THE BODY, THE CHURCH (Part 2)
By John C. Carpenter
 
(Continued from Part 1)
 
CALLED TO SANCTIFICATION & HOLINESS
 
The church of Jesus Christ is called to sanctification and holiness, which by definition are very similar. Paul specifically taught that sanctification is the result of believing the gospel: Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be [subject]to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Thathe might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:24-27). The word sanctify is translated from the Greek word hagiazo, which means to make holy, purify, consecrate, venerate, hallow, holy, morally blameless, sacred, saintly. Christ explained that sanctification is the result of believing and living the truth of the gospel of Christ (John 17:17), and Jesus sanctified those who believe on Him by the shedding of His own blood (Heb 13:12). Paul taught that sanctification and holiness is God's will for believers in Christ: For this is the will of God, even [specifically] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour (1 Thes 4:3-4). Addressing the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, the apostle Peter explained that the elect are sanctified, and the elect are sanctified because of the combined result of the operation and working of the Holy Spirit and the obedience and work of Jesus Christ: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the [through the work of the Holy] Spirit, [and] unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ [who was faithful unto death]: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied (1 Pet 1:2).
 
Scriptures clearly teach that the church should have nothing to do with worldly standards and ways, that worldliness and Godliness do not mix: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16). Jesus expounded, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (Joh 15:18-19). James added, Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).
 
Believers in Christ are called to holiness, as well. The word holy is translated from the Greek word hagios, and also means sacred, physically pure, morally blameless, consecrated to God, or saintly. Sanctification and holiness are very similar in meaning.Scriptures teach that God hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim 1:9). Paul wrote Roman believers about the church's need for holiness: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom 6:11-13). The psalmist exhorts us Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psa 29:2). By the mercies of God, believers in Christ are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service (Rom 12:1). Paul educated the Ephesian believers that God hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Eph 1:4), and instructed Colossian believers Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Col 3:12), while Paul initially wrote Timothy I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1Tim 2:8), then wrote later that God, hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim 1:9). As Paul wrote Titus, bishops, as well as believers, in the church must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:7-9). Peter summarized God's will for the church: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Pet 1:15-16).
 
CALLED TO EVANGELIZE
 
The church is also called to preach, to spread the gospel word of salvation through faith in Christ, to minister, and to evangelize. The word minister is translated from the Greek word diakonos, which means an attendant, a waiter at table or other menial duties, a teacher, pastor, deacon, deaconess, or servant. Paul explained his calling, Whereof I am made a minister [attendant, waiter, deacon, minister, servant, teacher], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the [gospel] word of God; even [specifically] the mystery [of Christ and salvation available through faith in Him] which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Col 1:25-26). Paul instructed Timothy Preach the [gospel] word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine, But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist [a preacher of the gospel, to announce the good news, declare, show], make full proof [entirely accomplish] of thy ministry (2 Tim 4:2, 5). The apostle Paul explained his unction and anointing to preach the gospel: For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity [to preach the gospel] is laid upon me [by God]; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! (1 Cor 9:16). The church is not only selected by God, but sent to evangelize and minister by God as well. As Christ told His disciples, as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you (John 20:21), and God the Father hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). Christ commanded His disciples, and us, to Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Mat 28:19-20), as well as Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16). Regarding the calling of His disciples, Christ instructed them, ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). Speaking through Ezekiel, God clarifies that warning others is also part of the church's calling: When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand (Eze 3:18). Paul explains that all believers are ...workers together with him... (2 Cor 6:1) and ambassadors for Christ... (2 Cor 5:20). Referring to his own ministry, Paul said, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Additionally, part of God the Father's will and calling for the church is the preaching of the gospel of Christ: this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Mat 24:14). Jesus explained to the multitudes, and all believers in Christ, the purpose of ministry, 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mat 5:15-16).
 
CALLED TO SUFFER
 
The church and its' individual members are also called to pain, tribulation, and suffering, experiences which many in the church do not understand nor appreciate. Within the church, some actually believe that all tribulation and suffering is the sole work of satan, and attempt to avoid all suffering at any cost. Peter referred to the inevitability of suffering: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet 5:10). The word suffering is translated from the Greek word pascho, which means to experience pain, feel pain, or be vexed. Paul knew that suffering in the Christian was inevitable, writing believers in Rome, And if [we believers be] 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. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:17-18), yet explained the benefit for suffering when he added, we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation [trouble, suffering] worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:3-4). Paul put suffering in an eternal perspective when he wrote, For our lightaffliction [anguish, burden, pressure, tribulation, trouble], which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4:17-18). The apostle Peter warns believers to expect suffering:Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (1 Pet 4:1-2), then adds, But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled (1 Pet 3:14). One of the inevitabilities of faith in Christ is suffering for Christ: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phi 1:29). Suffering for Christ is a sure thing, but there is also hope for delieverance. The psalmist taught, Many are the afflictions [calamity, distress, grief, hurt, misery, sorrow]of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psa 34:19).
 
CALLED TO ETERNAL GLORY
 
Future eternal glory is also a calling of the believer in Christ. Peter explained: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal [perpetual, everlasting] glory [very apparent, dignity, honour, praise, worship] by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet 5:10), yet Holy scriptures teach us that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called [unto this glory] (1 Cor 1:26). Paul explained to the Ephesian believers that they should understandthe hope of his [God's] calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Eph 1:18). Paul spoke of Christ,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: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ (Eph 1:11-12), while Peter taught that Our conversation [community, citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Phil 3:20-21). Isaiah prophesied that the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh [believers and unbelievers alike] shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it (Isa 40:5). Addressing the difficulties of the Christian walk, Paul wrote, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18). Peter also referenced suffering with encouraging words: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Pet 4:13), as well as The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed (1 Pet 5:1).
 
CALLED TO PRAYER
 
Lastly, the Christian church is called to prayer. In the old testament, God certainly instructs the church to pray: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually (1 Chr 16:11), and If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chr 7:14). Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father about those who believe on Him, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [in the world] (John 17:15). We are instructed to pray when we are afflicted (James 5:13), to ask the elders of the church to pray for us and anoint us with oil when we are sick (James 5:14), and watch and pray to avoid temptation (Mat 26:41). Holy Scriptures teach us that The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his [God's] delight (Pro 15:8). God will regard the prayer of the destitute [poor, needy], and not despise their prayer (Psa 102:17). Paul instructed Roman believers to be not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant [to be earnest towards, to persevere, attend continually to] in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality (Rom 12:11-13). The psalmist teaches us to be strong in times of trouble and need, because The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them (Psa 145:18-19). Indeed, The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous (Pro 15:29). Jesus exhorted His disciples always to pray, and not to faint [become weak or weary] (Luke 18:1). When we are weak and know not what to pray for as we ought, the Holy Spirit interceeds for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom 8:26). On two instances, the apostle Paul taught that our prayers bring peace. To believers in Philippi, he wrote Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace [quietness, rest] of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [watch, guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7), and to Timothy he wrote, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1Tim 2:1-2). Jesus specifically instructs us to pray for those which despitefully use us and persecute us: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Mat 5:44-45). As Paul wrote, the church should Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing [uninterruptedly, without omission]. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes 5:16-18). Regarding prayer, the apostle James wrote, But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:6-8); then added Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). John wrote, And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15). Paul wrote the church at Ephesus that he did not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 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: 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 (Eph 1:16-18), and to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph 6:18). The prophet Jeremiah explained God the Father's attitude about prayer when he wrote, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart (Jer 29:11-13). Christ instructs us about God the Father's eagerness to answer our prayers and meet our needs when He instructed His disciples, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Mat 7:7-11). Prayer is clearly an essential calling of the church.
 
MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE
 
Although I have not covered all of the callings of the Christian church, clearly, the Christian church is called to many things. Individual believers within the church must realize that The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29), meaning once God has given a calling, He does not change His mind and take back that calling. The church's calling to eternal glory is unchanging. Holy scriptures also teach us that every believer should abide in the same calling wherein he [Christ] was called (1 Cor 7:20). Before the world began, God the Father ...saved us [believers in Christ], and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim 1:9). Paul explained that believers in Christ should not only be aware of their calling, but anticipate and expect the eventual, eternal, and glorious fulfillment of that calling: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4). Abraham serves as an excellent example of how the believer in Christ should obediently respond to his or her callings: By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb 11:8-10). The new testament church has so much more glory to look forward to, as Paul explained: For if that [salvation by works] which is done away was glorious, much more that [salvation by grace] which remaineth is glorious (2 Cor 3:11). Regarding the calling and callings of the church, those who believe that Jesus is the Christ and Son of the living God, the apostle Peter gives some excellent advice: Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence [to make an effort, endeavor, labour] to make your calling and election sure [stable, firm, with sure footing, stedfast]: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall [trip, err, sin, fail, offend, stumble] (2 Pet 1:10).  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"For from within,
out of the heart
of men, proceed
evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness,
an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness"
(Mark 7:21-22)


 
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