Friday, March 30, 2007

The Basics of Christianity (Pt.3)

John Bunyan said, “It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 13). He’s right! That is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and it is the purpose of this study. I want to call you back to the basics.

In our last time together we looked at prayer and Bible study. Today, we’re going to set-up the second which is spiritual gifts. Before we consider spiritual gifts, there are a few things we must consider first.

We have said on past occasions that you must be filled with the Spirit. These are not my words but Paul’s words as they are found in Ephesians 5:18. When you consider those words and the effects that are associated with them you can’t help but to see the same parallel found in Colossians chapter 3:16. These two passages issue in the same results but with each command phrased differently. One says to be filled with the Spirit while the other says to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. The conclusion is simply this: Being filled with the Spirit is being controlled by the Word of God. Now how does that work with Spiritual Gifts? When you are controlled by the Word or filled with the Spirit you will then manifest the Spirit through supernatural gifts. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7 - “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” When these Spirit-given gifts are in operation they manifest the Holy Spirit who then causes the Body to be built up. When the Body is built up then Christ is glorified. Before we go further let me help you to understand two important truths about the church and the gifts that are manifested. First, let’s begin by defining what the church is.

The Church is a called out assembly. The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia. It comes from ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling,” and kaleo, “to call.” “The word” itself “does not indicate the nature of the called out group; it can be used in a technical sense of the NT church, or it can be used in a nontechnical sense of any kind of group” (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, p.347). Acts 7:38 translates it “congregation” and Acts 19:32, 39 translates it “assembly.” “In secular Greek literature it was used of town meetings, local gatherings of citizens called together by their rulers to hear official announcements or witness government ceremonies” (John MacArthur, Matthew 16-23, p.133). In the LXX “it was used of the Israelites assembled for religious purposes. For them it meant the assembled people of God” (D. Edmond Hiebert, The Thessalonian Epistles, p.38). “It its every other occurrence, it is translated ‘church,’ the church being looked upon as a called out body of people, called out of the world of unsaved humanity to become the people of God” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek NT, p.35). We are the called of Jesus Christ—called to be saints. Romans 1:7 says, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” We are also called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We are called into the fellowship of His Son. I Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In addition to what we have been called to, we have also been called out of several things: the world (Gal.1:3-4), Satan (Eph.2:1-3), and sin (Rom.6:17-18).

The Church is also the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul gives the analogy of the body. He says that it is one (v.12); it has many members (vv.12, 14-16); it has a head (v.28); and it has a function (v.28). In Ephesians Paul applies this concept to Christ and His church. He says in Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” Here Paul also says that the body is one. In 1 Corinthians 12:27 he says that it has many members: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” In Colossians 1:18 he says it has a head. “And 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 our next study we will look at the function of the church as it is seen in Romans 12:4-8.

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