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Friday, May 22, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 84

The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man (continued)

Gifts in Christ

The third thing that this implies is that for the progressive realization and expression of this Heavenly Man in time and in eternity, the heavenly Head has given gifts.

"When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (...He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)" (Ephesians 4:8-10). There is the Heavenly Man in person as the heavenly Head, giving gifts among men for the progressive realization and expression of Himself as the corporate Heavenly Man.

Now we must break that up and look at this parenthesis in verses nine and ten. It carries with it this fact that He descended before He ascended. He did not have His beginnings here. Of course we know that, but this is the argument of the Apostle; His origin was not here. By His ascending it is to be understood that He first descended. There is the Heavenly Man coming down and being here among men, the Heavenly Man in incarnation; He came down out of heaven. Having descended, He ascended, that He might fill all things. The whole universe is to be filled with the Heavenly Man.

Now you have to get that background before you can understand and appreciate what follows about these gifts. In relation to that filling of all things by the Heavenly Man, there is to be the increase of the Body. This chapter is all of a piece. Christ is not here as separated from His Body. Here the Heavenly Man in person and the corporate Heavenly Man are brought together as one in purpose. Earlier in the letter the Apostle has shown how before times eternal, in the thought of God, this Heavenly Man has come out of heaven to be found here, but while here, is still in heaven. Now He personally is to be the universal fullness, and that fullness is to be by the Church: "...glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages." In relation to that universal filling there is to be this increase of the Body: "... in Whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord ..." In the Letter to the Colossians there is a very similar word:

"... And not holding fast the Head, from Whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God" (Colossians 2:19).

He is to ill all things by His Body, which is His fullness. Then the Body must grow, the Body must make increase, the Body must add to its stature, until it comes to the full measure of Christ. Now with a view to this increase, the heavenly gifts are given by the Heavenly Man to this heavenly Body.

Then I want you to notice another thing. These gifts are themselves a measure of Christ: "But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7). The gifts are a measure of Christ, and therefore they are all intended to produce the fullness of Christ, to lead to that fullness. In their own way they represent a fullness of Christ ministered in the Body. They are to make up the full measure.

Having seen that, we are able to look at the gifts mentioned.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 85 - (Authority In Christ)

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