On the Epistle to the Ephesians: Chapter 4 Continued

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To the sixteenth verse we have ecclesiastical exhortation connected with what we have had, founded on this unity of chapter 2. The first thing is lowliness, that is the general exhortation. Jews and Gentiles were jealous of one another. Here it is the state of a man’s soul. The fact of all this privilege is to make a man lowly, &c.
Q. What is the vocation? It is the position we have in Christ in chapters 1 and 2.
(V. 4.) “Your calling.” It is God’s calling to you, that to which you are called. The unity of the Spirit is in the bond of peace. If we are quarreling, it is clear we are not in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Jews and Gentiles were brought together, and were to walk in the power of that practically. As they all have the Spirit, and each has the Spirit, so they have to walk in the unity of this Spirit in the bond of peace.
We get three unities here.
The first unity is, one body, one Spirit, one hope; the second, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; the third, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. The unity of the body is maintained, whether the will or not. “There is one body.” You cannot pull a member out of Christ. That which is one I am to keep practically one in the bond of peace. We have not the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost exactly, but more their special places in the economy of grace, the Spirit—the Lord, and God and Father. You have the Spirit the reality of the thing; then I get the public profession, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; then the universal unity (v. 6), one Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and—He brings us back—in us all.
We are to walk in the bond of peace because there is one body. It is not the effect of our keeping it.
We are baptized into one body, and are in the unity of the Spirit. But we have not kept it, and have been fighting and quarreling, and all that. Endeavoring is to be the desire of our hearts. I have the blessings in unity, not what we have just been considering in connection with the Spirit, the Lord, and God and Father.
And now we come to what is individual, “To every one of you is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (v. 7). This is individuality. The unity took in all; now I have it individualized. One is an apostle, another is a prophet, another is an evangelist, and so on. But you get it universal to every member.
First you have the permanent gifts. They were always apostles or prophets, but they were not always prophesying although they were permanent. Here they were persons, not only gifts.
In v. 6 you clearly see the universality of the gifts, there I get every member taking his part. In Rom. 12 you have it both individual and general. You have waiting on your ministry, &c., and he runs it on even into graces—all gifts. In Corinthians you have the simple phase of power. A man speaks with tongues, but (chap. 14) though the Spirit gives him the power to speak with tongues, he is not to say a word for all that, unless they understood, or that there was one to interpret. And so in the case of a revelation given to another sitting by, a prophet even was to hold his peace. It is not that his power is not real, but if he uses it at an improper time, he is not acting in grace, nor according to the Spirit.
In Eph. 1 get Christ interested in the Church, and establishing that which is to edify it.
This will go on always, because Christ will not give up caring for His Church.
In Rom. 12 you have positive permanent gifts. A man is not to go beyond his gift, and then Paul goes on even to graces. Here we have (v. 16) that which every joint supplies. Here it is the grace of Christ supplying for the need, In Corinthians there is nothing said of its continuing forever, but here it is till we all come (v. 13). It said (chap. 2:20), “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” You are not going to lay the foundation again.
Here the gift is identified with a person.
Q. What is the difference between Christ being the chief corner-stone and the foundation of the apostles and prophets? This foundation was the first thing that was laid, and Christ was the corner-stone that bound it all together.
In Matt. 16, “on this rock I will build my church,” it is Christ building; here it is Christ binding together. We have all these counsels. Christ going into death, and being buried in the lower parts of the earth, so that He could not be holden of it. Then He goes up above all heavens, so that the whole redemption scene rises above everything.
Then the persons He has delivered from Satan He makes the vessels of His power in delivering other souls. It is connected with the fact of Christ having gotten the victory and filling all things.
(V. 8.) “Led captivity captive,” is leading Satan captive. Christ is looked at as Messiah on earth. All that is gone now, because He goes down out of the way of Jews and Gentiles, and out of the way of everything; and then I have Christ in glory, and not a Christ on earth accomplishing promises. I have one who, to glorify God, goes down below all things, in order to go up above all things and glorify God. Fre gave up His Jewish place of Messiah in descending, so He goes above all things, and fills all things in the power of His redemption.
Then we come to the application (v. 12). 1St, Perfecting of the saints. 2nd, The general work of the ministry, the edification of the body of Christ, and the building up of the saints. Perfecting is having it complete in all its parts.
Q. Why do you want evangelists for the edification of the body?
If you go to edify all the body, you must bring in others. Edify the body means building up the body. So if you did not have evangelists you could have no body at all to build up. Pastors and teachers build them up in detail.
(V. 13.) If he is working to bring us into this (the perfect man), I quite admit I do not expect it to be brought about, but it is the object of desire.
Here is a person that dyes not know the unity of the body at all, but I should walk with him as a child of God, and hope the Lord will teach him that too.
Q. What is the meaning of the word prophesy in the New Testament?
Prophesy is a very vague word. It is used for positive inspiration, and it is used for edifying and building up in all things. Prophecy now is when a person, in the power of the Spirit of God, brings truth home to saints who do not know it. He is in a general sense prophesying. Not of course making a new revelation. It does not follow it is about future events at all. Half of the inspired writings of the prophets are not foretelling future events. How few future events you have in Jeremiah. It is often recalling them to what the Lord would have them do.
The exhorter exhorts persons to conduct, but the prophet brings out truth which has lapsed perhaps, and is not owned.
(V. 15.) “Perfect man” is individual, because you get speaking the truth in love, that you may grow up into Him in all things, who is the head.
Q. What is perfect in Christ? The man that is perfect in all that Christ has formed him for.
In one sense a perfect man means a full-grown man. Paul could not ‘say he had attained. When you come to results, it is quite true that we are not practically perfect. These gifts are given for the purpose “till we all come,” &c. I do not doubt but that if there were more devotedness, there would be more gift developed.
When the breach was made between God and the people of Israel, and the ark was taken, every link gone and Ichabod written on the people, He raises up Samuel, in sovereign grace, to be a link with Israel by prophecy.
(V. 13.) “Till we all come.” This is going on always.
(V. 16.) You get the mutual connection of all saints.
Observe it is to the edifying of itself in love, and it grows up.
Q. Does this show that every member has the power of building up?
Yes, certainly. Look at a man who has godly wisdom and a gracious heart, and never moves his lips in the assembly.
A man may be doing an immense work which never appears here, except in the peace that is maintained. It will all come out in the day of Jesus Christ. There may be a word of wisdom or exhortation in private also; it is not necessarily in the assembly. I think there is danger of lectures and addresses swamping the responsibility of every member. (V. 17.) I get the principle of individual walk. There are two great subjective principles of godly walk. One is having put off the old man, and having put on the new, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (vs. 22-24). I have got now a man who is not after man, but after God. I have got a man put off which corrupts itself, and a man put on which is created anew. The second is that the Spirit is dwelling in me, and I am not to grieve the Spirit, whereby I am sealed till the day of redemption (v. 30).