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Come Over into the Family of Christ

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Strangers to the Heavenly Trade

How to Get the Heavenly Trade

Come Over into the Family of Christ}

Fourth, come over into the family of Christ if you are determined to pursue the heavenly trade. Apprentices are household servants during all their waking hours, and so must wisdom’s traders be. They must be members of Christ’s family and dwellers in the house of God. “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple” (Psalm 65:4 NASB). Those whom God chooses for Himself, He brings to Himself and makes them dwellers in His courts.483 They enter into His family that they may be sound believers and spend their lives among the holy citizens of Heaven. Those whom the Lord takes into covenant, He takes into fellowship, not only with Himself, but with His people. “Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:14–15 ESV). This passage relates to Gospel times and churches. “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers” (Jeremiah 3:17–18 NKJV). This began to be fulfilled when the dividing wall was broken down and the gentiles were brought in to Christ. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:14–19 ESV). The apostle refers to the twelfth verse (Ephesians 2:12),484 in which souls out of Christ are said to be strangers from the commonwealth of Israel and the covenant of promise. But now they have access to God by one Spirit (verse 18 above). You are no longer strangers and foreigners. “In respect to the Church of God, you are no longer strangers,” said Zanchy, “but fellow-citizens with the saints, and in regard to the covenant of God, you are no longer foreigners, but of the household of God.” “In whom the whole building, being fitted together (that is every stone in the building),485 is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21 NASB). The Church of God is His temple where He is served according to His will. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence” (Revelation 7:15 ESV). “The temple is His Church,” said Mr. Durham, “here [on earth] begun by fellowship in His ordinances and in Heaven completely.” “‘For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel’ (a type of churches under the Gospel),486 declares the Lord God, ‘there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I will accept them and there I will seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things’” (Ezekiel 20:40 NASB).487 This plainly indicates that, with respect to formal public worship, God has no acceptable service except in the Church of His saints. People cannot give God His full instituted worship until they come into fellowship with His people since Church-fellowship is itself an institution of Christ (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 2:41–42; 1 Corinthians 12:18; Matthew 18:17–19).488 The Church of Christ is His body in which He has set His members (1 Corinthians 12:18).489From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16 NKJV; also Colossians 2:19).490 The Church of Christ is His vineyard where His work is and into which He sends His laborers (Isaiah 5:7; Matthew 20:1–2),491 and His garden where His lilies and beds of spices are (Song of Solomon 6:2).492 The Church of Christ is His family, where He feeds, instructs, guides, and governs them (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5);493 it is His sanctuary where He hides and secures them (Psalm 78:69);494 it is His galleries where He walks and is held by His saints (Song of Solomon 7:5 ESV).495 In His Church are found the golden lampstands where His lamps are burning,496 where the sky and stars are shining (Revelation 2:1),497 and where the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).498 His Church is His granary where He lays up His provisions, His manna, marrow, fat things, and spiced wine (Isaiah 25:6).499 His Church is His school where He instructs His disciples and makes them wise to salvation. “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13 ESV). There also are His oracles and secrets (Romans 3:2).500They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Romans 9:4 ESV). Christ’s Church is His nursery where His tender plants grow, where He brings in those who will be saved.501Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 NASB). His converting the gentiles is called persuading them into the tents of Shem, that is the Church of God (Genesis 9:27).502 Indeed, the house of God is the gate of Heaven. “And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Genesis 28:17 ESV). “By the gate of the Church,” said Augustine, “we enter into the gate of Paradise.” “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Like valleys that stretch out, Like gardens by the riverside, Like aloes planted by the Lord, Like cedars beside the waters” (Numbers 24:5–6 NKJV). To your tents then, O Israel.503 Fly to your windows, you doves (Isaiah 60:8).504O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8 ESV). Where are such pleasures, treasures, light, and life? Where are your chief portions, privileges, work, your Lord, and the firstfruits of your eternal glory? If you have taken Christ for your teacher, you must take His Church for your school. You must dwell where He dwells, where you may sit at his feet and receive His doctrine.

483court: in this context, either an enclosed space, possibly outdoors, or else the palace or residence of a king.

484Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12 NASB).

485The text in parentheses is Ashwood’s interjection.

486The text in parentheses is Ashwood’s interjection.

487In this verse, mountain refers to the Temple Mount.

488Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41–42 NKJV). “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Corinthians 12:18 NKJV). “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:17–19 NASB).

489But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18 NASB). Ashwood included this reference twice in close succession.

490And not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19 ESV).

491For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress” (Isaiah 5:7 NASB). “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1–2 ESV).

492My beloved has gone to his garden, To the beds of spices, To feed his flock in the gardens, And to gather lilies” (Song of Solomon 6:2 NKJV).

493But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 NASB). “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 NASB). 1 Peter 2:5 is a substitute reference due to an error in Ashwood’s reference.

494And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has founded forever” (Psalm 78:69 NASB).

495Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries” (Song of Solomon 7:5 KJV). “Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses” (Song of Solomon 7:5 ESV). Ashwood’s reference to galleries, a word that can mean a long narrow corridor or place for walking, is from the last word in Song of Solomon 7:5 in the KJV, quoted above. It is translated tresses in other translations such as in the ESV, also quoted above. The difference is due to the obscure Hebrew word whose root is רַהַת (rah´-at), which means trough. This is the word that describes the watering trough in which Jacob put the sticks before his flock. A gallery could well be trough-shaped, and so could hair-tresses.

496Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it” (Exodus 25:31 NASB). “And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps’” (Zechariah 4:2 NKJV). “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands” (Revelation 1:12 ESV). These symbolize God’s special presence.

497To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands’” (Revelation 2:1 NKJV).

498But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2 NKJV). Rather than His wings, some other translations render its wings. The choice of pronoun depends on an exegetical choice regarding whether Sun refers to Christ or to righteousness (not necessarily Christ’s righteousness).

499On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6 ESV).

500Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2 NASB). This reference is to Old Testament Israel, the primitive Church.

501Save here and elsewhere does not refer only to justification, in which a sinner is accounted righteous by God due to Christ’s shed blood. It is rather a reference to that whole magnificent package that includes justification, adoption, good works laid down before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 2:10), the entire Christian walk, and final glorification, all thanks be to God. Once saved, Christians have a serious responsibility to utilize the divinely instituted means of grace by which God works in believers to strengthen their souls, put away sin, walk more closely with Christ, and so on. Neglect of this responsibility is good evidence of lack of saving faith and justification.

502May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant” (Genesis 9:27 ESV).

503Ashwood quotes from and references 2 Samuel 20:1, but this verse is inapplicable to Ashwood’s context.

504Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?” (Isaiah 60:8 ESV).

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