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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 37
The Seven Unities of the Church
Again we just give the Lord all the praise and glory for the way He’s using this ministry to touch lives. We’re always just dumfounded at the way He uses us as we never claim to be anything more than a common ordinary Sunday School teacher But we are just thrilled that folk are coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and are learning to study His Word.
Now again we’re going to go right into the Scriptures, we want to use every moment that we can to search the Scriptures, and today we’ll begin with Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 1. Right off the bat, like Paul does so often he says “therefore.” And the reason he’s always using “therefore” is to remind us to constantly go back and see what he has just taught. Always remember the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is a progressive unfolding of God’s program of the ages. And in Paul’s seven Church letters especially, you always have doctrine, reproof, corrections, and instruction in righteousness. In fact let’s go to II Timothy chapter 3 for a moment so I can make my point. Here the Spirit has inspired the apostle to write something that is more than meets the eye.
II Timothy 3:16
“All scripture (from Genesis through Revelation) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
Now that applies to the whole Scripture, but it has a unique application to Paul’s seven Church letters, as we refer to them. And, the first 3 would be Romans, the two Corinthians, and Galatians. The next three are where we are now and that would be Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. And then the 7th would be the two Thessalonians letters. At this time I would like to remind you again that in these first letters of Romans, the Corinthians, and Galatians, we have doctrine, correction, reproof, and then we jumped up a level in the prison epistles which get into even higher ground spiritually, in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Then later we will go even on a higher level than those last three when we get to the two Thessalonians letters which will be instructions in righteousness, because they refer to the Lord’s coming.
Always keep those formats in mind as we study these seven Church letters of Paul. Now that should tell us that Ephesians is primarily “doctrinal.” It’s not so much practical as doctrinal. What’s doctrine? Doctrine is what God expects us to believe! Doctrine is teaching, and today there is so little doctrine. I remember talking to an individual on one of our tours to Israel, and he was from one of these ecumenical groups. But as we were speaking to this young man in the hotel lobby, I started asking him some questions about his ecumenical group and he said, “Now Les, remember, we don’t deal with anything doctrinal.” I said, “Well then that says it all. That just tells me exactly where you’re coming from, because if you don’t have doctrine, you’ve got nothing. You might as well shut the Book and go home, because we have to rest on doctrine of what does God expects us to believe. And He has laid it out so plainly for the Church Age through this apostle.” But I know we’re living in a time now like that young man, where people think that doctrine doesn’t count. They think all we have to do is get along with our neighbors, and do the best we can, and somehow they’ll make it, but you see that’s not what the Scripture teaches. The Scriptures says, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 4, and remember we’re up on a higher level of teaching doctrine than even Romans was. And this is what we’re looking for. “What does God want us to believe, and what are we to share in a teaching mode with those round about us, which would be primarily believers?” Doctrine is primarily for the believer. Now it doesn’t leave the unbeliever without doctrine of course, but once we become a believer, then we have to be established in our faith with doctrine.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech (or beg of) you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
Now we hold this to almost any profession don’t we? I don’t think any of us would like to have a personal physician, someone we commit our health and well being to, if he was someone that you couldn’t trust, and wasn’t adhering to the vocation that he was called. I know I wouldn’t want that kind of doctor taking care of my family. Well Paul is bringing that same analogy into the life of every believer. God has called us to this particular role in the midst of an ungodly world to live a life that literally reflects our vocation and our calling. Now verse 2. It’s so practical, we’re not to be arrogant, or puffed up and give people the impression that we’re better than they are, or that we know more than they do.
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing (or putting up with) one another in love;”
There is so much of that lacking today. How many local churches, and I don’t care what denomination you can think of, are in a constant turmoil because of the lack of love one for another? Just because somebody doesn’t agree right down to the last jot and tittle then hatred comes up, and that was one of the things that Paul had to admonish the Corinthians about. So here he comes now to this higher level of the Christian walk, that we do not walk with arrogance and pride, but with lowliness and meekness.
Now meekness doesn’t mean you’re a milque-toast. There use to be a cartoon character by that name who was always being walked on because he didn’t have any backbone. But that’s not what the word meek means. Do you remember who was called the meekest of all men? Moses. Now all of you know what a man’s man Moses was. I’ve always pointed out that he was the second highest man in Egypt being a military man, it meant that he was a civil engineer, it meant he was a politician, Moses was not a milque-toast. And then the best one of all was when he had to flee Egypt and goes out into Midian, and comes up to the well, and here the priest of Midian’s seven daughters watering their livestock. Well other shepherds come up about that time, and try to drive them away, but what does Moses do? Single-handedly drove them all away. Well that’s certainly not a milque-toast, I mean that’s a man’s man, but he was still meek.
So what does that tell you? To be meek just simply means that we know what we stand for, but we can do these things in the spirit of love, patience, and diplomacy, without raising the ire of people. So I think this is exactly what Paul is expecting you and I as believers to do. Now verse 3.
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Now I’ll probably be mentioning it more than once, especially when we get to verses 4, 5, and 6, that I am not ecumenical, and I think you all know that by now. I’m anything but. I’m probably closer to what they call the exclusiveness. The Bible is, it’s a narrow Book! The Bible makes stipulations that God has laid on the human race, and those things are not broad and open-ended, but rather they are particular. As such I will never bend! I’d rather just quit what I’m trying to do, as to compromise, and be as they say, ecumenical. So what we’re going to find here, is that in the spirit and the bonds of love, and peace, yet we’re going to stick to what the Word teaches. Now then we come down to verse 4, and this is where I really wanted to spend most of our time this afternoon, the singleness of purpose, in these next few verse. This is not a broad reign that just brings in the multitudes, this is going to do just the opposite. This is going to bring us down into the narrow reigns of God’s dealing with the human race. Now verse 4.
“There is one body,…”
Now that means exactly what it says. For example, let me take you all the way back to Genesis chapter 11. In chapter 10 you’ve got the three sons of Noah coming off the ark, and they begin to repopulate. You’ve got all the genealogy of those three sons, and let’s start with verse 1 of chapter 11.
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2. and it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar: and they dwelt there. 3. and they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.”
Now look at verse 4. Here, the offspring of the three sons of Noah, have already by God been delineated into three actual lines of the human race that would develop, but they’ve all stayed together. Now look at what God had made evidently so clear.
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
They were saying, “we’re not going to be scattered.” Well we’ve got to back all the way up to when they first came off the ark, and that would be in chapter 9, and this is what they were making reference to. Now remember these people were just as human as we are. They knew what God had said, they had a memory, they passed it from one generation to the next. Although in this case there was only 200 years time that had elapsed since the flood, and back then most people lived that long. But look what God told them in Genesis chapter 9:1
“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
God didn’t say replenish the Middle East, He didn’t say replenish the fertile crescent, but rather replenish the earth. And what did that imply? That they were to move out, they were to pioneer the very fringes of civilization. But what was the response of these people at Babel? We’re not going to do it! We’re not going to be scattered, we’re going to stay here and be one. Ok, but God had said in so many words, scatter. Now look at the Church today. Come back to the Book of Ephesians, and I think you’ll get what I’m driving at.. Now the admonition is that the Body of Christ is to be one. Singular in purpose around the whole planet, the Body is to be one, but what has happened to the Church?
Now when I say the Church, I’m talking about the whole gamut of Christianity. It’s fragmented. Hundreds and hundreds of groups, and denominations and divisions and so forth, and that’s not what God intended. See what has happened. God told those people in Genesis to scatter, and they said, “No, we’re going to stay together and be one.” What God has said in Ephesians is for them to be one, and now there are many. Man has fragmented the Church. It’s is amazing how Satan can always bring about just exactly the opposite of what God intended. Back here in Ephesians, God’s first intentions for the true Church made up of born again, regenerated, blood-bought believers were to be one. One in mind, one in purpose, and instead we’ve got thousands of fragmented groups all claiming to have some sort of Christianity.
But there is only one true Body of Christ, in which there are no unbelievers. In the true Body there are no professing Christians without salvation in the Body of Christ. Only a true believer ends up in the Body of Christ. Let me show you what I’m driving at in verses that we’ve used before. Come with me to I Corinthians chapter 12, and let’s start at verse 12. Here Paul is using the analogy of the human body.
I Corinthians 12:12-13
“For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (or the Body of Christ, the true Church) 13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink (or partake) into one Spirit.” One Spirit is putting us into the One Body of Christ. Now verse 14.
I Corinthians 12:14
“For the body (or the human element or the Body of Christ) is not one members, but many.” Now come over in that same chapter to verse 27. Paul is emphasizing this concept of the Body of Christ.
I Corinthians 12:27
“Now ye (believers) are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Then we don’t find all that much mentioned of the Body of Christ until we get into the higher things in Ephesians. So let’s look for example in chapter 1 and drop down to verse 23, and here Paul makes another reference to the Body of Christ. Remember Paul is the only one that refers to the Body of Christ, the true Church. In fact let’s start with verse 22. This is God speaking of the Son.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
So this is only a Pauline term, “The Body of Christ.” And if you come on over to chapter 3 there again he makes reference that through one of the mysteries given to him that Gentiles are included in the Body.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”
The Body of Christ, that consortium of only the true believer. Now I’ve made this comment before, and while I’m talking you can be turning to Hebrews chapter 13, because I’ve just got one more verse I want to use in reference to the Body. I’ve made reference to it over and over on the program, I don’t care what denominational handle people may have, all the members of that local church no doubt have been baptized and memorized by what ever rituals the church demands. But I can ask people eye to eye, “Are all your Church member true believers?” And most people will almost think it’s a ridiculous question. “You know, they’re not,” they will answer.
In fact I got a letter last week that asked the question, “What do you mean when you speak of a true believer?” I’m not talking about someone who has simply made a profession, and has joined the local church or organization, but rather I’m talking about someone who has truly and completely placed their faith, by believing in their heart, that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again, + NOTHING else for their salvation. And as a result of that salvation, they have a whole changed attitude toward life, toward others, and as John’s little epistle says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” And when you pass from death unto life, you’re going to have a love for the Word of God, like you never had before.
We’re getting letter after letter, where people are telling us, “I’m finally loving the Word of God.” Well that’s a sign of being a true believer. The professing Christian that is merely a church member, he’s not that concerned about what the Bible says. He’s not that concerned about spending most of his or her time with fellow believers, and so when we have come to that place of completely without anything else, trusted the “Gospel” for our eternal salvation, then yes, we’re a true believer. Now that doesn’t mean that everybody is going to be as Spiritual as the next person, as there is certainly room for different levels of that within the Body of Christ.
Now even here in Hebrews chapter 13 we also find the Body of Christ. You want to remember that Hebrews was written primarily to Jewish believers.
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
So even these Jewish believers, to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed, and does not make that much reference to the Church Body as Paul does in the Church epistle, nevertheless these Jewish believers were considered by the apostle as members of the Body of Christ.
Now I don’t put Old Testament believers into the Body of Christ. I know there are some that would disagree with that, but I just can’t see them in the Body. Now they’re saved, and in a division all their own, and of course that’s why we make that separation as we teach that God dealt with Israel on the one hand, but He’s dealing with the whole world’s population over here on this side of the Cross in the calling out of the Body of Christ. These are two separate entities, and even in eternity, I don’t think we’ll ever lose that identity. I think the Body of Christ, and the Covenant people of Israel will always be separate. God has a special role for each of them, and I can find nothing in Scripture that refutes that.