The Place Of Humanity In God's Purpose
Part 9

A unique treasure chest (2)

by John H. Essex

GOD WILLS to vest all sovereignty in His own Son. The disruption and the present insubjection help to magnify the need for the future administration of the complement of the eras when all will be headed up in Christ. But for this to happen Christ Himself must first be exalted to a position which is high above all others, and we find that this is what actually occurs.


Christ had emptied Himself of all His former glory in order to descend to the depths of the cross; now, as we read in verse 21 of Ephesians one, He is roused from among the dead by the might of God's strength, and seated at God's right hand, "up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon but also in that which is impending." And now we find another wonderful treasure in our chest, namely, that it is as "Head over all" that God gives Him "to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement by which all in all is being completed."

Yes indeed, Christ is already established as "Head over all;" in all three prison letters this is clearly stated. Philippians only confirms Ephesians when it says that "God highly exalts Him, and graces Him with the name that is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord' for the glory of God, the Father" (Phil.2:9-11). Colossians adds its confirmation when it states, in relation to all powers in heaven and earth, whether visible or invisible, that they are all "created through Him and for Him, and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him; and He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first" (Col.1:16-19).


But if Christ is now exalted, it must follow that the ecclesia, which is His body, shares His exaltation, for our lot is cast in Him (Eph.1:11). Colossians puts it slightly differently, "Your life is hid together with Christ in God." And then Paul adds, "Whenever Christ, our Life, should be manifested, then you also shall be manifested together with Him in glory." Is not this wonderful? Christ cannot appear, cannot be manifested, unless and until the ecclesia is with Him to be manifested together with Him in glory. That is why the whole creation is groaning and travailing together until now (Rom.8:22). It is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. The ecclesia and Christ cannot function separately; they must appear together and be seen to be together and to function together. That is why we shall always be <i>"together with the Lord." And that is why, in the second chapter of Ephesians, the ecclesia is portrayed as being seated together "among the celestials, in Christ Jesus, that in the oncoming eons, He [God] should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Yet another treasure in our treasure chest!

The ecclesia is the complement of Christ, just as woman is the complement of man. There is an analogy here. When a complement (AV: helpmeet) was to be provided for man (Adam), it could not be found among all the animal creation that was paraded before him (see Gen.2:18-20). No, the complement must come from within. Up to the time of the deep sleep falling upon Adam, his complement had resided latent within himself, but on awaking from his sleep and seeing the woman, Adam was immediately aware of what had taken place, for he said, "This was once bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This shall be called woman, for from her man is this taken" (Gen.2:23).

The scripture in Genesis then proceeds to give the definition of marriage, and this is quoted by Paul, in Ephesians 5:31 as an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His ecclesia. Let us make it clear that the ecclesia is not the bride of Christ, for Adam never had a bride. A bride is always sought from without; Adam received his wife from within - she was his own flesh. Similarly, Christ does not seek His ecclesia which is His body, from without, for the scripture in Ephesians 1:4 makes it clear that it was chosen in Him before the disruption of the world. Until God's Son fell into the deep sleep of death, the ecclesia lay dormant in Him, unseen and unheard of all down the time covered by the Hebrew Scriptures. But from the moment that Christ is roused from among the dead, the ecclesia (in the sight of God) becomes a separate entity, and will in due course be presented to Christ as "a glorious ecclesia, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it may be holy and flawless" (Eph.5:27).

No illustration must be carried too far - never beyond what it is intended to illustrate. By the very nature of things, the woman must be presented to man as a complete being, and the ecclesia will be presented to Christ as a complete ecclesia. But there is no place in the illustration for the gradual process by which the ecclesia is called, one by one, from many generations of humanity spread over nearly two thousand years, nor for the fact that Christ presents the ecclesia to Himself.

But the illustration does support the truth that, once a complement is formed, the one from whom the complement is taken cannot fulfill its function in the purpose of God except through the complement. The former becomes the means by which God's operations are carried forward; the latter the medium through which they are carried forward. Man could obey the command of Genesis 1:28 to "be fruitful and increase and fill the earth, and subdue it" only through the woman who is his complement. Similarly, God has so designed His purpose that Christ can fulfill His function of subjecting and reconciling all to God only through the ecclesia which is His body, the complement by which all in all is being completed (or more literally: the complement of the [One] completing the all in all, Eph.1:23).

This is why Christ is at present regarded as being seated at God's right hand; this is why His present operations are scripturally defined as being on behalf of His ecclesia (see Rom.8:34; Eph.5:25-27). This is why His future (and we trust, imminent) coming for His ecclesia is so important: it is the event that will trigger off a fresh impetus to God's purpose, leading to the freeing of creation from the slavery of corruption (Rom.8:21), and to all the events of 1 Corinthians 15:25-28.


It is at this point of our considerations that there seems to be a tremendous difference between Christ and His ecclesia. Christ is completely without sin; the ecclesia is made up of sinners. Or is it? Is it made up of sinners? No, on the contrary, it is made up of righteous ones. In the Ephesian concept of the complement of a sinless Christ, the ecclesia cannot be something that is contaminated with sin; it must be holy and flawless. By the time we come to its position as it appears in the Ephesian epistle, its members have passed through all the stages of the Roman epistle. We have been justified; we have been made righteous in God's sight; nothing now is condemnation to us in Christ Jesus. But we were once sinners; once we walked in accord with the eon of this world; once we were in our nature children of indignation, even as the rest; but now we bask in the vast love of God Who vivifies us together in Christ. But if we were chosen in Christ before the disruption of the world and are therefore not in any way the offspring of rebellion, why are we called upon to pass through the experiences and tribulations of sinners?

There is more than one answer to this question, but in the context of the Ephesian epistle that we are considering, the answer is that God needed those who had been saved in grace in order to be able to display His grace among the rebel celestial inhabitants of His universe. He displays His grace to them by the way that He has dealt with us. In our former state we were a pretty bad lot like the rest of humanity, and the celestials, looking down on humanity as a whole with all its depravity and violence, must be really appalled at what they see. But then they see the ecclesia - the called-out ones, for that is what the word "ecclesia" means - they see them declared to be righteous and enjoying the favors of God, and they will come to see that the grace, which the loving kindness of God has showered upon us, is for them too. And what is stated to be the present lot of the ecclesia in verses 8-10 of Ephesians 2, will be their lot also when they likewise become recipients of the grace of God.


These verses (8-10) give the ultimate in salvation, when all creature endeavor is cast on one side and all is found to be of God. "In grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present, not of works lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them."

Yes, the transcendent riches of God's grace are to be displayed among the celestials; but, as we saw earlier, the influence of God's operations through the ecclesia does not stop with the lesser lights among them. No, indeed, far from it, for in the third chapter we find that the multifarious wisdom of God is to be made known to the sovereignties and authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia. And this, as again we noted earlier, is in accord with the purpose of the eons. This is what God's purpose is all about - the universal display of His grace and the ultimate reconciliation of all to Himself. This is what the ecclesia was created for. This is the calling with which we were called. It is nothing less than being the complement of Christ to bring God's purpose to its grand and glorious ultimate at the consummation of the eon.

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