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Stage 3

The Body of Christ

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" Ephesians 1:22-23.

The Church is described in Scripture as the Body of Christ, a picture both of the relationship of the Church to Christ (as Head) and of the way the Church is designed to function.

The Fullness of Christ

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ" Colossians 2:9-10.

When Jesus walked the earth, His physical body housed the fullness of God - His body was a temple of the Spirit (John 2:19-21). Now the Church is His Body, the temple of God's Spirit (1 Corinthians 3 :16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). We are a corporate Body expressed on three levels:

Jesus said He was returning to His Father "for your good ," for only then could He send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Although His physical body was limited by space and time, His corporate Body - the Church - has no such limitations (John 14:12).

A Body Prepared

"Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, "Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God"'" Hebrews 10:5-7.

The function of any body is to do its owner's bidding. Jesus came to the earth in bodily form to fulfill the will of His Father (John 5:19; Matthew 26:39). Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (John 1 :1,14,18; 1 Timothy 3:16). Now the Church, as Christ's corporate Body, is to express God's will on earth (Matthew 6:10) - to be God manifest again in the flesh.

One Body

"For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body..." 1 Cor.12:13.

The Body of Christ is a unit comprised of many members (1 Cor.12:12). This unity is possible because in Christ we have:

One Spirit

The Body of Christ is filled with the Holy Spirit - also called the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:6-7; Galatians 4:6). This Spirit is the bond which holds the Body together (Ephesians 4:3-4).

One Blood

True Christians have a common denominator - we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Cor.10:16-17; Eph.1:7). This blood is the basis of our life in God and continues to nourish us (John 6:53-5 6) and cleanse us (Hebrews 9:14).

One Mind

This is not just doctrinal agreement, but agreement in purpose and vision. For the Body of Christ to function as God intended, we must all be motivated by the heart of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8) and guided by the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Many Parts

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ" 1 Corinthians 12:12.

In 1 Cor.12:15-27, the apostle Paul deals with two problems in attitude that will hinder the proper functioning of the Body:

We are not to think more highly of ourselves nor more lowly of ourselves than we should. Rather, we should see ourselves as a vital but inter-related part of the Body (Romans 12:3-6).

Positioned by God

"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?"
1 Corinthians 12:18-19.

The Body of Christ has unity, but not uniformity. Just as there is a wonderful diversity in the natural body, so it is with the Church - a diversity of function and a variety of expression. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, the apostle Paul uses two Greek words to describe this diversity in action:

Christians tend to gather with others of their own kind (allos), but the Body is also made up of people of completely different kinds (heteros). It is only when the allos and the heteros come together that the whole Christ is manifest to the world.

Purpose of the Body

God's plan is that, through His Body, Christ should manifest to the world four things:

The Whole Christ

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to the world (John 16:14-15), and He does this by dwelling in the Church. In order to reveal the whole Christ, the Body must reveal Christ...

"Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" Ephesians 3:20-21.

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Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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