…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. Psalm 1
The word “meditate” in Hebrew means to chew as a cow chews its cud. Cows have four stomach chambers. Hence every bite is thoroughly chewed four times over.
As we’ve said, unity is the underlying theme in the book of Ephesians. Paul sums up the unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in the conclusion of Ephesians chapter 2.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…vs 19 In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Vs 22 This is not just a fleeting epiphany.
We are God’s field, God’s building 1 Cor 3:9
The language is mysterious which is fitting because Paul calls it a mystery in Ephesians 3:3 and repeats it in verses 4, 6, and 9. Ideological importance in a passage or book can often be identified by the number of times a word or phrase is repeated. Galatians 1:8-9 and Luke 13:1-5 are two examples. If you’ve ever read an in-depth commentary then you know that Bible scholars frequently count the number of times words are used when establishing authorship as well the primary theme. It is for this same reason that most online bibles will tell you the number of times a word occurs in the Old and New Testaments.
The mystery of which Paul writes is that before the foundation of the world God planned to save both Jew and Gentile in Jesus creating in himself one new man in place of the two. Eph 2:15 Paul says this mystery was revealed to Him by God. And while he does not formally declare himself to be a prophet, this revelation exemplifies the nature of true prophecy which is the testimony of Jesus. Rev 19:10
Jesus is the Word. John 1
While not explicitly stated, the implication is that the depth of our understanding of the mystery is contingent upon our unity. This is more clearly illustrated in chapter 4.
…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; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Eph 4:13-15
The current denominationalism a.k.a. the fragmented church, is full of winds of doctrine, craftiness, and plotting. Even so, each one has a piece of the truth puzzle. Unfortunately, each denomination thinks it has the whole puzzle and unity will only be achieved when everyone conforms to their piece.
The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study
Cathy and I open the church doors and set up the chairs each week to make space for two or more to gather together in the name of Jesus. We study and present the pieces of the mystery that we think we’ve grasped albeit with our blurred vision and partial knowledge. 1 Cor 13:12 Others come alongside us and do the same. I think I can say that when the session ends we each walk away with more insight than we could have obtained on our own. This weekly experience lends deeper context to “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Mat 18:20 This is what we mean when we say,
We all see better when we see together.
With the theological foundation for the church now laid, Paul prepares to frame the building by summarizing the church’s ultimate purpose in Eph 7-13
Of this gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Eph 3:7-13
It is worth noting that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. This was after he’d met with the Ephesian elders in Miletus Acts 20:29-30. The elders wept because Paul knew he was destined for prison and eventual execution in Rome and they would see his face no more vs 38. Paul doesn’t want them to worry and mourn for him because it was God’s will that Paul suffers for them which was their glory. While many avoid talking about it, suffering is another aspect of the mystery and unity.
What most caught my eye in this chapter was that the purpose of the church is to make the manifold wisdom of God known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
1 Peter lends some insight.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Pet 1:6-9
That as a church we would believe John 1:12-13 and stand Eph 6:13 and rejoice in our suffering Rom 5:3 and conquer by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and love not our lives even unto death Rev 12:11 and all this by faith rather than sight 2 Cor 5:7 apparently amazes the good rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. It stumps and defeats the evil ones. Eph 6:12
Certainly, these are some of the things into which angels long to look. 1 Pet 1:12
Also, consider that Angels can not be saved. The third of them that fell are already condemned with no hope of redemption. They have no experience of grace or regeneration. They can not be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or delivered from sin. And yet the remaining two-thirds are our fellow servants. Rev 19:10
The more I dig into the Word of God the more mystified and awed I become. Ephesians 3:10 should produce the fear of God. After all, we have such an important mission contingent upon unity, and yet we are so divided as a global body.
How will we ever come to the unity of the faith?!
What exactly is it that keeps us so divided? Is it envy, pride, laziness, ingratitude celebrity worship, or genuine confusion?
Maybe it’s all of the above. Or maybe we just don’t fear God. Prov 9:10
My friend Tyler and I were discussing how little we actually know about the world in which we live. Yet we go about our daily lives as if the mysteries of creation have been revealed. Many will readily admit they do not know how things work, that science is a mystery. They just trust the scientists. Those who understand the nature of science know the absurdity of that statement. For example, while theories abound we still don’t know what electricity is.
“Why it’s a flow of colliding electrons!” you say.
Ok. But what are electrons?
Turns out those neat little electron orbits that they showed us in middle school aren’t accurate. Based on the findings of a guy named Heisenberg scientists can not prove that electrons don’t pop in and out of existence or bounce between dimensions.
Everyone knows that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and a cup of water freezes faster than a lake.
Not so fast. Scientists just learned that water can remain liquid as low as minus 47 degrees Fahrenheit. And it’s only possible in the smallest quantities.
Of course, everyone knows what gravity is.
Currently, there are at least twenty different theories of gravity. Isaac Newton, the scientist who read his bible more than any other book allegedly came up with what amounts to a theory of gravitational effect when an apple fell on his head.
Speaking of gravity one of the most interesting theories known as String Theory fully supports the fact that Jesus, the Word, spoke creation into existence. Gen 1, John 1:1-3 According to String theory the subatomic particles of which the universe is composed are made of sound frequencies like individual musical notes. Words are composed of letters that represent sounds or frequencies.
In the beginning, was the Word…
Please don’t feel pressured to leap down the aforementioned rabbit holes. My point is that we exist in a realm of mystery that we know very little about. What we do know is that any knowledge we have concerning the mysterious, manifold wisdom of God ultimately only comes by revelation. While secular society may regard scientists as an all-seeing priesthood, many of our best inventions arose from what secularists call accidents.
Here’s a list of 30 if you are interested.
The truth is we wouldn’t even have a thing called science were it not for God-fearing Christian men and women who saw a world governed by objective laws created by the objective lawgiver – God. They saw the complexity in the creation and knew it was designed by Him. God veiled the glory of His design in a mystery. These men and women were compelled to search it out. Prov 25:2 Anyone who reads the life stories of men like Sir Issac Newton, Blasé Pascal, and Max Planck to name a few will clearly recognize the revelatory nature of their discoveries.
Nothing is by accident.
I suspect that the unity of the faith will only be realized when God humbles us through various means such that every member in the body of Christ realizes that all is a mystery and none of us knows anything apart from or beyond that which God gives. 1 Cor 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
It is for this reason that Paul warned in the previous verse, do not depart from what is written. 1 Cor 4:6
Believers everywhere are and always have been crying out for revival. Others say it is upon us. However, the Biblical World View has been in steady decline for years. As of 2021, only 6% of Americans were following a Biblical Worldview. From a purely scriptural viewpoint, these stats seem more indicative of a falling away 2 Thess 2:1-3 than the cusp of a major revival. Then again repentance always precedes and accompanies true revival.
Maybe we need to repent?
If I am perfectly honest when I look at the body of Christ today I see a growing number of fractures and a lot of what I call “Harry Potter Christianity” that results when people depart from what is written. I can’t help wondering if these are the times when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim 4:1-4
Perhaps we should ask ourselves. Do we depend on Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised would lead all of us into all truth? John 16:13 Do we take the words of Jesus seriously; Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth? John 17:17 Or are we always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3:7 Do we believe He is there when two or more of us are gathered together? Or does he only speak to an anointed celebrity few that we must chase from conference to conference in the hope of receiving an impartation? If in fact, we know Jesus is in our midst shouldn’t we be hungry to embrace the royal privilege we’ve been given together and search out the matter of truth in His Word that He breathed?
Please don’t misconstrue my constant emphasis on the Word of God. I am not minimizing any other aspect of our faith. Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom WILL be preached to all the World. Mat 24:14. The unity of the faith is a benchmark goal. That being said, if we believe that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God Rom 10:17 then it follows that unity of the faith will only be realized in and through the Word of God. In our experience, a deeper comprehension of the mysterious manifold wisdom of God is always the fruit of such fellowship.