Bible Study

Ephesians 3 and 4

by Herbert W Armstrong


Well now we are coming today, going through this book of Ephesians, which is; I don't know, I was going to say one of the most wonderful books in all the Bible. But how can we say that? So was I Corinthians, so was Romans, so was Galatians. So were all of these books, so was the book of Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel and so are so many other books in the Bible.

And some have a special interest to it that others don't have, like the book of Revelation for example; which always has had a special interest to me. It's sort of an excitement, because it is a book of mystery to most people because they have not understood it. You see it is not the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, it's the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and they don't realize that but Christ was the only one who could open the seals so that we could understand. And you have to go to what Christ has said to find out what it means in the Book of Revelation.

And, I don't know, I'm so thankful that God opened my mind to that in my first six months' study back between the fall of 1926 and the spring of 1927, among so many other basic fundamental points of the Kingdom of God, of the very foundation of the government of God, which the Kingdom of God is to administer. And of the law of God and so many things of that sort. And understanding of some of the prophecies. And understanding of the identity of the United States and Britain, and of the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel, which is the key to understanding of all prophecy. Without that you can't understand prophecy! As a result, I came to have a better understanding of prophecy than the Church had had up to that time, just during the intensive study that led to my conversion. Of course that intensive study has kept on every since, that was only the first six months of it.

But God was planning that, it wasn't my plan. I just look back on it now and see how God did it, and how He led. But that is the way He has done with everyone He has ever used. It isn't the power; it wasn't the power of Abraham that caused him to come to have the promises on which the salvation of all of us depends. It wasn't the power of Moses; it was the power of God using Moses. Moses was only an instrument.

It was the same later of all of the prophets. It was the same of David. It was the same of Peter. It was the same of the other apostles and of Paul. Of ourselves we can do nothing. It's only God in us and Christ in us that we can do anything and we need to realize that.

The Context (PLAY FROM 03:41)

So now we come to the - I'm going to have open both the King James and the Revised Standard. {1} I'll sort of go through the Revised Standard, but I may refer to the King James too as I go along. The problem [unclear section] have with the King James. Now we've finished the second chapter, which is also a wonderful chapter, and I've spent two whole Bible studies on that chapter. Coming to the third chapter:

"For this reason..." (Ephesians 3:1 RSV)

Now let's see what reason was it;

So then [going back to the last, to the nineteenth verse of the second chapter, just to bring in the connection.]... So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners [or foreigners as it is in the King James], but you are fellow citizens with the saints..." (Ephesians 2:19 RSV)

You remember I brought out that we are citizens. In other words we are a nation, and we are citizens in that nation. Notice that we are several things as it brings it out here, we are a nation and we are citizens in that nation:

"...with the saints and members of the household of God [a household is a family, so we in the Church, the Church is also a family], built upon the foundation of the apostles and [the] prophets, [Jesus Christ] himself being the chief cornerstone [now he begins to talk like a building, so we go on and see.]...the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole structure [now he's talking about a building very plainly]... in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple..." (Ephesians 2:19-21 RSV)

There is the temple to which Christ is coming. Not a physical temple made of stone and wood, but a temple that is the Church. And we find that at the time of Christ's coming, those who have died in the Church, that are dead but were in the Church, or the prophets, because they are the foundation of the very Church, will rise first in the resurrection. "And then those that remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds." (I Thessalonians 4:17 paraphrased). But; "This mortal will put on immortality. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye..." (I Corinthians 15:52-53 paraphrased) in I Corinthians 15.

So that when we meet Christ in the air we will no longer be pale faced, or black or yellow or whatever we are ... human beings. We will be glorified God beings, no longer human beings, composed of spirit, not any longer of matter:

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh..." (John 3:6)

That's what we are, but when we are born again, that which is born again will be spirit. We will be far more glorious, as you read back in the second chapter of Haggai, than the temple of Solomon to which Christ came the first time - No -not Solomon - Christ came the first time to the temple that Zerubbabel built seventy years after Solomon's temple was destroyed. But I mean it will be far more glorious than Solomon's temple by far; because we will be holy and righteous with our faces shining like the very sun in full strength, even as Christ is now.

And He's just the firstborn of many brethren. So Christ was born first as a human being and then He was born again as a God being, as He had been before He was born the first time actually. So there was enough to devote a whole Bible study to just beginning with verse nineteen there.

"in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22 RSV)

For God does dwell in the Church, in among us, His Spirit in each one of us. But we are fitly framed together, as we're going to see now today. And not scattered, not disjointed, not individual Christians having our own individual membership or walk with Christ, but joined together. And God has put some in the Church, as we're going to see if we get that far today, to lead and to join us together until we grow into that holy temple.

Leadership in the Church (PLAY FROM 09:04)

Now coming into the third chapter:

"For this reason [and because we are a dwelling place of God] I, Paul, a prisoner [of Jesus Christ] on behalf of you Gentiles-" (Ephesians 3:1) RSV

Now he's talking to the Ephesians. They had been born Gentiles. Now they are converted; and he says that you are no longer Gentiles. You are no longer foreigners from the nation of Israel, but you are fellow citizens. And then they are also in the family of God, a household, and they're built together like a building.

Now what kind of a building do you have if part of the facade, one or two stones, or one or two pieces of the wood of it is over one place and some of it is over in another State, and a part of it is in another nation, and another part of it is somewhere else? Would you call it a building? And yet there are those that say; "Well I'm a loner, I'm an individual Christian. I don't want to be a part of any church organization." And then there's those who say; "I don't want to follow a man." And yet that's what they do do, they follow a man usually. And they go off into many little cliques, each one of them following one man.

Now God has always worked through one man as leader. But that man is only a leader, and always it has been God. For example, when Samuel was a prophet leading the people of God, they didn't want Samuel anymore, they wanted a human king like the other nations. God said; "It isn't you they have rejected Samuel, you weren't the real ruler, I was. They have rejected me that I should not rule over them." (I Samuel 8:7 paraphrased). This is eighth chapter of I Samuel. And, you see it was God ruling them, not Samuel.

And so it is really Christ leading the Church today, it is not I. I am only an instrument. But if Christ is not in me and leading me and inspiring me, then I am not the leader. And if I'm not the leader, I don't know why - I presume you just don't have one. But I think it is evident that I not only have been a leader, but that I have led you in precisely what this Word says. And that I have not compromised with this Word. I have - and it is plain in itself, God has made it plain to me - and I have tried to make it plain and share the wonderful understanding He's given me with as many people as I could.

Now many people will treat all of this Word of God and the understanding of it, exactly as an old sow would treat some pearls and diamonds and rubies if you would give them to her. She would trample them in the mud. But she would go after some slop and she would like that, but she wouldn't care for what humans might treasure. Well humans go for the material things and not the spiritual treasures that God has, because they regard them with contempt. Of course there's one reason - they don't understand, and now we're going to come to a lot of that just right now. That's one reason they don't really appreciate the things of God because their minds are not open to it. And it's just like cloff, cloff, cloff, blah, blah, blah – something like that, some sounds that don't mean anything. They don't make any sense.

Anyway, Paul was a prisoner bound in chains when he wrote this, and apparently he wrote the book of Philippians about the same time while he was in prison. He was not wasting his time even though he was in prison. And sometimes I have almost thought that if I was in a certain kind of prison, that it might be a blessing, because at least I would be free to write if they let me have a typewriter and some paper and Bibles.

Whereas my time has been so taken up with petty, emotional things that I haven't been able to do a lot of the work in the last two months. So, you know; "...count it all joy when you fall into these various troubles;" (James 1:2 paraphrased) and things, as James says. {2} And I suppose that is the way the apostle Paul felt. He was in prison and he was bound in chains when he wrote this, but he wasn't wasting his time.

He was writing this. Now I don't think he had a typewriter because such a thing had not been invented yet. But he had something he could write with. I don't know whether they had the kind of paper and pens and things like we have today either. But they had something they could write with, and they had some kind of material that they could write on that we don't have today. There's so much in this that we bring it all out. So he was a prisoner for Christ Jesus, not for some wrong he had done, but what they accused him of, whatever it was.

"...on behalf of you Gentiles – assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you," (Ephesians 3:1-2 RSV)

Now that's all that I have, is a certain stewardship, and God's going to hold me accountable for the way I use it. In other words; you are sheep and I am a shepherd. And we're all sheep of a kind; we don't have much sense like the people of the world do. We don't have their kind of wisdom like they do anyway.

The Mystery of God has to be Revealed (PLAY FROM 16:10)

" [that] the mystery was made known to me by revelation... (Ephesians 3:3 RSV)

It had to be revealed. A natural mind can't know this mystery. Now why is it called a mystery? What is he referring to? What does he mean, 'mystery'? If you read right over this you don't get it. You have to stop. What's that word 'mystery' mean? And you see the word 'revealed'. He didn't understand the mystery, God revealed it and made it plain to him so he could understand!

I didn't understand this mystery. In the summer of 1926 I didn't understand it, and I didn't understand it any time before that either. Why is the truth of God called a mystery? The salvation of God is called a mystery. The things of the gospel are called a mystery. Well I think if we turn for a moment back here to I Corinthians the second chapter, we see that very quickly, very plainly and I'd like to just connect it up while it isn't too long ago that we were going through that. The I Corinthians the second chapter. {3}

"But we speak the wisdom of God [it's beginning the seventh verse, the second chapter] in a mystery..." (I Corinthians 2:7)

You see there again he uses the word 'mystery'. A mystery is something you don't understand, it's mysterious and you can't make any sense of it because it's just something you don't understand. And it's not only not understandable, to the world it's so much foolishness, as he says a little later we're going to come to:

"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom [you see it's hidden from the world, they don't understand, so it is mysterious to them], which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew [not any of them, none of them, they don't understand it]: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (I Corinthians 2:7-9)

It was a mystery to them. Now things like that your eye can't see. How does knowledge come to your mind? Most of the knowledge that you have come through the eye or the ear; it's either what you read or what you hear. But some things, some knowledge comes by what you smell and what you taste or what you feel. But outside of those five senses, the average human mind has no knowledge.

Now the things that God has prepared are things you can't see, things you can't hear, things you can't feel, you can't taste, you can't smell. So the natural mind of man can't know! That includes all of the great educators with PhD's, and other D's, or doctorates, after their names. If they have not received the Spirit of God to open their minds, they don't understand these things. Then later he says here in the eleventh verse:

"...what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?..." (I Corinthians 2:11)

A dog doesn't know. He has a brain like we do, only not as big usually. An elephant has a brain like we do, only bigger, and it's just as good as our brain. But he doesn't have the comprehension or the intellect that a human being does because he doesn't have a spirit to impart that power to the brain. And every human does have that spirit. That's the great difference. So knowledge can come to us that can't come to the dumb brutes and the dumb animals. Now knowledge can come to those that are converted because they have the Spirit of God. So we read here in the eleventh verse:

"...what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?..." (I Corinthians 2:11)

A dog can't know it. An elephant can't know it. A horse or a cow can't know it, and certainly a chicken or a goose can't know it. But we can know because we have the spirit that is in man. But that spirit does not reveal the things of God, only the material things.

It only gives us - well it acts like a computer. The things that come to your mind – knowledge that comes into the brain through the eye, or through the ear, or however it comes into the brain, it's immediately, it is - oh, what is the word that we use in the computer – it is programmed into the computer. The computer is the spirit and the spirit is your memory and it will bring something back. Someone will mention; I know someone that has mentioned when I was three years old, and instantly I go back to things I hadn't thought of in years. That I remember a great grandfather and a great uncle, and sitting on the lap of one of them when I was three years old. And that would come to my mind when I hadn't heard of that or thought of it in years. Well where was that? What brought it just instantly, just like a computer will bring information to you in a second or less, a fraction of a second. It does act as a computer.

And now, on the other hand, that is only knowledge that you've already heard or read, seen or heard, or felt or smelled or tasted. And you can't know spiritual knowledge. Now in the same way:

"...even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (I Corinthians 2:11)

If you don't have the Spirit of God you can't know the things of God, you can't know them. And so if you don't know them, well they are rather mysterious aren't they? I suppose some of the things we do are rather mysterious to these dogs around the house here. They don't understand them, they don't know why we do some of the things we do. And maybe they think we're crazy, but the only thing is I think that they don't think - period, in the first place. But now back to where we were:

"How that by revelation he [God] made known unto me the mystery..." (Ephesians 3:3)

Now God had to reveal it. He revealed it by and through His Holy Spirit, and Paul did not know that when he was persecuting the Christians. He did not know any of those things. Until the Spirit of God came he didn't know, but the Spirit of God opened his mind to comprehend the things of God, just as the spirit in man opens our mind to comprehend the things of man that a dog or a cow, a horse, an elephant does not comprehend or understand, the same way. So it was through God's Spirit that God revealed it and made known unto Paul the mystery as it was a mystery to those who don't understand, as, he said;

"...(as [he says] I wrote [more] in few words, Whereby, when [you] read, [you] may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" (Ephesians 3:3-4)

And that's why I write so much, so that our brethren, when they read, I can try to make it plain. If they have the Holy Spirit they will comprehend it. But those same things, to someone who does not have God's Holy Spirit, he just cannot comprehend. However, some of the things I write they can begin to comprehend, but not the spiritual things, only the physical material things that can lead to spiritual knowledge.

"Whereby, when [you] read [that, you] may understand [because the 'you' here are people who've received God's Holy Spirit] ...understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, [was not even made known to the sons of men, I don't think it was made known between the time of, say, Adam and Abraham], as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles..." (Ephesians 3:4-5).

Well there was more revealed to the apostles than even probably most of the prophets had ever known, because Jesus said that even the holy prophets had desired to look into the things that you know. But it was not given to them to know and they couldn't understand.

The Gentiles are Fellow Heirs (PLAY FROM 26:26)

"...and prophets by the Spirit [as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit]; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs..." (Ephesians 3:5-6)

Heirs of Christ. That's why this part of the Bible is called the New Testament. It is Christ's will and testament. It is the writing that shows what He has willed to us; and it is of no value until after the testator dies. But of course Christ did die.

"That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs [in a witnessed will, or a testament, shows what he is willing to someone else after he dies]... that they should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of [the] promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power [God's power, again you see Paul doesn't claim to have any power in himself at all, it's all what God has done]. Unto me, who am less than the least of [the] saints..." (Ephesians 3:6-8)

And if Paul was less than the least of the saints, I keep wondering, how low am I? Because I couldn't possibly measure up to a Paul; and yet he was less than the least of the saints. But God in him was something else; and God in me has done some things, but that's God's doing. Of myself, I can't take credit for anything.

"...less than the least of all saints [unto me], is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;" (Ephesians 3:8)

Now that was not given to Paul as just a blessing to Paul; it was given to him to share with others, and to give to others. So it's giving, giving, giving. God is a giver. God gave it to Paul, Paul gives it out to others, and God is on the giving side. You know I; in my ads in the Wall Street Journal I talk about giving and getting as the two ways of life.

"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery [the fellowship in this thing that is so mysterious to people in the way of God, in the knowledge of God and in the Church of God], which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God [and it was hid, people couldn't see it, they couldn't understand it, and that's why it is called a mystery], who created all things by Jesus Christ [so God created all things by Jesus Christ]: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God," (Ephesians 3:9-10).

Oh let me read that tenth verse. I got back into the King James, let's go back into the Revised Standard. I had quite a lot that I've been underscoring here. Back into verse seven:

"...members of the same body, and partakers of the promise [of] Christ...through the gospel [and in verse seven]. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power [of course that power is the Holy Spirit]. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given [to why?], to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;" (Ephesians 3:6-9 RSV)

Now you don't mention here 'by Jesus Christ'. I'm glad the King James does, because that is the way God did His creation; "All things were made by him [Jesus]..." (John 1:3) {4}

Angelic Principalities and Powers (PLAY FROM 31:34)

"...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 3:10 RSV)

Now those principalities and powers are talking about spirits. And here he is talking about the holy spirits of God, angelic spirits; because in other places he talks about the spirits of evil that are ruling in the darkness of this world. In fact, later, he does in this same book when we get to the sixth chapter. But here he is speaking about even holy angels that God has created. And principalities and powers that have so much greater power than has been given to human beings, at least so far. More power will be given to us than they have ultimately, but not as yet.

"This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him." (Ephesians 3:11-12 RSV)

And we have access to God the Father. You notice that the churches of this world talk about Christ but they don't say much about God the Father. Do you ever notice that? God the Father is the Law Giver, and when you sin you've broken the Law of God and that sin is against God the Father.

And it's God the Father who has immortal life to give, and we have to get back to God the Father to gain eternal life. But how do we get to the Father? Through Christ. Now Christ died to pay our penalty for us, because the penalty we have incurred stands between us and God as a wall about ten miles thick of steel, or something. And you can't penetrate through it. But the blood of Christ reconciles us back to God the Father. And God the Father is a God of love who wants to give us immortal life. And He loved us so much; "He gave his only begotten Son [that we could be reconciled back to Him], and not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 paraphrased).

But here he's talking about the principalities and powers even in the heavenly places, that it could now be made known. It indicates that a lot of things were not made known to them and that God is actually granting to us who have His Holy Spirit, to come to have knowledge of the great purposes of God and what God is doing, that even great angelic beings, far greater than human beings, never could understand. But through us, they can come to understand.

Do you realize that we are going to judge angels? Do you realize that angels are kept in tartaroo to the day of their judgment? It says 'hell' in II Peter, or is it I Peter 2:4? I believe its II Peter isn't it? The angels that sinned; there is a judgment day coming for the angels. I don't think that includes the former Lucifer, or Satan, I think he knew better. There is one place where Jesus said; "...If you had not known you would have had no sin, but you say we know so your sin remains." (John 9:41 paraphrased)

And sin, after all, is not only transgression of the law, but God looks on the heart. And primarily it might be sin whether you know it or not, but God only imputes it according to your knowledge. And, well you do the wrong thing if you don't have the knowledge, and if there's a physical penalty that's going to hit you just the same whether you know it or whether you don't. But so far as your eternity is concerned, God is concerned more with what you know and what is your attitude and your attitude of mind. God looks on the heart which means attitude primarily.

God's Church (PLAY FROM 36:16)

Now: "This was according to the eternal purpose which he...realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him [we've access to God, the world does not have]. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is [for] your glory [he was in prison in chains and he was suffering for them]. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named," (Ephesians 3:11-15 RSV)

Now there again if you notice, the true Church is named after the Father, or it is not the Church of God; it's some other, it's the church of man. The Lutheran church is the church of Luther. The Church of God is God's Church, that's a different kind of a body. It's named after the one who's the Head, the real Head of all. The head of Christ is God.

"...every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man," (Ephesians 3:15-16 RSV)

And just think what that means; the power, spiritual power that could be given to us. And we are strengthened, but that means strengthened spiritually, but not with physical muscle in your arms and legs and so on.

" the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and [the] length and [the] height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses..." (Ephesians 3:16-19 RSV)

The love of Christ - you know that knowledge can't come to the average person, the love of Christ. How much He suffered for us, the price He paid. The price He paid in giving up the supreme glory He had had forever. Now forever goes backward, there never was a beginning, it has always existed. Christ had had that glory with the God the Father forever. He gave that up to become a human being and let people spit in His face, and mock Him and ridicule Him, and beat Him. Nail Him up to a cross with pounding nails through His hands and feet. Oh boy; when you think how that must have hurt. And the humiliation that He was willing to bear when He had been the Great God equal with the Father. Except that God was not the Father until Jesus became a human being, and then God was His Father.

"Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21 RSV)

Now it seems like he sort of ended a part of his letter there, but he begins a very important part again in which we have here divided, as men have divided it, into chapter four:

"I therefore a prisoner for the Lord [and he was literally a prisoner, actually in prison], beg [of] you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love [and I tell you; we do have to do that because we do get on one another's nerves, we just do], eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit [so that we're together and not separated. To maintain that we must have an eagerness to do that, we must want to do it, a desire to do it] ... of the Spirit in the bond of peace [that is, peace is a bond that binds us together]. There is one body and one Spirit..." (Ephesians 4:1-4 RSV)

Now there's one body, one Church, not many churches, and that Church is all bound together as I said, like a building. And if you take a part of a building and put it one place, and another part way off a thousand miles away, and another part two thousand miles in some other direction, what kind of a building are you going to have? And that's the kind of building that people think God is going to have, that want to just be loner Christians all alone by themselves.

" body and one Spirit". Only the one Spirit of God, and that's not a Spirit of malice, is not a spirit of resentment or bitterness, it's not a spirit of envy or jealousy; it's not a spirit of hostile competition. The way of get is a wrong spirit, or attitude. That's the way the world is living. The way of God is give, and it's the attitude of love, which is out flowing – first to God and then for the good and the welfare of others equal to the welfare of yourself.

Christ's Gift of Grace (PLAY FROM 43:16)

"...just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all [even above Christ] and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift." (Ephesians 4:4-7 RSV)

In other words, some people receive a greater measure of the Holy Spirit than others. We are to; "...grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..." (II Peter 3:18). When we are first converted we don't have it all. A whole lot of it comes through more knowledge. I can't have the appreciation of the things of God if I don't know about them, I have to know. That is, I have to have the knowledge if I'm going to really appreciate it. And so a lot of it ... it takes the knowledge and then it takes action on that knowledge. It takes agreeing with that knowledge; "Two can't walk together except they be agreed." (Amos 3:3 paraphrased). We have to agree with God. Here's the knowledge written in this book; do we accept it? Of course we have to comprehend it, and then are we in accord with it? Do we agree?

"But [you see] grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." (Ephesians 4:7 RSV)

The 'measure', and His gift is the Holy Spirit. So it's the measure of the Holy Spirit that He gives to each one. And then overcoming and changing of your life as you go along.

"Therefore it is said [quote], 'When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.' (In saying, 'He ascended,' [which is, I think we've heard that also in John 3:13; 'He ascended,'] what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? [In other words; He was buried in that tomb hewn out of the rock] He who descended is he who also ascended [by a resurrection and then ascended up to heaven] far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)" (Ephesians 4:8-10 RSV)

Now it says; "...above all the heavens..." (Ephesians 4:10), The Bible, so far as I understand, mentions three heavens. The first heaven is described in the first chapter of Genesis which is the atmosphere of the earth where the birds fly and where we now fly in airplanes. And that is called heaven in Genesis the first chapter. And then there is the heaven clear beyond when you get clear outside of the earth's atmosphere. And that heaven is part of the earth, it's the gassiest part of the earth. The oceans are the water part of the earth, or the liquid part of the earth. And the ground is the solid part of the earth. So it's part solid and part liquid and part gas. And you can turn some solids into liquid, or you can turn some liquids into gas. Well what's steam, but it's a sort of a gas, and so on. So there's at least three heavens; and Paul mentions being caught up to the third heaven in one of his letters.

"...that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers [now you see, he's talking about a Church and it is an organized Church, it's an organized Church]... and some teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry [and that's getting the gospel to the world], for [the] building up the body of Christ [that's feeding the flock], until we all attain to the unity of the faith..." (Ephesians 4:10-13 RSV)

Now not only unity together, but unity in the faith. But if I'm one place, and you're a thousand miles away, and with no contact one way or the other; we're not as likely to get together as we are if we are together, and we all are studying the same word, wanting only the truth.

Seeking God's Way Not Our Own (PLAY FROM 49:11)

I'm reminded of the time some years back, when we used to go up into penthouse in the library, and that was the headquarters office up there; and we'd have meetings with some of the leaders among us at that time. And it might be some problem. It might be a matter of understanding a certain scripture. It might be some problem that some person had, whatever. But some of us would have one idea and some might have another. But we always, maybe in twenty or thirty minutes, maybe in an hour, maybe in a couple or three hours, we would always end up one hundred percent in agreement.

Now why did we come to agreement? Because we were seeking the will of God and not our own will. We weren't seeking our own way. But some men, they've got their mind set a certain way and just that selfishness in them, they won't give up, they won't admit they could be wrong. Well we had to all be willing to admit we were wrong. And as long as we were, we used to come to exact harmony together.

"...for [the] building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith [well now, in those meetings we used to have, we would discuss it until we did all come to the unity and we could all see the same truth, and it was unity, but it had to be the truth; if we were looking for our own way we never would have found it] and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood [instead of childhood and], to the measure [now we get back to measure once again] of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles." (Ephesians 4:12-14 RSV)

You know that we have that among us, and we're always going to have. You're going to find that here and there will be some that are crafty and deceitful and they are out for selfish motives. They're out - it's always to get, they always want something for self. They are not wanting to help others, they're not wanting to give. They are wanting to get for self. We've had it in the Church. I've had that to contend with in some of the ministers up in Eugene, Oregon; before I ever came down to California. And some of the crafty, deceitful things that they pulled, it's just - you couldn't believe it, hardly. But they did. But somehow God always pulled me through. And Satan is still using people that way. That craftiness, deceitful wiles, that all comes from Satan. That's the way of Satan, it comes from Satan's mind.

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together [this is what I wanted to come to; joined and knit together, of] every joint with which it is supplied..." (Ephesians 4:15-16 RSV)

I want to read that in the King James:

"From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth..." (Ephesians 4:16)

'Compacted', it's like they're welded together, every piece, they're not scattered one here and one there. And it is not with one idea here, and a different doctrine and idea there. We've all got to come in the unity of the faith of the truth of God; and that means that each and every one of us must be willing to give up his way.

I go back to the time of my conversion and I know that's what it was. I was seeking to have my own way, I was challenged. My conversion came by finding how wrong I was and giving up my way. And not only realizing how wrong I was. I not only realized what I had done, but it was what I was beside what I had done. It was more than just what I had done. And I had to be converted from what I was, as well as from what I had done.

And until a new incentive, a new motive, a new purpose in life had to come into my mind and heart. And that has not left me. Now does that mean that I have walked a chalk line and never made a mistake? Oh no. Does that mean I never sinned? No I have. I have, so have every one of you.

And you read in I John the first chapter and he says; "If you say you haven't sinned [and he's talking about Christians after you receive the Holy Spirit] you deceive yourselves and you don't have the truth." (I John 1:8 paraphrased). So every one of us has sinned and done wrong. But I know this, that in my mind and heart, I still had the same motive and intent. I still agreed with God. I didn't come to the place where I disagreed. I didn't come to the place where I flagrantly disobeyed in rebellion.

We usually stumble and fall through the weakness of the flesh, weakness in human nature, or something of the kind, and not one of us has been perfect. On the other hand we overcome this, we overcome that, we overcome something else and something else. And then we find that here's a place where we did what was wrong.

And we go back and it hurts our conscience, and everything else, and even although we've repented of it long ago and God has wiped it clean by the shed blood of Christ. And it seems hard for us to realize that it is wiped clean and we don't have to go back and kick ourselves all over the lot again because of it.

Every Part Working Together in Love (PLAY FROM 56:33)

But I did want you to notice that we are joined together just as if we were welded together. It is not one part of the building here and one part there. And the Church is like a building in that regard. And it must be compacted together, joined closely together. Well anyway;

"...compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:16)

Now it was the sixteenth verse. Now let me get that here; fourth chapter and verse sixteen:

"From whom the whole body [and remember that we saw that it is one body and not several bodies, the one body] ... is joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied [or every joint that composes it], when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and up builds itself in love." (Ephesians 4:16 RSV)

Every part must work properly. If one part is working - well. it's like a team of horses; and maybe you'd have a team of six horses, two together, two in front of them and two in front of them. Like the Anheuser-Busch team of great big, fine horses. But if one of them starts going the wrong way, the other five can't go the right way because the other five have a hard time dragging that one along if he wouldn't go along with them. They all have to work together.

What can a team do, a basketball, or football, or baseball team if they don't work together? And when you find a team that is virtually a National Championship team and they begin to fall into a slump, there is a wrong attitude in the part of some player someplace. And that team spirit is not there any longer, there is something that is causing it. And that's the thing in this world all coaches have to worry about. There has to be what they call team spirit. They've all got to pull the same way, and they don't have the Holy Spirit of God to help them in this world of athletics.

There have been some basketball games going on today and they're lined up where someone has to lose and suffer the agony in order that someone else can have all the elation of ecstasy in winning. And what have they won? And what's all that ecstasy about? It doesn't amount to anything. They won't remember ten years from now. They won't remember through eternity. It is as a nothing.

But this world has to have some kind of excitement. I was just thinking this morning as I was going through this and trying to prepare and refresh my mind on it, I think to have your mind on things like this would be pretty dull to the people of this world. Without God's Spirit, they don't have an interest in things like this. This would be dull and they want some excitement. And if you're going to have that kind of excitement as the world has, you have; as they say in all of its contests, its sports and everything, there is, 'the ecstasy and the agony'.

In the Presidential race Ronald Reagan had ecstasy, but Jimmy Carter and his wife went into a room and closed the door, and they just wept and they cried and cried aloud in agony. And they probably forgot that four years before, Mr Ford and his wife were probably crying in agony, and Jimmy Carter and his wife were in their ecstasy. And that's the way it is in this world, it's competition and it's strife. And if you're going to enjoy anything, someone else has to suffer in order that you can enjoy it.

I was remarking that up in our breakfast room this morning. I think I was talking about it with Ramona, and she said, "Well God will supply some kind of interest for us in the Kingdom that will be so much more interesting than the excitement of the sports and the things that they have today that there will be no comparison." We're not going to be just bored by any manner of means. It's going to be a thrilling, interesting time.

Human Nature (PLAY FROM 1:02:02)

Now verse seventeen:

"Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do [you see, that's the way this world is living right now, all around, other people are out shopping, it's a great shopping day, doing everything they should not do on God's Holy Sabbath] ... that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds [it's futile, it's just of no value whatsoever, and yet they'll attach value to something that has no value]... the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them..." (Ephesians 4:17-18 RSV)

Ignorance! Now that applies to the highest educated people in this world! Not only the United States, but the highly educated in Britain, in France, in Germany, and wherever you go. I guess some of them over in Moscow think they are highly educated, but they don't have any real education. They're just ignorant of the real values.

"... ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him [or have learned of Him, it would be better] and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life..." (Ephesians 4:18-22 RSV)

Now we talk about human nature, and that brings that back right here; it's another thing that comes in on human nature. We think of human nature as something that we were born with. Human nature is something that has been acquired, not something that was born in us. If it was born in you, how are you going to put it off? But now notice something else he says right here:

"...[A] manner of life and is [corrupted] through deceitful lusts [put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life - and you learned that manner of life since you were born, it wasn't born in you] ... and is corrupt through deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your minds," (Ephesians 4:22-23 RSV)

Now notice, while we are; "...partakers of the divine nature." (II Peter 1:4) Peter says. We didn't have that divine nature but it begins to come into us. We begin to absorb it and receive it; it's not something that was born in us. This thing we call human nature is an evil something that Satan has injected into us since we were born, we were not born with it.

"[so] put on the new nature [that is the divine nature of Christ], created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24 RSV)

Put that nature on until that becomes our nature. Nature is that which becomes natural, and what becomes natural is natural because it has become fixed habit. So get into the habit of it until it becomes just habitual and therefore it will seem to just be natural.

I was thinking as I was putting on a tie this morning, just a little thing, but it's an illustration. If you would ask me; how do you tie the kind of a knot that I have? And I would just sit here and try to tell you what to do, I couldn't do it to save my life. I could not do it! But I've put on a tie and I've found while I was tying that knot this morning, I wasn't thinking about what I was doing, my hands have gotten into the habit and they just naturally, habitually do it. And if I were to show you how, I would have to untie my tie and start to tie it again and I would have to explain each thing as I go. My hands would do it and then I would see.

Now to some little extent I have played the piano ever since I was eight years old. When I was twelve, of course, I got too big for my mother to whip me, and make me play any longer so I'd practice. So I didn't improve any further from that time on, only played for my own pleasure when I wanted to, and when it interested me. So I never did play very well or very much, but perhaps more than just an ordinary beginner because I took lessons for four years when I was growing up. But even now, I can only play certain things that I've had memorized for many, many years. Like I can play the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, called Moonlight. Well if I tried to think now what keys I hit, I couldn't think to save my life; when I go in my hands just naturally do it! They've done it for years, and it's become a habit, and my hands just do it.

You know you get your hands trained to do certain things and they just do it. You get your feet trained to do certain things and walk in a certain way, or a certain movement, and you just do it naturally. It becomes natural. And that's what we call nature, and human nature is what we have. It's acquired habit, that's what it is. And the people have never - most people have never understood what human nature is, and what is nature. They think it of something you are born with. It was not. Well enough of that, I wanted to make that plain; I believe it's an important point.

God's Nature (PLAY FROM 1:09:18)

Now let's see:

"[For we] put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24 RSV)

You know it's just habitual with God. God has never been any other way. He just is love, He is godly, He is righteous completely and no other way.

"Therefore [verse 25], putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin..." (Ephesians 4:25-26 RSV)

You know just being angry alone in righteous anger, indignation, is not necessarily sin. However anger should always be controlled and not uncontrolled. Uncontrolled anger can open your mind to demon possession. In other words; if you get so angry you can completely lose your head until you've lost control of your own mind. A demon can take control. Now most people just don't do that, but that's just a rare, occasional thing, but that's the way some demons get in. So we should be careful that we don't completely lose our heads and our minds.

" not let the sun go down on your anger [or your wrath, as it is in the King James], and give no opportunity to the devil [or to a demon coming in, because we could in a case like that]. Let the thief no longer steal..." (Ephesians 4:26-28 RSV)

Repentance is to turn from it and don't do it again. That's another way of - repentance is, of course, it is being sorry, it is remorse. But it's so much more than that; it's a change of mind in regard to it altogether.

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths..." (Ephesians 4:28-29 RSV)

Do you realize how much it is wrong to even come out of our mouths? But; "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Matthew 12:34) you know. And, well I heard of where there was a lot of the wrong kind of shenanigans, and horse play, and the wrong kind of talk was going on in one place within our campus, where it certainly never should. And it was absolutely wrong. Well that's all cleaned out now, and that isn't happening anymore, and I'm glad it's cleaned out. But so many people get into that sort of thing, and they're sort of laughing, joshing, and kidding, and they think it is fun. And I know grown people do it; I don't know why they do.

"Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, [and] fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:29-30 RSV)

Now we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Well if we're sealed with the Holy Spirit, then the seal of God must be the Holy Spirit isn't it? We have what we call an earnest payment. Or like the little, it's not even a full down payment, but an earnest payment you make on buying a piece of property. It's even a small part of the down payment, but it's enough to show your good intention. It doesn't completely bind it, of course you can lose that if you want to give it up. But the Holy Spirit is the earnest payment that God has given us of eternal life. Now we can give it up, and we can lose it. But we better not.

God has given us that earnest payment and we don't want to lose it. Well we're sealed for the day of redemption because those at the time of Christ's coming, or those who die before that who have, and are led by, the Holy Spirit at that time. They are the ones who are the sons of God and are going to be immortal and God beings and no longer human beings.

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31 RSV)

What chance would we have if God had just been so angry He would never forgive us? That's the way some people are. If you've ever done something wrong they are forever angry at you. They never will forgive you. If we don't forgive others their sins, God won't forgive us ours. And we have to remember those things.

Well now that finishes the fourth, so I think that we will have the fifth and sixth to our next Bible Study. Of course then we'll come in to some things about the whole armor of God and things of that sort, and that we're not fighting against flesh and blood but against evil spirits in high places, and in the governments and in the universe.

We blame other people when they're doing wrong, and of course if they are doing wrong, they are to be blamed. But the prime guilt is on Satan in every case, and we forget that. And it is too bad that if people have been weakened to the point they have let Satan lead them into certain things that are wrong, we should have a little compassion for them on that, because that was a weakness, and try to help them out of it; instead of just being too angry at them too. But sometimes the whole intent is one of malice and one of covetousness and greed on their part for what they can get. And until they can get rid of that attitude, there is nothing you can do with them.

And I've said that if you ever let bitterness and resentment really get into you, you are probably more hooked on that; and withdrawal from it will be harder than withdrawal from heroin or other narcotics, that is one of the hard drugs. Whatever happens, never let yourself get to the place of being completely resentful and bitter, no matter how bad someone else has performed. No matter how much you think they've hurt you, because then you are worse off than the person who was wrong and who wronged you, if you let that ever get into your mind and heart.

I've warned lots of people, and I know that lots of people who have heard it have later been hooked on that and lost clear out. And I don't know what to do except to do what I have done and warn them and pray for them. And what else can we do? That's why I try to pray for the brethren regularly every day.


{1} All scriptures are from the King James Version unless otherwise stated.

{2} This quote comes from James 1:2.

{3} This quote is from I Corinthians 2:7 not II Corinthians 2:7.

{4} This quote comes from John 1:3.