Yesterday the Lord led me to write about The Church in Action, which had to do with defining what the church is, and what it isn’t, and what the gatherings of the church are supposed to look like, based on scripture.
Today, I believe the Lord wants me to continue on this subject of the church and how it is to function as a body of believers in Jesus Christ. And, this study may continue over several days, but right now we will take it one day at a time. So, for tonight (10:00 p.m. USA Eastern Standard Time 11/26/2019), I believe the Lord wants me to cover Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV).
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
Worthy of the Calling
That says a mouthful right there. We can’t function individually or as the body of Christ in the way in which God designed for us to function if we are not first of all walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called by God. And, what is it we are called to?
We are called to belong to God – to Christ. This means he is our Lord (owner-master). Thus, we are to live in submission and obedience to him and to his will for our lives. We are no longer to live for ourselves or to our flesh, but we are now to glorify God with our lives and to be holy in ALL OUR CONDUCT (Rom. 1:6; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 1:15; Tit. 2:11-14).
And, we are called to be saints, which is a call to holiness. And, to be holy means that we live our lives separate (unlike, different) from the world in all of our thinking, believing, attitudes, values, and conduct. We are no longer to be conformed to the sinful patterns of the world. But, we are to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin to God and to his righteousness. And, we are to be being conformed to HIS likeness (Rom. 1:7; 1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 12:1-2).
We are also called to God’s purpose, which he makes abundantly clear to us all throughout scripture. Whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, the message is the same. We are to, by faith, leave our old lives of sin behind us, forsake our idols, and we are to follow God (Jesus Christ) with our lives in obedience to his commands, walking in his ways and in his truth. For, he called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. And, he called us to freedom from slavery to sin, not for impurity, but for holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17, 28; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:9).
With Humility, in Love
But, in our walk of faith in Jesus Christ, we are to walk, not only in a manner worthy of our calling, but in humility, patience, love, unity, peace, and gentleness (gentle strength, or power with reserve). For, we also cannot function individually or as the body of Christ as God intended if we are proud, rude, harsh, domineering, controlling, abusive, or tyrannical.
Now, this is not saying that we should ever bend on the essentials of the faith, with regards to salvation and eternal life with God and holy living, in order to make peace or to not be called “autocratic.” We must remain faithful to our calling, and we must stand on the truth of the Word of God, but we can do so in a manner where we are not being nasty to others.
So, being gentle or humble or showing love to others does not translate to being wishy-washy or to compromising truth in order to make peace. And, being patient and bearing with one another in love also does not mean we are to tolerate sinful practices within the body of Christ, either, or that we are to refrain from confronting others in their sins.
For, Jesus is our example here of how this should work, and he never compromised his beliefs, nor did he condone or pacify sin. He didn’t “make nice” with people just so they would like him, or just so they would not be offended, either. He offended plenty of people with the truth which is why they killed him! And, he wasn’t always gentle with his words, either, especially when he was talking to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.
So, if loving others, or making peace, or uniting with others, or being gentle or patient with them involves compromising holiness, purity, God’s truth, righteousness, morality, and our witness or testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, then it is not of God, but of the flesh, and it is so men will approve us and not reject us. So, it is selfish, and thus it is not loving.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV
When we come to Jesus Christ, by God-given faith in him, which turns from sin and turns to God to follow him in obedience, we become members of his body, his Church, of which there is only one. For, the body of Christ, his church, is comprised of all believers in Jesus Christ across the globe. We all form one church. And, Jesus Christ is the ONLY head of this church.
This church is not a building or an organization or a corporation or a denomination of men. It is a living organism made up of the people of God. We are its living stones and Jesus Christ is our chief cornerstone. He is our foundation for this building, and he is the one building this building, not the marketing schemes of men (1 Pet. 2:4-10; 1 Co. 3:9).
But, we can’t all meet in one place, for we don’t even all live in the same place, and that is why the scriptures talk about “the church in Ephesus,” or “the church in Corinth,” or they would say “the church” that meets at someone’s house. We are all one church, with One head, Jesus Christ, with one faith and one gospel, and we all become members of this church ONLY by faith in Jesus Christ. But, we meet in different locations.
So, an organization called “First Baptist Church” is not the church. If it is called “Westside Presbyterian Church” it is still not the church. These are organizations of men. And they divide the church (1 Co. 1:10-17). And, the church is not divided! And most of these churches are incorporated under the government of the USA (in America), so they are state-churches, not the body of Christ.
And, Christ is not the head of these “churches,” because the church is not divided, and because the church is not a human organization, and because they have church denominations as their head, and they have marketing schemes and plans as their head, and they have humanistic philosophy as their head, and they have the government as their head. And, so Christ is usurped as head, and God and His Word are not the sole source of inspiration and leading for these churches, either.
So, for the church (as a whole) to function as God intended, we can’t be divided. And, we can’t bring the church under the headship of any others other than Christ. And, we can’t unite Christ’s body with the ungodly, which is what has happened with incorporating the body of Christ with the government. And, we can’t turn God’s house, his body, into a marketplace (a business of men marketed just like any other business of men).
So, I believe scripture teaches that we are to come out from among these organizations of men called “church,” but are not the church, that we are not to be divided, that we are not to turn God’s house into a marketplace, and that we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. And, we are to leave Babylon so that we do not share in her sins and in her punishment (1 Co. 1:10-17; Jn. 2:13-17; 2 Co. 6:14-18; Rev. 18:1-5).
And, we should find out what God wants for us, his church, and how he wants us to gather, and what that is supposed to look like, and scripture is going to show us how that should look. But, we need to come back under Jesus Christ as our only head, and God and His Word needs to be our sole source of direction for the church, and for inspiration and for teaching.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
*copyright status is public domain