“Body Builders” – One Year Bible Reading – September 25

Old Testament:  Isaiah 45:11-48:11

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Isaiah 45:11-48:11   Israel Lives!

Chap. 45:11-25   Verse 17 says that God is not finished with Israel.  The church is not Israel.  The church never sacrificed cows or birds.  But Israel will continue into eternity according to this verse, “Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity.”

Chap. 46-47  These chapters are about the judgment on Babylon and their idols.

Chap. 48:1-11  Verses 10-11 of this section state that God has called them from idols (cf. v. 5) and wanted to refine them for Himself.  Are you feeling pressure today?  Perhaps God is refining you for Himself to make you more like Himself.  He tried with Israel but couldn’t do it.  But there will come a time in the future where believing Israelites will be perfected just as Christians will be, in the Millennium.

New Testament:  Ephesians 4:1-16

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Ephesians 4:1-16   Body Builders

Paul is in prison as part of God’s will (v. 1).  He exhorts the Ephesians to live in a godly way since they have been called by God to do good things (cf. Eph. 2: 10).  They are to be humble, gentle, patient, tolerant so there will be unity in the Spirit and peace.  Others will be able to see their love (vv. 2-3; John 13:34-35).

There is one universal body of Christ of all believers (v. 4), one Holy Spirit, one Lord God (v. 4b), one true doctrine of faith (v. 5b, cf. Jude 3), and one baptism in the Spirit (v. 5c, cf. 1 Cor. 12:13, context is the body so baptism in the Spirit is in mind here) and one Father (v. 6).

Paul says that the body received gifts after Jesus ascended to Heaven (v. 7-8). Paul quotes Ps. 68:18 to indicate that Christ led Satan and his demons captive like in a warrior’s victory parade.  In that case the warrior receives gifts but in this case, Christ gives gifts.  Verse 9 might mean that between His death and resurrection, Christ descended into Hades, the holding tank of the dead (and thus the phrase in the Apostle’s Creed).  More likely it means that Jesus descended into the grave at His burial.

There are three other passages that lift gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-10; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Rom. 12:1-8).  Here Paul lists gifts of men given to the body, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers.  They seem to be in order of importance.  Apostles are the sent ones who have seen the Lord and been given a special commission over the beginning of the church. Prophets in that time may have had direct revelation from the Lord since there were no New Testaments.  Now revelation is in the New Testament and revelation is dispensed through the Word by pastor-teachers.  Pastor-teachers is most likely one office since the word “some” is not repeated before the word “teachers.”  Evangelists are church-starters.  They were not like Billy Graham.  They would go into new areas and preach the gospel resulting in new fellowships.

The purpose of the gifts is to build the local body to maturity (v. 12).  A person on a pulpit committee one time told me that they could tell the candidates from Dallas Seminary.  They would all cite Eph. 4:13 as their key verse for pastoring a local body.  It is a good verse to describe the pastor’s function, to build everyone up to maturity and to be like Christ.

This type of maturity will keep believers from being tossed about when poor doctrine is introduced to the church.  When cults come calling, if church members have been taught properly, they won’t be swayed by “trickery,” “craftiness,” or “deceitful scheming” (v. 14).

Church members are to speak the truth but not in a harsh, abrupt way.  The truth is to be told in love (v. 15a) so that others can grow up to like the true authority of the church, Jesus Christ Himself (v. 15b).  The whole fellowship is being put together piece by piece and grows as it builds itself in love (v. 16).

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