One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” (Eph. 4:5)
The fourth feature which now comes before us in the seven-fold Unity of the Spirit is that of the “One Lord.” Previously, we have considered the One Body, the One Spirit, and the One Hope.
4. ONE LORD
Before we look at the ONE LORD, as He is associated with the Truth of the Mystery, it might be good to give the definition of the word, “lord:’
1. A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor.
2. A tyrant; an oppressive ruler.
3. A husband.
4. A baron; the proprietor of a manor.
5. A nobleman; a title of honor in Great Britain given to those who are noble by birth or creation; a peer of the realm.
6. A honor bestowed on certain official characters.
7. In Scripture, the Supreme Being; Jehovah. The word is applied to Christ, Ps. 110; Col. 3. As a title of respect, the word is applied to kings, Gen. 40; 2 Sam. 19. To a husband, Gen 18. To a prophet, 1 Kings 18. To a respectable person, Gen. 24 (Webster’s 1828).
The word, “lord,” indicates one who is; the master; the one who has rule, or authority over others. The English definitions are in agreement with the New Testament usage of the Greek word, “kurios,” which is “lord” in English. It is fitting that the feature of the “ONE LORD” is found in the practical section of the Ephesians Epistle. The “Unity of the Spirit” is located in the practical section which begins in the Fourth Chapter of Ephesians. It runs through the end of Chapter Six. As previously pointed out, the first three chapters comprise the doctrinal section, and the last three chapters deal with the believers’ practical response to the doctrine presented. Thus, the occurrence of the “One Lord” denotes the place the Lord Jesus Christ holds in the life of the member of the “One Body.” Jesus Christ is the One Lord, the One Master, the One who holds the place as being Supreme; the One who holds the authority over the believer.
The believer is subject, only, to Christ Jesus because He is the “One Lord.” This is in harmony with the fact that Christ is the Head of the Church. In fact, He is “to be Head over all things to the Church” (Eph. 1:22). His Headship over the Church signifies His absolute supremacy and pre-eminence.
The feature of “One Lord” indicates that the believer has but one Master and, only, One who has power and authority over him. All of this was said to say this: there was a time when believers were subject to Christ, as well as others. During the Pentecostal Dispensation (Acts 1 thru Acts 28), certain individuals, also, exercised power and authority over believers Those with this authority were the “lords” of the Church of God..
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE LORD” AT THE TIME OF ITS REVELATION
In order to fully appreciate the impact which the revelation of the Mystery had on members of the Church of God, the student should understand the economy that had been the Divine Program during “The Acts of the Apostles.” Before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus made an amazing promise to Peter:
“ …thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:18-19).
Stronger words were never spoken. No greater authority was ever conferred upon any human being than that which was confirmed upon Peter. “The keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” was a figure of speech used by Christ to explain the authority Peter was to have during the Acts Period. Peter’s acts upon earth were to be ratified in Heaven. He was to have the super-authority to admit people into the Kingdom—thus, his use of the “keys.” Not everyone would be admitted by Peter.
After the Lord Jesus was raised out from among the dead, He conferred upon Peter and the other Apostles, the authority to forgive sins.
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).
This was, indeed, spiritual authority which was to be exercised over the Church of God. On the Day of Pentecost, true believers were publicly constituted and set forth as the “Israel of God” (His new Nation) by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Church of God was so arranged by Him that it had God-Appointed leaders who were endowed with supernatural power enabling them to rule, justly, over the Church of God in the local assemblies in which they were located. God gave these men great authority and the wisdom needed to use it. They never abused the power granted them.
Various appellations are used in Scripture to designate the men who were chosen, selected, empowered, and ordained by God to be the “lords” of the Church of God. Some of them would be titled: Deacon, Bishop, Judge, or Elder. The most significant appellation of all would be—Apostle.
These “lords” were preparing the members to be mature saints when their Hope was fully realized, to wit, the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God.
The “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) will be identified when the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God comes, as “the STONE [which] was cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan 2:45). In fact, the “Israel of God” will be the “Commonwealth of Israel” (Eph.2:12). The “Commonwealth of Israel” becomes a great world power during the Pre-Millennial “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel. This nation, which Jesus Christ oversees from His Throne in Heaven, will have a long and glorious “run” for 483 years. During the 483 years, i.e., 69 Weeks, the world will enjoy peace (cf. Dan. 9:25). Open unbelief, apostasy, and revolution will be suppressed. In fact, Luke tells us, during the Kingdom, that which will be spoken in secret, and is contrary to the rules of the Kingdom, “shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).
David will be raised from the dead and will be the “new Israel’s” king. The Twelve Apostles will, also, live in resurrection and will be the “Judges” over the Twelve Tribes.
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 12:28).
The Twelve will be an integral part of the administration of Jesus Christ and King David. The Twelve will rule as “kings and priests” and, as such, they will be referred to as “lords.” It needs to be pointed out that “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” requires the student to differentiate between the Pentecostal Dispensation and the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Truth of the Pentecostal Dispensation must not be read into Truth for Today. During the Acts Period, the Kingdom was in progress, though only on a miniature scale. In plainer words, the Acts period was a preview of things to come.
Members of the Church of God, during the Acts Period, were to be submissive to those who “are over you in the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:13), and “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:13). This is not Truth for Today. Failure to rightly divide the Word causes many to think that present day “ministers” are “over” the believers, and that we should think very highly of them “for their work’s sake.” This admonition pertained to the Pentecostal Dispensation. In that era, those who were “over” the flock were selected and ordained by God. Their authority came from Heaven. They were the “lords” of the Church of God. By contrast, we who make up the Church, which is His Body have but ONE LORD. There are no intermediaries between us and our Lord Jesus Christ. We have no “lords.”
From the late first century until today, men have arose who claimed to have answered a “call from God” to work as fulltime “Ministers of God.” No matter what title they work under, such as, pastors, teachers, evangelists, bishops, cardinals, popes, reverends, or Right-Reverends, priests, or fathers, the titles are all generated by man. These are ecclesiastic titles and can find NO PLACE in the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. It should be acknowledged that Jesus Christ did appoint some, apostles; some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for a specific purpose (Eph.4:11). They were given, specifically, for re-directing “the Body of Christ,” coming out of the Acts Period into the Truth of the Mystery (Eph. 4:12).
Therefore, the Acts period believers were to “know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly for their work’s sake.”
Paul, in his concluding statements in Hebrews, has more to say on the subject of rule and submission:
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).
The spiritual leaders, during the Pentecostal Dispensation, ruled over believers and, as such, they were “lords.”
Romans 12 mentions “gifts,” and one of them was that of “ruling.”
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; HE THAT RULETH, with diligence …” (Rom. 12:6-8).
There were “rulers” [that is, “lords”] in the Church of God, and they were to be obeyed. He who ruled was to do it with “diligence.” Another reference to the gift of ruling is in 1 Corinthians:
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, GOVERNMENTS, …”
(1 Cor. 12:28).
“Governments” refer to the God-Ordained administrative set-up by which the Pre-Millennial Kingdom, in its full manifestation, will be governed by rulers under the auspices of the Lord Jesus in Heaven. They will be the “lords” of the Kingdom of God. The office of the “lords” was on the scene during “The Acts of the Apostles.”
The definition of the word, “lord” was set forth at the beginning of this study. Remember that the primary definition of the word was “a master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler, a governor.” With this in mind, we can now understand, better, what Paul meant when he said there are “lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5).
The truth concerning “lords” in today’s dispensation is that there is only—ONE LORD. His name is “Yahweh,” Whom we acknowledge as the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Acts Period Church was Israel’s coming Kingdom in the “blade” stage as illustrated in Mark 4:28. In plainer words, the Church of God was experiencing a foretaste of the REALITY of the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. Concerning the Church of God, the Bible says, they “…have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb.6:4-5).
From Plainer Words
The Unity of the Spirit - Part 5
Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Nov 10, 2009 - 11:25:33 AM
Nov 10, 2009 - 11:25:33 AM
© Copyright 2009 by Plainer Words