Paul wrote that God had graced [empowered] him to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the ekklesia to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If ever two verses encapsulated into a very few words a very large picture, these would be it! To understand this passage we need to at least grasp three very large ideas:
- The eternal purpose of God (which was accomplished in the death and resurrection);
- the angelic realm (angels and demons)
- the ekklesia (the called-out people of Christ)
Let us attempt to get a working grasp, of necessity painting in “broad strokes’ and avoiding unneeded details. (In truth, these ideas have each alone been the subjects for many voluminous tomes of materials!)
The purpose of God, put succinctly, is to bring forth for Himself a people who are a habitation worthy and fit for Himself in all His transcendent glory. We would do well to keep that purpose in view at all times because it stands as an accurate measuring device to evaluate events, teachings and especially movements purportedly from God. Anything that is not “according to the eternal purpose” is not from God but is a trick or deception from the devil and the demonic in an attempt to distort, divert or at least delay that purpose.
The angelic realms are spiritual beings who may also appear as men. The fallen angels and the demons (some see these as separate races and they very well may be) serve Satan and utilize deception to thwart, wherever possible, God’s eternal purpose. In the end, however, Satan and his hordes will discover that all their attempts to thwart God in reality only served to bring about God’s eternal purpose.
The ekklesia are the people of Christ called out of this world’s darkness to attend to Christ’s affairs in a particular location. The ekklesia is the “executive arm” of the “mystery of the kingdom of God.” Like Israel before, who practiced all the forms of idolatry of the peoples they were supposed to displace and who caused and allowed the practice of following the Law to devolve into hyper-traditionalism to the point their leaders were able to execute the foretold Messiah, the ekklesia has devolved from a simple walking with Christ by His Spirit and become as divided and sinful an institutional system as was traditional Judaism at the time of Jesus.
So, how does – and has – the ekklesia demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God to the angelic beings? The ekklesia may have a starring role but it is not a complimentary one. The ekklesia is demonstrating to the angelic being that, no matter which avenue one chooses, any departure from God only results in death, destruction and misery. In short, the ekklesia is demonstrating the appropriateness of God’s sentence upon Satan – an eternal destiny in the lake of fire, separated from all aspects of life.
The first and second century ekklesia demonstrated to the angelic beings the error of following “delegated” authority. They opted for a symbolic representative (the bishop) instead of following Christ as the sole Head over His people. Though this is obvious to the angels, there are many people today who have not yet recognized this error.
The Catholic sect devolved even further and demonstrated to the angelic beings that corruption spreads and can be used to bring about many gross evils contrary to Christ and retained its usurped “delegated” authority so tightly that it executed and tortured those who disagreed.
The Reformation of the sixteenth century attempted to return to the original teachings of Christ and the disciples, accomplishing much. But the Reformation believers failed to recognize the Nicolaitan “delegated” authority error and also showed the angelic beings that men will also use the sins of dissension and heresy to build up their organizations in the name of Christ. Many today know that something is wrong with denominationalism (even the so-called “non-denominational” denominations) but can’t seem to put their finger on it.
The Enlightenment stirred up many intellectual fires and the people of Christ have, as often as not, either joined in the philosophies of men or, at the least, been unable to convincingly portray or demonstrate the transcendent superiority of Christ and have instead demonstrated the all-too-human “virtue” of squabbling over non-essentials and trivialities.
Secularism and Reason have arisen and asked the question: “God? What God? Who needs God?” And the people of Christ have demonstrated to the angels that men really don’t understand their own need for God. Independence from God is much more desirable to men – especially when it can be practiced in the name of Christ!
Relativism has taken away the anchors of absolute truth and the followers of Christ have, for the most part, drifted right along with the tide. Now “Christians” can attend the “church” of their choice, have their ears scratched by the “pastor” or teacher of their choice who teaches the “theology” they already agree with, and they do as much or as little of the commands of God as they choose. Lawlessness (doing what is right in one’s own eyes) abounds in “church” circles.
The ecumenical movement attempted to bring unity out of the chaos of denominational division. But they demonstrated to the angelic beings that men would prefer their sin-stained building blocks (of denominational “churches” and Nicolaitan representatives) and that men still walk in basic unbelief that Christ is able to be the Head over all His people. Once again, the ark of God shook and men gave in to their perception that they needed to steady and save it with their defiled hands.
The end-time ekklesia will have the opportunity to return to the original heights from which the first ekklesia fell and even to go beyond that. They will be forced, probably by necessity, to return to the intensely local home gathering and forsake their reliance on political power to protect them. They will overcome the schemes of the devil by the blood of the Lamb, their testimony proclaiming the transcendent superiority of Christ and they will consider their spiritual life in Christ to be of far greater value than their physical life on earth. Many, however, will prefer “church” with all its deceptions, traditions of men and doctrines of demons and will hate and betray each other.
The ekklesia, like the Jews before them, are stiff-necked and always resist the Holy Spirit. The angelic beings see this much more clearly then the eyes of men and, in the end, everyone in the angelic realms will wholeheartedly agree that no one can be like God by their own efforts and, that no one who refuses to submit to God’s Spirit can remain and function well in the life He, as their Creator, gave them. These lessons, as hard as they are for men to learn, may be as hard or even harder for angelic beings.
Let he who has ears hear.
I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!