5-23-2020 THE BODY OF CHRIST
Walking with/in the Lord
Who we were, who we are and how we got here.
1 We dead in our trespasses and sins
As long as we live in a sinful state, we are apart from God. Dead in our sins. We are dead to eternal life in Jesus Christ. We don’t have it. We face the second death – the lake of fire and brimstone. Make no mistake, all of us have an eternal existence (after this life) but without Jesus that existence is of pain, torment and suffering (Matt. 25:41-46, Rev. 21:8).
I won’t dispute those accounts which people claim to have gone to hell, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they experienced – other than what they say. But I do consider the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:31). The passage in Luke presents a rich man who has died and is in hell. He sees Lazarus and Abraham afar off, across a great gulf. He is in torment, he is thirsty, he is engulfed by fire and the conversation he has with Abraham implies that he is alone and having (perhaps) no concept of time. Years ago, Father gave me a song-poem (even before I came to know Jesus) about how the devil laughed at the souls he stole and believed all the lies he told whereby the people turned away from God where there’s no more mercy, no more love. I saw the torment. I saw the flames. Feeling the song was evil, I eventually threw the song away, but the refrain never left me – the devil “was laughin'”.
I also note that the apostle Paul didn’t know, when he was caught up into the third heaven, whether he was in his body or out, He just knew he went there (2 Corinth. 12:2-4). Peter went into a trance on the rooftop in the situation concerning Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:9-23). The Greek word ekstasis (1611) is used for trance in this passage. The word carries the meaning of bewilderment, amazement or astonishment as well as trance. It also reminds me of another word ‘ecstasy’ – a state of bliss where nothing else matters. Peter had a vision, yes? But, until he came out of it, he was totally focused on the vison. John was ‘in the Spirit’ when he received what we know, as the book Revelation (Rev. 1:9-10). Was John just having a vision? Was he just in a trance? Was He truly experiencing the things the angel showed him? Is there a difference? I’ll share with what I call ‘the zone’. It’s a place where I become so focused on God everything around me becomes oblivious. I’m aware of it, but I’m focused on what Father is showing me. I’m not aware of going out of my body or actually ‘experiencing’ what Father is showing me, yet I am focused and He uses these times to teach me. Are these examples different ways of expressing similar, spiritual, experience, a close encounter with God? You decide.
2 For in past times we walked according to the ways of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that spirit which works in the children of disobedience.
Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven down to the earth, so now we wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places (Rev. 12:9-10, Eph. 6:10-12).
Consider the fact that we can’t follow two influences simultaneously or walk in two different directions at the same time. We follow one path or turn and follow the other. We cannot split into two people and follow both paths at the same time. In short, we follow Jesus or we follow His opposite (Satan). We live according to God’s principles or we follow Satan’s influences (the ‘dark side’). Whether we like it or not. Whether we admit it or not. We can’t claim to live for Jesus, then live like the devil. Okay, we can ‘say’ anything we like, but our actions will show our heart, whom we truly love.
3 Whom we acted just like, in the past, following lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind and by nature, we were children of wrath, just like them.
We acted just like the world before we came to know Jesus. We were no different than those ‘sinners in the world’. We ‘danced’ to the same drummer as they. We spoke as they spoke. We did as they did. Jesus was not yet in our heart. Bear in mind, even though we thought we were doing ‘our own thing’, our self-will, we were not seeking after the Lord, therefore we were automatically in agreement with our enemy.
4 But, God, through His rich mercy through His great love with which He loved us
5 Even though (at that time) we were dead in our sins, has given us life, together with Christ (by grace we are saved).
Yet, even though we weren’t so ‘cool’, God shed His mercy upon us giving us salvation through the shed blood of Jesus. Our confession, profession, of faith in who Jesus is and what He did for us has brought us into God’s love. The simple fact is that those, who have not received Jesus, find themselves placed among the dead – without hope of eternal life (John 3:16-21). Who Jesus is and what He did brings us into Father’s eternal light and life (Rom. 10:9-10) and fellowship.
6 And raised us up and made us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [not ‘with’, but ‘in’]
Note, we are raised into heavenly places “in” Jesus. Not just “with” Him, but we abide “in” Him as He abides in the Father (John 17:15-23). God’s love comes full circle. From Father, through the Son, through the Holy Ghost, to us and we give it back to the Father by living for Him. We are IN Christ Jesus.
7 That in ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.
8 For we are saved by grace through faith, not by anything we can do, it is the gift of God
9 Not by works, lest any many man should boast
There’s nothing we can ‘do’ to ‘earn’ our way into eternal life with Father. What brings us into His eternal presence is our coming into agreement with Him. We agree that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. We agree that is God come into this world in the flesh (as one of us). We agree that Jesus taught truths about the kingdom of God. We agree that Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross at Calvary, cleansing us of our sinful nature and sins which we have committed. We agree that He rose from the grave on the third day, victorious over sin and death, providing us with that promise (not just the hope) of eternal life in Him. We agree that He is coming back for us so we can be with Him forever. In order to agree, we have to believe – and that is faith. We won’t be able to say “I did it all by myself’. Not because of the works we have done, how good we lived our lives nor because we was born into the right family. God, Himself, through the Holy Ghost has called us to believe and has given us the strength to agree and accept - Jesus. Amen? AND Father desires to bless us (in our obedience to Him).
10 For we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which from the beginning, God has ordained us to walk
Whoa! Say what? God has made us to be living testimonies of His goodness and grace? That is to live in His love? We are made in the image of God and God’s image is love! We live in Him, through Him and for Him. We can do this because Father has put His Holy Spirit in us. As Christians, the love of God abides in our hearts so we, in turn, can return that love by abiding in His love and by showing it to those whom we encounter!
11 Because of this, remember, in the past, we were like the Gentiles (apart from God), called uncircumcised by those whose flesh was circumcised by men’s hand (Jews)
12 For at that time we were without Christ, being aliens to Israel and strangers to the covenants of 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 by the blood of Christ
Being without God (in our lives) we lived just like the world, not just being subject to the things of this world, but agreeing with it and doing it. We didn’t follow God’s love for we didn’t know God’s love. We weren’t bound by the law, for we didn’t know the Law. We weren’t under grace, for we had yet to be introduced to it. The outward circumcision was supposed to be a sign of our inward faith. Not being Jewish, we weren’t bound by the Law to show our obedience to the Law (circumcised). In this condition, we had no hope for eternal life. But because of the love and blood of Jesus, we are drawn into God’s eternal kingdom. In Christ Jesus, it makes no difference if our flesh is circumcised or not because our hearts have now become circumcised. That is our heart now shows our obedience to/in the love of the Father. And we express that love, outwardly, to those around us thus keeping the original intent of the Law - LOVE.
14 For He is our peace, who both has made us one and broken down the middle wall of partition (temple veil)
The Holy Place was a separate structure within the temple. The Holy of Holies, where God would come to visit with the High Priest, who represented the children of Israel, was separated from the rest of the Holy Place by a veil so the priests could not enter at will. But, at a specified time, only the high priest could enter into the presence of God. The moment Jesus died on the cross that veil was torn, top to bottom, separating into two pieces. Opening up in the middle. This opened the Holy of Holies to all believers, not just the high priest. This comes with our faith in and acceptance of Jesus. We have direct access to God, the Father, through Jesus Christ, the Son and the Holy Ghost (abiding in us) gives us the strength to enter in.
15 In His flesh, He has abolished the warfare, the law of commandments through its ordinances and the new man, making the two one, bringing peace.
16 That He might reconcile both unto God in one body, by the cross thereby slaying that warfare
The Law says we ‘have to do’. Love says we ‘have to be’. These are in opposition with each other and fight, yet Jesus has brought these two together in one reality – the law explains love and love is true expression of the law. We are no longer bound by the Law (of works), but, now, we keep the law because we love. We find that when we love, we automatically keep the Law of Works because works is a brief explanation of love. Read the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17). Jesus fulfilled the Law and so do we by living in God’s Law of Love through our acceptance of Jesus. So, the Law lives in us because we abide in the love of God. The ‘Law” was ‘works’, but our heart (which guides our intents) and is in us and shows our love for God and influences what we do outwardly. How we act. How we speak. How we live.
17 He came to preach peace to those who were far off and even those who were near
Did you hear this verse? Those who far off don’t know God. Those who are near are (supposedly) the children of God and may not know Him either. What did Jesus tell the scribes and Pharisees? Hypocrites, you honor Me with Your lips but your hearts are far from me (Matt. 15:1-9). This doesn’t just apply to the Old Testament church, but those who think they have something (which they don’t) in today’s church, the New Testament church! Didn’t we do all these wonderful things in Your name? Jesus said to them “I never knew you, depart from me” (Matt. 7:21-23). Jesus doesn’t just draw the ‘lost’ to Himself, those who will listen, He brings His church, His body, back into obedience when (or because) we have strayed! He wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
18 For through Him, we both have access to the Father through one Spirit
19 Therefore, we are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and the household of God
As we live for Jesus, we have access to Father through Jesus via the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost should be alive and well within our hearts. Therefore, we discover we are come into the kingdom of God, brothers and sisters, joint heirs, with and through Jesus and all those who have, do or will receive Him into their hearts. We have become ‘fellow citizens’ in the kingdom of God with Jesus and all true believers! This isn’t just citizens in heaven. As we follow and are obedient to the Lord. As long as we believe what God has said and don’t doubt. Jesus tells us Father will give us what we ask (James 1:1-9). That means in this life as well. Again, don’t doubt, believe and ask God. You will be amazed at what He does. Jesus tells His disciples that we don’t give up anything in this life that we won’t receive many time over in this life and the next (Luke 18:29-30).
20 We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Jesus Christ, Himself, being the chief cornerstone
The cornerstone is what holds the building together. Jesus is our cornerstone. Remove the cornerstone and the building will collapse. The apostles and prophets extend from that cornerstone as the rest of that foundation, continuing the teaching of Jesus, upon His values and upon which our lives should be built. Jesus, the apostles and the early church have given us the example. And that example is expressed to us through the Holy Bible. And the bible is Father’s love story to us.
21 In whom, all the building, fitly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord
We are the body of Christ. We are His living temple. No longer a building of brick and mortar, but a building of living blocks of flesh and blood, each with a designated purpose. All functioning together, reflecting God’s holiness through our love for (not only) one another but for all. We are the living temple of the Lord.
22 In whom, we are also built together to be an habitation of God through the Spirit.
We are built in and through Jesus to be an habitation for the Holy Spirit, Who comes to dwell within us, bringing God’s presence into each of our lives. Because Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, God lives in us through our salvation experience as we yield ourselves to Him. WE become one with the Father through Jesus, via the Holy Ghost by giving our heart back to God! We are His living temple. Our heart becomes the Holy of Holies in which He comes to visit with us. Our body may still be a veil, but through the Holy Spirit, Father comes through our veil to speak with our heart.
Rev. 21:14 But the walls of the city (New Jerusalem) had twelve foundations and in them were the names of the twelve apostles of the lamb.
In the natural, the twelve apostles show us the way because they have reflected the love of Jesus to us through their teachings to the early church and now through the bible. If/as we listen, the Holy Spirit is continually teaching us God’s love so we can be effective exponents of that love. We all have our own unique way of expressing that love, but because we all seek God’s love, being one body, we promote that love – in unity (a single voice).
Once we were lost in our sin, without God. Through Jesus Christ, Father has brought us into His family showing us how to live. We are, now, the body of Christ, using our God-given talents, together in unity, to promote God’s love to the world.