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The Sojourning Identity Of The Ekklesia Part 1

The Sojourning Identity Of The Ekklesia Part 1

Biblical Worldview Course – 7a

 

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This session presents the identity of the Assembly – in light of the Gospel of His Kingdom and the restoration of all things at His appearing – as sojourners and strangers in this age.

 

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THE SOJOURNING IDENTITY OF THE EKKLESIA

THE GOSPEL AND OUR IDENTITY

THE GOSPEL AND OUR IDENTITY

A.    In light of the original perfection of creation, the promised restoration, the coming Kingdom, and the day of the Lord we will now turn our attention to the identity of the Ekklesia. The Gospel itself anchors us into an identity as the ‘elect’—those set apart from the nations of the earth—to inherit the promises of the Kingdom and the resurrection.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (1Pe 1:1 NIV)

B.    As those awaiting the coming of Jesus to receive our imperishable inheritance, we are pilgrims and sojourners on the earth now. Our identity as those who are waiting for the promises is ultimately what separates us from the nations of the earth. In light of our calling to inherit the Kingdom and the resurrection, we conduct ourselves in completely different manner than the nations of the earth.

9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION… 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. (1Pe 2:9-11 NASB)

25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 “But it is not this way with you… (Luk 22:25-26 NASB)

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them (i.e. of the promises of Abraham, cf 9:4) of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. … 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (Rom 11:17-18, 25 NASB)

C.   There has been a massive perversion in the identity of the Ekklesia since the Constantinian shift. However, the recent obsession within the body of Christ regarding our ‘identity’ has really articulated what most of Church history has fought to believe. Namely, that we have fully attained everything that we need to ‘get to heaven’ at ‘conversion’, thus, undermining any future need to persevere unto an inheritance that actually hinges upon our conduct in this age.

D.   Within a Christoplatonic worldview we are destined for heaven, and thus all that is needed in order to fulfill our ‘destiny’ is simply to ‘get saved’ (i.e. ‘forgiven’) which ensures our entrance into heaven and thus our destiny. However, within the context of a real second coming, a real day of the Lord, and real government established on the earth then everything about how we live this life has dramatic consequences forever.

E.    Man’s rebellion and pride has lead to an obsession to remove ultimate accountability for our lives from our belief. From infant baptism (thus ensuring inclusion into heaven), ‘sonship theology’, the pre-tribulation rapture, once saved-always saved, postmillennialism, etc… are simply historic deviations from the clear ecclesiology of the apostles which supply believers with a totally false security of their identity.

7 But whatever things (i.e. assurance of entrance into the promises, status, security of identity, and reputation, cf. Phil. 3:4-6) were gain (i.e. to my advantage) to me, those things I have counted as loss (i.e. as damaging to me) for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things (i.e. assurance, security, reputation, etc…), and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law (i.e. false assurance of inclusion into the promises of Abraham), but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (Phl 3:7-13 NASB)

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; (Phl 2:12 NASB)

F.    The nations of the earth are all living for the same things, but we know their end. Thus, we must live in a completely different manner since we don’t share their ambitions or their destiny. The effectiveness of the church’s witness on the earth is wholly dependent upon the measure to which they embrace this sojourning identity.

11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (cf. Matt. 5:16). 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution (i.e. governments), whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1Pe 2:11-15 NASB)

G.   To the measure that we live after the indulgences of this age as the nations of the earth do, then we have our witness of allegiance to the coming King and His Kingdom dulled and it becomes of no effect. The message of the Gospel is of little or no effect if we don’t believe that our Messiah is coming back to actually judge all men by a real standard of righteousness and order our lives accordingly.

PRAYER AND THE NEED FOR GRACE

PRAYER AND THE NEED FOR GRACE

A.    Within the context of a sojourning identity—still qualifying for our inheritance—we are wholly dependent upon the grace of God which sustains us unto the day of the Lord and our inheritance in the Kingdom and the resurrection. Thus we organize ourselves both corporately and individually by prayer since prayer is the means that we receive the grace of God.

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. … 14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions (i.e. not the ones who are steadfast in the Gospel of His coming), worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, (i.e. on the day of the Lord) (Jud 1:3-4, 14-24 NASB)

B.    Historically, the church has organized itself based on its identity of false security. This has resulted in a misunderstanding of the function of grace in the life of the believer, and the means of attaining[1] it. Thus, it is extremely rare that you find any group of normal believers[2] in church history since the Constantinian Shift that organizes itself in the same way that the early church did. I.e. by constant prayer together.

4 Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait (cf. prayer) for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… 8 you will receive power (i.e. grace) when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses (calling) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:4-8 NIV)

  • 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Act 1:14 NASB
  • 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Act 2:42 NASB)
  • 4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Act 6:4 NASB)
  • 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. … 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (Eph 6:13, 18 NASB)
  • 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (Col 4:2 NASB)
  • 7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. (1Pe 4:7 NASB)

C.   Grace, within the Biblical context, is the power of God that works in the believer to anchor them in authentic faith which is expressed through lives defined by joyfully embracing the cross in discipleship and preaching the gospel with clarity and boldness. Thus, it is not a bonus to salvation, it is the only way that any man will inherit the resurrection and the Kingdom of God.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (Tts 2:11-13 NIV)

  • 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose (i.e. the resurrection) is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (2Cr 5:5 NASB)
  • 13 … you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:13-14 NASB)
  • 10 As to this salvation (i.e. the resurrection), the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, … 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1Pe 1:10, 13 NASB)

D.   The prayers of the apostles, within the Biblical worldview, are simply the prayers that they prayed that the saints might be sustained in their sojourn to persevere in righteousness and a bold witness. All of the prayers of the apostles were generally for three areas of grace:

1.    Understanding of our calling (Wisdom, revelation, knowledge of God’s will, etc…)

2.    Strength to persevere in our calling (Worthy of calling, strength, perseverance, etc…)

3.    Preaching the Gospel with boldness (Preach with boldness, signs and wonders, etc…)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Col 1:9-12 NIV)

29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, (Act 4:29 NASB)


[1] The Catholic Church holds to 7 Sacraments [i.e. means of grace] of the Church; Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Last Rites, Holy Orders, and Marriage.

[2] With the obvious exception of the monastic movements through the history of the church. While there have been some very good monastic movements—and my life has been really impacted by the lives of many of their leaders—many of them went astray within one generation of the ‘movement’ since they viewed their monasticism as a ‘special’ calling to prayer. Thus, although many of them started with great sincerity of heart, many ended with an almost Pharisaic self-righteousness since they seldom viewed themselves as persevering so that they might attain to the promise (like Paul), but as walking out a special devotion to Jesus IN ADDITION to their salvation. 

Bill Scofield Bill Scofield (52 Posts)

Bill is husband to Charis, and father to their 6 children. He is a Bible teacher, elder, and missions trainer.


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