A Place Of Grace
- Final WordsMy mother passed away about a year ago… I still have saved her final voice mail message. It would be the last words I would hear her speak.My grandfather passed away when I was just 7 years old yet I can still recall the last time I spent with him and the words of wisdom he spoke into my young heartThere is something even more powerful to those words one states when it is known on both sides these are the last things I wish to say…As we turn to John 17:20-26 we see Jesus stating his last words of teaching to the disciples before the cross. He shares His heart with them as He prays to His Father.Not only are these important words for the disciples to hear… it is important enough for the Son of God to lift them up in a prayer to God!!! READ PASSAGE“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”In this prayer we see Christ ask for several things (FOR YOU AND ME!):A Unity with HimA Unity with each-otherThe Reasoning for UnityUnity with HimIn and of ourselves UNITY is not something we naturally seek.We are selfish by nature.Unity demands we give of our self for another. You and I must be unified with Him for this to occur.Jesus prays that we would know this oneness… “I in them, You in Me”Upon Salvation we are sealed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit… God takes up His abode, His residence in us! Ephesians 1:13-14In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.I long to be close to Him, He is good, perfect, Holy, I desire to be close to Him… BUT SOMETIMES PEOPLE???Unity With Each-Other (One Body)In our western mindset we have allowed our mindset of the church to transition into a consumer type mindset.Consumerism tells us that when we GO to a place we look at what we get for our investment:SHOW VIDEOWe go to a gym due to the equipment, location, services offeredWe become a member of a country club or rec center based on what is offered, how they will cater to your needs and desires and we pay dues expecting something in return!We have allowed this mindset to impact how we look at the church, and it is very damaging!What does the church offer? MEWhat do I get out of attending? A PLACEWhat programs sound appealing? ENTERTAIN MEIs the music my style? ARE WE WORSHIPING YOU? WORDSIs the preacher entertaining? DOES HE PREACH GOD’S WORD?Are the service times compatible with my lifestyle? CHECK BOXREALLY QUICK the church ceases to focus on being the church worshiping God, to being self-focused worshiping self!“Going to Church” has never, nor will it ever, change people or impact your life. However, “being a part of the church INVOLVEMENT/INVESTMENT” has great impact and cannot help but change a person!God did not intend for His Church to function in consumerism RATHER THAN CONTRIBUTIONThe BodyEach of us has a bodyFor the most part we even know how it works generally speakingSome understand it much greater (MEDICAL)These people help the rest of us make sure it functions in a healthy mannerEach one of us has experienced to some degree a body which does not function well.Scripture puts forth a great explanation and argument for the church functioning as a body…Paul states some things for us in Romans 12:4-13 concerning this BODY of Christ...For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.HOW? How should we contribute???BY USING the gifts God has given us! Ephesians 4:11-16And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 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; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.What do you supply to the body of Christ?How has God gifted you with talent and abilities?Some are still infants in the faith…BUT the whole church should not be characterized by being an infant or child rather it should be maturing and growing stronger.Consider one last passage on the church as a body…We are the BODY (singular) of Christ… This is beautifully illustrated in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 and it is no coincidence, but rather very intentional that right after this is chapter 13 discussing the very well known passage on LOVE!For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.Paul’s argument is solid!Don’t try to be something God did not intend for you to be!On the same note don’t try to not belong as God intended you to belong!We see how we are to function as one single body, function within our gifts, and build up. We also see a maturing that takes place… Paul would write to the Ephesians 4:1-6 warning to remain HUMBLE, gentle and patientTherefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.The Reason for Unity… So that the world may KNOWI guarantee that those in our world today will take notice of a community of believers who are unified!This is not a temporal reason… it bears eternal outcomesGod calls for this, His Son prayed for this so that we would have a testimony people want to hear...We may share the gospel with our lips… however if our actions show a church that is not unified people may respond“Your actions are speaking so loudly I can’t hear a word you are saying…“Our actions should be salt upon their hearts drawing them to the living water of Jesus Christ… our actions, our unity should leave others craving Jesus Christ.John 13:34-35 sums it up well… the secret and the reason for unity...“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”Jesus that last night before the cross, prayed it for His disciples, He prayed it for you and me, and I would like to close asking Him to instill within us through His Spirit the desire and drive for unity!
1 Corinthians 12:12–26NASB95
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