THE CHURCH IS CHRIST'S BODY
I Cor. 12:12-27
I direct your thinking this morning to two statements from I Corinthians 12:22 which says, “Even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” The words, “So also is Christ” means so also is Christ's body. Paul then gave detailed description of the many different members of the human body and how all function in complete obedience to the head. or brain. He completed this analogy inverse 27, saying to the Corinthians church, “ Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” In comparing the church to Christ's body, I can only remark tha it is the greatest of all metaphors, figures of speech or analogies in the entire Bible.
The first indisputable truth revealed in I Cor. 12:12-27 is that the church Jesus purchased with His blood resembles a human body. Jesus used many metaphors, analogies and parables to help us understand the nature of the church. The church is said to be like a vineyard; it is also called the bride of Christ. In this passage of scripture, the church is said to resemble a human body. Of all the metaphors and figurative representations of the church, I consider the comparison of the church to a human, physical body as the greatest of all metaphors and figures of speech found in the entire Bible. In addition it is the most difficult of all metaphors to understand, for the church is not the literal body of Christ but the spiritual body of Christ. Please notice verse 12, “For as the body is one, that is the physical body, and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” The meaning is that as our physical body has many parts or members, so also Christ's body the church has many members or parts. He affirms this remarkable truth in verse 27, Now you are the body of Christ and members individually.” Can you grasp the concept that Christ has two bodies, one a literal glorious body in heaven and another wonderful spiritual body on the earth which He calls His church? He expects his spiritual body on earth to be as obedient to Him as our bodies are to the brain. Can you grasp the concept that Christ considers the church as His body on the earth. .
Secondly, with what knowledge I have, I will try to explain how the Church on earth can be called the body of Christ when the body He had on earth ascended to heaven, and his glorified body now sits at the right hand of God. Nevertheless, in addition to our text the Church is called the body of Christ in several other places in the New Testament. I will mention one more scripture in Ephesians 4;4-6, “There is on body, : one body, and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptisn and one God and Father of all who is bove all and through all, and in you all." These are the central unifing doctrines of the Christian religion. The oneSpirit is the Holy Spirit. The one body is he church, Christ's body on earth. The one hope is eternal life in heaven.The one Lord is Jesus Christ. The one faith is all the doctrinal beliefs of the Christiand religion. The one baptism is immersion in water for the forgivenss of all past sins. The onde God is God the Father the first person of the Godhead. This passage mentions all three persons in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If you don't believe in the Trinity, you do not believe in three of the unifiying doctrines of the Christian relgion. Why does not the word of God say, “one church” instead of “one body.” Christ wants the world to know that the church He died for is so close to Him and so a part of Him that He wants the wold to know He regards His church as His very body through which He does all His work on this earth. He will not do the work that needs to be done to save the world, but His church will. Of course He considers His church His spiritual body, and if He wants the world to consider the church as the body of Christ at work in the world, that is His privilege. His spiritual body one earth has no head; the head of his spiritual body is in heaven. Christ represents the head of His body on earth.
Col. 1:18 says, “Christ is the head of the body the Church.” This continues the comparison of the church to a human body, but the head of Christ's body is in heaven and not on the earth. No one on earth is he Head of the body the church. Christ alone is the head and directs His body the church in all of its work, just as the mind diect our phys;ical bodies. Now you knw that the Pope is not the head of Christ's church; he is head only of the Roman Catholic church. And so it with all religious leaders who made themselves the head of some church in Christendom. Most all denominational churches see this comparison of the church and a human body, and since they see no earthly headd of he church on eath, they appoint one themselves. But the fact remains there is no head of the church on earth; the head of the body the church is s in heaven. Christ allows no man on earth to usurp His auhtority over His church. l A spiritual body may be described anyway Christ wishes. His body on earth has no head because Christ Himself is its head in heaven. Can you grasp this this marvelous concept?
There is another important scripture that backs us all that I have said. Writing to Gentile Christians how God saved them as well as Jews, Paul wrote, “For He himself is our peace who had made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 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 2:14,15) Since Christ established His church on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. the complex of the human race has changed into three classes people. Since that day to this day, all people on earth are either Jews, Gentiles or the Church of God. The Church of God is this one new man, Jews and Gentiles who have become Christians. All other Jews and Gentiles are lost people and will miss heaven unless His church, the one man, brings them to Christ and salvation and forgiveness of their past sinful life. ne life. new man, the church of God brings them to Chrsist and salvation. But the only head this one new man has is Christ who is the head of the church. Can you grasp this great spiritual? Even though we accept this concept and believe these scriptures quoted by preachers that say the church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the church, we still have difficulty in understanding this metaphor. For example what church or churches is the body of Christ the church? There are hundreds of churches in the world, which one is the body of Christ or are all these hundreds of churches added together the one new man, the church, the body of Christ? Most people in Christendom think that this explains the one church mentioned in scripture. However, even the better denominational commentators reject such an impossible idea.
Albert Barnes, one of their better commentators says this, “The meaning here is, as there is really but one church on earth, there ought to be unity. The church is at present divided into many denominations. It has different forms of worship and different rites and ceremonies. It embraces those of different complexions and ranks in life, and it cannot be denied that there are often unhappy contentions and jealousy in different parts of the church. Still there is but one, one holy, universal church, and that church should feel that it is one. Christ did not come to redeem and save different churches, and to give them a different place in heaven. The church is one. Every sincere Christian is a brother in that church, and has an equal right to with all others to its priveleges.
I believe this man gave the correct explanation of the divine turth that there there is one body, one body of Christ, the church. I agree that all the churches in Christendom do not make up the one body of Christ, for many do not obey and operate according to the directions of Christ the head of the church as our physical bodies at all times obey the directions of he head of our bodies. Our text speaks of a comparison of the church to a human body that carries out absolute obedience to all decisions that come from the head. However, this is a saying worthy of all acceptation. All sincere Christians are members of the body of Christ, the church. The Bible does not teach that all churches collectively in Christendom make up the one church, but it does teach that all true Christians represent the one body of Christ, the one church in the wold. ou may ask what about all these thousands and thousands of people in all these undreds of different churches and beliefs? All I can say is that all Christians are members of Christ's body the church. If there are people in any of those churches who obeyed the gospel of Christ and were added to the church by the Lord, those people are members of the Lord's church. If they did know that much truth, I find it difficult to understand why they remain in churches who are not obedient to Christ who is the Head of the church. I would say that people who are in such churches who give heir financial support and service to churches that are not in agreement with the teachings of Christ and the apostles are in great danger.
Thirdly, this concept that the church is Christ's spiritual body
here on earth presents another spiritual aspect that is exciting indeed. When the church was established on the Day of Pentecost about 33 A.D. the spiritual body of Christ appeared on the earth for the first time. Within a few years Jews and Gentiles became Christians and the one new man appeared on earth. This one new man resposnds only to Christ the Head like our bodies serve the will of our brain. It is an exciting thought that the church called His body is a human representation of Christ until the end of the world. For the church to be called His body attached with Christ the head in heaven, the church can rightly be a representation which He left on the earth. The religious world claims that the church is too weak to save the world. Many think we must wait until He returns and set up His kingdom in Jerusalem, and then He will save the world. How this disagrees with all I have said in this lesson. In a sense a part of Jesus is still hee with us. The church is a part of Him, and He is working with the church save the world. There is no need for Him to be here in person. Can you grasp the concept a part f that a part of the church is in heaven? Christ, the only head of His church is inheaven, is in heaven and a part of the church is on earth in the person of the one new man, which is the church of the living God.
This one new man, the church, knows that God is no respecter of persons, for Jews and Gentiles in Christ are this one new man. They were all brought out of darkness into God's marvelous light It has always been God's will to bring the human race to eternal salvation. In Old Testament times Israel was called to be a light to all nations. Israel was to set an example of holiness to the whole world. When Israel was not faithful to God's call, God sent a light that the darkness could not overcome, and God would be defeated. It was the light of Jesus Christ who is the new light, the new salt, the new leaven. This is what Christ's body is all a bout. Christ has given his church the mission to take the light of the gospel to all nations. The work of the chuch is to bring the light of Christ to a darkened world. What an honor He bestowed on the church when He allwhen He called it His body. What an honor it is to be a part of this new man and and have a part in bringing the light of salvation to a darkened world.
I read about a man who was piloting a small single-engine plane one evening just about dusk. He was headed toward a small country airport. Night fell more quickly than he anticipated, however, .and by the time it reached the airport, it was impossible for him to distinguish the paved landing strip in the darkness. His little plane was not equipped with lights, and no one seemed to be around the little airport to turn on any lights on the runway. He started circling the airport uncertainly. For two hours he circled around in the darkness not knowing what to do and expecting at any moment he might run out of gas and plunge to his death.
What happened next had to be like an answer to prayer. Someone on the ground heard the little plane circling the airport and guessed what the problem was. Immediately he jumped into his car and headed for the airport. Not knowing how to switch on any of the airport lights, he settled for driving his car up and down he runway with his lights on high beam showing the pilot the dimensions of the runway. Then he pulled his car off the end of the runway with his headlights still beaming to guide the pilot to a safe landing. This reminds us of a problem the people of the world have who are in a far worse state of darkness than this man was.
The apostle John said of Jesus, “All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. He was the true light who gives light to every man coming into the world”(John 1:4-8) In addition this spiritual darkness people of the world are having family problems or battling alcoholic or drug addiction. There is a lot of loneliness in the world. It is aid of Jesus that He went about doing good. Jesus is still showing God's and His love to the world through His body the church.