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    Short Summaries of

    Sermons on Ephesians

    by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith

    The Spirit of the New Age

    (Eph. 1:13-14)

    The French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, well known as a neo-Gnostic evolutionist (Gnostics interpret man's problem as metaphysical and believe in salvation by secret knowledge), wrote: "a religion of the earth is being mobilized against the religion of heaven." For those readers who may not know de Chardin well, it is important to note that this Catholic scholar's life was self-consciously dedicated to the promotion of the "religion of the earth," not Christianity. He is credited with transforming Darwinism into a "cult" and is considered a foundational thinker for the new age movement--according to a survey of New-Age advocates, he is more popular even than Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Aldus Huxley and Juddu Krishnamurti.

    He claimed that he intended to help to found a "new religion" which he called a "better Christianity." For de Chardin a "better Christianity" means transforming the personal God of Christianity into the "soul of the world" along the lines of pantheism. He not only promoted a global religion that was a combination of East and West, he was also a great fan of Marxism. Communists returned the compliment by recommending his writings and Michael Gorbachev (now [1995] president of the International Green Cross/Green Crescent) is perhaps the only well known political figure to borrow his technical vocabulary, referring in a speech to "noosphere."

    The so-called scientific theories of evolution and quantum mechanics combined with mystical pantheism form the basis of the modern neo-Gnostic movement composed of competing groups of mystical pantheistic religions and philosophies. As Irenaeus (c. AD 130 - c. 200) said of the Gnostics of his day "every day one of them invents something new," the neo-Gnosticism of our own day has many variations, including the many new religions in Japan.

    What does the neo-Gnostic revival mean? It means the failure of the Enlightenment and western attempts at non-Christian rationalism. It also means that the victory of the Church is at hand. The spirits of this world cannot withstand the onslaught of the Gospel. As the non-Christian world becomes more consistent with its underlying presuppositions, it becomes more foolish--like Asahara himself and his deluded followers--and weaker. Christians need only return to the word of God and the power of the Spirit to conquer the world for Christ.

    The Promise of the Father

    The gift of the Spirit of God is the very essence of the blessings of the new covenant. This was God"s design even before the fall. God never intended men to live in "first-creation" bodies for all eternity. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have served God in history for some period of time--maybe 1000 years?--and then "graduated" from their historical task. Perhaps they would have been "raptured" like Enoch. At any rate, they would have been glorified and given a "Spiritual" body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44). The fleshly creation was intended from the beginning to be temporary. Man was to be glorified by the Spirit and become His temple in a new body.

    Satan's temptation and man's rebellion did not undo history. God's original design for the human race is being fulfilled through redemption. Throughout the era of the old covenant men waited for that redemption to come. God promised them a Messiah who would be endowed with the Spirit without measure (Isa. 11:2; 42:1; 48:16; 61:1) and thus be able to speak God's words to us (Joh. 3:34). Not only does the Messiah give us the words of life, He also gives us the Spirit of God (Mat. 3:11; Mar. 1:8; Luk 3:16), the promise of the Father (Luk. 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; 2:33, 39).

    The Spirit of God makes us new men (Joh. 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:17). Our "Spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:44) will not be given to us until the resurrection (Rom. 8:23), but the gift of the Spirit to us now is the earnest of the future inheritance. We begin to be what we will truly become in the resurrection--temples of the Holy Spirit: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

    This means that we have been given ethical power: "For the [new covenant] law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the [old covenant] law of sin and death . . . That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:2, 4; cf. Rom. 8:1-23; 14:17; 15:13; Eze. 11:19-20; 36:26-27). We have been given assurance of God's love: "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). The Spirit enlightens us in God's truth: "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Cor. 2:10-12).

    The gift of the Spirit is the essence of all the blessings that we now have and will forever enjoy, therefore Paul says that God has blessed us with all "Spiritual blessings" (Eph. 1:3). It was the Spirit of God who opened our hearts so that we could believe the "word of truth, the Gospel" of our salvation. As "the earnest" of our future inheritance, the Spirit protects and preserves us unto the end so that we cannot fall away from God (Eph. 1:14; 1 Joh. 3:9). He leads us "in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

    The Spirit of God also enables and provokes us to witness. Just as God promised Israel that He would pour out His Spirit upon them so that they could be His witnesses (Isa. 44:1-8), and just as He promised the disciples that they would have special apostolic power to testify to Him (Joh. 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13), so also the Spirit of God fills us so that we become new Edens that overflow with blessing for the world: "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (Joh. 7:37-39).

    Our highest duty and privilege as Christians is worship. When, like Paul, we give God thanksgiving and praise for the blessings of salvation, we glorify the Triune God. This was the main purpose for which man was created. It is also, therefore, our greatest comfort and joy. Paul is teaching us here to meditate upon the Spirit-given gifts of the new covenant so that we can praise God from our hearts. When we learn to rejoice in His grace, the false "new-age movement" of Satanic mysticism will not be able to stand against the power of the Spirit of God flowing out from the happy hearts of God's elect. Only when the heavenly religion has overwhelmed the earthly religion by the power of joy and peace in Christ will the true New Age come in earnest.

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