THE CHURCH BEING A MASTERPIECE AS THE NEW MAN
What We Were and Where We Were
before Our Salvation
Ephesians 2 goes on to show us that the church is a masterpiece as the new man. This chapter begins with the word "and." This indicates that Paul’s thought in chapter one has not been completed. He has something further to say. In chapter one Paul shows us that we became the Body of Christ by God’s dispensing into us. In chapter two Paul tells us what we were and where we were before our salvation. Verse 1 of chapter two tells us that we were dead persons; we were dead in our offenses and sins. Because we are descendants of Adam, we were born into a kind of life that walks "according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit who now is operating in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). "The age of this world," according to which we walked, refers to the modern appearance, the present course of the world, the satanic system. "The ruler" in verse 2 refers to Satan, the prince of the aerial authority. "The spirit" in verse 2 is in apposition with "the authority of the air" and refers to the aggregate power, a personal aggregate of all the evil angelic authorities, over which Satan is the ruler. In the past we walked according to Satan, the ruler of the evil spiritual power, and this evil spiritual power operated in us. Actually, this evil power is the evil one himself, Satan, the enemy of God. According to verse 3, we also behaved ourselves "in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts." Thus, as dead persons, we were in three things in our past: we were walking according to the age of this world, we were walking according to the ruler of the authority of the air, and we were behaving in the lusts of our flesh.
Made Alive, Raised Up, and Seated Together
in the Heavenlies in Christ
Because we were in such a pitiful condition, we needed God’s salvation. The salvation in Ephesians 2 does not stress the forgiveness of sins. Because we were dead persons, the stress in this chapter is on making us alive. A dead person needs life. We needed to be quickened, enliv-ened. The salvation brought to us made us dead persons living. We were made alive, raised up, and seated together in the heavenlies in Christ (vv. 4-10).
To be enlivened is one thing. To be raised up from among the dead is another step. When Lazarus was buried in the tomb, the Lord Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43). Lazarus was made alive. This was the first step. Secondly, Lazarus was raised from among the dead. After we were raised up, we were seated together in the heavenlies in Christ. Now we are no longer dead persons, but we are living persons seated in the heavenlies. We are living and heavenly. This is the result of the divine dispensing. It was in Christ that God seated us together, once for all, in the heavenlies. The phrase "in Christ" indicates that the Triune God, through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, has been dispensed into our being. Without Christ we were dead. But the Triune God in Christ came into us and put us into Him. This was the dispensing of the divine Trinity into fallen man. The dispensing of the divine Trinity saved us, quickened us, raised us up, and seated us in the heavenlies, making us all living persons in the heavenlies. This took place in Christ’s resurrection and ascension (1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 4:8).
Such a dispensing work made us the masterpiece of God. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are His "workmanship." The Greek word for "workmanship" is poiema, which can also be translated into "poem" or "masterpiece." A poem shows the wisdom and design of the composer. We, the church, the masterpiece of God’s work, are also a poem, expressing God’s infinite wisdom and divine design. We may not think that we are so wonderful, but we have to see the divine fact that Christ is in us and that we are in Christ. In Christ we have been made alive, raised up from among the dead, and seated in the heavenlies. Now we are God’s masterpiece because God has dispensed His very Being into our being. There is Someone within us more precious and wonderful than anything in the universe. We have God in us. This makes us wonderful, and this makes us God’s masterpiece.
(The Body of Christ, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)