Maybe you can tell me how many times I’ve posted WE are the government. If I’d bothered to try, I’d have lost count long ago. Newsflash: WE are also the body of Christ – at least those of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. (Romans 10:9-10) The difference between the two statements is one only needs to be a US Citizen to be included in the first group. One must consciously accept Christ to be born again of God’s spirit and become part of the body. So this post is directed at my brethren in Christ in particular.
Romans 12:4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don’t have the same function,
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Ephesians 5:23 for a husband is head of the wife, as also the Christ is head of the assembly. He is Saviour of the body. [“assembly” is the Greek word ekklēsía often rendered “church”]
(For the sake of consistency, I’ll quote from the World English Bible (WEB) today unless otherwise noted.)
Today, “diversity” seems to be all the rage everywhere. Oddly enough there is no one group more diverse than today’s Christians. There is nothing at all wrong with this, in fact, there is everything right about it. “For God so loved the WORLD, He gave his only-begotten Son.” While diversity is fine, there is another aspect that is not at all desirable… division. No scripture advocates division, quite the opposite is true. The verses quoted above stating we are “one body” only scratch the surface.
In Ephesians especially, the apostle Paul revealed the mystery “which in other generations has not been made known to the sons of men” (Ephasians 3:5). What is this “mystery”?
Ephesians 3:6 that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel,
Gentiles were and are anyone who was not of the nation of Israel. Israel was a chosen people. Why were they chosen and not some other group? (Using my best, indignantly snotty tone) Well, somebody had to draw the short straw. It was them. There were two primary reasons for a chosen group. First, the Messiah had to be able to trace his lineage back. Second, somebody had to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that no one else could possibly fulfill the law. While the Jews performed admirably in this respect, any group could have done the job. Only one man, the only begotten Son of God, born of sinless blood, could perfectly fulfill the law. Now about that “joint heirs” bit.
Once again, we need to look at Israel. They were chosen and they were also promised to be heirs of God. That mystery comes into play because what God did not reveal to them is the rest of the nations, the gentiles would get equal footing in the Kingdom of God by accepting Christ Jesus as Savior. Now, if the Jews had been paying attention, they might have caught on. Jesus told them as much.
Matthew 20:1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.
4 To them he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’
7 “They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ “He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.’
8 When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’
9 “When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius.
10 When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius.
11 When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household,
12 saying, ‘These last have spent one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat!’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius?
14 Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you.
15 Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’
16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
The key factor to note above is everyone got the same pay. In essence, they were “joint heirs”. Just as those who labored the entire day for the same pay as those “eleventh hour” workers got disgruntled, many Jews who accepted Christ after he died as was raised from the dead were put off.
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.”
Acts 21:20 They, when they heard it, glorified God. They said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.
This conflict is arguably the first recorded major division in the new church. With centuries of tradition behind them, many of the new believing Jews decided if Gentiles were to be included, they would have to be circumcised. This didn’t just refer to the act of circumcision itself but adherence to all of Judean law. They simply could not wrap their heads around how Jesus paid for our sins!
Paul understood it and he taught it.
Ephesians 3:3 that by revelation the mystery has been made known to me, (according as I have written before briefly,
4 by which, in reading it, ye can understand my intelligence in the mystery of the Christ,)
5 which in other generations has not been made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the power of the Spirit,
6 that they who are of the nations should be joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus by the glad tidings;
7 of which I am become minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, according to the working of his power.
One should note here that the word “partakers” here means to “take fully”. In other words, everyone in the body of Christ is equal. There is not longer any difference between Jew and Gentile.
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision,” (in the flesh, made by hands);
12 hat you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition,
15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace;
16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near.
Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby.
There you have it. No matter where we started from, as a Jew or as a Gentile, we now belong to the body of Christ. What does this mean?
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,
Read that again. We both have access by one spirit to the Father!
Access. It’s a big thing. Really. Here it is again:
Ephesians 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him.
Who is “whom”? Christ Jesus of course. Here it is declared we not only have access but boldness as well. God’s plan all along was to restore man to the original sinless state. In fact, since we were chosen “in him before the world’s foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love”, God had designs on us even before Adam sinned! Furthermore, His intention was never for us to grovel before Him, pleading only after a blood sacrifice. He didn’t “lay down the law” in order to keep us in line and fearful.
Galatians 3:19 What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom the promise has been made. It was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a bondservant [i.e. under the law], but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
There it is again! We are sons and therefore heirs. The law has served it’s purpose and now, since Christ, is no longer needed.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And again there is that concept of “one”. What’s that all about?
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,
2 with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love;
3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.
Let this sink in… we were both chosen and called. Remember Matthew 20:16
Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen
Ephesians tells us we were chosen in 1:4 and called in 4:1. How do I know this? Look at whom this letter is addressed to:
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Summing it all up, we were chosen and called to be joint heirs in one body with Christ as the head. This was no accident but was God’s plan for us all along and this is just the beginning. We are also members. What does that mean? How does this relate to our Christian walk?
I’ll discuss this in my next post.