“How to Approach the Bible” 

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 22 of 24 – Common Erroneous Teachings Taught by Various Christian Groups Today (Continued)

12. The idea there is Prophecy concerning “the church, which is His body.”

All Biblical prophecy speaks only of that which concerns Israel and its Messiah. Peter said this at Pentecost. Acts 3:19-21 (KJV) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began

By contrast, NOTHING concerning “the mystery” (Greek, musterion, secret plan) of “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the church, which is His body” had ever been prophesied.

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, which was kept secret since the world began… 

So, that which concerned Israel has beenspoken by all the prophets since the world began,” while Paul’s “mystery” (secret) gospel had been kept secret since the world began.” Under Paul’s mystery gospel there was a new dispensational God/man relationship, based upon the pure grace of God, that had been kept secret until it was first revealed by the ascended Christ to the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:12).

Ephesians 3:1-3 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3How that by revelation he (Jesus Christ, v1) made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words)

This “mystery” had “been hid” in God. Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church (the body of Christ). Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

13. The idea that “the church which is His body” started in Acts 2 at Pentecost.

Having now understood that the definition of the Greek word “ekklesia,” only sometimes means “the church, which is His body,” (see Part 18 of 24) helps us to always take note as to which church is specifically being spoken of when we read reference to “church.” “The church which is His body” is different that church or “assembly” of “ye men of Judea,” “men of Israel ,” which is “the circumcision,” to whom Peter was called to preach at Pentecost (Matt 10:5-6, Gal 2:7).

Today, the church” is “the body of Christ” (Eph 1:22b-23a), which was first revealed to Paul. “The body of Christ” could not possibly begin until Paul was called, saved, and received “revelation of the mystery” from the ascended Christ. Paul received this gospel from Christ and then taught it (Eph 3:1-5).

For the “church, which is His body” to come into being, Israel first, as a nation, had to reject not only Christ but also the Holy Spirit, which it did in Acts 7. Israel not only rejected the Father, as it did by rebelling against God and killing the God-sent prophets of Israel , but they also rejected and crucified the Son of God. Then Israel rejected the witness of the Holy Spirit through Stephen (Acts 7:51), by stoning Stephen to death in Acts 7:58. Only then does God “cast away” Israel , for a time (Rom 11:1, 15). Only then did Christ save Paul to reveal to him the mystery “gospel of the grace of God,” and give him unique ministry to the mainly Gentile “church, which is body of Christ,” under “the dispensation of the grace of God” (1Cor 12:27).

Only Paul explains the detailed information of the mystery gospel that he received from the risen Lord. Paul reveals the cross, with its full meaning. In contrast to Pewter on the day of Pentecost, when he scolded the Jews for “killing the Prince of Peace,” Paul tells us that it is by virtue of Christ’s death and shed blood that we have justification, propitiation, redemption, liberation from Sin’s power. Paul goes on to tell us of Jesus’ resurrection, by which we have His “Spirit of life” indwelling every member of “the body of Christ.” No Bible writer but Paul uses the term “the body of Christ.” All of the other Bible writers are principally concerned with Israel of the past and/or Israel ’s future. By contrast, only Paul uses the term “but now” speaking of today under “the dispensation of the grace of God.” The only way revival can come to the individual and “the body of Christ,” in this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God,” is to get back to the Pauline truth of the pure grace of God. This has happened to a degree beginning with Martin Luther in the early 1500’s as a prime example, as he saw the light on Paul's presentation of “justification by faith” in Christ alone, apart from works, as taught by Paul in Rom 11:6. Then John Nelson Darby, the father of modern dispensational theology, C.I. Scofield, Charles Ryrie, and others recovered the truth of “the rapture of the body of Christ” during the early to late 1800’s.

Still, most of the church at large today marginalizes Paul’s thirteen epistles for “the body of Christ,” preferring to mix law with Paul’s grace gospel. They confuse Pentecost as being for “the body of Christ,” when in fact the body of Christ came into being some several years later.

14. The idea that “the church which is His body” is destined for the earthly kingdom of God ”.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Ephesians 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named… God has and will have family in both heaven and on the earth for eternity.

Israel , as the descendants of Abraham, has been promised “a land” upon the earth as an “everlasting inheritance” (Gen 17:7). This land extends from the river Nile to the river Euphrates, encompassing the whole Fertile Crescent . Jesus gave His Jewish disciples a prayer in accord with that promise, “Thy kingdom come…thy will be done…on earth.” The focus here is the kingdom from heaven coming to be upon the earth.

By contrast, Paul clearly says those of “the body of Christ” have their citizenship in heaven. Paul writes this to the members of “the body of Christ” at Philippi . Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: We of “the body of Christ” are destined for the eternal paradise of heaven as our home forever. The earth is not our home. Paradise has been relocated from the place “below” that Jesus and the thief on the cross descended to. It now is located in heaven, where Paul later was “caught up” (2Cor 12:2). “The body of Christ” is a heavenly people (Eph 1:3, 20), living now as ambassadors of Christ (2Cor 5:20) while we are upon this earth. With our home in heaven, and we currently being on earth, then we today are His ambassadors on earth (2Cor 5:20), currently in a place that is not our home.

Thus, it is by these two people groups, “the body of Christ” and the nation of Israel ,” that Christ will thereby fill those things which are in heaven and on earth. He will be “all and in all” to the two groups who receive Him and become His expression in their two spheres; “the body of Christ” in heaven, and Israel on earth. Ephes. 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: