Friday, November 23, 2012

The Church, the Body of Christ - Part 4

This is the fourth and last installment in this series. To get the context, it would be wise for you to go back and read the first three posts.

Ephesians 5:28-32 describe the relationship of Christ and the church as similar to marriage. The church is literally the body of Christ and we are members of his flesh and of his bones.

God is creating in Christ one new man. The church is that one new man. It is something new that didn't exist before. As God is creating this body, He is equipping individuals with various gifts of grace and is placing them in the body where He desires them to be. Because the body is many members, and not just one, each person should see himself as an important functioning part of the body. Because the body is one body, each person should see himself as interconnected with others and functioning together to accomplish one end.

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 there is an interesting triplet of phrases. 

There are differences of gifts but the same Spirit. All of the members are indwelt by the one Spirit of God and yet that Spirit gives different gifts for the proper functioning of the body.

There are differences of ministries but the same Lord. The word ministries means service or serving. There is one Lord Jesus Christ who directs everything. We are all servants who have different areas or types of service. But it is the same Lord who oversees the whole operation.

There are differences of activities or energizings but the same God who works in each one. The word for energy is used several times in this section. As the different parts minister using their gifts, they are using energy and accomplishing work all empowered by the one God.

So you see all three members of the trinity at work here. Each one is manifested in a different way in the operation of the various parts of the body.

A key phrase is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7 which is that all of this is for the profit of all. As each part does its share, the body grows and strengthens and becomes what God has called it to be. See Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19; and Romans 12:6 and following where the main thought is that each part is like the joints and sinews of a human body. As each part works appropriately to it's created function, the body is healthy and growing. That is God's design for the body of Christ.

So you see, the church is not just an organization like the Kiwanis club. It is actually a living entity with one Spirit at its core living and acting through all of the various parts as they work together. That is the way that Jesus Christ is still present and active in this world.

If you would like to have a copy of these lessons in PDF form you can find them here. If you would like the lessons with the answers, you can find it here.

You may use these in your personal Bible study or in a group study. You don't need to ask permission. However, I would like some feedback from you or your group. What makes sense?  What doesn't make sense? I want to make improvements as I go along so your cooperation in that regard would be appreciated.

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