Jesus said he’d build his church. But are institutions, buildings, doctrines, customs, rituals, disciplines and forms of worship, what define the word “church” in Scripture?
No, 1 Corinthians 12:27. The church, quite simply, is “the body of Christ.” It is not a body of people, nor a people-created institution, or anything of our making. It is Christ’s body.
But when did Christ ever have a body?
It’s when “The Word became flesh,” John 1:14. That’s when Christ took on a natural human body so that in that body he could redeem, heal, reconcile and transform all humanity into a new creation, a new humanity. He was the first of this new creation to exist, and now in his resurrected, ascended position beside the Father, he’s re-creating his church in the same image.
That’s why the church is called the body of Christ. It’s of the same bodily humanity he is, restored in the image of God. Jesus was the first to accomplish this in his own human body, and now through his church he’s establishing the new humanity of the future.
The church, then, is the earthly reality of this new humanity. That’s why Jesus preached the Kingdom of God wherever he went, because the new humanity had begun, first in his own human body and then in his church body, starting with the apostles and continuing in all those the Spirit unites to Christ after that.
The church, therefore, is the means by which the Kingdom of God, the new creation and the new humanity, are making their way into all the world, so that every human being eventually has the chance to share in it. And those who are sharing it already are the church.
The church, then, is living proof that what God sent Jesus to this Earth for is actually happening. God sent Jesus to live the new humanity. So that’s what Jesus did, and still does. He lived the new humanity in his own human body first, and now he re-lives it through the centuries in his church body. And those in whom he’s re-living it are the church, regardless of whether they attend a people-created building, or not, because the church is the body of Christ, not a human creation.
One thought on “How is the church “the body of Christ”?”
A CHURCH without the Spirit is “dead,” like the church in Sardis (Rev 3:1). Which is why “the voice from heaven” said, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Rev 18:4)
God takes no pleasure in the traditions, rituals, ceremonies, programs and activities of the “church system.” They are like the sacrifice of “bulls” and “goats” which are a “stench” to God.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.” (Isaiah 1:11)
“Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them” (verses 13-15). God says, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice [the sacrifice of “dead works”], And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
God requires this of His TRUE CHURCH, the “body of Christ”: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) This includes the worldly “church systems” with its “dead works” of “traditions” and “rituals” that we are to “come out of.” So instead of wasting time on all the “forms” of the religion of “church systems,” we are to use that time to “seek justice” and to look out for the “oppressed.” God is looking for the “body of Christ” to be a LIVING SACRIFICE which is what is a SWEET AROMA to God.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
Jesus promised, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev 3:5)
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (verse 6)