This week we’ve been looking at the unity of the Body of Christ we’ve been called to. As God’s blood-bought children we are called into union with Christ, identified with His righteousness, seated with Him in heavenly places and exhorted to live and walk in a manner that is worthy of the divine calling, with which we have all been called (Eph 4:1-7). Yesterday we looked at the gifts that Christ brought to us in victory (Eph 4:8).
So today, I looked at the next two verses in context: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) (Eph 4:7-10)
I’ve read many differing opinions on what it means that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. However, I want to look more deeply at the last verse in this passage: “He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph 4:10) As I looked at “He might fill all things” I know that means me, and you and all who have come to the saving grace Jesus bestows by our faith, weak though it is many times.
That phrase took me back to the end of the first chapter in this epistle with Paul praying that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:18-23)
The life you and I live on this earth doesn’t have to only be about our reward in heaven, which is great. No, instead we must think as Paul did as he possibly faced a death sentence: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Phil 1:21-24) Paul wanted desperately to be with Christ, but even more he wanted what the Lord wanted, even though he didn’t know what that was.
Paul completely trusted the Lord, and yielded his life to what the Lord wanted him to do and when he wanted him to do it. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20) Not only did he trust, he persevered and continued to walk in the steps “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10), while “press[ing] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).
As we discussed the other day, we are not given grace and gifts for our benefit alone; we are to use these gifts in service to the Body of Christ, as we are “ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph 4:4-6) That means that I must die to my wants, and defer to what the Lord wants. As John the Baptist said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30) Lord, fill me with You, and empty me of my prideful wants.