This month, we have been covering the Meaning of Life. There are two posts that give the background. The link to the first post is here and explains how the Bible ends (Revelation). There is also a post that gives the answer to the Meaning of Life.
In this post, we will look at how the Meaning of Life was actually written about "in code" before the Book of Revelation.
Paul writes in II Corinthians about a visit to the third heaven that happened fourteen years before:
“I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (II Corinthians 12:1-4, ASV)
Paul is speaking about seeing paradise and not being allowed to speak about it blatantly.
(The rest of the passage continues with the story about Paul receiving a thorn in his flesh because of the abundance of the revelations that were given to him. The reason was so that he wasn’t exalted by others. This is a focus on rewards. Paul being exalted would have resulted in less reward. Here is the link explaining this: My Grace is Sufficient Notice, God’s plan for dealing with this (grace) resulted in more value than Paul’s plan. Paul needed grace in a situation that did not involve sin. Righteousness is not “lack of sin”.)
I believe Paul could not speak blatantly about what he saw, but he could speak abstractly. It also appears Paul needed fourteen years to get his thoughts together. Throughout “Modeling God” we saw that Paul compared people to parts of a body, so Paul references the Meaning of Life throughout his writings.
A couple of years ago, Dan Brown's book "The Da Vinci Code" got a lot of attention. It was a fictional book about the conspiracy to cover up Jesus' marriage and the "revelation" of this secret through clues.
In the previous posts, we've seen that the Book of Revelation says Jesus does get married...to the new Jerusalem...to the "church". However, I believe this fact was also revealed by Paul...in code.
I believe Paul gave the best explanation of paradise that he was permitted in his letter to the Ephesians which occurred about fourteen years after his visit to the third heavens.
Please take time to read Ephesians. We will take the rest of this week to give a summary of each chapter and show the most telling verses, but this post could be its own book…
In Ephesians 1, Paul immediately references God’s Plan after his greeting:
“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved:” (Ephesians 1:4-6, ASV)
Paul is beginning this letter by taking a Big Picture approach: From before the foundation of the world, God had a Plan that involved being holy and without blemish (sin) before Him in love…and it is accomplished through grace. (One thing to notice is that when the Bible says "in Him" it means Heaven. When it says "through Him" it means grace while we are on earth. This passage speaks about God's Plan for paradise with "in Him" and it is an effect of what happens on earth: grace.)
Next, Paul covers God’s Will:
"in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:7-12, ASV)
Paul says God has made known to us the mystery of His Will? Why do people think we can’t know or aren’t supposed to know this? God’s Will is to gather all into one after the fullness of time…after the dispensations have been completed. Notice, foreordained doesn’t mean God chose who was going to make it into the body…this verse says we were "limited in advance" (foreordained) as to what our purpose was…each of us has a specific purpose and, whether you like it or not, doing something other than God’s purpose for you will not result in joy.
The next set of verses talk about the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is untamed and the hardest part of the Trinity to understand. One ought to know the Models for God and Jesusbefore they attempt to explain the Holy Spirit completely. For now, the Holy Spirit is the “earnest” (down payment) of our eventual inheritance and the source of our ability to understand God’s Will:
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17-23, ASV)
Paul is blatantly telling us that we ought to know Jesus, the Father, the hope of our calling…the Meaning of Life. The first chapter concludes with Paul telling us Jesus is the head over all things to the church and alludes to us being the bride when Paul states we are His body.
This first chapter of Ephesians has explained that we ought to be able to understand the Meaning of Life through the Holy Spirit. The Meaning of Life involves being holy, without blame, love, and grace. It occurs after the dispensations are over (fullness of time). The focus is Jesus who is to be married to the church.
Chapter 2 begins with Paul reminding people how they walked in sin before they were raised up in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Then comes the most famous passage from Ephesians:
“for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, ASV)
This passage explains how everyone who will ever make it to Heaven gets there. “Grace” is “charis” which is a Greek word meaning “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life”. People who make it to Heaven before Jesus was crucified did so because of the form of “grace” unique to their dispensation...they had a divine influence upon their heart and chose to let it reflect in their life through faith.
Notice, this passage also covers Reward when it mentions “good works”. The first sentence speaks of salvation not being of works…while the second sentence (v. 10) speaks of God putting good works in front of us so that we should walk in them. It is up to us to walk in these “good works” for Reward…and they are separate from our salvation.
Paul then again reminds the Ephesians they were choosing to walk in “bad works”, before getting specific about our current dispensation of “grace”:
“For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-22, ASV)
Jesus came to abolish the law of commandments. However, John Calvin and tradition blended dispensations. John Calvin combined grace with the Law...just like the Mormons did. This is still hindering the Will and Word of God.
Then Paul says we have access to God through one Spirit. This is the explanation of how Jesus ended the previous dispensation (Law) and set up our current dispensation (grace through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost). Then Paul blatantly says we are of the household of God and are fit together to grow unto a holy temple…this is the Meaning of Life.
This second chapter of Ephesians applied specifically to our dispensation and what we need to do to make it into the Big Picture Paul presented in the first chapter. When the previous dispensation (Law) and man-made tradition are used to interpret this key chapter, the truth of grace becomes Martin Luther’s “unmerited favor”...and teaching man-made tradition makes the Word and Will of God of none effect.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles,-- if so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward; how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generation was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power.” (Ephesians 3:1-7, ASV)
Paul blatantly says he is making the mystery known to our dispensation!
The Holy Spirit is making it known to us and it was not known before: There is one body and it includes everyone. Paul blatantly says if you read this letter you may perceive his understanding in the mystery.
To me, this looks like Paul is trying as hard as possible to tell us this letter has the answers to the mystery. I believe this book is more fascinating and revelatory than anything people said about “The Da Vinci Code”. This is a real life example of an extremely intelligent person trying to tell us something “in code” because he wasn’t permitted to be blatant. In fact, Paul steps it up a notch:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him.” (Ephesians 3:8-12, ASV)
Paul says it is his goal to make everyone see what he calls “the dispensation of the mystery”. This mystery was hid in God from the beginning so now the church can know the manifold wisdom of God. In fact, Paul is saying it might be made known through the church! The purpose has to do with Jesus who is also the method of our access to God. So God’s Will is concerned with Jesus and can be known because of Jesus and through the church.
The rest of chapter 3 speaks about how God has given us strength and love through His Spirit to grow in this purpose despite any struggles we may have. Basically, our inability to understand the Meaning of Life will be our fault, not God’s, because God wants us to know and has provided everything we need to understand…His Spirit.
Why do some “Christian” authors, pastors, and teachers tell us we can’t know or aren’t supposed to know this mystery? Why do we consider these people to be Christians when they teach a contradictory interpretation of the Bible?
Chapter 3 summarizes Paul’s overview of the Meaning of Life: It is something we can understand that wasn’t able to be previously understood. The Meaning of Life involves Jesus and the church. Jesus gave us the ability to understand it because He provided a means to have access to God through the Holy Spirit. It can be made known through the church. Paul can now tell us the Meaning of Life.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. (Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:4-10, ASV)
The main theme of Ephesians is “oneness”. Paul is balancing uniqueness with unity. He is showing us how we will be “one” and still be unique. So the beginning of his explanation of the mystery reinforces unity (“oneness”).
Then he explains how each of us has been given a different purpose (uniqueness). We each get a different influence from God according to our God ordained purpose. Paul is setting up a huge revelation by showing that the scriptures talk about Jesus providing gifts to us. Paul is going to talk about the “gifts” Jesus provided…and the reason “why”.
This next section is as close as Paul can get to stating the Meaning of Life without being blatant. When you read the following sentence, remember that it comes after Paul says he wants to make known the mystery and he has just stated that there is one body:
“And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16, ASV)
Take some time and really look at this one sentence carefully. Jesus provided apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the perfecting of the saints…for the body of Christ. How long will we need these “gifts”?
Until we come into unity of faith and are one man who is fullgrown and equal to the stature of Christ. Paul is stating the church will be the perfect equal partner to Jesus. This isn’t going to happen while we are on this earth. Paul just presented the ultimate “oneness”…the church will be as one body that is perfect.
Paul then proves it is not now because he says it will be when we are no longer tossed around by every wind of doctrine. One of the things these “gifts” ought to do is help us understand doctrine…not man-made traditions that are contradictory.
Then Paul contrasts what is currently happening by saying we ought to speak the truth in love so that we can grow up into Jesus who is the head. Paul is saying the key to growing is truth in love. We covered this phrase in “Modeling God”. We saw that truth are facts that create and love is the ultimate way to be profitable. Paul is saying truth in love is the ultimate way to create...it can go on for eternity.
Then Paul summarizes this by saying that each of us is part of the body that does the purpose it was created for so that the body is profitable through love. The Meaning of Life is church…unity through exchanging value with each other according to our uniqueness…being profitable through love. Paul is saying “oneness” can be achieved because of uniqueness.
The rest of the chapter consists of Paul giving effects of being a church to judge (prove) whether we are speaking the truth in love or not:
“and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:23, ASV)
Paul leads into this conclusion by saying people have their understanding darkened because of the blindness of their heart. Some people stop short of this verse and say we shouldn’t use our mind. The conclusion shows that we ought to use our mind but it ought to be renewed in spirit. (We are going to spend next month understanding the role of our mind and heart as it relates to our physical wellness.)
“and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:24-25, ASV)
Paul talks about the benefits: righteousness and holiness. When he presents what we ought to lack (falsehood), he gives the reason…we are members one of another. Again, a reference to the Meaning of Life.
"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.” (Ephesians 4:28, ASV)
Paul talks about the purpose of working is to create so that we can provide for those parts of the body that are in need.
"Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, ASV)
Paul talks about being profitable with our speech. We ought to minister grace to others! We ought to be an influence upon the hearts of others that they choose to reflect in their life in order to be profitable.
Paul has presented the Meaning of Life: church. Each of us is unique and we make up one body that is profitable if we speak the truth in love to each other. However, we know church is only half of the Meaning of Life. What does Paul say?
Chapter 5 continues with effects of being in the body.
“For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5, ASV)
Paul is bringing the conversation back to God’s Will…the kingdom of God.
“and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them;” (Ephesians 5:11, ASV)
Paul says not to have Fellowship with unprofitable works. He says to reprove the works…not the people. Then Paul reinforces our ability to know God’s Will:
“Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:17-21, ASV)
Paul explains how to be wise and understand the will of the Lord: be filled with the Spirit and make a melody with your heart to the Lord. Then he references the Meaning of Life from the previous chapter: subjecting ourselves to one another…Fellowship in the body! Paul summarized Chapter Four. But Paul isn’t finished…
Paul is building a model. Each chapter is based on the previous chapter. Paul is now giving the entire explanation for the Meaning of Life…however, during this reading we understand what Paul means when he references “the church”:
“Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33, ASV)
Jesus does get married…to the church! Again, the point of “The Da Vinci Code” was to tell us that tradition has hidden a “great mystery”…Jesus’ earthly marriage. In reality, Paul is revealing in the book of Ephesians the “greatest mystery” and it involves Jesus’ marriage!
The tradition that has hidden this mystery from our understanding began around the same time that Da Vinci lived! Martin Luther and John Calvin introduced tradition in place of God's Word and we've been justifying man instead of God's Word.
Ephesians chapter five ends with Paul telling us the Great Mystery: Jesus is married to the church.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the explanation of the Great Mystery. Paul’s conclusion is built on the explanation of how our uniqueness causes us all to be one…to be a perfect person that is equal to the stature of Christ. Paul says we can know this mystery about Jesus…because of Jesus. He made it possible to have the Holy Spirit inside us, which is the unique characteristic of this dispensation.
Notice also that paradise is Jesus married to a bride in which He continually removes the blemishes from in a nourishing and cherishing manner. We’ve seen how this drives attraction.
Notice how the result is a church that is "holy and without blemish". In the beginning of this letter, Paul wrote that God's Plan was for us to appear before Him "holy and without blemish". Paul told us this ultimate effect of God's Plan at the beginning of this letter (chapter one). Chapters two through five prove his explanation of the Meaning of Life (causes) by showing how these causes result in being "holy and without blemish".
Paul closes the letter to the Ephesians with a list of objective effects of the Meaning of Life. The final effect is known as the “whole armour of God”.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12, ASV)
Again, Paul’s focus is consistent with Jesus’ message: don’t judge people. Our battle is not physical. It is spiritual. What is the armour of God?
“Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, And on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:13-20, ASV)
The armour of God: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word of God, and prayer. These are all effects of the Meaning of Life. Then Paul ends with a prayer request: pray that he may do what he ought to do…make known the mystery of the gospel.
Paul explained the Meaning of Life and the objective effects in his letter to the Ephesians. The explanation built on itself and can only be truly understood if you read the entire letter.
The Meaning of Life is church and marriage.
Not only can we know the Meaning of Life, Paul stated this was the reason he wrote this letter.
People who say it is still a mystery and even want you to celebrate the mystery are contradicting the Bible.
This month has been about the Meaning of Life. We will wrap up this discussion with a look at "the gospel".