Christ's Spiritual Body

Dear Brethren,

We have been given the inestimable blessing of being a part of God’s true Church.  We have grown accustomed to referring to the Church of God as the Spiritual Body of Christ.  What does that mean?  What are we to understand concerning the body of Jesus Christ?  Jesus came in a physical, flesh and blood body (1 John 4:2, Romans 9:5).  But, how do we get from Christ having a physical body to the concept of the Church brethren being the spiritual body of Christ?  How did the name, "Church of God," come to be synonymous with the spiritual body of Christ?


I suppose most people think, “I have a body, everybody has a body – Jesus Christ had a body, too… What significance does it have?  The spiritual significance of the Scriptures is always deeper and broader than the physical meaning.  Let’s not let the subtleties of the Scriptures go over our heads – we have to put all the deeper meanings together in order to grow in grace and knowledge.  Jesus dwells in those who have received God's Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him."  (John 6:56)  The true Church of God is the body (group) of true believers that God the Father has called to the spiritual body of Christ.


We see that the goal of our existence is to come unto the Father, and to be in His Kingdom.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me."  (John 14:6)  But to be able to come to the Father, we must go through Jesus Christ because He is the only way, He has the only truth, and He is life. 


In other words we must “Put on Christ.”  When Christ lives in us through His Spirit, we begin to put on His ways, His faith, His attitude, His sacrifice, His character, His mercy – all of His attributes and characteristics like forgiveness, and love [not hate towards others] – we must become just like Him!  Every characteristic of Jesus must be in our minds and in our hearts – replacing all the sinful and wrong thought patterns which once defined us.  That is Christ in us – the hope of glory.”  (Colossians 1:27)  Jesus must replace the "old man of sin," and be in our hearts and minds for us to have eternal God-life in the resurrection.


"Hereby know we that we dwell in [Jesus Christ], and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit."  (1 John 4:13)  "Even the Spirit of truth; which the world cannot receive, because it seeth it not, neither knoweth it: but ye know it; for it dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."  (John 14:17)  Jesus answered, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: [that means to begin to do absolutely everything that Jesus taught] and my Father will love him, and we [both the Father and Jesus Christ] will come unto him, and make our abode with him."  (John 14:23)


We, all the Spirit-led brethren, are the body of Christ.  Paul explains that though we suffer, Jesus lives in us.  “Always bearing about in the body [carrying in our body] the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)  Paul is speaking of Jesus living His life in us so that His life becomes apparent in the way we live – laying down our lives for each other and sacrificing for others.


We need to ask ourselves what the Will of God is with regard to Christ's spiritual body?  What will be the result if we fail to do everything possible to become the unified Christian body that God intends us to be?  We are supposed to be integrated into a common bond of fellowship that knows no bounds!  Our very salvation depends on our caring for one another with a Godly love. 


“Is Christ divided?”  Absolutely not!  (1 Corinthians 1:13)  The Scriptures are clear – Christ’s body is supposed to operate as an integral whole.  Each member of the body of Christ has a responsibility to live according to the rules of the Kingdom of God – now – at this time.  We are not waiting for Jesus to return and force us to recognize and love one another.  If we are not now behaving as Christians should, we will not be in the first resurrection, nor the Kingdom of God.


It could not be said more clearly.  Paul ties our being in the spiritual body of Christ with our deep spiritual unity with all Church members.  “As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same talents: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”  (Romans 12:4-5)


We are to put into practice the way of life that Jesus taught.  As individual members of His body, we are to live as He lived.  We are to follow in the steps of our Lord and Master.  Who He is, what He is, and what He has promised us is of no consequence, if we do not apply it in our daily lives.  What has happened to the Church of God?  We have come to a time when we claim to be aware of other members of the spiritual body of Christ, but we will have nothing to do with one another.  We are obligated by God, to extend our realm of fellowship and service to include all who have the earnest of God's Holy Spirit. 


Jesus Christ has only one spiritual body with many members.  They possess the Spirit of God and they are scattered all over the face of the earth.  “As the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ[Christ has only one body of believers – that is one Church – the Church of God.]  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.  [That is God's Holy Spirit.]  For the body is not one member, but many [brethren]… But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body [the spiritual body of Christ], as it has pleased Him... But now are they many members, yet but one body [the ONE spiritual body of Christ]... Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18, 20, 27)


We cannot hate, despise, neglect, or reject any of the saints [Church members], as that behavior will disqualify us from the Kingdom of God.  Those who are only interested in preparing themselves, while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their brethren, have fallen for the deception of Cain, who asked in Genesis 4:9, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  The truth is: "Yes, we are our brother's keeper."

Who is my brother?  Who is a member of the spiritual body of Christ?  Jesus said that He would build or construct His ownekklesia,’ assembly or congregation.  Today, we find ourselves in a world of divisive confusion.  There are so many groups, organizations, corporations, individuals and churches that claim to represent Christ’s spiritual body, but they shun others of the very same background, beliefs, practices, and Spirit of God.


Jesus is the head of His Church.  And converted Christians are individuals in His spiritual body.  Paul wrote:  "[God the Father] has put all things under [Jesus’] feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body" [the spiritual body of Christ]  (Ephesians 1:22-23)


"He that eats and drinks [the Lord's Passover] unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."  (1 Corinthians 11:29-30) 


Jesus Christ has only one body – thus, He has only one Church.  “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling… For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ… From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Compare Colossians 2:19)  For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. [An obvious reference to the new covenant marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church] (Ephesians 4:4, 12, 16, 5:30, Genesis 2:23)


"...You are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."  (2 Corinthians 6:16)


Again, the Bible reveals that the one spiritual body of Christ is composed of Church brethren. "[Christ] is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence… 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 1:18, 24)


Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church just before He died (John 17).  He inspired Paul to send us these words of 1 Corinthians 1:10:  “Now I beg of you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”


Sermon:  "Christ's Spiritual Body"