Check out this list:
Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Church of God, Prophetic Movement, Independent, Oneness, Church of Christ, Full Gospel, Four Square, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Word of Faith, IHOP, etc.
The above is just a drop in the bucket if one were to list all the various denominations, cults and religious/church affiliations that exist on planet earth … and these are just the so-called “Christian” groups.
If you were to place one person from each group in a room together, oh my, what a meeting that would be! I don’t know if anyone would come out alive!
But the Word of God is in stark contrast to this scenario:
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in 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. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Notice there isn’t a lot of room in the above verse for multiplicity and diversity! It’s pretty “matter of fact”. In this article, I would like to emphasize one particular phrase in this scripture which might serve to eliminate some confusion caused by the contrast of this “scripture” versus our day-to-day “reality”. And that phrase is this:
“… even as ye are called in one hope of your calling …”
You see, though we are many in Christ, God calls us as individuals. We are called to have a very personal and intimate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. And, as we shall see, only in this way can we become effective vessels within the corporate Body of Christ as a whole.
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1Corinthians 12:27)
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7)
This grace bestowed upon us comes in the form of spiritual gifts or talents that the Lord desires us to mature and grow into that we might minister the same to those around us. As it is written:
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:” (Romans 12:4)
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;” (Romans 12:6)
“Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; “ (Romans 12:7)
“Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:8)
Now, this list is by no means comprehensive. Paul is using these as examples to the Saints to encourage them to mature in the gifts and talents that each individual has received from God for the edification of the Body of Christ. For example, can you imagine a Christian brother who is a millionaire and whom God has given the grace of “giving”, but who fails in maturing that gift? Think of the good, or lack thereof, to the Body of Christ depending on the obedience of that one, particular brother! This is an obvious example. But Christians throughout the Body have a multitude of different gifts which the Father would desire them to excel in.
Think of the edification to the Body as a whole if each and every member produced fruit in the area of their particular grace!
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1Corinthians 12:4-6)
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1Corinthians 12:7)
The one and only Body of Christ is a spiritual body … it only exists in the Spirit … not the natural. However, the fruit (or outward manifestation) of the Body of Christ should be recognized by all. Regardless of the hundreds of competing religious bodies and their corresponding doctrines, there’s only ONE body … and that body is a spiritual one!
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1Peter 2:5)
Those “spiritual sacrifices” are the gifts and talents which God has distributed to each and every member of the Body of Christ through His wonderful grace. And that grace is designed and meant to be offered unto God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice by every member which has partaken of it. We offer these sacrifices unto God as we minister our God-given talents and gifts one to another on a day to day basis … regardless of our outward religious affiliation!
“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (1Corinthians 12:11-12)
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body … and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1Corinthians 12:13)
So, it is time for each and every Christian, regardless of his outward religious affiliation, to diligently pursue after the “hope of his calling”. For, according to 1Corinthians 1:2, we are “called to be saints”! And part of that “sainthood”, if you will, is the following responsibility:
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1Peter 4:10)
This operation of the Spirit performs a profoundly, miraculous result. It brings about the maturation and perfection of the entire Body of Christ!
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” (Ephesians 4:8)
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:12)
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13)
“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)
Read that last verse again … slowly! Do you hear the Holy Ghost speaking to your heart?
Each member of the spiritual Body of Christ ministers nourishment, according to the grace of God, to all of the other parts. But this grace is only ministered according to the “effectual working” in each individual member. If there’s no working in that part … then there isn’t any nourishment ministered from that individual! But to those that do minister, nourishment is provided to the Body which enables it to increase! And not just increase, but increase until the whole Body of Christ is edified in love!
Hallelujah! What a glorious operation of the Holy Spirit of God!
So, knowing these things, the Word of God exhorts us in all of our outwardly, religious convocations (whatever they may be) to …
“… henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine …” (Ephesians 4:14)
“But speaking the truth in love, … grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:15)
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