A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 3: Being the People of God Together -- By: Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:551 (Jul 1981)
Article: A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 3: Being the People of God Together
Author: Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry
Part 3:
Being the People of God Together

Raymond C. Ortlund

[Raymond C. Ortlund, Pastor, Mariners Church, Newport Beach, California]

[Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, November 4–7, 1980.]

The Basis for the Church’s Priority

In the Book of Ephesians Paul teaches that the church was in the heart of God before all time. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Eph 1:4). In eternity past God planned for this new creation in Christ Jesus. Christ was appointed by the Father to be “head over everything for the church” (1:22). The church has an exalted place in the heart and plan of God. No other institution has such a high position.

The church which existed in God’s heart is also in the future plan of God. She will display His character throughout eternity. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (2:6–7). Rulers and authorities in heavenly realms now stand in awe of God’s wisdom as they observe what He has done and is doing through the church (3:10).

After the Apostle Paul made clear the magnificent position of the church (Eph 1–3), he began the applicational section of his letter (Eph 4–6). He opened this section with a plea for believers to honor and love one another since the church is one body. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3). Believers are in the church together, and they are in it forever!

The Church’s Call to Love

Christians are eternally committed to Christ and are united to each other through Christ. But how are believers to live out this unity now? The secret is love.

When Jesus gave His Upper Room Discourse, those who were present differed in temperament, politics, and personalities, What “glue” would hold this diverse body of disciples together when He was not physically present? “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (

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