The Mystery of the Church

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Written by Ervene C. Bragg

God uses three allegories to show the mystery of the church. I call them “Paul’s Three B’s”:(1) The Church as Christ’s Building; (2) The Church as Christ’s Body; and (3) The Church as Christ’s Bride. (I) The Church as the Building of God-“temple of God” (Ephesians 2:21. 22): This refers to the fact that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, a part of the joint body, and joint-partakers with the Jews in a brand-new body, “a new man.” The breaking down of “the middle wall of partition” and the inclusion of the Gentiles was not just a Pauline revelation. God revealed to the apostle Peter at Joppa, by the vision, that Gentiles were to share with the Jews in salvation through Christ. He said: “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in the Church of Christ” (Acts 10:20). But it was left to Paul to closely define the abolition of the “wall of partition.”

Scofield well footnotes Ephesians 3: “That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery. The mystery hid in God was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing-‘the church which is His body,” and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears (cf. Col. 3:10, 11 and Gal. 3:12) where even male and female distinction is abolished in the body. No distinctions of race, color, culture, sex, condition of life, denomination, but ‘all one in Christ.’ ”Plenty of new “middle walls of partitions” have been erected through the ages. but they are not of God’s devising. but man’s inventions.

Under this division is the very name God gave the church, used mostly by Paul–“ekklesia,” meaning “called out” or “called out ones.” It is never used in the Bible of building, and indeed could not be. You do not call out a building. There are three usages: (a) a local body of believers (Philemon 2: “The church which is in thy house”); (b) the group of churches in a locality–“the churches of Asia Minor”; and (c) all the believers who together comprise the whole body of Christ from Pentecost to the rapture–“Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Colossians 1:24: “His body which is the church”); “and there is but one body” (Ephesians 4:4).

There is the fact that this body is growing into an holy temple unto the Lord, as His habitation (Ephesians 2:20-22). God doesn’t dwell in a building in this dispensation; no building is His temple, but the body of Christ is. Note the literal rendering of Ephesians 2:21: “In whom all the building properly jointed and connected (one word in the Greek, signifying ‘God places the members in the church as it pleases him’–I Corinthians 12:18) is growing into an holy temple in the Lord (one single complete temple for God’s habitation).” “In whom ye also are being builded together for an habitation of God in the Spirit.” This is a separate distinct teaching from the fact that the individual believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16; II Corinthians 6: 16), which will engage our attention later.

God does not now dwell in a building on earth, as in the Old Testament; in this sense there is no holy building now (only as they are consecrated unto holy usage). But the church is God’s holy temple. What a mystery! Certainly the social club posing as a church today, where Christ is denied and a social gospel substituted, is ignorant of this great truth; i.e., that the saved believers make up the only holy temple of God on earth, “an habitation of God in the Spirit”; that the church is not merely a doctrinal affiliation, subscription to some creed, or some particular communion, method of ordinance observance, or peculiar denominational slant. God is building it. Read I Corinthians 3:5-17,11 Corinthians 6:16. Temple is for worship. Habitation is for walking in us. The great Architect of’ the universe is building Himself a temple, an habitation of living stones. Paul is the master-architect; Christ is the foundation; the church is “the building”; God is the Occupant.

(2) The Church as the Body of Christ: This is the second striking figure employed by Paul in the book of Ephesians, and certainly it is one of the most unique and distinctive of Paul’s revelations. It goes far to prove our minor premise, since he alone even so much as mentioned it, yet uses it the most in revealing the “mystery of the church.” Sixteen distinct times Paul uses this figure of the church as “Christ’s body.” One-half of these, or eight, are in Ephesians, called “the book of body truth.” The church as the living organic body of’ Christ rises higher than the previous one; i.e., that the church is a building. Peter caught the brief glimpse of’ the church as made up of “living stones” builded upon the chief Cornerstone, but not of this great truth. Here is a union of life with Christ, not merely of structure. Read Ephesians 5:22-32, where Paul distinctly calls it a part of the mystery of the church. Verse 30 shows how closely knit to our heavenly Lord we are as a part of His very body. This verse further shows that it is more than a mere figure; it is a blessed reality. In a real vital sense I am incorporated into Christ, “of His flesh and of His bones.”

(a) How one gets into Christ’s body: Since there is confusion among church folk as to what the church is, there is confusion as to how one gets into it. They confuse the body of Christ, which is the true church, with the professing visible group which names the name “church.” They think it can be entered by “joining.” They forget that “God adds to the church daily such as are being saved” (Acts 2:47, lit.). There are many unsaved folk in the professing church, but none in the body of Christ. Paul is very emphatic as to how we get into the body of Christ, and there is no other way: “By one Spirit were we all baptized into one body and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 11: 1 3). It is something supernaturally done for us by the Holy Spirit. No human can, in reality, “take us into the church,” either by “joining” or by “water baptism.” We can join the local assembly, and should join one, but we cannot join the church which is His body. It is a baptism by the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 12:13–all in the aorist tense, showing a completed historical event. At one point of time were we all baptized. This is the one baptism Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:5. It was the baptism with fire by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit with fire welded the 120 into one body by the “baptism of fire.” Now each sinner who accepts Christ and is supernaturally regenerated by the Spirit of God, that instant he is made a partaker of the “one baptism” and is baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit. This is evidenced by the fact that each individual believers is indwelt by the Spirit, and therefore “is made to drink into one Spirit.” By this anyone should see that no unsaved person can “belong to the church” or be in the body of Christ. The illustration used by Paul in I Corinthians 1 2: 1 3 is graphic: “Drinking into one Spirit.” So. “one body.” As my body has many members, but all of the same body. because one spirit of life animates the whole, so with the body of Christ. We, being many members, yet are one body, because of the one Spirit of life animating the whole, and we all drink into one Spirit. Here also is seen the reason why there cannot be more than one body of Christ.

(b) This body is growing. It isn’t complete as yet (Ephesians 2:2 1; 4:16; Colossians 2:19–Conybeare’s translation: “And not holding the head (lit. keeping in touch with the head) from whom the whole body, by the joints which bind it draws full nourishment for all its needs, and is knit together and increases in a godly growth.”

(c) The spiritual truths Paul deduces from this truth, of the church as the body of Christ. Each Christian should look up and study carefully all 16 times Paul mentions the body of Christ.

(i) As members of His body, we share His life, the life of the body and so “drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13). One body always has but one life; any other would be a parasite; so I Corinthians 6:17; I Corinthians 10: 16.

(ii) As members of His body and He the Head, we should always “keep in touch with the head” (Colossians 2:19, lit.). We should be under His control, always under His will (Ephesians 5:22, 24); else there is anarchy in the body.

(iii) Paul enjoins us to unity, since we be brethren and fellow-members of’ the same body (Ephesians 4:3-6); so there should be equality in the body (I Corinthians 12:12-37).

(iv) The Holy Spirit’s gifts are for the “edification of the whole body,” not for personal gain, but “for the profit of all” (I Corinthians 12:7, lit.). The gifts are “given to every man, “”severally as he wills,” and “he sets the members in the body as it hath pleased Him.” Every believer has some “grace given” or some “measure of faith” as a gift of the Holy Spirit, for the building up of the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8).

(v) The special gifting of men is that the Holy Spirit may give them as Christ’s gift to the whole church, Gifted men are Christ’s gift to the whole church (Ephesians 4:7-16; cf. Romans 12:3-8). The Holy Spirit endues men with special gifts or “manifestations of the Spirit”: then Christ gives these men to His body for its “edification” or “building up.”

Now note these specially gifted men who are given to the body:

Apostles (I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11): Always first in the catalogue, since first in time and importance. Unto them was entrusted inspiration, the giving of the Scriptures. It had to cease with the death of the last apostle, since a part of the qualifications was: “We have seen Christ in the flesh,” and they had to be personally chosen by Christ (I Corinthians 9:1). With the prophets, they were to form the foundation of the church, Christ being the chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

Prophets: Paul defines the gift in I Corinthians 14:3. The prophets seem to have spoken under immediate inspiration, rather than being a repository (entrusted) of a revelation. As the occasion demanded, God gave them immediate inspiration to speak His word directly to the people, while the apostle seemed to have carried a permanent commission as “legate.” It seems to have been the ability to declare the Word of God directly to the hearts of men so as to have them recognize its authority to Romans 12:6. So “secondarily, prophets,” but “first, apostles.”

Deacons (Romans 1 2:7): “ministry” (Greek “diakonia”). personal ministry, as the seven in Acts 6. Qualifications: “Men full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” “honest report,” “full of wisdom.” Stephen was “a man full of faith and power” (Acts 6:3; 6:8: 6:5). Paul gives more qualifications in I Timothy 3:8-13. It would be wonderful if deacons could measure up to that now! Teachers: Like Priscilla and Aquila, who took Apollos and “expounded unto him the way of God more accurately.” It is opening the Scriptures, a gift of I Corinthians 12:8: “utterance of knowledge.”

Exhorters (Romans 12:8): Evangelists (Ephesians 4:11), swaying of the wills.

Givers: Listed in Romans 12:8 as an office in the body of Christ. They are told to give with simplicity (disinterestedness): i.e.. impartially.

Rulers of the Church (Romans 12:8): Rotherham: “Those who take the lead.” This is probably the “governments” of I Corinthians 12:28 (Greek lit. “steerings, those who take the helm and guide.”)

Helps (I Corinthians 12:28): Greek “Those who sieze hold and help or support, pillars in the church.”

Sympathizers (Romans 12:8): Those who show “mercy with cheerfulness.”

Workers of Miracles (I Corinthians 12:29): This refers to public miracles for specific occasions of need.

Pastors (Ephesians 4:11): The Greek word is impressive: “shepherds”; so Acts 6:1-4: “Not to leave the word of God to wait on tables.” It divides the duties of deacons and pastors so that the shepherd can “give himself continually to prayer and the ministry of the word,” Literally, in Ephesians 4: 11, the Greek demands us to read: “Teaching pastors” or “shepherds”; so Paul’s admonition to the shepherds at Ephesus: “Feed the flock over which God hath given you oversight.”

Now all of this is for the express purpose that Paul states in Ephesians 4:12-15:

(1) for the perfecting (“complete what is lacking”–Thayer) of the saints;

(2) for the work of the ministry (service);

(3) for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ; until the whole body of Christ:

(1) arrives at (attains) the unity of faith:

(2) attains the knowledge (“epignosis”–full knowledge) of the Son of God;

(3) becomes mature, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;

(4) and each individual believer in the body, leaves spiritual infancy, leaves the unstableness of tempest-tossed waves, speaks the truth in Christ in love, grows up personally into Christ in all things, and the whole body increases unto its building up in love.

This is a big order, and certainly needs more than ”programs” and ”revival committees” for its accomplishment. How the body needs the full administration of the Holy Spirit sent by Christ, for the purpose of meeting the present need of a powerless church, filling its membership with Himself, shedding forth His gifts, and mightily enduing and enabling gifted men for the hour. Paul knew the mighty dynamic of the Holy Spirit in His own life and passes on to us the adequacy of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all of this.

(3) The Church as the Bride of Christ: The revelation that the church, which is Christ’s body, made up of all the true born-again believers in this dispensation, is the bride of Christ is the high-water level of divine revelation. It is the highest of the three figures used by Paul in the book of Ephesians. The revelation of the church as God’s building, a temple for God’s dwelling, is taken from architecture, but it could be cold, lifeless, and insensible. The revelation of the church as the body of Christ is higher yet, taken from physiology, and shows it to have life and warmth and growth. But the revelation of the church as the bride of’ Christ is the highest of all, entering into the higher, deeper life of love. As a member of His body, I share His life; but as a member of His bride, I share His love. This shows the very purpose for which Christ came into the world, suffered, and died. Paul says, in Ephesians 5:25: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.”

Paul calls it a “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32: “This is a great mystery. but I speak concerning Christ and the church”). This is a very distinctive Pauline revelation and goes far to prove our minor premise, since Paul is the only one who reveals this great mystery. No other writer even intimates it; only God prefigures it with two types and one allegory in the Old Testament, which are seen to be types by the reality now revealed by Paul, i.e., Adam and Eve; Isaac and Rebekah; Song of Solomon.

The primary places where this truth is taught are Romans 7:1-4; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-33. In the Gospels, with regard to the marriage supper that God has prepared for His Son, the bride is never seen, nor is it revealed who she is; there is mention only of guests who are bidden to the supper (Revelation 19:9; cf. Luke 14:16-24). In Revelation 21:9-11, the angel tells John, “I will shew thee the Lamb’s wife,” But she is not seen; instead he sees the bride’s new home, the New Jerusalem “as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). Revelation sees the marriage supper, as the Gospels do; it sees the attending guests, as the Gospels do; and it sees the eternal home of the bride. But none sees the bride and identifies her, except Paul.

Some truths related to this truth are:
(a) In Romans 7: 1-4 Paul reveals the truth that we are severed from all other allegiance (spiritually) to be married unto Christ. Here we are free from the Law, because in Christ we died, and therefore were free to marry another. So the believer is not under the dead letter of Law and commandments, as a servant, but now as a son. In Romans 6 we are freed from sin; in Romans 7 we are freed from the Law.

(b) In II Corinthians 11:2 Paul reveals the great jealousy that God has, and Paul had, over the church–“God’s own jealousy,” for fear the espoused shall lose the singleness of her love for the Bridegroom. Marriage by its very nature is exclusive. True love is jealous and possessive. Read James 4:4, 5. And again, Paul is to give the bride away.

(c) From Ephesians 5:31, 32 Paul quotes from Genesis 2:23, 24 to show that Adam and Eve are types of Christ and the church. Out of the figurative death and resurrection of’ Adam, God made a bride for him, from his riven side, and the two became one flesh, forming the basis for his great love for her. So Christ and the church.

(d) It shows more than any other figure the reality and closeness of our union with Christ–“bone of his bone and members of his flesh” (Ephesians 5:30).

(e) But greatest of all is the revelation of the depths of love Christ has for His church (Ephesians 5:25-32). Here the figure reaches its zenith; yea, and more than a figure. There is a literal reality here greater than figurative language. There is much of mystery attached to this mode of presentation of the church as Christ’s bride. There is much of human passion, earthly presentation we must divorce from the figure; but there is a reality here afterwards, the very richest of all divine revelations. God picked the sweetest of earth’s loves– higher than a mother’s love or brotherly love, as with Jonathan and David. For marriage is co-equal, mutual interchanging, intimate, the sweetest love on earth.

(f) The wedding garments are furnished by the Bridegroom. It is His to purify the bride and furnish her with the robe of His righteousness (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7, 8). These verses show that the garments are furnished her not of herself. “He presents his bride to himself freed of all blemish,” and “grants unto her robes of his righteousness.”

(g) There is one more consideration–the bride’s home. This is furnished to her by Christ: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Paul, in Hebrews 12:22, 23 and Galatians 4:24-31, contrasts this heavenly home with the Israelites’ earthly one. Never lose sight of the fact that there are two great brides in the Bible. Israel is God the Father’s wife, and shall be purged from her adultery (Isaiah 54:1-10; Hosea 2:1-17), and is earthly (Hosea 2:2-23); but the church’s home is the heavenly New Jerusalem and Christ is the Bridegroom (Revelation 21:9, 10).

How little we can comprehend of this great mystery, that the church comprises the bride of Christ. What does it all mean? What shall it be when He shall “present us unto himself a church of stainless glory” (Conybeare, Ephesians 5:27). All spot and wrinkle or any such thing gone forever, to enter into the fullness of our glorious union with Christ, to reign with Him and bask in His infinite love forever. Surely the fullness of understanding awaits the fulfillment.

C. The Church as the End or Purpose of All God’s Dealings
With Men and of Creation Itself.

The church is both the end or purpose of God in creation and the prime vindication of the whole scheme of things planned by God. Through a number of texts Paul reveals the startling fact that the church is both the goal God had in mind in creation, and through all His dealings with men, and the prime justification of the wisdom of God’s dealings. The average Christian fails to grasp the broad scope, dealings. The average Christian fails to grasp the broad scope, the eternality of the plan of God, which before the foundation of the world chose the church. God made man with a free moral will, knowing that lie would fall, and that billions would go to hell. lost forever. God knew that there would be a vast torrent of tears flowing like a mighty river through the aeons of history. God knew the suffering, the sorrow, the failure of man, the raging of the nations, the gnashing of teeth against God. God knew the blasphemy of man whereby they would defile His holy name; yea, God knew the end from the beginning. In the council chambers of God in the past eternity before God ever made one grain of matter or one angel, while He still mused, “Let us make man,” He saw the great white throne of judgment at the end of the whole plan, the last great assize, with the vast unnumbered throng of poor lost souls–the human dross poured off the refining furnace, that the pure gold might remain and shine the brighter forever. And though He loved those lost multitudes with the same unlimited infinite love wherewith He loved the company of the saved, He saw the oh-so-little flock of the blood-washed, the body of Christ, partakers of His own nature, and said: “It is worth it all; let us make man in our own image.” He counted the cost and said: “It is worth it all.” God wanted and He saw the church, the bride of His Son, sharing His own divine life, partaking of His nature, loving and choosing Him freely without compulsion, loving God only because they wanted to, and He instituted the whole scheme for that end. You can glimpse to a small degree this whole idea in the price God was willing to give to obtain this church: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” To make a world or a universe, all God had to do was speak the word, yea, think the thought, and lo–there it stood. If He wanted a hundred billion universes or galaxies, it took but a word of creative power. But to save one sinful soul, win him from his sin, pay his debt, win his love, wash him clean, to take him into God’s family and home and give him as part of the bride of His Son, Christ must come to earth, suffer, and die for him.

Let us see the way in which Paul presents this great truth in two aspects: (1) The church as the end or purpose of God for all the ages or the goal; (2) The church as the prime justification or vindication of that purpose, or the church on exhibition in eternity.

(1) The church as the end or purpose or goal of creation and redemption: There are four primary texts:

(a) I Corinthians 10:11: Paul illustrates sonic of the experiences of the Israelites, then says: “All these things happened unto them for ensamples (types) and were written for our admonition (Conybeare. warning) upon whom the ends (Greek “telos”–climax, consummation, termination point) of the ages are come (Greek met, reached, to arrive).” All the former dispensations find their convergence and culmination upon the church, as the crowning work for which they were instituted. So Paul in many ways shows the supremacy of the present dispensation of grace to that of Law (Galatians 3:24; 4:1-7).

(b) Hebrews 11:40: This text shows more clearly that Paul doesn’t mean that there is a mere convergence of time upon the church, hut a culmination, summation, and elevation: “God having provided some better things for us.” He picks the most illustrious of all the saints of the old dispensations, and their exploits, but then intimates that the least now under this new covenant is far better, as “a son has a higher position than a servant.”

(c) Ephesians 2:4-7 (especially verse 7): After showing us the kind of grace God gave to such unworthy sinners as we, in quickening us together with Christ, raising us together with Christ, and seating us together with Christ in the heavenlies, he says: “That he might point out, openly shew, manifest thoroughly, openly, exhibit unto us (in the middle voice–so for His own glory, for His own benefit) throughout all the oncoming ages (without end) the surpassing wealth of his grace, in his kindness (benevolent acts) toward us through Christ Jesus.” What does He mean? Simply this: all for His own glory, He gave His Son to die for us, saved us for His sake, and throughout all eternity, all the oncoming ages, He is going to exhaust infinity just to make me happy forever, exhibiting the surpassing wealth of His grace being kind to me. Forever He shall reveal new facets of His infinite nature to me. This makes all our talk of “sacrificing for God” ridiculous.

(d) Ephesians 1:22, 23: “The church is Christ’s body, the fulness of Him, the plenitude of Him, the full development of Him, , the complement of Him.” As the bride is the complement of her husband, the other half of him, as the literal body is the complement of the head to complete the fulness of the whole man, so the church is necessary to complete Christ as He is incarnate and Saviour. Christ adds nothing to His eternal glory as God by the church, but is given opportunity to display that glory.

(2) The church as the justification or vindication of that plan, the wisdom of it, or the church on exhibition forever: This is an enlargement over the previous texts. Those seemed to center our attention upon the church as the end or purpose within itself’, but that is not only foreign to all Scripture. but to Pauline theology as well. God Himself must be the end or purpose of all things. Ephesians 1 carefully guards this great truth: “According to the good pleasure of His will”; to “the praise of the glory of His grace.” So verse 9: “According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”; and verse 11: “according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”; and verse 14: “Unto the praise of His glory. That last expression shows it is all that His doxa (glory) might receive all the praise. Glory seems to be all the virtues, all the excellencies of His wonderful nature in one blaze of ineffable glory. The purpose is then wrought out by His own will and purpose and pleasure or desires, that His wonderful glory might receive all the praise. So must it always be. So this division proves, it all centers in Him and His glory, and the consummation of the mystery of the church will so prove.

(a) Ephesians 3:1-11: Here in our text we have the grandest sweep of the whole plan and purpose of the ages ever penned. It grandly announces the very purpose of God for all time. It is the only text which plainly reveals this truth. Read it carefully. and then note verses 1 0 and 11. The context plainly shows the church as a new revelation and Paul as the revelator. Then:

Verse 10 makes it plain that “God created all things by Jesus Christ to the intent (Greek “inahina” has the force of purpose, design, result–so most literal translations translate it, in order that. for the sole purpose of), for one single purpose.” All else is secondary and contributory. What is it? “That now unto principalities (governments) and powers (authorities) in the heavenlies (all the spiritual creatures fallen and unfallen) might be known by (through or through the means of) the church (note the singular means here or instrumentality), the manifold wisdom of God.” Here is the prime vindication to all spiritual beings of God’s wisdom for taking the plan that He did to get the church. I have no doubt that spiritual beings have questioned the wisdom of God concerning the course of redemption. but in eternity God is going to put the church on exhibition as the prime vindication of His manifold wisdom, “the manifold wisdom of God” (one word in the Greek, “polupoikilos.” literally “the richly variegated wisdom of God”; Diaglott: “much diversified wisdom of God”; Williams: “many phases of God’s wisdom”; Berkeley: “the many-sided wisdom of God”: Thayer: taken from “a cloth or painting of many colors”–found only here in the Bible). I call it “the multi-faceted wisdom of God”–not the singular wisdom we possess, but the infinite wisdom of God which could know to all perfection before He started, the best possible course to pursue to obtain the desired end. And He is going to exhibit the church to prove it, Paul says.

Verse 11 confirms this: “According to (Greek “in agreement with,” “kata”) the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” or more literally, “in agreement with the plan of the ages which he formed for the anointed Jesus our Lord” (as Rotherham). How emphatic this is! God created all things because of, or in agreement with, a fixed eternal plan of’ the ages which He formed for His anointed Son. Christ Jesus. This plan devolves upon the church as the one body of His Son, and this church shall be put on exhibition throughout eternity, as Exhibit A to the richly variegated wisdom of God in taking the plan that He did.

Note the hymn or psalm of Paul–Romans 11:33-36: First. God’s manifold wisdom-”O the depths of’ the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unreachable are his judgments and his ways past finding out.” Then verse 36–”For of him (as to its source) and through him (as to the instrumental cause) and to him (as to its ultimate end or purpose) are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

Let us consider the nature of this exhibition–not of any intrinsic worth in us. nor any human attribute, but of the internal Christ within us. His glory, the glory of the new creation, within us, which Paul calls, “Christ in you the hope of glory.” What a wonder that God chose the redeemed personality as the vehicle to display His glory.

(b) II Thessalonians 1:10-12: Here we have both the time and the manner of the exhibition– “when lie shall come to be glorified in his saints”; Rotherham: “to be made all glorious in his saints.” It equals, to “adorn with glory” (Thayer). Keep this in mind as we proceed-Christ is to be glorified in the saints when He comes. His glory shall be seen in us: “And to be admired in all them that believe” (Greek “to have in admiration and to wonder at”–Thayer). They will admire the Christ in us. and wonder at Him. “Wherefore (to this end) also we pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, etc. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and ye (glorified) in him according to (in agreement with or because of) the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” “We shall see him as he is”; but, wonder of wonders, “we shall be like him (John 3:1-3). The hidden glory of God’s new creation in the saints, which is Christ’s own life, now veiled by the earthen vessel, will then be openly manifested for all to see, on public display, and all will admire and marvel at the Christ within us, when He is glorified within us.

(c) Colossians 3:4: “When Christ who is our life shall appear (be publicly manifested for all to see) then shall ye also be publicly manifested for all to see in the same glory.” Glory here is not heaven, like “gone to glory,” but is the thing itself as manifested. When Christ shall appear in glory, manifesting f’orth His glory, He shall be glorified in us; we shall shine with His glory. This glory is hidden now: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of’ the power may be of God and not of man.” The vessel obscures the treasure, the glory (cf’. II Corinthians 4:6, 7). He has stamped His image of glory upon our spirits in the new creation within, “the face of Christ.” This equals His life or image within, “conformed to the image of his Son.” So II Corinthians 3: 1 8: “We are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” But, oh, how the earthen vessel obscures the image and conceals the glory. It gets in the way so folks can’t see Christ in us. But some day, when “we shall be like him. for we shall see him as he is.” His glory shall shine out through us to give His image, and He shall be admired with wonder in all who believe.

And the greatest admirers will be angelic hosts (Ephesians 3:10). Romans 8:17 states: “If we suffer with him that we might be glorified together.” Romans 8:18-23 shows the time element, as does II Thessalonians I and Colossians 3:4-at His glorious appearing when He comes in flaming fire. So when creation’s curse shall be lifted, and we come into “the manifestations of the sons of God,” verse 18: “the glory which shall be revealed in us”; verse 19: “the manifestation of the sons of God” (lit. “unveiling”); verse 21: “glorious liberty of the sons of God” (lit. “freedom of the glory”); verse 29: all this “that we might be conformed to the image of his Son”; verse 30 sees our future glorification as an accomplished fact; so our very bodies shall display His glory: “we shall be like him,” (I John 3:2: cf. Philippians 3:21: “who shall change our bodies of humiliation like unto the body of his glory” lit.). Read II Corinthians 4:6: “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined (become luminous) in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (the reproduction of Christ’s image in us).

So Paul says, that is the eternal plan He formed for Christ, to put on exhibition before all spiritual hosts, the church, to prove God’s manifold, richly variegated wisdom.

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