THE BODY OF CHRIST
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I wonder what comes to mind when we read the expression, “The Body of Christ”? We know “Christ” means the One whom God has anointed to do the work of the Servant of the Lord. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name.
There are other terms that portray our relationship to Christ, such as “The Bride of the Lamb.” Also, we have been called to be the brothers of Christ. The term “Church” means the people who have been called out from the world to be holy (saints). But that does not tell us of our close relationship to Christ, as does “The Body of Christ.”
I would like to suggest that God has a Soul. God has a Spirit. And now God is building a Body for Himself. He is building it one room at a time, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head.
In God’s House, or Body, there are many rooms. The Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us so we may be one of those rooms in the great Body of Christ.
The Lord Jesus is the eternal dwelling place of God. The eternal dwelling place of God now has a body, the Body of Christ. So God has a body, of which the Head is the Lord Jesus.
This truly is an awesome concept. This means that we Christians, if we are pressing into Jesus each day as we should, are becoming the very Body of Christ, which is the Body of God. Everywhere we go in the creation, from now on, we are of God in that place.
Maybe that is why the name of God is written on us.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
The Temple of God is the Lord Jesus. So, if we are living a victorious life in Christ, we are being made a pillar in the eternal House of God.
God’s name will written on us because we are the Presence of God wherever we go.
The name of the New Jerusalem will be written on us because we represent the Royal Priesthood.
The new name of the Lord Jesus will be written on us, whatever that new name is.
If you will consider Revelation 3:12 carefully, you will see that the Lord Jesus is declaring that we are becoming an integral part of God. We are becoming one with God through the Lord Jesus, just as Jesus prayed. A closer relationship is not possible. It is the same relationship to Jesus that Jesus has with the Father. We are becoming one as they are One.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
If I am getting the sense of what the Lord is saying in the verse above, if we are eating His flesh continually and drinking His blood continually, we will be living as He is living. This is to say, we are thinking as He is thinking; we are speaking as He is speaking; we are acting as He is acting.
A closer union is not possible. We then are living by His Life.
Whenever we are tempted to sin, and we turn away from the sin and do what we think the Lord Jesus desires that we do, we are given, in the spirit world, His flesh to eat and His blood to drink in order to strengthen our resolve.
In this way we feed on Him. This is how we attain to the resurrection of our inward man, in preparation for the resurrection of our flesh and bone body in the Day of the Lord. The body and blood of Christ are our resurrection. This is the true eternal life.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53,54)
We really do become the Body of Christ, the eternal dwelling place and Presence of God among His creatures.
This is why Paul wrote as follows:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (I Corinthians 6:15)
Our bodies are the members of Christ Himself!
During the Kingdom Age, the interval between the next coming of the Lord and the final judgment, the people who remain on the earth after the Battle of Armageddon will recognize that the members of the Body of Christ are the priests of the Lord:
And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
The New Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church. It will come down from Heaven through the spectacular new sky to be installed forever on the gigantic new earth.
The New Jerusalem is the fullness of the Israel of God, the “one new Man” of whom the Apostle Paul wrote. It is the Royal Priesthood. It is the Body of Christ. It is the Throne of God placed among the citizens of the new earth.
The citizens of the new earth are those people whom God has saved from among the nations of the earth, but who are not part of the Church, the “called-out” Body of Christ.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
Just as King David ruled over Judah for seven years, and then over all of Israel for thirty-three more years, so there will be a Firstfruits of the Body of Christ who are raised from the dead and are caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He next appears. They will reign for a period before the remainder of the members of the Body of Christ come to maturity.
As for the Firstfruits:
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
The Firstfruits will govern the earth for a thousand years, while the remainder of the Body of Christ will be in Mount Zion in the spirit world, being prepared for the entire Church, the new Jerusalem, to descend from Heaven and be installed on the new earth.
The new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church, the fullness of the Body of Christ, will be the Throne of God, the Presence of God, on the new earth. This is the Kingdom of God, of which Daniel, John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles spoke.
The members of the Body of Christ will govern this new world of righteousness for eternity.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
The Son is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1)
The Servant of the Lord is the Head and Body of the One anointed with the Spirit of God to bring justice to the nations; to bring everlasting righteousness, love, joy, and peace throughout God’s creation.
This is the Kingdom of God of which Daniel, John, Jesus, and the Apostles spoke. The coming of the Kingdom will result in God’s will being done in the earth as it is in Heaven.
The Kingdom of God was born in us when we were born again. This is the Nature of Christ, of God, conceived in us. The gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ were given to us that we might build up ourselves and our fellow members of the Body into the full stature of Christ.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
God gave ministries and gifts to members of the Body of Christ to prepare them to serve themselves and other members of the Body in the work of building each member to maturity, as measured by the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
We have gotten off the track, I fear, by devoting most of the resources of the churches to making converts to the religion of Christianity. The result is churches filled with mixed multitudes—some baby Christians and some nothing more than church attenders, having little or nothing of Christ in them.
This has happened because we measure success in Gospel work by the number of people who assemble in the buildings; and we desire to be successful, at least in America.
The truth is, success in Gospel work is the bringing of the members of the Body of Christ to maturity so they may serve as members of the Servant of the Lord and work with Him to bring justice to the nations.
These, and only these, are the people who will be raised from the dead and caught up to meet Jesus in the air when He comes. They are living by the body and blood of the Lord, and that body and blood will raise them up to the Lamb when He appears in the sky.
Someone noted that of the ten foolish virgins, only five were prepared to go to meet the Bridegroom. Does this mean half of the people who profess Christ will not go to meet Him when He appears?
Some may protest that the five foolish virgins were not Christians. The foolish exclaimed that their lamps were going out! The point is that previously they had had lamps that were lighted. Does this sound to you like people who were not Christians? They were Christians, all right, but they had been living a careless life. Is this true of any today?
Today mighty aspects of redemption are in process. The “wise virgins” are being visited by the Lord Jesus. They are learning to confess their sins and to turn away from them. They are being given understanding of the nature of the Kingdom of God. Many passages of Scripture are being opened to them that appear to have been sealed previously.
“Many who are last shall be first,” the Lord exclaimed. I take this to mean they will be first in the Kingdom of God. There are ranks in the Kingdom, you know; and if any one of us has been appointed to be on a high throne in the kingdom we will have to be seeking the Lord continually, so we understand at all times what it is we are to be doing at the moment.
Placement in the Kingdom has been determined from the beginning of the world. But in order for us to attain to our predestined rank we will have to be learning to live by the Life of Jesus today.
The rewards for living by the Life of Jesus are fantastic—beyond our wildest imaginations. But, as we have learned from our life on the earth, things of great value have a great price tag. To reap Christ in our life to a hundredfold extent requires our entire devotion, a total consecration. Nothing less than this will gain our desires.
Do we work for our salvation? Indeed not—it is the gift of God. However—and there is considerable confusion about this—we have to work out our salvation. That means we have to respond to what God desires to do in our life.
In America, when there are so many novelties that call for our participation, it indeed requires a heroic effort to attend to Christ and not be distracted by interesting things and projects.
Everyone, you and I included, are invited to come to Jesus at all times and learn to live by His Life. This includes people of other religions. Jesus does not care about your religion; but He does care for you and He died to, appease God concerning your sins.
If I am not mistaken, we are in the most dangerous of all periods of time: moral filth abounds; the opportunity to make more money then we need is available to many people; some people living on the earth have more food than they can eat, while others are starving to death; the people who make money from electronic devices are presenting little children with sexual perversions. The largest nations of the earth are seeking power, and the result will be war.
In our own nation the newspapers are inflaming racial prejudice that yet may lead to civil war in America with the shedding of much blood, a civil war that may increase the circulation of the papers. Many of the political leaders seem to be swayed more by the desire to exercise power and gain fame than they are to benefiting those who vote for them.
The people who are sponsoring such evil have no idea of what they will be facing when they die. They are wise if they make the most of the present life, because they are facing a long time of horrible punishment when they die; unless they should repent and turn to the Lord Jesus.
The present day also is a period in which the greatest opportunities to enter the Kingdom of God are available to anyone who is interested enough to give himself or herself to the intense pursuit of the Lord Jesus.
You can do it! Don’t talk yourself out of it! This is your one chance in all of eternity to demonstrate that you love God more than anything or anyone else!
(“The Body of Christ”, 3571-1)