Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Increase Your Desire for Baptisms by Diligence in Improving Your Own! (2020.07.25 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)


Hopewell Herald – July 25, 2020

Dear Congregation,

We were blessed to attend upon the sacrament of baptism this past Lord’s Day. Among the many thoughts that this has fostered for me is that this doesn’t happen often enough.

Many of us, as we have begun to prepare better for the Supper, and attend better upon the Supper, and respond better to the Supper, have longingly desired to move to a biblical frequency (weekly) of taking that Supper together. When we go weeks without it, we feel famished of it; and, how dreadful it is if we happen to miss one and must wait two full months!

Why are we not longing more for the sacrament of baptism? Surely, if we view covenant children as Scripture does, we should be eager for the Lord to add them to us. And in this way, we ought to longingly desire to see more of their baptisms. Surely, if we view the bringing in of those who are far off as Scripture does, and if we love the souls of lost men, and the glory of Him Who is the Redeemer of those souls, we ought to longingly desire to see more of their baptisms.

But I wonder if one of the ways that the Lord grows us up into connecting these theological dots to form a picture of longing desire in our hearts is by our attending better upon the sacrament itself.

Ever powerfully and succinctly condensing Scripture truth, our Larger Catechism says this about our attending upon Baptism:
Q. 167. How is baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others;

by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein;

by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements;

by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament;

by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and

by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

Did you take the time, and put in the effort, to do these things before last week’s baptisms? With them fresh upon your mind, were you able to renew and stoke these heart-actings-upon-God by faith during the administration of it? Did you reflect later upon what had transpired with the three who were baptized, meditating upon the effects of the Lord having also done the same to you?

Baptism is a means of God’s grace! Just as you have discovered that, in approaching the Supper in a biblical way, He has been faithful to make it effectual to your benefit. So will you discover that improving your own baptism in a biblical way, He will be faithful to increase your benefit and joy from it.

And, I suspect, that one of these benefits will be an increased desire to see more of them. An increased crying out for the blessing of covenant children. An increased faithfulness in the duties by which He brings them to faith and applies to them the full and eternal blessings of the covenant. An increased “truthing” among one another (tune in to the sermon on Ephesians 4:15 in a couple weeks!) and especially unto the lost, that we might see them brought to faith in Jesus Christ, added to His church, and baptized.

Perhaps, in working on improving our baptisms, not only in times of its administration to others, but also in times of temptation (cf. WLC 167 above), we can be looking to God to give us a biblical increase in the frequency of that sacrament as well!

Looking forward to worshiping Him with you in the other means of grace tomorrow,

Pastor

2020.07.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 30:25–43

Questions from the Scripture text: What event triggers Jacob’s request in Genesis 30:25? Where does he ask to be sent? What does he ask to be given (Genesis 30:26)? What point does he make for his request? What does Laban ask in Genesis 30:27? What reason does he give for his request? What offer does he make in Genesis 30:28? What point does Jacob make about the livestock in Genesis 30:29-30? What does Jacob say that he does not want to do (Genesis 30:31)? What does he request to receive instead (Genesis 30:32)? Why does he suggest that this will be a good way of dividing between the two (Genesis 30:33)? How does Laban answer in Genesis 30:34?  Whom would we expect (based upon verse 32) is taking the action in Genesis 30:35? Whom do we discover is actually doing it in Genesis 30:36? What does Jacob do in Genesis 30:37-38? What result does this have in Genesis 30:39? What does he do with the two flocks in Genesis 30:40? How did he decide when to do what in Genesis 30:41-42? What was the result for Jacob in Genesis 30:43?
It seems that Rachel finally bears Joseph after Jacob’s fourteenth year serving Laban (Genesis 30:25). He believes that he should be free to go and requests the official end to his hired service to Laban (Genesis 30:26). But Laban (Genesis 30:27) and Jacob (Genesis 30:29-30) both agree that Laban’s flock has prospered under Jacob’s hand.

Now that the Lord has prospered Jacob with a household, Jacob needs to make that household prosper (end of verse 30). But, he has come to know Laban to be a ruthless man, and we know from Exodus 21:4 (and other ancient near eastern documents) that it was widely accepted that children born to a man while in servitude do not necessarily leave with the man when the time of his service is done. There is some question over whether he will be able to take his own children with him, but the answer ends up being put off until Genesis 31:43, which occurs in the wake of Genesis 31:29.

Laban actually doesn’t even ask Jacob to stay (notice the italics on “stay” in Genesis 31:27 of the NKJV). He just asks to renegotiate the wages. “And Laban said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your eyes—I have divined that Yahweh has blessed me because of you.’ And he said, ‘name your wages to me, and I will give.’” He avoids the question of Jacob leaving entirely.

It is interesting that Jacob, who gave lip-service to God’s opening and closing the womb in Genesis 31:2, puts so much conniving effort into making the strongest of the sheep and goats turn out speckled and spotted for himself (Genesis 31:37-42). Indeed, we’re not even sure that what Jacob did had anything to do with the prosperity of Genesis 31:43 (The NKJV’s “thus” is just a vav conjunction “and” at the beginning of the first word).

But, Jacob is Jacob after all. And, he has spent 14 years in the house of the great swindler, Laban, who has continued his dishonest ways in Genesis 31:34-36.

The great message of this passage, like so many that precede it in the book of Genesis and specifically in Jacob’s life, is that God is faithfully and generously keeping His promises by great grace and mercy and certainly not through any strength or worthiness on Jacob’s part.

Against Laban’s attempt to minimize Jacob’s gains, the Lord prospered him.

Over-against his own combination of manipulativeness, silliness, and superstition, the Lord was merciful to him. Oh that we would see ourselves rightly, so that we might see His mercy rightly!
How has God been merciful to you? What are some examples of why you don’t deserve it, or what He has overcome in order to give it to you? Why doesn’t this excuse foolishness or sin?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, July 24, 2020

2020.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 7:1–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus conclude in Luke 7:1? Where did He then enter? To whom does Luke 7:2 introduce us? What did he have? How did he feel about this bondslave (lit.)? What was happening to his bondslave? About what had he heard (Luke 7:3)? Whom did he send? What did they plead? To Whom did they come (Luke 7:4)? In what manner did they beg? What particular reasoning did they give? What did they say in favor of his deservingness (Luke 7:5)? What does Jesus do in Luke 7:6? Whom does the centurion send? What do they tell Jesus not to do? What does the centurion think of himself with respect to Christ? Of what else had he thought of himself unworthy (Luke 7:7)? What does he ask Jesus to do instead? What does he believe will happen? What was the centurion under (Luke 7:8)? What did he have under him? What did those under him do out of respect to those over him? How did Jesus respond to hearing this (Luke 7:9)? To whom did He speak? What did He say He had not found? Where did He say that He had not found it? To where did the sent ones return (Luke 7:10)? What did they find?
Luke 7:9 stops us in our tracks. “When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him.” It catches our attention when Jesus is impressed by something. Jesus goes on to say that He found this man’s faith to be particularly great.

That is high commendation. Wouldn’t you like to have faith that Jesus Himself calls “great”?!

So, let us look closely at what the centurion says in Luke 7:8. What we find is that faith in Jesus is not only faith that He has authority to command, but also that (in His human nature, as our Mediator) He is under the authority of heaven. Just as Rome was the authority behind everything that the centurion commanded his soldiers, so also God Himself is behind everything that Jesus does in His human nature (remembering, of course, that Jesus is also God).

The centurion’s commands and actions are that of a Rome-man. The empire commanded his soldiers whatever the centurion commanded.

This explains why the centurion considered himself unworthy either to have Jesus come to him (Luke 7:6) or to have Jesus receive him (Luke 7:7). Amazingly, he considered the Jewish elders (Luke 7:3) and his friends (Luke 7:6) more worthy than himself. This corresponds well to how his bondslave (doulos) would be “dear to him” (Luke 7:2). And how marvelous that this centurion knew that Jesus, the compassionate, would be more moved by unworthiness than worthiness. Certainly, the elders he sent didn’t understand this (cf. Luke 7:4-5).

So, what is this marvelous faith? Faith that considers self unworthy. Faith that considers others more worthy. But especially faith that sees Jesus’s human actions as the actions of a divine Person—that knows that it was with God’s own blood that He has purchased the church (cf. Acts 28:20)!
What does your faith believe about yourself? About others? About Jesus and His actions?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Praying as Dear Children of a Holy Judge and Father (1Pet 1:17 Prayer Devotional)

1Peter 1:17 teaches us to pray because God is our Father Who is always available, able, and willing; because God is our Judge Who rules over all and has justified us in Christ; because we need His help for doing works that accord with His judgment; and, because we need His help to resemble Christ well in our limited time on earth.

2020.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:8–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Ephesians 4:8 quote from Psalm 68? What does Ephesians 4:9 teach from the “he ascended” (cf. Psalm 139:15)? To where has He ascended (Ephesians 4:10a, cf. Ephesians 1:20–21)? What does He do from there, verse 10b, cf. Ephesians 1:23, 2:19)?
God’s plan to call each believer to a different part in His church is ultimately a plan to glorify His Son.

But how could His Son ascend? Isn’t He, from all eternity and from the beginning of creation, above all creatures? Ephesians 4:8-9 reasons that, for Psalm 68:18 to be true of God, the incarnation would have to happen.

For God to be able to ascend, God would “first have to descend into the lower parts of the earth.” This phrase in Ephesians 4:9 is borrowed from Psalm 139:15, “My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

Isn’t it glorious to know that Psalm 139 is a Messianic Psalm about Christ taking the role assigned to Him—to be made like us? And Christ perfectly hated the wicked, taking His own hatred out upon Himself, for all those upon whom He had set His love.

Having succeeded in a perfectly obedient life and fully atoning death, He not only rose again in victory but also ascended in that victory “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21).

Thus, God has indeed ascended (having first descended), just as prophesied in Psalm 68:18. Hallelujah!

And what is He doing from His glorious seat? Ruling and overruling all things for His church (Ephesians 1:22), which is His body (Ephesians 1:23), the fullness of Him who fills all things (Ephesians 4:10, cf. Ephesians 1:23) and especially fills that church with all the fullness of God (cf. Ephesians 3:19).

Surely, it is a great wonder that God the Son has become a creature, descended into a womb to become a man. But the emphasis in this wonder isn’t upon the humility of His filling a womb in the past. Its emphasis is upon the glory of His presently filling the church from His super-exalted seat in glory (Ephesians 1:10)! There is a resurrected Man (Who is God!) sitting upon the throne of heaven!!

Believers need to see by faith—by being convinced of the truths of these Scriptures—the great glory that is in the church… even a church that yet requires us to be longsuffering toward one another and bear with one another in love (cf. Ephesians 4:2).
When, in our lives, do we fellowship with and dwell upon Him who descended and ascended?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH370 “A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

2020.07.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 1 Samuel 14:24–46

Questions from the Scripture text: How do the men of Israel feel in 1 Samuel 14:24? Why—what had Saul done? What had the people not done? To what does the army come in 1 Samuel 14:25? What do they find there (1 Samuel 14:26)? What didn’t the people do? Why not? What does Jonathan do in 1 Samuel 14:27? With what result? What does one of the people say to him in 1 Samuel 14:28? What does Jonathan say that his father had done (1 Samuel 14:29)? What does Jonathan wish the people had done (1 Samuel 14:30)? What would have happened in that case? What had the people done 1 Samuel 14:31? How did this make them feel? What did they do, in 1 Samuel 14:32, when victory had been secured? Why was this a problem (1 Samuel 14:33)? What does Saul ask for in verse 33b? What was the purpose of the stone (1 Samuel 14:34)? What did Saul build in 1 Samuel 14:35? What did he propose in 1 Samuel 14:36? What do the people say? What does the priest say? Of whom did does Saul ask counsel in 1 Samuel 14:37? What doesn’t God do? What does Saul assume is the reason for this (1 Samuel 14:38)? What does he propose to do (1 Samuel 14:39)? What does he do to find out whom to blame (1 Samuel 14:40-42)? Whom does it end up being? What does Saul ask Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14:43? What does he decide to do in 1 Samuel 14:44? But how do the people answer, and what do the people do (1 Samuel 14:45)? Where do the respective armies/commanders go in 1 Samuel 14:46?
Our sin can turn a day of salvation (1 Samuel 14:23) into a day of distress (1 Samuel 14:24). Saul, who failed to wait for Samuel’s sacrifice in 1 Samuel 13:9–13 has employed the rejected house of Ichabod (1 Samuel 14:3) to overcompensate with unrequired priestly services (1 Samuel 4:18–19) to go with his unrequired and foolish oath 1 Samuel 14:241 Samuel 14:29-30.

In fact, after Yahweh had saved them anyway (1 Samuel 14:231 Samuel 14:44-45), Saul was more committed to his manmade religious ideas than justice to save the life of his son who hadn’t even heard the oath (1 Samuel 14:43, cf. 1 Samuel 14:27a).

This is the great danger, when the principle of our religion is “do whatever seems good to you,” which becomes something of a refrain in 1 Samuel 14:36 and 1 Samuel 14:39. That’s an apt summary of how Saul has been operating. And, too often, it is an apt summary of the worship and service of the church.

But, if our trust is that Yahweh is saving us, we will be content to offer Him as religious service exactly whatever He has commanded, then go out and serve and obey, knowing that He is free to do all His holy will, and that He is pleased to do us good by His own grace for His own glory. That was how Jonathan was operating (cf. 1 Samuel 14:6), in stark contrast to his own father.

The real question for us is if that is how we are operating. Do we believe that the Lord accomplishes all, by Christ’s finished work and the Spirit’s application of that work? Are we content to offer as worship, and do for discipleship, merely those things that He has commanded? Do we then obey and serve in the world, with the daring and diligence to know that the Lord will surely accomplish His own will?

Much religiosity has as its foundation unbelief and fear like Saul’s and can result in resisting the Lord Himself and endangering the very best of His people. May the Lord protect us from it!
What is your religious life like? What daring and diligent things has trusting Christ’s success freed you to do?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

2020.07.20 Session Meeting Digest

Hopewell Session Meeting Digest
Stated Meeting, July 20, 2020
The Session continues to be grateful for your prayers, service, and encouragements. We had a number of observers come this month. If you would like to do so next month, perhaps to learn how things go, or just to pray for us as we meet, please note that next month’s meeting is August 10. You are welcome to attend in person, but if you wish to do so via Zoom, please contact Elder Mangum. The following are some highlights of important items and actions from this month’s regular (stated) meeting.

2020.07.21 Hopewell Harbinger

Hopewell This Week, July 20–26, 2020
(attachments not available in the online version; to receive via email, click the red link at the left)
From Elder Mangum (you may contact him with any questions that you may have; this is the same course that was taught at Hopewell last fall, and all who participated in it found it quite worthwhile): The Combat Lifesaver Course is taught to every person who enters the U.S. Army. The Course teaches the soldier how to keep himself and his buddies alive until Medic or other medical personnel are available. The context is trauma such as gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds, etc. My organization, Combat Edge, teaches this “First Aid” Course to civilians. Much personal study is required prior to the course. The Course will be taught Saturday, August 29, 2020, at the American Legion Hall in Columbia, TN (8am-5pm). Any adult who wishes to take this course please contact me, Dr. Samuel Richardson, by phone or text at 931-398-8971, or Voice call 601-668-1144. Advance Registration is required.

The Session of elders met last night for the regular monthly meeting. The “Session Meeting Digest” is attached.

▫Attached is a pdf of Lord’s Day’s Worship Booklet, complete with Hopewell @Home devotionals for this week, in addition to 8.5x11's of the memory verse and catechism questions that can be used as posters to help with memory work.

▫The links are now active for the Sabbath School class (Racial Reconciliation, Part 3: True Peace Found Only in Christ),  morning sermon (Eph 4:1–7, “The High Calling, Heavenly Congregation, and Humble Conduct of Church Members”), and evening sermon (Genesis 30:1–24, “The Gospel of Grace: Salvation by God's Goodness Alone and God's Power Alone”) from yesterday, as well as last week’s Prayer Meeting lesson (James 5:16b–18, “The Prayer of Faith That Works and Accomplishes Much”).

The Gospel of Grace: Salvation by God's Goodness Alone and God's Power Alone (2020.07.19 Evening Sermon in Genesis 30:1–24)

Jacob is wicked and weak. Rachel is wicked and weak. Leah is wicked and weak. Every single one of the fathers of the tribes of Israel is an example of wickedness or weakness or both.

Racial Reconciliation, Part 3: True Peace Found Only in Christ (2020.07.19 Sabbath School Lesson)

True reconciliation has already been accomplished by Christ, and is applied in the lives of believers. Only believers can genuinely love. And their love can genuinely cover over one another's sins because those sins have been forgiven at the cross, those sins are being used by God for good, and those sins are soon going to be eradicated.

2020.07.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:1–25

Questions from the Scripture text: In what does the apostle command them to stand fast (Galatians 5:1)? Who has given us our freedom? What does the apostle again call submission to the Jewish church calendar and ceremonies? What are they considering doing, according to Galatians 5:2? How much will Christ profit them, if they seek spiritual value in circumcision? And if a man is circumcised because he feels a religious obligation to, what else is he indebted to do (Galatians 5:3)? What two things does Galatians 5:4 say have happened to those who attempt to be justified by law? Through Whose power did we come to faith (Galatians 5:5)? What do we eagerly expect to receive by this faith? What two things avail nothing, according to Galatians 5:6? What, in Christ Jesus, is effective? How does the apostle describe their former Christian walk in Galatians 5:7? What question does he now ask? From whom does the apostle say that their new ideas have not come (Galatians 5:8)? What does Galatians 5:9 call additions to the Christian religion that do not come from God? What do such additions do to the rest of one’s Christianity? What does the apostle have confidence will be their response to his letter (Galatians 5:10a)? But what does the apostle say will happen to the one who holds to these additions? What have some, apparently, been saying that Paul still teaches (Galatians 5:11a)? But what is he suffering for preaching as sufficient without circumcision? To what does the apostle equate the idea that circumcision has spiritual value (Galatians 5:12)? What does the apostle call them in Galatians 5:13? To what does he say they have been called? What does he warn them against using their liberty as? For what should they use their liberty? Through what may we serve one another? Does Galatians 5:14 argue for disregarding the law? How does it say to fulfill the law? What does he warn them against doing to one another in Galatians 5:15? What does he warn them will happen if they do this? Looking back at verse 15, what would be the outcome of walking according to the flesh? By what (Whom!), instead (Galatians 5:16), does the apostle urge them to walk? What would they then not fulfill? Against what does the flesh set its desire (Galatians 5:17)? Against what does the Spirit set His desire? What is the relationship between the flesh and the Spirit? What does the believer end up not doing? What are believers not under, if they are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18)? Which works are evident (Galatians 5:19)? What sixteen specific works do Galatians 5:19-21 mention? How does Galatians 5:21 end the list? When does the apostle say that he is telling the church? Before what—of what event is he speaking? Is this the first time that he tells them? About whom is he especially speaking at the end of verse 21? What will they not do? Which works had been covered in Galatians 5:19-21? Whose desires are against these (cf. Galatians 5:17)? What does Galatians 5:22 call the list in these verses? How many aspects of the (singular!) fruit are named? Which aspects are conditions of the heart? Which govern relation toward others? Which govern one’s relation to himself? How do these relate to God’s laws? To Whom do some people belong (Galatians 5:24)? What have those who genuinely belong to Christ done? In Whom do those who belong to Christ live (Galatians 5:25)? What must they also do in the Spirit? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from Galatians 5 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit.

This chapter highlights that it is Christ who has freed us, and the Spirit who is applying Christ to us by producing love in us (Galatians 5:1–6). Manmade rules or rituals bring us back into slavery, because they take us away from Christ’s cross to self-trust and self-atonement (Galatians 5:7-15).

Contrary to this, the Spirit does not indulge our flesh but opposes it, and we must also (Galatians 5:16-21), trusting in Him and trusting in Christ, Whom He applies to us. As the Spirit applies Christ to us, the first principle of the fruit that He produces in us is love (Galatians 5:6Galatians 5:14Galatians 5:22), together with all of the other aspects of Christ’s character in one whose life is the Spirit-fruit of Christlikeness (Galatians 5:22-23).

A Christian can be neither one who trusts in self or lives for self, but rather one who is Christ’s (Galatians 5:24), trusting in Him and walking with Him by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)!
To which do you think you are more prone: trusting in self or living for self? How is each of these inconsistent with how God saves/sanctifies? For your own particular spiritual/theological weakness, of what about Jesus or His Spirit do you need to be reminding yourself?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”

Monday, July 20, 2020

The High Calling, Heavenly Congregation, and Humble Conduct of Church Members (2020.07.19 Morning Sermon from Ephesians 4:1–7)


Ephesians 4:1–7 is a transition that builds upon the glory of God in the church, upon which the apostle has been expounding for three members. Because being a part of Christ's building/body, and participating in Christ's project of building/growing that building/body, is to dwell upon the glory of God among those in whom He has invested His own glory... the manner of our conduct as we participate in the building ought to be humble, gentle, enduring, and patient.

2020.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call himself in Ephesians 4:1? What does he beseech them to do? According to what? By what three characteristics is such walking marked (Ephesians 4:2a)? What does such walking do (verse 2b)? What does such walking endeavor to keep (Ephesians 4:3a)? By what have they been bound (verse 3b)? What six things do Ephesians 4:4-5 tell us all believers have in common? Upon what final commonality does Ephesians 4:6 focus, and what does it say about Him? What was given to each believer (Ephesians 4:7a)? Who measured out gifts to each (verse 7b)?
The various callings of church members are all glorious. The apostle had referred to his being imprisoned as a result of the dispensation of God’s grace given to him (Ephesians 3:2) and the role of preaching Christ to the nations as a grace that was given to him (Ephesians 3:8).

Now, he is going to be talking about the one equipping that we all receive (Ephesians 4:8-16) for a kind of life in the world (Ephesians 4:17-24, Ephesians 5:1–16) and in the church (Ephesians 4:25–32, Ephesians 5:17–21) that is expressed in each of our particular callings—whether in marriage (Ephesians 5:22–33), childhood and parenting (Ephesians 6:1–4), or the workplace (Ephesians 6:5–9). Of these particular callings he says in Ephesians 4:7, “to each of us grace was given according to the [portioning out] of Christ’s gift.”

So, the apostle has a calling as an apostle. And each of us have particular callings.

But we also all have one glorious calling—the calling of being a member of Christ’s church, a citizen, a family member, part of God’s glorious house (Ephesians 2:19–22). The church is both a building that is being built upon Christ, and a body that is growing up into Christ (Ephesians 4:15–16). And being a member of the church of the Triune God is the number one calling of every believer.

This is why the manner of our conduct (something that should be similar for each of us, regardless of the particular calling) is the first thing that he deals with before he gets to treating the matter of our conduct (particular actions, Ephesians 4:17–6:9).

Our character comes from this glorious calling to be part of the glory-temple that God has planned to build for Himself in Christ from before time began. This temple, this body, is a single unit, an organic whole being built by the Holy Spirit, so our conduct toward each other needs to reflect that the Spirit is joining us together by means of the peace that Christ has won for us with God and one another (end of Ephesians 4:3, cf. Ephesians 2:14–18). We need to respond to one another not according to the feelings of the moment, but according to the glorious reality of what Christ has done on the cross, what the Spirit is doing in applying it to us, and what we as a body/building shall be at the last when the Lord’s work is done in us.

If we are obsessed with God’s gloriousness, and see other church members as united to Christ, this compels us to “lowliness and gentleness.” If we are acting toward one another as we will wish we had, when we are all perfected in glory, then we will be “longsuffering and bearing with one another” now.

Our faith looks back to God’s testimony about Christ’s finished work, and our baptism is God’s testimony about the method and certainty of the Spirit’s applying that work to us and finishing that work in us and in His whole church—all of whom receive the same testimony from God.

And, if our God and Father, Whose glory is the ultimate purpose of all things, is especially glorified by our longsuffering and bearing with one another, let us be mindful of the fact that this life is our last opportunity for that. Once our brothers and sisters are perfected, they will no longer be sinning against us and giving us this avenue by which to bring this particular glory to God!

Oh, let us be more impressed by God, His glory, and His gospel than by any other factor in how we think of, speak about, and act toward anyone in the body of Christ!
About whom do you most need the reminders about what Christ has done for them, what the Spirit is doing in them, and the Father’s glory in giving His Son and Spirit? How are you going to be reminding yourself? What action are you going to take to reinforce these reminders?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”