A STRONG REACTION against the transcendent grace of
God, which is ours in this economy, seems to have set in, even among
those who proclaim "body truth." Membership in the body is
made an attainment, depending upon knowledge and walk. The saints are
divided into several bodies instead of being all one in Christ Jesus.
The unities of Ephesians four are denied. Paul prayed that God might
give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation to realize the faith which is
ours, to perceive the prospect of its call, and what is its glorious
riches among the saints (Eph.1:15-18). Now this is reversed. We are told
that we have nothing which we do not realize. We must perceive our
position, or we will not get it. We will be reduced to a lower
"body" if we do not see the "mystery." We must earn
what is ours in Christ!
How different was it with the Corinthians! They were
fleshly. They were minors. Paul could not make the "mysteries"
known to them because of their immaturity. We have no record of less
worthy objects of God's grace in Paul's epistles, for even their morals
were low. Yet to these he writes, "Now you are the body of
Christ (1 Cor.12:27). He makes no exceptions. Rather, the figure of the
body in Corinthians demands dishonorable members (1 Cor. 12:23).
It is the same spirit of sectarianism which casts out
of the church those who are defective in doctrine, though the deniers of
the resurrection were not cut off from the Corinthians. It is true
indeed that, in Corinthians, the members of the one body differ in rank.
Some are honorable and strong, others weak and deficient. Yet even there
they were blended together, so that there was no schism in the body, so
that all were mutually solicitous over one another, and sympathized with
each other. Now we are told that they belong to different bodies, with
different faiths and other expectations. But in Ephesians the body is a joint-body.
All members are of equal rank. God's grace superabounds to all.
There is only one body.
Abraham did not believe the doctrine of justification
in order to be justified. He believed God. He believed that God
would do as He had said about his seed. Everyone who believes God today
concerning Christ, receives infinite treasures in Him, no matter how
feeble his faith, or how little he perceives of his riches in the
Beloved. God is not bartering so many gifts for so much faith.
By their fruits you shall know them. This teaching is
the fruit of a partitioning which is unwarranted and unscriptural. It
comes from the human tendency to exalt self, so that even God's grace is
used to divide Christ, and Paul, and the saints, placing some in an
exclusive and superior caste. All recovery of truth is almost sure to
become corrupted. It has always been so, and it is so today. Let us
avoid all teaching which separates the saints of today into bodies
according to their knowledge or experience, or gives to them different
destinies or expectations depending on their attainments.
As a result of the teaching contained in the first
three chapters of Ephesians, the apostle lists the unities of the
spirit--one faith, one expectation, one body.
Strange to say, many who stress Pauline teaching, and almost narrow down
the truth for today to the Ephesian letter, arrive at exactly the
opposite conclusion--two or more faiths, as many destinies and bodies.
Of course, in each case "we"--in contrast to ordinary
believers who do not understand "body" truth--are superior! We
have a body of our own, and a unique destiny! Does not this show clearly
that Ephesians has not been understood? That the "mystery" has
not been grasped? Let me implore those whom God has enlightened on these
themes to avoid all teaching which leads to such a sectarian and
divisive attitude toward others who may not have much light. If they
believe God they are in Christ just as much as we are, and in Him they
are complete, whether they know it or not.