This study covers the “is, was and will be” nature of the Word of God; The use of “The Body of Christ” in scripture and how we become a part of Christ’s Body.
See a list of all the studies in this series
Gifts, Ministries and Operations in the Body of Christ
A short summary of Part 1
All scriptures are ‘dark sayings’ to the flesh as determined by God ‘from the foundation of the world’:
Mat 13:35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Because the flesh cannot see spiritual things, it cannot do something else, but twists and perverts God’s Word to fit into its domain. That is why the spiritual gifts and ministries God gives to the church are open for abuse and perversion, and that is what we all experience somewhere in our lives.
We know that the same word of God is for the natural mind totally different as to those with a spiritual understanding. This truth is very important to understand when it comes to the gifts and ministries because we have been exposed to the darkness for a long time and it takes time to get use to the light.
Mat 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
In part 1 we also touched on why the body analogy is so useful and effective when we dealing with the gifts and ministries. During this session we will delve deeper into this:
The Father alone determines the time of entry into the body of Christ;
The body has a Head, Jesus Christ. He is invisible, but His body is visible;
The Head, Jesus, determines each member’s position and function;
The Head, Jesus, is worshiped with the Father.
The gifts, ministries and operations interlink / interrelated. They all work together for one purpose in the one body – nothing in the body of Christ has a glory of its own, but all work together to bring glory to Jesus and the Father.
We also clarified a few misconceptions:
Paul did not only refer to the “gifts” when he admonished the Corinthians spiritual babies about their carnal and twisted applications, but he referred to all the other aspects like the ministries and operations of the body which was totally incorrectly applied.
Fruit of the spirit is to develop God’s character in us;
The gifts and ministries are for the service in the body.
Framework for Part 2:
In Part 2 we hope to discuss the following:
- Emphasizing a few spiritual principles (for example: the “is, was and will be” nature of the Word of God);
- Why did the Apostle Paul use the concept of a body when dealing with these aspects?
- How and why are we “taken up” into this body of Christ?
Emphasizing a few spiritual principles
The “is, was and will be” nature of the Word of God is a very important spiritual tool God has provided for us to understand His work in us individually and corporately in the body:
Rev 1:8 I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
We know that Jesus is the Word of God, and the above mentioned character of Christ is also relating to His Word.
There are those who say that some of the words written (including some of the spiritual gifts and ministries) are already fulfilled in the past (the so-called preterist point of view). On the other hand there are those who see some of the words written only applicable in the future (the so-called dispensationalist point of view) and the book of Revelation comes to mind. There are also those who see everything written in God’s Word as the “eternal is” or as the “fullness now” doctrine of God.
If the revelation of Jesus and His word is only applicable in certain parts of the world or in certain time frames, we cannot claim to have the revelation of Jesus, because we are to live by every word from God’s mouth:
Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Were some of the gifts and ministries only meant to be seen in the past?
Mat 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
For the natural mind it is impossible to understand how on earth can historic events written in the Word of God not pass away? Some argue from this point of view that some gifts and ministries surely served their purposes at the start of the church age and they have no present purpose.
If we cannot see where the Kingdom of God is, then we cannot see when the kingdom of God comes:
Luk 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
This revelation of Jesus is also ‘at hand’ for those who can see where it is:
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Without the complete revelation of Jesus there is no way we can understand how the body of Christ functions because the revelation of Jesus includes the revelation of His body. In our spiritual development we initially rejoice and go through an individualistic experience, but then we become aware of our need for others who are “bearing record” of this same ‘testimony of Jesus’.
Rev 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Our eyes are being opened further to see we are part of a “corporate body” with one and the same mind. We are a member of a body who is so closely linked to each other, that nothing we ever experienced in the natural comes close to it:
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
We live by every word from God’s mouth as a corporate body also because our individualistic nature is not going to work for us anymore:
Rev 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Four is the symbol for the whole of something. All the gifts and ministries are lived out by the body as a whole, although it is given to ‘some’. We are coming to understand how 4 = 1.
Joh 17:23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Why did the Apostle Paul use the concept of a body when dealing with these aspects?
There are various ways the “church of God” (Acts 20:28) is symbolised throughout the New Testament. Here are a few:
As a vineyard:
Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
As a building (eg. a house, a temple, a sanctuary):
1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
As a flock (of sheep):
Joh 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
Others include a city, a family, a bride, a wife,
So why a body analogy?
1Co 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
The Greek word translated as “body” in that verse (Strong’s #G4983) is “soma” and it has a root word “sozo” (Strong’s # G4982) which carries with it the following meaning: “to save, to deliver, to protect, to heal, to preserve, to do well, to make whole” (Ref. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).
When we speak of a physical body we naturally include the head which hosts the brain that runs the whole body’s operation. The name by which the Head is known is the same name by which of each part of the body is known by. When Saul was persecuting the body of Christ, Jesus had no problem associating His name with the body, the church:
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
What the Head says, the body listens to. We know the Head came to be the Saviour of all mankind, and so we should see why we are placed into this body – to do the same.
Jesus is showing His glory and wisdom through His body:
Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
The physical body’s built-in ability to heal, preserve, and protect itself is surely one of the most powerful natural indicators to understand the spiritual body of Christ:
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
The ‘diversities’ of spiritual gifts and ministries that God gives to the one body via the Head, is to make available all the resources necessary to function effectively as a body:
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16 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.
How and why are we “taken up” into this body of Christ.
Is it done…
by joining a group who call themselves a church or the body of Christ?
by signing up for membership?
By doing a certain religious rituals?
Let us read:
Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Joh 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Father alone determines who is added to the one body of Christ. And this is how the Father does it:
1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
All who are added are added by baptism. Baptized? How? By physical water?
Mar 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
Mar 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before [prior] thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Mar 1:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Mar 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Water baptism is for many in the apostate Christendom the entrance into their particular denomination. But that is not the entrance into the spiritual Kingdom of God or the body of Christ:
Mar 1:6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
Mar 1:7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
Mar 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
We know that physical things cannot achieve spiritual wisdom. We do not use physical things and then equate or compare them with spiritual things:
1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Baptism is with the holy spirit. And what is the spirit?
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The Word is the spirit:
2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The life of any creature is in the blood:
Lev 17:14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Jesus said something which upsets those in the flesh up till today:
Joh 6:53 Then Jesus says to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves.
Joh 6:54 Whoever partakes of My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
The word is spirit. The sprit is life and the life is in the blood. By the blood of Jesus we are ‘made nigh’, even giving part of the body of Christ – that is what we mean when we say we are sharing the one mind of Christ. This one mind of Christ is the only qualification to enter the body of Christ.