter 2, we can find the tree of life in the garden of Eden. We also see that a river flows from there. Look at Revelation 22; you can also see a river that flows from God’s throne and with it is the tree of life. These bookends of the Bible are pointing to something about God’s relationship with man, something deep, sweet, and refreshing.

Image and Dominion pointing to God’s Two-fold Need

As seen in Genesis 1:26, God’s eternal purpose is to gain His corporate expression and representation in the universe through man. God is invisible, but He is looking to be seen; that is, He desires an expression. God also has an enemy, Satan, who rebels against God’s authority and drags others with him.

Thus, you might say that God created man to fulfill two needs, expression, and representation. Expression means that man can express God. Through man, God can be expressed in the universe. Representation means that man represents God to subdue the enemy of God. To gain His expression and representation, God created man with His image to express Him and with His dominion to represent Him.

Do you ever feel like Satan is dragging you into sinful things that you don’t want to be in?

I Just Want to be Filled up with the Lord

Regarding expression, how can anyone express someone else without having that one’s life? God created man in His image, as a tripartite vessel, ready to receive God’s life. God then dispenses His own life into man. Ultimately, it is the man who is filled with God’s life, who spontaneously expresses God. To express God is to glorify God. When we talk about God giving life to man, we are not referring to the human life that everyone already has, but we are referring to the uncreated eternal life of God that is freely available to all who believe in His Son Jesus Christ (see John 3:16).

What comes to mind when you hear the word, Life?

For the dispensing to take place, God created man and specifically put Him in a garden. The tree of life in the middle of the garden is symbolic. Furthermore, from Eden flowed a river and this also is symbolic. The tree of life signifies God presenting Himself to man in the form of food. The river signifies the Spirit of God reaching man as living water to satisfy man. Both of these, the tree of life and the flowing river reveal to us God’s dispensing for the fulfilment of His purpose.

The line of life in the Bible

The Bible is comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament. These two books are not independent but highly related to each other. If you read through the whole Bible, you will see a line, which goes from Genesis to Revelation. This line is the line of life. Let’s begin with two verses in Genesis.

Genesis 2:9-10 And out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four branches.

Here we see a picture. In the garden of Eden God planted many trees and these were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Among all these trees, in the center of the garden, there was one called the tree of life. Along with this tree there was a river.  After God created man, He put man in front of the tree of life. We know this because God put man in a garden and God put the tree of life in the middle of that garden. Thus, God was pointing man to the tree of life. What a beautiful picture!

Why did God put man in front of the tree of life? He did this with the intention that man eat of the tree of life. This intention comes out from God’s heart’s desire and His purpose. God never expected man to do anything, except to simply eat the tree of life, which signifies God as life to man. The way for man to take God as life is to eat Him.

In the New Testament we can see that this tree of life signifies God incarnated in Christ.

John 1:4 In Him was life and the life was the light of man.

John 14:6 Jesus said to Thomas, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly.

Hallelujah! We thus know that the life of God that is for us is in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came to give life so that we may have life and have it abundantly!

In John 6:57 Jesus then told us to eat Him.

John 6:57 As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.

Did you know that it was Christ Himself who first said that we should eat Him? What other verses show this?

The tree of life is also mentioned in Revelation 22:2 “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” These verses point out that Jesus Christ Himself is the life for man, as portrayed by the tree of life, which is seen throughout the entire Bible.

If you read the verses in Genesis again, you will find that in the garden there was not only a tree, but also a river. This river which begins in Genesis ends up in Revelation where it is referred to as “a river of water of life”.

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.

Just as we see the tree of life throughout the entire Bible, so also we see the river running throughout the entire Bible. The river signifies God as the Spirit reaching us as life and quenching our thirst.

John 7:37-38 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.

Jesus came to satisfy us with His life in the same way that a drink of water quenches our thirst. Today Jesus is still offering Himself as food and as water to be our life. The way for us to receive Him is to eat Him and drink Him.

When someone says, Eat Jesus, how does that make you feel?

God made us with a spirit to receive Him and contain Him. Jesus reminded us to use our spirit when contacting Him. In John 4:24 He said, “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” In John 6:63 He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” To worship God is actually to eat and drink Him. The way to eat and drink Jesus is to exercise our spirit!

Expression First, Then Representation

When Christians get filled up with the Lord within them, they express God in their daily life. It is this type of Christian that then represents God, subduing Satan and kicking him out of their life and their surroundings. Always, in pursuing the Lord, pay attention to the life of God. His life will fill you and then take care of so many things. God’s way to fulfill His purpose, His two-fold need, is life.

Come forward now to get the life

There is a hymn that starts with the words: “Sing praise to Christ who lives in us”. Here is Stanza 7 of this glorious hymn.

Come forward now to God through Him,
Ne’er shrink back to destruction;
Come forward now to get the life,
Which brings the proper function;
Come forward now the life to take,
By life His people us He’ll make,
And swallow death forever.

2021 Spring College Conference

Spring 2021 College Conference - Feature

March 26-28, 2021

You are warmly invited to join us for our Spring Mountain States College Conference. Register today by contacting any of the local coordinators.

Topic: The Gospel of John (Part 3)

Session 1 Friday, March 26 7:30 pm
Session 2 Saturday, March 27 10:45 am
Special Topic Saturday, March 27 5:00 pm
Session 3 Saturday, March 27 7:30 pm
Session 4 Sunday, March 28 10:45 am

The meetings will be conducted via live Zoom webinar and group discussions. There is no cost for this conference.

May the Lord bless us all during this time.

Finding Out What We Are From the Bible

Finding-out-what-we-are-from-the-Bible

The title of this Bible study may surprise you or intrigue you. We will consider the importance of knowing what we are, how man is a vessel to contain God, and what the three parts of man are. All along, we will use illustrations to help us understand. We hope that you open yourself to the Lord and pray and fellowship with others over this material. May God reveal to us more from His word, what we are.

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Importance

When we find out what we are, we see ourselves as if for the first time and know why we are made the way we are made. This affects how we feel from day to day, how we think, and it greatly affects our future. The Bible is God’s word and one function of the word of God is that it is like a mirror, showing us — us. Let us explore a couple of the amazing revelations in the Bible about what we are.

Having the Image of God Showing that we are Vessels to Contain God

Genesis 1:26a And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness

The Bible says that we are made in the image of God and with His likeness. What does it mean for something to be made in the image and according to the likeness of something else? It is worthwhile to consider. An illustration may help. A glove is made in the image of a hand. This makes it so that a hand can slide easily into the glove and occupy the glove. A glove on the table without a hand in it, no matter how beautiful it might be, is useless. Furthermore, if you wanted to show somebody a hand, you might show them a glove. This would be good for describing the hand to some extent. However, only the hand is the reality. Without the hand, the purpose of the glove is meaningless. The glove made in the image of the hand is the container, the vessel for the hand.

In this illustration of the glove, which one are we, the glove or the hand? Which one is God?

Let us read a passage from the book of Romans in the Bible, Romans Chapter 9:

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? 22 And what if God, wishing to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, 23 In order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? – Romans 9:21-24 

To fulfill His eternal plan, God made man as a vessel. A vessel is a container, like a bottle, to carry some content. The beverages at a grocery store come in bottles. We are God’s bottles. We are God’s vessels!

What is your favorite drink?
What do you feel like when you see a bottle of that drink, but the bottle is empty?
What requirements must be met for a bottle to receive and contain your favorite drink?

Man – a “tripartite” vessel

God created us as vessels to contain Him. However, we are not simple vessels, but vessels of three parts. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Can you find the three parts in this verse? They are spirit, soul and body. So, we call man a “tripartite” vessel or being.

Christians-on-Campus-God-coming-into-our-spirit

The Body

The first part of man is the body, the physical part. The body contacts and receives the things of the physical realm. We read using our eyes and listen to music using our ears, etc. Through our physical body, we can live on the earth.

The Soul

The second part of man is the soul. The soul contacts and receives the things of the psychological realm. It has three parts or organs: your mind, your emotion and your will. As you are trying to understand the lectures and do your homework, you are using the organ of your mind. You love your families and your friends. You may get excited about passing an exam. This is your emotion being stirred up. And as you determine to join this bible study to find out more about God and man, you are using your will to make a decision. In addition to those daily experiences, God has His purpose in creating the soul.

The following short quotation summarizes the usefulness of our soul: “The soul is the part of man created by God for us to know Him, love Him and turn to Him so we can be saturated with God and express Him.” (Lesson Book, Level 1: Salvation—God’s Full Salvation, published by Living Stream Ministry) 

The Spirit

The third part of man is the spirit. It is the deepest part of man. In the Bible, the spirit was called by different names. Ephesians 3:16 says “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man.” Here the human spirit is referred to as “the inner man”. 1 Peter 3:4 says “But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.” In this verse, the spirit is called “the hidden man of the heart”.

Did you realize that in addition to the body and soul, we have this part in us called the spirit? It is one of the most important revelations in the entire Bible. Why is the human spirit so important? Man was created because of the desire of God’s heart and for His eternal purpose. Furthermore, God wants to contact man and would like man to contact Him and to receive Him. In other words, God wants to impart His life into man.

Ephesians 5:18 says “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit”. We contact the physical world through our body and the psychological world through our soul. The spirit is the organ we use to contact God and to receive God’s life into us! Hallelujah! Because we have a human spirit, we do not have to be independent or isolated from God. This spirit is in each one of us, so we can all contact God and receive God into us.

As you exercise your body to keep it healthy and as you are in college to train your mind with a lot of knowledge, you have to always remember: In order to fulfill God’s purpose, the spirit needs to be exercised regularly to contact God, to receive God and to contain God.

How about you? What is your experience? Take some time to share with one another how you exercise your spirit to contact God.

Finally, can you answer this question: What does the Bible reveal concerning what we are?

If you have the time, we encourage you to read another post that has a razor sharp focus on the human spirit: The Tripartite Man and the Exercise of our Spirit

March 2021 – Gospel of John Bible Reading Challenge

Christians-on-Campus-2021-March-Gospel-of-John-Bible-Reading-Challenge

We challenge you to read the Gospel of John in the month of March.

  • This activity is meant to strengthen our Christian walk.
  • The club will start Wednesday, March 10, 2021, and go for 21 days, one chapter per day.
  • This is a great opportunity for you to tell someone about this activity and introduce them to the Bible!
  • See you in God’s word!

A Corporate Man Fulfilling God’s Great Plan

A-Corporate-Man-Fulfilling-Gods-Great-Plan

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

Eph-1-5-Predestinating-us-unto-sonship-through-Jesus-Christ-for-Gods-full-salvation

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,

Christians-on-campus-Gods-plan-Good-Pleasure-Purpose-Economy-Animated

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

A Rare View of Eternity Past

Eph-3-9-And-to-enlighten-all-that-they-may-see

The book of Ephesians in the Bible is a deep book. If we read it too quickly, it is easy to miss God’s thought. We start to explore God’s full salvation in this deep book. The apostle Paul wrote Ephesians with a rare view of eternity past. God showed Paul something that was in God’s own heart, something that was there in eternity past, even before creation.

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Our aim here, is to see what was in God’s heart. May God give us the spiritual eyes to see such a thing! Then we want to see His eternal purpose which is precisely according to what is in His heart. Finally, God’s heart and His purpose result in His economy, which is His way to fulfill His purpose and the desire of His heart. 

God’s plan in eternity past

What is in God’s heart is God’s good pleasure. God’s good pleasure is revealed in multiple verses.

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

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

As you can see, verse 9 also shows us how God’s purpose is His will that is according to His good pleasure.

God’s good pleasure and HIs purpose result in God’s economy. Verse 10 says: 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. 

Because both verses 5 and 9 above state that God’s will (or purpose) is according to His good pleasure, then we can say that what God plans to do is out from His heart’s desire. The illustration below may help.Christians-on-campus-Gods-plan-Good-Pleasure-Purpose-Economy-Animated

Chapter 3 of Ephesians further reveals God’s economy. Take a moment to read verses 9 through 11.

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, 10 In order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, 11 According to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s good pleasure

God’s good pleasure is a very significant term in the book of Ephesians. It refers to God’s desire, which is the delight of God’s heart. Our good pleasure is what makes us happy. We are all seeking a certain kind of pleasure. The pleasure we seek comes from the desire of our heart, deep within us. It is good to stop and consider these things. 

  • Consider what pleasure you seek.
  • What do you plan to do to carry out the desires of your heart?

God also has His pleasure. There is something within God’s heart that pleases Him and makes Him happy. It is because there is something in God’s heart that He plans what He plans and does what He does.

Ephesians chapter one, thus speaks about what is in God’s heart. In this chapter, we see that the issue of what started in God’s heart is the church. Go back, and read, and see if you can find the church in Ephesians chapter one. The church is the desire of God’s heart, His good pleasure. The church is not a physical building in your neighborhood; it is something spiritual and something out from the heart of God. May we all have such a deep and even eternal view of the church.

If you would like, you can read all of Ephesians chapter 1: here

God’s eternal purpose

How can we know God’s eternal purpose? It is revealed in the Bible. Ephesians 1:11 says: 

In whom (Christ) also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will. 

God’s purpose is God’s will, God’s goal. This purpose is according to God’s good pleasure and comes out from His good pleasure. If we want to know God’s purpose, we must go back to the beginning of the Bible and find God’s purpose.  Genesis 1:26 says: 

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. 

At the beginning of the Bible is God’s creation. The ultimate step of His creation is His creation of man. His creation of man was special. In it we find God’s eternal purpose. 

God’s eternal purpose is to have a group of people, a corporate man, created in His image and likeness. God desires this man to be filled with Him as life in order to express Him and have His dominion to represent Him. 

  • Can you point out image and dominion in Genesis 1:26?
  • How can we say that God desires a corporate man?
  • How would you describe God’s purpose using Genesis 1:26?

When we speak of God’s purpose, we specifically say that it is eternal. Eternal means without beginning and without ending. God had this purpose before time began and it will never change. This is why Ephesians 3:11 says:

According to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

God’s economy

God’s economy describes all the steps God takes to carry out His purpose. In brief, God’s economy is His dispensing Himself into man to produce the church as His corporate expression. God is like a rich father who distributes the riches to His whole household. God’s riches are just Christ Himself and His household is us, the church! Thus, His economy is His household administration through which He dispenses Himself as the divine life to us. The excerpt below talks of God’s economy, Christ, and the Church. 

God’s economy is Christ with the church. As we consider God’s economy as revealed in the book of Ephesians, we need to pray that the Lord will give us an open heaven with a clear sky. If we would know God’s economy, not only must we have the knowledge of the book of Ephesians; we must also touch the reality contained in this book. We are not for mere knowledge—we are for reality. The reality in the book of Ephesians is God’s economy concerning Christ with the church.

In relation to God’s purpose, the word economy is unfamiliar to many Christians. The Greek word for economy, oikonomia, is used three times in Ephesians. In 1:10 Paul speaks of a dispensation, or economy, of the fullness of the times, in which all things will be headed up in Christ. In 3:2 he speaks of the stewardship of the grace of God, and in 3:9, of the dispensation of the mystery. The English word economy is an anglicized form of oikonomia, which means administration, stewardship, arrangement, or dispensation. In particular, in this sense economy denotes dispensing. God’s economy is to dispense Himself into His chosen people. Apart from Himself, God has nothing to dispense into His chosen ones. Hence, His economy is to dispense Himself into us. This is altogether related to Christ with the church. (Life Study of Ephesians, chapter 75)

Christ not only came into us to be our life when we became a Christian, but He is ready to dispense Himself into us all the time.  May we all open wide and turn to this wonderful One. He is rich and sweet.

Through the course of this Bible study on God’s full salvation, we will see how we are saved from our sins, how we escape judgment, how we are filled with joy, life and peace, and how we become truly spiritual people.  We hope that by our having taken this scenic view of eternity past, we also see that God’s full salvation takes care of God’s need. Thus, as we progress through our Christian life, receiving His dispensing, God’s heart’s desire is fulfilled more and more.

The Tripartite Man and the Exercise of our Spirit

1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has exulted in God my Savior.

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, / Searching all the innermost parts of the inner being.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. 40 Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

The quotation below comes from the book, God’s Plan of Redemption, by Mary E. McDonough

The terms “inner man” and “outer man,” or their equivalents, are employed in modern psychology, but the psychology of the Bible is more analytical inasmuch as it indicates a subdivision of the invisible part of man, thus teaching us that man is not dichotomous but is a trichotomous being. We find this plainly taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and indicated in Hebrews 4:12 and Luke 1:46-47.

This tripartite being may be illustrated by a third piece of cardboard containing three circles. Within the inner circle print the word “spirit.” Within the second circle (surrounding the first) place the word “soul,” and within the outer circle the word “body.” (See Figure)

With the spirit we know God and our relation to Him and our relation morally to every created object. With our soul powers—the intellect, sensibilities (affections, emotions) and will—we are able to deal with the intuitions of the spirit, the claims of these various soul faculties and the record of the bodily senses.

“The spirit of man,” not the soul, is said to be “the candle of the Lord” (Prov. 20:27). Caution the class in reference to a careless use of these terms. Do not say “soul” when “spirit” is meant and vice versa. Avoid the phrase “body, soul and spirit,” as it inverts the Divine order of arrangement. In a normal condition the powers of the spirit control the powers of soul and body.

(God’s Plan of Redemption, by Mary E. McDonough, http://marymcdonough.ccws.org/redemption/index.html)

The Recovery Version of the Bible renders 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 with the word “soulish” and we find it most appropriate, especially in its context. “But a soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he is not able to know them because they are discerned spiritually. But the spiritual man discerns all things, but he himself is discerned by no one.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15)

Instead of soulish, many translations of the Bible use “natural”. In any case, The footnote on “soulish” in the Recovery version goes right along with sister McDonough’s admonition that we distinguish between the spirit of man and the soul of man: “A soulish man is a natural man, one who allows his soul (including the mind, the emotion and the will) to dominate his entire being and who lives by his soul, ignoring his spirit, not using his spirit, and even behaving as if he did not have a spirit (Jude 19).”

We need to pursue Christ with an exercised spirit. Calling on the name of the Lord, crying to Him from our deepest part, “Oh, Lord Jesus”, is one way to exercise our spirit. We can also exercise our spirit by praising the Lord. Praising Him with “Praise the Lord!” and “Hallelujah” is to worship the Lord with our spirit. 

If we read the Bible merely with our mind we will be like those who search the scriptures yet are not willing to come to Christ. To exercise the spirit means to contact the Lord Himself. When we come to verses in the Bible we should read and pray, pray and read, always contacting God as we read the scriptures. This is to exercise the spirit. This is why pray-reading is recommended. We don’t advocate pray-reading as a form, but we exhort the believers to continuously contact the Lord in their reading. 

If man does not exercise his spirit, no matter how noble his deeds, no matter how deep his thoughts, no matter how scriptural his words, the transmission of God to that man will be absent. Let us make a strong resolution to be the spiritual men, ones who receive the things of the Spirit of God and discern all things. In our personal time with the Lord and in our corporate pursuit with others, let us come in this way, with an exercised spirit.

 

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The Human Spirit

Zechariah 12:1 The burden of the word of Jehovah concerning Israel. Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Ephesians 2:22 In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit,

Ephesians 6:18 By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints,

Romans 1:9a For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son

Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

God created us with a human spirit for good reason. The human spirit matches God’s Spirit so that God can dispense Himself into us. We know from John 4:24 that God is Spirit, and by all the verses above (and so many more) we also see that we have a human spirit. By it we contact God and receive Him! John 3:6 shows us that the part in our being where we were born again was our human spirit.

A hymn titled “There’s a Life That’s Deeper than our Mind” talks about touching our human spirit. In this hymn there is also a call to the Christ who is in our spirit to come make home in our heart– that is, to spread out from our human spirit to our whole being. (You can see the lyrics to the whole hymn here: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/ns/217 ).

When we touch our spirit—such a thrill!
This is far beyond emotion, mind, and will—
It’s within our hidden part—
Come, make home in all our heart;
Let Your presence flow as rivers deep within.

All the genuine spiritual experiences in our Christian life are experiences in our human spirit.

We may have previously thought that we were only made of an inner part and an outer part, but the Bible reveals a third part, the human spirit. How wonderful it is to discover our human spirit!

We invite you to read this excerpt on the human spirit. It is only a small portion from a series of lessons designed to impart the truth of the Bible to young people.
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/THE-HUMAN-SPIRIT-2.HTML

 

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A Life Which Produces Glory and Praise to God

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, what things are true, what things are dignified, what things are righteous, what things are pure, what things are lovely, what things are well spoken of, if there is any virtue and if any praise, take account of these things.

Philippians 4:13 I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

How great is God’s heart? How deep? How high are His thoughts? The God who sent us His only Begotten Son to die for us, this One who washed us with His blood and who gave us the life-giving Spirit to be our life, this awesome God has awesome plans for us.

By our receiving and enjoying His life, we become people who shine out God. Thus, our Christian life is full of hope and full of meaning. Rather than waiting to go to heaven someday, we are actively pursuing Christ with others, we are endeavoring to enjoy God at every turn, and God’s glory is gradually filling our life. This happens to the extent that others see something awesome; they see God living again through us.

We want to get soaked with the Triune God– soaked, meaning, saturated with Him. The joy of God fills us to the point that our smile causes people to turn to God. Our walk causes people to desire to walk with God. Our message of the love of God becomes a living message that touches people. We become ones who exude God. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ”. To be filled with Christ day by day and to walk in oneness with Him is to live Christ. 

Doing things for ourselves, to gain the praises of men, by appending titles to our names, or by securing our name on a plaque on the wall, or even by performing to gain a great applause, these things do not actually glorify God. We might have said that we did them for the glory of God, but what was gained was praise for ourselves.

A characteristic of a life that lives out Christ is that it produces praise in people. This praise is not gained for the one that lives out Christ, but for God Himself. People see you, hear you and observe you, and what wells up in their being is, “Praise God!” and “Thank You God!” May such a living be our daily goal. What we need for this, is to go to the Lord, full of repentance, full of thanks, full of love toward Him, and full of a deep desire to be filled with Him.

This post was inspired by the verses in Philippians and by an excerpt from the book, “The Experience and Growth in Life”. We recommend to you the reading of that excerpt, linked here.
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/VIRTUE-AND-PRAISE.HTML

 

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Praise For Our Resurrection with Him

Ephesians 2:1 And you, though dead in your offenses and sins,

Ephesians 2:5-6 Even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) 6 And raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,

Philippians 3:10 To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

God is almighty and powerful, the creator of heaven and earth. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:2 goes on to report what Satan did to God’s creation, “But the earth became waste and emptiness.” In verse 3 God then said, “Let there be light.” Genesis proceeds to show us God’s wonderful restoring work. 

For centuries, worshippers have been praising God for all His works.  God has many works. His creation is a work; His feeding the birds and clothing the lilies of the field is a work; His sustaining all of us is a work; His taking what Satan corrupted and restoring it is a work. In the New Testament, we come to God’s highest and deepest works. His works in the New Testament are mysteries and are works accomplished in the spiritual realm. To gain our highest praise, we must be people of faith, reading the Bible, praying, and exercising our spirit of faith, believing in all of God’s glorious accomplishments.

We will see how one of the psalmists praised Jehovah and then we will see a higher and deeper praise for God’s works in the New Testament. The Old Testament certainly has worthy praises such as those found in Psalm 33. Here is Psalm 33:1 and 33:6-7 and 33:9a:

Psalms 33:1 Rejoice in Jehovah, O righteous ones. / Praise is becoming to the upright.

Psalms 33:6-7 By the word of Jehovah the heavens were made, / And all their host, by the breath of His mouth. 7 He gathers the water of the sea like a heap; / He puts the deep waters into storage places.

Psalms 33:9 For He spoke, and it was; / He commanded, and it stood.

In the New Testament, we can see all the mysterious, wonderful things God went on to accomplish in Christ. Here is a list of some of these things.

1) He came down to be a lowly man named Jesus, living the life of God in a man. 
2) He took away all the sins of mankind by putting them on Himself when He went to the cross. 
3) By His death on the cross, He terminated Satan, sin, and death.
4) He picked all of us up as well and took us to the cross. 

Then a most wonderful thing happened. This is one of God’s greatest works in the universe. God raised us up together with Christ! Ephesians 2:6 says that we were raised up together with Him! Although we even went to the cross with Christ, He didn’t leave us there, but brought us up together with Him! Where are we now? We can praise God that we are no longer dead in our sins! We can praise Him that we died with Him and were resurrected with Him! We are seated with Him in the heavenlies! Praise the Lord! We will praise God for eternity, for His marvelous works!

This short excerpt from the Life Study of Psalms helps to make these points clear.
http://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/IN-PRAISING-AND-GIVING-THANKS-TO-GOD.HTML

 

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Praising the King in His Victory

Psalms 45:3-5 Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O mighty One, / In Your majesty and Your splendor. 4 And in Your splendor ride on victoriously / Because of truth and meekness and righteousness; / And let Your right hand teach You awesome deeds. 5 Your arrows are sharp: / The peoples fall under You; / The arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

We have to admit, when we are looking at the messy earth, it is indeed hard to praise the Lord. Things around us may not be going so well. There are stories on the news that trouble us. Therefore, we have to see that the way to become one who praises the Lord all the day long is to look at HIM!. We can always review the Lord’s deeds, not only the things He has done for us in our lifetime, but also what He has accomplished on His own for all of humanity. Nothing encourages us more than to read the Bible, especially the gospels, for there, Christ manifests his victory throughout all His life and ministry. Hymn 1174, What a Victory, what a Triumph, also expresses the victory of Christ! Hallelujah, Hallelujah! We will praise unceasingly!

1
What a victory! What a triumph!
God Himself became a man,
Clothed Himself in human nature
To fulfill His mighty plan.
He through death destroyed the devil;
Risen now, the Son of Man!

2
Jesus by His human virtues
Did the subtle one arrest;
He as man withstood the tempter,
Fully passed through every test.
Now in spirit I can take Him,
All His virtues to possess.

3
In the Spirit of this Jesus
Is His human life so fine.
Human virtues have been added
To the Spirit all divine.
What abundance in this Spirit,
Rich supply for all mankind!

4
How mysterious! Yet how real!
Such a man now lives in me.
Into all my heart He’s spreading—
He, my human life, to be.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
I will praise unceasingly.

5
Oh, what wonder! Oh, how glorious!
God in flesh is manifest.
We the members of His Body
His humanity express.
For the building of God’s dwelling
We His human life possess.

This excerpt is a helpful word that explains how Psalm 45 is a poetic prophecy of the victory of Christ.
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/PRAISING-THE-KING-IN-HIS-VICTORY.HTML

 

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Praise For His Incarnation

Psalms 113:6 Who humbles Himself to behold / The heavens and the earth

Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped, 7 But emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men; 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of a cross.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 And every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

The quotation below, from the ministry of Witness Lee, briefly explains the parallel between Psalm 113 and Philippians chapter 2. 

Psalm 113 is the praise of God’s elect for God’s exaltation and humility in taking care of the lowly and needy ones. Verses 4 through 6 say, “Jehovah is high above all the nations, /And His glory is above the heavens./Who is like Jehovah our God,/Who has set His throne on high,/Who humbles Himself to behold/The heavens and the earth?” This is a praise both of God’s exaltation and His humility. His humility was manifested in His incarnation. If we compare these verses with Philippians 2:7-11, we will see that Christ humbled Himself and, due to His humility, He was exalted. (Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 39, by Witness Lee)

May we praise our Lord Jesus every day, realizing that He is God almighty, who humbled Himself and was exalted by God in the highest way!

 

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Praising, Victory, and Rejoicing

2 Corinthians 8:1 Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,

2 Corinthians 8:2 That in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality;

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them of the Macedonian believers. Those believers experienced the grace of God. The grace of God is the resurrected Christ coming to us as the Spirit to be enjoyed by us. The Macedonians overcame trial and difficulty by staying in the joy of the Lord. We should not minimize the joy of the Lord. In the joy of the Lord there is strength.

These believers enjoyed the Lord to the extent that they sought to participate in taking care of needy saints. Even if they had little money, by enjoying the Lord, they were simple to desire the giving of whatever they had. Their outpouring was indeed sweet, but the source was the grace of God. The way to enjoy the Lord is to praise Him. We can say, “Hallelujah!”. The meaning of hallelujah is “Praise the Lord!”. Any time, no matter what you are doing, you can simply say, “O Lord! Amen! Hallelujah!”. By this, you will experience the sweetness of the Lord Jesus and, like the Macedonians, you will live a life that flows out of the grace of God.

The following fellowship talks about when we should praise the Lord. Read this and consider your own praising of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/TWO-PRAISES-AND-THANKSGIVINGS.HTML

 

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Out of the Mouth of Babes and Sucklings

Psalms 8:1 O Jehovah our Lord, / How excellent is Your name / In all the earth, / You who have set Your glory over the heavens!

Psalms 8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings / You have established strength / Because of Your adversaries, / To stop the enemy and the avenger.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

When we read these verses in the presence of the Lord we cannot let them go by without our exercising to open our mouth and praise His name. As we read, we can strongly declare, “How excellent is Your name! Oh Lord Jesus, Your Name!. Hallelujah for the name of our God! Jehovah our Lord!” The name of Jesus means Jehovah the Savior or Jehovah our Salvation. Thus, knowing this we can continue praising: “Hallelujah for Jesus! Jehovah our Savior! In all the earth, Your name is excellent!”

We recommend the following ministry reading. It opens the deep significance of Psalm 8!
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/DAVIDS-INSPIRED-PRAISE-OF-THE-EXCELLENCY-OF-CHRIST.HTML

 

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