Part 14 of 15

 “The Church, which is His Body”

The members of the Gentile “church, which is his body” (Eph 1:22b-23a) have their “citizenship (is) in heaven” (Philip 3:20 NIV). These are destined for heaven as their eternal abode with Christ. At the rapture of “the body of Christ” we will be “caught up” to meet the Lord “in the air” and taken to heaven. We will then arrive at “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (2Cor 5:10), where we will receive “rewards,” and, I believe, our heavenly assignments (1Cor 3:8, 14).

The word “rapture” does not appear in our English Bibles but it is seen as “rapteur” or “rapiemur” in Latin, for the English words “caught up” (4:17 below). Paul says the members of the “the body of Christ” today are “ambassadors” (2Cor 5:20) on earth since this earth is not their home. Our eternal destiny is to “always be with the Lord” after being “caught up” to our homeland - heaven. We shall “always be with the Lord” in heaven. This fact should be of “comfort” to each of us.

1 Thess. 4:16-18 (NASB) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the (already) dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain WILL BE CAUGHT UP (Latin, rapteur) TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR, AND SO WE SHALL ALWAYS BE WITH THE LORD. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Some ask; “How the Lord can be on earth with Israel and in heaven with the body of Christ simultaneously?” Our finite minds limit our understanding of the limitless God. Does He not dwell within each of our spirits, individually, and sit at the right hand of the Father simultaneously?

The soon coming Anti-Christ will appear ONLY AFTER “the body of Christ,” (in whom dwells the Holy Spirit) are removed from earth by their rapture to heaven. The Spirit of the Lord presently “withholdeth” (“restrains” see verses 2:6-9 below) and limits the evil on earth. The “hindering” or “restraining” element of the Holy Spirit within the believing members of “the body of Christ” is restraining the Spirit of Anti-Christ, which is already work in “the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2, 7-8). Anti-Christ’s appearing will mark the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation period.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 (AMP) Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], AND THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS (ANTICHRIST as the man of sin) IS REVEALED, who is the son of doom (of perdition), 4 Who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] TAKING HIS SEAT IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD, PROCLAIMING THAT HE HIMSELF IS GOD6 And now you know WHAT IS RESTRAINING HIM [Keeping him from being revealed at this time]; it is SO THAT HE MAY BE MANIFESTED (REVEALED) IN HIS OWN [APPOINTED] TIME. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is ALREADY AT WORK in the world, [but IT IS] RESTRAINED ONLY UNTIL HE WHO RESTRAINS IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY. 8 AND THEN THE LAWLESS ONE (THE ANTICHRIST) WILL BE REVEALED and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming. 9 THE COMING[OF THE LAWLESS ONE, (THE ANTICHRIST) is through the (supernatural) activity and WORKING OF SATAN and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels—[all of them] lying wonders—

Just as the “righteousness” within believers is “the Spirit of Christ” who “has been made to be the righteousness of God” in us (2Cor 5:21), so Satan’s own Sin-spirit will then be embodied in “the man of sin” - Anti-Christ. Meantime, the “restraining” (2Thes 3:6) power of the “Spirit of Christ” restrains and delays Anti-Christ’s manifestation. When the Spirit’s restraint is removed by the rapture, then Anti-Christ’s will be manifested. The lawless one” (2Thes 2:8) is foretold in Daniel 7:8, 25, as “the little horn speaking great words against the Most High, and thinking to change times and laws.”

Daniel 11:36 says the willful king who shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, and SHALL SPEAK MARVELLOUS THINGS AGAINST THE GOD OF GODS; neither shall he regard any god.”

During their remaining time on this earth, the heaven-bound members of “the body of Christ” are being trained and prepared to rule in the heavenly dynasphere. They are now equipped with Christ’s life, but they then will have the power and authority of Christ to rule in the “heavenly kingdom.” 2Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me (Paul) … will preserve me unto his HEAVENLY KINGDOM 

Note below Paul’s continual reference to the co-participation of the members of “the church, which is the body of Christ” with Christ in the “heavenly places,” far above the current fallen heavenly host.

Philippians 3:20 For OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who HATH BLESSED US WITH ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST:

Ephesians 1:19-23 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES, 21 FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, and EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, NOT ONLY IN THIS WORLD (age), BUT ALSO IN THAT (age) WHICH IS TO COME: 22 And HATH PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET, AND GAVE HIM TO BE THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH, 23 WHICH IS HIS BODY, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:20-23 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET, AND GAVE HIM TO BE THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH, 23 WHICH IS HIS BODY, THE FULNESS OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL.

Ephesians 2:6-7 And HATH RAISED US (the members of the body of Christ) UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS: 7 That IN THE AGES TO COME he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

The heavenly calling for “the church which is His body” is an aspect of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of THE MYSTERY (GOD’S SECRET PLAN), which WAS KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN,

Paul says “the mystery” was kept secret from “the princes over this world (Gk., aion, age), those who rule on earth under the influence of the Evil One; these rulers are among both the religions and political systems on earth. The Evil One played into God’s plan by crucifying our Lord.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a MYSTERY, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our (the churches) glory: 8 Which NONE OF THE PRINCES OF THIS WORLD KNEW: for HAD THEY KNOWN IT, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY.

God’s plan was kept secret because, if the “princes of this world” knew God’s secret plan, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. They did not know God’s mystery plan and so they cooperated to crucify our Lord. They had no idea that Christ would rise from the dead as “the life-giving spirit” (1Cor 15:45b), then being able to indwell the members of “His body” through whom He will restore rule and bring order in the heavenly dynasphere.

The mystery is now revealed. God’s ultimate purpose was “to make all men see what is the FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY (secret plan of “Christ in you” – in “the church which is His body”), which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

(God planned)To the INTENT that now unto THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVENLY PLACES might be known by the church the manifold WISDOM OF GOD, 11 According TO THE ETERNAL PURPOSE which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” (Ephesians 3:10-11)

Thus, the members of “the body of Christ” have a high and holy ultimate calling in the heavenlies, not on earth. Until then, we’re remain in this foreign land on earth as “ambassadors” (2Cor 5:16) for Christ, working to build up the predominantly Gentile “body of Christ” to its completion. Israel will remain set aside, “blinded” until “the body of Christ” is completed and raptured to heaven. Israel ’s destiny in the kingdom of heaven on earth is currently held in abeyance.

Romans 11:25 For I (Paul) would not, brethren, that ye (Roman members of the body of Christ) should be ignorant of this mystery… that BLINDNESS IN PART IS HAPPENED TO ISRAEL, (only) UNTIL THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES BE COME IN.

We should once again note 2 Timothy 2:10. Therefore I (Paul) endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also OBTAIN the SALVATION (not “attain” see 1Thes 5:9-10) WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS WITH ETERNAL GLORY.”  Here the “body of Christ” not only obtains “salvation, but of “salvation WITH ETERNAL GLORY.” That is “salvation” together with reigning and functioning in “eternal glory” in the eternal heavenly sphere. Paul goes on in 2 Tim. 2:12a; If we suffer (hypomeno, endure patiently), WE SHALL ALSO REIGN (co-reign) WITH HIM…” The words “reign with Him” here means to “act as co-regents” of and with Christ.

Our enduring the sufferings of life’s situations on earth today prepares and trains us for our reigning in the moral rectitude (rightness) and faith in God, with the wisdom that we have learned of God directly by that which we have endured. We today are being trained and our trust-bond with Him is growing as we learn to follow His leading, as He moves and guides us from within.

Apparently, how well we learn to live today will affect our assignment in the eternal heavenly sphere of God. Upon the rapture of the members of “the body of Christ” to heaven, each of us will appear at the “Judgment Seat of Christ” to receive our rewards and our assignments. Our works on earth will be judged as to their source; were they of “self,” or of “Him” in us. This is not a judgment for sin, since we’ve been already judged as to sin “with Him” (Rom 6:3, Gal 2:20).

2 Corinthians 5:10 (AMP) For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, so that EACH ONE MAY RECEIVE [HIS PAY] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [CONSIDERING WHAT HIS PURPOSE AND MOTIVE HAVE BEEN, and WHAT HE HAS ACHIEVED, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].

Believers will then receive rewards according to their “works” according to what sort (of works)” they were (1Cor 3:13). If we have learned to live and be led by Christ’s life within us, then our “works” were actually done “of Christ in us,” not by us acting independently. These works will survive the judgment and we will receive our reward for trusting Him and His leading. I believe the “recompense” or “reward” (v10 above) will be a “crown” as a symbol of our place in God’s eternal government of the heavens. (See “crown” in 1Cor 9:25, 2Tim 4:8) While “good works” will never save us from judgment (Eph 2:8-9), “walking in the Spirit” does bring the inherent blessings of righteousness (right living) – our blessings are the victory of peace and rest, with reward in the heavenly sphere.

Christ’s cross and crown (“of thorns” John 19:5) are intertwined as symbols in the Christian church. The crown represents the reward awaiting believers will receive in heaven after the suffering and trials of life on earth (the cross).

James writes here of the crown promised to the believers of the nation Israel (see James 1:1) in the coming kingdom of heaven on earth.

James 1:12 (NIV) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life (eternal) that God has promised to those who love him.