Guidelines for Ecclesia Life

KEY VERSE: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” —Ephesians 5:21

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 5:21-33

OUR key verse does not relate so much to the scriptures that follow in the text as to those just preceding, where the joys of Christian fellowship are expressed. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.”—vs. 19

All aspects of Christian fellowship center in Christ, and are in keeping with the pattern which he has set for us—“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” It is when all in the church have the mind of Christ that they are of one mind. Their oneness of spirit is their conformity to every example of his Spirit-led life. The Gospel for which they strive together is the “Gospel of the kingdom” which he so clearly set forth, and for which he died. No Christian has a mind of his own in matters pertaining to the will of God, for “the Head of every [Christian] man is Christ: … and the Head of Christ is God.”—I Cor. 11:3

There are several aspects of fellowship in the church, all of which require us to be submissive to each other to a greater or lesser degree. There is the fellowship of the truth. It is a mistake however to believe we can have one spirit in fellowship, yet differ widely in our understanding of the doctrines of the Gospel.

Oneness of mind is essential in order to enjoy oneness of spirit. Those who agree on the great fundamentals of the truth will gladly strive together for the faith of the Gospel. Those who do not enjoy oneness of mind will find themselves striving with one another rather than together!

There is also a fellowship in Christian suffering. Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, saying, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” The more or less modem conception of that which is implied in being a Christian as described by the expression, ‘only believe’, is but partly true. True belief involves faithfulness to that which we believe, and if we take our part with the brethren striving together for the faith of the Gospel, we will find this leading to a fellowship in suffering.

There is a fellowship of sympathy and of comfort. Paul wrote, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Phil. 2:2) Those who suffer with Christ need the courage and strength which are derived from this mutual heart understanding of one another in the body of Christ.

As in the natural body, so in the mystic body of Christ, it is true that when one member suffers, all suffer; and when one rejoices, all rejoice. Indifference to the well-being of others in the church might indicate that one was not a member of the body at all. Our interest and spirit of helpfulness will first of all be manifested along spiritual lines. Each member of the body will do everything possible to promote the spiritual prosperity of every other member. But the physical needs of those in the body should not be overlooked. Among true Christians there is a community of interest which is concerned with every aspect of life.

Paul explains the principle upon which this arrangement is workable, saying, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Notice the word ‘also’. As Christians we should bear our own burdens. To do this we must be concerned with our own problems. (Gal. 6:5) But we should also be caring about the difficulties others have, and ready to share one another’s burdens.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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