Day 29: The mystery of salvation and authority of the Church.
‘‘And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.’’ Eph. 1: 22 – 23.
Additional reading: Matt. 28: 18; Rom. 8: 38; Phil. 2: 9 – 10; Heb. 2: 7
The assignment God has given this new generation of people — the Church — Christians is soul winning — preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth and testifying of our salvation experiences — ‘‘that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ — that once we had no identity as a people; now we are God’s people. Once we received no mercy; now we have received God’s mercy. Our assignment as the Church of Jesus Christ is to enforce and maintain His victory over the forces of darkness by testifying His goodness and exercising the heavenly authority handed down the Church. To get a clearer picture of this, we must study the above.
The book Ephesians is one of those Paul wrote while in Roman prison. This book reveals the ‘mystery’ of the Church, i.e. God’s secret plan for redemption, which is to form a body to reflect Jesus’ fullness on earth, to bring salvation to all mankind and unite both the Jews and Gentiles and to equip and empower His body to enforce and maintain Christ’s victory and authority over all Satanic powers and influence.
To this end Paul wrote: ‘‘God has revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfil his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.’’ (Eph. 1: 9 – 10 NLT). God’s mystery is that at the right time He will bring everything in heaven and on earth under the authority of Jesus Christ. This authority is to be exercised by His body, which He has united as one, i.e. the Church.
Mystery could best be said to be an event or situation that is difficult to fully understand or explain. It is also an unknown thing or secret. Read this: ‘‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.’’ (1 Cor. 2: 7 – 10).
The mystery in question was concealed from the rulers of this age — Satan and his cohorts. Men of old had no knowledge of this mystery — the hidden secret. Angels also sort to know it, but they too could not comprehend. But it has been revealed in our time through God’s Spirit. Paul explains the mystery more in detail:
‘‘[This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles (consecrated messengers) and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit. [It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel).’’ (Eph. 3: 5 – 6 AMP).
The crux of the mystery is this: that the Gentiles who had no previous dealings with God, and were not partakers of His covenant blessings would be united with the Jews as one body in Christ and become God’s chosen people and share in all of God’s divine inheritance, while enforcing and maintaining Christ’s victory and authority on earth. This event — the salvation of Gentile nations and their unity with the Jews in Christ is a mystery because it is beyond human comprehension.
In a bid to get the Church understand this mystery, which was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit and his earnest desire to have the Church know her glorious inheritance in Christ, Paul prayed:
‘‘For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe him. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.’’ (Eph. 1: 15 – 21 NIV).
Against the backdrop of this great mystery, which he had received the revelation, he prayed God that the Church would have a clear understanding of it too. He prayed that the Church may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know God better, and the eyes of their hearts been enlightened — opened to know the hope of their calling, their inheritance and power in Christ.
Except the Church had a clear understanding of this mystery, the work of Christ on the cross might not be effective as desired. Without this knowledge, the Church could best be likened to a prince going about naked and hungry for lack of knowledge of his princely inheritance. Please note Peter’s description of the Church: ‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ To fit into this description, the Church must have a grasp of Paul’s earnest prayers.
So what does the Church share in common with Christ?
‘‘And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.’’ The Contemporary English Version puts it this way: ‘‘God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.’’
God placed Jesus Christ above all powers in heaven and earth following His mighty victory at the cross — He put all things under the power of Christ. Note this: ‘‘…and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.’’ For the good of the Church — you and I — and not for anyone else, God made Him to be head of everything. It does not stop there; it says that the Church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ! What does this mean?
It means that the fullness of Christ — everything that makes Him Jesus Christ, the Son of God dwells richly in the Church — in full measure. This means the Church is the express image of Jesus Christ as He is the express image of God.
‘‘God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.’’ This scripture makes it clear that the Church should maximize the fullness of Christ’s potentials in order to continue in the Great Commission while exercising authority over all rulers of this age. ‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’
The mystery could be concluded thus: through the salvation and unity of Jews and Gentiles, God raised unto Himself a chosen people — the Church — to demonstrate His power to the ends of the earth and over the rulers of this age — Satanic forces and influences.
Meditation: For my good Jesus returned victoriously from the cross!
Prayer: Help me Father that my eyes of understanding may be opened that I will know the glorious inheritance I have in You.
Questions: (1) What is the mystery? (2) What are the components of Paul’s prayer? (3) For whose good did God put all powers under Jesus Christ?