We will be laying some very boring groundwork that is essential for our study in general, and for our understanding of the body concept of church government. This information is needed to prevent future disasters within this local Body of Believers, and for the Biblical validity as to the existence of Manchaca Bible Fellowship.

The purpose of this church is to be obedient to the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when He said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you... Matthew 28:19-20

We will endeavor to fulfill this commission through...

We will seek to foster within our members a Biblical attitude and respect for the family and child raising, for missions at home and around the world, and for worship, including the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We will seek to foster the Biblical concept of true spiritual worship and fellowship in contrast to ritual, dress, status and tradition.”

We are in the midst of a study of the local Church, and in particular the local church of MBF. We want to examine our purpose, programs, philosophy of ministry, etc. to see if they square with the teaching of the Word of God. If those aspects are Biblical in nature and content, then we want to intensify our acceptance of them and our efforts to accomplish them. If after this type of examination, we find ourselves wanting in some areas, then we need to make some major corrections in course and purpose. We have spent several lessons looking at some of the teachings of Christ which set the parameters of God’s plan of worship. Worship is one of the major attributes of the church in this present age, and on into eternity. Worship has always been one of the major attributes of God’s Eternal Plan. That being the case, it helps us to know what true worship has been, is and will be. Knowing these factors, will help prevent us from organizing and programming ourselves away from real worship. Worship in its very essence (or its method, as per the term we used), has always been in spirit and in truth. However, the spiritual condition of mankind and the stage of God’s progressive provision for that depraved state has prevented humans from coming directly into the presence of God. We can come only by spirit and truth.

Before any descendant of the first Adam can come face to face with the God of all gods, his reconciliation to God must be accepted by that individual, and the process fully completed by God. God’s fully completed reconciliation includes many things, most of which are progressive in nature, and some are still in the future. Two of the major components of this progressive plan include:

There are many other provisions of God involved in each of these components of His plan. Some students of the Word of God have listed as many as 37 different things provided by God for the implementation of these areas of redemption and restitution. I want to take a moment, and refresh your thinking on some of these things, mostly by review, and a little preview.

The provision, by God, for a human to be clothed in the righteousness of God, as you know, involved the coming of Christ, the Anointed of God, His life, death, resurrection, ascension, the coming of Holy Spirit, Christ’s intercessory ministry, and His return to earth, etc. If we were to study each aspect of this plan by God, it would involve months, even years of study and there would be many more details to be seen in each aspect.

Galatians 4:3-6 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
fullness = (Greek) repletion or completion i.e. to cram a net
repletion = (Webster) the act of overeating or the state of being overfed

The word picture to help us understand the “fullness of time” is that of a net completely full of fish. This might take a little stretch of our imagination, because we are not familiar with fishing for a living. Let’s go to another passage where this word is used, only this time it is in a different tense, but the same meaning.

John 21:3-11 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

This net was so full that one more fish would have been a disaster. That one extra fish would have been the fish that broke the fishnet, instead of the straw that broke the camels back. Our English word full, in this passage, has been translated from the Greek word for replete. That should help us with our passage in:

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

The picture is of more than just a real full net, it is a crammed full net. There is no room, not even for one more fish. In like manner when Christ came, there was not one more thing that needed to be crammed into time. However, that truth also tells us there were things that had to take place in the process of the redemption program. Everything was complete and ready. There couldn’t be a better time for Christ to come. As a matter of fact, there couldn’t have been any other time He could have come. Everything that was needed had taken place or was taking place for this aspect of God’s Eternal Plan to become a reality.

The provision, by God, for the restitution of all things to the rightful rulership of God the Father. As we saw in our study of the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, this restitution included all of the aspects needed for the redemption of mankind. Plus, the legal and military reclaiming of that which was lost by Adam to Satan, who in turn, claimed the right to be the god of this world. We saw that much of this reclaiming process will take place through the opening of the sealed scroll of Revelation 5 and following.

Ephesians 1:18-23 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His [Father's] calling, what are the riches of the glory of His [Father's] inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His [Father's] power toward us who believe, according to the working of His [Father's] mighty power 20 which He [Father] worked in Christ when He [Father] raised Him [Christ] from the dead and seated Him [Christ] at His [Father's] 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 age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He [Father] put all things under His (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him [Christ] to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His (Christ’s) body, the fullness of Him [Father] who fills all in all.

Notice the commitment of authority and power from the Father to Christ. A word to the wise those taking the marriage class on Sunday evenings. Notice the transfer of authority, responsibility and glory to accomplish a purpose. As indicated here, part of the purpose of the transfer was to bring all things back under the authority of God the Father. We, who are in the Body of Christ, the church, have a role to play in this reclaiming process. A subject far to extensive for this review and preview. Christ was God’s Elect for this purpose. The power and authority was given to Christ, Who paid the redemption price. Therefore, Christ has the right to reclaim the lost possessions. Once completed, Christ will turn all authority back to the Father.

Hebrews 2:8-9 You [Father] have put all things in subjection under his (Christ’s) feet." For in that He [Father] put all in subjection under him [Christ], He [Father] left nothing that is not put under him [Christ]. But now we do not yet see all things put under him [Christ]. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He [Christ], by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Once again, we see the transfer of power and authority from God the Father to God the Son. Yet, not everything was or is under subjection to Christ. What we do see is that Christ, who now has the power and authority was made lower than the angels so that He, Christ, could taste death for everyone. Through this payment for the sins of the world, Christ gained the right of redemption for all things, including mankind and the earth.

Having the right of redemption and having all things redeemed, are vastly different. Christ has paid the price and satisfied all the requirements for the redemption of mankind, and all things. However, Satan, who now is in possession of humanity in general and the physical world in which humanity lives, is not interested in giving up his possession without a fight. The legal and moral aspects of this issue mean nothing to Satan, because he is neither concerned morally or legally with anything. Therefore, there is warfare between Christ and Satan over that for which Christ has already paid the redemption price. At the present time, the battle is over the hearts and souls of mankind. Christ offers redemption as a gift to all, and Satan tries to cloud their minds so they will not accept that gift, and thereby be freed from the domination of Satan and sin. There will come a time, we call the Tribulation, in which Christ will engage in warfare with Satan over the physical possessions already redeemed by Christ.

Revelation 12:7-9 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Revelation 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
1 Corinthians 15:22-28 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

The segment of God’s Eternal Plan that is of most interest and consequence for us today starts in Adam with our old sin nature, and goes on to our position in Christ. Our interest should continue on to His coming again, at which time our redemption will be completed. Notice, the completion of this Plan includes:

My friend, this is a process with many progressive steps along the way. The church is one of those steps, and unless we understand these things, we can never fully understand the concept of the Church.

We must be careful not to impose on the church the conditions of worship that were under the Law. Nor should we try to worship in the manner allowed in the kingdom when Christ will be personally ruling on earth. As we study the body concept of the church, we will see the principles laid down by the Holy Spirit as to the structure, function, worship and service of the local church. We could go to many passages of Scripture for the teaching concerning the body concept. I have chosen the book of Ephesians and especially the 4th chapter as our base passage. We will compare many other passages in this process. The body concept is the most extensive illustration used by the Holy Spirit to teach us the proper concepts of the church universal and local. However, the body concept is only one of several illustrations used by the Holy Spirit in this teaching process. There is a real danger in a detailed study with our attention focused on only one of these concepts. We don’t have the time to properly study and correlate all of these Biblical illustrations of the Church. To aid in the prevention of becoming lopsided in our view of the church, we have, over the past few weeks, tried to surround the body concept with the context of Christ’s teaching concerning the church. Through this, I hope we can see that the church is not the only fish in the sea of God’s Eternal Plan.

Ephesians 4:1-7 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

Even though we are looking at the Biblical teaching of the church, our first and real purpose is the study of the Bible, and one subject of the Bible is the church. To really understand any given subject within the confines of the Scriptures, you must understand the context around that subject. I certainly don’t ask your forgiveness as I do just that, but I ask your understanding of the procedure. To understand the context will take us on many journeys to many other areas of the Word of God.

The last part of the book of Ephesians is the practical application of some very deep doctrinal teachings. I emphasize the word practical, because all of the Scriptures are very practical! However, some areas get right down where the rubber meets the road, more than others. I certainly would not classify Ephesians chapters 4, 5 & 6 as non-doctrinal passages. They are a more down-to-earth application of doctrine that directly affect some aspect of our physical behavior here and now. Paul is careful to establish that these down-to-earth applications are available to us only because they are based on solid deep doctrine. To make sure we know that fact, Paul starts this section with therefore (v.1). “Because the truths presented in the first three chapters are the foundation of these practical truths, I, Paul, in the stead of the Holy Spirit ask you to do and observe the following.” In chapter 4 Paul says learn to live in the local body of Believers. In chapter 5 Paul says learn to live in a family of husband and wife. In chapter 6 Paul says learn to live in the world by being properly armored.

Before we start a word-for-word study of chapter 4, I would like for us to look at a summary of the church in the book of Ephesians. The church is a place for holy fellowship with, and activity for Christ and His saints, not a religious entertainment center. The church is a place to display the beauty of God, not a place to showcase the abilities of humanity. The church is a place for the proclamation of Word of God, not a place to discuss the issues of the day. The church is a place to feed on the bread of life, not a place of social service. The church is a place to receive medicine for the soul, the balm of Gilead, not a philosophical dispensary for human ailments. The church is a place where the Word of God can clean up and transform lives and families, not a place where the world is made better by polishing the rails of a sinking ship. The church is a place for changing the pigs of the world into the sheep of God, not a society for the prevention of earth’s ills. God never told us to clean up the pig pen, but we are to change the pigs. The church is to be the warm and friendly home of the redeemed, not some cold bedecked mausoleum for those dead in trespasses and sin.

Dr. Walter L. Wilson was a great man of God, and a good medical doctor, too. There are many who are both. Walter Wilson had a tremendous effect on my life as a child and as a young person. He not only taught me Biblical truth that changed my attitude spiritually, he gave me medicine that saved my life physically. I owe a lot to that man of God who is now home in glory, and I’ll be seeing him again someday. My first recollections of Dr. Wilson were mine because my mother filled me in. I was too young to remember on my own.

Dr. Wilson bounced me on his knee and taught me the little ditty:

This is the way the lady rides to town...
This is the way the gentleman rides to town...
This is the way the farmer rides to town...
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up.  Whoa! 

Of course, Dr. Wilson changed “this is the way the gentlemen rides”.. to “this is the way the doctor rides”.

Now, that bit of information changed your spiritual destiny real quick. Didn’t it? I don’t usually give credit to people for what I present, because by the time I put it out, it has become uniquely mine, and no one else would want the credit for it. I believe it was Howard Hendricks that said (or at least he was the last in the chain that said it when I heard it): “If you take all your material from one person, it’s plagiarism. If you take all your material from several people, it’s a scholarly work”.

It goes without saying, if all your material is original, it is known as boring! Well, what I’m about to give you, I took from one man, Dr. Walter L. Wilson. I don’t know where he got it. The first time I heard this listing, Dr. Wilson was in our little church in Kansas.

I tried to write the list down as he gave it, but I only got part of it. You know how that goes. Then years later, I found the listing in a booklet he had given me. So here it is, an exact quote. I’ve added the numbers so you will know which one you couldn’t write fast enough to get. Of the church we find:

The Church of Jesus Christ cannot be compared
with any other organization in the world, 
but it may be contrasted with every other religious organization.

The book of Ephesians has six short chapters, but the truths packed into those chapters could fill a library. There are several major doctrines that run in waves through the book. I would like to follow the wave of doctrine concerning the church through those six chapters. We will only touch the very tip of the wave as it moves through each chapter.

Chapter 1 shows the Life of the church as to what it is, where it came from, its quality, etc. The body is for life, and the quality of that life will determine the type and degree of service and activity. If this spiritual life ceases to be in the body, all spiritual activity and service will also cease. No part of the Body should be dead or without this unique life of the Church. One of the deadliest poisons is that poison produced by a dead body. If one part of the body is dead, all the body will soon be dead, unless that poison is removed and its infection of the body stopped.

We are not taking a comparative study of each of these things. However, if you will allow the concordance of your mind to move into high gear, you’ll see that these truths are taught and referred to throughout the Scriptures. Because of my age and the expected life span, I’m not taking the time to move down all of the trails that we could or should in this study. For all budding teachers. There will be enough seed-material presented in the next few minutes to give you teaching subjects and material for a lifetime.

We must be sure that every member of the spiritual body has real life, or they will wreck the whole organization. Life in the body is designed for activity of one nature or another. When we see a physical body without any activity, we question if there is any life in that body. Let me quote from Dr. Wilson again, then I will start being scholarly and take my information from a bunch of people. Dr. Wilson said, “In the church each person has work to do, just as in the body each member has its own particular function. My hand serves my whole body. My finger is a good finger. I can operate with it, deliver babies with it, play the piano with it, but if I put my finger in my eye, neither are any good. It is of no use when out of place. In the church we are only of use when we serve where we can. Let the man preach who can preach. Let the person play the piano who can play. Let the person sing who can sing. Each one has his proper place and can serve acceptably when in that place.” Trouble usually results from the dead people in the living organization.

Chapter 2, among other things, presents the church as a temple v.21. A major characteristic of the body is life. A major characteristic of the building of the temple is its stability.

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

Each stone is joined together. As the members of the body are joined, so also the stones of this temple. We aren’t held together with buttons, snaps or zippers. Praise God! We are a part of each other because the life of Christ is the fastening quality. Yet, much of the time and energy of a church staff is spent trying to keep the temple stones attached to one another. Not a good scene!

Chapter 3, among other things, the church is seen as a family v.15. In a family, all share the same blood line, family love, inheritance and a lot more. A family should stick together and protect one another. A real family does not hang out the family’s dirty laundry for all to see. Instead, it should be, “Love covers a multitude of sins”. The true attitude of family is “how can I help you be better”.

Chapter 4, among other things, the church is seen as a group of students v.11-16. The church’s unity and growth is based on what it knows and how it uses what it knows. Very few Christians expect to study the Bible, they just read it, or even worse, they just hear it read. To become mature in Christ requires that a person know, and keep on learning the Word of God. Then we are to pass along to others what we have learned.

Chapter 5, among other things, the church is seen as a bride. A bride is for loving and for deep affection. We should be lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, of those who are in Christ and the world around us. There is to be a different style and depth of love for each of these different groups of people. To often, we get busy doing things for Christ or the church, and we neglect our love life with and for Christ. Christ loves the church and gave and is giving Himself for it.

Chapter 6, among other things, we see the church as an army in battle. It is interesting to note that the protection of the solider of Christ is primarily for personal protection. The battle in which the solider is to be engaged is that of personal sin and personal attacks by Satan.

Satan, the counterfeiter, tries to imitate the Biblical essence of the Church. We have so many of Satan’s imitation churches around, today. Any church, this church can become one of Satan’s imitation churches. The imitation does not turn our hearts to God in true worship. The imitation turns our hearts inward to personal emotions or satisfaction.

The church, as with marriage is for the benefit of others. However, as we give ourselves for others in a Biblical manner, we receive personal benefits, as well as eternal rewards.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998