Body of Christ
(Supporting Scripture will follow the commentary)
The Word of God portrays the “Body of Christ” as the composition/union of all persons who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for their personal eternal salvation. In some passages of Scripture this inclusive union of believers is referred to as the “Church” (a term that in other passages may refer to a local assembly of believers). It further stipulates that Jesus Christ is the Head of this Body. And this unification, this Body, will never end because it is solely based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in human form, upon the Cross of Calvary, the payment for the sins of mankind, which may only be accessed/obtained through faith, never by works.
Yet, often it was the Apostle Paul’s experience that many Christians, instead of exhibiting a close and loving union, displayed a corrosive disunion, generating doctrinal separation and ill will. Such is often the case with young believers who forcefully endeavor to share their “new birth” experience with the world around them. This writer clearly remembers his days as a new Christian. Eager to share his experience, he not only addressed many of the “lost” around him, but also attempted to “straighten out” those Christians who had exercised faith in Christ “not exactly” in the same manner as he. He cared less whether his target was a young Christian or a minister of a local Christian church. Clearly, he was right and others were wrong.
This frame of mind and divisive activity characterized him for many years, until he came to the realization that a person who makes the decision to place his/her faith in Christ for salvation often does not fully understand exactly/specifically Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross. This can be the result of not being fully informed on the matter as well as being informed that the execution of faith is to be achieved in another way.
For instance, many well-intended Christians minister the “plan of salvation” by instructing that salvation is to be achieved through a specific type of prayer. Others stipulate that faith is to be preceded by a person’s decision to turn away (called “repentance”) from all sin. While others add that one must make Christ “Lord” over his/her life. And while all such presentations include the necessity of faith in Christ, the emphasis is often upon the manner in which faith should be executed.
When considering the above, this writer would often wonder at what exact point a person who would implement a certain prayer, that salvation would take place. Was it at the end of the prayer or at some point during it? As to the emphasis on “repentance” as being part of the formula, of which there are a few passages that offer support, he eventually learned that this requirement pertained to the re-offer of the promised kingdom to the Jewish people. And then there was the requirement that a person must make Christ Lord of his/her life, a distinct impossibility for a newborn Christian, since such a position may only be achieved through a progression of spiritual growth over a period of time, achieved as one is able to allow the Spirit of God to have more control over one’s temporal life.
But regardless of the different ways a person is encouraged to be saved, faith is always included as a prime factor. In time, this writer realized that the only time in Scripture that an individual who asks how to be saved – obtain eternal life – and is told how, is when the Apostle Paul explained the matter to the Philippian jailer when the jailer “fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” (Acts 16:29, 30) To which the Apostle Paul replied “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (vs. 31).
Now, did the jailer fully understand specifically “what” Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary, that is, “how” Christ paid for the jailer’s sins? Such is quite doubtful. In fact, there are many Christians today, and throughout time, that are unaware of exactly how the Son of God made this payment for sin, how “He [God the Father] made Him [God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us [mankind], that we might become the righteousness of God [the Father] in Him [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This payment was executed during a 3 hour period of time from “the sixth hour until the ninth hour” as darkness covered “all the land” (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44), when God the Father separated from God the Son (the actual cost of sin, i.e., separation from God, revealed initially in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve became separated from the Creator). Such was the payment that Christ experienced on the Cross for a 3 hour period of time; and, when it was paid in full, Christ cried out “‘It is finished!’ and bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30) as He cried out “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).
The Philippian Jailer most likely did not know the details of “how” Christ paid for his sins, just as most Christians today do not know the same. But, he did know that if he would simply place his trust (faith) in Christ for his salvation, he would be saved. And this he did, just as many individuals do today and throughout time to achieve the same. Frankly, this was the experience of this writer, when on his bed on Christmas Eve in 1959 he looked up to the ceiling and made the decision to trust in Christ for his personal eternal salvation, the decision that changed his life completely from that day/night forward.
The terms “faith” and “believe” are synonymous terms in the Word of God. To express faith in the Word of God is to believe the Word of God. To express or exercise faith in Jesus Christ for one’s salvation is to believe in Him for one’s salvation. And when does this singular and key requirement specifically take place? At the very moment that the person makes the decision to do it. Which is to say, a person is saved, completely sealed by the Spirit of God for eternity, at the exact moment he/she makes the decision to do it – prior to any type of prayer or complicated formula.
And this writer believes that the day is coming when we all will find that there are Christians rooted in all “Christian” denominations. This is not to say that all are spiritually mature or that all denominations teach correct spiritual doctrine, but only that there are many throughout the various denominations who have made the decision to place their faith in Jesus Christ and consequently are saved – have obtained eternal life.
Nevertheless, the Christian community is quite fractured and evident in many different denominations. This may be somewhat the situation that the Apostle Paul faced in his address to the Christians, “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). As he stated, “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
Unfortunately, this situation leads many well-intended Christians to jealously strike out, criticize, and disparage all those who are in disagreement with them regarding various doctrinal issues. And even if they are correct, those whom they wish to correct often are simply driven off. Having said this, the writer is not saying that correct doctrinal issues should not be encouraged, shared, and instructed with others. He is only attempting to call attention as to how such is handled.
The Apostle Paul emphasized the manner in which members of the Body of Christ should behave as they endeavored to seek, demonstrate, and teach the various truths contained in God’s Holy Word. This may be seen in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 13, and in Ephesians chapter 4, as well as in a few other New Testament passages of Scripture. Please review the following passages of Scripture, which this writer believes are relative to the issues surfaced in this publication.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (9) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (Matthew16:27; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 2:23; 20:12; 22:12)
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? (6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. (7) So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (8) Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (9) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (10) According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (14) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
1 Corinthians 10:16, 17
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (17) For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
For 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. (13) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (14) For in fact the body is not one member but many. (15) If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? (16) And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (18) But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (19) And if they were all one member, where would the body be? (20) But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. (21) And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (22) No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. (23) And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, (24) but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, (25) that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. (26) And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (27) Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Galatians 3:26-28 (John 1:12; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:5; 1 John 3:1-2)
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23 (1 Corinthians 15:27; Hebrews 2:7, 8)
That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him. . . (22) And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, (23) which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 2:13-22 (John 10:16; 16:33; Acts 2:39; 10:36; Romans 5:1; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 1:20-22; Hebrews12:23)
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (14) For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (15) 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, (16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (17) And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (19) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20) having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone, (21) in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, (22) in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 3:6, 15
That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel . . . (15) from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
Ephesians 4:4-7, 11-16, 25, 32
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (7) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. . . . (11) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (14) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (15) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – (16) from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. . . . (25) Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. . . . (32) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 5:23, 30
. . . Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. . . . (30) For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
Colossians 1:18, 24
And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. . . . (24) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church.
Colossians 2:18, 19
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head [Christ], from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.