Foreordained from the Founding of the World | Part 3

The Oneness of the Christian Congregation

Seeing that it is the Father’s purpose that mankind be joined together as sons of God, heirs of Christ, and brothers to one another, we should each do our part in maintaining the oneness of the brotherhood:

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
– Ephesians 4:1-5

To assist us in maintaining our oneness, Jesus gave “gifts to his people” (Ephesians 4:7-10) whose job it is to keep us focused on the accurate knowledge of Jesus and not be led astray:

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
– Ephesians 4:11-16

Yes, the only way to avoid being ‘tossed about by the trickery of men’ is to remain steadfast in Jesus’ teaching and work toward unity, not division.  Paul had to counsel the Corinthian congregation on the matter of unity because divisions had already started to develop. Instead of following the Christ, the congregation had turned to following various men.  Instead of being spiritual men and women, they had returned to a fleshly state of mind.  (1Corinthians 3:1-9) Paul warned the Ephesians against that path:

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.”
– Ephesians 4:17-19

That is not the way of true Christians:

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
– Ephesians 4:20-24

The remainder of the letter to the Ephesians was counsel on how to behave in the congregation so that we do not destroy our unity and lose our inheritance. (Ephesians 4:24-6:8) The counsel can be summed up in these words:

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
– Ephesians 5:1-2

Additionally, Paul counseled that we “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10):

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
– Ephesians 6:14-18

Paul specifically asked the Ephesus congregation to pray for him and for all those who are making known the sacred secret of the good news.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
– Ephesians 6:18-20

And he bid the brothers farewell saying:

“Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
– Ephesians 6:23-24

 If you were present when the letter was read, how would it have affected you?  Would you have believed that the Father’s purpose is for you to be ‘adopted as one of his sons?’  Would you have accepted the ‘promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of your inheritance?’  Would you have abandoned your fleshly desires and focused your mind and heart on the good news of the Kingdom of the Heavens?  Would you have conducted yourselves as a joint member of the body of Christ, in imitation of God?  Would you have donned the complete suit of armor and joined Paul in making known the sacred secret?

If you would have done so back then, you can do it now.  The message has not changed.  It is the Father’s purpose to gather together all things in Christ by adopting faithful mankind, of all races, as His sons and heirs of the heavenly kingdom – the Sacred Secret!  That continues to be the Father’s purpose since “the founding of the world.”  


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