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

He is not Absent!

My devotional for The Song of Solomon 5 is up today on the Vertical site. I’ve cross-posted it below.

In chapter 5 of The Song of Solomon we find the bride searching for her beloved. It is not clear from the text if this is still part of her dream or if she awake.I slept, but my heart was awake (5:2 ESV). The dramatic moments in this passage come in verses 6-8:

I opened to my beloved,
     but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but found him not;
     I called him, but he gave no answer.
The watchmen found me
     as they went about in the city;
they beat me, they bruised me,
     they took away my veil,
     those watchmen of the walls.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
     if you find my beloved,
that you tell him
     I am sick with love (ESV)

We might all agree that this sounds like it could be from the script of a Hollywood movie. Does it sound like your life? No, not your marriage, but your spiritual life.

Do you find yourself seeking, but not finding? Calling you to him, but not receiving answers? Is the world beating you down? Where do you turn for comfort? Do you fear the Lord has forgotten you?

The Bible teaches us that we, the church, are the bride of Christ. Our beloved, Jesus, has ascended to the right hand of God the Father and is no longer physically present with us. We live between his two comings.

He is not absent! Find rest in Christ’s Gospel. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has done it all to save us, his bride. He has atoned for our sins. He suffered in out place. He gave his life as a ransom. He has removed God’s wrath and reconciled us to the Father. We have been spiritually resurrected, given new hearts, given the gift of saving faith, given the gift of repentance, we have God’s Word written on our hearts, we are imputed with Christ’s righteousness, we are justified, we are alive in Christ, we have been adopted in God’s family, and we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

We should anticipate the Lord’s return, not fearing that he has forgotten us, for there is nothing that will be able to separate form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39 ESV).

Dig Deeper

How can God be both just and merciful?

My devotional for Job 27 is up today on the Vertical site. I’ve cross-posted it below.

In Chapter 27, we find Job in the midst of third debate with his friends regarding the source of his suffering.

Job again pleads his innocence, I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. (Job 27:6 ESV) Then, he turns to his adversaries and wishes that they would suffer as the wicked before the Lord. (v 7-23)

That sounds about right doesn’t it, whether we are right or wrong, our adversary needs to suffer! When we are right, our desire for justice burns all the more inside us. We can relate to Job here. He is right, he has done nothing wrong. Yet, he is being falsely accused. We scream, “but the bad guys are winning! Will God deal with this injustice? When will he deal with this injustice? Will God ever deal with this injustice?”

Job knows God’s mercy, but will his justice make an appearance? Job wanted answers from God.

Job would never get the answer he desired from God. Thankfully we did get the answer when Job’s hoped-for mediator and redeemer entered into human history. Paul records God’s answer for us in Romans 3:21-26 (ESV):

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Kim Riddlebarger points out that It will take a sinless and perfectly obedient savior, who bears God’s wrath in his own body, to resolve what Job sees as an unresolvable dilemma, ‘how can God be both just and merciful?’ Oh how glorious is our savior!

Dig Deeper

Listen to I Will Maintain My Righteousness: The 6th sermon in a series on Job, Job 27:1-6 by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, Sunday 08/01/04 or read the text (pdf).