The Identity Of The Church

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. As you turn, let’s review from last week.

Review And Introduction

Last week we studied in the Gospel of Matthew the words of Jesus:

Matthew 21:42-43 Jesus saith unto {the Scribes and Pharisees}, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The “Builders” of Israel were the Scribes and Pharisees. They adhered to and taught the Law of Moses to the people. But these “Builders” disparaged Jesus Christ, God’s Sent Messiah. The Scribes and Pharisees forgot that they were supposed to stand up for God and His Word. When “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), the Scribes & Pharisees did not support the Messiah, but fought against Him.

Israel lost their stewardship of the Gospel. God moved the stewardship of His Kingdom to “a nation bringing forth the fruits of His kingdom”.
This nation is the Church.

The Church is a new nation – created by God – in which believers in Christ are granted citizenship and purpose greater than any human purpose. The Church – God’s nation – is

Ephesians 2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

The God given Constitution of every Church is the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our identity in Christ. The Prophets wrote of the coming Jesus. The Apostles wrote and witnessed the Jesus Who had come. And Jesus Christ is our chief Corner Stone.

Let Us Avoid The Errors And Know Our Purpose

When God raised up the Church, He did not bring another brand of Judaism in. In order to develop this new Nation whose allegiance is to God Almighty, God took a Pharisee who was well known to the ruling board of Pharisees. God knocked this man down on the Damascus Road, this Chief Pharisee named Saul, saying:

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Saul replied, “Who are You, Lord?”

And Jesus, the One Who was founding a new Nation of people called the Church, said “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up, go into the city, and I will tell you what to do” (Acts 9:4-6). From that point, the resurrected Jesus sent a believer named Ananias to Saul. The Lord told Ananias:

Acts 9:15-16 Go thy way: for {Saul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

God the Son gave Saul a higher purpose, and a new name. Saul – also known as Paul – began to go about telling others of Jesus. He did not just reach out to Israel as did Peter and the other Apostles, but Paul understood that God was bringing forth a new nation, a people united and focused on Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. In this nation of light, racism and misogyny has no hold. In this nation – governed by Christ – “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Paul writes to the Church – God’s nation – saying:

Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is an Apostle of Jesus Christ because God willed it. He is careful not to use his old, Jewish name as he writes the Church. Saul died on the Damascus Road, and was reborn as Paul, which is a Gentile name.

Word Study Paul uses two words to describe the citizens of God’s Kingdom, the Church. He calls them “saints” and “faithful”. The word “saints” is a spiritual word, whereas “faithful” is a practical word. The word “saints” is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “to be set apart or chosen out for God’s use”. If God has touched you and called you into His Church, then that which He has done on the inside will reflect on what you do outwardly. If you are a saint, saved by faith in Christ, then your fruit will reflect that salvation. If you are saved then you are no longer a bad tree. You are to bear good fruit for the One Who saved you.

Matthew 7:17-20 … Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Good Fruit Is Holy Fruit, Jesus Honoring Fruit:
We Are Planted In God’s Garden

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

The Apostle is careful not to say that the Christian will be blessed, but rather we have been blessed. Before you were saved by faith in Christ you were a Child of Adam. You walked according to what you wanted to do. You lived your life according to darkness. The Lord called you out of darkness:

Acts 26:18 … to turn {you} from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that {you} may receive forgiveness of sins

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is now a son of God. The Christian no longer lives for self, but for the smile of the Savior!

1 Peter 2:9 … a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

We are a chosen people, set apart by God through Christ to be

Ephesians 1:4-5 holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

The Christian is a saint – “holy”, set apart for God’s Kingdom. We as Christians are “without blame” before Almighty God. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our blame. Jesus Christ took our blame when He died on Calvary for our sins. We are told in another place:

Philippians 2:13-16 it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 holding forth the word of life

Because the Son of God died on Calvary for us,

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

We are predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. On the day that you heard the Gospel of Salvation, and repented, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God sent His Holy Spirit into the framework of your lives. We no longer are children of Adam because of the work of God in our lives. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:15-17 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

The Blood of Christ has paid for our sins. The Spirit of Christ has indwelt us, and marked us as Children of God. And one day we shall stand in glory with our Savior Jesus, and receive the fullness of our Adoption. It was “the good pleasure of God’s will” to do this.

I Am “Accepted” In The Beloved

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

As believers, we are “accepted in the Beloved”. What does this mean? When our Jesus walked this earth, numerous times God the Father spoke, saying of Jesus:

Matthew 3:17 This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Luke 9:35 This is my beloved Son: hear him.

In our world today, as in the ancient Roman world, it is popular to say “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”. But this is not what the Bible teaches. God told Israel in the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:2 You shall have no other gods before Me …

God declared that the worship of other gods was the same as worshiping demons. God told the Israelite who worshiped false gods that “they provoke Me to jealousy with abominations: they sacrifice the devils, not to God (Deuteronomy 32:16-17; Leviticus 17:7). When Jesus was tempted to worship Satan by Satan, our Lord responded:

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

We are only made acceptable before God the Father “in the Beloved”. Because Jesus died for our sins, and His sacrifice was accepted by the Father, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God looks at us and says, “I accept them for My Beloved’s sake”. Jesus Christ is “the Way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). The early Church preached:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Ephesians 1:7 in {Jesus} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Those who are saved “in the Beloved” are redeemed from condemnation from God and are purchased possessions not of Satan, but of God Himself. We are no longer slaves to this fallen world. We are members of Christ’s Kingdom, and prized possessions of God. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

God “bought” you with the Blood of Jesus Christ. You are His purchased possession. You do not belong to the devil any more! It’s like that old song we sing:

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,

No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

Ephesians 1:8-10 wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Think of Christ this way: He is God’s Vessel, God’s Bucket. God is gathering together in ONE vessel, in Christ, all that believe. The Old Testament Saint and the New Testament Saint are gathered into that vessel called Christ. This is God’s purchased and precious possession! God is continually drawing people into this Kingdom, His Kingdom. The Prophet wrote:

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

It is God the Father’s will that as many as will come into Christ’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of Christ will stand forever.

The Triune Godhead Brings The Christian
Into The Family

Ephesians 1:11-14 in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In verse 3 we read how the Father and the Son worked together to bring the Christian into the Kingdom of God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”. The Son accomplished our Salvation, but the Father planned it. In these next verses we see that God the Holy Spirit SEALS us. The Christian is indwelt, marked by God, and preserved by the power of God.

It is the will of the Father that all be saved.
It is the sacrifice of the Son that insures our salvation.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit that secures our salvation.

The Bible says: John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

If you believe on the Son of God, the SPIRIT of God abides on you. But if you believe not on the Son of God, the WRATH of God abides on you. A person without Christ looks at God as an enigma, perhaps as a consuming fire. But the person who has received Christ as lord and Savior sees God not as a consuming fire, but as a Pillar of Fire, a Guide, a Protector, the Father. C.H. Spurgeon said:

Another man with unforgiven sin about him stands afar off and if he thinks of God at all it is as a consuming fire. But the forgiven Christian looking up to God, when he sees the mountains and the hills, and rolling streams and the roaring flood, he says “My Father made them all;” and he clasps hands with the Almighty across the infinite expanse that sunders man from his Maker. His heart flies up to God. He dwells near to Him, and he feels that he can talk to God as a man talketh with his Friend.”

We are saved from sin, and given destinies as Children of God. We are now free to lovingly serve within the Kingdom of God. As Paul finishes the introduction to this letter, He writes:

Ephesians 1:15-18 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

God wants us to know our purpose in Him. We are not as we were before, but are Children of God, adopted of the Spirit, blood purchased possessions.

Though the Apostle was not with the believers in Ephesus, their loving nature toward one another had been spread abroad. The Apostle prayed that they would not lose their purpose, but would continue to love God and love one another as the Scripture commands.

You have an inheritance, and are an inheritance, if you belong to Jesus Christ by faith.

The reason that Jesus Christ became incarnate, entering this world through a virgin and a manger, was so He could bring…

Hebrews 2:10 .. many sons unto glory

He gave Himself for you, so that you could not only one day be brought into Heaven, but that through you God can bring Heaven to earth. The local Church fulfills the Law of God when it loves God with all its heart, and loves others as we wish to be loved. May God touch your hearts and “that you might know the hope of His calling”. God expects His people to be:

Matthew 5:14-16 the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We who are saved by faith in Christ are saved to serve God, shining for Jesus in this dark and lost world. We are to look unto and to live for Jesus.

Ephesians 1:19-23 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is above all things, all powers. He is the Head of His Church, and we are His Body – if we are indeed saved. We need to know and claim our identity – especially in these dark days of America. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word lead each one of us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Amen and amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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