Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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August 2009  •  Volume XII, Issue 16


One Body Animated by One Spirit (1)

Ephesians 4:4-6 declares, "[4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are 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." The outstanding feature of this text is its repetition of the word "one." Seven times that numeral is used: thrice in verse 4, thrice in verse 5 and once in verse 6. Not once does this text use dualities or pluralities. It does not speak of two hopes or three faiths or four baptisms. It is "one" and only "one" right the way through: "one body," "one Spirit," "one hope," "one Lord," "one faith," "one baptism," "one God and Father of all." This is a remarkable emphasis on oneness.

But what is the main thought which forms the organizing principle of these seven "ones"? It is the first "one" of the text: "There is one body" (4). The one body is the church, as the context teaches. Moreover, the "one body" is to be taken together with "one Spirit." Not only is "one Spirit" prominent in the preceding verse (3) and next in the text (4), but it is also joined to "one body" by the conjunction "and"—the only "and" between any of the seven "ones." Moreover, "one body, and one Spirit" is somewhat separated from the five later "ones." So it comes down to this: the main idea is the "one body, and one Spirit" (4), which is further developed by the five succeeding "ones" (4-6).

In what sense is the church spoken of as "one body" in Ephesians 4:4? It is not referring to the various instituted churches. They are not numerically one; they are many. They are not doctrinally one; they differ among themselves. The "one body" in the text is the invisible organism of the church—all those who live out of Jesus Christ crucified, all the elect of all ages and nations, who are beloved of God who alone sees the heart. This invisible organism—the "one body"—is what we confess in the Apostles’ Creed: "I believe an holy, catholic church; the communion of saints."

The invisible organism of the church is called a body because it consists of many parts with various roles and functions, like a human body which has tendons and ears and knuckles and kidneys and a duodenum, etc., with all its multitudinous parts joined together into one harmonious whole. The body of the church is alive, like a human body, for it is united to Jesus Christ, the head.

God’s invisible church is one body—and must be one and can never be two or more— because it is predestinated as one body, with all the elect having their own particular role, you included, believer. It is redeemed as one body, for Christ died for the church and gave Himself for her (5:25). It is glorified as one body forever and ever in the new heavens and new earth. Rev. Stewart

Hypocrites in the Church

Question: "How can exorcists be unsaved (Matt. 7:22-23)? And where does iniquity figure in the matter?"

Matthew 7:21-23 reads, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

You will notice that, although the questioner asks only concerning verses 22 and 23, I have quoted verse 21 as well, for it belongs to the passage and, indeed, contains the key to the understanding of the passage.

Further, the broader context in which these words of Jesus are found include verses 15-20, in which Jesus warns against false prophets who seem to be godly and pious folk, but who are "ravening wolves" (15) whose sole motive in entering the sheepfold of Christ is to destroy the flock, frequently by milking the people of as much of their financial resources as is possible and, consequently, living in luxury themselves. Today, the world is full of such preachers and evangelists. They proclaim their false doctrine on radio and TV, and in huge auditoriums where they can, with advertising that would make many businesses covetous, display their wares under the guise of religion. It is an accurate measure of the sad state of religion in the world today that these charlatans can draw thousands of people and persuade them to part with their financial resources so easily.

However that may be, the questioner makes two assumptions that are related to each other but that need to be questioned. The first is that in our modern era there is something similar to demon possession as was to be found in Palestine during the years of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In fact, the devil, being well aware of the Lord’s presence on earth to accomplish our salvation, made a powerful show of his opposition to Christ by the many instances of demon possession that filled the land.

But this is quite different from today. Whether there is still demon possession today in the sense in which it was present in Palestine is a moot question. I talked once to a Christian psychiatrist who had seen hundreds of mental patients. I asked him whether he had ever seen a demon-possessed person. His answer, after some thought, was: "I may have seen such a person once or twice; but I cannot be sure."

I say that it is a moot question because the instances of demon possession present in Palestine were for the most part physical. Today, demon possession manifests itself in a far worse and far more dreadful spiritual demon possession. The world of wicked men is under the control of Satan so completely that, as sin continues to develop, Satan has his way with men in the execution of his purpose. Not the Hitlers and Stalins only; not the brutal mafia and gang-inspired murderers only; not the homosexuals and abortionists only; but also the evolutionists in the universities, the atheists in the pulpits, the man down the street divorced and remarried three times, the houses of prostitution—all these are evidences of a far worse demon possession than Jesus encountered. In fact, He sovereignly decreed these horrible physical manifestations of demon possession to demonstrate vividly the terrible reality of a spiritual demon possession, which Christ Himself overcomes in the establishment of His kingdom (12:28).

In short, exorcists are charlatans. How are today’s demon-possessed people delivered from demons? By the preaching of the gospel of salvation in Christ, made effective by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the elect. That is the important thing!

Although the questioner refers especially to exorcists in his question, the Lord is not limiting Himself to such quacks. He speaks of those who prophesy, who do many wonderful works, who say "Lord, Lord" and claim to glorify His name. That is, there are hypocrites in the church world who claim that they are religious and pious, who profess that they serve the Lord, but who, in fact, do not. These hypocrites are everywhere, filling the minds and hearts of gullible people with false ideas concerning what religion is all about. They are a plague on the church and give to true religion a bad name throughout society.

But there are also hypocrites in the true churches. These are people who profess to be children of God, who are in church every Lord’s day, who do not commit adultery with their neighbour’s wife, who never defraud their fellow man and who even have religion on their lips. They are frequently heard to say, "Lord, Lord."

Whether they be in the local Pentecostal tabernacle, in the studio of a television network, in the mission committee of a local church or distributing pamphlets on religious subjects, their piety is external. Even if they claim to prophesy, to cast out devils, to do great works "for the Lord," their religion is external and of no account before God.

God is interested in only one thing: "Does Mr. Smyth do My will?" That is all. He that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven is the true citizen of the kingdom. Not an outward religion, not mighty works of charity, not charisma on the TV screen, not eloquent words of a religious sort: nothing of this kind is good in God’s sight.

The same high-powered evangelist who claims to heal the sick is out driving past beggars in his new Jaguar and has just left his sixteen-room mansion. The man in the front pew on Sunday morning can not wait to get outside to play his 18 holes of golf. The chairman of the church’s building committee has just divorced his wife. The leader in the Sunday School flirts with some young girl in one of his classes.

But there is also the man who seems to be listening intently to the sermon, but who comes to church only out of fear of an elder’s visit, or must, he thinks, leave his fellow parishioners with an exalted view of his extraordinary piety, or is plotting how he can outwit his boss to earn a little extra money, or who donates vast sums to the church’s many projects, but takes the Lord’s name in vain on his job.

The church has people who listen to the preaching and rave about the powerful sermon they have just heard as the minister tells them how good they are, but who ignore the preaching that condemns sin and calls to repentance, and who are quick to point their finger at the man across the aisle, while in their hearts they almost literally mimic the Pharisee, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are" (Luke 18:11).

Thankfully, there are also those who do the will of the Father in heaven. They confess with awe and amazement that the everlasting God is their Saviour and they bring their silent prayers of thankful worship to Him every day. They are frequently mothers in the home who bear the burdens of caring for their children and families and who are intent on showing their children the ways of God’s covenant. There are homes where fathers lead their families in Bible teaching and prayer and who work long, hard hours that they may help the poor, support Christian education and promote the preaching of the gospel. They do not sit in church critical of the minister, of the sermon, of the elders or of their fellow saints. As they listen, a tear may fall down their cheeks as, in humble repentance, they confess their sins and plead for mercy.

Their deeds are written in the records of heaven, because no one but God notices them. They are continually in prayer for divine succour, for they know with absolute certainty that God gives grace to the humble and strength to those who rely on Christ.

And at the judgment, they are not to be found among those who say, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Did not we send a check for a thousand dollars to Uganda to feed the poor? Did not we organize a ‘Help For Africa’ committee and send out brochures to thousands of addresses to solicit funds? Did not we put our hands on deaf people and restore their hearing—on public television?" But the Lord’s answer is: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

But there are others who say to Him who is on the great, white throne, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? We can not remember doing any of these things, for we are great sinners who deserve nothing." To them the Lord will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren [to your little children when with a kiss you put a plaster on a skinned knee and told them to look to the Lord; to a crippled saint in your church for whom you baked a cherry pie], ye have done it unto me." Read Matthew 25:31-46.  Prof. Hanko

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