Previously, we ended with the thought that God is not only preparing an eternal family, but He's also preparing an eternal dwelling place for His presence to be with His family. Presently, in this time frame known as the church age, God is preparing a bride, which is His body, who are individual lively stones, collectively being built as the temple of God where His presence will dwell upon this earth and reveal Himself to humanity until the consummation of this age.
Much of that thought is continued in the rest of this chapter. God desires to produce a place of habitation, so His presence can dwell with His people. He loves you, and He wants to live with you.
Ephesians 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
The eternal purpose reflects back to the verse we left last week, which explained the fact that God is revealing to both humanity and His angelic creation His multi-layered, multi-faceted, multi-colored wisdom through His church.
While mankind may be walking around with blinded eyes upon this earth, I can assure you that the angelic creation, both good and bad, is anticipating the next move by God. And currently, the wisdom of God is being made manifest in the fact that through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, God has produced one family, more specifically, one "new man," a new creation in Christ.
Now, let's look a little closer at this first verse of tonight's study. The word purpose here has a lot of rich meaning with regards to the plan of God. The word purpose is used 12 times in the New Testament and is always either translated in English as the word purpose (as it is here) or shewbread. Now, we will continue the thought of the shewbread momentarily, but first, let's consider the meaning of the word itself, which is prosthesis. This is a compound word:
Pros- before or toward
Thesis- to show forth or put forth
With this in mind, if we continue the previous thought from last week, God desires to put forward or show forth the wisdom of His plan through the birthing of His people known as His church.
But let's consider the shewbread of the tabernacle, which we pointed out last week was a place God commanded Moses to build so that He His presence could dwell with His people (Exodus 25:8).
In this tabernacle, there was a golden table. Just the thought of a table carries with it the concept of communion or fellowship; for there are multiple references in the scriptures regarding the table of The Lord. More specifically, this table had lain upon it 12 loaves of bread. These loaves were situated in such a way that there were two stacks of six and upon each stack, there was a golden dish (vessel) where Frankincense was placed within and that vessel, which was filled with Frankincense, was placed upon the bread.
These loaves were called shewbread or the bread of presence, literally “the face” because they were to be placed continually before The Lord. In other words, the tabernacle is where God chose to dwell with His people and He wanted this bread in front of Him at all times. As we continue, we will see His reasoning is for communion, or worded differently, to dwell with His people.
Such care had to be taken with the exchanging of this bread, which was changed out on each Sabbath-- the day of God's rest. The procession of the changing would follow this pattern: eight priests were required in order to perform this solemn weekly ritual. In a fluid movement, two would remove the golden dishes containing the Frankincense, while two others removed the loaves and two others simultaneously replaced the loaves and two others simultaneously replaced the golden dishes with the Frankincense. There was never to be a moment within the tabernacle where these loaves were not before His presence (Numbers 4:7). Now, I have good news because God’s word tells us that Jesus is seated in the presence of the Father at His right hand, and (Ephesians 1:19; 2:6) tells us we’re in Him.
There is an extremely important spiritual principle in this: God desires for you to be in His presence. He has taken such meticulous moves to remain faithful to His plan through the millennia of preparing a place where His presence can dwell with His people. The good news is that Jesus is the fulfillment of those loaves; He never gets old or outdated and never has to be replaced, so you don't have to go one minute without His presence. As a matter of fact, I submit to you that if we find ourselves separated from His presence, it's not because He sent eight priests in to remove us; instead, we have removed ourselves.
After this task was completed, the priests were to eat the bread; whereas, a portion of the Frankincense was to be burned as an offering upon the fire. Fire is always symbolic of judgment and eating bread symbolic of communion. We can have Communion in the presence of God because of the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus took our judgment.
Regarding the Frankincense, there is much typology reflecting Jesus. First, the way it was harvested is reminiscent of the beating and sacrifice of our Lord; for Frankincense was a gum or resin extracted from a tree, which was accomplished by cutting deep incisions into the bark of the tree from which it came, resulting in the tree bleeding out a purely white resin. The name Frankincense literally means white, and this resin, which was burned upon the fire, represents the purity of Jesus. We are certainly not taking too much liberty when we connect Frankincense to our Lord; for the magi recognized the connection as they brought Frankincense (purity), Myrrh (used for embalming--death), and gold (royalty) and laid them at the feet of our Lord. In order to fulfill the Father’s will and assume His position as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus had to offer His purity as a sacrifice through death to purchase us from the dead.
The bread represented Christ. At the same time, the bread was 12 loaves representing Israel but stacked in two piles of six, which is the number of man. The presence of heaven's bread (John 6:35) perpetually in the face of God provides a place of communion for God's people and a hope of salvation for fallen man.
This brings us back to God's eternal purpose, which is to reveal Himself to His creation, through communion with His church, so that in this church age, a lost and dying world will see His plan and come to know His love.
Ephesians 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
There is no question in my mind that the Holy Spirit is calling us back to the book of Hebrews with the way this verse is worded. While we have covered this verse a lot lately, we must, because of the context, go back there one more time:
Hebrews 10:18-20 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin
[notice here the repetition with which the Law functioned: constantly sacrificing, constantly changing bread. Jesus' work is a finished work, so the repetition stops].
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Most specifically the thought "boldness" and "entering in" should be compared to boldness and access in our Ephesians passage. And all this should be considered in conjunction with the fact that God is holy and His place (tabernacle) is holy; nevertheless, He has a very methodical plan through which He wants to dwell in communion with man.
Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Paul encouraged the saints at Ephesus not to allow his shackles to cause them discouragement as though his situation was a symptom that God wasn't accomplishing His purposes. To the contrary, Paul was convinced that even in the midst of his own personal imprisonment God had called him to minister the gospel to the Gentiles, and it was imperative that they understand his (Paul's) afflictions were for their glory.
Just let that sink in for a moment Christian. Think about how you order your own life, making all your decisions based upon what you perceive to be best for yourself rather than what's best for the body of Christ. Part of the churches' problem is that we don't view ourselves as the building of God; instead, we want to remain individual lively stones, not considering how decisions may affect the larger body of Christ. You may not like this, but this way of thinking is selfishness. Would a person cut off a finger without thinking about how it would affect the overall body from that point forward? Of course not, so why do we allow ourselves to make individual decisions without regard for how it will affect the overall body of Christ? Because I submit to you that we can't see Jesus like Paul did.
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
For the cause that God's purpose is being fulfilled in his life as a herald of the New Testament gospel, so the Gentile world will know the truth about Jesus, Paul bows his knees to the Father.
He bends the knee to the Father, and assumes a position of reverence in the presence of God. Even though he's in a jail cell for doing what God called him to do, he doesn't get bitter; instead, he reminds himself of how big the plan and purposes of God are, which he defines by going back to what all the previous thought alludes to: God is separating out for Himself a people for a family.
Ephesians 3:16-17 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Strengthened- to be made strong_ (Strong's). Empowered to overcome resistance_ (Walvoord).
Might- comes from Dunamis, which is the miracle working power of God.
...strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;...
This thought is still in reference to the family of God dwelling together as both Jew and Gentile are made as one. Most people would probably agree that there are very few things upon earth that cause more strife than racial divide. When the people of God, who are made up of all tongues, tribes, and nations are able to dwell together, it shows the men of the world and the angels in the heavenly realm the wisdom and power of God's plan.
But in order for God's plan to work on a corporate level, the Spirit of God must be allowed permission to change believers on an individual level. We've repeatedly made this point as we've journeyed through this series, but God's purposes in the church (His people) is to reveal Himself to the lost and dying. There is resistance to God's plan by the forces of evil, and one of the biggest ways the enemy combats God's plan is through causing God's people to behave in such a way that their testimony becomes invalid.
So God wants to strengthen. He wants to empower the believer through His power to resist the plans of darkness. And by His Spirit, empower the inner man of the believer.
The inner man here speaks specifically of the soul of man. We have covered this thought before, but it should be repeated. The inner man consists of both soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12) and are the eternal aspects of our humanity; whereas, the physical aspect of our humanity is this temporal flesh in which our inner man is housed. Paul referred to this outward part as an earthen vessel that is fading in 2 Corinthians 4. But the good news is that as God changes our human frailties, the more His glory shines through these earthen vessels.
So the spirit and soul of man are the inner man and one day our external parts will be glorified. Regarding the inner man, the spirit is specifically that aspect to man that will never die; we are eternal beings; furthermore, the spirit of man is that part of him which connects with God:
John 4:23,2; Ezekiel 36:25-27
Until a man is born again, his spirit is dead to the things of God. This concept could be likened to a receiver implanted, allowing a connection between man and God to be made. In the Ezekiel passage, we are told that in the New Covenant there would be a change to our heart (which I believe in this text represents our soul-- emotion), a change to our spirit (God said He would put a new spirit in us) and lastly, He would put His Spirit in us.
Now, this concept goes perfectly with the thoughts that we've been discussing recently where the plan of God is to build a family, yes, but also a holy habitation for His presence to dwell. Once again, you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16). So now you can become a walking worship service. Worship isn't something we do; instead, worship is our lives given back to Him. We certainly can express some of that through music, but what Jesus was referring to when He spoke to the Samaritan woman was that God's plan for true worship isn't about a place; instead, it's about His presence. And when He told her that salvation was of the Jews, He meant that from Israel, more specifically, Judah, He came. He came and brought salvation, which when embraced allows the spirit of man to be awakened to the things of God.
So our spirit is the eternal aspect of who we are. Both angels and humans are spiritual beings, but we live in houses of flesh. Furthermore, with our spirit, we connect to God (when born again), or we remain dead to God (when unredeemed/ non- believer).
While the spirit of man connects to God personally, the soul of man connects to his external environment. Through his soul, man filters and processes the external environment he engages on a daily basis. The word often translated for soul is psuche, where we get our English word psyche, which refers to the mind, thoughts, and emotions of man. Literally, the soul of a man refers to his individuality. In other words, it's your soul that makes you who you are. Matt is Matt. He's not Robert and vice versa. And with that thought the eternal aspect of your humanity I believe will be completely cognizant of what's happening for all eternity. In other words, of a person is in hell, they will know it, hear it, smell it, feel it....
It is through our soul that we perceive the world we live within. In other words our soul is the inner part that receives all the incoming information that we receive from our physical surroundings. Our soul receives the information of our external surroundings, and our flesh or physical body in turn engages our physical surroundings.
This certainly doesn't mean that our soul doesn't experience God. To the contrary, our soul experiences and perceives our external environment. Therefore, if our external environment is filled with things of God, then our soul is receiving and processing data regarding the things of God rather than the things of the world.
So the intake reflects the output. When the soul stays connected to God through faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and our physical body follows suit, our hands pick up the Bible, our eyes behold the words of glory and our external filter is further filled with the things of God, and it just gets better: my mouth starts talking about Jesus, my hands start praising the Lord. My feet start walking to jail, not because I broke the law, but because I'm preaching Jesus.
And you could take this same scenario and apply it to multiple areas. But there is no doubt that these three aspects of our humanity are working in tandem with the free will that God gave man. If the soul is craving lust, it will use its physical members to feed its inner man lust and the result is that his spiritual connection to God becomes more distant. Whereas, the new man who craves the things of God, puts the environment of God within him, which feeds and strengthens the inner man.
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
As the inner man is strengthened and changed, Christ, the anointed one is made to feel at home in our hearts. The word dwell describes reside, house, or live.
It's important that we understand that all this is made possible because of our connection point of faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. When I say it that way: Jesus Christ and Him crucified, I mean it that way! Because that is the way that God has chosen to covenant with man. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ and Him crucified is God's covenant with man (Matthew 26:26-28). When Jesus says this is the blood of the New Testament, that's another way for Him to say, "The offering of my life is the sacrifice required of the New Covenant, and your connection to the Father, which is represented by this communion meal, is through faith in my sacrifice."
Why does our faith have to daily remain in His sacrifice in order for all this to work?
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
First, let me remind you that we started down this trail because we're considering the concept of faith, because Ephesians 3:17 explains that it's by faith that Jesus is made to feel at home in the temple of our hearts.
But faith can be such an abstract thought. However I submit to you that in God's mind, it's not abstract at all. Instead, the Father has a specific plan that man is to connect to by taking his faith and keeping it there, and that plan is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Now, let's consider this thought more deeply. The Romans 5 passage says, "...being justified by faith..."
Well, first, what does it mean to be justified? It means to be declared righteous by God. You see, once again, God has a plan, and when man, places faith in God's plan (Jesus Christ and Him Crucified), that man is placed in Christ, receiving a new position of righteousness in Christ, which allows God to declare over that man's life a new verdict, "NOT GUILTY!" Furthermore, the not guilty verdict because of the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) allows the believer access into the grace of God.
In the presence of God, His grace changes things: the spirit of man is awakened to God, the soul of man begins craving what it was created for-- Jesus, and the physical body parts begin to connect to the godly resources that it's external environment has: church gatherings, study the scriptures, prayer, and practicing the presence of God. All this comes together, changing and strengthening the inner man to where Christ feels comfortable dwelling in our inner man.
Ultimately, this results in a process where a root system is formed and a settled foundation is established.