Bible Reading : Ephesians 4:1-16 (NLT)
Unity in the Body
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”
Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
In this third lesson on "Building the church" we continue to consider the matter of the superstructure. Remember the "building" we are dealing with is called: "the church". In our last study we considered the building's superstructure as consisting of "living stones". Now we shall look at the superstructure in terms of "the church", God's assembly.
Let us review the meaning of the word "church". It is the translation of the Greek word "ekklesia". It is derived from the preposition "ek" (out of) and "kaleo" (to call), thus suggesting a CALLING OUT. "Living stones: in the structure of "the church" are those who have responded to "a call", and are referred to as "the called".
Rom. 8:28,30 - "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.... And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory."
Rom. 1:6 - "And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ."
Jude 1 "This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ."
a. THE "CALL" IS TO CHRIST
Matt. 4:18-22 - "One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind."
John 10:3 ~ "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."
b. THE "CALL" IS TO REPENTANCE AND FULLNESS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE
Matt. 9:13 ~ "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Acts 2:39 - "For the promise (of the gift of the Holy Spirit received through repentance, faith, and obedience) is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will CALL."
c. THE "CALL" IS TO FELLOWSHIP
1 Cor. 1:9 — "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
d. THE "CALL" IS TO POWER AND WISDOM
1 Cor. 1:24 (Amp.) — "To those who are CALLED, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ is the POWER of God and the WISDOM of God."
e. THE "CALL" IS TO HUMILITY
1 Cor. 1:26 (Amp.) - "For (simply) consider your own CALL, brethren; not many (of you were considered to be) wise, according to human estimates and standards; not many influential and powerful; not many of high and noble birth."
f. THE "CALL" IS TO THE GRACE OF GOD
Gal. 1:6 - "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel."
g. THE "CALL" IS TO FREEDOM
Gal. 5:13 ~ "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."
h. THE "CALL" IS TO HOPE
Eph. 1:18 - "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance."
Eph. 4:4 - "For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future."
i. THE "CALL" IS TO PEACE
Co1. 3:15 (JBP) - "Let the PEACE OF CHRIST ru1e in your hearts, remembering that as members of the one body you are CALLED TO LIVE IN HARMONY."
j. THE "CALL" IS TO KINGDOM AND GLORY
1 Thess. 2:12 (JBP) - "... Our on1y object was to he1p you to 1ive 1ives worthy of the God who has CALLED you to share the SPLENDOUR OF HIS OWN KINGDOM!"
2 Thess. 2:14 - "He CALLED you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Pet. 5:10 - "But may the God of all grace, who CALLED us to His ETERNAL GLORY by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
k. THE "CALL" IS TO HOLINESS
1 Thess. 4:7 - "For God did not CALL US to uncleanness, but in HOLINESS."
2 Tim. 1:9 (JBP) - "For He has rescued us from all that is really evil and CALLED US TO A LIFE OF HOLINESS."
1 Pet. 1:15 (JBP) — "BE HOLY in every department of your lives, for the one who has CALLED you is Himself holy."
l. THE "CALL" IS TO PRESERVATION
1 Thess. 5:24 (JBP) - "He who CALLS you is utterly faithful and HE WILL FINISH WHAT HE HAS SET OUT TO DO."
m. THE "CALL" IS TO ETERNAL LIFE
1 Tim. 6:12 — "lay hold on ETERNAL LIFE, to which you were also CALLED..."
n. THE "CALL" IS TO LIGHT
1 Pet; 2:9 (JBP) - "It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of Him who has CALLED you out of darkness INTO HIS AMAZING LIGHT."
o. THE "CALL" IS TO SUFFERING
1 Pet: 2:21 - "To this (suffering) you were CALLED, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,"
p. THE "CALL" IS TO GOODNESS
1 Pet. 3:9 (JBP) — "For this is your CALLING to do GOOD and one day to inherit all THE GOODNESS OF GOD."
q. THE "CALL" TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB
Rev. 19:9 - "Blessed are those who are CALLED TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB."
STUDY QUESTIONS ON LESSON #4