Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Defenition of church

I know I haven't benn posting regularly lately. I think I am going through some kind of blog block. When I think of things to write, they just don't seem worth writing. I don't know maybe that will change. Jake again asks a question that requires more than a sentence answer. He asks us to write about our church experiences, and man I think I could be here for a while. I don't really want to dwell on the way church is, because if you read his comments than you will see what the church has become in a nutshell. There are only 7 comments and it really shows up. I think the church is defined by one Person. Jesus Christ.

I have some diagrams, but I haven't figured out how to get them here yet.

Again I must take stuff from Jason...

You see, in all of our problems, in all of our questions, in all of our blindness, the Spirit of God is always trying to show us Christ. He’s always trying to show us Christ as the definition of all things. He defines all spiritual things and He defines you as the believer because He is your life. And what is true of the Head is true of the body that is full of the life of the Head.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I believe that is really always what the Holy Spirit is trying to do. He’s trying to define you, and all spiritual things, by this glorious One who fills all things. He’s trying to make you a witness of not just what you’ve already seen, but all of the things IN WHICH He will appear to you. He’s going to appear in them. He’s going to appear as their substance. He’s going to appear in you and define you.

And so, one of these things that cannot be understood unless it is defined by Him is the church. And you cannot really see the church until you’ve seen the cross. You cannot see the church until you see that Christ is the life of the believer. We always bring it back to earthly definitions.

We think the church is a place we go. You don’t go to church, you are the church. Church goes where you go, whether you’re in or out of a building. It doesn’t make it the church if there’s bodies gathered in a room. Its the church if there’s people gathered up in Christ.

And so what I’m trying to say is that you simply cannot understand the church until you see the one who is in their midst. You cannot comprehend a corporate spiritual body until you see the one who is the sum of all spiritual life. I AM THE LIFE. I AM THE RESURRECTION. Its not some ability He gives you. It’s Him made unto those things.

So, notice on the left you’ll see all kinds of individual people in Adam, and their many colors represent various conditions in the flesh ~ Jew, Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, male, female, black, white, rich poor. All of the things that define you according to the old man.

Then you see the cross in the middle with which all flesh collides and falls. Nothing of the old passes through in reality – in the eyes of the Lord…though it can feel to us like it passes through because it hasn’t passed out of your heart. It hasn’t passed out of your understanding of reality. (and so it feels to you like Body of Christ2 Diagram)

And then on the right you’ll see that there is one new man, and all of us in Him. And we are joined together by coming into His life. The blue is His life. In fact, as I said before, His life is the relationship that we have. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 “we are no longer relating to one another after the flesh” but now our relationship is a spiritual life that we share.

And if you look really closely at these little guys in Christ, you’ll notice that they are being filled up with the very same substance that makes up the new man – resurrected life. They are being filled up to the fullness of Christ. They are in Him, they share his life, but what they are growing in (flip back to other diagram) is the knowledge of the Lord. The knowledge of Him who defines them and all things.

So, keeping this in view, lets see if we can capture some of Paul’s defining view of the church this morning in some verses in Ephesians.

Lets start with Ephesians 2:14 ff

14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross,

Now lets look at this. He’s talking about both Jews and Gentiles here. Circumcision and uncircumcision. Distinctions in the flesh. He himself (Christ on the right side) is our peace. Wait a minute, I thought peace with God was something that Christ gave me! (flip back to other diagram) No. He is the peace! You have peace with God by coming into Christ who is that peace, who is that reconciliation. How?

Well “he made both into one”. He took this little guy and this little guy over here and he made them both into one, abolishing in his flesh the enmity.

Now the enmity between God and man sin – the nature, sin the man. And sin was defined by the Law. It was defined by the list of ordinances, the do’s and don’ts. It was God’s righteous requirements. And the weakness of the law was the flesh. The nature of Adam. The reason the law became enmity to man was because in the flesh dwelled no good thing.

So it reads “and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man

Now look at our diagram. Do you see what He did. He abolished in his flesh the entire old man which could never be free from enmity with God, could never keep the ordinances, and made all who would receive in faith into ONE NEW MAN!

Well, then what? What are we now? Turn to Ephesians 1:22 – 23.

22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,

23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

What does it mean that we are His fullness? Well most of you have heard me say this before but, a head without a body is not a full expression of that head. A planted seed without a stalk and a flower is not a full expression of the life in the seed.

Now look at the diagram. We are His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Look at what we’re being filled up with there. Can you see that. We are being filled up with Him so that there can be a full expression of Him. And when there is an increase of Him in one of these little guys, there is a fuller expression of the HEAD. There is a fuller expression of the resurrection.

The church here is this corporate vessel that becomes the vehicle of Christ’s full expression. Christ formed in you. We are filling up the full measure of the man. Even as Paul makes reference to this with regards to his sufferings

COLOSSIANS 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

“ 2 Corinthians 2:11 “manifesting the life of Christ in your mortal flesh.

Well, what’s happening to us now? What’s the process? Turn to Ephesians 2:19-22.

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,

20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone ,

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;

22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

We are growing into a holy temple in the Lord. And we are being built up together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Can you see that represented in this diagram? Can you see that we are in Him, and we have become his Temple in Christ? Can you see also that we are being built up by having Christ formed in us, and what is being built is actually a habitation of God in the spirit.

Do you see that this is the very thing that God longed for in Isaiah 66 ~ “1 Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?”

Ok now, what is it unto? Where is this thing going? What am I a part of? Turn to Ephesians 4:11-18

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

And of course we know that these giftings are like five different watering cans that water the seed of His life in the church. They water it with truth and love, and God brings the growth. And, of course, the growth is the growth of the Seed. That’s the only kind of spiritual growth there is. Which is what the next verse says.

12 … to the building up of the body of Christ;

Ok…until what?

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith,

That doesn’t just means Christians all having the same doctrines. That doesn’t just mean denominations getting along. Lets not forget our definition of faith that we talked about last week. Faith isn’t hope. Faith isn’t doctrinal belief. Faith is seeing Him who is unseen. Faith is a realization, a comprehension given by God that comes as a result of Him unveiling His Son. So we’re coming together in that faith, coming together in the true knowledge of the Son (flip back to the other diagram)…which is what the very next verse says.

and of the knowledge of the Son of God,

You see? We’re all seeing the same Son. We’re all being defined by Him. We’re all growing up in the knowledge of the One who is our life. We’re all growing in our realization that I have been crucified with Christ and its no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me.

Ok, so if we’re all growing up in the true knowledge of Him, what are we going to become?

to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

We’re growing into a full grown man. One new man. A full-grown one new man. What is a full grown man? Well, its one that is fully able to express the head. A man that is no longer lacking in any of His potential. My little son Ezra is cute, and he can do some neat stuff, but you can’t say that at age 3 he is able to fully express human life. He lacks coordination. He lacks knowledge. He lacks understanding. He lacks growth.

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

(go back to other diagram) – see it is when doctrines are not defined by this person that they blow in and out. They sound good, they sound bad. That might be right! No, maybe its this. Well, they all snap into clear perspective when they’ve been defined by this one new man.

So what should we do when we gather together, Paul? What should we do to grow up into this one new man?

15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,

Yes, faith comes by hearing! Comprehension, revelation comes first by a hearing. But not just a hearing of things (Christ the Sum diagram). What does the Scripture say? A hearing of the “truth as it is in Jesus”. We come together and we share what we’ve seen in Him. We share realities that have been defined by a Person. Then I see what you’ve seen! Then you see what I’ve seen! And we grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ…FROM WHOM….

Lets read on…

16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies,

What does each joint supply? It supplies a measure of Him. It supplies some life from the Head. Isn’t that just how your body works? How much does your finger supply if its cut off from the head? But it supplies a lot when it is joined to the head and flowing with the life of the head.

Ok, we’re out of time, but lets just look at how Paul wraps up this section. Vs. 17

17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,

18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;

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