1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
The Church – we are many, but we are one – united in Christ. Though the Church is made up of many individuals, each has his or her own part in making up the body of Christ. Each member is like a part of a body, fulfilling a specific purpose to the greater purpose of the body as a whole.
Why do we gather as a church? To carry out the work of Christ in the world. To bring glory to God. He has commissioned us to go out and do His will and bring about His purposes. When we unite as one, we have strength in numbers, we have unity, we have a greater plan. In our unity, God works in us and through us, just as He works in and through us as individuals.
In each of us, He gives skills and abilities. In the corporate body He puts those skills to work, directing us right where He wants us. Often we pair with someone whose skills complement our own and our effectiveness is doubled, as two strands of rope are far stronger than one (even better with a third – God).
United as a body, we are an unstoppable force in the world for the cause of Christ.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Of all analogies given in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and man, maybe one of the most peculiar is that of husband and wife. Christ is the groom and we (collectively, as the Church) are His bride. Why is this comparison used to speak of our relationship with Jesus?
First of all, any analogy that tries to capture God within human understanding fails. God is not just like anything we have knowledge of. But He is kind of like a husband who loves his bride and would do anything (DID everything!) for her. The best attempt we have at coming close to understanding God’s love is a healthy marriage relationship where there is mutual love. Christ gave everything, His own perfect life, for His bride. He sacrificed it all that we might be reconciled to God.
We, His bride, are made spotless (here’s the white dress) to be presented at the marriage (Christ’s return). He’s made a covenant with us that will never be broken and He remains faithful. His love never falters, never fails. His love is true. And His love is for us. We await the perfect wedding day to come.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
If someone asked you what it means that we have redemption in Christ through His blood, how would you answer? Dating back to the Old Testament, the understanding of a redeemer was one who ransomed someone else, freed them from slavery or captivity. God was the Redeemer of Israel when He led them out of captivity in Egypt.
You and I have been redeemed too. When we accepted Christ we were freed from the slavery and bondage of sin. We’re no longer guilty. Christ’s finished work of atonement on the cross through His shed blood ransomed us from sin and we are no longer under its control.
Sometimes we still sin, but it’s not because we’re under the bondage of sin. We’ve been redeemed, we’re bought and paid for with a price. We belong to Christ. His blood paid our ransom.
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God. New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole. Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest. None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.
It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given. We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves. We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds. There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus. He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain. Only Christ can save us. Only He can set us free (John 8:32).
Ephesians 1:8-10 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
God loves to bless His people. We don’t have to do anything to earn His blessings, they’re a free gift – and that includes the gift of His Son. Now lest you get the wrong impression that this is a prosperity gospel message, let’s point out that God loves to bless us for the purpose of His glory, not merely for our enjoyment.
He lavished His riches on us in His Son in wisdom – with insight. He chose to reveal Himself to us in the form of Christ Jesus, making known the mystery of His will. He planned this from eternity – it’s always been the plan. This revelation brings Him glory and fulfills His will.
It’s in Jesus that all things are united. He’s the key. He’s the deal. In Him all things in heaven and on earth come together. God’s plan in showering His blessings on us is to bring glory to Himself and to make Christ known to all. He gives us what we have that He might use us to shine His light.
1 John 5:1-5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world. And what is it that comes from faith? Good works. A natural response to faith is obedience. When we know God and experience His love for us, we want to keep His commandments and follow everything He says to do. If we remain faithful in this, nothing can stop us.
This passage says that everyone who has been reborn overcomes the world. Are you overcoming the world? Have you taken the time to actually evaluate whether or not you’re overcoming the world? What does it even mean to overcome the world? Does that mean we don’t ever fall into temptation or that we don’t sin?
Sadly, most of us don’t think in terms of victory when we look at our lives. We’re not operating in our spiritual gifts or showing any fruit out of the faith we proclaim. Some of us aren’t even showing love to our fellow Christians, let alone to the people out in the world.
But we’ve been equipped. We’ve got the victory already if we’ll just do the next thing God calls us to do. That’s what obedience is. It’s not some lofty, unachievable goal. Obedience is doing the next thing God calls you to do. And when you’ve done it, do the next thing He calls you to do. Then the next. Obedience is a lot like walking. It’s one foot in front of the other.
Walk in victory, knowing that Jesus has already won the battle. The odds are in your favor. You can’t lose.
Romans 12:4-5 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Probably one of the most common metaphors for the Church is that of a body. Ask anyone if they know of a comparison to something given in the Bible to the Church, and they will likely answer that the Church is like a body. And rightly so, because this is used many times in the New Testament.
The problem, though, when something becomes common, is that we lose sight of what it really means. You’ve heard that the Church is like a body, but what does that mean? Does this apply only to the local church or to the global church as well?
Though we are many, scattered throughout the world, all believers in Christ are one body. Every member of the body is like a physical member of a physical body, each with its own particular function. I can’t do what you’re called to do, and you can’t do what I’m called to do.
As Christ followers, we belong to Him and He belongs to us. Beyond that, we all belong to each other. As Paul says, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Think of the body and how each member cares for the others. This is how we’re meant to be as the Church.
Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
Key verses: Matthew 28:6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
The truth about the work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with God is that it all means nothing if our God is still lying in a tomb. Jesus can’t mediate between God and man if He’s dead. If His death is the end, then we’re no better off.
But – our God lives. He isn’t dead. Death couldn’t hold Him. Hell couldn’t defeat Him. He is risen. He lives. And because He lives, we live. Jesus’ departure back into heaven is hope for us all that we’ll be resurrected as well, taken from this life into the next, never to die again. But it means something now too.
Because Jesus departed, God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. His departure means we now act on His behalf as Christians, and He’s empowered us to do so. No other religion on earth can make these claims because no other religion has a living Savior. We have a God so loving that He would sacrifice His Son in our place, and that God is so powerful that death cannot be the end for Him. HE IS RISEN!
Passage: John 19:28-30
Key verses: Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Since the sin of our first parents, we’ve been on the path of destruction. Only perfection can enter into the kingdom of heaven and we’re tainted. Our sinful nature bought for us a ticket straight to eternity away from God. But the story doesn’t end there.
You see, God couldn’t let it end that way. He loved His creation far too much to let us have what we deserved, so in the ultimate act of love, Jesus became flesh, God bankrupted heaven of its treasure, and He delivered us from destruction. Our debt was paid in His sacrifice. Everything we owed was paid in full when He died on that cross. He transferred us to His kingdom, a life spent with God, not apart from Him. He redeemed us.
In Christ we have full forgiveness. Our slate is clean, our record is wiped out. We owe Him everything, because He has set us free. In Him we have life. His death finished the work that He was sent here to do. But still the story doesn’t end there. No, that part of the story gets us to Friday – but Sunday is the part that makes it all mean something. Sunday is the main event.
Passage: Luke 23:26-49
Key verses: Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross. The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple. God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins. Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.
Jesus took on our sins. Read that again. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself. He took our punishment, bought our redemption. That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven. It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are. It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. Let that sink in. Weep over the fact that it was necessary.
My sins nailed Him to that cross. Your sins drove those spikes in. Our rejection of God killed Him. And He chose to be there. As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted. But He chose the cross. He chose suffering in our place. Because He loved us. Even before we existed. That’s the truth of the cross.