Be brought to completion by the Spirit, part three
In our last blog, we saw that the book of Ephesians is about the church as a whole: the one Body of Christ.
This has major implications for how we interpret Ephesians 5:18.
Here is the English translation of Ephesians 5:18 that we are working with:
And do not get drunk with wine, which is dissipation (disorderly living, reckless abandon, the opposite of being made whole), but be completed (brought to completion, made full, brought to a designed end) by the Spirit.
And again, once we realize that the subject of Ephesians is the one body of Christ, the entire church as one entity, we see something else as well.
Ephesians 5:18 as a command directed to the entire body as a whole.
The entire statue
In other words, what is being brought to completion is the church as a whole, the one body of Christ.
Each member has a role to play in this, but it is just that: a role as one member of the body.
To use an analogy, consider the statue of David carved by Michelangelo.
Michelangelo carved that marble for over two years to produce this masterpiece.
So imagine that you visited his workshop one day while he was carving the statue of David.
Perhaps on that day he was working on David’s right hand.
Now that hand was clearly a masterpiece on its own. But all the work on the hand was to contribute to the overall statue of the entire man.
Every feature of that hand had to enhance the statue as one whole human body.
The legs, the feet, the hands, the eyes, everything worked together to produce the end result, which was to capture David just before his battle with Goliath. David is seen at the precise moment where he is at maximum concentration: he stands relaxed, confident, yet totally alert.
The right hand was carved to show pondered action. It wasn’t carved for its own individual glory, but rather to contribute to the greater glory of the entire statue.
The art historian Giorgio Vasari said this of Michelangelo’s David:
“nor has there ever been seen a pose so easy, or any grace to equal that in this work, or feet, hands and head so well in accord, one member with another, in harmony, design, and excellence of artistry”. (Giorgio Vasari, from his “Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects”).
This could equally be said about God’s masterpiece : Christ and His body, the church.
And so it is with the Spirit’s work to complete us. His eyes are always on the whole body of Christ.
Being brought to completion by the Spirit (Eph 5:18) means that we enter into this work.
God’s great purpose: the mystery now revealed
Once we realize that we, the one body of Christ, are to be completed by the Spirit, brought to a desired end by the Spirit, a question then arises:
What is the desired end toward which we are being brought by the Spirit? What is God’s purpose for this body as it grows and is being completed? Why are we to attain to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ?
In order to answer that question, we need to return to Ephesians chapters 1 and 3, as well as Colossians 2, and come to grips with one particular word. That word is “mystery”.
The purpose of God for the church, with Christ as her Head , is found in the wisdom of God. This wisdom had been kept hidden in a mystery. But now that mystery has been revealed in these very letters of Paul.
The books of Ephesians and Colossians work together to reveal this mystery. The mystery concerns Christ and His body, the church.
Ephesians reveals the mystery as it relates to the Body.
Colossians reveals the mystery of Christ Himself, as the Head of the Body.
And so God’s purpose, revealed in Ephesians and Colossians, is for the Head and the Body together.
The Head – Christ – is already complete. He has been glorified forever, and He is now at rest, seated at the right hand of the Father.
And we are complete in Him, in the Head. This means that we have been reconciled to God in Christ already. Our relationship to Christ and to God is perfect, complete, secure and unassailable.
However, the body is still being completed. The body is still growing, reaching fullness.
The body is growing in numbers ( what Romans 11 calls the fullness of the Gentiles).
And the body is also being completed in quality: love, unity, knowledge, hope, peace, faith.
The body is still being brought to complete fullness in all aspects: length, depth, height, and breadth.
So let’s turn again to the book of Ephesians now to see what it has to say about the purpose of God for the body of Christ now that Christ has achieved His victory at the cross.
Summing up all things in Christ
In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Notice first of all that the things God has done for us are all to the praise of His glory.
Quite literally, we are graced out so that His glory might be revealed and be praised.
And everything about our blessing comes from our relationship with Christ, our being in Christ.
Notice also that God’s purpose is stated clearly. It is to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
This is the mystery! God has now revealed His great purpose. Again, it is to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
And we find very similar language in Colossians chapter 1:
The church is central to this purpose of God
In connection with this, God has made known to us, the church , this mystery of His will.
Furthermore, in accord with God’s purpose to sum up all things in Christ, we have been predestined, as Christ’s body, to obtain an inheritance.
And when you add in the fact that God put all things in subjection under the feet of Christ, and gave Christ as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Christ who fills all in all - … (Eph 1:22-23)
You see that the church is central to the purpose of God to sum up all things in Christ.
So the church as the Body, with Christ as the Head, is being brought to her fullness in order to be God’s instrument in God’s work of reconciling all things to Himself, things on earth and things in heaven.
In other words, our impact as Christ’s body will register both on earth and in heaven.
God’s purpose in bringing us to glorious completion involves reconciling things on earth (chiefly human beings) and things in heaven.
We will refer back to this when we examine the practical side of all this, how this shows up in our daily lives, in chapters 4-6 of Ephesians.
Look for the things on earth and the things in the heavenly places.
The rulers and authorities in the heavenly places
Now God’s purpose and the mystery show up again together in chapter 3 of Ephesians.
We learn two vital things from this passage.
First, the mystery encompasses the fact that Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body.
Jews and Gentiles, once the largest fault line in the human race, are now joined together and reconciled to one another in the body of Christ.
Second, God is administering this mystery so His wisdom might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Paul talks a lot about the heavenly places in Ephesians, and he talks a lot about the rulers and authorities as well
God is using the church to broadcast to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places the completeness of His victory over His enemies at the cross.
And amazingly enough, as we shall see in Ephesians 4-6, this broadcast emanates from how we love one another, as well as how we use God’s weapons to hold our ground against these very same enemies.
I hope you are starting to see the glorious end to which the Spirit is leading us as a body, the church.
I hope you are starting to see the purpose for which we are being completed now by the Spirit.
When the eyes of our heart have been enlightened concerning the glorious purpose of the church, the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints, we start to realize more and more the significance of the Holy Spirit’s daily ministry in our lives.
This will give us much more motivation to allow the work of being completed by the Spirit to continue.
Until the next time, we’re all ….
In His grip,
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