Witness Lee

B. Childress
May 09 2011

Ephesians 3:2-21

Ephesians 1 discloses to us God's good pleasure in His heart's desire.  God desires to have a Body prepared for Christ
to be the full expression of the Triune God.  He carries  this out by dispensing His divine Trinity into His chosen people.  
Ephesians 2 shows us that God remade, re-created, regenerated, us by Christ passing through death and resurrection
and entering into ascension.  We were dead persons, but in His death, resurrection, and ascension we have been
remade, recreated.  Through this re-creation, we have been transferred out of our old realm and into a new one.  We
have been made a new man in God's new creation.  This new man is God's family and God's kingdom, growing into
God's temple and built up into a dwelling place for God in our spirit.


In Ephesians 3 Paul unveils God's heart's desire from another angle.  Ephesians 3 shows us that God, according to His
heart's desire, made a plan, and this plan is His economy.  God's plan, or economy, is also His arrangement, His
dispensation.  This dispensation was hidden in God, who created all things, as a mystery until the New Testament age.  
This hidden plan, this mystery, was revealed to the apostles and prophets in spirit (verse 5).  They received a revelation
of this mystery, and they spoke concerning it.  The Apostle Paul saw God's plan.  He came to know this mystery, which
is called the mystery of Christ because it is altogether concerning Christ (verse 4).  The New Testament is a record of
the New Testament ministry that has released what was hidden in God's heart to unveil the mystery of Christ.  When we
read the book of Ephesians, however, we may pick up outward matters such as husbands loving their wives and wives
submitting to their husbands.  We do not focus on "the dispensation of the mystery, which from the ages has been
hidden in God" (verse 9).  Our fellowship in this chapter may be considered as a master key to open the doors in
Ephesians 3.


God desires to dispense His divine Trinity into His chosen people.  He wants to distribute the untraceable or
unsearchable riches of Christ into us (verse 8).  We can enjoy the riches of Christ by eating Him.  The first time I
released a message on eating Jesus was in Taipei in 1958.  A brother who was a professor came to me after the
meeting and told me that the expression
eating Jesus was too wild and rough.  I pointed this brother to the Lord's word
in John 6:57 - "He who eats Me shall also live because of Me."  I told him that since the Lord Jesus  said that we should
eat Him, we must say the same thing.  To eat the Lord Jesus is to receive Him into us to be assimilated by the
regenerated new man in the way of life.  Then we live by Him whom we receive.  As our spiritual food, He is
unsearchably rich.

Ephesians 3 is a chapter on the distribution of the riches of Christ.  God has a plan to distribute the unsearchable and
untraceable riches of Christ.  The riches of Christ are firstly what Christ is to us.  Christ is the life, the light, the way, and
the truth (John 8:12; 14:6).  Christ is righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to us (I Corinthians 1:30).  Christ is
typified by many items in the Old Testament.  He is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1).  The riches
of what Christ is, what He has accomplished, what He is doing now, what He shall do, what He has attained, and what He
has obtained are unsearchable.  The riches of Christ are exhaustless.

Colossians 2:9 says that Christ is the embodiment of all the fullness of the Godhead.  "Fullness" refers to the
expression of the riches of God.  What dwells in Christ is not only the riches of the Godhead, but also the expression of
the riches of what God is.  When a cup is filled with water to the extent that it overflows with water, the overflow of the
water is the fullness of the water.  What comes out of the cup is the fullness of its contents.  Ephesians 3 reveals that we
are supplied with the riches of Christ unto all the fullness of God.  The riches of Christ are for the fullness of God.  
God's plan as a mystery hidden in Christ was to distribute all His riches stored in Christ as His very embodiment into His
chosen and redeemed people in order to make the church the very fullness of God, the expression of God.

To carry out His plan, God needs an arrangement, a dispensation, and He also needs some stewards.  If we want to
prepare a great feast for many people, we need to have a plan to serve them with many rich dishes.  We also need
some stewards, or waiters, to dispense this rich food.  The serving of the waiters is a kind of distribution.  If they did not
serve the food, the people would have nothing to eat.  In Ephesians 3 is God's dispensation, which is His hidden plan
(verse 9).  This chapter also tells us of the "stewardship of the grace of God" which was given to Paul (verse 2).  The
Greek word
oikonomia may be translated into economy, dispensation, or stewardship.  With God it is an economy, or a
dispensation.  But with Paul it was a stewardship.  His ministry was a stewardship.  In Paul's time, great families with
many riches hired stewards to dispense, to distribute, those riches.  God raised up apostles whom He commissioned to
carry out His distributing plan, and this commission is the stewardship.  The apostles' stewardship is to distribute to His
chosen people what Christ is, what Christ has done, what Christ is doing, what Christ will do, and what Christ has
attained and obtained.  This stewardship is the stewardship of grace to dispense, to distribute, the riches of Christ
(verses 2, 7-9).  The distribution of the riches of Christ results in the church.

The apostles' commission is to distribute the unsearchable riches of Christ to God's chosen people.  Gospel preaching
is a kind of distribution.  Paul tells us that he received God's grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ as the
gospel (verse 8).  Our preaching the gospel is a distribution to the God-chosen sinners of what Christ is and of what
Christ has done.  After we preach the gospel to them, we must continue to work with them like the apostles did.  The
apostles preached the gospel, taught the truth, set up churches, and then labored to build up the churches.  Everything
that they did was a distributing work.  What we are doing in the Lord's ministry is to distribute the riches of Christ to all
the God-chosen and Christ-redeemed people.

The riches of Christ may be likened to all the rich foodstuffs produced in America.  America has many rich foodstuffs
such as eggs, chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, and fruits.  To distribute these riches of America, a plan is needed.  Then
some stewards are needed to do the distribution work.  When these riches are eaten, digested, and assimilated by us,
they become a part of us, and they even become us.  A husky American man who assimilates so much of the American
foodstuffs is the fullness, the expression, of the riches of America.  This man is the totality of the rich food of America.  
The riches eventually result in a person and become the constituents that constitute that person.  In like manner, the
riches of Christ result in a corporate person, the church.  The church is the mystery of Christ, which is the Body of
Christ constituted with the untraceable riches of Christ (verses 3-6, 8b).


The church as revealed in Ephesians 3 is mainly for the display of God's multifarious wisdom to the rulers and the
authorities in the heavenlies, especially to Satan and his angels (verses 9-11).  God had a plan that He kept within Him
for many years as a mystery until the day came when He showed His plan to some of His apostles making them
stewards to distribute all the unsearchable and untraceable riches of Christ to God's chosen ones.  The result of these
chosen ones' enjoyment of the riches of Christ is that they are constituted the church.  Thus, the church becomes the
wise exhibition of all that Christ is, displaying the multifarious wisdom of God.


We may have enjoyed Christ in His riches, but we need to enjoy Him more.  Christ is in His riches, but we need to enjoy
Him more.  Christ is in us, but how much is He in us?  Because of God's heart's desire for the church to be constituted
with the riches of Christ, Paul prayed for the church.  He prayed that the Father would grant us, "according to the riches
of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man" (verse 16).  When the time for my
dinner is near, I may be very hungry and even exhausted.  But after I eat, the food that is within me strengthens and
upholds me.  I am strengthened and upheld according to the riches of American food.  Paul's prayer is that we would be
strengthened according to the riches of the Father's glory.

We need to be strengthened with power through the Spirit into the inner man that Christ may make His home in our
hearts (verse 17).  The phrase "make His home" is only one word in Greek,
Katoikeo.  Kata, the prefix of this word,
means down.  Christ is making His home deep down in our hearts.  Christ is in us, but is He settled in us?  When a
person moves into a new house, he needs to get settled in that house.  In other words, he needs to make his home
there.  Then every room of that house becomes inhabited by him.  When I am a guest in someone else's house, I do not
have the freedom to go into every room.  A guest in a house is limited to certain rooms.  He desires to settle down in our
hearts, to make His home deep down in our hearts.  Christ has to be added into us.  The very Christ who is in us has to
increase within us.

How much of Christ do we have within us?  According to my observation, Christ is within some believers as a prisoner.  
He is limited within them in a small area, that is, imprisoned within them in a small cell.  Is Christ free to occupy our
mind?  Sometimes we may say, "Lord, at least tonight, give me the freedom in my mind."  When the sisters go to a
department store, they may want to buy something, but the Lord would not agree.  Then they might say, "Lord, allow me
to buy it this time."  We would not allow the Lord to make His home deep within our hearts.  This is why Paul prayed that
the Father would grant us to be strengthened according to the riches of His glory with power through His Spirit into the
inner man.  When we get strengthened into the inner man, this opens the way for Christ to get Himself settled in our
entire being.  
Christ is in us, but He needs to saturate and permeate every part of our entire being.


Christ making His home deep down in our hearts is an organic matter full of life and has nothing to do with any kind of
organization.  The church is not an organization but an organism.  With an organism, the growth in life is what counts.  
The more we grow in life, the more we are in this organism.  The more we grow in life, the more Christ will be able to
make His home deep down in our very being.  As Christ makes His home in our inward parts, we are filled with His
untraceable riches resulting in all the fullness of the Triune God - the Body of Christ as the full expression of the Triune
God (verse 19b).

In Paul's prayer the word "that" is used four times: "that He would grant be strengthened...into the inner man";
"that Christ may make His home in your hearts"; "that you...may be strong to apprehend...and to know"; and "that you
may be filled unto all the fullness of God."  The second "that" is the result of the first, the third is the result of the
second, and the fourth is the result of the third.  Here we see several steps.  From Paul's prayer we are strengthened;
from being strengthened we proceed to Christ's making His home in our hearts; and from this we progress to
apprehending the dimensions of Christ and knowing the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ until we are finally filled
unto all the fullness of God.  Paul's prayer reveals that we are supplied and filled with the unsearchable and
untraceable riches of Christ unto, or resulting in, the fullness of God.  In other words, these riches will become the very
fullness of God in us through our experience and enjoyment of Christ.


On the one hand, we may talk about enjoying Christ and eating Christ.  But on the other hand,  we may talk about
matters in the church life in the realm of organization.  If we talk about organization in relation to the church life, we are
off from the central lane of God's New Testament economy.  Our practice of the church life and our service in the
church life must be organic.  Even our practical service, such as the cleaning of the hall, should be organic.  We could
clean our meeting hall in three ways.  First, we could hire some janitors to do the work.  Second, we could make some
organizational arrangement to appoint some brothers and sisters to be responsible for the cleaning of different areas of
the hall.  The third way is the organic way.  If some saints are living organically in Christ, enjoying Him all day long, they
will become burdened to clean the hall.  When the church realizes their burden, they may announce that Saturday
morning is the time for all the burdened ones to come to the hall to serve.  Then the saints serve, not by being hired or
organizationally arranged, but by being organically one with the living Christ.

About forty years ago in Shanghai, there was a sister in the church who was the wife of the manager of a big bank.  
Although she had servants in her home, this sister was burdened to clean the hall every Saturday morning.  After her
husband's chauffeur drove him to the bank, she would ask him to drive her to the hall.  Because the hall was not on an
open street but in a narrow lane, the chauffeur dropped her off near the hall and drove away.  One day he decided to
follow her because he wanted to find out why she was going to this part of town every Saturday morning.  When she got
out of the car on Saturday morning, he parked the car and followed her from a distance.  He was shocked to see her
cleaning the hall.  He wondered why she would do this.  She was the wife of a rich man who had servants cleaning his
home, but every Saturday she went to the hall to do the cleaning work.  Her service was something organic.  She did not
clean the hall because she had been hired or assigned.  She cleaned the hall organically.

Some people told us that if we were going to attempt to build the church organically, nothing would be accomplished.  
They asked how the hall would be cleaned without hiring anyone or without making some arrangements.  Our answer is
this - God is able.  God is able to accomplish superabundantly according to the power which operates in us (verse 20).  
We must believe God's word in the Bible.  He is able to accomplish whatever He has spoken concerning us.  The more
that we minister Christ to people, the more they will come to serve.  This service is organic.

The entire Body of Christ is an organic matter.  In the book of Revelation, the leading ones in the churches are not
referred to as elders but as the stars, the messengers of the churches (1:20).  The messengers are the spiritual ones in
the churches bearing the responsibility of the testimony of Jesus.  They should be of the heavenly nature and in a
heavenly position like stars.  The eldership is not a positional matter in an organization.  An elder is a person of
maturity.  We have to respect the elders in their life maturity.  Thank the Lord that there are some dear saints among us
who have more stature in the growth of Christ.  We respect them because of their growth in life.  We do not regard them
as ones in a certain position.  The Lord Jesus told us that we are all brothers (Matthew 23:8).

A little babe of five months would not be assigned to do anything in his home.  But when he grows up to be five years
old, his parents might assign him a small task.  Without his organic growth, his parents would not arrange for him to do
this.  Their arrangement would be according to their son's organic situation.  If I did not have the adequate growth in
Christ, the brothers might arrange for me to speak and I might have the burden to speak, but what could I speak?  I
would not be able to speak because of my limited growth in Christ.  To bear more responsibility in the church, we have
to eat more and grow more so that we possess a greater measure of the growth in life.  The church is not like a worldly
club, organization, or society.  Everything related to the church is a matter of the organic growth in life.


THE BODY OF CHRIST, by Witness Lee, Copyright 1988, Living Stream Ministry.