FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

THE WORK OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – PART 1

Introduction –

 

In today’s religious Christian practices that have their origin in the minds of men; as if the Lord shed His blood to allow us to declare what we would demand that He accept – see: 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, all things are universally accepted as long as it falls into the guise of a “good work” in the minds of those who come up with them.

Is this the preeminence in all things acceptable, that only the Lord possess?

Colossians 1:18And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

In this portion of this series of lessons, we are going to explore the Lord’s approved practices for His Body, and learn how to accomplish what He planned and prepared for us in collective work according to God’s eternal purpose in Him.

Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 3:10-11to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

First, we are going to establish a primary text that we will refer to often, and the true student should absolutely be familiar with:

Ephesians 4:1-16I, 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 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Psalms 68:18)

9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Commentary: For a quick understanding of the apologetics of this letter of Paul and its universal significance to this series of lessons; we understand that Paul wrote this for the purpose of what we are studying right now.

The Ephesian letter in a universal template, or blue print, of what the Lord said before His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension; when He told His disciples, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).

The first three chapters are dedicated to explaining the refinement of materials to be constructed in the heavenly temple of God. The process whereby sinners are cleansed from being dead in their trespasses and sins, and made alive; then constructed into a habitation of God in the Spirit – 2:1, 19-22.

The final three chapters are dedicated to the constructed purposes of this edifice built out of the hearts of men; in other words, what the Lord intended for His Body to do in unity (4:3, 12).

The fourth chapter that we are focusing on, creates a vernacular that cannot be ignored as foundations for everything that we are to accomplish together.

Note: Everything in the last three chapters can be applied to the individual Christian life; however, Paul’s intent is to demonstrate the character necessary to accomplish the Lord’s intended purposes together and must be viewed for effective completion, in this light.

 

There is nothing that the Body of Christ can engage in, first and foremost, that can cause any degradation to the vernacular of unity; “One Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God”. Nothing can be considered a good work that tears any portion of the unity of the Spirit apart or attempts to erase it.

 

Second; yes, there were spiritual gifts at this time (see: 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). This is true in the same sense that Paul speaks of them in 1 Corinthians 12-14; and the gifts that Christ Jesus intended to provide in permanence and perfection are the gifts we are to use and seek today (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). Even in this universal blueprint from Paul, we see the beginning of the replacement of these temporary gifts with a permanent foundation.

Ephesians 3:4by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ”

 

These gifts and even some of the key early positions (Apostles and prophets), would be temporary till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God” (4:13). That great big word, “Till”, is an article of significant importance. It is used in the sense of something remaining until something is fulfilled; here and in Matthew 1:25 (as Joseph did not know Mary carnally “Till” after the birth of Jesus). These gifts would be that which would educate, exhort, and comfort the Body of Christ “Till” they came to a more complete stature of the fullness of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:10; 14:3). This would be the finality of the written word, the finite work of the Apostolic fathers, to usher in during their charged work – John 16:13.  

 

Third; in verse 12, we notice that the order of verse 11 existed to allow the Body of Christ to accomplish the three sweeping categories listed in the verse.

 

“Perfecting the saints”, which is from the Greek, “Katartismos”; and refers to preparing fully the saints for proper Christian living and activities approved by their King.

  

“Work of Ministry”, which is the work of serving saints (from the Greek, “Diakonia”, to serve or minister). This refers to all benevolence and service of needy saints; spiritually and physically.

 

“Edifying of the Body of Christ”; this is the work of building a house (from the verb in the Greek, “Oikodomeo”). It is the same word the Lord used when He made the statement, “I will build My church” Matthew 16:18. This term is inclusive of all elements of spiritual growth; from founding the saints in order for them to grow, to the work of converting the lost into the frame work of the Body of Christ.    

 

Everything, apart from collective worship, that the Body of Christ is to engage in is identified in this verse. Anything outside of these listed items of labor are something born outside the authority of Jesus the Christ. We will spend more time on these in the next several lessons.  

 

Fourth; in vs. 16, we see the last and probably the most important element included in the accomplishment of the work of the Body of Christ; the fact that the Lord wanted each Body of Christ to accomplish all the items of vs. 12, in house!

In all the elements of worship, every saint can participate. Likewise, it was the Lord’s intent that the individual members of the Body of Christ accomplish all that the Body is given by its King to do.

“Every part does its share”, emphatically demands that the entire Body of Christ engage in actively learning their individual role and accomplish all the work of the Body of Christ.

 

So, predicated on the understanding principles divulged by the Apostle Paul, with the intent that they were given to found the Body of Christ in just these principles of purpose, we will look into the work of the Body by these rules of order:

1.       Nothing the Body of Christ engages in can rend asunder the unity of the Spirit (one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God).

2.      There can only be the order that Jesus the Christ established within the Body of Christ (this demands that there cannot be a human organization or institution established apart from this) – Vs. 11.

3.      The work of the Body of Christ is ordained only by its King, and must not fall prey to the whims of what men think are good works – Vs. 12.

4.      Finally, the work that the bodies Head has given for it to accomplish, can only be accomplished by the Body. No saint can dismiss their responsibilities, as given by their King, on any other organization or institution by proxy. Each and every member of the Body of Christ must complete, themselves, the growth and edification of each Body in love!

 

This will be the foundation of the study to follow!

Next: “Each Local Body Must Do Its Work!”