The Church, the Body of Christ – by Jack Hyles

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:17, 18, 27-29

The word elders is plural and the word church is singular. We know that the church in Ephesus had more than one pastor. Luke asked them to come to Miletus to meet with him.

There is a doctrine that teaches that the church consists of all believers who also form the body of Christ. It is popular because we have listened to inter-denominational people teach the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that all believers do not form the body of Christ. The local church is the body of Christ. We have developed a total misunderstanding of what the term the body of Christ means.

There are three titles given in the Bible for the position of pastor.

The fourth chapter of Ephesians refers to the title of pastor, which means shepherd.

The second title for that position is the title elder, meaning protector and feeder of the sheep. It implies that a pastor should have experience and that he should be able to counsel and lead wisely.

The third word is the word bishop, which is the word for overseer. It is his job as the bishop to oversee all the work of the ministry of the church.

The church at Ephesus was a large church. It was the church to which other churches looked for leadership and guidance. It had several pastors. Paul called for the elders (plural) of the church (singular). This could not be the invisible church, because it had elders. The flock spoken of here was the church members. The word overseers, in the Greek, is the same as the word bishop. God says to feed the local church over which the Holy Ghost had made them the overseers. These men or pastors could not have overseen every Christian in the whole world. It is not talking about all Christians. It is talking about the local church at Ephesus. So it is speaking in this passage about one church, not a worldwide invisible church.

Note what is said about this church in this passage.

1. Jesus purchased the church at Ephesus with His own blood. That does not mean that Jesus did not die for everybody. In this passage He is referring only to the church at Ephesus. There are so many things that happened on Calvary. We will never know all of them. For example, our healing was on Calvary. The Bible says: By his stripes we are healed. We know that Jesus died for all sinners. He also paid the penalty and shed His blood for the church at Ephesus. You cannot refute that.

Paul called for the elders of the church in Ephesus and told them to take heed that they feed the church of God, which He had purchased with His own blood. He was referring only to the one church. Jesus purchased that local church with His blood. This was not a reference to all Christians, although He did die for all people. He also died to purchase the individual church.

2. He chose to call the local church His body.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:22, 23.

This word church is the word ekklesia, which means a called-out assembly. All believers have not yet been called out and assembled. They will not be assembled until the rapture when the church of the firstborn will be assembled in Heaven and all believers become a church. All believers are not now a church. He is referring to the called-out assembly or local church in the city of Ephesus.

He calls it His body because Jesus purchased the church, so He owns it. He calls it a body. The word body means, a complete instrument. Jesus was talking about ownership. It is His body. He owns it. He purchased it with His own blood. The local church is not the body of Christ in the sense that it is His arms and legs. It is the body of Christ in the sense that He bought it and owns it. So, the church and the body are the same.

The same thing then is true about each individual local church. Each church on earth is His body that is to carry out the work of God. That is why we should do His business. It is His church. We have no right to organize it like we want to organize it. We have no right to do things we should not do. We have no to make His church into a social club. It is a place where God’s people come to be strengthened to go out in the world and tell the people about the Saviour.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

Since Jesus owns the church, and it is His body, He should be the own who gets the preeminence in all things. He should have preeminence in the choir. He should have preeminence in the church-school. He should have preeminence in the college. He should have preeminence in the youth program. He should have preeminence in every single ministry of the church.

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Colossians 1:24

This is referring to the church at Colosse, one church. Again in both of these verses, the word church is the word ekklesia, or a called-out assembly. Again, the Bible refers to the church as the body of Christ. He owns it. Jesus owns only one body. He owns only one organization. He does not own any other institution except the church. It is His body.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:25

If anything refutes the invisible church, this is it. Jesus compares Himself and His church to a man and wife. Consequently, if there an invisible church, then a man has an invisible wife. Jesus does not love an invisible church. He could have chosen another relationship to compare it with. He could have chosen angels because they are invisible to us. He could have used spirits or souls, but He chose to use the visibility of a man and his wife. Jesus is talking about a visible organization which is His church and His body.

Here are several observations in light of these things.

1. His body is His called-out assembly.

2. He purchased it with His own blood.

3. It is His only body.

4. He loves it dearly.

It is a tragedy how many Christians place outside Christian organizations over their own local church. I have seen it happen all over the country. If Christ feels the way He does about the church, then each one of us should likewise recognize its importance. Many Christians are more offended when their pastor tells the truth about the decay of a parasite organization than they do when a similar organization criticizes or speaks ill of their local church. The New Testament church is the institution He loves, and we are to love it and be an active part of it.

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. I Corinthians 12:12

A called-out assembly is the same as the church. The church is the same as the body. The body, called-out assembly, or local church has many members, and all members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. We do not belong to the body that He purchased just because we are saved, because He purchased the local assembly. What difference does all of this make? It makes a big difference because there are many Christian people who are not a part of a local church. There are Bible colleges where most of the faculty and students are not actively involved in a local church. I am not talking about liberals. I am talking about fundamentalists. They believe that the church is not as important as the college.

You are as right with God as you are with the institution for which He died. All over the country there are Christian people who minimize the importance of the church, His body. Hyles-Anderson College has a right to continue to live only as long as it stays under the thumb of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.

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. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because Jam not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because l am not the eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. I Corinthians 12:13-23

What does it mean by one spirit? Are we all baptized into one body? He is talking to the church at Corinth, and telling them that the Holy Spirit immersed them into that church.

People like to say that we should go to the church of “our choice.” That is not right. We should go to the church of the Holy Spirit’s choice. The Holy Spirit is supposed to lead us where we go. People choose to leave churches for the wrong reasons. The Holy Spirit puts us into the body. The ekklesia, or called-out assembly, is His body. He purchased that body with His own blood. The Holy Spirit will show us what body we are to go to and will immerse us into that body.

Each of us has our own place in the body. Each part of the body has a particular function. Each part is important to the overall functioning of the body. No part should look at another part as being of less importance. I cannot say to the PA man, “I have no need of you.” I cannot say to the organist and pianist, “I have no need of you.” I cannot say to the custodians, “I have no need of you.” Each of us has been placed there by God. That means that it is important that we be where God wants us to be. We have need of every single person in the church. Every person in a church needs every other person in a church. God has put us there.

The part of the body which is the weakest is the one that needs our attention the most. If you cut your finger, you will suddenly pay more attention to that finger. In the church we want to cut off the finger. If a member backslides, we cut him off. We treat him as if he were not worthy to be in the body. None of us is worthy to be in the body.

When a part of the body is less attractive to us, we should give the most attention to that part to help make it more attractive. We should not ignore it. We do not need to pamper the part that is working right. We need to pamper the part that is not working right.

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. I Corinthians 12:25-3 1

We have been influenced by this invisible church idea. We need to get back to the fact that the local ekklesia is the called-out assembly, and that all believers have never been a called-out assembly. All believers are not members of the church. If people are going to be reached, it will be through the ministry of local churches.

The military of this country is a good example. When a man joins the army, he does not go visit a camp in North Carolina this week, a camp in Wyoming the next week, and then a camp in Virginia the next week. No. They put him in a working unit, and that unit is a body of soldiers that belongs to the United States Government. It is the body of the army, and the individual fighting unit. If you allowed soldiers to go where they want to go, you would never win a war. Men are placed in a division, in a battalion of that division, in a company of that battalion, in a platoon of that company, and in a squad of that platoon. That is the way you win battles, and that is the way you win wars.

The church is God’s institution, for which Christ died. He purchased it to be His body. It is that body to whom He has given the responsibility to take the blessed Book and spread His message to a lost and dying world. That is the way to get the job done by being a part of the local body, called the church, for which He died.

THE BODY OF CHRIST – by Watchman Nee

Scripture Reading: Eph. 1:23; 4:11-13; 5:29-30; Gen. 2:21-24; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 12:12-30; Rom. 12:4-8

Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.  (Ephesians 1:23)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:29-30)

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24)

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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

(1 Corinthians 12:12-30)

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)

 

 

I. THE CHURCH BEING OF CHRIST

Genesis 2 shows us that God took a rib from Adam and made Eve out of it. This typifies the relationship between Christ and the church. Just as Eve came out of Adam, the church comes out of Christ. God made Eve out of Adam. Likewise, He created the church out of Christ. God gave us not only the grace, power, and nature of Christ, but He also gave us the Body of Christ. God has given us His bones, His flesh, and Himself, even as He gave Adam’s rib to Eve. What then is the church? The church comes out of Christ. The Bible shows us that Christ is the Head of the church and the church is the Body of Christ. Individually speaking, every Christian is a member of the Body of Christ and comes out of Christ.

There is one thing we must take note of: The Body of Christ is on earth, but it is not earthly. It is heavenly, yet it is on earth. When Saul was persecuting the church, on his way to Damascus, the Lord Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). The Lord’s word was quite strange. He did not say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting My disciples,” but “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” He did not say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting My church,” but “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” This showed Paul that the church and Christ are one. The church is one with Christ, so much so that when a man persecutes the church he is persecuting Christ. This shows us also that the Body of Christ is on earth, because no one could persecute it if it were in heaven. The Body of Christ is on earth. Therefore, Paul could persecute it. Because the Body of Christ is the church on earth, Paul’s persecuting of the church was his persecuting of the Lord Himself. Many people say that the manifestation of the Body of Christ is something that will occur in heaven. They say that one has to wait until he is in heaven before he can see the manifestation of the Body. If this were the case, Paul’s persecution of the church could not have been considered as his persecution of the Lord. The Lord said that Saul persecuted Him when he persecuted the church. Therefore, the Body of Christ is manifested on earth, not in heaven. The church as the Body of Christ is on earth. We have to express this Body while we are on earth. Although the Head is in heaven, the Body and the Head are one. The Body on earth and the Head in heaven are one. To persecute the Body is to persecute the Head. To persecute the church is to persecute the Lord. The two are one, and there is no way to separate them.

Some may ask, “How could the Body of Christ be expressed on earth during Paul’s time? From the time Paul was on earth until now, one thousand nine hundred years have passed. Every year countless numbers of people throughout the world are saved and added to the Body of Christ. Many more will be added in the coming days and years. How could the church at Paul’s time be called the Body of Christ?” One brother in the last century gave a good answer. He said that the church is like a bird. When it first hatched, the feathers were not well developed. Yet we can say that it was a bird. When it becomes full grown, we still say that it is a bird. Feathers from elsewhere are not added to the bird; they grow from the bird itself. The growth and maturity of the bird are the result of the inward activities of the bird’s life. This is how the church grows on earth today. Although Paul persecuted the church in its infancy, it was nevertheless the Body of Christ. From that time on until today, nothing has been added to it; it has only become more full grown.

Although the church on earth today is still very small in size, it is nevertheless perfect within. The growth of the church issues from within itself. It grows out of Christ. The church on earth today is the Body of Christ. Apparently, saved ones are being added to the church. But as far as its spiritual reality is concerned, no one has ever joined the church. The Body of Christ grows by itself from within. It grows continually out of the Head. The church is simply the extension of the Body of Christ on earth. The church dwells on earth but comes out of the heavenly Head. At the same time, it is a Body in oneness with the Head.

We must be clear about what the church is in the eyes of God. The church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, anything smaller than the Body cannot be the basis for the formation of a church. We cannot establish a church based on doctrines, systems, or rituals. Neither can we establish a church based on the name of a founder or a place of origin. All these are smaller than the Body of Christ. If we want to start a church in a locality, we must learn to stand on the ground of the Body. We must welcome and accept all the members who have fellowship in the Body of Christ. Whoever is in the Body and of the Body is a brother or sister in the church. If we stand in the position of the Body of Christ, our number may be small, but we will still have a proper basis for forming the church. However, if we do not stand on the position of the Body of Christ, we will have no basis to form any church, even though our number may be very great.

Once a church which takes the Body of Christ as its basis is established in a locality, no one should separate himself to set up another church under the pretense of differences in doctrines, views, or opinions. The basis of the church is the Body of Christ. The desire to uphold a certain doctrine is not a justifiable basis for forming a church. If the basis of the first “church” is not the Body of Christ, one can, of course, set up a church that is based on the Body of Christ. But if the basis of the first church is indeed the Body of Christ, we must fellowship with it. We cannot walk away and form another “church” of our own.

A local church should include all the children of God in that locality. The church takes the Body of Christ as its basic unit. If other brothers and sisters will not come, that is their own concern. But the church should not impose any condition upon anyone other than the need to acknowledge the Body. The Body is the only condition for forming a church. A church cannot be smaller than the Body of Christ. In other words, whoever is of Christ should be in the church; whoever is in the Body of Christ may not be rejected.

However, to accept anyone who is not in the Body of Christ or to embrace unbelievers is to go beyond the Body of Christ. That would no longer be the church of Christ; it would be an organization of confusion. In conclusion, whatever falls short of the Body of Christ or goes beyond the Body of Christ is not the church.

II. THE CHURCH BEING ONE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

First Corinthians 12:12-13 says, ” 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. 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.”

We have seen that the church comes out of Christ. Now we want to see how the church is one in the Holy Spirit.

The church comes out of Christ. This speaks of its origin. Every Christian possesses a new life. The one life of Christ has become millions of Christians. John 12 speaks of a grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies and bears much fruit. All the grains which are produced from the one grain have the same essence as the original grain. One grain has become many grains, and the many grains come out of that one grain. How then can the many Christians who possess the same life become the one Body of Christ? This is where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in. The one Christ has become millions of Christians. Now the Holy Spirit baptizes these millions of Christians into one Body. This is the fundamental teaching recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. The Body is one, yet it is composed of many members. How can the many members become one Body? “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” In other words, this Body comes into being through baptism. Through baptism in the Spirit, the many Christians are immersed into one Body. Every Christian is like a piece of stone hewn out of a big rock. The Holy Spirit is like the cement which cements the stones back together to become one rock.

The Body of Christ has two basic principles: First, apart from that which comes out of Christ, there is no Body of Christ; second, apart from the operation of the Holy Spirit, there is no Body of Christ. There must first be the baptism of the Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit; God’s children must all be baptized by the Spirit in order to become the Body. This was what happened at Pentecost in Acts 2. Many had received the Lord’s life and had become His many members. Then the Lord baptized these many members through the Holy Spirit into one Body. Those who know the Lord and the Holy Spirit also will know this one Body. There are many members in the human body, but the head rules over them all through the nerves. Likewise, the Head of the church joins the many members into one Body through the Holy Spirit.

The church is out of Christ, and it is formed into one Body in the Holy Spirit. Christian fellowship and communion should be based on one’s standing in the Body of Christ. We have no relationship other than this relationship. We are not bound together because we are Jews or Greeks. We commune with one another because we are all members of the Body of Christ. Our communion with one another is based on the Body.

There is only one basis for our fellowship in the church—our being fellow members with one another in the Body. We cannot have any fellowship that is based on any other foundation. Any fellowship outside the Body of Christ is a division. Any fellowship that is not as large as the Body, that is in fact smaller than the Body, is not the fellowship of the Body. Any boundary that is different from the boundary of the Body, though it may not contradict the boundary of the Body, is a hindrance to the Body boundary. Such a variation in boundary will always hinder the fellowship of the Body. We cannot accept any fellowship that is different from the Body. We are here to maintain the fellowship of Christians, the fellowship of the Body, not any fellowship that is smaller than the Body.

III. SERVICE IN THE BODY

First Corinthians 12:14-21 says, “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” Verses 28 through 30 go on to say, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?”

There are many members in the Body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit dispenses all kinds of gifts and ministries to them according to the need of the Body. The Lord grants the members different kinds of gifts and ministries for the purpose of supplying the need of the whole Body. The Lord knows that He will not make the whole Body the eyes or the whole Body the ears. The Lord gives the members different gifts and ministries to supply the whole Body. As the human body needs all the members, so the church needs the different kinds of gifts and ministries for its spiritual service. Some serve in the ministry of the word. Some serve by performing works of power. Some exercise the gift of healing. Some render helps. Some speak in tongues and some interpret tongues, etc. The church must provide ample opportunity for all the brothers and sisters to serve. All the members, including the uncomely ones, are useful in the ministry of the Spirit. It is impossible to have a useless member in the Body. Every brother and sister is a member in the Body and every member has his or her function and service. As long as you are a Christian, you are a member of the Body of Christ, and as a member in the Body, you must have your own service before God. We must honor such a practice of universal service. Every Christian must have his or her respective function and must serve the Lord according to this function.

Every member in the church should find a place to serve. Everyone should serve and there should not be any monopoly. A member or a few members should not replace all the members in doing everything. Any system that does not provide opportunity for all the members to function is surely not of the Body. In the physical body, the eyes, the mouth, the feet, and the hands may all be very busy. Yet they do not contradict each other. Something is wrong if only the eyes function while the mouth, feet, and hands do not. If the eyes, mouth, feet, and hands all function together and coordinate as one entity, we have the body. If some serve and others do not or if only one or a few serve, we do not have the Body of Christ. We must be very clear about this principle.

Romans 12:4-8 says, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Another matter which requires special attention in the Body is that both the grace and the gift that everyone receives are different. The passage in 1 Corinthians 12 emphasizes the ministry of the word and the miraculous gifts. The passage in Romans 12, in addition to speaking of the ministry of the word, includes ministries of other services in the church as well. Some give, some lead, and some show mercy. All these can be considered works of the Levites. They are services that pertain to practical affairs.

Romans 12 shows us that everyone who is gifted must function according to the gift which God has given him, whether it is in the ministry of the word or in the ministry of service. He who prophesies, let him prophesy. He who serves, let him serve. He who teaches, let him teach. He who exhorts, let him exhort. He who leads, let him lead diligently in the church. In other words, everyone should serve. Everyone should have his or her specific service and should be faithful to this function. Everyone should know what he can do before God and what gift he has received from the Lord. This knowledge should direct him to function in a specific way. No one should go beyond his own function to take over the service of others. No member should take the place of another member, and no member should relinquish his own function. All should serve together, and everyone should fully apply himself to his own work. In this way the Body of Christ will be expressed.

The Body cannot allow one member to neglect his duty. The whole Body is in darkness if the eyes do not see. The whole Body cannot walk if the feet refuse to walk. The eyes should see and the feet should walk. Even though the gift that you have received from God may be small, you should not hide your gift. Even if the gift you have received from God is just one talent (Matt. 25:14-30), you should not keep it or neglect it. Whether one’s gift is big or small, whether it is “five talents,” “two talents,” or “one talent,” he should exercise what he has and serve accordingly. If he refuses to give himself to his service and instead buries his “one talent,” the church will suffer. If a few members in the Body refuse to function, the Body will suffer great loss.

It is not easy to find five-talented ones in the church. Yet every child of God, no matter how small his gift may be, has at least one talent. If all the one-talented ones will rise up to serve, they will be more effective than the few who have five talents. If all the one-talented ones will rise up to serve, the church will surely flourish. All those with one talent should rise up to serve. Whether or not the church will prosper depends on whether the one-talented ones will rise up to serve. If only a few people are laboring and working, we do not have the church. If all the brothers and sisters are working and laboring, it will be the church serving and the Body functioning. A few members no longer will take over the function of the whole Body. We hope everyone who has “one talent” will dig out his talent from the earth. Everyone who has the “mina” should realize that the handkerchief is for wiping sweat, not for wrapping up his mina (Luke 19:20). We must learn to serve according to our ability. When everyone rises up to serve and no one passes his responsibility to someone else, we have the church.

IV. THE BUILDING UP OF THE BODY

Ephesians 4:11-13 says, ” And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: ”

The kinds of people spoken of here are slightly different from those spoken of in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The people here are all ministers of the word. God’s intention in giving the church these ministers of the word is for the building up of the Body of Christ. The ministers of the word have a special place in the building up of the Body of Christ. For the building up of the Body of Christ, we should ask God for more ministers of the word.

At the same time, the church should provide ample opportunities for new believers to manifest themselves, to see whether they are ministers of the word. We should not hinder the gifts that God has given them. We should not take away their opportunity to manifest themselves as ministers of the word. For the Body of Christ to be built up, the church must ask God for more ministers of the word. It must also provide ample opportunities for each one to manifest himself as a minister of the word.

V. THE TESTIMONY OF THE BODY

First Corinthians 10:16-17 says, “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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

The church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, its mission on earth is to express this Body and to manifest the oneness of this Body. It should show everyone that the Body is one. The church does not need to wait until it is in heaven before expressing the oneness of the Body. It expresses the oneness of the Body while it is here on earth.

“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” In the New Testament the breaking of bread is a very important matter. Whenever we come on the Lord’s Day to break bread and remember the Lord, we acknowledge that the Lord has broken His body for us. We also express that the Body is one. The breaking of bread signifies the Lord’s giving of Himself in love on the cross for us; the oneness speaks of the union among God’s children. Every Lord’s Day we come to the Lord to acknowledge that His body was broken for us and that all of God’s children are one. On the one hand, we testify that the Lord’s body was broken for us. On the other hand, we testify that the church is the Body of Christ and that this Body is one. We who are many are one bread and one Body. We express this oneness. Whoever understands the Body of Christ renders this testimony on the Lord’s Day. On this day he testifies that there is only one bread. In the eyes of God, this bread is the center of all the meetings. God’s children should gather together for the purpose of breaking bread and fellowshipping with one another. The more one understands the Body of Christ, the more he will testify of the oneness of the Body through the breaking of bread. The breaking of bread is a remembrance of the Lord’s death, and it is an expression of the oneness of the Body. “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” We do this to show the world, the universe, and the whole creation that the church is one Body!

May the Lord be gracious to us, and may He show us clearly that the basis for forming the church is the Body of Christ. We are members one of another in the Body. Through the baptism of the Spirit, we are constituted as one Body. Thus our fellowship should be based only on the Body of Christ. In the Body every member has its function and every member should serve. We should ask God for more ministers of the word on behalf of the church, ministers who will perfect the saints to the work of the ministry unto the building up of the Body of Christ. We should also express the testimony of the oneness of this Body through the breaking of bread. May God bless all of us!

 

Jesus and the Church – By Jack Hyles

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall riot prevail against it. Matthew 16:13-18

It is amazing how we accept things as true just because we have always heard them taught a certain way. For example, most people have always heard that the church is the body of Christ. We have been taught that Christ is the head of all Christians and that all Christians form His body. The Bible does not mean it in that way. Much of this has come from the Scofield Bible. It is not true, and I am going to show you that in this chapter. If you believe the Bible, you will understand exactly what the church is all about.

1. Jesus is the founder of the church. The church was not founded on Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2 that they added to the church those that were saved. You cannot add to something that is not there. I do not know how long the church was there, but it was there before Matthew 18, where it speaks of taking something to the church. Mr. Scofield says that is the future church, but God does not say that. You cannot take something to a future church. You can take something only to a present church.

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Matthew 10:1

Whenever the church was started, it was started with a called-out assembly. The first place in the Bible where I find such a statement is in Matthew 10:1. I feel the church was started here or before here. I know it was started some time in the personal ministry of Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus is the foundation of the church.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

The rock he was speaking about was not the pope. The church was not built on the Pope. The church was built on the foundation of Jesus. Jesus was the rock being referred to, not Peter. The word Peter means little pebble. The word rock means a strong. big rock. They are not the same word. Peter was a little pebble, but the rock is Jesus.

3. Jesus is its builder.

He said, upon this rock I will build my church. Our job is not church growth. Our job is soul winning. Jesus said that He would build the church. Jesus is in the church-building business. He never told us to build a church. He told us to go soul winning, and He would do the building of His church. We are witnesses. He never told us to go into all the world and build churches. Our job is to obey the Great Commission and His job is to build the church.

4. Jesus attended it, and sang and preached in it.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will! sing praise unto thee. Hebrews 2:9-12

We see here that Jesus went to church. He was quoting from an Old Testament prophesy by saying that He would declare God’s name in the church. Luke 4 says that it was Jesus custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. He was in a habit of going. When He went to the cross all the things attached to the synagogue were nailed to the cross with Him. In the place of the synagogue He gave us the local church.

Jesus preached in the church. I am not talking necessarily about a church building. They may have met under a tree, in a barn, or in a house, as they often did in the Bible. But, the fact remains that Jesus went to church and preached in the church. Jesus also said that He was going to sing God’s praises in the church.

Did Jesus need to go to church? Absolutely. The Bible says He emptied himself of deity and became a man. He did what He did, not as God, but as man. Otherwise, He could not have been our pattern. Jesus needed to go to church because He was a man. It was not to keep Him from sinning, but for encouragement and fellowship, the same reasons we need to go to church.

5. Jesus is to be preeminent in the church.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

Jesus must have the preeminence in every organization of the church. He is to have the preeminence in the preaching. He is to have the preeminence in the singing. I believe that songs about Jesus should be sung in the church, rather than the high-brow anthems that are used in so many circles today. Jesus is to have the preeminence in the Christian school. Jesus is to have the preeminence in the Women’s Missionary Society. Jesus is to have the preeminence in the bus ministry. Jesus is to preeminent in all of the ministries of the church.

6. Jesus is the head of the church.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:22, 23

And he is the head of the body, the church … Colossians 1:18a

Jesus is the head of the body. The church is the body of Christ. The word head is similar to the President of a business. It means that it is his body in the sense of ownership or control, not in the sense of being a physical body. The word head means authority. He is the authority of the church. He is the head of the church like the owner of a store is the head of that store. The church is a body of people that belongs to him.

If the body of Christ is all believers, then the church is all believers, but the church cannot be all believers, because the word church means a called-out assembly. All believers are never called out, so the church could not be His body in that sense. There will be a day when all Christians will be a member of the church, but that will not be until all Christians are called out. Hebrews 12:23 refers to a host assembled in Heaven. All believers will not be the church until all believers are raptured.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns… Revelation 13:la

That word head is the same word found in Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22 where Jesus is called the head of the church. These heads are kings. A king has authority. A king is the head of his nation and the people which they control form the body. These kings are called the head just like Jesus is called the head of the church.

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: Colossians 2:10

Jesus is the head of all principality and power. That is referring to governments and rulers. Jesus puts up kings and sets down kings. Jesus is the head of all of the governments and all government leaders in this world. They cannot do anything that God does not allow them to do.

He is called the head of principalities and powers just like He is the head of the church. He is listing something over which He has control. The world’s governments no more make up His body, then Christians do. It merely signifies authority. He is the authority of the church, and He is the authority over the world’s leaders.

Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as under the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife. Ephesians 5:22, 23

A man is the head of his wife, but that does not mean she is his body. It means that he is the authority of the home. This is not talking about a male head on a female body. As the husband is the head of the wife, so is Christ the head of the church. What does it mean? As the wife obeys her husband, so the church is to obey Christ. He is the head or the authority. In that sense Jesus is the head of the church and the church is His body. Consequently, the church cannot be an invisible church of all believers because the body is the church and the church is a called-out assembly.

This doctrine of all believers being members of the body of Christ is an attempt by Satan to unite us with people with whom we are commanded not to unite. It is an effort to say that we are all members of this body when, in reality, we are not.

7. Jesus is building a church.

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24

All believers will be called out and assembled in the sky. They will be called unto Jesus, and then all believers will become a church. God is now in the process of building an army of people which someday will become a church.

Let me give you three extreme positions regarding this issue.

1. That the church is the bride of Christ. Some men teach what we call the doctrine of the Baptist Bride. They believe that the only people who will be a part of the bride at the marriage of the Lamb will be Baptists, and all other saved people will merely be wedding guests. Of course, that is not true. These people get the body mixed up with the bride. The bride will not be a bride until we get there, so it will include all believers. The future church will be the bride. The present church is not the bride; it is the body.

They are also wrong because many Baptist churches are liberal. How can all Baptists form the bride when there are hundreds of American Baptist churches that do not even believe that the Bible is the Word of God. There are some churches that do not call themselves Baptist which are New Testament churches. If Baptists form the bride, these New Testament churches will not be in the bride. So, according to them, a liberal American Baptist church would be in the bride, but a fundamental church that is not Baptist will not be in the bride. That is totally untrue.

2. The term the rapture of the church is unscriptural.

We will not become a church until we assemble in the sky. At the rapture we will form a church because then we will assemble, but right now all believers are not yet a church.

3. All believers do not belong to the church. Somebody needs to set Baptists straight and stop them from being influenced by the inter-denominational crowd. I am not opposed to inter-denominational Christians, but I am opposed to their doctrine about the church. In the average inter-denominational school, many of those who are preparing for full-time Christian work are studying to start orphanages, or to be missionary pilots, or to do Christian drama or Christian movies.

At Hyles-Anderson College we are training men to start churches. We are training young women to go out and teach in the Christian schools started by those churches. We are training young men to go out and lead the singing and be bus directors in those churches. That is the hope for America.

The Purpose of Going to Church

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for the fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace be unto you. John 20:19-23, 26

Not many people know the true reason why Jesus started the church. Let me give a couple of things which are not legitimate reasons, even though most people think they are.

1. The church was not started to be a place of worship.

You can worship God better alone than you can with others. You can also pray better alone than you can with others. When two people pray together, their prayers will too often be designed to impress each other. Every Christian should worship God in the beauty of His holiness. We should adore Him, worship Him, magnify Him, and honor Him. The idea that the church is a place to worship God came from Rome, not from the New Testament. There is only one place in the New Testament where the word worship is connected to a public service, and that deals with worshipping the Devil. There is no example in the entire New Testament of a Christian worship service.

God told the people in Amos 5:21-23, 1 hate, I despise your feast days, and! will not smell in your solemn assemblies…. I will not accept them…. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs…. The church was not made to be a place of worship.

2. Jesus did not start the church as a place of evangelism. The evangelistic church is not in the Bible. The soul-winning church is. I am not against people getting saved at church, nor am I against an occasional evangelistic sermon. But, that is not the main purpose of the church, nor was it why the church was started. The New Testament church was a soul-winning institution where all of the members won people to Jesus.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:42

Some people believe that the New Testament church won the lost in the church and in house-to-house soul winning. That is half true. They did go house-to-house soul winning. The temple, however, was not the church, nor did they have church in the temple. The temple was the location of the big gala occasion when they had their feasts and when all of the people would gather in Jerusalem. The temple was also the place where they conducted their daily business. It was like our business district. This was not talking about witnessing in church, but about witnessing in public places as well as in people’s homes.

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Acts 8:1, 4

They witnessed everywhere. There was no place they did not go. The jail is part of everywhere. Downtown is part of everywhere. The street corner is part of everywhere. Rest homes are a part of everywhere. Neighborhoods are a part of everywhere. The homes where the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind live are parts of everywhere. The New Testament church was not an evangelistic church. It was a soul-winning church, and they went everywhere doing so.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

Jesus gave the Great Commission on several occasions. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts all give different phrasings of the Great Commission. That does not mean that Jesus spoke it only one time, and that each of them gave it in their own words. They each quoted Jesus. He did not just give it once. One of those times was quoted in Mark. It is not talking about standing behind a pulpit and preaching. It is not directed to a congregation. It is directed to every creature.

An evangelistic church is where a preacher gets up and preaches on salvation. I am not against that, but it is not why the church was started. The evangelism was not to be done at the church. Soul winning was to be done where the people were.

Paul said For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. Some preachers take that as a mandate to preach on nothing except Jesus. That is not true. Paul wrote Timothy and said, Preach the word, but he said something else. He said to exhort. He said to rebuke. Sometimes the preacher is to preach the Word. Sometimes he is to be lovingly stern and rebuke. Sometimes he is to give advice, or exhort. God wants more than just the plan of salvation preached in the church.

Jesus said in Matthew to teach all nations. That word in Matthew is the Greek word “ethnos” which means ethnics or races. Mark 16:15 says, to go into all the world. The word kosmosis the word arrangement. When Jesus started the church, he started a soul-winning church. Soul winning was not the purpose of the church, it was the fruit of the church and the result of the church.

In the first century the local churches were soul-winning churches. They were scattered abroad everywhere with everybody preaching or soul winning. Peter did not preach the evangelistic sermon on Pentecost as many think. The Bible says that every nation under Heaven was represented at Pentecost and every man heard the Gospel. Many people were doing the soul winning. It was not just Peter. I am not against having an evangelistic service, but that was not why Jesus started the church, nor was it the way the New Testament church operated.

In the first century, our churches were soul-winning churches. The people came to church for the real purpose of the church. Then they went out from the church and won folks to Christ in the public places and neighborhoods and brought them back to church. Something happened shortly after the early church. The churches became evangelistic rather than soul winning. What is the difference?

A soul-winning church is where the people go out and win them and bring them back in to make a public profession.

An evangelistic church is where you invite sinners to come and the preacher tries to get them saved through his preaching. There is nothing wrong with that except the people go unfed.

For 1900 years the soul-winning church was lost.

In our generation the soul-winning church has been rediscovered. The First Baptist Church of Hammond has had a big part in that. All across America preachers are baptizing more converts than Spurgeon did. I am not nearly the preacher Spurgeon was, but First Baptist Church is a better church than Spurgeon had because we discovered the soul-winning church instead of the evangelistic church.

Evangelists have been being forced to change their ministries.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:11, 12

The word perfecting means maturing. God gave apostles for the maturing of the saints. God gave prophets for the maturing of the saints. God gave evangelists for the maturing of the saints. God gave pastors and teachers for the maturing of the saints. All these were given for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. Every saint is commanded to do the work of the ministry. Every Christian is commanded to be a soul-winner. It is the evangelist’s job to mature the Christians so they will better do the work of the ministry.

For many years evangelists were men who traveled across the country and preached revival meetings. These were actually evangelistic crusades, and they basically preached on salvation. I believe that God raised them up, but I do not believe that God had this in mind for the New Testament church. Evangelists were given for the perfecting or maturing of the saints, so the saints could do the work of the ministry. Nobody in the New Testament went around preaching to great crowds of people in churches just to get people saved. They taught, exhorted, rebuked, and perfected them so that the saints could do the work of the ministry.

I am not against the evangelists who went into churches and preached on Heaven, Hell, salvation, the great white throne judgment, etc. Thank God for them, but they had to do it because churches were not doing the job of soul winning. God raised up these evangelists to go to churches and get people saved.

In our day, the evangelist is a preacher who does more of what the Bible says he is to do, the perfecting of the saints. We have lived in the age of the rediscovery of the soul-winning church.

Let us now look at the reasons for the starting of the church.

1. The church was started for comfort.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. John 20:19

These people went to church because they were scared. That is one reason Jesus started the church. It was the place they could receive comfort in the midst of persecution.

Jesus met in the upper room the night that he was betrayed. (John 13 & 14) From there He went to the garden of Gethsemane where he was betrayed that night. It was on Wednesday that our Lord was crucified, so the church meets on Wednesday. Sunday was the day that our Lord rose from the dead, so the church meets on Sunday.

It had to be a church that met in the upper room because they had the Lord’s Supper, which was given by the local church. It was also in the upper room that they met when He rose from the dead. (John 20:19 & 26) Consequently, they came to church for comfort. Our Saviour met with the apostles and said: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. He was comforting them.

The church is a place to dispel the fears of the people. When somebody comes with an incurable disease, the church is supposed to help him dispel his fear. When people have a fear of financial reversal, the church is to help dispel their fear. The reason they assembled in the upper room was for the fear of the Jews. Coming together gave them more courage and strength than being alone.

2. It is a place for encouragement. Often people will not come to church because they have problems or because they are discouraged. That is why the church was started. That is why we are supposed to come. When you want to be alone is usually when you do not need to be alone. That is the time we most need to be in church.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

That means we are not to forsake the churching of ourselves together. It is especially true as we see the second coming of Jesus Christ coming closer. Why? Because there is a certain element of fear there. You come to church to be comforted in the fact that we are all going up together. When we come to church we get encouraged.

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? James 2:2-4

There is one place in this world where a poor child can go and be just as important as the children of the Pastor, the deacons or the Sunday school teachers. The church is a place of encouragement for those who are looked down upon or despised in this world.

3. It is a place to give tithes to God.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in the store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when! come. I Corinthians 16:1

They tithed on the first day of the week, which is when they went to church. Sundays we are to bring our tithes and offerings to the church as well. The tithe or tenth is the smallest portion given in the Bible. Consequently, we go to church to give.

4. It is a place for maturing.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:11-15

The body of Christ is the local New Testament church. He owns it. God has given us the church, so that every time someone tries to deceive us with a false doctrine, we will not fall prey to the error. God has given us the church in order for us to become mature. He wants us to grow up. That is what it is all about. We are to come to church to mature. We will never outgrow the church. The church is there to help us to grow up. The preacher is there to help us grow up. The evangelist is there to help us to grow up. The quickest way to be deceived by false doctrines is to become unfaithful to church.

5. It is a place for inspiration to go soul winning.

And when they were assembled with the elders

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All powers is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever! have commanded you: Matthew 28:12, 16-20a

The church is to inspire and instill in us the importance of going soul winning. Most people will never walk inside the church, but we can go to them. Most people where we work will never walk inside our church, but we can take the message where they are. As a pastor, I am to inspire everybody to go soul winning. Four thousand people go soul winning from First Baptist Church every week. I am not satisfied with that. I want everybody to go soul winning every week. It is not the preacher’s job to preach the unsaved down the aisle. It is the preacher’s job to preach and inspire the individual Christians to go soul winning. That is God’s plan.

6. It is a place for fellowship, to take the Lord’s supper, to learn the Bible and to learn how to pray.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:41, 42

The word fellowship means communion. It is not referring to the typical fellowship of the church. It is referring to a communing in Christ with one another. It is a place where we share a “God Bless You” and “1 am praying for you” as we unite in the work of God. It is a place for the breaking of bread in the Lord’s Supper as we remember together the price Jesus paid for us on Calvary.

These are the real reasons for the church. When we get away from these, the church fails to do that which we were called by the Saviour to do, and we look to church to be something different than what God ordained it to be.

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Meeting With Believers – Eklesia or Church – Lesson 11

MEETING WITH BELIEVERS – THE CHURCH

Scripture Reading: Heb. 10:25; Matt. 18:20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:23, 26

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:25)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  (Matthew 18:20)

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:22-33)

 

I. CORPORATE GRACE BEING FOUND IN THE MEETING

God’s Word says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Why should we not abandon the assembling together? Because God dispenses His grace to us through the assembling together. God’s grace to man can be divided into two categories –personal and corporate. God gives us not only personal grace but also corporate grace. This corporate grace can be found only in the assembling together or the meetings of the Baptist Church.

We have already spoken of the subject of prayer. One can learn to pray by himself at home; there is no doubt that God listens to such prayers. God listens to individual prayers. However, there is another kind of prayer. In order for this other kind of prayer to be answered, it must be prayed in the meetings, in the principle of two or three asking together in the Lord’s name. If a person tries to do this alone, he will not get any answer. Many great matters must be prayed over in church meetings before God will answer. They must be brought to the prayer meeting before we see them come to pass. God’s corporate grace comes to man only through the church meetings. You may think that it is sufficient for a man to pray alone and that he can seek God’s mercy by himself. But the experience of many people tells us that individual prayers alone will not work. It seems that unless two or three people pray, or all the brothers and sisters come together to pray, God will not answer. Therefore, we have two kinds of answers to prayers: One is answer to individual prayers, and the other is answer to church assembly prayers. If we do not meet with others, some prayers will not be answered.

We have also spoken of reading the Bible. Of course, God will give us individual grace when we read the Bible. However, some portions of the Word cannot be opened up by one person alone. God gives light when we meet at church, when we assemble ourselves together. In such a church meeting, some pastor or teacher may be led to open up a particular portion of the Word. There may not be any speaking concerning that particular portion of the Word, yet the fact that everyone is assembled together gives God the opportunity to shed His light. Many brothers and sisters can testify that they understand more of God’s Word in the church meeting than when they study it individually. Many times in the church meeting, God opens up one portion of the Word through another portion of the Word. As one person speaks on one passage, light shines on another passage. In this way more light is unveiled, and we receive grace in a corporate way.

If we do not meet with others in church, the most we can have is individual grace; we will miss a great part of the corporate grace. God will only give us corporate grace in the church meeting. If we do not meet with others in church, we will not receive this grace. This is why the Bible charges us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

II. THE CHURCH AND THE MEETING

One outstanding characteristic of the church is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute church meetings with “self-taught” pursuits. God has a category of grace reserved for the church  meetings only. If we do not meet with others, that portion of corporate grace will not be available to us.

In the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites to meet. In many places in the Bible they are called the congregation. That they were called a congregation meant they had to meet together. When we come to the New Testament, the revelation is even clearer. We have the clear commandment not to abandon “our own assembling together.” God is not that interested in individuals being “self-taught.” We must assemble ourselves together before we can receive His corporate grace. No forsaker of church meetings will keep His grace. It is a foolish thing to abandon assembling together. A man must meet; he must come together with other children of God before he can receive the corporate grace.

The Bible gives explicit commandments as well as clear examples of people meeting together. When the Lord was on the earth, He often met with His disciples. He met with them on the mountain (Matt. 5:1), in the wilderness (Mark 6:32-34), at home (2:1-2), and at the seaside (4:1). On the last evening before His crucifixion, He borrowed a large upper room and met with the disciples (14:15-17). After His resurrection, He appeared in the midst of their gathering (John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:4). Before the day of Pentecost, the disciples gathered together in one accord to pray (v. 14). When the day of Pentecost came, they were also gathered together (2:1). After that they continued steadfastly in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Shortly thereafter, they were persecuted and went back to their own places. Yet they still met together (4:23-31). After Peter was released, he went to the house where the disciples were gathered together (12:12). First Corinthians 14 tells us clearly that the whole church gathered together (v. 23). It was the whole church that gathered together. No one who is part of the church can be exempt from meeting together with the church.

What is the meaning of the word church? The word church is ekklesia in Greek. Ek means “to come out,” while klesia means “to congregate or to gather.” Thus, ekklesia means the gathering of those who have been called out. God is not only after some called out ones; He wants the called out ones to gather together. If all the called out ones are separated from one another, we will not have the church; the church will not be produced.

After we have believed in the Lord there is a basic need we must take care of, that is, to come together with other children of God. We should never have the strange thought that we can be “self-taught” Christians. We must eliminate such a thought from our mind. Christianity does not have “self-taught” Christians; it only has the gathering of the whole church. Do not think that we can be Christians who just shut ourselves up to pray and to read the Bible alone at home. Christianity is not built on just individuals but also on the assembling together.

III. THE FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY
MANIFESTED THROUGH THE MEETING

First Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body, and chapter fourteen speaks of the meeting. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and chapter fourteen also speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts in the Body, whereas chapter fourteen speaks of the gifts in the church. According to these two chapters, it seems that the mutual functioning of the members of the Body is expressed in the meeting. When we put chapters twelve and fourteen together, we see clearly that chapter twelve shows us the Body while chapter fourteen shows us the Body in function. One chapter speaks of the Body, while the other speaks of the meeting. One speaks of the gifts in the Body, while the other speaks of the gifts in the meeting. The functioning of the Body is realized specifically through the meeting. The mutual help, mutual influence, and mutual care of the members (e.g., the eyes helping the legs, the ears helping the hands, the hands helping the mouth) are more clearly manifested in the meetings. Through the meeting, we receive many answers to prayer. We often receive no light individually. But when we come to the church meeting, we find light. What we see individually through our own pursuit can never match what we see in the church meetings. All the ministries ordained by God operate through the meeting and are for the meeting. If a person rarely meets with others, he will have little opportunity to realize the functioning of the Body.

In addition to being the Body of Christ, the church is also the dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament the light of God was in the Holy of Holies. There was sunlight in the outer court, and there was the lamp with olive oil burning before the veil in the Holy Place. But in the Holy of Holies, there was no natural or artificial light. There was only the light of God. The Holy of Holies is the place where God dwells. Wherever God dwells, there is His light. Today when the church gathers together as the dwelling place of God, we find God’s light. When the church meets together, God manifests His light. We do not know why this happens. We can say only that this is one of the results of the mutual functioning of the members. The mutual functioning allows God’s light to be expressed through the Body.

Deuteronomy 32:30 says, “How shall one chase a thousand, /And two put ten thousand to flight,/Were it not that their Rock sold them,/And Jehovah delivered them up?” If one could chase a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight? This is a strange thing. We do not know how, but we know that this is a fact. According to man, if one can chase a thousand, two should be able to chase only two thousand. But God says two can chase ten thousand, which is eight thousand more. When two chase separately, each can chase a thousand. Putting the two together, we should only have two thousand. But when two are joined together to chase the enemy, we have the mutual functioning of the members, and they can chase ten thousand, eight thousand more than if it is done separately. A person who does not know the Body and who does not care about meeting together will lose the eight thousand. Therefore, we need to learn to receive corporate grace. Do not think that personal grace is enough. We repeat: A special characteristic of Christianity is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute meeting with “self-taught” pursuits. We need to see this clearly and pay attention to it.

The Lord promises us two kinds of presence. One is in Matthew 28, and the other is in Matthew 18. In Matthew 28:20 the Lord said, ” lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ” One can say that this implies His presence in individuals. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in (into) my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His presence here refers to His presence in the meeting. Only in the meeting can we have this second kind of presence. The Lord’s presence with an individual and His presence in the meeting are two different things. Some only know the Lord’s presence as individuals. But this knowledge is insufficient. The more compelling and powerful presence is experienced only in the meeting; we cannot experience such a presence individually. Although individually we can have the Lord’s presence, this presence is never as great or as powerful as His presence in the meetings. But when we are among the saints we can touch a presence which we could not otherwise experience as individuals. We have to learn to meet together with the brothers and sisters because it is in the meeting that we experience the Lord’s special presence. This is a tremendous blessing. This presence can never be felt by us as individuals. It is impossible to find a “self-taught” Christian who can experience this kind of powerful presence of the Lord.

It is a spontaneous thing for God’s children to function in mutuality when they come together. We do not know how this mutuality in the Body works in the meeting, but we know that this mutuality is a fact. When one brother stands up, others see the light. When another brother stands up, others feel the Lord’s presence. One brother opens his mouth to pray and others touch God. Another brother speaks a few words and others feel the supply of life. This phenomenon cannot be explained by human words; it surpasses human explanation. Only when the Lord comes back will we really know how the Body of Christ functions in mutuality. Today we merely obey the Lord’s ordination.

Perhaps you have not paid much attention to the church meeting because you have just been saved. You do not know what the light of the Body is and what the function and efficacy of the Body is. However, experience tells us that many fundamental spiritual lessons are learned only in the Body. The more you meet, the more you learn. If you do not meet, you have no part at all in these riches. Therefore, we hope that you will learn to meet properly from the very beginning of your Christian life.

IV. THE PRINCIPLES OF MEETING

How should we meet? The first principle in the Bible concerning meetings is that all meetings are conducted in the Lord’s name. Matthew 18:20 says, “Gathered into My name,” which can also be translated as, “Gathered under My name.” What does it mean to be gathered under the Lord’s name? It means to be under the Lord’s authority. The Lord is the center, and everyone is drawn to Him. We do not go to a meeting to visit certain brothers or sisters, nor do we go because we are attracted by certain brothers or sisters. We go to the meeting to be gathered together with other saints under the Lord’s name. The Lord is the center. We do not meet to listen to someone’s preaching but to meet the Lord. If you meet to listen to someone’s preaching, I am afraid you are coming under that person’s name, not under the Lord’s name. A preacher may have a name and a following but it is the Lord that speaks through him.  Sometimes, men’s names are used to attract people. This is to draw men under that person’s name. But the Lord says that we have to meet under His name.

We should come under the Lord’s name because the Lord is not with us in a physical sense (Luke 24:5-6). Whenever the Lord is not physically present, there is the need of His name. When the Lord is physically present, there is less of a need for His name. The name is present because the person Himself is not present. As far as His physical body is concerned, the Lord is in heaven. Yet He has left us with a name. The Lord has promised that if we meet under His name, He will be in our midst. This means that His Spirit will be in our midst. Although the Lord is sitting in heaven, His name is still in our midst, and His Spirit is also in our midst. The Holy Spirit is the One who upholds the Lord’s name. The Holy Spirit is the guardian of Christ’s name; He protects and guards the Lord’s name. Wherever there is the name of the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit, and there the Lord’s name is manifested. Those who want to meet must meet under the Lord’s name.

The second principle of meeting is that its goal should be for the building up of others. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul told us that the basic principle of meeting is to build up others, not ourselves. Everything in the church meeting should be for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. Tongue speaking builds up the speaker, but the interpretation of tongues builds up others. In other words, every move that builds up just one person is in the principle of tongue-speaking. The principle of the interpretation of tongues is to dispense into others what we ourselves have been built up with, that others may also be built up. This is why there should not be any tongue-speaking in the church meeting if no one can interpret the tongue. No one should speak anything that builds up himself and not others.  The truth is that speaking in tongues is not necessary unless there are more than one language in church like in some foreign countries.  I have been in a church where there were head sets that allowed the people attending to hear in many different languages.  This is the true meaning of tongues.  There should be no tongues as we see in Charismatic churches because tongues are languages that people speak and if someone speaks in German there should be someone to interpret into English.  This happens every Sunday in some missionary meeting on the foreign field.

Hence, we must consider others when we meet. It is not how much we say, but whether or not what we say builds up others. Whether or not sisters can ask questions in the meeting is determined by the same principle. Asking questions in the meeting is not just for one’s own benefit. It is a matter of whether or not the meeting would be dragged down by such questions. Do you want to help the meeting? The clearest indication of whether or not a man’s individuality has been dealt with is seen in the church meeting. Some only think of themselves. They have a message in their heart which they want to preach, and they must speak it when they come to the meeting. They have a hymn in their heart which they like to sing, and they will do anything to find an opportunity to sing it. They do not care whether the message will help the meeting or whether the hymn will enliven the congregation. This kind of person brings nothing but damage to the meeting. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so that new Christians can learn from them and a properly organized church will let everyone learn to teach as they sit and learn from more experienced teachers and pastors.

Some brothers have been Christians for years, yet they still do not know how to meet. They care little for heaven or earth, the Lord or the Holy Spirit; they only care about themselves. They seem to think that as long as they are present, even alone, they can have a meeting. In their eyes, none of the brothers and sisters exist; they are the only ones who are present. There are far too many who go to church to warm a seat or pew.  People need to get involved and add something to their church.  This is truly arrogant. When they speak in the meeting, they want to speak until they are satisfied. In the end they are the only ones who are happy; the other brothers and sisters are all unhappy. They feel that they have a “burden” which must be released. But as soon as they open their mouths, others are forced to pick up this “burden” and take it home with them. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so some can’t just come and decide that they want to say something without doing it under the authority of the pastor.  This often happens in a church business meeting or a prayer meeting.  Some like long prayers. When they pray, others become tired. When someone breaks the principles of the meeting, the whole church suffers. We must not offend the Holy Spirit in a meeting. Once we offend the Holy Spirit, all the blessing is gone. In the church meeting, if we take care of the needs of others and try to build up others, the Holy Spirit will be honored. He will do the building up work, and we will be built up. However, if we do not build up others but talk loosely and offend the Holy Spirit, our meeting will be in vain. When we meet, we should not think of getting something out of the meeting for ourselves. All the activities should be for the benefit of others. If you think your speaking will benefit others, you should try to get an opportunity to teach or speak. If you think your silence will benefit others, remain silent. Always try to take care of others; this is the basic principle of meeting together.

This does not mean that everyone should be silent in the church meeting. Many times speaking damages others, but silence also damages others. If you do not care for others, the meeting will suffer whether you speak or remain quiet. Your speaking must be for the benefit of the meeting, and your silence must also be for the benefit of the meeting. Always seek the building up of others. Those who should speak should not remain silent. In the meeting, please remember, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). Everyone should come to the meeting with a goal in mind –he is there for others, not just for himself. We should never do anything that will stumble others. If our silence will stumble others, we should speak. If our speaking will stumble others, we should be silent. We need to learn to speak for the purpose of building up others, and we need to learn to be silent also for the purpose of building up others. Whatever we do, it is for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. When we are not for ourselves, we will end up being built up ourselves. But when we think only of ourselves, we will not receive any building up.

If you are not sure whether your speaking will build up others, the best thing to do is to check with more experienced brothers, the pastor, the assistant pastor, deacons, or teachers. You should ask them, “Do you think I should speak more or less in the meeting?” You have to learn to be a humble person from the beginning. Do not think that you are “somebody.” Do not think that you can sing and preach well and that you are great. Please do not make any judgment about yourself. The best thing to do is to ask the experienced brothers. Check with them to see whether your speaking builds up others. Speak more if they encourage you to do so. Speak less if they remind you to speak less. Sometimes, the best thing you can say is “Amen” or “Praise the Lord.”  Our meeting will be high if everyone humbles himself to learn from others. When this happens, others will sense that God is in our midst when they come in. This is the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit. I hope we will pay attention to this matter. If we do, our meeting will glorify God.

V. IN CHRIST

Here I should mention another matter. Whenever we meet and whenever we fellowship with one another mutually, we should remember that, as believers, we are one in Christ. Let us read some verses:

First Corinthians 12:13 says, “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.” The word whether means that there is no distinction. In the Body of Christ there are no worldly distinctions. In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body and were given to drink one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27-28 says, “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.” We were baptized into Christ, and we have also put on Christ. There cannot be Jew or Greek, slave or free man, male or female, because we have all become one in Christ.

Colossians 3:10-11 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Both Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 use the phrase there cannot be. There cannot be any distinctions because we have put on the new man; we are being constituted into one new man. This new man is created according to God (Eph. 4:24). In the new man there cannot be Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free man. Only Christ is all and in all. There is only one entity, and all have become one.

In reading these three portions of the Scripture, we notice that the believers are one in Christ. In the Lord there is no distinction of past status. In the new man and in the Body of Christ, there is no difference whatsoever. If we introduce these manmade distinctions into the church, the relationship among the brothers and sisters will be shifted to the wrong ground.

We have mentioned five distinctions so far: the distinction between Greek and Jew, between free man and slave, between male and female, between barbarian and Scythian, and between circumcision and uncircumcision.

The distinction between Greek and Jew means two things. First the Jews and the Greeks are two different races; they belong to two different countries. In the Body of Christ, in Christ, and in the new man, there cannot be Jew or Greek. The Jews should not boast that they are descendants of Abraham and God’s chosen people, and they should not despise all foreigners. We must realize that both Jews and Greeks have been made one in Christ already. Boundaries no longer exist in Christ. In the Lord all have become brothers. We cannot divide God’s children into different classes. In the Body of Christ and in the new man, there is only one entity. If you bring the idea of kinship and regional flavor into the church, you do not know what the church of Christ is. You are in the church now, and you must see that we have no distinction between Jew and Greek here. It is a hard thing for the Jews to give up this distinction. But the Bible says that in Christ there cannot be Jew and Greek. Christ is all and in all. In the church there is only Christ.

There is another distinction between the Jews and the Greeks. Jews have a zealous and religious temperament, while Greeks represent an intellectual temperament. Historically, whenever you speak of religion, people think of the Jews. Whenever you speak of science and philosophy, people think of the Greeks. This is a distinction in character. However, no matter how different their characters are, Jews can be Christians, and Greeks also can be Christians. Those who are zealous for religion can be Christians, and those who are intellectual also can be Christians. In Christ, there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. One is concerned with the feeling of the conscience, and the other is concerned with reasoning and deduction. Are these two different? According to the flesh, they definitely are different in disposition. One acts according to feelings, and the other acts according to intellect. But in Christ there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. A warm person can be a Christian, and a cold person also can be a Christian. The one who walks by intuition can be a Christian, and the one who walks by reason also can be a Christian. All kinds of people can be Christians.

Once you become a Christian, you must leave your past temperament behind. There is no such thing in the church. Often the church suffers because many people try to bring their natural flavor and peculiar traits into the church. When those who do not like to talk gather together, they become a quiet group. When those who chatter gather together, they become a chattering group. When those who are cold gather together, they become a group of cold people. When those who are warm gather together, they become a group of warm people. As a result, many distinctions are built up among God’s children.

However, there is no place for natural dispositions in the church. In Christ and in the new man, there is no place for natural disposition. Do not think that others are wrong because their disposition is different from yours. You must realize that your own disposition is also unacceptable to others. Whether you are quick or quiet, cold or warm, intellectual or emotional, once you become a brother or a sister, you must put off these things. If you bring these natural elements into the church, they will become the basis of confusion and division. When you bring your disposition and temperament into the church, you will make yourself the standard and the criteria. Those who are up to your standard will be classified as good Christians, and those who are not up to your standard will be classified as poor Christians. Those who get along with your character will be deemed right and those who do not get along with your character will be deemed wrong. When this happens, the church will suffer through your disposition and temperament. Such distinctions must never exist in the church.

The second distinction is between free men and slaves. This distinction has also been eliminated in Christ. In Christ, the distinction between free men and slaves does not exist.

Paul wrote the Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians during the Roman era when slavery was practiced. At that time slaves were like animals or tools; they were their masters’ possessions. Children born to slaves were automatically slaves; they had no freedom their whole life. The distinction between the free man and the slave was very great. However, God does not allow this distinction to exist in the church. The Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians all say that there cannot be free man or slave. This distinction has been eliminated in Christ.

The third distinction is between male and female. In Christ and in the new man, the male and the female have the same status; there is no distinction between them. The male does not occupy a special position; neither does the female. Because Christ is all and in all, there is no distinction between male and female. In spiritual matters there is no difference between male and female. A brother is saved by the life of Christ, that is, by the life of God’s Son. A sister also is saved by the life of Christ, the life of God’s Son. The brother has become God’s son, and the sister has become God’s son as well. In Christ we are all God’s sons, and there is no distinction between male and female.

The fourth distinction is between barbarians and Scythians. This is a distinction of culture. There are differences in cultural standards, yet Paul told us that the cultural distinctions of barbarians and Scythians alike have been abolished in Christ.

Of course, we should learn to be a Jew among Jews, and to be as under law to those under law (1 Cor. 9:20-22). Among people of other cultures, we should behave according to their culture. We should learn to be one with all people in all places. When we contact those of a different culture, we should learn to be one with them in Christ.

The final distinction is between circumcision and uncircumcision. This distinction has to do with marks of piety in the flesh. The Jews have the mark of circumcision on their bodies. It shows that they belong to God, that they fear God, and that they reject the flesh. Yet they overemphasize circumcision. Acts 15 speaks of some Jews who tried to compel the Gentiles to be circumcised.

Christians also have their “marks of piety in the flesh.” For example, baptism, head covering, the breaking of bread, the laying on of hands, and so on can all become marks of piety. Baptism has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Head covering with the sisters has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Bread-breaking and the laying on of hands have spiritual meanings, but they can also become marks of piety in the flesh. All of these things have spiritual meaning; they are all spiritual matters. However, we may use these things to separate God’s children, boasting about marks which others do not have, and the result is disunity. If we do this, we have downgraded these matters from their spiritual level and made them mere physical marks in the flesh. When this happens, we become, in principle, the same as the Jews who boasted in circumcision; our baptism, head covering, bread-breaking, and hand-laying have become our “circumcision.” If we differentiate between God’s children based on these things, we have made distinctions according to the flesh. However, in Christ there is no distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision. No physical mark of the flesh can be used to differentiate God’s children. In Christ we are made one. The life in Christ is one. All of these things are outside of the life of Christ. Of course, it is good to have the spiritual reality that accompanies these physical marks. But if one has the spiritual reality yet is lacking in the physical marks, we cannot count him out. God’s children should not allow physical marks to damage the oneness in the Lord and the oneness in the new man.

We all are brothers and sisters. We are the new man in Christ. We all are members in the Body, and we all are parts of the Body. Once we are in the church, we should not have any distinction outside of Christ. Everyone stands on new ground. Everyone is in the new man created by the Lord and everyone is in the Body built up by Him. We must see that all of God’s children are one. There is no place for superiority or inferiority. We must eliminate the denominational and sectarian thoughts from our hearts. If we do this, there will be no division in the meeting of the church of God and in the fellowship between the saints. We have to pay attention to these matters in the meeting, and we have to live out such a life in our daily walk. May God bless us.

One of the best lessons on the church is a book by Dr. Jack Hyles, former pastor of the great First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.  What was written by Watchman Nee is good and he defines the church as a local body of believers meeting together which is very true.  However, due to the fact that he was isolated in China from the Baptist Movement that has been ongoing since the days of Jesus and the Apostles, I have included the online version of this book here:

The Church Defined – Part 1

The Church Defined – Part 2

To read more about the history of Baptists and their persecution through history and also about the attempt by Satan to destroy the Bible in English, the KJV please see the links below and read as much as you can after reading about the definition of the Baptist Church which is the same church that Jesus founded when he ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost

Read about the TRAIL OF BLOOD

View the Trail of Blood Chart of History

The Pre-Millennial Return of Christ

 

History of Pre-Millennialism

Buy the book here – New Age Bible Versions by  Dr. Riplinger

Read Who Were the King James Translators

The Bible that GOD HAS USED

Famous Scientists who Believed in God

Famous Baptists in History.

I CHALLENGE ANYONE WHO IS READING THESE LESSONS TO FIND A GOOD INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH TO GO TO THAT YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH AND LEARN TO WIN SOULS AND TO TAKE A CLASS OR A BUS ROUTE, OR SING IN THE CHOIR OR EVEN HELP CLEAN THE CHURCH AND SET UP CHAIRS OR GET READY FOR MEETINGS.  GOD WILL BLESS YOU AS YOU DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO HIM AND HIS LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS.

WANT TO KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY?  CLICK HERE

Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.


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