By Joseph Mattera
Monday, March 15, 2010
Knowing the Mystery and Living Purposefully
By Joseph Mattera
Understanding the Mystery of God to Fulfill the Purpose of God
Many today desire to realize the purpose of their lives. Pastor Rick Warren capitalized on this by writing a book that has sold more than 50 million copies entitled The Purpose-Driven Life. Many believers in Christ are obsessed with understanding their purpose. This has resulted in millions of Christian books being sold related to this subject.
I propose in this teaching that a person cannot understand their individual purpose in life without first understanding and connecting to God’s overarching purpose as clearly shown in the New Testament.
Following will be a brief survey of Ephesians chapters 1-4.
I. Ephesians 1:9-12 states: “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
1. (1:9-10) God shows us that His mystery has been unveiled since the revelation of Christ to humanity.
A. In the fullness of time His overarching goal is to gather together in one all “things” in Christ--both which are in heaven and on earth.
B. Thus, the goal of God is not for believers to be saved and make it to heaven but for the church to be the agent that brings the influence of the government of God, purely manifest in heaven, into the earth realm.
C. The fact that it says “things” in this passage means that God’s ultimate goal is that all of life would be under the rule and reign of Christ. That is to say politics, economics, family, education, the arts, music, theatre, literature, athletics, etc. are to be under the rule and reign of Christ.
D. The Bible is not a book about heaven; in fact it says very little about heaven. It is really a handbook about how to rule with Christ on the earth as His stewards in managing the planet.
2. (1:11) This is the inheritance of the saints.
A. While many in the church are praying to escape the earth and get raptured to heaven, the word of God teaches that our inheritance is connected to heaven coming onto the earth.
i. We pray for Christ to rescue us out of the world in spite of Jesus praying to keep us in the world (John 17:15).
ii. While many are trying to escape the earth and go to heaven, the Bible teaches us in Revelation 21:1-3 that heaven is gradually coming down to earth, as the influence of the Rider on the White Horse (Jesus) and His followers disciple the nations and bring His kingdom influence on the earth.
B. Our inheritance is not speaking in tongues and healing the sick; those are only signs that the Kingdom of God has come.
C. Our inheritance has to do with the kingdom influence of heaven coming to the earth.
D. He works all things according to the counsel of His will, which means that only those who preach the Kingdom of God and use the Bible as a blueprint to serve and bless communities will have God’s purpose working for them instead of against them.
3. (1:12) We will show the praise of His glory when we release the saints to serve as His ministers in every aspect of community life as a blessing to all humanity.
II. The Prayer of Paul for the Church (Ephesians 1:17-23): “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
1. Ephesians 1:17-21: The inheritance of the church is connected to His rule over all spiritual and earthly rulers and authorities--not only angels and demons but presidents, prime ministers, governors, mayors, etc.
2. (1:22) The church is connected directly to Christ as its head, which means:
A. The church is connected to the brain of the cosmos. We should be the ones getting direct wisdom from heaven regarding God’s purpose on the earth.
B. The church should have the greatest leaders, statesmen, and problem solvers the world has ever seen since we are connected to the head and ruler of all decision makers and problem solvers of the earth. The universe is under His feet but the church is under His head. (We act more like we are under His feet when we think that God has no plan for our lives or our churches other than to have good Sunday services.)
3. (1:23; 2:9-10) We are the fullness of God.
A. This means that, when God wants something done, He works through the church to get it done. Where there is unbelief, poverty, sickness, or political and cultural problems in society, God places His people in those situations of need to be His salt and light to the world. (Jesus called us the salt and light of the earth, not the salt and light of Sunday church services!)
III. Ephesians 3:8-10: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1. The church influences the spiritual archetypes before the physical world is transformed.
A. “Principality” in the original Greek is “arche” which has to do with the spiritual archetype behind the physical realities of the world. (The Greek word “arche” means: beginning, origin; the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader; that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause.
B. “Wisdom” in this passage is the Greek word “sofia” which means the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels, the formation and government of the world, and the interpretation and application of the scriptures.
C. Consequently, because the church is connected to Christ as its head, we become the intermediary of the brain center of the world. We reveal the will of God and the wisdom of God on the earth. (First Peter 1:12 teaches us that even angels long to look into what we have in the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.)
D. This also refers to the reality that angels and demons respond and react to the things God calls the church to do on the earth. (Christians who think serving God only amounts to attending church on Sundays actually excite demons who want to control the earth realm and bore guardian angels who want some serious action but get nothing but prayers of grace over meals, prophecies, and people believing for nice houses and cars, then retiring to Florida.)
E. When the church intercedes for communities and cities we release angels and displace demons; when we place godly leaders in families, politics, the arts, education, and business we excite the angels who were made for battle and to protect the honor of God in the universe.
IV. Ephesians 4:10-12: “(He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
1. Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven that He might fill all things. When we say “things” Paul is connecting the “things” in the first chapter to this passage. “All things” means every spiritual and material thing that makes up the universe and society.
2. The whole reason for the ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to equip the saints to minister.
A. The context demands that the word “ministry” include the filling of “all things” in 4:10. Thus, the fivefold ministry is given as a gift to the church to create the greatest mind molders, leaders, problem solvers, and decision makers that the world has ever seen. This is so Christ can fill up all things with His kingdom influence!
B. Fivefold ministers basically do two things: they fill up the world with kingdom-thinking leaders and people geared toward reformation, and they edify the church for a continual revival and renewal so this first point is continually fulfilled for generations.
C. This is another reason why the local church is the hope of the world.
D. This also shows that apostles are not only called to plant churches but to start kingdom revolutions that will redeem whole cities, disciple nations, and bless humanity until the new heaven and new earth fully descend out of heaven from God upon the earth!