Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 38
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber has already shown what the divine mystery is, now in this article he explains that there is a larger audience who is eager to hear about this mystery—the angelic host.|
God’s Divine Mystery – Part 3
I have said it before and I want to say it again, if you have never studied Ephesians, you need to study this for yourself. Ephesians is such an overwhelming book. In chapter 1 we found the riches of our salvation. In chapter 2 we found the reasons for our salvation and in Chapter 3 the wonderful revelation of our salvation.
We are still talking about that divine mystery, God’s Divine Mystery. We are going to be looking at verses 10-11, particularly verse 10. Let’s read verses 8-11 just to get the context in our minds: “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul is doing something in chapter 3, really all three chapters. He is trying to get the Gentiles to understand the significance of their salvation. In verses 1-13 he starts a prayer. Then he stops and picks the prayer back up in verse 14. He stresses to them that the whole matter of our redemption and salvation was a mystery that was hidden through the ages. He tells us that God, for a while, was sharing with us. God has always been giving us bits and pieces, but there was never a clear picture in the Old Testament. Paul says it has now been revealed.
If you will think about it, in Genesis God began to give a clue, didn’t He? When Adam and Eve sinned there were animal skins to clothe them. God began to show us a clue that there is going to have to be a death and blood shed for sin to be dealt with. Then later in the covenant with Abraham, He promises a seed, an offspring. There had to be a man to shed His blood and die. Isaiah prophesied there was going to be a Messiah. As a matter of fact, Isaiah 53 says, “He was pierced through for our transgressions.” You begin to realize it was no ordinary man. This is the Messiah he is talking about, the Anointed One. The God/Man would die and shed His blood for our sins. There were clues in the Old Testament all the way through. Many of the prophets did not even understand what they were prophesying, but now it has been made clear.
After the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension the mystery was revealed. Paul says, “I am overwhelmed.” We don’t know when God revealed it to him. Maybe it was on the back side of the desert for those first three years when Holy Spirit preached to him. Paul had that mystery down. In his heart, he understood it. That mystery is our redemption. The mystery is that all men, whether Jew or Gentile, can be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was assigned a specific part of that mystery of redemption. Peter was assigned to the Jews, but Paul was assigned to the Gentiles. Get the Word out! For years, Gentiles had been shut out. Now the barrier has been torn down. Now the doors are wide open. The gospel is for whosoever might come. In Ephesians 3:6 he says, “to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” What a mystery our redemption has been! It was always revealed in bits and pieces through the years and yet, before the foundation of this world, God already had it in His mind.
Well, we come to verse 10 and find that this mystery being revealed to Paul, preached to the Gentiles and, through Peter, to the Jews, was not just for mankind. God wants somebody else to understand the mystery of man’s redemption. You say, “Now wait a minute, I am confused. Who else is there? Look at verse 10 again. He says, “in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Verse 10 indicates there is another audience out there. Evidently it is an invisible audience. We are a visible audience. We have Jews and Gentiles being converted who are the body of Christ. But there is another audience out there, an invisible audience. That is our focus this time.
Let’s look at two things. First of all, I want us to look at the invisible audience. There is an invisible audience out there. Paul is preaching this mystery that has been revealed to him to the Gentiles, but he says it is also for those rulers and authorities in heavenly places. Now, who in the world are these people? Well, first of all, the term “rulers” is the Greek word arche. This word has as its basic meaning “beginning.” When it refers to persons, it has the idea of those who are in first place, those who have power, those who have preeminence, those who have rulership. Here he is talking about the princes and the chiefs. “You mean to tell me, in an invisible order of God, that there is some kind of order, that there are people who are under others?” Yes. There is an authority structure. Paul simply uses these two words to point to that.
The term “authority” is the Greek word exousia. Now arche, is the one who has the power to delegate authority, but the word exousia, is the one who carries it out and executes that authority, that power. In other words, they have the right and the might. Now put both words together. Arche is the authority granting the power, and exousia is the one who executes the power. That just simply says there is a divine order. Something is delegated down through the ranks. There is an invisible rank of people or something. I will tell you what they are in a minute. They have divine order to them.
Now where are these powers and authorities? That begins to give you the clue as to what he is talking about. Where are they? He says in verse 10, “rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Now that is an interesting phrase. This invisible audience is somewhere in the heavenlies. What does the term “heavenlies” mean? That is the New American Standard translation, but it is a good translation because the word “heaven” is not in the singular. It is in the plural. It means heavenlies.
Look in II Corinthians 12:2. Is there more than one heaven? Let’s let the Scripture answer itself. Paul is speaking of himself: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” Now what does that tell you? There is no heaven beyond God because God is in the highest place, so evidently, if God is in the third heaven, there must be two underneath it.
When you get up in the morning and look up at the sky you see the first heaven. It is a beautiful thing to look at. It is the lower atmosphere that we live in every day. Now, you know and I know that you can get outside of that atmosphere. How do you know that? Well, every night God just pulls the blinds back and says, “Hey, do you want to see another heaven?” In the daytime you see the lower one and at night you see the second heaven, the universe. Scientists tell us that we only get a glimpse of what is out there. When you leave this atmosphere, you go into another dimension altogether. So, there is the first heaven, which is the sky around us; there is the second heaven, the universe; then there is the third heaven where God dwells.
The term “heavenlies” is used five times in the book of Ephesians. Every time it is used it refers to that highest heaven. What do we know about it from chapter 1? If you will look at Ephesians 1:3 you will see the first time it is used. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Our blessings far exceed this atmosphere. They far exceed the universe. They are in heaven in Christ. In other words, they are heavenly attributes that God has given us. They are all resident in the Lord Jesus Christ, who in His Spirit indwells us. He lives and exists beside the Father at the throne.
In 1:20 we find that Jesus was raised up and seated in the heavenly places: “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” It is referring to that third heaven, far above the lower heavens.
In 2:6 we are seated with Him: “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s put this together. We have got an invisible audience out there. There is a structure to it. There are those who are delegating authority to others. They are in the heavens. So far, we see a host that is in the third heaven. We know that. We know there must be this delegated authority or divine order in the third heaven. Now look in 6:12. There might be some others that we are dealing with here. They are invisible the same way. However, they are not in the third heaven, evidently, because of what the Scripture teaches us. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
There was a rebellion in heaven, and Satan led it. But folks, you don’t get away with rebelling against God. God threw him out. Now he is delegated to the lower heavens. If we could get a picture of what the world looks like, it would be in the midst of a darkness that surrounds it. The beautiful thing about our redemption is, Jesus is the Light. Nobody ever turned Him on, so nobody can turn Him off. He is perpetual Light. He broke that darkness and came into this dark world and died on the cross. Ephesians says, “You were once darkness, now you have been made light.” Satan has temporary domain over this world. The whole world, John says, lies in the hands of the evil one as if asleep and not even knowing it.
So we see that the devil and all of his fallen angels operate in the lower heavens. You can’t say that in chapter 3 he is just talking about the ones in the lower domain. No! Paul wants the angelic hosts, whether in heaven or fallen, to understand what His plan has been since before the foundation of this world. Oh, folks, redemption is God’s plan. Once you are saved and Christ comes into your heart, the church becomes very instrumental in understanding the mystery that God has revealed to Paul.
What is that mystery? We have already talked about that in chapter 2. The Jew and the Gentile are made one in the body of Christ. In other words, Christ lives in us, and we are a part of His body. That is what redemption is all about. So we see the invisible audience.
Now let’s look at the invincible teacher. Who is going to take that message to these angels? Who is going to teach them about the redemption of man? Look at 3:10: “in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church.” What is the church? It is the body of Christ. It is Jew and Gentile becoming one new man in the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Church, through the vehicle of His Church, which you are a part of and I am a part of, if you are a believer, He is going to make known to these rulers and authorities in the heavenly places the mystery of our salvation.
Let’s get into that. Look first of all at that term “might be made known” in verse 10. He says, “in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known.” Now what is that? The term for “known” there is the Greek word that means “they wouldn’t know unless somebody teaches them.” In other words, it is not intuitive. It is not something that you can just know. This word in Ephesians 3:10 is the knowledge that has to be revealed. It has to be taught. It has to be communicated. This invisible audience won’t know any other way.
So, through the Church God wants to communicate to this invisible host of angels, both heavenly and the fallen ones. He wants to communicate what His plan has been throughout the ages, and what has just now been revealed to the apostles and prophets and through the Church. He wants them to understand the redemption of mankind.
The word “might now be made known” is in the aorist passive subjunctive. Aorist tense doesn’t mean they are going to know at some specific point in time. It means it is time now for them to know, but it is not something that happens at one point in time. It is something that has started. Yes, one day it will have its completion, but right now it has begun. There is some teaching going on. The Church is a part of that. The angels are looking on. They need to understand redemption. What they are learning we are teaching them. Through the Church, they are learning what redemption is all about.
Subjunctive mood means we have something to do with that by the way we live. Every time I choose not to let the Holy Spirit control my life, number one, I have denied Him the privilege of sharing it with the lost of this world. Number two, I have held an angel hostage because that angel may be watching me. He wants to know what redemption is all about. We’ve got to understand the angelic realm. It is out there. It is up there. We know that there is an invisible audience out there and through the Church, it will be made known.
The term “manifold wisdom” is just absolutely beautiful. Let me see if I can help you understand “the manifold wisdom of God.” The word “manifold” there is the word that means “multicolored.” Have you ever watched a master craftsman? I am married to one. She loves to put things together. We are doing some work in our house and changing the colors. When I saw the color of the den, I thought to myself, “It is beautiful!” I saw the colors of the living room and I thought, “Yucky!” I saw the color of the dining room and I said, “Uhhh.” I saw the color of the kitchen, and I liked that. I was thinking, “How does all this tie together? I know what that color is, I know what that color is, but I can’t put it all together.” Have you ever watched a master doing that? A tapestry on the bottom side looks like a big confused mess. You have all kind of colors, but you don’t know how they blend or fit until you turn it over. Then you see the artistry and the marvelous skill of putting those colors together. That’s the idea of “the manifold wisdom of God.” Well, in our house Diana put some wallpaper in the foyer. What a difference. All of those colors were in the wallpaper. Now when you walk into our house that wallpaper draws this into it and this into it and this into it. That’s “the manifold wisdom of God.”
Oh folks, it has been going on for a long time. The angels want to know all about this. They are probably saying, “What is going on with these people running around down there?” When Jesus was on the cross and He cried out to His Father and His Father turned His back on Him and darkness fell on the earth, don’t you know the angels said, “What is going on?” The fallen angels in the realm were rejoicing and saying, “Ah ha, we have done it! We killed Him.” The angels don’t understand, Satan included. Why would He ever put Jesus on the cross? Satan thought he had him.
Tony Evans was at a convention several years ago and was preaching on how God and Satan were in this chess game. God would raise up a man, and then Satan would raise up a man. God raised up Adam and of course, Satan raised up Cain. God raised up Seth. You can just walk through the Old Testament. God raised up one, and Satan raised up one. The score in Malachi is tied up. At half time it is all tied up. For four hundred years nothing is said. It is a time of darkness. It is a time when Satan probably sat back and said, “I got you now.”
However, the next move was exciting. God didn’t raise up another man. God became a man, and Satan said, “Uh oh.” He couldn’t handle that. God came down and took upon himself a body. Oh, the plan of redemption, God was our Redeemer before He was ever our Creator. Before the foundation of the world, He was our Redeemer. He has been standing in the portals waiting to come, and Jesus breaks forth and comes down in a lowly manger, born of a virgin. Now what we have on earth is not just a man. We have the God-man.
Satan thought he understood it. He didn’t understand it. Nor does he understand redemption, that Christ now comes and lives in our life. That is why in Ephesians 6 it says just to stand. That is all we have got to do. You stand in the character of Jesus, filled with His Spirit as it says in 5:18. The devil looks at you and says, “Is this what God was all about? I could handle you, but I can’t handle Him who lives in you.” They need to understand this mystery.
Over in Revelation 10 it says the mystery of God is finished. We know it has been revealed, but I want to tell you something folks: there are a lot of things about this mystery we still don’t understand. The more we surrender to His Word and the more we let Him enlighten our minds, and the more we begin to understand, the more those colors start to blend. We see judgments in this picture. We see an awful time coming on this earth. We see a putting to an end to all unrighteousness. That is all a part of the same mystery our redemption is wrapped up in. There is a lot we don’t understand, much less the angels.
I want you to look in I Peter 1:12. Peter has a word to say here. “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” That angel is standing out on the edge of a precipice just looking, eagerly wanting to see.
What do they want to know? You may ask, “Are you talking about the fallen angels?” Yeah, I figure a few of them are there too. We probably have some of them in the church. We still have a lot of the holy ones out there looking in and they want to know. They are saying, “Tell me about redemption.” They eagerly long to look into it. How are they going to find out, folks? Look in chapter 2 of Ephesians. I want to tell you my reasoning behind what I am about to say. Let’s begin with verse 4 because that is the whole thought: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
“You mean to tell me that an angel can learn something from me? I thought I had to learn from the angel.” Oh, you can learn a whole lot from them, but friend, they can learn a whole lot from us. They don’t understand redemption. Now, I am not talking about perfection. This doesn’t mean that you live perfectly and understand redemption. When we start living obediently, doing the things that God has told us to do, the angels look at us and say, “What has happened to him? Why, we were around here last year and acted like a sinner. Man, look at him now. He is living like a saint. What happened in his life? Look at him. Look at him. He just sinned against his wife and look, he is going to ask her forgiveness. What is going on here? What is this redemption?” They don’t know. We are teaching them. When Jesus is Jesus in your life, friend, it is not only touching a lost world, it has opened the eyes of the angels who haven’t got a clue. They are looking intently.
The audience is an invisible audience, but we are an invincible teacher, folks, through the Church. Look at verse 11. “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “Eternal purpose” means the purpose of the ages. Salvation is it. Redemption is it. That is God’s purpose before the foundation of the world. What should church be? It should be a time of us coming together and celebrating like no other group on the face of this earth.