"The Apex of Grace"; Ephesians
October 1, 2012

C. R. Oliver

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October 1, 2012

"The Apex of Grace"

          Of all the epistles of Paul, this is the "grace epistle." Standing atop the advantage of Ephesians, one can see grace in all directions. It is like standing on the highest of peaks and surveying the splendor around and below. The revelation of "the mystery of the gospel" reaches a crescendo in this book. It is here, one sees nothing exists for the believer without grace attending it. Here, we are taught salvation comes by grace, that we are sustained in it, that we live because of it, that we are rich through it and by its issuance into us--we are made a part of the family of God.

From the Beginning:
           Ephesians, the reader is open to grasp the mystery of how grace preceded earth's origin. Grace was present when the Lamb was "slain before the foundation of the world." Grace, in Ephesians, is not some introduction or salutation for an epistle; it is integral to everything addressed in its pages.
Ephesians 1:3-6
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,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace,
(It is my conviction that chapter one must be memorized by all the saints of God. They must be able to quote it in the dark of night and herald it in the morning light. The Father is blessed by us and He blesses us. Think of the cyclical nature of this passage.)

These opening verses, as well as this entire epistle, are dedicated "to the praise of the glory of His GRACE." How necessary it is for us to embrace this truth.

When we read, "Who has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ," it is to the "praise of the glory of His Grace." When "He chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him in love," it was to the "praise of the glory of His grace." When "He predestined us to adoption as sons," it was to the "praise of the glory of His grace." (Pardon me, I just want to stand up and run around the room and shout.)

He did all this because He wanted to. He wanted to do this for me! He wanted to do this for you! That is what it means when it says, "According to the good pleasure of His will." The Father sent forth His grace toward us, even when we didn't know Him.

Examine these powerful verses. Get them deep inside, so no devil in hell can challenge you about them. Stand these verses high in the room of your heart and speak them daily.

"Every spiritual blessing" means I am not missing any!

I can act on what He has given. I can stand assured I have them. I can speak and declare things because I own them. What on earth is the modern church doing attending multiple seminars and "how to" clinics? The Church already possesses more than it has been teaching. (Yes, I probably will hear from 15 bible school owners who will jump up and say, "You need us to hone these skills. You need us to interpret them for you and teach you how to use them." Are we not sickened with "honing" and "interpreting?" Thank you very much, sirs and madams, but along with the "every" comes the skill to use them. Grace does that!)

Review these verses again and declare what they say: "He blessed us, He chose us and He predestined us." These are terms that highlight His role ... this is a grace thing.

Next, is a verse crammed full of everything spiritual found in the Song of Solomon. Gaze into the eyes of the "lover of our souls" and see the gleam of acceptance and how He is moved to embrace us as His bride ... read it! Notice it is Grace that made us accepted,
Ephesians 1:6
By which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
"I'm just an ole sinner saved by grace," won't cut it in Ephesians. "No, the redeemed one is blessed, chosen, predestined and accepted." It is high time for us to start living like it!

"The Beloved" has grace in His DNA. Because of grace, we have redemption. Paul declared it in verse seven:
Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
We have redemption and we have forgiveness of sins, according to what? If you said, "according to the riches of His grace," you are on to something wonderful. Jesus is the depository of the riches of grace and out of that depository, He has distributed to us.
Ephesians 1:7-8
According to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Abound: (NT:4052 perisseuo (per-is-syoo'-o); from NT:4053) to superabound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous; also (transitively) to cause to superabound or excel: KJV - (make, more) abound, (have, have more) abundance (be more) abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, redound, remain (over and above).
Grace is all over our Lord Jesus and Grace is all over us as well. When He fed the 5,000, grace caused there to be baskets left over. When He changed water into wine, grace made it the finest and its supply was abundant. When the widow had the pots of oil multiplied, that was grace at work. Peter's shadow didn't fall on just one who needed healing, his shadow touched multitudes. Grace always over does it!

Wisdom and prudence accompany grace. Wisdom is the power to know how to implement knowledge or revelation, while prudence knows on whom and when to bestow it. We are not to stagger about aimlessly, for grace urges toward the highest places on the greater plain.
Ephesians 1:8-9
Wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
The book, En Punto, which triumphs hearing the voice of the Lord and doing what He says, points to a wondrous place called: "there." Grace brings one to this place. The "mystery of His will" is made known to us because His grace is working in us. We KNOW His will. (Stop struggling. Stop having spiritual séances of the sort that plies every venue as to, "what should I do?" Begin to rest in His grace and draw from the well within. The Spirit will bring into focus what is already deposited in us ... He planned it that way, "for He purposed it in Himself.")

"According to the riches of His grace" should precede each of the "bestowments" that follow verse nine. By adding the phrase before each unfolding gift, we give honor to the vastness of God's grace-provision.
Ephesians 1:10
According to the riches of His grace, He purposed:
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.

Ephesians 1:11-14
In Him also (according to the riches of His grace) we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Obtaining an inheritance, being predestined to receive it, being guaranteed by the sealing of the Holy Spirit that we will receive it, is the magnificent work of His grace! Hallelujah. It is a two way street, for He has an inheritance in us!

Paul prayed that the Ephesians, and all saints, would receive a further investiture from the riches of His grace. Paul knew he had it and wished it to be bestowed on the others. Paul walked in wisdom and revelation these followers did not yet know. He wanted them, and us, to realize what was bestowed on those who truly follow the Lord. The whole of Christ's work within us is synopsized in these verses.
Ephesians 1:17-2:1
17 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, 18 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,
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21 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.
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Paul knew this! The church of today does not know this!

Look at what these verses say. They are a continuation of that which pours out of the riches of His grace. If there is just one thing to be prayed over the church let it be this: "That they may know." The ignorance and stupidity displayed everywhere is evidence "they don't know." When ministers and congregates put into action some of their plans and programs and make their clueless comments, it is evidence enough, "they don't know." The power of these verses has enormous import. Verse 19 alone is enough to shout about, but it is just one among many. Until every believer can testify, like Paul, that "the power that raised Christ from the dead resides in me," then the church is shortchanged and blind! It falls short of verse 23. It does not have the FULLNESS.

After confessing he once was chief of sinners, walking after lusts and being a "son of disobedience (while in good standing with the religious leadership at Jerusalem)," he declared that grace came down on him and changed everything.
Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace ...
(I am stopping this verse at this point in order to make a point. The following verses will now have a separate standing and it will allow us to erase all the italicized words injected to enhance meaning. Allow me this departure from the NKJV. These verses will now state a somewhat emphatic set of facts.)
Ephesians 2:5-7
You have been saved, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
After the stated fact, now Paul can relate how this was accomplished.
Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Paul gives a history of the spiritual maneuvering that God's grace performed in opening the door to the Gentiles, and how He broke down every barrier that would hinder a saint's advancement. The Apostle from Tarsus sums it all in the following verses.
Ephesians 2:19-22
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
In Chapter 3, we are introduced to the great facets of Grace. "The dispensation of Grace" is one, and the "gift of Grace" is another. Examine briefly the use of "dispensation."
Dispensation: NT:3622 oikonomia (oy-kon-om-ee'-ah); from NT:3623; administration (of a household or estate); specifically, a (religious) "economy": KJV - dispensation, stewardship.
This Greek word is literally, "economy." It incorporates all the functions of grace among believers. Even though we live under the economy of a nation (good or bad), actually we are to live under the economy of the kingdom. An economy incorporates aspects that affect every life, every decision and how one views the future. Awareness of the "spiritual economy" governing life, finances, investment and future, will affect every aspect of the believer. Paul lived under God's economy. Because of "dispensationalists" a "time" aspect has been associated with grace. As if to say, "there will come an end to grace and a time when no one can be born again."

Does the Bible ever teach an end of grace? I cannot find it.

Paul is saying, "In the economy of God's grace, I am an ambassador."
Ephesians 3:4-7
Understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
Grace gives special anointing, special gifts. The power coming from Paul's revelation of the mystery of Christ gave him a hearing on multiple continents. It is this gift he prays upon every saint, so the work of the kingdom will be as alive in them as it is in him. Ministering from a gift of grace is different than ministering with a license from an institution. (Paul had a license to kill and destroy from his local institution.) Things didn't make sense to him until the giver of gifts gave him a "grace gift." Oh, this is the anointing which enables God's workers. One can use "his grace gift" to walk into any situation and declare victory even before the battle.
Ephesians 3:8-13
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, 9 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;
10 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, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory
To me, the underlined portion represents the reason for Paul's grace gifts, while the bold face represents the church's power to operate with them. First, examine how different the role of the apostle is today from that of the early church. If the foundation of the kingdom is based on the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the cornerstone, then it behooves all of us to look into the priorities of This Apostle. "To preach among the heathen (those without any covenant) the unsearchable riches of Christ," requires more than a brief Sunday homily. (I have substituted the word "heathen" for Gentile because that is the correct term.) Those with no covenant are being moved into a covenant relationship with God through grace, hence, the "fellowship of the mystery." This second portion of Paul's ministry is altogether different from the modern church's idea of "fellowship." (In the book, Consumed by His Fire, there is a term formulated, "the fellowship of the flame." Those who are ushered into that fellowship already know spiritual things about those who are in communion with them. All of them have experienced tribulation or trial that tested their faith. All in that group know they are different from the worldly crowd who have never suffered for Christ. They know what it is to put to the test the grace of God and what it is to overcome by the blood.) I believe the same is true of those to whom Paul is addressing. The "fellowship of the mystery" has a membership badge which carries a testimony within itself. When looking upon the constituents of that fellowship, one ascertains their uniqueness; there is an eliteness about them. They are humble, but not ordinary!

These are they who "know."

The heavily underlined portion of the following passage conveys the witness they carry. "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, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Again, the "many sided wisdom" of God needs to be communicated, but to whom? It is the task of the church to clarify and declare spiritual things to the "principalities and powers in the heavenly places." Praise declarations to the angels (and the watchers) are in order, as well as, overcoming declarations to those evil princes who seek to destroy. Saints have a duty to shout out the perfect will of God and not just to access the obvious. Theirs is the power to be a witness to the eternal purposes of Christ all the way to the end of the ages!

(In a recent meeting that was called for the purpose of discussing "Post America," I asked the Lord what was to be my contribution, and only this word came forth: "Clarify and Declare." Clarify the situation spiritually and declare the Word, as well as, the desires of the saints against the Destroyer and his works. This heathen universe needs our declarations.)

The clearest declaration in scripture is given by Paul as our example.
Ephesians 3:16-21
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4 opens yet another avenue of grace. Observe the intricateness provided by the "gift of grace" from the hand of Jesus.
Ephesians 4:7
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
In this next verse says, "He himself" gave. Now look at what Jesus gives in the way of Grace Gifts. He gives what it takes to bring the church from where they are to where He desires them to be (like Him in the fullness of Christ).
Ephesians 4:11-13
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Where, oh, where is the license to strut about proclaiming our apostleship, our prophetic prowess, our conquests in evangelism, our shepherding skills or great teaching abilities? I am sick of titles and accommodation to men. Leave the crowing to the hen house! These gifts, which are often seen as an office, are not offices. Their ranks are not officialdom. These giftings are mandates to bring every soul into the fullness of Christ. If it takes the forfeiture of life and means, if it requires shipwreck, torture and defamation---it is the task, not the "privilege," which must reign supreme.

We, who have been entrusted with such a task, must hear the mandate of a master builder.
Ephesians 4:24
Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:29-30
9 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Pardon me, what is to be imparted? Grace! By now, all of you are acquainted with grace and its magnificent charms-that knowledge is what must be imparted to the hearers who gather in homes, in church buildings, in auditoriums and across the hemispheres. Let those ears which have heard all the voices over airways (filled with ads and ministrations by the manglers of truth), hear a clear message: Tell them about the Riches of His Grace toward those who believe.

Paul ends his epistle with several admonitions about daily living, and then proceeds to a litany based on those exercising Grace. It is the grace-church which stands to make declarations to the principalities of the heavens.
Ephesians 6:10-13
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:24
4 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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