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The Headship of Christ

  • January 2018 Issue
Theology Matters

When we speak of someone being the “head,” we are usually referring to power or authority. The head of a company is the CEO; the head of a school is the principal. In the book of Ephesians, Paul uses the language of headship to describe something about Christ’s authority, but the headship of Christ also emphasizes connection and relationship. According to Ephesians 1:10, God’s purpose is to unite all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Today these realms are separated. Christ is ruler over both, but in the present age the earth—and the church—still suffer from the collateral damage of sin (Rom. 8:22). The state of the church on earth differs from the church in heaven. Both are forgiven and share the same position in Christ, but the church on earth continues to struggle against the forces of a sinful world. Though the earth is the Lord’s (Ps. 24:1), those on earth often resist God’s will. Heaven is the realm where God’s will is always done (Matt. 6:10).

As a result of this separation, our experience in the church this side of heaven is often mixed. But God’s purpose for the church is guaranteed. In God’s perfect timing, the separation between earth and heaven will be dissolved. God’s dwelling will be with humanity and His will done on earth as it is in heaven (Rev. 21:3). Then the state of the church on earth will be the same as that of the church in heaven. All its inconsistencies will be eliminated. God’s creation will also be renewed and the world’s fallen condition repaired (Rom. 8:19–21; Rev. 22:3).

This is not merely a theology of wishful thinking: we can have confidence in this future work because we have already begun to experience the reality of these promises by being included in Christ. We have been raised with Christ and are seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).

Because we have a share in Christ’s resurrection, we can experience its power now through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God’s down payment on our redemption. He is called a “seal” and a “deposit” (Eph. 1:13–14). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we belong to God. We have been united with Christ who is our head (Eph. 4:15, 5:23).

 

For further study

To learn more, read God’s Ultimate Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians 1:1–23 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Baker).

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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