Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Church, the Body of Christ - Literally (Expanded)

In September I posted a short Bible study on this topic. Since then I have finished the study and so I want to re-post an expanded version of the first two parts followed by the third and fourth in the series so that you will have them in sequential order.  You will find the entire four lessons in pdf form here.  If you want to see the same lessons with the answers filled in, you can find it here. There is some overlap because what I didn't finish in one session of the class, I carried over to the next lesson. In addition, parts that are the most important I purposely repeated for emphasis.

Ephesians 5:30-32 reads this way in the NKJV. "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

Paul is writing about marriage and at the same time is discussing Christ and the church. He quotes from Genesis 2:24 just after the creation of Eve and after Adam had said that his wife was "bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh."

Paul tells us very clearly here that he is speaking of Christ and the church and he even uses the same two words that Adam used and says that we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. So I take it from this that somehow, born again Christians are literally part of the body of Christ.

Earlier in the book of Ephesians, in chapter 2 and verse 15 Paul says that God is creating one new man. The church is that new man. It is a creation of God and is an organic and living being. It is not just an organization. To me the most astounding aspect of this is that it has been God's purpose from eternity past to create this entity called the church and through it "the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10, 11)

In Ephesians 1:23, Paul had said that the church is "the fullness of Him that fills all in all." Who is the "Him" he is talking about? Obviously the one who fills all in all is God. The church somehow is the fullness of God. I don't understand it and I'm afraid to put any other synonyms into the sentence in order to clarify it because it sounds almost sacrilegious.  So if you are part of the church, you are part of the fullness of God.

Now let me clarify that I'm talking about something different than just being a member of a church. A church organization can have members. Some of those members are truly born again people and some are not. Those who are born again, those who have been regenerated by the power of God have been placed into the body of Christ and are part of God's fullness.

The overall goal is stated in Ephesians 4:13 -- To become a perfect man reaching the stature of the fullness of Christ. This perfect man is not an individual man who reaches that level. The perfect man is the church, the new man mentioned in Ephesians 2:15. As the individual members of the body work together, each contributing according to the gifts God has given him, the body grows into the stature of the fullness of Christ.

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