Saturday, 3 September 2016
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; Ephesians 4:4
This verse enters with an abruptness not realized in most English translations. The words “There is” are inserted by the translators. If left off, it would read –
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 … one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;”
Here Paul is demonstrating why we are to “walk worthy of the calling with which” we were called, something which included all of the points which he then followed up with. It is because the church is one united body. From an earthly standpoint, nothing could seem further from the truth. There are fingers pointed in every direction at every minor disagreement in even the finest points of doctrine. Further, there are those “churches” which are not even a part of the true church. The problem with this is that many cannot discern which denominations are heretical and which are not.
Added on top of that is the fact that there are many individuals in the church who are unsaved wolves who are simply there to further destroy harmony within the church. And possibly worse than those, there are some who are truly saved and yet they have the spiritual maturity of a baby, having never developed in their theology. And yet, they strut about dividing the people over issues they have no understanding in.
It would seem that “one body” is the most laughable statement possible, but Paul is correct. All true believers were brought into the body by faith in the work of Christ, and in that alone. When they believed, they were sealed with the Spirit which brought them into this mystical body. And to ensure that we understand this, he next says, “and one Spirit.” As there is one Spirit, (meaning the Holy Spirit), and as the work of the Spirit includes the sealing of those who have truly believed, then there logically can be only “one body.” He is the One to determine who is in and who is out.
In man, there is error in thinking, there is error in judgment, and there is error in doctrine. But in the Spirit, there is no such thing. The church has been selected in a perfect manner by God who cannot err. Though we may not know who is saved and who is not, the Spirit does because we each “were called in one hope” of our calling. In this statement, hope is not the object which is being described. Rather it is the principle.
We have a hope in us because we have believed in Christ, trusted in His work, and been sealed with His Spirit. It is the surety we possess, either in great measure or in an un-grounded and weak measure, or in whatever measure we possess that hope. The presence of the Spirit, which unites the true church, is to this body just as the spirit is to our natural bodies. It is the life of the church for growth and continuance. This is why Paul says elsewhere that we should be “filled with the Spirit.”
We have the Spirit, in full measure, the moment we receive Christ. We will never get “more” of the Spirit. But the Spirit can get more of us as we yield ourselves to God.
Life application: How do we yield ourselves to the Spirit? Through prayer, praise, petition, study of the word, and fellowship with other believers. The filling of the Spirit is not an active action, it is a passive one. As we yield to God, we will be filled more and more. Let us take these actions and become vibrant, useful members of this marvelous body to which we belong.
Almighty and most gracious Heavenly Father – it is an honor and a blessing to be included in Your marvelous church, the body which You have established through the work of Christ. We are a group from every race, creed, culture, color, and economic status. Each of us has the potential to do marvelous things if we simply are willing to learn Your word and yield ourselves to You. Grant us the wisdom to use this short span of time that we have been allotted towards building up this body and being productive members of it. This we pray for Your glory. Amen.