Praise God for this glorious gospel of GRACE through faith in Jesus Christ! Almighty God Himself lives within our innermost being, empowering us individually just as He empowered Jesus of Nazareth to speak only what He is speaking, and to do only what He is doing! [I]t is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13 NIV).
Far beyond that, though, God empowers us to accomplish His will corporately, for He has made us one new man in Christ (Eph. 2:15). Jesus is the Head, and we are the members of this blessed Body of Christ, and all the fullness of the deity lives in [this] bodily form, and [we] have been given fullness in Christ (Col. 2:9-10a).
Oh, my heartfelt prayer is that the Body of Christ know and apprehend our exalted position here and now in the heavenly realms, hidden with Christ in God!
I pray that the Church truly receive the NT revelation given us primarily via Paul of the great mystery of our UNITY with God in Spirit as “the Christ”! This is what the Greek actually says in multiple NT Scriptures referring to “the mystery” such as Eph. 3:4, Eph. 3:8, and Col. 2:2: it says “the Christ” (see the literal translations, such as Young’s [YLT]).
This is exceedingly meaningful! It is vital that we understand this truth, and, by faith in God’s all-powerful word, receive the exceedingly abundant grace available to make it our corporate reality here and now. The objective truth of what God has made us in Christ becomes our subjective reality as we KNOW the truth, BELIEVE it, and SPEAK IT FORTH / ACT IT OUT in accordance with the Holy Spirit.
This series of articles is being written so that we, the Church saints, may know and apprehend the tremendous ways in which we are blessed, that we may fulfill the high calling to which we are uniquely called. The purposes God has for the Church saints pertaining to the end-times are unique to us: neither the OT Jewish saints nor the so-called “Tribulation saints” – referring to those who will come to Christ and be conquered by the beast during the Tribulation (e.g. Rev. 13:7, 15) – are destined for the blessed purposes God has for us.
To understand the exceptional calling and destiny of the Church, we will be going primarily to Paul’s writings at the beginning of the series, for it is there that we get the clearest revelation from God of what His Church is. Of course, Peter and John also saw the calling and destiny of the Church, but it was through the self-proclaimed Hebrew of Hebrews who persecuted Jesus / His Church (Phil. 3:5-6) that God chose to express “the mystery” He had kept hidden throughout the OT and even through the gospels.
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It is quite important to realize how Paul first saw the Church. The great apostle who considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, [his] Lord (Phil. 3:8) first saw the Church as he was destroy[ing] it (Acts 8:1-3), persecuting the followers of the Way to their death (22:4). (Note that the Church was seen as those belonging to the Way, capitol “W”, for He is a person.) While on the road to persecute the saints in Damascus, he was blinded (midday, mind you!) with a bright light from heaven, blazing brighter than the sun; Jesus appeared to him and asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (8:3-4; 22:6-7; and 26:13-18, with most detail being in the third account).
Note that Paul’s first understanding of the Church was that those he persecuted were an intimate part of Christ Himself; this was foundational to the progressive revelation Jesus gave His suffering servant over the years about the glorious destiny of His Church. This revelation of “the mystery” is seen to develop throughout the Paulean epistles, and reaches its zenith in the great prison epistle called Ephesians.
Jesus revealed to Paul that He and His Church are one body. The Church is the corporate embodiment of Jesus Christ, and He is the Head: …we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 NASB)
[To be continued…]