Month: July 2018

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

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I encourage you to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

The New Testament is loaded with descriptions of rightly controlled attitudes for the children of God. Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 fuels rightly controlled attitudes, which is a challenge for the entire body of Christ. “For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”  (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlledNotice what ignites passion in a life for Christ. It’s NOT your love for Jesus. No, it’s “the love of Christ” directed toward we sinners, that’s the bullseye here. Christian’s need to remember, that of themselves, they were naturally disinterested in Jesus Christ.

Your relationship with Jesus is completely built upon the love Christ had for you while you were still distanced from Him in unbelief. It was God who initiated the relationship by showing his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In fact, in love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

There’s no deterring God

The Lord did not wait for you to show interest in Him, or until you were living a good enough life to qualify for His love. He didn’t wait to see if you would develop sufficient faith which would enable Him to join with you in a journey towards God. NO, he acted “according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) in order to move you to respond to His love for you (Eph 1:7; 2:8-9; 2Ti 2:25).

Notice how Paul explains that it is Christ’s love which controls and compels him in the Christian life. Why? Because Paul had “concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2Co 5:14). Paul was gripped by the enormity of what it meant when Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for his sin.

Thought provoking belief

Paul thought it through, which is a great place to start. Christ died not only for Paul’s sin, but for the sin of all. Every person who would ever believe in Jesus death as God’s judgement for their own sin; that’s who Jesus died for. That’s a staggering number of sinful people Jesus was punished for. There’s no fluffy thinking or marshmallow belief here.

The result, Paul argues, is those who believe in Jesus “no longer live for themselves” (2Co 5:15a). Here’s the authenticity of a person’s faith. Christ looks to see if your appreciation is real enough to move you to obedience. This negative expression of genuine faith is refusal to live for self. The cost of your salvation to Christ is intended to transform your entire reason for living. So compelling is the sacrificial love of Jesus, that a sinner becomes motivated to stop living for self.

Consequently, the believer intentionally thinks and behaves “for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Co 5:15b). This positive expression of genuine faith is intentional living for Christ. Living for Jesus is not an optional extra. Christ is your life, not self, not popularity, and not accumulation of wealth, but Christ (Col 3:4). It’s your living for Christ which testifies of the authentic gospel transformation within you. No pretending here. It’s either all for Christ or not at all. There’s no room for compromise or half-heartedness with Christ as Lord.

Today, encourage another Christian to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled.

 

Focus on the church’s head – Jesus Christ

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God the Son, Jesus Christ, “is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent(Colossians 1:18). The body of Christ does not govern itself, nor does it exist for itself. Rather, it looks to its head who is Christ; preferring always to do those things which speak to and display the supremacy of Christ as Lord.

Focus on the church’s head - Jesus ChristInstead of promoting self, Christ’s body has a determined focus on its Lord with a unique role to live in this world. The apostle Paul explains; “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Believer’s acts of loving service to one another are key to the church’s testimony of Christ’s Lordship to the world (John 13:35). This is because Christ’s body exists to proclaim the Lordship of its Head and Saviour. Self-promotion, self-fulfillment, and self-satisfaction is not in the job description for the Church.

The Highest Privilege

Christians have the privilege of agreeing with God, who “has highly exalted him (Jesus) and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). God the Father is on a mission; to be glorified through His Son Jesus Christ – and he invites you and I to join Him.

The Father’s quest is that in all of your life’s activities and achievements, you are motivated by the desire to live Christ in such a way that His supremacy is recognisable. This includes your relationships, which are the platform for “speaking the truth in love.” Consequently, as those people come to know Jesus personally, you will together “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15-16). This is how the body of Christ grows and matures.

Now, fulfilled dreams and ambitions are a wonderful part of life, but of little value if the eternal significance of Jesus Christ is absent. Mankind’s inclination to isolate from God has the horrible habit of robbing people of certainty and hope. This happens because sin convinces your heart that the grave is a meaningless end to everything. Therefore sin says; live for today and for self, because that’s all you have. The reality is that death without Christ is a personal black hole which consumes any and all perceived value experienced in life. But not so for the believer in Jesus Christ!

Liberation to Hope

Liberation from hopelessness comes through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s because the believer in Jesus has the certainty which comes from “being justified by his grace… according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). Meaning; God’s undeserved response to your faith in Jesus’ substitutional death is that He declares you innocent in His sight. Now that you have been categorised as innocent, your fear of death is replaced with confident certainty that God will fulfill every promise of salvation and eternal life.

Therefore we Christians need to be constantly “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Why? Because if you don’t, you will rob yourself of being“transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Your thinking will unconsciously be overtaken by worldly self-centred attitudes and motives that seek to dethrone Christ of His Lordship. You will be self-exalted, God will be dishonoured, and the body of Christ will be misrepresented to the world.

Today, I encourage you to focus on the church’s head – Jesus Christ!

 

Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ

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Any discussion on behaviour will engender emotions differing from person to person. Why, because your response to behaviour is always directly related to your attitude to relationships.

Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of ChristToday, I wish to focus on the single most important relationship any human is capable of having, your relationship with Jesus Christ. The unavoidable implication of knowing Jesus as Lord is that you are irreversibly adopted into God’s family, the body of Christ, the Church.

The principle of identifying a legitimate member of the body of Christ is the same as Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 7:16; “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Here, fruit are the outward behaviours which are unique to that specific life. Therefore fruit are the tell-tales of what’s in the heart; either showing a connection to the parent life or not, showing likeness which is unmistakable or not.

Fruit for relationships

The fruit Jesus is referring to are the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours which would clearly display a relationship with God to be genuine, or not. This is why the apostle Paul uses the word fruit to explain the controlling presence of God’s Spirit.  The evidence of God’s Spirit in a Christian’s life is “the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

In addition, the testimony of Christ’s body is this; “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Believers recognise where they belong. There is an instinctive drawing toward heaven and the imminent return of Christ to snatch His bride away. Likewise, there is an instinctive fellowship with fellow members of Christ here on earth. This Holy Spirit generated identification forms part of the rich symbolism of Communion; Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

These truths enable believers to recognise each other. The nine fold fruit of Holy Spirit, the realization of heavenly citizenship, unity in celebrating Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, plus anticipation of Jesus imminent return. These are what make a Christian stand out from the crowd. Now, just as a believer cannot be separated from Christ; so the body of Christ cannot be dismembered, in spite of the many attempts made by His enemies.

Amazing relationships

There are significant implications to these amazing relationships. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). The various limbs (members) of Christ’s body are intrinsically knitted together, composing the entirety of Christ’s representation here on earth. This enables an incredible display of God’s wisdom through His design of the body.

If you live Spirit filled, your desire will be to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Holy Spirit authored peace is first of all with God through Christ and secondly with your spiritual family, the body of Christ. This Spiritual peace which is to dominate your hearts will overflow into your relationships, especially with God’s people. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are therefore precious treasures for Christ’s glory and your blessing. Obviously, this should produce a great sense of thankfulness to the Lord and each other.

I encourage you to display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ; displaying the value of Christ in your brothers and sister for His glory.

 

Recognise the Body of Christ

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The Church of Jesus Christ is in fact the body of Christ. It’s not a social club, it’s not simply a religious organisation and it’s far more than a team. This body belongs to Christ and is therefore more complex and diverse that any worldly association, and should not be thought of with worldly values.

Recognise the Body of Christ

The naming of the Church as ‘the Body of Christ’ is greater than a word picture; it’s the identity of the present physical representation of Jesus Christ in this world. It’s as the apostle Paul explained; God brings both Jew and Gentile together “in one body through the cross” (Ephesians 2:16). The atoning work of Christ on the cross of Calvary is that which purchased this body of believers. With Christ’s life being the purchase price, Calvary should be the bulls-eye focus for the body of Christ.

Worldly thinking and Christ’s body

Because worldly minded people have been wrongly empowered to expect, and even demand, that the Church fulfil their desires, the Body of Christ’s unique significance has been grossly depreciated. Rather, “…he (The Father) put all things under his (Christ’s) feet and gave him (Christ) as head over all things to the church, which is his (Christ’s) body, the fullness of him (The Father) who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

It is God the Fathers design that as an expression of His infinite supremacy, Christ is to reign supreme over redeemed people who make up His body. Consequently, the Church is all about God, magnifying his supernal beauty through His Son Jesus Christ, in the energy of the Holy Spirit.

God’s intention is “that through the church the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). All angelic beings, both good and evil, should be able to watch the body of Christ to view the many facets of God’s wisdom on display. The potential for God to be glorified, exalted, and spoken well of, largely depends on the accuracy in which Christ’s body lives out uncompromising biblical beliefs and behaviour. This enormous privilege and responsibility is uniquely gifted to the body of Christ alone.

Now, “because we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30), we are to recognise that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free...(1 Corinthians 12:13). Every person, regardless of ethnicity or social standing, is submersed by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ upon personal belief in Jesus’s substitutional death for their sin. Consequently, as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:4-5).

Reality check

The inescapable truth is that believers not only belong to the Lord, they equally belong to each other.  Both corporately and individually Christians share oneness of identity and relationship in Christ, and in the body of Christ. Likewise, what should be the obvious love and commitment God’s children have for their Lord, should be equally as obvious for one another.

The apostle Paul, realising the sinful inclinations of selfish people, wrote to the Church in Rome and detailed God’s intended relational behaviour between believers. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight” (Romans 12:16).

Today, I encourage you to evaluate your understanding of the body of Christ and how the Lord lives through you for your fellow Christian and God’s glory.

 

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