Purpose of this Session
Perhaps even more incomprehensible to the natural mind than being a corporate habitation of God, is the reality that we are one many-membered organic Body, animated by the indwelling Spirit of God. Such truths and their implications deserve long meditation, that we might more fully express the character of our Head as we live in harmony with one another, knowing that to hurt or reject another in the Body is to hurt or reject ourselves.
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23 NKJV)
The Bible speaks of three specific men who were designed to fully express the Godhead, and display His character and image.
- The First Man - Adam (Genesis 1:26-28; 1 Cor 15:45-47)
Created in the very image and likeness of God, Adam was a man who was sinless, incapable of sickness, disease or death. Adam’s body was an intricate, marvellous creation of God, with every part functioning in perfect harmony.
- The Second Man - Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:45-47)
Just as Adam’s Body was prepared from the dust of the earth, so Christ’s body was prepared by God in the womb of Mary (Heb 10:5). He too was a perfect Man. His body was an intricate many membered dwelling for his spirit. It was not subject to sin, disease or death. Like Adam, He was also the perfect image of God (Heb 1:3; Col 1:15). Like Adam, He was also filled with the Breath (the Spirit) of God (Jn 3:34).
Jesus is called the Last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), but not the last Man. He is called the second man, suggesting that a third was still to come. That third man is also a many membered intricately wrought son of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and destined for sinless perfection – the Ecclesia.
- The Third Man
“having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,” (Ephesians 2:15)
What God typified in Adam, the First Man, demonstrated in the physical body of His Son, He desires to do in the Spiritual Body – the Ecclesia. Every member of this Body, which in this present age is in formation, will ultimately be sinless, and free from sickness, disease and death.
Jesus Christ is our Head, we are the many membered Holy Spirit filled Body under His direction.
Some truths concerning the Body of Christ
- Christ is the Head of the Body
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18 NKJV)
Jesus Himself has pre-eminence in His Body, as the Head. Just as a natural body receives direction, not acting independently of its control centre, so the Body of Christ should be connected to the Head, not acting independently of Him, but acting only according to His will and direction. He has only one Sovereign will, and the whole Body should be subject to, and performing that will, not their own.
As each member is joined to the head, and joined to one another in exercise of their gift and function within the Body, the very life of God is released and supplied to the whole Body, which is then built up in love:
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from 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 4:15-16 NKJV)
The Scriptures warn of not giving the Head His rightful place of authority.
“Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” (Colossians 2:18-19 NKJV)
We must guard against this both individually and corporately if we are to function properly. The Bible tells us to remain vitally united to our Head (John 15:4-7).
Our life flows from the Head, and to be severed from vital connection with Him through the Spirit and relationship, is to die, just as the natural body cannot survive if disconnected from its head! The Church of Sardis was like this (Rev 3:1), with a reputation for being alive, yet being dead. Jesus alone is the life source of the Body, nothing and no one else. True and living relationship with Him is the real sign and measure of life, not mere religious activity.
- The Body is animated and made alive by the Spirit
Speaking of the natural body, James says:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26 NKJV)
Without the breath of God, Adam was just a pile of beautifully formed flesh! It was only when God breathed into Adam’s lifeless form that he became a living being (Gen 2:7).
Through God’s Word and Spirit the Body of Christ is energised:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63 NKJV)
“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]...” (Heb 4:12a AMP)
“… the Spirit gives life.” (2Corinthians 3:6b NKJV)
“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4 NKJV)
Just as the nation of Israel was pictured by Ezekiel as a valley of bones, which then came together, bone to bone, member to member, yet still lacked life until the Spirit of God blew upon them (Ezek 37:8,14), so the Body of Christ is lifeless until born of and filled with the Spirit.
- The whole Body is interconnected
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:4-5 NKJV)
Each and every member of a body is vitally connected to every other through the bloodstream. In a similar way each member of the Body of of Christ is united in the Blood of Jesus. Through His blood all members are united (Eph 2:13), and in the unity of fellowship His Blood cleanses us, just as natural blood cleanses and purifies the natural body as it flows from member to member.
Each member has a unique function and is interdependent upon the others
Each member in the Body has a unique place and function. We are fitted together by Jesus Christ Himself in order to work together as one, thus accomplishing our purpose, the building of the Body and the fulfilment of our commission to make disciples of all nations.
It is good to remember that this important truth applies not only within the functioning of the Local Church, but also universally across the entire community of faith. We need one another in all our diversity to reach and touch the world for Christ. It is impossible for us to claim we have no need of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in truth our Father commands a special anointing and blessing upon the Body when it is unified, flowing down from the Head:
“A Song of Ascents. Of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing - Life forevermore.” (Psalms 133:1-3 NKJV)
Paul expands on this concept and reality in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything?
But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.”
(1Corinthians 12:12-27 NLT)
Both the visible and the hidden parts of the body are essential for it to function as a healthy and growing body. Each member utilising their natural and spiritual gifts for the building up of the whole is God’s will for each Believer. When this happens the complete ministry of Christ, and the fullness of the Godhead bodily, will be seen and experienced.
When the Body is filled with strife and divisions, and its individual members or communities are self-centred, self-serving and critical of others, the ministry of the Body is rendered ineffective.
It is worth noting that it is when we are joined to the Head and to one another that a supply of the Spirit is released. We are more effective and powerful together than we could ever be individually. Christ’s ministry is not the enclave of a ‘chosen’ few spiritual superstars, or the exclusive territory of the learned. It is a ministry He performs through His whole Body.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
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:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 KJV)