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The Work of the Ekklesia

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

 

Paul told the brethren in Corinth that they were all laborers together with God and that they were God’s husbandry. The Greek word for husbandry meaning, the produce of a cultivated field, and that they were God’s building which is His Temple. Since this is recorded in Scripture, it is written for us and we are God’s spiritual husbandry and the fruits of his field [the earth]   as well.

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 13:37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

The Biblical Festivals are all about the harvest of the fruits of the earth [humanity] to God. Please see the Biblical Festivals categories at TheShiningLight School of Biblical Studies.

Paul called many of his partners and colleagues fellow-laborers, fellow-servants, fellow-soldiers, fellow-workers, and fellow-prisoners.

And in 2 Corinthians, Paul again says that we are workers together with God but adds that he hopes “that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

The Greek word for “grace” in this verse is charis (Strong’s #5485) and means: favor: From chairo; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude) — acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy). (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

What is the grace of God ? It is God’s gift of mercy, what God grants to us through the application of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, sincere repentance and our rejection of error and false doctrine to embrace and live by every Word of God

Paul says that the called-out, those who have received God’s grace through sincere repentance, the application Christ’s sacrifice to our past sins, and who have committed themselves to live for God; have become “laborers together with God.”

Do we fully grasp what that means? It is truly a great privilege and honor to be regarded as a co-laborers with God; or as God calls us in so many other places, His servants. We are only small, weak humans, and yet God calls us to be stewards of the grace that He has granted to us: meaning that God calls us and if we respond to His calling, believe the Gospel and repent, and then by applying the sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross, we are forgiven of all of our past sins; He gives us His divine nature through the power of the Holy Spirit and He gives us the charge to go to work for Him, and if we are found still laboring with God and doing the Work of God until our death or until the return of Jesus to this earth, we will NOT have received the grace of God in vain.

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

If we give up and stop working for the Lord at any point in our calling and refuse to repent, then all that we have been given, God’s mercy, grace and truth will be lost, and all we have endured will be in vain and we will inherit the same portion as the unbelievers.

Luke 12:45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

As members of God’s Ekklesia we want to fulfill our calling and not be a disappointment to God who entrusted us to be His co-laborers and to be bearers of His truth at this time in the history of man. What a responsibility! but it is also very sobering for we know we cannot do it on our own.

God calls His children and wants us to labor at overcoming all sin in our lives and to replace our human nature with God’s divine nature; but He also wants us to be joined into the work that He has commissioned all to all those that He calls to be His children; and that is to preach the Gospel of Salvation to all the peoples of the world about how they too can have eternal life as members of God’s own family. God has placed the stewardship of the great commission on those who make up the Ekklesia and it behooves us to be counted as faithful servants when Christ returns.

Paul was very aware of this awesome responsibility and he told the brethren (which includes us today) that we are to not to faint; and we are never to get lax or to swerve from the truth as shown to us in God’s Holy Scripture.

God has given us His mercy and grace for accomplishing this awesome commission and He charges His servants that they must be diligent to teach God’s Word and handle it in all truth and honesty, knowing that it was for this cause that we have been called into God’s grace.

Indeed the work of growing to  become like God and teaching godliness to others in this physical life is only practice for living a godly life and teaching others to do so for all eternity.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

We are not to twist, add to, or subtract from any part of Holy Scripture as the unlearned and unstable do; or as deceitful workers do.

2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

God has called us to work as co-laborers with Him toward fulfilling His divine objective; and what is that objective and how is He achieving that objective? We know from Matthew 28:19-20 that His disciples are commanded to go into all the world with the Gospel message of the way to eternal salvation; this is our job description as co-laborers with Christ.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

And God’s ultimate objective is:

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Daniel 9:24 …. to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

From these beautiful Scriptures we see that God’s objective and goal for humanity is for every man and woman (who will) to come to a full knowledge of God’s truth and to also receive His grace.

God’s desire for all of humanity is to usher in everlasting righteousness throughout the whole universe, so that all that there will be no more sin forever, and God wills that all mankind will desire to be called His children and that He can be with them as our Father and our God.

From these verses, we see the objective, but how is God going to accomplish such a seemingly impossible task? As we look at today’s world, with all the evil, the violence, and the destruction of the earth, how can God possibly bring righteousness and restoration to the whole world? 

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Paul (and the other apostles) was given a ministry and a task to accomplish, but as the original apostles passed away God granted other faithful called-out servants to take over the commission throughout all the generations; all who are called to be the children of God and are co-workers with Paul (past and present) have this same mandate. 

God’s intent is for the Ekklesia to do the work of revealing the Plan of God to all people, including all nations in these latter days. This is what Paul had to say about his calling:

Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

3:Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3:9)

God has commissioned His Ekklesia to go into all nations to preach and to enlighten all men and make plain to them the plan and purpose of the mystery that was kept hidden throughout the ages from most of mankind until Jesus Christ came and established the New Covenant. That by coming to know this mystery they, too, can be saved if they embrace what God offers them by way of repentance and forgiveness and a willingness to go and sin no more.

It is through the church [Ekklesia], ( made up of weak, human beings 1 Corinthians 1:26-29) that God has chosen to bring this miracle of bringing eternal salvation to humanity.

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” (verse 10)

God’s purpose is that through the Ekklesia the precious knowledge and wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known.  When we stop and think on this, this is an awesome concept, that God has placed this responsibility on His people that He has called through the ages.

1 Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

It is quite apparent to most of us, that today’s Ekklesia is racked with error and for the most part has been rendered inefficient and even incapable of doing the job it has been commissioned to do. But God promises that the Ekklesia will never be completely destroyed and that there will always be those who do sincerely repent and will go on to do the work of God. And these people are the true co-laborers with God.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Christ tells John in His message to the Laodiceans that He is going to knock at each straying believer’s  door and He wants each one to repent of the errors and Laodician attitude and allow Him to come in and to make Him first in our lives.

Jesus Christ is currently knocking on the doors (of our minds) to be allowed to come into our lives in true righteousness and zeal for Him and for every Word of God; to zealously pursue all of God’s ways and to be zealous to do the Work that He has laid out for us.

Paul described the work that he and others were doing and explained that it was up to others to come along and labor beside them.

1 Corinthians 1:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 1:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 1:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

1:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 1:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul was given a ministry and he said that he planted and others watered, but the work he was doing was to continue down through the ages after Paul was gone. God would provide others to come along and to keep watering and to do whatever it takes to keep the Ekklesia alive and thriving.

God’s work is always, always, and based on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets who wrote the Holy Scriptures  with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, and anyone calling himself an apostle today MUST be totally consistent with every Word of Holy Scripture or he is a liar and a charlatan!

Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

As each new generation of called out ones came along and took up the mantle, it became their responsibility to carry on with the work that Paul and the others  were doing; which was really carrying on the work that Christ had started with the ancient prophets.

Today it is still our mandate: to examine ourselves continually to see if we are truly living by every Word of God and following Christ, and to sincerely repent of all error and disobedience, not going after idols of men; and applying ourselves to the task that is before us.

That task is to properly do all we can to hold fast to the whole Word of God and to teach others to do the same.

In the very beginning of Mark, Mark writes:

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

And a few verses later (after Christ was tempted in the wilderness by Satan), we are told that Jesus came into Galilee and began to preach the Gospel.

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 1:16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

While Jesus was here on earth as a man, Jesus gathered a band of disciples and began to teach them and prepare them to go out and continue His work of preaching and teaching God’s Word after His work (on earth) was finished and after He had ascended back up to His Father.

For 3 ½ years Jesus worked chiefly with His 12 apostles and the 70, but also with many others called to be disciples and prepared them to do the work toward fulfilling God’s great plan for humanity.

After His crucifixion and resurrection and when He appeared to His disciples again just before his final ascension back up to heaven, He commanded them to go into all the world, beginning from Jerusalem, and to teach ALL nations about the way to salvation through living by every Word of God; which is the way to eternal salvation!

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Jesus promised that He would be with His disciples and that He would help them.

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

They were to preach the gospel of Christ’s coming Kingdom and how the people could attain to be a part of that kingdom by sincerely repenting and applying the sacrifice of Christ to all of their past sins and then living the way of righteousness.

Jesus assured them, and He assures us, that He will be with us throughout the end of the age, right up to the very end.

Why use mere men to do this task? God has legions of angels that could do this kind of work; and in fact there will be a final angelic proclamation of the Gospel message (See Revelation 14:6-10).

Why does God desire that we work with Him to get this message out to the world and to teach others His Plan and Purpose?

It is because God seeks to work in us to develop His mind and character in us; and by helping Him with the most important work in all of Creation, we too become more like Him.

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And since Jesus is a fisher of men, He wants His co-laborers to be fisher of men; wanting salvation for as many as possible just as He desires that all who are willing – after the veil has been taken off their eyes – to be saved.

In working with Christ, we progressively take on the same objective, the same goal, and the same [agape] love for humanity that He has; we become more and more like Him and we become spiritually mature as He is mature.

Ephesians 4:13 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

He is preparing His [collective] bride and wants her [us] to be glorious without any kind of sin. But He also wants her to have the same kind of love and concern He has for God the Father, for godliness and for the world and he wants her [us] to be His helper in the work He is doing that will eventually save the world.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing [having no uncleanness or defilement of sin]; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us if we stay faithful to Him, and that includes the collective bride that is doing His Work of preaching the gospel message and preparing a people for Him to rule with Him in His Kingdom.

Working at being co-workers with Christ now in this life is training for the future bringing in of all of humanity into the family of God in the main harvest.

Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 14:29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 12:44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

As co-laborers, we are to do the Work of God in whatever capacity He has called us to do. His Work is a family business and He wants all of His children busy and involved in helping Him to run it.

Luke 19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

We entered a covenant agreement with God when we entered into a baptismal covenant to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, not only for ourselves but to help others to come to know the promise of the Kingdom and how they, too, can be a part of it. So until Christ returns we must be about out Father’s business, we must occupy until He comes, and we must be teaching all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe whatsoever Jesus has commanded us.

If we do all of these things we will be fellow-laborers with Paul, and all those who have gone before us who did the work of God; but more importantly we will be laborers together with God; and the grace that we received during our calling will not have been in vain. This is what Paul had to say about the Thessalonians; will God be able to say this about us some day?

1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Constance Belanger and James Malm

 

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