JohnSWilson3 Blog


“But you have not so learned Christ…”
December 31, 2010, 3:21 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

After Paul having essentially summed up the eternal purpose of Christ and how the church, under Christ’s headship, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” is the goal Paul now focuses more about how the body of Christ is “fitted together and being brought together,” (1) “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” What does “growing and building itself up” mean? This is not meant to be some curriculum that we take, this is not some series of studies that we do. This is not about attending “worship services,” “Sunday School classes,” “Bible studies,” “prayer meetings,” “revival meetings,” “retreats,” working in a “homeless shelter,” etc.

If it is not about where we meet, programs, events, or clergy, then how does the Lord fit brothers and sisters together? How are brothers and sisters brought together? How do we become “humble and gentle; being patient, bearing with one another in love”? How do we “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”? How do we “(arrive) unity of faith and in the full knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”? We could ask question after question from the writings of the all of the apostles in the New Testament.

There is only one way. We must learn Christ. We must hear Christ and be “taught by him” because “truth is in Jesus.” While I have a “measure of the gift of Christ” in me, Christ is my life, I cannot fully know Christ without my brothers and sisters and the “measure of the gift of Christ” in them. It is about “the body of Christ” being “built up” not my ego. Paul is talking to the church in this letter, not just to me individually. The body of Christ must learn Christ, hear Christ, and be taught by Christ together, because “truth is in Jesus” (2). Because Christ is our life, He is our indwelling Lord, this is the quintessential aspect of the body of Christ when it gathers. If we are being like “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 men in their deceitful scheming” then we “have not so learned Christ.” If we do not speak “the truth in love” then we “have not so learned Christ.” If we are not participating in helping build the body of Christ “up in love” then “we have not so learned Christ.”

Paul describes to the church in Ephesus how the pagan world around them, those that are not in Christ, acts and says “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, with a continual lust for more.” If anyone who claims to be in Christ lives like what Paul said here, like the world, then “you have not so learned Christ.” Paul is describing the normal behavior, the normal conduct of someone who is “separated from the life of God,” someone who is not in Christ. If your conduct is what Paul describes then “you have not so learned Christ.” You do not understand the reality of being in Christ, who is our life. We learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught by Him because “truth is in Jesus.” Jesus told His disciples “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Christ is our way, our truth, and our life. That is why Paul says that in order for the body of Christ to truly “grow up,” to become the expression of Christ to each other and the world around us, “the manifold wisdom of God,” then Christ must be Head of His body. Perhaps there are many churches, like the church in Corinth who are struggling to keep or have lost Christ as their head, someone or something else has replaced Christ as Head. Then Paul’s words must become more than something we read off the pages of Scripture, more than a mantra, we must learn Christ, hear Him, and be taught by Him, He must be our Head. Let us not be hasty and say we must have more Bible studies, more Bible reading, more praying, more teaching about Jesus, more this and that. Any person, whether they are in Christ or not can do that.

I do not what to learn about Christ, I want to learn Christ Himself, I want to hear Christ Himself, I want to be taught by Christ Himself together with my brothers and sisters. Let us not make Christ a program or curriculum. This can only happen when, like Paul told the church in Colosse, we realize that we have “died with Christ to the basic principles of this world,” that we have “died” and our “life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Christ is our life. God made us “alive with Christ,” “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” In practically every letter that Paul wrote to a church he used an analogy to describe this learning Christ together: putting off dirty clothes and putting on clean clothes. It is about learning to put off the old man, our flesh, who is already dead by the way, and putting on the New Man, Christ Jesus. This is done in daily life of living together, in face to face participation in the body of Christ.

Remember Paul’s prayer: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” God’s intent “was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” Learning Christ is about becoming “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” It is not about being deeply religious, which is totally contrary to what our Lord taught, but it is a deeply spiritual matter, it is having spiritual sight to know Christ better. Hear Christ and be taught by Christ who dwells within you. He is our life! As we hear Christ together and are taught by Christ together, we well learn Christ together. You will be called to lay down some dirty clothes in the process and put on some clean clothes, Christ Jesus our Lord. The result is God’s eternal purpose, the manifestation of His Son, “who fills everything in every way.”

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 569.
(2) Ibid. The literal translation of Ephesians 4:20 is “ye But not so learned – Christ, if indeed him ye heard and by him were taught as is truth in – Jesus.”

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Response to Article by Ed Stetzer “Lottie Moon and House Churches”
December 29, 2010, 2:19 am
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony, 1A - Spiritual Notes

This is a comment I made on Ed Stetzer’s blog article titled “Lottie Moon and House Churches” at http://www.edstetzer.com/2010/12/lottie-moon-and-house-churches.html

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I believe sister Lottie Moon saw need for what Paul saw the need for, a sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ within His body, a focus on Christ alone as Head as found from simply living by His life organically allowing Christ to naturally express His grace, love, and faith to and through others. The church in the house is really nothing more than His people gathering together in places where life happens, in many instances in the home, but wherever His body gathers. It is when we leave this simple teaching of living by His life together and we bring in institutionalism that Christ no longer is head and the church becomes a place, a program, or an event and ceases to be the people of God who all function in face to face community. There are many who have left the church as a place, a program, or an event and have realized it is us, Christ living in His people, living by His life that we are transformed into the image of His Son, an expression of His grace, mercy, and love. May we have spiritual sight and see Christ manifested through one another as the church in confidence and freedom and not in one or two people who perform on on a platform, seeing Christ together through one another. Many resources are available for those seeking a more simple organic form of being the church. A very nice website is at: http://www.housechurchresource.org/. May the Lord find a place of rest in His people, a dwelling place by which He lives by His Spirit.



“…the measure of the gift of Christ.”
December 20, 2010, 3:29 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

Continuing Paul’s thought related to “being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit” (1) in his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul qualifies the reason the brothers and sisters can “keep the unity of the Spirit” because each of them and us has been “given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (2) How we need to know the grace that has been give to us because of being in Christ! Paul earlier said that in Christ we have been “lavished” with “the riches of God’s grace” “with all wisdom and understanding.” It is because of His glorious grace that we are no longer ourselves, we have “died with Christ” and now He is “our life.” That is God’s Grace, that is His Gift! “The measure of the gift of Christ” that has been given to each us is Christ Himself! As Paul told the church in Corinth: Oh “the surpassing grace (that) God has given” us. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

Christ gave Himself to us, to live in us, to be our life, “in order to fill the whole universe,” to make “known” “the manifold wisdom of God,” “to show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” The Son wants to show forth His life to “the whole universe” through us, His Bride! Therefore this grace that we have been given, Christ Jesus our Lord Himself, is not for us individually but for us as His body. “The body is not one member but many.” We are all “members of one body,” Christ! We are called to express the life of Christ! As we are being built together by Christ we “become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” It is Paul’s prayer that describes this life together: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” “The measure of all the fullness of God” is “the measure of the gift of Christ,” Christ wants His life to be fully displayed through His body! To do so every member must function, must participate, being able to “approach God with freedom and confidence” with Christ alone as Head of “his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” When we function, live by His life together, we in reality share Christ with one another, the measure of the gift of Christ that He has given each of us, something different about Himself, so that as each member functions in the body something of Christ’s life is revealed to the body so that the whole body “is fitted together” and “built together” “in him” and we “become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Wow!

This life together as a body needs the experience of Christ living through His people. We must learn Christ together who lives in us. In order to function by His life in the body, to be His expression to the world, God moves, flows, through His body to enable certain people at certain times to function in such a way as to help His body live by Christ’s life. It is at this point many will place a key emphasis on describing the leadership in the church. I am not so inclined. In fact the very word “leader” or “lead” in the church is a confusing word and full of worldly thoughts and mindsets that focus on titles, position, and prestige creating division in the body of Christ. I prefer to throw the word “leader” out since it is never used in the New Testament to describe functioning in the body of Christ. It is used either in a derogatory sense by Christ or of Christ Himself. To fulfill God’s eternal purpose He sends His Son out through “some” who have lived by Christ’s life in the body to share His life with those who are “separate from Christ” and will believe the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. These are the ones from the body who are “sent forth” (3) as “a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace.” God sends His Son out through some who “speak forth or openly” (4) “the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” God also sends His Son out through some who share the message of the good news of Jesus Christ to others (5). These whom the Son lives through to function in the area of apostles, prophets, and evangelists could be any whom God sends to share the life of His Son to others who are “without God in the world” or to individual churches to “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” God is fitting together and building up His body in every place, where He can find a place to dwell, so that His Son, through some, might be sent out sent out, speak the mystery of Christ, and share the message of the good news of Christ. It is all about Christ filling “the whole universe”!

In the body Christ His Spirit flows through each member to one another. Christ so loves His church, His dwelling place, that He cares for His family through some (6) and He instructs His family about Himself and how to live by His life through some. In fact every member can be used by Christ whenever He desires to care and teach one another about Christ and living by His life of love. His life of love is demonstrated in living by the Spirit and not walking in the flesh, serving “one another in love.” That is how Christ perfects the saints, that is how He builds His body! That is how we will all “arrive” “at the unity of faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God.” When the entire body is functioning by the life of Christ, living by His Spirit and not the flesh, sharing that measure of Christ in us to one another, He will “show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” and we will express ‘the manifold wisdom of God…to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” The body of Christ actually showing forth the Son, fully expressing His resurrection life to each other and the world around us! That is what becoming “mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” is all about! How important it is to have been “rooted and established in love” to have a sure foundation in Christ Jesus, to know how to live by His life together in an organic way!

When we really know how to live and express Christ together, the measure of the gift 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 men in their deceitful scheming. Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, being fitted together and being brought together through every band of supply, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Brothers and sisters we have a “worthy walk” that we have been called to, to live by the life of Christ. It is about Him, bearing the fruit of His Spirit in our lives so that the Son is shown. If anything diverts us from this we have not so learned Christ. What is the measure of the gift of Christ in you? The gift is Christ Himself! Let Him dwell richly in your hearts through faith as you love one another.

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 569.
(2) Ibid.
(3) The literal translation of the word, apostle, “apostolos” from W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 30.
(4) The literal translation of the word, prophet, “prophetes” from W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 493.
(5) The literal translation of the word, evangelist, “euangelistes” is “a messenger of good” from W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 208.
(6) The literal translation of the word, pastor, “poimen” is “shepherd” but in the New Testament is used only “in its natural significance,” “metaphorically of Christ,” and only once here in Ephesians. There is no evidence that this or any of the other words in this list designated a title, position, or office for someone or certain people in the body of Christ in the early church as described in the New Testament. As such we can only look at the word in its function which is that of caring for others. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 569.



We Surrender All
December 12, 2010, 11:19 pm
Filed under: 1B Favorite Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

As we met together this morning at a brother and sister’s home we were singing to the Lord and as we sang “I surrender all” I thought how the words seemed to be very individual focused and was prompted to rewrite it, the body of Christ surrendering to His headship.

I rearranged some of the words and with the body together we sang it a couple times and worked out some of wording so that it would flow better together. Some of the words do not rhyme, but apart from that think it works.

It is to the tune of “I Surrender All.” This song is dedicated to Christ and His body, which He is head.

We Surrender All
(to the tune “I Surrender All”)

All to Jesus we surrender, all to Him we freely give;
We will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.

Chorus:
We surrender all, we surrender all;
All to Thee, our blessed Savior,
We surrender all.

All to Jesus we surrender, humbly at His feet we bow;
All the old man laid asi’de, put on Jesus, our true life.

All to Jesus we surrender, make us, Savior, Thy true rest.
U’ ni’ ty of Holy Spirit, being eager to preserve.

All to Jesus we surrender, Lord, we give ourselves to Thee;
Walking in Thy love and power, Jesus dwelling in side us.



“…being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit…”
December 12, 2010, 2:54 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

I have to say that as I read Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus I am struck by the fact that as Christ moves him to write Paul gets excited about something and goes down one line of thought and often ending with a prayer and then goes back to what he was sharing. As I read chapter 3 and then start reading chapter 4 I get that same sense. Paul ends chapter 3 with an incredibly wonderful truth about Christ and then goes back to another thought to finish what he was saying. I guess we can be like that as well! 🙂

In chapter 4 Paul seems to reflect back to what he was saying in chapter 2 and 3 about “the mystery of Christ” and brings it to it’s practical conclusion in the body of Christ. Christ’s purpose for coming “was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” And this “one new man,” “this one body,” “the family of God,” “the church” is meant to express “the manifold wisdom of God…to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” But this expression can only be manifested by Christ in us. He must strengthen us “with power through his Spirit in (our) inner being.” He must empower us “together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” This expression, is Christ, “the measure of all the fullness of God.” The rest of the letter describes the practical life of the body of Christ to be this expression of His life. It is “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

This “worthy walk” of life in Christ is urged by Paul. It sounds very similar to Paul’s use of words from Romans 12. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” The worthy walk is about sacrifice. Sacrifice of self. Paul told the Roman Christians to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you…love must be sincere.” So to the church in Ephesus he says “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” How difficult it is in the flesh to be humble, gentle, and patient with those who are still showing the old man, learning to put off the “old man.” We are too quick to judge and condemn others and in fact we are actually not living by Christ but living by the “old man” as well. No wonder Paul warned the churches in Galatia that if the body lived together by the flesh instead of by the Spirit they might “become conceited, provoking and envying one another.” If Christ is in us and we are living by His life then He will express “all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” in us. I am reminded of James letter to the scattered Christians from Jerusalem about how they had learned Christ together. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word (logos) (Christ Himself) planted in you, which can save you.” I am reminded of the analogy of sandpaper. As sandpaper helps to smooth out the rough edges of something, so to the body when we are learning to put off the old man together and put on Christ, we will be kind of like sandpaper to each other, smoothing out the rough edges, the old man, so that Christ’s life can shine through one another. But sanding doesn’t feel very good on the flesh. We lengthen the process of Christ expressing His life in us when we do not learn this fact. “In him the whole building is fitted together,” this fitting is learning Christ together.

It seems Christ Himself said similar words when He said, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As Paul told the church in Philippi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” How we need a new perspective of what it means to follow Christ, a new mindset. Setting “our hearts on things above” is seeing things from Christ’s perspective. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is you life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Christ lives in each of us and wants to dwell in our midst, to have a place of rest, to do so He must be Head of His body, it is “in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When we learn Christ together, keeping Him as head of His body, living by His life, he will “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” and we will “know Him better” and “his great love for us!” Will we bear with one another in love as we each learn to put off the old man and put on Christ, the New Man? His life is expressed in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with each other, and love, in fact it is all about His love.

This is not the end of the matter though. This first part of chapter 4 is one long sentence (typical of Paul) who shows that bearing with one another in love is not what we are after! In most translations there is a period after the word “love.” Paul didn’t end it with a period. He says: “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; one body and one Spirit, as also you were called in one hope of the calling of you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, the over all and through all and in all.” It is all about the expression of Christ, making known “the manifold wisdom of God” by the “one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” It is about keeping “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Christ is Peace, and is our peace! When we live by His life of peace there is unity. When we walk by Christ together He will display humility, gentleness, patience, enabling us to bear “with one another in love.” This is “being rooted and established in love” and having “power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” and we will “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” This doesn’t happen at a “worship service” or a “Sunday School” or some other event or program where Christ is not head, it happens in real life, in relationships, face to face community where everyone participates, where Christ is the reality of life together in His body. There is only one new man. There is only “one body and one Spirit,” do we not realize we are all members of one body, Christ Himself? Christ is not divided! There is only “one God and Father of all, the over all and through all and in all!”

Let us be “eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and live by our indwelling Lord, displaying humility, gentleness, patience with each other, bearing with each other by Christ’s love as we learn to put on Christ together. For faith and love displayed to the brethren “spring from the hope” that we have in Christ, who is our life. Remember what our Lord said: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Let us be “eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” that bond is Christ Himself!