Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically today’s passage begins with the fifteenth verse of the fifth chapter and continues through to the twenty-fourth verse of the sixth chapter. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he 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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
“Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:5-9).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with t he preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
“But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychius, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen” (Ephesians 6:21-24).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the epistle written by the apostle Paul drawing to a close. This epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus contained six chapters and was written unto a congregation of saints of which he had spent a total of three years laboring among them in the work of the kingdom. In the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the account of how the apostle Paul would spend a total of two years in the school of Tyrannus in the city of Ephesus after separating the disciples from the synagogue there in the city. After experiencing certain opposition and affliction from the unbelieving and stiff-necked jews the apostle Paul would separate the disciples from those in the synagogue and would devote his time to teaching and preaching in the school of Tyrannus. What makes this truly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the beloved physician Luke would write in the New Testament book of Acts how during those two years the apostle Paul would spend teaching and preaching the word and gospel of the kingdom all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus—both Jews and Greeks. Pause for a moment and consider that and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to just as extensive the work and labor of the apostle Paul and those who were with him in Ephesus truly was. During those two years the apostle Paul would reason daily in the school of Tyrannus and this would indeed continue for the space of two years until all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous truth surrounding the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote and how the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts would begin with the apostle Paul coming unto Ephesus and meeting certain disciples who were there. Upon finding these disciples the apostle Paul would ask them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they had believed. These disciples would respond by speaking to the apostle Paul and declaring that they had no so much as heard whether there was a Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul would respond unto them by asking them into what then were they baptized when they believed to which they responded by declaring that they had been baptized into John’s baptism. This is something we must not miss and lose sight of when reading this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto them something which Jesus Himself would declare unto His disciples and followers who accompanied Him unto the mount called Olivet when He was preparing to ascend unto the right hand of the Father. What’s more is that even when John the Baptist baptized men and women in the waters of the Jordan River he would speak to them of a baptism in water which was unto repentance for the remission of sins but how there was one who was coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he indeed baptized with water unto repentance for the remission of sins but there was one coming after him who would baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This is the same context which we find in the New Testament book of Acts when the apostle Paul would declare unto these disciples how John baptized with a baptism of repentance saying that the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him which was Christ Jesus. Upon hearing this these disciples were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and when the apostle Paul laid his hands on them the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Before I return to the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which John the Baptist spoke unto those who came unto him to be baptized in waters unto repentance for the remission of sins. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which John the Baptist spoke unto those who came unto the waters of the Jordan River to be baptized by him unto repentance for the remission of sins for it helps us to understand the language that is found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus. We must needs understand this incredibly truth surrounding the presence of the Holy Spirit and with fire for there is tremendous language concerning the person and presence of the Holy Spirit within this epistle written by the hands of the apostle Paul. What’s more is that the ministry of the apostle Paul in the city of Ephesus would indeed begin with a discussion about the baptism of John, a discussion about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire which Jesus would offer and these disciples being baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. It would be after these disciples were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus and after the apostle Paul had laid hands on them they would indeed receive the Holy Spirit and would speak with tongues and prophesied. Please pay close attention to this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it helps us to understand the work and ministry of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the city of Ephesus beginning with the disciples whom the apostle Paul would encounter upon coming unto this major city within the region that today in our generation is known as the nation of Turkey:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his Hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD: make His paths straight. John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judaea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:1-8).
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and the region of Trachonities, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and not being to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answered and said to them, he who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him likewise. Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? And he said to them, Collect no more than what is appointed for you. Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, And what shall we do? So he said to them, Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages. Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all. I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will throughout clean out his threshing floor, and gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:1-17).
“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, NO. Then they said to him, Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD as the prophet Isaiah said. Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christi, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet. John answered them saying, I baptize with water, but there stands one among you who m you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan where John was baptizing” (John 1:19-28).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He wolf whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptized with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
Within each of these passages of Scripture we can clearly see that although John the Baptist baptized with water unto repentance for the remission of sins he knew and understood there was one coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John the Baptist knew and understood that he indeed baptized with water as a witness and testimony unto the Messiah that men might believe on Him who was to come after him. He recognized and understood that there was a second work and a second baptism which would come directly from that One who was mightier than he and that one who would come after him. John the Baptist clearly understood that he baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins but there was a second baptism which was entirely and altogether different from the one which he was entrusted with. The baptism which John baptized with would prepare men and women for that one who was coming after him that they might believe upon Him when he appeared and might walk with and follow Him. The sole purpose of the baptism which John baptized with was that those who were baptized might not only confess their sins, might not only confess their sins unto repentance for the remission of sins but might also be ready and prepared for that time which would come when Jesus the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
I sit here today thinking about the words found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but wonder how many people in Judaea and Galilee came out to John the Baptist to be baptized by him. How many men and women came out of the towns of Galilee, out of the towns of Judaea, and even out of Jerusalem to be baptized by him in the waters of the Jordan River. What’s more is that those who would come unto the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist would indeed know and understand that there was one coming after him who was mightier than he who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. What makes this truly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how many of those who were baptized with water in the baptism entrusted unto John the Baptist were indeed baptized with water the Holy Spirit and with fire. We know in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that there were about and/or at least one hundred and twenty souls who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. When the day of Pentecost had fully come there would come a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind and would fill the place where they were all gathered together. What’s more is cloven tongues of fire appeared resting upon each of those who were in the upper room and they would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. What makes this truly captivating when you think about is when you consider that during Jesus’ public ministry He would on one occasion feed five thousand men not including women and children and on another occasion would feed four thousand men not including women and children. Moreover Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear how many came out of the cities, towns and villages of Judaea and Galilee to be baptized by John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River.
What is truly interesting is when you think about and consider the number of those who came out of Judaea and Galilee to be baptized by John the Baptist, heard of the One coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire, would indeed hear John the Baptist proclaim of Jesus that He was the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world, heard John the Baptist proclaim that Jesus was truly the Son of the living God, and would even experience the work, words and ministry of Jesus the Christ. There is something truly unique about that which we find in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for there seems to be an understanding that there were about one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. This number is truly interesting when you think about the fact that on one occasion Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. On another occasion Jesus would feed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. After Jesus was raised from death to life He would show Himself alive over a period of forty days and would at one point in time show Himself alive and appear unto about five-hundred at one time—most of whom were alive when the apostle Paul wrote the first epistle unto the Corinthian saints. Not only this but Scripture is altogether silent on how many Jews from Judaea and Galilee came unto John the Baptist there at the Jordan River and were indeed baptized by him. What’s more is that on the day of Pentecost—after the apostle Peter would stand up before those in Jerusalem and quote the prophet Joel before preaching Christ unto them—there would be three thousand souls who would believe, who would be baptized and quite possible who received the Holy Spirit. Essentially we might very well say that on the day of Pentecost a little more than one third of the number whom Jesus fed with loaves of bread and fish were added to the number of those who were in the upper room.
It is with this in mind I am reminded of the passage in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. Within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus teaching and speaking unto the Jews who were in Capernaum close to the Galilee after feeding five thousand with the five loaves of bread and two fish. Those who saw His miracles on the other side of the Galilee and those who partook of the five loaves of bread and the two fish which Jesus multiplied and used to feed the multitude would indeed come unto Jesus on the other side of the Galilee that they might hear and see Him once more. What we find on this particular occasion, however, is Jesus speaking unto them of the manna which Moses gave unto their fathers in the wilderness which sustained them for six days of the week each week during every year over a forty year period of time until they entered into the land of Canaan. What Jesus would go on to speak unto them about was that He was the true bread which came down from heaven from the Father. The Jews would indeed murmur and grumble at these words spoken by the Lord Jesus and would grow even more unsettled in their hearts and minds when Jesus would declare unto them his flesh was food indeed and His blood was drink indeed. Jesus would declare unto them that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood they would have no part in Him and would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. As a direct result of this many would turn back and walk no more with Him. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many of the five thousand who partook of the loaves of bread and the fish on the other side of the Galilee came to the other side of the Galilee and who would be those who turned back and walked no more with Jesus. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the accounts of Jesus feeding the multitudes, the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints, the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by a boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, his disciples came to Him, saying, This is deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food. But Jesus said to them, They do not need to go away, You give them something eat. And they said to Him, We have here only five loaves and two fish. He said, Bring them here to me. Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (Matthew 14:13-21).
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way. Then His disciples said to Him, Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude? Jesus said to them, How many loaves do you have? And they said, Seven, and a few little fish. So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala” (Matthew 15:32-39).
“On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone—however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks—when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, Rabbi, when did you come here? Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:22-27).
“The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, I have come down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said to them, Do not murmur among yourselves. NO one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; he has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. The jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum” (John 6:41-59).
“Therefore many of His disciples when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying: who can understand it? When Jesus knew in himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For eJesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, Therefore I have said to you that no man can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more” (John 6:60-66).
“Then Jesus said to the twelve, Do you also want to go away? But Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Did not I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:67-71).
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures, and that he was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was or three, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom he also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, he said, you have heard from me; for John truly baptiZEd with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received I’m out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in the white apparel, who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alaphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of the names was about a hundred and twenty)” (Acts 1:1-15).
“When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” i(Acts 2:1-4).
“iNow when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about thee thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:37-47).
I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we find Jesus feeding a total of nine thousand people—five thousand on one occasion and four thousand on another occasion. What the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John reveals is that a great portion of those who partook of the loaves of bread and were filled sought for Jesus on the other side of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum. Jesus emphatically declared unto them how they sought for Him—not because they saw the miracles which He had wrought but because they ate of the loaves of bread and were filled. What the apostle John also presents to his readers and audience, however, is that after Jesus would finish speaking to those who had come unto Him many of His disciples would turn back and walk no more with Him. Adding to this all the more we find that after Jesus had risen from the grave on the third day He showed Himself alive over a period of forty days with many infallible proofs. One time during those forty days Jesus showed Himself alive unto above five hundred at once demonstrating that He was indeed alive and had risen from the grave. With all of this being said, however, we come to the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and find about one-hundred and twenty who returned from the mount called Olivet and entering into the upper room—among whom were the disciples, Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus’ brethren and perhaps even the women who walked with and followed Jesus during those three and a half years he was present upon the earth. When the day of Pentecost had fully come there is the understanding that there was around one-hundred and twenty who received the Holy Spirit and were baptized with fire and began speaking with other tongues. What I still cannot help but wonder is how many men and women came unto John the Baptist to be baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins and how many of those same men and women were present on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. Moreover, Scripture is unclean about this particular fact but I can’t help but wonder if the three thousand souls which were added on the day of Pentecost were not only baptized in water but also received the Holy Spirit and also spoke with other tongues and prophesied.
When you come to the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul written unto the saints which were at Ephesus you will find him writing about the importance of the spiritual body of Christ. IN the fourth chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul admonished the Ephesian saints to walk worthy of the calling with which they were called with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Moreover the apostle Paul would also declare unto them that there was one body and one Spirit just as they were called in one hope of their calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all in them all. Thus with and through these words the apostle Paul intrinsically linked and connected the spiritual body of Christ to and with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. In all reality I would dare say that we cannot have the spiritual body of Christ without and apart from the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who was released and manifested on the day of Pentecost and baptized above one-hundred and twenty with Himself and with fire. What’s more is on the day of Pentecost three thousand souls would believe, would be baptized and would be added unto the number of those who were present in the upper room. With this being said you will continue reading in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus and you will find that as it pertains to the spiritual body Jesus gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. The purpose of these ministers of the Lord is for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ till they all came to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for when we speak of the spiritual body of Christ—and not only when we speak of of the spiritual body of Christ but the ministers who are raised up within the spiritual body—we must needs recognize and understand the purpose they were given to the body in the first place. According to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture those ministers who were given unto the spiritual body of Christ were not given to be the only ones who were engaged in the work of the ministry. Those who were given unto the spiritual body of Christ weren’t given unto the spiritual body so they could do absolutely everything that was present in the spiritual body of Christ and in the church. What illustrates this all the more is the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts when the apostles called the body of believers to choose from among them seven men who were full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit that they might help in the work of the ministry of the body. The apostles did not believe that it was fitting for them to depart from prayer and the preaching of the word to wait on tables and therefore seven deacons were chosen and appointed from among them to help in the work of the ministry of the body of Christ. This is something we must needs recognize concerning the spiritual body of Christ for what we must all recognize and realize is that we each have a unique place within the spiritual body. Each and every one of us has a unique place in the spiritual body of Christ and each and every one of us has a calling upon our lives that we might indeed enter into that for which the living and eternal God has ordained and appointed unto us. The words and language we find in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus brings us face to face with the purpose of the ministers of the Lord and the ultimate goal of the spiritual body of Christ.
If we are willing to be truly honest with ourselves and with the Holy Spirit of promise in and with whom we have been sealed we must needs acknowledge that there is great purpose for the members of the spiritual body of Christ. This purpose of the individual members of the body as well as the corporate body as a whole is that the saints might be equipped for the work of the ministry. Please don’t miss this for although there were apostles, although there were prophets, although there were evangelists, although there were pastors and teachers they weren’t the only ones who were given for the work of the ministry. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the truth that when we speak of the spiritual body of Christ each and every saint of God must needs be equipped for the work of the ministry. The Lord hasn’t simply given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers within the body of Christ to do the work of the kingdom among them. There must be an understanding that the saints of God within the spiritual body of Christ must needs be equipped for the work of the ministry. There is a great danger among ministers and leaders in the church who refuse to equip the saints for the work of the ministry thinking and believing that they themselves are the only ones who are “qualified” to engage themselves in the work of the ministry. Ministers and leaders in the church were indeed given that the saints of God might indeed be equipped for the work of the ministry for like the servants were each given talents according to their individual ability so also has each and every saint been given gifts and been called for and into the work of the ministry. What’s more is that it is not only for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry but it is also for the edifying of the body of Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that as it pertains to the spiritual body of Christ we have to understand that we as the saints have been called to be equipped and we have been called to be edified. The spiritual body of Christ has indeed and has in fact been called to both be equipped and edified and in all reality I would dare say the two go hand in hand. We must needs recognize and understand that the spiritual body of Christ—if it is truly functioning the way it was designed to function—is to both be equipped and edified according to the work of the Holy Spirit until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
The more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am convinced that when we speak of the spiritual body of Christ we must recognize that each and every one of its members has been called to be equipped and edified. Perhaps one of the most important questions facing any leader within our churches today is whether the members of the body entrusted into their care are being equipped and are being edified. If the members of the body under your care are not being equipped for the ministry and if they are not being edified then I would strongly consider what you are actually accomplishing among those members. If the members of the body under your care are not being equipped for the work of the ministry and if they aren’t being edified then the question I would present to you is what exactly are you doing as a minister unto the Lord. What are you as the leader and minister of the Lord in the midst of the spiritual body of Christ doing in the midst of the saints of God and disciples of Christ entrusted into your care if they are leaving each and every Sunday—perhaps even Wednesday evenings—and are not being equipped for the work of the ministry? What are you as the minister and leader in whose care the saints of God have been entrusted doing if they are not being edified in the Spirit through Christ according to the will of the Father? Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to wire and speak about the spiritual body of Christ coming to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. The question I would like to present you with is whether or not the members of the body into whose lives you have been entrusted are indeed coming to unity. Forget for a moment the words of the apostle Paul “of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” and simply ask yourselves if the members of the body entrusted into your care are indeed coming to unity one with another. With this being said it is absolutely imperative we recognize and acknowledge that this unity is not something that we in the natural and physical sense can manufacture and produce in and of ourselves. There is absolutely nothing we can do according to earthly and human means that can and will cause this unity within the body among the members to take place and be present among us. In fact this is precisely what I believe was accomplished by the person and presence of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was the one responsible for bringing about the unity, the community and the fellowship we read of in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts.
Upon continuing to read the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul I find myself coming face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the spiritual body of Christ and the need for the members to come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. Notice the word which the apostle Paul uses in this passage of Scripture and how he used the word “all” to suggest that we all have been called to come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. What’s more is that we have indeed and have in fact been called to come to a perfect man and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is perhaps the single greatest and single highest calling we have within our lives—that we should come unto a perfect man and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Please note and understand that we have not been called to be those who only experience a portion of the nature and character of Christ but have indeed and have in fact been called to experience the fullness of Christ. Permit me to ask you if you are presently within your life at this moment experiencing the fullness of Christ. Are you as a saint of God and disciple of Christ truly experiencing the fullness of Christ—and not only the fullness of Christ but also the fullness of the Spirit within your life? Moreover are you one who is no longer being a child tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of Corrine by the trickery of men and in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting? The apostle Paul emphatically declared that when he was a child he spoke like a child and acted like a child, however, when he was grown and became a man he put away childish things and childish behaviors. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed growing up into Christ and are walking in maturity—not as the apostle Paul wrote concerning the Corinthian saints whom he could not address as spiritual but as carnal and even babes in Christ:
“And I brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, I am of Paul and another I am of Apollos are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul admonishing the Ephesian saints that we must needs speak the truth in love and might grow up in all things into Him who is the head-even Christ—from whom the whole body is joined and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which every part does its share. Please don’t miss that which the apostle Paul is speaking in this passage for he not only speaks of “what every joint supplies” but he also speaks of “by which every part does its share.” This is something we must needs understand and recognize within our hearts and minds for each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ has indeed been given a part and a share within the body as a whole. When we think about and speak of the spiritual body of Christ we must needs understand that each and every member has not only been given and appointed their own specific place which only they can occupy but they have also been given a responsibility within the spiritual body of Christ. Not only this but if you read the words which the apostle Paul writes in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul speaking of the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love being directly dependent on each part doing its share. What we must needs understand is that we cannot, we must not and dare not expect the growth of the body if each and every part is not doing its share. If the spiritual body in which you are presently a part of is not experiencing growth then I would strongly ask whether or not each and every part is in fact doing their share. The growth of the spiritual body is not the responsibility of the pastor or leader, nor is it the responsibility of the deacons and elders, nor is it the responsibility of the “leaders” and “leadership team” of the church. In order for the spiritual body of Christ to experience true and sustained growth each member must needs learn and recognize their place within the body, must occupy that place and must do their share in that place. KNOW YOUR PLACE! OCCUPY YOUR PLACE! WORK IN YOUR PLACE! Each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ must needs know their place within the body and must occupy that place for there is no other member that can occupy that place for them. Moreover there is no one else in the spiritual body of Christ that can do the work which you yourself have been called to do. It is up to you to discover and discern what you have indeed and have in fact been called to do in the midst of the spiritual body of Christ and continue in that role and function that the body might be edified and might indeed experience growth.
Moving on within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul continuing to provide practical instruction and admonition for the saints of God which were in Ephesus. The apostle Paul declared unto them that they should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind having their understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God. The apostle Paul describes these people who because of the ignorance that was in them and because of the blindness of their heart walked in the futility of their mind who were past feeling and gave themselves over to lewdness to work all uncleanness and greediness. The apostle Paul goes on to write and declare unto them that they have not learned Christ if indeed they have heard Him and have been taught by Him as the truth that was in Jesus. It was because of this they were to put off concerning their former conduct the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts that they might be renewed in the spirit of their mind. Moreover they were to put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. The apostle Paul also goes on to admonish and instruct them to put away lying and that each of them ought to speak truth with their neighbor. The spiritual members of the body of Christ must be angry and sin not that they let the sun go down on their wrath. The spiritual body of Christ was to give no place to the devil and those who stole ought to steal no longer but must labor as they work with their hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need. The saints of God must let no corrupt word proceed out of their mouth but only what is good for necessary edification that it may impart grace to the hearers. The members of the spiritual body of Christ must not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom they were sealed for the day of redemption and must let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from them with all malice. Not only this but they must be kind one to another, tender hearted and forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave them.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifth chapter. It is in the fifth chapter where the apostle Paul admonishes them to be imitators of God as dear Childrens and to walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. Please pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul emphatically declared unto and admonished them to be imitators of God. What’s more is I would dare say that we ought to not only be imitators of God but also imitators of Christ that we might step into and become that which has been ordained and appointed for us. We are to walk in love as Christ loved us and we must walk in forgiveness as God in Christ forgave us. If you want to know and understand two of the most important elements of Christian life as a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ you must recogniZe that they are forgiving one another and walking in love. It was Jesus Himself who declared that we must forgive others from the heart just as God in Christ forgave us and that if we don’t forgive others from the heart neither will God forgive us our trespasses. It was our Lord Himself who before He ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven declared unto His disciples that He gave them a new commandment that they would love one another. I am absolutely convinced that if you want to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ you must not only walk in forgiveness toward others but you must also walk in love for your neighbor, for your enemy, for your brother and for anyone you encounter and come in contact with. We as the saints of God and disciples of Christ must needs be those who understand and acknowledge that love and forgiveness must not be the exception to the Christian life in Christ but must be the standard and the norm. It is unto and for this we have been called that we might display the nature and character of Christ in this life unto and before all those we encounter and come in contact with.
We as the saints of God and disciples in Christ must needs walk as children of light finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but we are to expose them. Moreover everything that are exposed are made manifest by the light for whatever makes manifest is light. This is something Jesus Himself declared and spoke to when talking to Nicodemus for he declared how men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. We must needs understand that not only is Jesus the Light which is the life of men but that lines shines in and exposes all darkness. We are to walk in that light and must needs be conduits and vessels of that light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Not only this but we must needs walk circumspectly—not as fools but as wise—redeeming the time because the days are evil. We are not to be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is and must not be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. It is when we are filled with the Spirit we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs as we sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord as we give thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover we must needs be those who submit to one another in the fear of God as we esteem others as better than ourselves. Oh that we would read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and understand who and what we have been called to be in this world in Christ according to the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.