Positive Words with Peter Wade "IN CHRIST" QUOTE FOR TODAY
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come --
II Corinthians 5:17.

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Peter Wade.

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by Ruth Paxson

Ephesians I-III has given us a revelation of our wealth in Christ. Wealth is never to be hoarded, but rather kept in circulation, that it may minister to the needs of all. The wealth of the Christian should be manifest in his walk. This revelation of divine truth becomes fruitful only as it is transmuted into life. Revelation must eventuate into realization; illumination into application.
   One of the brightest converts of a Gospel Mission had become a backslider. In an interview with him, he thought he would gladden my heart by telling me that he believed everything in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The only reply that seemed applicable was, "If you believe it, then why do you not live it?" When a friend was speaking to the prisoners in Sing Sing prison, one prisoner said to her very boastfully, "I would have you know that I did not come in here as these other fellows did. I came in here a Christian." My friend quietly replied, "I am very sorry that being a Christian did not keep you out of here." The more we know the truth and believe it, the greater is our responsibility to live it. Head knowledge must become heart experience. Consistency in his daily walk should be the vital concern of the Christian.
   Ephesians I-III tells us how God sees us in Christ in the heavenlies; IV-VI, how men should see Christ in us on earth. They unfold with crystal clearness the sevenfold walk of the Christian which is the divine standard for every Christian's life. 
   4:1. "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."

Paul's Approach

"Therefore" does not indicate the commencement of something altogether new, but rather the consequence of what has preceded. Here it does not present a change of thought, but a call to prove the reality of our wealth through the rightness of our walk. "To turn from the doctrinal to the practical is not a break or a breach. There is no divorcement between Christian doctrine and Christian doing." The condition of the Christian must harmonize with his position. Being in Christ he should grow up into Christ.

Paul's Appeal

"I beseech you" -- Oh! the intensity of desire and the deep sense of responsibility which the aged apostle writes into that word "beseech!" He has already given them a marvellous revelation of their heavenly calling. Now with equal clarity he would show their responsibility for a corresponding conduct. It would well repay you to make a study of such words and phrases as "therefore," "wherefore," "for," "that," "as," "so," "let," "be ye," "be not ye," "see then," in Ephesians to see how Paul's appeals are always made on the ground of one's condition corresponding with one's position. "Ye are" -- "therefore be ye" -- is invariably the basis of Paul's appeal.
   "That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." Before making this appeal Paul has shown them what is their high calling. How could they be expected to walk worthily without knowing what their calling was? Yet this is the mistake which many Christians make. They know that they are not living as they ought, and they try to mend their ways and improve their manner of living without having knowledge of the divine standard and its requirements. They try to "be" (4:32; 5:1), before they "know what" (1:18). There is tremendous danger in some present-day movements that ignore or even discard doctrine and place emphasis primarily, or even solely, upon experience. Such experiences are as untrustworthy and unacceptable to the Lord as the premises upon which they are built.
   "Therefore -- walk." To walk indicates motion. There are many words that indicate motion, such as leap, run, float, drift, creep, but you cannot substitute one of them for the word "walk." To walk implies purpose, starting for a goal; progress, steadily advancing step by step; perseverance, keeping on until the goal is reached. Walking stands for steady, sustained motion, and involves the action of the mind in the decision to start; of the heart in the desire to continue, and of the will in the determination to arrive.
   Then what does to "walk" mean in relation to the Christian's life? The whole course of his daily living; his habitual conduct before men; his life lived out in the open.
"Therefore -- walk worthy." The characteristics of a worthy walk are given in 4:1-6:9, which we shall study in detail. But here let us consider briefly the Godward and the manward aspects of such a walk. God has already determined both its starting point and its goal, and the road over which the walk is to be made. His starting point is 1:4, His goal is 5:27, and His path of travel is 5:18. God has determined that we shall "walk even as he walked" (I John 2:6). God's goal for every Christian is complete conformity to the image of His Son, and He would have every step in our walk bring us that much nearer to the goal.
   Such a walk requires on the manward side fullest co-operation with God. It demands a set purpose, a steady progress, and a strong perseverance. The Christian must resolutely purpose to "put off the old man," and to "put on the new man"; he must not be content without a step-by-step growth "up into him in all things"; and be must keep steadily on his course without faltering or fainting in spite of all opposition by not "giving place to the devil," or "grieving the Spirit," but rather by being filled with the Spirit and empowered by Him.
   But how exceedingly difficult is such a walk! The old habits of life are so binding; the worldly currents about us are so strong; the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil are so subtle; the fear of being considered peculiar is so gripping; the opportunity of fellowship with spiritually-minded Christians is so limited. To maintain a steady, sustained consistency in daily conduct is not an easy task. It is far easier to float downstream with the tide of nominal Christianity; to drift in the listlessness and lukewarmness of a worldly church; to creep along as a spiritual babe, fed on the milk of elementary doctrines of salvation; easier even to mount up with eagle's wing and soar to spiritual heights of sudden inspiration on some spiritual Mount of Transfiguration only to relapse into a backslidden condition when facing the stern realities of Christian living in an unsympathetic atmosphere; very much easier, even, to run, rising to some particular task such as teaching a Bible class, or leading a meeting, or preaching a sermon, than to practise consistently in the home, office, or social circle the truth preached. A daily, consistent Christlike walk; no stagnancy, slump or sloth -- how hard!
   So the aged apostle devotes the very heart of this epistle to telling us what a worthy walk is. Eight times he uses the word "walk." What shall we do with this divine standard set for the Christian's walk? We may reject it as impossible and impracticable, or we may receive it as possible and livable and rejoice in it, as daily our faithful Father enables us "to walk even as he walked" by the power of the divine Spirit. Let us now consider the sevenfold walk of the Christian.

1. A Walk In Unity

   If someone asked what is the first essential of the Christian's walk, it would seem most fitting to say it was holiness. Did God not choose us in Christ that we should be holy? Then is not holiness the fundamental essential in the Body of Christ? The divine order in Ephesians is otherwise, and God's order can never be reversed.
   4:2-16 shows that the first characteristic of a worthy walk is unity. What is the primary necessity for wholeness and health in a human body? It is the harmonious functioning of all the organs of the body; the perfect co-ordination in action of every part with every other part. A displacement of even an insignificant organ or the maladjustment of any parts of the body can cause disease and disability. A missionary in China began to have convulsions. She had the best of medical attention. She was told she had an incurable disease and advised to go home. On the way back to her station she consulted an osteopath. Two little bones were found to be out of adjustment, which caused pressure on the nerves. Quickly they were brought into unity through adjustment, and the incurable disease was cured.
   So in the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, spiritual health is dependent upon the harmonious functioning of all the members and upon their perfect co-ordination in action. But what awful maladjustments we see in Christ's Body to-day! What sinful failure in co-ordination between its members! What shameful divisions over secondary matters which dishonour the Lord in the sight of the world! How desperately we need to come back to the divine standard set in Ephesians, and how humbly we need to acknowledge our failure and sin in not living according to it!

The Divine Standard

   The unity to which God is calling His Church is distinctly defined and definitely declared. It is not a union of denominations or a federation of the churches of Christendom. Neither is it the unity of the Body. God nowhere asks us to make or to maintain the unity of the Body, for that is God's task. Through baptism with the Spirit the believer is united to Christ, the Head, and to every other member of the Body in an indissoluble bond, which unity is maintained by the indwelling Spirit. So with the making and keeping of the unity of the Body we have nothing to do.
   But with the outworking of God's eternal purpose for the completion of the Body; for its edification and sanctification; and for its manifestation of Christ in glory and power to the world, we have much to do, which requires the harmonious, effectual working of every member. Hence God's call to keep the unity which He now defines.

The Unity of the Spirit

4:3. "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
   "Endeavouring to keep." God is not asking us to make unity, but to keep a unity that already exists. Just what unity we are to keep we are also told:
    "The unity of the Spirit" -- created and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Body of Christ, is a spiritual organism in which there is oneness of mind, heart and will; a spiritual fellowship of those who share the same life, purpose and power.
   This Spirit-made unity every Christian should set himself to keep with purposeful, determined, watchful endeavour. He should do his utmost to keep a zealous, jealous custody over this Spirit-fashioned oneness with which the Church began on the day of Pentecost. Such unity is not an intangible, uncertain thing but, on the contrary, is dependent upon definitely-stated principles. The basis is in truth, and the bond is in love. Unity is rooted in God's truth, and it fructifies through God's love.

The Basis of Unity

   Having charged us with the sacred responsibility of keeping the unity of the Spirit, the Lord now tells how to do it.

The Sevenfold Unity to be Kept
4:4-6. "There is one body, and one Spirit, ... one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
   The Lord Jesus prayed for visible oneness in the Church before the world. Ephesians 4:4-6 interprets for us the meaning of His prayer. Our Lord never asked for a man-made union of organized churches into a grand federation, but He prayed for a Spirit-made, Christ centred, God-controlled unity in the living organism, the Body of Christ.
One Spirit -- One Lord -- One God
   It was to be oneness of fellowship through oneness of faith; an inward unity expressing itself in outward harmony.

One Body
   Note that it does not say "one Church." Were that so then each of the three great divisions into which Christendom is divided would claim that distinction. It is even conceivable that some denomination or sect, of which there are hundreds, would make this unique claim. Neither does it say there is one federation of all organized churches forming, as it were, a "Christianized world trust."
   "There is one body," which Ephesians teaches is eternal in calling, heavenly in conception, divine in creation, and supernatural in constitution. The living members of this Body have been called out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation. They differ in nationality, color, language, education, training, ability, temperament, and outlook. Through the human blood running in their veins they have inherited dislikes, prejudices and animosities that separate them as far as the east is from the west. But through the blood of the Saviour and the baptism of the Spirit they are united to Christ as living members of His Body.
   5:30. "For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones."
   Being organically united with Christ, the Head, each member is then made one with every other member of the Body. The oneness is so complete that we are literally a part of the life of each other. United to the Head there is one mind, one heart, one spirit.

One Spirit
   On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended to form the Body of Christ. The hundred and twenty individual persons in the upper room were fitly joined together into one Body through the Spirit's baptism. This same Spirit took up His abode in the Church and in each Christian, and by His indwelling and inworking He maintains a visible, vital unity in the Body of Christ. "Every impulse of the Spirit is toward unity. He cannot suicidally lead against Himself."

One Hope
   The hope of the saint is to be with and to be like his Lord. While he praises God for the progressive sanctification which goes on day by day on earth, every truly earnest Christian longs for that day when the partial will give way to the perfect and redemption will be consummated in glorification. The one hope that in these days unifies the Lord's own as perhaps no other is the blessed hope of His soon return to take them unto Himself.

One Lord
   Note that "one Lord" is the centre of this sevenfold unity. It must be so. Everything centres in and around the Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal purpose of the Father and the mighty power of the Spirit are directed toward making the Lord a living reality within the Church and the Christian.
   Note also that the central figure of Ephesians is not "the Jesus of history," but the Lord Jesus Christ. In the opening verses of the epistle we are shown how we are redeemed through His blood, but having crossed the threshold of salvation we are quickly led right into the throne room where the whole stage of the epistle is set. We are brought into the presence of the risen, ascended, exalted Lord upon whom throughout Ephesians our eyes are fixed and held.
   It is "one Lord" and a solitary One who is in a class and on a plane all by Himself, as far above all other men and even angels as the heavens are above the earth. He is "Lord of lords, the Lord God Almighty." Note also that this "One Lord" is Head of the Church, which automatically excludes any other temporal head of the visible Body of Christ. To no man has the Lord ever delegated the headship over the Church. His headship, on the contrary, is mediated directly by the Holy Spirit whom the ascended Lord appointed.

One Faith
   The apostle Paul writes both of "the faith" and of "faith" (Galatians 1:23; 3:26). "The faith" is the divine standard of truth as revealed in the New Testament which embodies the Christian doctrine once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3) as essential to salvation, and which is the very foundation of unity in the Body of Christ. The faith is, no doubt, what Paul means here. "Faith" is the way of access unto God through an act of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the heart of "the faith." The faith gives us a Person in whom to believe. Faith accepts the gift and receives the Person.

One Baptism
   Accepting the whole standard of divine truth in "the faith" which centres in the "one Lord," one is united to Christ and to all other Christians through the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, which Scripture designates as the baptism with the Spirit. Of all the manifold ministries of the divine Spirit for the believer, this baptism, which joins him to the Lord and opens the fountain of His fullness to him, is the most fundamental and essential. Surely then the "one baptism" is that with the Holy Spirit. It is an inward process wrought by God alone. But this inward union should be manifested by an outward symbol, for this community life in the Body of Christ should be acknowledged publicly. Hence the baptism by the Spirit is followed by water baptism.

One God and Father
   "One body -- one God." The apostle begins with the visible circumference, the Body, scattered throughout the world, and ends with the invisible centre, God, the generating source of everything.
   "One God" -- who is absolute Sovereign, working after the good pleasure and counsel of His own will (1:5,11) to carry out His eternal purpose in Christ for the Church.
   "One Father" -- of us whom He has "chosen" and "predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ" to be His habitation on earth.

One God
and Father
{ "above all" --
{ "through all" --
{ "in you all" --
Sovereign Purpose.
Pervasive Power.
Indwelling Presence.

   Such, then, is the sevenfold basis for unity in the Spirit which is God's standard for the Church.

The Professing Church -- An Organization
   But as we look at Christendom to-day, what measure of unity do we find? How far has the divine standard been followed? We see the professing Church divided into three major parts, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox. In Protestantism we find two clearly-defined sections, called Liberals and Conservatives, between whom there is a cleavage that is inevitable, caused by a totally different interpretation of each of these divinely appointed unities. Both sections are becoming more audible and aggressive in their opposition to each other, so that the gulf between them is not only fixed but is growing wider every day.
   For such a division in the present-day Church there is a Scriptural parallel in the relationship of Jesus Christ to the outstanding religionists of His day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. From both of these groups He had to depart because they had first departed from Him and from the clearly revealed truth of the Old Testament Scripture concerning Him.
   The germ of such division was also in the early Church. The apostle Paul saw it and openly rebuked it. He also went straight to the cause and showed it to be twofold: a departure from the headship of Christ to accept the leadership of men and a departure from the truth of the Word to accept the traditions of men. In his farewell message to the elders of the church at Ephesus he warned against this very thing:
Acts 20:29-30. "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
   Colossians 2:8. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

The True Church -- An Organism
   The Holy Spirit was appointed to dwell within the Church as the sole and sovereign executor of the Father's eternal purpose in Christ for and through the Church. The early Church recognized and submitted to His sovereign control. So in the book of the Acts we read "The Holy Ghost said," and "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us." What He said was accepted and accomplished. The affairs of the Church were managed in counsel and co-operation with Him. Hence the unity in the faith and fellowship, in the prayers and program of that first century Church.
   Acts 2:42. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 4:32. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul."
   Signifying their union with Christ, the Head of the Body, they were designated by the name "believers"; and indicating their union with each other as fellow-members of the Body, they were called "brethren" -- not capital B. And when some carnal Christians of the Corinthian church attempted to start rival sects and become Paulites, Apollosites, Cephasites, or even to misuse the blessed name of Christ for such selfish ends, they were severely rebuked by Paul.
   I Cor. 1:11-13. "It hath been declared unto me that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that everyone of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?"
   The results of such unity in the Spirit were very marvellous. "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and of women." "Then the churches were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."
   As we look at the true Church, the Body of Christ, in this twentieth century, what do we see? The Church is split up into many churches, each called by its own name, separating it from all the others. Between these churches there is often even jealousy and rivalry. Such appalling division in the professing church is a sad enough spectacle to present to a godless world. But to behold such division in the true Church is nothing short of shameful. May we not go further, and ask if it is not the greatest sin of the members of the Body against the Head?
   The tendency within the Church to-day is to divide over doctrines and to form little spiritual aristocracies composed of "the elect," who claim not only special revelation of truth, but often a special realization of that truth in experience beyond others. From such exclusive groups there are constant departures to form other select circles. I heard of one such group that had become so advanced that admission to its gatherings was only by ticket.
   This shameful division is often caused by over-emphasis upon some phase of truth which is lifted quite out of its setting in Scripture and is made the central doctrine upon which a new sect is formed. The "One Lord" is displaced as the centre of the Spirit made unity, and this particular doctrine takes His place.
   Division is also caused by dogmatic insistence upon the interpretation of the truth regarding some divinely-appointed rite or ordinance of the Church. One missionary was refused the privilege of taking the Lord's Supper with the saints of one denomination in the United States because she had not been immersed. While in a European country a deeply spiritual pastor who, because he had been re-baptized by immersion from real conviction, was denied the privilege of fellowship in prayer with members of the denomination to which he belonged. Can one conceive of cubicles in heaven set apart for those belonging to each of these groups, so that they will be spared the pain of fellowship and worship together around the "One Lord"?
   Disunity is caused also by one-sidedness of viewpoint due to some particular experience or the manner of entering into it and the insistence upon putting every other Christian into the same mould.
Once in China an invitation was withheld to have meetings in a certain mission with whose missionaries there was perfect agreement as to the truths of the sevenfold unities of 4:4-6. We differed only on one point -- the method of entering into the life of sanctification provided for us in Christ.
   Division is due also to the attitude which makes one hopelessly intolerant of another who differs with him on any point of either major or minor importance; even on points of doctrine about which equally spiritual and scholarly teachers do not see alike, as for instance the meaning of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, or some phases of Advent truth.
   Those who are guilty of thus breaking the unity of the Spirit invariably justify themselves by claiming to be "contenders for the faith," when they may be contending only for their own private interpretation, or for some tradition of their denomination, or even for their own opinion.
   All such need to be saturated with the truth of Ephesians. They need to pray that divinely-inspired prayer that they "may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." They need also to be reminded of the divinely-given process for the growth of the Church into the full stature of the perfect man, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Not, till a few select ones, like a little church within the Church, reach that goal; not, till we come through our segregations into little groups magnifying some specially deep truths within the Word of truth; not, till we came through the same knowledge of all doctrines to exactly the same experience in life of those glorious truths. Oh no; Ephesians does not teach that. But, "till we all," every single born-again child of God, "come in the unity of the faith," already declared to us in 4:4-6, and "in the knowledge of the Son of God," who is in Himself the middle unity, not only of doctrine, but of life. We are fellow-members of one Body, and each member needs every other member if we are all to reach spiritual maturity in Christ, and every saint has something to contribute to the edifying and the increase of the Body (4:12, 16).
   What is the solution of this problem of disunity within the Church? Many in Christendom are greatly disturbed over it, and see on the part of some leaders in Protestantism hectic attempts solve the problem by ecclesiastical federation of existing churches, by a union of separate units based on uniformity of order and organization. The approach to union is made by the alley-way of the social, ethical and ecclesiastical, -- the mere externalities of religion. There are plans on now for such a world amalgamation of churches. Dr. I. E. Holt, of The Federal Council of Churches in the United States, has said, "The Protestant churches must first unite. Then a Catholic Protestant church could meet the Greek Catholic church and the Roman Catholic church, and work out a plan for a World Christian Church. That ought to come some day; and we have conferences and groups at work on plans which are influential."
   This is as far from the catholicity for which Christ prayed, and which the Holy Spirit through Paul preached, as the sun is from the earth. Such a "World Christian Church" is not the "One Body" centering in the "One Lord" through the unifying presence and power of the "One Spirit." The unity for which Christ prayed and of which Paul wrote is "the unity of the Spirit" based on "the unity of the faith." It was oneness of life through oneness of faith. The approach to such unity is by the highway of the spiritual, divine, and heavenly -- the true inwardness of Christianity. It is not the outworking of man-made "plans," but of the divine purpose.
   What is our part, then, in keeping the unity of the Spirit on this divinely-appointed basis? It is first of all to obey the Scriptural command, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (II Corinthians 13:5). If you are in the faith, then unite with every other saint who also is in the faith, of whatever section of the Church or of whatever denomination, in the unity of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who unites the Head with the Body and the members of the Body with each other, will then be able to maintain that unity in the bond of peace.

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This page Copyright © 2004 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.

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