FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

THE NATURE OF THE BODY – LESSON 1

The Nature of the Body is Seen in What it is Said To Be:

THE CALLED OUT!

Universal and Local

As we have discussed in the introduction to this series, the word “church” found in our translations of the Bible is an English word derived from the Greek, ‘kuriakos’; which describes ‘belonging to the Lord’. Although the universal thought is correct, this is not what the Apostolic fathers used to describe the Body of Christ. They used the Greek word, ‘ekklesia’, which generically refers to the ‘called out’.

This could be used in the everyday language of the day to speak of an army ‘called out’ to battle. It could be used to describe a mob ‘called out’ to see what the commotion is all about in the city (Acts 19:32 – assembly). It could be used to describe that same mob that was ‘called out’ to see what was going on; to be an unlawful assembly (Acts 19:39 - assembly).

In the case of the Body of Christ; however, the word of God depicts something very specific, note:

Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”

2 Thessalonians 2:14 “to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

As the Apostle Paul describes his commission from the Lord and as the Apostles of Christ illustrated the unique relationship Christians have with God; we see the emphasis of where they were and where they are now, and what brought them there (called out by the Gospel – Good News). To literally be ‘called out’ of the world into a relationship with God, together with Jesus the Christ. In all the passages we will cover in this lesson concerning the church, replace in your reading the term church with the concept of the ‘called out’; this will help you comprehend exactly what the nature of the body of Christ is, as described by the Apostles of Christ.

This term, ‘called out’ has two definitions or two different senses as it is used in scripture.

Universal Sense – meaning that which is composed of all the ‘called out’ of the world into God’s service. As the Gospel was to be delivered to the entire world (Mark 16:15-16), this definition is constructed to encompass ‘all’ those who would come out of darkness into His marvelous light, regardless of location.   

As the Lord instructed His disciples while He was still with them, He would speak of the ‘called out’ in the universal sense:

Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

The Apostle Paul would speak concerning the bride of Christ (the body of Christ) also in this universal sense:

Ephesians 5:23-25 “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her

In the universal sense the ‘called out’ are made up of individuals as an organic entity. It is important to recognize that the Lord did not build His churches (as an institution), but His church (the ‘called out’ – His Body!).

Ephesians 1:22 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church”

Ephesians 4:4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling’

Colossians 1:18 “And He 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.”

Colossians 1:24 “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”

All the terms used to describe the nature of the Body of Christ are used to describe the body in its universal sense; yet, contextually some of the terms also describe the second sense the ‘called out’ are described as…

Local Sense – meaning the local congregation composed of the ‘called out’ in a specific locality who accomplish the collective purposes the ‘called out’ have been charged to accomplish (worship, education to righteousness, benevolence, and growth). 

1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours”

In the introduction of this letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul recognizes both the local sense of the body, “which is at Corinth”; and the universal sense “with all who in every place”.

See also: Galatians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Philippians 1:1.

Those in a local body of Christ should not forsake the assembling of themselves together in order to stir up love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Each local body of Christ will be shepherded by elders or bishops, qualified by the word of God for such duty.

Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

The nature of the two senses does not indicate a separation between them, but a unity. The senses are used in scripture to indicate the universal nature and grandeur of the Body in this world wide sense, and the working aspect of specific locations to accomplish the purposes of the body. In each sense the body of Christ is complete and capable to accomplish everything the Head has given. Likewise, it cannot do anything other than that which the Head has given it to accomplish in any sense.

Next: “The Called Out have a Calling – A Vocation!”