Lesson 5 – The Economy of God
DEFINITION OF GOD’S ECONOMY
What is God’s economy? The Scriptures, composed of sixty-six books, contain many different teachings, but if we would make a thorough and careful study of the Scriptures with spiritual insight, we would realize that God’s economy is simply His plan to dispense Himself into humanity. God’s economy is God’s dispensation, which means nothing other than God dispensing Himself into the human race. It is regrettable that the term dispensation has been misused. Its definition is nearly the same as the Greek word for economy. It means “an administrative arrangement, a governmental management,” and refers to the dispensing, distributing stewardship of God’s plan. In this divine dispensation God, who is almighty and all inclusive, intends to dispense nothing other than Himself into us. This needs to be repeated many times in order to impress us deeply. God is exceedingly rich. He is like a successful businessman who has an enormous amount of capital. God has a business in this universe, and His vast wealth is His capital. We do not realize how many billions, countless billions, He has. All this capital is simply Himself, and with it He intends to “manufacture” Himself in mass production. God Himself is the Businessman, the capital, and the product. His intention is to dispense Himself into many people in mass production and free of charge. Therefore, God requires such a divine arrangement, a divine management, a divine dispensation, a divine economy, in order to bring Himself into humanity.
GOD’S NEW TESTAMENT ECONOMY
God’s New Testament economy is God’s household management, God’s household administrative arrangement, the divine dispensation (plan). By dispensation we mean here an arrangement, that is, a plan. This economy, this dispensation, is revealed in Ephesians 1:10 and 3:9. Ephesians 1:10 says, “Unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him” (KJV). The Greek word rendered “dispensation” here is oikonomia, from which we get the English word “economy.”…The Greek word rendered “dispensation” in Ephesians 1:10 can also be translated “stewardship” or “household arrangement.” The word “administration” may also be used because eventually this dispensation, this stewardship and household arrangement, will become an eternal administration. The entire universe will eventually be under one administration.
Then in 3:2 he speaks of the stewardship of the grace of God, and in 3:9, of the dispensation of the mystery. In 3:9 Paul says, “To bring to light what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things” (KJV).
God’s mystery is His hidden purpose. His purpose is to dispense Himself into His chosen people. Hence, there is the dispensation of the mystery of God. This mystery was hidden in God from the ages, that is, from eternity and through all past ages, but now it has been brought to light to the New Testament believers.
In 1 Timothy 1:4 Paul speaks of “God’s dispensation which is in faith.” Once again, the Greek word rendered “dispensation” is oikonomia. In Greek the words “God’s dispensation” here also mean God’s household economy. This is God’s household administration to dispense Himself in Christ into His chosen people so that He may have a house, a household, to express Himself, which household is the church, the Body of Christ.
God’s New Testament economy is a plan made by God according to His good pleasure. Ephesians 1:9 says, “Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.” God’s good pleasure is the desire of His heart. This good pleasure was what God purposed in Himself for a dispensation, for a plan (v. 10).…This means that God Himself is the initiation, origination, and sphere of His eternal purpose. God has a plan, a desire, and according to His plan, He has a purpose.…God’s good pleasure is to dispense Himself into us. This is the unique desire of God. We may say that God is “dreaming” of dispensing Himself into us. His longing, His aspiration, is to dispense Himself into His chosen people.
AN ETERNAL PLAN GOD MADE IN CHRIST
God’s economy is an eternal plan made by God in Christ.…Ephesians 3:11 says, “According to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The purpose of the ages is the purpose of eternity, the eternal purpose, the eternal plan of God made in eternity past. God made His eternal economy in Christ. The Christ revealed in the Bible is the embodiment of the Triune God and all the processes through which He has passed, including incarnation, human living, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and descension. In such a Christ God made His eternal economy.…Christ is everything in God’s economy. In fact, all the contents of the eternal economy of God are simply Christ. Christ is the center, circumference, element, sphere, means, goal, and aim of this economy.
GOD DISPENSING HIMSELF INTO HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE IN HIS TRINITY
In what way does God dispense Himself into His people in His trinity? This dispensing has three steps. First, it is of God the Father. The Father is the source, the origin. Second, this dispensing is through God the Son, who is the course. Third, God’s dispensing is in God the Spirit, who is the instrument and sphere. Through these steps of God the Father, through God the Son, and in God the Spirit God dispenses Himself into His chosen people.
GOD THE FATHER THROUGH GOD THE SON
The Father, who is the source, has put Himself into the Son. The Father with all His fullness has come forth in the person of the Son. The Son is both the embodiment and the expression of the Father (John 14:9-10); no one but the Son has ever seen God the Father (6:46). In the Son God has accomplished all that He planned through four major steps: incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. These four steps have fulfilled all that God planned in eternity.
GOD DISPENSING HIMSELF IN GOD THE SPIRIT
God is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ is Christ Himself. Without God being the Spirit, God cannot reach us. In order for electricity to reach a building, it has to become a current. The current of electricity is the reaching of electricity. In like manner, the Spirit of God is God’s reaching us.
The Spirit of God is now the Spirit of Christ with humanity and redemption for reaching us.
FOR THE PRODUCING OF THE CHURCH
God’s New Testament economy to dispense Himself into His chosen people is for the producing of the church (Eph. 3:10). This dispensing brings forth the church for the manifestation of the multifarious wisdom of God according to His eternal purpose made in Christ (Eph. 3:9-11). This means that through the dispensing of God in His trinity the church is produced to exhibit God’s manifold wisdom.
First Corinthians 4:17 and 20 show that the kingdom is the church life today. In verse 17 Paul refers to his ways “which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church.” Then in verse 20 he says, “The kingdom of God is not in speech but in power.” These verses show that the kingdom of God is the church everywhere, and the church everywhere is the kingdom.
The church as the kingdom of God will have a consummation, and this consummation will be the New Jerusalem for the eternal expression of the Triune God. Revelation 21:2 says, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The New Jerusalem is a living composition of all the saints redeemed by God throughout all generations.