Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is a letter rich with power and meaning, for those who truly want to live the life that God has called us to. Therefore, we must make our way through it, slowly, pondering every golden nugget, so that we, like Paul, and so many other men and women, chosen by God before us, will come to say and mean, “For Christ I live, and for Christ I die.” Thus, we will continue our study from where we left off the last time, when we learned that we are Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing in the Heavenly Realms...
The same scripture that tells us we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms, also gives us the reason why we are so blessed, hence, we must examine this scripture more closely:
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
~ Ephesians 1:3 NLT ~
Did you see the reason for our blessings? We only receive those blessings when we are united with Christ. Therefore, in order for us to understand this and be united with Christ, let us first look in the dictionary to see what “UNITED” means…
This definition for “UNITED” comes from dictionary.com:
1. made into or caused to act as a single entity:
a united front.
2. formed or produced by the uniting of things
or persons: a united effort.
3. agreed; in harmony.
Looking at these definitions of united, we can see that to be united with Christ is to act as a single entity. In order to act as a single entity, with Christ (or with anyone), we must know Him intimately, just as a husband and wife know each other. If we are strangers, or if we don’t know Him well, how can we act as a single entity with Christ? As we go about living our lives, remember, we are a representation of Jesus, acting in His name. Therefore, we must know Him well enough to know how He would act within the context of any situation you find yourself in, and the only way you can know that is to know Him intimately.
To be united with Christ is to be agreed and in harmony with each other, and to make a united effort. I can’t think of another that I would want to be in agreement or in harmony with, can you? To be agreed with Christ, we must know what we are agreeing with, and one of the best ways to know Him is through prayer and bible study. Remember, the bible is the Word of God, which is living and active. Unlike any other book that we may read, as you read and study God’s Word, you will come to know Him, and the more you know Him, the more you will love Him, which will make it easy to be agreed with Christ and in harmony with Him.
Beloved reader, please join me in a walk through some of the many scriptures on being united with Christ, so that you and I will be able to both understand, and walk in union with our Lord. Many times in scripture, followers of Christ are called the “Bride of Christ.” This implies that a wedding has taken place, and that Christ is our husband (or groom). According to scripture, this is a sacred union…
5 And He said, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” ~ Matthew 19:5-6 NLT ~
Marriage between a man and a woman is part of a sacred covenant (a binding agreement between husband, wife and God. It is to last as long as both husband and wife are alive. If one or the other dies, the other spouse is free from the covenant and may marry again if he/she so desires.)
As it is when a man and woman marry, so it is, when we are joined in union with Christ Jesus, our Savior, except that this is an eternal covenant, which must never be broken. Therefore, just as it happens in a marriage between a man and a woman, there are many forces that will attempt to separate us from Christ, though God, our Father has expressly forbidden it.
It is equally important for us to understand that when we are united with Jesus, we are also united with God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and with all other believers. Therefore, we must do as the scriptures command…
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT ~
Beloved readers, it is when we (Christ’s church), separate ourselves from one another, with our different denominations and beliefs, or between the different cultures, ethnicities and races, that we become divided. Look at the scripture below, and see what Jesus said about this:
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” ~ Matthew 12:25 NKJV ~
As I wrote in my last post, The Race Card and the Times We Live In:
“As long as there are “black” churches, “white” churches, “hispanic” churches, “Baptist” churches, “Methodist” churches, “Pentecostal” churches, “Holiness” churches, etc., racism, bigotry, and prejudice will never end.”
Indeed, the fact is that as long as the church remains divided, SIN will always enter in through the divisions. There is a reason why there is so much sin within the church. (When I say the church, I am speaking of every man, woman and child who has been born again.) Therefore, as Jesus said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.” Beloved readers, I urge you to examine your hearts. How do you respond when people of a different culture or race come to your church? Do you welcome them, or do you ignore them? Be honest with yourselves.
When you meet someone from a different denomination, do you think you are superior to them? Do you sometimes feel that only your place of worship has all of the right answers, and that everyone else is all wrong? I remember attending a church, many years ago that didn’t believe in expressing their feelings, while singing or praying. Because I loved worshiping the Lord, I would lift my hands to honor Him. Many people who attended that church were irritated by my expression of love for the Lord, and one even commented with a sour expression on her face, “I think you need to go to a Pentecostal church!” I can smile at that memory now, but at the time, I didn’t even know what a Pentecostal church was, and the way she spoke those words, it sounded like she was cursing me.
I shared this because I want you all to be very careful of how you treat God’s children. Jesus told us that the two most important commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second one is to love your neighbor as yourself. I didn’t feel a whole lot of love coming from that person, when she made that comment to me. However, I did eventually go to a Pentecostal church, and I did feel much more at home there. Therefore, God took the comment she made to hurt me, and used it for my good.
It really doesn’t matter whether another believer is from another denomination. We really mustn’t allow that to separate us. For God didn’t intend for the Methodists to be united against the Baptists, or the Pentecostals to be united against the Roman Catholics. When the command to be united was written, it was written to all who believe in Christ. The author of Psalm 119 prayed a prayer for unity that would be good for all of us to pray…
Let me be united with all who fear You, with those who know Your laws. ~ Psalm 119:79 NLT ~
A church united with Christ, and thus, united together was so important to Jesus, that in His last prayer, on the very night He was imprisoned, before being crucified the next day, He prayed about it…
Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are. ~ John 17:11 NLT ~
The early church knew the importance of unity, as they gathered together, in the upper room, praying and waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit…
They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. ~ Acts 1:14 NLT ~
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. ~ Acts 2:1-4 NKJV ~
I often wonder what the early church would think about the church today. Imagine one hundred twenty men and women all gathered together, with one accord. Just think about it. Below is the Greek word and definition for one accord, found in Strong’s Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible…
1. with one mind, with one accord, with one passion
“A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”
When we read through the book of Acts, and see all of the miracles, signs and wonders that took place, it is important to note that believers in Jesus, both male and female were united. Their one focus was to share the Gospel of Christ, first in Jerusalem, then in Judea, next in Samaria, and finally, to the ends of the earth. They were all united in their purpose, in their faith, in their hopes and dreams. They were there to give glory to God in all that they did.
As we continue to ponder Strong’s definition of “one accord,’ we come to understand that these men and women were of one mind. This means that each one of them were focused on one thought; the thought of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who had promised that He would never leave them alone. They were waiting for the promised appearance of the Holy Spirit.
As it says in the excerpt from Strong’s Lexicon, everyone of these men and women were different, yet they shared one common goal. Their goal was to wait, as Jesus had commanded them to do, ..
4 Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 1:4-5 NLT ~
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:7-8 NLT ~
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if plain, ordinary people, like you and me, got together, in obedience to Jesus’ command, and began to pray together. Would we see miracles, signs and wonders?
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV ~
Why is it that Christians in third world countries see miracles, signs and wonders? After all, we hold conferences, revivals and crusades, so why don’t we witness and participate in the miracles, signs and wonders like they do and like they did in the gospels and the book of Acts? Could it be that in biblical times, and still in third world countries, the people were of one mind and one accord, as they humbled themselves and prayed, and sought God’s face?
Is it possible that we tend to walk in our own ways, rather than living united in Christ? Would it be truthful to say that instead of conforming and transforming into the men and women God created us to be, we’ve tried to mold and conform God into who we want Him to be? Have we placed Him in the box of our men’s and women’s conferences, praise-a-thons, crusades and revivals? Instead of praying and prophesying according to God’s will, are we praying and prophesying according to our own will, or the will of those we minister to? Perhaps this is why we aren’t performing even greater miracles, signs and wonders than what Jesus did, even though He promised that we would…
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” ~ John 14:12 NLT ~
Beloved reader, if each one of us will live united in Christ, and seek to do His will and not our own, we will be of one mind and one accord. Then, we can ask anything of the Father in Jesus’ name, and it will be done, but apart from Him, we can do nothing…
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” ~ John 15:5-7 NLT ~
Beloved reader, my prayer for each one of us is that we would humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, and ask Jesus to not only be our Savior and Lord, but to show us how to live united in Him. Whenever the disciples were unsure about how to do something, they asked the Lord. They even asked Him how to pray! So, why shouldn’t w e ask Him to show us how to be and live united with Him?
Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You open the eyes of our hearts, and that you would teach us what it is to live in union with You. Show us how to submit ourselves to You, and to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Show us how to pick up our cross and follow You, and show us how to count the cost, and then with full knowledge of what it will cost us to live in union with You, give us the will to say, “Yes!” to Your will and Your ways. And Lord, in the days ahead, help us to remain focused on You and the message You have given us from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, and in the coming days, as we continue this study, give us a hunger and a thirst for more of Your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Cheryl A. Showers