There Is One Body and One Spirit: 1. There Is One Body and One Spirit

Ephesians 4:4  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 12
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I trust the following remarks on the momentous subject at the head of this paper, may be found useful at the present time, and that an ever gracious Lord may vouchsafe His blessing on the perusal of them to many of His people, and open up to their minds this most important of all truths, and enable them to seize it in some measure from this outline, and link their souls practically to the divine principles set forth therein.
The Lord has been most graciously working in many places around in these last days. Souls have been new-born to Him, and brought into the liberty of His grace in a moment, so to speak, through the Gospel. Souls thus set free from the bondage of sin and Satan have also found their freedom from the trammels of the sects and parties in the professing church. They have, in many cases, begun to act upon their privileges, and as the disciples of old (Acts 20:7), have assembled themselves to break bread, and thus show forth the groundwork of their redemption and liberty, in that which calls to mind the Lord in His death. Difficulties have arisen, and many have found that they still wanted a divine principle beyond this to guide them, and yet, possibly, feared to go deeper into these things, lest they should be led into something which, perhaps, they have been warned about, and perhaps have learned to fear. The confusion in which things are, and the sad failures of ourselves and of our brethren, have often been the means of driving timid souls away, and they have shrunk from inquiring more deeply into the divine principles, seeing the failures and hearing the recriminations of others.
In such a state of things, the enemy, as ever, seeks to keep the soul from learning the leading truth of God. Satan’s successful effort at the first was to seek to blot out in practice, if he could not blot out in fact, the great ever-living truth named at the head of this paper. The vessel, Paul, who communicated it to us through his inspired epistles, had to say at the close of his ministry, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). Ephesus was the capital of that proconsular province, and was the place where was an assembly of God, to which those high truths of the “mystery which was hidden from ages and generations, but is now revealed,” were written (Epistle to Ephesians); and in the close of the course of one who was walking in the power of his own doctrine, he has to say that all in Asia had turned away from him. God has been pleased of His own sovereign grace to revive out of the rubbish of centuries this wondrous truth, which has lain so long dormant. Many have learned it, and have sought in their weakness to walk therein. They have, in much weakness, and through evil report and good report, and failings innumerable, sought, in reliance upon a gracious God, to glorify Christ in the pathway of obedience to His revealed will, and the counsels, and purposes, and workings of God.
The enemy tries to keep the Lord’s people from learning this, His leading truth of the interval or period in which we live. What then I desire is, that the eyes of my brethrens understanding be enlightened by the Spirits teaching to discover what they really are before God, members of the one body of Christ, by one Spirit, and that they may act accordingly.
It is quite impossible that, as a Christian, I can be an individual merely, in the present time. I am a member of the body of Christ as well. And while seeking, as an individual servant, to serve my Lord, I find I have besides, in common with the rest of the body, a corporate responsibility to Christ, the Head of His body, the Church. I seek not then, to evade this responsibility by looking at the failures of others, or to try and use the truth of the Lord’ship of Christ over me as a servant, to evade my corporate responsibility to Christ, the Head of His body.
The Epistle to the Romans is that in which the Spirit of God treats us and looks at us with the most distinct individuality — as sinners, and as justified persons. And yet when He comes to the duties and walk which flow from our individual blessing and position, He at once turns us to our corporate responsibility, so that we cannot dissociate these things. No one could read the 12th chapter of Romans without discovering this. As an individual I am exhorted to present my body a living sacrifice — my reasonable service — to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, &c. Then, as to my corporate place, in the exercise of gift, or otherwise, I am to exercise it with respect to the body. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts,” &c.
I desire that my brethren may simply discover what they are, own the truth, and carry it out practically, walking therein with those whom the Lord has called and privileged to do likewise. Of this I am persuaded, that no one ever learned a truth after a divine manner till the soul was using practically what it had learned. It has then had its true power; so that to talk, as many do, of the body of Christ, &c., and never to have really acted upon this truth, is, depend upon it, but to prove that the truth has not been received into the conscience and soul, while, no doubt, there has been enough seen of it to guide the steps thereinto. With this desire I pass on to my subject.