The Hope of His Calling, Part 3

Part 3

“18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”

// Ephesians 1:18

What father is there who, in seeing their daughter or son do well, does not swell with love and pride over his child?  What father doesn’t himself grow in good repute when it spreads abroad the good deeds, the good character, and the good reputation, of his son or daughter?  What father doesn’t get asked, “is that your child?” when others behold their good deeds, and then is lauded by others for raising such a one?  This is a father’s inheritance, this is what a father gains when his child does well and is looked to by others as a moral source of goodness.  So it is with us and our Father in Heaven.

It takes eyes opened to this reality, of His inheritance in us, for us to begin to see what all is available to us—not just what the Father has made available in terms of covenantal provision, but what is available to us in terms of opportunities to upgrade the opinions of others about our Father.  We get to be a visual demonstration of the extraordinary goodness our Father is known for in Heaven; we get to be those who publish abroad in the earth, far and near, the good news about the goodness of our God and Father.

Part of what it means for Him to call us is that He calls us to carry the good news to earth from heaven, and throughout the earth, that He is as good in this realm and domain as He is in heaven.  He wants those in the earth to know that He is as good here as He is there; He wants to be known on earth as He is known in Heaven.  His goodness enraptures those who stand before Him in heaven, and here it is to be no different, for on earth He wants those who will see Him as He is and be enthralled to His goodness.

We are called “citizens of heaven” in Philippians 3:20: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  On earth we use the word “call” or “calling” in several ways, and I will spend time exploring the different registers of meaning for that word as a means by which to understand the fullness of our calling.  On earth, we call ourselves by our names, by our demographics (sex and gender, ethnicity, age, etc.), and by our nationalities: I am a white, 35 year old male, of Italian and German heritage, who is an American. I call myself these things as a mode by which I, and you, might identify me.  So, because we are from heaven, because we are born from above, we too must call ourselves heavenly citizens.  We must be seen identifying ourselves as those who, like Jesus, come from heaven and whose citizenship is in heaven.

Paul called us “ambassadors for Christ” for a reason: once we are born again—or born from “above” as the Greek puts it—we are no longer from this realm.  We are not earth-centric in our citizenry any longer, but heavenward.  Paul, in Colossians 3, tells us: “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, no on the things that are on earth” (verses 1-2).  We are citizens from another realm, another world, and we have been born from Above but sent here as ambassadors of that realm, the realm of our origins—heaven.  We are called, here on earth, to manifest heaven, and heaven’s goodness and heaven’s God, in an ambassadorial way.  Men from this realm should look to and at us and see our heavenly citizenship stamped on us, in the way we speak and act and carry ourselves, just like they can tell the difference between an American and a French citizen, by the same cultural markers.

We, too, have cultural markers that identify us as different in our origins, for we are born from Above and carry the culture of the Above realm, the domain of the King.  Those “cultural markers” are what Paul here in Ephesians 1:18 calls “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” and elsewhere he enumerates as the “fruit of the Spirit” (see Galatians 5:2-23).  Paul further clarifies the heavenly culture in 1 Corinthians 13 and James notes the cultural ways of heaven when discussing its wisdom’s expressions in James 3.  The nature, character, and ways of God are our cultural markers, by which men of the earth know that we are “no longer mere men” as they are, but different and, with that, from Above.  When we walk in our Father’s ways—His cultural attributes—we manifest His kingdom and proclaim our new “national origins,” our heavenly citizenry.  When we look, act, think, and speak just like Him, we not only show to others the heavenly culture, but we spread abroad the news of His goodness toward all, in heaven and on earth.  We make Him look good to others, such that they call on Him for salvation, and His family grows in correlation with the growth of His repute in the earth.

Ours is to live according to our calling as heaven’s citizens in such a way that mere men will begin to call on the name of the Lord, that they might be saved from the darkness and be born again, born from Above, born from the Father’s Love.  The more we show Him to be what He really is, good through and through, the more His repute grows in the earth and the more He inherits not just a better name on earth, but more children in the earth.  His family grows in numbers and repute, and this is His great inheritance, in which we have a central part to play.

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The Hope of His Calling, Part 2

“18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling…”

// Ephesians 1:18a

I want to highlight two key points in the two famed clauses quoted above: 1) what it means “to know” and 2) why it’s the hope of His calling that we must know.  I hope that, in pondering these two concepts, something of the power of His calling opens up to us and we grasp the profundity of what He’s invited us into, of His own calling.

Firstly, what does it mean “to know” this hope in our calling?  In the Greek, “to know” is eídō (Strongs 1492) which means “to see with physical eyes” and indicates a metaphorical seeing with the mind’s eye. So, this is the kind of knowing that arises from witnessing with our own eyes; it’s a form of knowledge achieved by visual observation and personal witness.  It’s a “seeing that becomes knowing” as Strongs further defines it.

So, because Paul here is writing about the eyes of our heart being opened, it is natural and even expected that he would use a term for acquiring knowledge which, by definition, requires the acquisition of knowledge through sight.  In other words, our heart’s eyes opened and illuminated by God must see something of what God knows about who He is in us, of who we are in Him.  He opens our eyes for a reason, and that’s so we can see our calling: the mission that arises from the revelatory identity He grants us.  He causes us to see Him as He is and is becoming in us, and from out of that revealed identity, we see who we are and are becoming in Him.

So, in practical terms, we have to have visions, dreams, prophetic experiences, and supernatural encounters in which we see ourselves as He sees us: clothed in His own identity, calling, authority and power.  In sports, players are often coached “to see” themselves hitting home runs or making touchdowns—they practice their mental eye as much as their physical body in the exercise of becoming what they want to be, by beholding themselves doing it before they do it.  It is no different for us.  Often, the Holy Spirit will give us dreams and visions to show us who we are becoming.  He will even pepper our imagination with frequent “flash visions” or quick mental pictures, such that He is always coaching us to see ourselves as He does, bringing us into alignment with His prescribed destiny in our lives.

Secondly, our heart’s eyes are opened to see/know “what is the hope of His calling…”  The hope, as defined in this verse, is an expectation that is sure and certain.  We have to see that this is His calling—Christ’s own calling—which is certain and sure.  Out of that surety and certainty arises expectation.  That expectation is two fold: it is His own expectation of how He will choose to be in us, and it’s an expectation He develops us in, so that our faith has something to manifest.  He develops us in His own hope so that, much like an athlete or body builder, we develop the muscularity of hope: it is sure, unwavering, militant, and defined.  He wants a muscular expectation in us, one in which we have sure footing.  Two things come to mind, in terms of this robust hope: Hebrews says that hope is the anchor of our soul, so the more developed we are in His hope, the more stable we become, despite if our life’s circumstances are calm or turbulent.

Second, Hebrews also states that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”  We can extrapolate two thoughts out of that definitional statement about the relationship between faith and hope: faith makes material substance out of what hope expects—hope is the raw material from which faith forms the godly reality—and faith takes what the eyes of the heart sees in the invisible realm and transforms it into evidence to the natural eye.  Hope moves about in the inner, unseen visual world of the heart and faith takes what the heart has seen, of that invisible realm of hope, and reproduces it in the visible, natural world.  Faith makes evident what the eye of the heart saw in the realm of hope.

So, putting the pieces together, we understand the following: you have to see in the invisible spirit realm all that Christ has called Himself to be in you and called you to be in Him, so that your faith can go to work on producing the substance and evidence of that realm.  In truth, we must see a picture of ourselves and understand this picture is a mirrored reflection of Jesus Himself.  We need to see what we look like in the realm of the invisible, and hold that image in our mind’s eye so that our faith can take the imprinted blue print and make it substance in us.

For example, if we find ourselves to be anxious, it’s because the inner eye is constantly looking upon pictures of turmoil and upheaval—this is revelation from the realms of darkness, designed to recreate that inner image onto our visible lives through fear.  So, the way the Lord transforms us is to show us Himself as the Prince of Peace and to show to us ourselves as the mirrored reflection of Him—as little princes of peace—so that we see ourselves, with our inner eye, as peace-filled rulers.  The more we see and behold it, the more we manifest and become it.

We have to see our calling in order to become it; we have to see the Son as He really is if we are going to mature to become sons of God—the kind of sons for which all of creation has labored and groaned, sons just like the Son Himself.  We have o be witnesses to who He is, what His calling looks like in us, and what we witness of ourselves in Him.  We have to look deep into Him until we perceive, see, and stand witness to who we really are and what we can really do.

To be ourselves, we have to witness ourselves in Christ.

The Hope of His Calling, Part 1

The Hope of His Calling

“18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might”

// Ephesians 1:18 -19

The hope of His calling has so many fascinating components in it, and so much more to unpack than just to say that we each “have a calling.”  I will attempt to begin unpacking what it means to be called, how we move toward knowing the calling, and how we move toward its fulfillment in our lives.

Firstly, I want to point out that it is His calling, not ours. He calls, we respond.  This means a few things.  Firstly, we are not called with a calling that derives from our own dreams or desires.  That’s not to say that our dreams or desires do not indicate components of our calling, for they certainly can; rather, it’s that He puts into our hearts His dreams and desires for us.  He is the originator of the calling, and He creates the broad brushstrokes of what that calling will become.  I do think we get, in partnership with Him, to determine the details, shapes, shades and nuances of how the canvas of that calling gets filled in, but He provides the major themes, shape and tone to that which He is painting into our lives.

Secondly, it is His calling.  What I want to suggest is that John Doe doesn’t receive a calling for John Doe, distinct from any other, but rather that John Doe’s calling is an expression of Jesus’ calling.  Because He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together, the calling we each individually have is actually an extension and manifestation of the calling on Jesus’ life.  Luke 4 details Jesus’ call, as prophesied by Isaiah some 700 years previously.  So, as the Body of Christ corporately, Luke 4 indicates the fullness of what each of our individual calls will achieve; the synergism of each individual, walking out their calling, will collectively depict the life of Christ’s missional calling in the earth.  Each of us opens blind opens, preaches good news to the poor, proclaims recovery of sight to the blind, and lives to declare the year of the Lord’s favor.  There is the general mandate of the Body of Christ because we are His Body, so His call rests on us, corporately; our individual piece of that call is just a thread in the fabric of His great calling.

Thirdly, and as importantly, His calling derives from the identity to which He calls us.  When we phone someone, we say that we are calling them; when we identify someone by their name, we say, “He is called John Doe.”  Calling is about identity and the communication of the identity.  The Father of Lights communicates to us, at our new birth, what He calls us; we get a new name.  That new name is more than just a titled name, as in “John Doe,” but that can get included (John the Revelator spoke of how the Lord gives a new name to the overcomer and the idea of God renaming individuals is peppered throughout the Bible). But that renaming indicates a deeper transformation: the new creation man, the born again heart we get from God, indicates a new identity in us.  We get renamed according to our “new creation nature,” and that comes part-and-parcel with a brand-new identity.  So we are called something different—a new name—because we are called into a new identity, that which derives from the new man, of which Paul writes vociferously.

The great pleasure of the Father is to reveal to us His calling: He communicates it; He calls us a new name; He gives us a share in Christ’s calling; He confers to us a new identity, called after the new creation’s nature; and He stands as the originator of the calling on our lives.  We, then, become His “called-out ones,” those called according to His purpose and to satisfy His good pleasure. It is His pleasure to call us something new, different, and entirely other than what we were and knew ourselves to be, so that His goodness would be revealed throughout the whole course of our lives. We are called to reveal that He is calling humanity back to Himself, back to His purpose for humans: to be His own treasured, much-loved children.

building a habitation

Proverbs 24:3-4

By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.

The house, as a metaphor for life in the Spirit, works wonderfully for exploring how we build our lives with the elements of the Gospel.  The above verses delineate how wisdom forms the skeletal structure of the house, how understanding becomes the floors and ceilings of each room, and how experiential knowledge functions as the furniture.

Proverbs 9:1 states, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.”  

Wisdom’s seven pillars speak to the skeletal superstructure of a house–namely, its supporting beams and cross beams.  The weight of a house, or life, finds its support in the level of wisdom we have.  We do not build by the wisdom of years or the wisdom of experiences–because one can be old and have gotten it wrong their whole lives; also, one can have reiterative experiences and never learn from these.  Rather, we build with the wisdom that comes from above, as James 3 and Ephesians 3 identify–it is a wisdom from heaven, a revelation granted us from Papa’s mind.

Understanding, because it establishes us, functions as the foundation and flooring:  a broad slab of understanding is likened to the concrete slab that makes up a home’s foundation; the subsequent floors, also made of understanding, posture our feet as walking upon the understanding we are given, no matter how near to the ground, or how high into the heavens, our life rises.  The depth and breadth of our understanding determines the parameters of size and height for our lives.  The size of the foundation establishes the magnitude of a house.

The relationship of knowledge to furniture is thus:  when you sit in a chair, it creates the experience of sitting; when you lie on a bed, its an experiential moment; when you snuggle on a couch, it crafts a particular experience enjoyed solo or shared communally.  The point is that Proverbs 24 identifies the furnishings of wisdom’s house as being a multitude of experiences, for the Hebrew word for “knowledge” here implies “experiential knowledge.” Knowledge, in both the OT and NT, never imagines academic study but rather assumes knowledge drawn from experience.  For us, it is the experiences we have with God and His nature that become the furnishings of our lives: the places of authority (chair), intimacy (bed), love (love seat or sofa), and so on.

Over the coming weeks, we will unpack this metaphor and explore how we build with wisdom, how we establish our lives through understanding, and how we craft experiential knowledge into the furniture of our everyday lives.