Part 22 of 22
The “One Body” of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the (physical) body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
All those who have received the freely given salvation of God by simply trusting in Christ as their personal Savior are in fact members of Christ’s “one body” (Eph 4:4). We should not permit differences of opinion on non-essential matters separate us as genuine believers.
Being a believer does not mean we always live holy lives. The family of God, the church, “the body of Christ” consists of all true believers. As any family, God’s family has children of differing maturities. There are the mature, the children, and babes. Babes and children do not perceive and understand what the mature person perceives and understands so this can lead to conflict.
Actually, the Bible divides the human race into five categories of people.
1. The “lost and perishing”: These are the “sons of Adam” (Deut 32:8), not the birthed sons of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (AMP) (Paul writes) But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to THOSE WHO ARE LOST. 4 For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the Image and Likeness of God.
Paul then also writes the following to the Christian believers at
, referring to their condition before their salvation. Not being born of Christ’s resurrection life, the lost and perishing are those who are “without Christ …having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesus
Ephesians 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, HAVING NO HOPE, AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD:
2. The “babe in Christ”:
When a person sees his self as a needy sinner and comes to trust in Christ as his personal Saviour, he is immediately reborn as a “babe in Christ.” Babes in Christ can and should grow. Paul had to write the following to the Corinthian believers who he still considered “babes in Christ.”
“I...could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear [digest] it, neither yet now are ye able” (1Cor.3:1, 2).
Every parent loves and hopes for their baby, but the joy that fills the hearts of loving parents turns to sorrow if their baby fails to grow.
All believers should “desire the sincere (pure) milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby” (1Pet.2:2) “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph.4:14). Peter then exhorts; “but grow in grace, and in the knowledge (ginosko, experiential knowledge) of our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ” (2Pet. 3:18).
3. The “carnal” Christian:
Though perhaps one may have been Christians for many years, the carnal Christian has not grown in God’s love and grace that is “in Christ.” This is often due to their love of “the world,” thus their indifference and ignorance of the word of God and the good news of Paul’s Gospel that would win their hearts. Many of the carnal Corinthian Christians remained shallow, fleshly, and lived according to their independent self-will, often living for entertainment and the physical pleasures and comforts of this world. Some of these caused strife and division in “the body of Christ.” Though saved, these still have to be treated as a “babes in Christ.”
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto CARNAL, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 for YE ARE YET CARNAL: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
4. The “natural man”:
“The natural man (Gk., psuchikos, the man of the soul) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (ICor.2:14).
Most people wrongly assume the word “natural” here refers to an unsaved man, a non-Christian. However, in context we must note that Paul was writing to the carnal Christians and the babes in Christ at
. They are Christians who are not “spiritual”; they are still “natural,” “Natural” in Greek is psuchikos, “the man of the soul.” This means they are soulish and thus live by their soul, their psyche (psuche), their psychological self, their intellect; they live independent of “the Spirit of Christ” within them. Therefore, they cannot receive or know the things of the Spirit (1Cor 2:14) because the spiritual things are “spiritually discerned.” Corinth
Bible knowledge is helpful to point us to trust Christ and the truth of “the gospel of the grace of God,” but this alone does not make one spiritual. No matter how studied and knowledgeable of the Bible he may be, “the natural man,” being independent of the Spirit, does not yet trust and yield to Christ’s “Spirit of life” in his spirit for his discernment. Paul cautioned believers of “the pride of life” (1John 2:16). Such pride may be based on what one thinks he knows, intellectually; but they do not necessarily know much spiritually. These are still blinded due to being yet natural, “men of the soul.”
5. The “spiritual” Christian is one who has come to a trusting union with Christ. He not only knows the truth of the written word of God, he intimately knows Christ as his new guiding life within. He has grown in spiritual maturity to be “led by the Spirit” (Rom 8:14). He is no longer merely a babe or child of God (Rom 8:16); he is a grown up “son of God” (Rom 8:14) or a “man of God.” (2 Timothy 3:17). By trusting the Lord he is thus equipped and living by the Lord’s life and power. He also likely has gained revelation of the truth in his study of the written word and in His contemplation of his relationship with God.
2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect (complete), throughly (fully) furnished (equipped) unto all good works.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind (Gk. nous, intellect that is) of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind (Gk. nous, intellect that is) of Christ.
By the foregoing we can see why there can be so many differences in understanding and so much division within “the body of Christ.” The children may not understand or tolerate the mature, and the natural and carnal believers may not agree with or accept the spiritual believers. He that is “spiritual” must receive all believers just as they are, since the Lord has received them (Rom 14:1).
I realize that I have written concerning matters that point out the many differences and even dissension within “the body of Christ.” I wrote this series only to bring understanding to light; to heighten the simplicity of the pure “grace gospel” that is able to save and change the lives of truly regenerated believers. There should be unity and acceptance among all genuine believers. We should never let the secondary matters of doctrine separate us. Below is a word that I’ve drawn from the writing of Paul M. Sadler, President, of The Berean Bible Society. It emphasizes the matter of secondary issues that should not prevent acceptance of other all genuine believers who hold to the core fundamentals of the grace gospel for today.
Sad, But True
by Paul M. Sadler, President, The Berean Bible Society
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” -- I Corinthians 10:12
I heard a story told by a grace believer who met another grace believer in the middle of the
. Golden Gate Bridge
“I was standing in the middle of the
admiring the view when another tourist walked up alongside of me to do the same. I heard him say quietly, as he took in the beauty of the view, ‘What an awesome God.’ Golden Gate Bridge
“I turned to him and said, ‘You a Christian?’
“He said, ‘Yes, I am a Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we shook hands. I said, ‘Are you a liberal or a fundamental Christian?’
“He said, ‘I am a fundamental Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we smiled and nodded to each other.” I said, ‘Are you a Covenant or dispensational, fundamental Christian?’
“He said, ‘I am a dispensational, fundamental Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we slapped one another on the back.” I said, ‘Are you an early Acts, mid-Acts or late Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’
“He said ‘I am a mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I’ and we agreed to exchange Christmas cards each year. I said, ‘Are you an Acts 9 or 13, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’
“He said, ‘I am an Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I’ and we hugged one another right there on the bridge. I said, ‘Are you a pre-trib, or post-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’
“He said, ‘I am a pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’
“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we decided to exchange kids for the summer.” I said, ‘Are you a 12 in or 12 out, pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’
“He said, ‘I am a 12 in, pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’ “I said, ‘You heretic, and I pushed him off the bridge!’” -- Author Unknown
The above is sad but all too true (with the exception of being pushed off a bridge, although some may have even considered that)! The point is, no matter how deeply our convictions may run on secondary issues, they should never disrupt our fellowship together. Issues such as: Are the 12 Disciples in or out of “the Body of Christ”? Was Paul the author of Hebrews? Should we observe holy days? Was Paul in or out of the will of God in Acts 21? Where did the Church begin -- Acts 9, 11, or 13? And on and on we could go.
Our fellowship in Christ must rest solely on the Fundamentals of the Faith and the Doctrines of Grace found in Ephesians 4:4-6.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
There is no room for further discussion on these matters. On other areas of the Word of God where we may find ourselves in disagreement, let us “agree to disagree” in a Christ-like manner. This will help maintain the unity of the Spirit among us and glorify God in the process.”- End of Series -