Unity of the Body of Christ

Cross-posted at Vertical

In the fall of 2005, Jars of Clay performed at Fellowship Bible Church North as part of their “Redemption Songs & Stories” tour. One of the songs they performed from the album Redemption Songs was “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”. Drawn from John 13:35 the song reminds us that our love for one another will testify to our love for Christ.

In today’s text, Ephesians 4:1-6, we see Paul address similar themes. Let’s dive right in and apply this teaching.

Not so fast! I’ve heard it said whenever you see therefore, you need to ask “what’s it there for?”. Here in Ephesians, Paul’s therefore marks the transition from Paul’s teaching on doctrine in chapters 1-3 to life application built on that doctrine in chapters 4-6. Paul’s application becomes empty moralism without this gospel foundation.

The triune God of the universe has created a new people for himself, from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). In doing so, God has reconciled the rebel to himself. God has also unified a divided humanity. We are called to live as ambassadors of an outpost of heaven here on earth. Christ has won the battle to reconcile mankind to God and mankind to one another.

So how exactly are to we live as His new people?

  • with all humility and gentleness,
  • with patience,
  • bearing with one another in love,
  • eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit

Why? Paul reminds us that we are united in Christ:

  • one body and one Spirit,
  • one hope,
  • one Lord,
  • one faith,
  • one baptism,
  • one God and Father of all

Will you join me and strive to live out our calling as Christians; to love the family of God in Jesus Christ; and, to keep the peace in the this family? In so doing this “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”.

If you’d like to dive into this passage a bit more, I might suggest that you check out these sermons from Ligon Duncan at FPC Jackson:

Get the Jars of Clay album Redemption Songs at iTunes | Amazon.com

Give Me Christ Crucified

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)

luther.jpg

Tonight I had the privilege of watching the movie Luther with two men in my LifeGroup. The movie has become one of my favorites. That said, this post is not going to be a review. You can read a fine review of Luther at New Creation Person.

No, this post is about the discussion that the movie sparked after we watched it. We were talking about sermons, that appear pretty common to most churches, which are focused on “how to live the Christian life”. In my opinion, the how to (e.g. as parent, spouse, employee) are not normally tied to the Gospel of Christ. In fact, in some sermons the name Jesus Christ is hardly mentioned at all. Seems odd right, a sermon in a Christian church and Christ is not mentioned? It’s true!

I shared my concerns that the how to is meaningless and possibly destructive unless the who, what, and why are also presented. Let me explain.

Unless a person understands that:

  1. he/she is a sinner subject to the wrath of God
  2. Christ became flesh and lived a perfect life; died on the cross in his/her place for the forgiveness of sins past, present, and future, fully satisfying the wrath of God; and rose again on the third day
  3. he/she must repent, turning from sin, and trusting in the forgiveness for sins that Christ offers
  4. Upon receiving faith (trusting) in Christ, he/she is made a new creation and adopted as a son of God

they will misapply the why of living the Christian life.

We are called to live a certain way as a Christian because of our status in Christ. We do not do good works or live in a certain way to earn anything. No, we do good works as evidence of the salvation we have received. They are the fruit.

Notice that Paul spends the first 3 chapters of Ephesians telling them who they are in Christ. It is not until Ephesians 4:1 that Paul says I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

My concern is that when this order is reversed or worse (they are not even linked), we have the wrong motivation for “doing”. Are we trying earn points with God? Are we trying to avoid the wrath of God on our own? Are we our own savior?

If I understand that I should be living a certain way, say loving my wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25) and I refuse to forgive her infidelity, how do I deal with the guilt from not meeting God’s standard? The solution for the sin and guilt in marriage is Gospel.

All this to set up the heart of our discussion, how often do we need to hear the Gospel in our sermons? Once a year? Once a month? Twice a month? How about every single sermon! That is what I want and what the New Testament presents.

Consider the following:

  • For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
  • For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures 1 Corinthians 15:3
  • but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles 1 Corinthians 1:23

Well, it is getting really late. I’d love to get your take.

Note: The White Horse Inn show “We Preach Christ Crucified” (3/8/09) covers this in great detail.

Grace is the Gospel – Grace Before Time

Grace Is Gospel Grace Before Time
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: grace jesus)

Creation

Grace is the Gospel – Part 1

  • Eternal Triune God
  • Author of Creation
  • Creation is Good
  • Created in God’s Image (Male and Female)
  • Created with Purpose
    • Glorify God
    • Enjoy Him Forever

The Fall

Grace is the Gospel – Part 2

  • We Betrayed God
  • A Declaration of Independence
    • Shame and Guilt
    • Death
    • All of Creation Cursed

God’s Plan All Along

  • All of Mankind
  • Sinners from Birth
  • We are Depraved
  • Slaves to Sin
  • Unable to Submit
  • Subject to Justice
  • and Wrath of God
  • Dead in our Sins

Back to God’s Plan…

Rejoice! By grace you have been saved

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

Ephesians 2:5 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Ephesians 2:8 ESV

Grace is…

  • Power to raise the dead
  • Power directed by love
  • Love to the ill-deserving

Salvation belongs to the LordJonah 2:9 ESV

Election

  • First step of God’s love
  • God’s purpose to save us

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

What?

He chose us in Him

When?

Before Creation

Why?

So we could be holy and blameless…He predestined us to adoption through Christ

Saved FOR Good Works, not FROM them

not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:9-10 ESV

For What Purpose?

God’s will, to the praise of glory of His grace

When we were dead

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will

Ephesians 1:11 ESV

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

He chose individuals

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 ESV

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

James 2:5 ESV

Is Election the Effect or the Cause of Obtaining Salvation?

It is not just that God knew we would believe…

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.

Romans 11:1-8 ESV

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:48 ESV

Do we belong to God because we come to Jesus, or do we come to Jesus because we belong to God?

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

John 17:6-9 ESV

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

John 6:37-39 ESV

Are we Jesus’ sheep because we believe, or do we believe because we are His sheep?

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:24-27 ESV

Is evangelism making or gathering sheep?

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 10:16 ESV

Are missions making or gathering children of God?

Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

John 11:50-52 ESV

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Acts 18:9-10 ESV

Did God choose us because he knows we will come or, do we come because he chose to give us the will to come?

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

John 6:44, 65 ESV

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

Acts 16:14 ESV

Is election based on foreknown faith or is faith the effect of election?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Romans 8:28-33 ESV

Is election individual and unconditional?

Romans 9:1-23

Election is nothing but the preparation of Grace

According to B.B. Warfield

Holiness, because it is the necessary product, is therefore the sure sign of election. All holy people are the elect of God and are sure of eternal life.

We need not, we must not, seek elsewhere for proof of our election: if we believe in Christ and obey him, we are his elect children.

Why not choose…

Again from B.B. Warfield

The marvel of marvels is not that God, in his infinite love, has not elected all of this guilty race to be saved, but that he has elected any. What really needs accounting for — though to account for it passes the powers of our extremest flights of imagination — is how the holy God could get the consent of his nature to save a single sinner. If we know what sin is, and what holiness is, and what salvation from sin to holiness is, that is what we shall feel.

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