Our sun, a near perfect sphere of burning hot plasma, is the center of our solar system. It accounts for more than 99% of the entire system’s mass. For perspective, it exceeds a quarter million times more mass than the earth. This means it has more gravitational power than any other object in the system. This is why eight known planets orbit it and not the other way around.
It is also the most important source of life for our planet. It keeps water and food sources in balance. It prevents the oceans from freezing over, stirs our atmosphere, and generates the weather patterns. The sun also gives energy to plant life, which turn around and provide oxygen and food. It helps us see, keeps us warm, strengthens our bones, and even lightens our mood.
The whole body of planets and stars in our solar system owe a great deal of honor to the sun. For if it were to increase mass, it would immediately throw everything into disarray. The earth would be sucked into its heat, burned up, and all life obliterated. If the sun were to lose a small bit of mass, the planets would fly off into the darkness, just after icing over and ruining all living things. Our system is a perfectly balanced stroke of genius by God (Gen. 1:16).
Similarly, God knitted the church together in such a way that it neatly works with its members to perfectly affect life within it. When there is an ideal harmony of truth and love, the divine gravity of God causes the waters to flow smoothly, the atmosphere to stir freshly, and the weather to stimulate vitality.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.Ephesians 4:15-16
The Formation of the Body
The divine gravity Paul spoke about in our focus text is the spiritual power of God acting on “the whole body” (Eph. 4:16). He has chosen truth and love as His instrument, maturity as His aim, perfection as His model, and Christ as His source. He is working to “create in himself one new man,” not many (Eph. 2:15). He is at work on the body as a whole—the body as one, the body as Christ, for it is the body of Christ.
This body transcends all places and all time. It was formed in eternity past, “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). It was kept secret throughout all the Old Testament era, but revealed to the apostles and prophets in New Testament times (Eph. 3:3-5) as a unified figure made up of Jews and Gentiles alike. This is the “one new man” that God predestined according to His will (Eph. 1:5).
This is cause for celebration. The notion that we were adopted into the body before the world was created set Paul into praise mode. In the original language, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence of about 200 words. It is a song of worship from wonder to wonder. In it, Paul recognized a number of deep theological themes like election, sanctification, identification, adoption, redemption, inheritance, glorification, and more. He covers just about all fundamental doctrines of the body.
At the base of these doctrines is the reality of God’s sovereign choice. Although it has been a matter of fierce debate, it is essential to our understanding and dramatically shapes the way we interpret our position and function in the body. The Word of Christ says that God “chose us” in eternity past (Eph. 1:4). This is also captured in the phrase “predestined us” (Eph. 1:5).
Divine election, as it is sometimes called, is found throughout Scripture, even in the Old Testament. Israel was elected (Ex. 6:7; Deut. 7:7-9). The angels were elected (1 Tim. 5:21). Christ was elected (1 Peter 2:6). Jesus made it clear to His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). The church, and all who are in it, were also elected (2 Tim. 1:9; 2:10). “We ought to always give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:13). Indeed, we ought to give thanks!
The Entrance to the Body
Election does not exclude human responsibility. People must still repent and believe in Christ. God calls us to respond in faith to the reality of the gospel. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). At the same time, Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
These are two sides of the same coin. They are paradoxical, but not contradictory. We don’t have to comprehend it, just apprehend it. God has it figured out, and we can trust Him to tie up loose ends that our minds can’t wrap around. In fact, we can rejoice in the doctrine of election, for Paul said that God chose us “in love” (Eph. 1:4-5). There is nothing harsh about it. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10).
With that in mind, we can turn now to our response. The Father draws us to Him. He gives us to the Son. The Son casts out no one. According to Ephesians 2:8, it is by faith, which is given to us for salvation. In his gospel, John wrote, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). How must we be saved? How can we enter into Christ and into His body?
The Bible teaches us one who desires to be saved will be turned away. If you believe in what Christ has done for you, salvation is within your grasp. All you must do is confess and believe. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). You can do that now, God hears you wherever you are. Acknowledge your sin and your need for Him to save you. Then, ask Him to do it. He will not deny you.
The matter of divine choice and human responsibility is a suitable transition in our study series. We have been focusing primarily on God’s corporate and structural work in the whole body. For the remainder of the series, we will focus on God’s individual and functional work in the body’s members. So, now that we understand the body, let’s find our place in it.
Download Gravity: Held Together by God and discover God’s powerful work of unity in the church.
Also available for purchase at Amazon and select bookstores.
Meditate on what you learned by downloading this free wallpaper design for your favorite device and letting it stir your affections toward God’s great work of joining and holding together His church, whom God created in peace.