Tuesday July 7, 2020
The riches of His glory:
EPH 1:18 - we are to know it.
EPH 3:16 - it is to give strength to our inner man.
ROM 9:26 - we were prepared beforehand by God to know it.
PHI 4:19 - we are to give of it to others.
COL 1:27 - it is Christ who is in you.
The riches of God’s glory is Christ and the hope of glory that He brings.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Christ’s suffering on the cross for the sins of the world were finished by Him and by Him alone. The sufferings of His brethren in the world throughout the church age are also His in some way.
Paul has his share in those sufferings, as do all believers in the age of the church. It is not a competition. God has determined them for each of us. Whether you endure them or you fail in them, they still cause suffering to the Lord. Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that he was persecuting Him. Altogether, all of those sufferings are also sufferings to Christ, and when they are done, that suffering will be filled up. When He returns at the Rapture of the church, He will end it, and only then will it end. We often imagine Him itching to return for His bride.
“Filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” They are Christ’s and yours, as He intercedes for us, goes with us, clothes us, indwells us. Paul heard on the day of his visitation, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
Imagine Paul, from time to time unable to escape the memories of his past life, bringing great pain and even death upon Christians, understanding now that he was inflicting pain in some way on Christ as well. It must have been heartbreaking for him. Yet with understanding, Paul would now find comfort in his own suffering, for as every blow, whipping, imprisonment, curse thrown at him was also thrown at the Savior, who stooped from His throne in heaven to declare that anything that is done, even to the least of His brethren, is done to Him.
If Paul never preached the gospel, he would not have suffered, but on the other hand, if he had not been persecuted, he would not have written these letters from Rome.
The church owes much to the violence that has shut up confessors of the gospel in dungeons.
After we just celebrated Independence Day, the most important epistles in the NT were written by a man in prison.
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” [Declaration of Independence]
The war that this document brought about was fortunately successful. It almost wasn’t. Things may go your way or not. Many things are completely out of your control. What will never change is your relationship to Christ.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
How much good has been done to you and me because of the persecution and suffering of the apostle Paul?
Whenever we find ourselves in the midst of undeserved suffering, we must remember to ask what good is to come to others through it. Most of us have to let a lot of time stretch between us and the sorrow before we could attain to that clear insight.
that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The riches of the glory known is knowing Christ. He is the revelation of the Father.
I wonder does Paul want us to focus on the fact that Christ is in us, or does he desire us to focus on Christ, and by mentioning His indwelling, he is simply emphasizing His closeness to each of us. I think we can get a bit distracted if we try to determine things theologically about God’s purposes that are not clearly stated in the scripture.
Theology is necessary to keep us grounded in the boundaries of the truth and not to exceed those boundaries. Sometimes theology, the examination of scripture, can detract from the relationship with Christ that the scripture was designed to lead us to. It may be hard for us to imagine, but there was a time when the church existed without theology. The first two generations of the church needed the epistles alone, even though false doctrine has invaded the church in the first generation, and early on in that generation. It was only when the tactic of Satan was to use actual scripture to teach false doctrine that theology became a need. And so, theology protects the scripture and its truth. It is like a fence around the scripture, but we are not to conform to the image of the fence. The scripture is to conform us to the image of Christ.
We were all predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Theology is an assistant to get us there, but we must never focus so much on theology that we forget where we are going.
The indwelling of Christ means His nearness to you as well as the fact that He has made you the temple of God.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
We must never focus so much on theology that we lose sight of the nearness that the indwelling of Christ gives to us.
Having Christ so near to you, forever indwelling you, will have its obvious result which is your hope being made firm. Everything good comes to us from God by a certain infection. We love Him because He first loved us. We find faith to be easy because He is faithful. We find ourselves obeying His commands because Christ submitted Himself to the Father. We find ourselves naturally revering God because He has revealed His majesty to us. Our love resembles God’s and from which it draws its life.
Love to God, resting on consciousness of His love to us, is the true armor.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear
The heart filled with God’s love is strong to resist the pressure of outward disasters, while the heart that is empty of it is crushed like a dried-up husk. Life is filled with landmines that all of us are bound to step on, and icebergs that drift rudderless that are bound to crash into us.
Love is also the condition of hope. The God who indwells you loves you unconditionally.
Again, Paul writes: Col 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The mystery is Christ, and certainly His indwelling us is a part of that mystery, but the mystery has been revealed, meaning the Person and work of Christ has been revealed.
If we stated the truth that the authority of the whole world is Christ at the right hand of God, we would be far more focused on the Person of Christ and not so much on the throne He sits on. Paul writes “the riches of the glory of this mystery, …which is Christ in you.” Here we wonder more about us than we did about the throne. My point is that the knowledge of the mystery is the knowledge of Christ, and the fact that He is in you doesn’t change the knowledge of Him a great deal, but it does make His Person far more intimate with your own.
Christ is the hope of glory. The fact that He indwells me means that that hope is never far away.
Like so many things of this nature, the scripture states the indwelling of Christ as a fact without a great dissertation on the reason why God chose to do so. Some simple but wonderful things are mentioned as being a result of His indwelling.
He indwells us so that:
In JOH 17:23, He indwells each of us so that we will be unified. In GAL 2:20, Paul states that Christ is in him so that He may live unto Christ. In COL 1:27 He indwells us so that our hope of glory would never be far from us. In ROM 8:10, Christ is in you making your spirit alive to righteousness.
If we stick with the scripture alone, then this is what we get, and it is marvelous!
The riches of glory perceived is the hope of glory - greater perceived.
This would reach its greatest heights in heaven, and we might wonder that it will keep on becoming more and more greater as eternity goes on.
In heaven, in worship of the Lamb, the angels, the living creatures, and the elders say with one voice:
REV 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
The glorious riches of God, like the mystery of God and the life of God, and be fully summed up in the person of Christ. He alone is worthy, and yet to us, His brethren, His bride, are given from the riches of God’s glory to perceive that glory, appropriate it, and strengthened with power by it from within.
And so, returning to Paul’s prayer in EPH 3:14-19, we find one of the great manifestations of the glorious wealth of God towards us, unbelievable really if it were not so plainly stated in the scripture:
Holy Spirit and the Christ working closely together within us in order to produce in us a certain type of clarity of thought and way, in fact, the most beautiful of all thought and way against which all others seem base and dark.
If we see them through the eyes of our heart (Paul’s first prayer in Eph) then every false thing stated about them and their function within us will be rejected.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.