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The Body Of Christ - Part 1

Good Morning My Beloved.

Thank you all for joining us today
I can't begin to tell you what a privilege it is
to be able to share God's Word with you today.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word today
for guiding me to better understand it, to teach it
boldly, in truth, with grace, love, and compassion
Lord, I pray today, that our hearts would be touched
that eyes and minds would be opened
and that Your Holy Spirit might pour out the truth
a truth we desperately need to understand
Help us Lord, to be able to absorb these truths
put them in perspective, embed all these truths in our hearts
to relate them to our lives that we might better understand our relation to You
and to each other, and especially to those who are yet lost
And for it all, we give You the praise
in Christ’s precious name

"For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation. But our presentable parts have no need of clothing. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it."
I Corinthians 12:12-27

As you know, we had been studying for sometime, the book of John, the 15th chapter. Today, we'll be starting a new section of Scripture, we'll begin studying I Corinthians 12, 12 through 27. I'm going to be moving through the text rather quickly. So, if you would please, get out your Bible and if you're feeling so inclined, your notebook, and have them ready. 

So to begin with, I'd like for everyone to open your Bible to the 12th chapter of I Corinthians, and just leave it open there for just a few moments. I have some, I believe poignant opening remarks I'd like to make first, before we start looking at this particular passage and the text that we'll be discussing today.

As you know, this is the beginning of a new study. This particular one is on the concept of the body of Christ. There's seems to be a tremendous amount of dialogue on this particular subject, in the past. And that really hasn't changed today, in the overall frame of Christianity, seems to be a rebellion of sorts against denominationalism, against the organized church and an emphasis on the body of Christ with extreme emphasis given to nonstructural type of doctrinal format. Generally speaking, a service without any structural organization, of any kind, at all.

Anyone who knows me, knows of course, I feel that that’s going a bit too far, because in the New Testament you have very definitely certain organizational structures. There were obviously elders and presbyters and bishops. Of course all of those are essentially the same thing; it basically just means pastors. It’s not really any type of a hierarchy. There were also deacons who ministered. There were also these elders to be ordained in every city. There were those who had the oversight of the flock. So, there was, to a degree, a certain level of organization, which was necessary in order to assure that every particular flock had a shepherd along with those who would minister to it. So there had been some level, at least minimally, organization.

I suppose the saddest part of all of this, is the level of ignorance of most people on the subject altogether when it is, in fact, perhaps one of the greatest subjects in understanding Christian relationships. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know where we belong, who we really are unless we have an understanding of the concept of the body of Christ. And when we do understand it, fully, we understand not only our obligation to God and relation to Him through Christ, but our responsibility and relationship to every other believer in the world and what our ministries are intended to be together. And so, I believe that we really need to understand the concept of the body of Christ.

There is today, however, so much organizational structure, that the true Church is often lost in the fog and many major denominations are nothing more than great groups of people, who want to rally around some cause other than Jesus Christ. I believe, this to say the least, a travesty in the Body of Christ. And they exist purely as an organizational structure without any life, without any proper function in relation to Jesus Christ. What is the Church, and what is it that we are, the body of Christ? So what does it mean?

If you happen to be one of the ones who are taking notes, there's a lot to cover, so if you’re taking notes, you'll want to write these down, there are three very dominant metaphors found in the New Testament used to describe the Church, which happen to be in Old Testament, these metaphors are used to describe Israel:
The bride, the vineyard, and the flock. The bride, the vineyard, and the flock...

Each of these particular metaphors was an Old Testament designation of Israel. Israel was God’s bride, God’s vineyard, and God’s flock. And, all of them are repeated in the New Testament. We are Christ’s bride, we are the branches of which He is the Vine, and we also are His flock of which Christ is the Shepherd.

Now, in the Old Testament, God looked upon Israel in her maidenhood, Hosea tells us, God betrothed Israel to Himself. God entered into a marriage covenant, a covenant with Israel. So, spiritually, Israel became God’s bride people. Then, from that point on, God had to deal with Israel’s continual unfaithfulness, continual acts of spiritual adultery as Israel went after other gods incessantly. And Israel, Hosea says, was an unfaithful wife, indeed unfaithful.

Now, in the New Testament, the Church is seen as a vine, as well as we are seen as a bride. And in the Old Testament, the vine was or the vineyard, either particular metaphor, which represented Israel. God said that He went and planted a vineyard. He said, "I planted it in a very fertile hill." And this was a picture of God taking Israel out of Egypt and putting them in Canaan. God said, "I removed them, and I planted this vine in a very fertile hill. There it took root and filled the land." And then God built a watchtower, and from the watchtower God guarded that vineyard and He also built a wine vat to prepare the vintage.

Isaiah tells us, God looked over His vineyard, He wanted His vineyard to yield righteousness, but His vineyard produced a yield of wild grapes of injustice, unrighteousness, oppression, and sin. And Isaiah 51 says, "God made His vineyard a waste." And He did.

The third Old Testament metaphor God used was that Israel was the flock, the flock. He was the Shepherd of Israel. Scripture says, He led Joseph like a flock. And Isaiah says, as He had redeemed them from Egypt, He lifted them up and carried them like you would carry a lamb. So, after the Babylonian captivity, Isaiah again says that He gathered the lambs in His arms and gently led those that were with young. So God has a relationship to Israel that is that of a shepherd to a flock.

Now, we see three images that God used to determine His relationship to Israel in the Old Testament. Each of those images shows God’s relation to Israel. And now mark this, it stresses that God’s dealing with His people was direct. It was direct, and it was a sovereign saving ministry as well as a keeping ministry.

So, God chose Israel as His bride. He planted Israel as His vineyard. He shepherded Israel as His flock.

Now, we come to the New Testament, Jesus boldly applies these very same metaphors to the Church. He emphasizes, even more strongly the personal relationship. Let me just try and illustrate that for you. First of all, the Old Testament metaphor of the marriage, Jesus then, applies that to us by saying He is the Bridegroom and we are, the what? The bride. That's right, Jesus says, "I am the Bridegroom." And you’ll remember in the Gospels that when the Bridegroom showed up, fasting became unnecessary. "Let’s get on with the festivities; the Bridegroom is here."

The apostle Paul describes this metaphor, in a greater detail, with a reference to Christ’s loving self-sacrifice for the Church. Paul also talks about Christ’s leadership over the Church, Christ’s leadership over the Church. His final purpose for the Church. Christ has taken the Church as a bride in order that He might present that Church to Himself. Christ, takes us, His bride, to present us to Himself, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or blemish, or such thing. We can see this in the book of Ephesians.

Christ gathered us as a chaste and pure virgin. And so, we as a Church are related to Christ as a bride to the Bridegroom. In fact, at the end of revelation, when we go to be with Jesus Christ in Glory, the Bible says we shall have a supper. What kind of supper is it? It’s a marriage supper, that’s right, a term many of us are familiar with, its a commonly understood language in Scripture.

Not only that, in II Corinthians chapter 5, it tells us that God has given to us the arrabōna of the Spirit. The Greek word arrabōna, literally means an engagement ring. And that's the reason we know we’re going to be married to Jesus Christ. Because we have an engagement ring, who is none other than the Holy Spirit. So, the marriage metaphor is carried all throughout Paul’s writing particularly, and culminating in John’s vision of the great marriage supper of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem at the end of the book of Revelation.

So, we can see that Jesus uses this marriage metaphor to describe the Church. Jesus also took up the image of the vineyard. In the parable of the wicked husbandman found in Mark 12. There He refers it to Israel, but He also extended it, because in John chapter 15, He says, "I am the vine; you are the branches," We are the branches. And the same metaphor is used there. The Church are the branches which are totally dependent upon the vine. We must abide in Him, we must be subject to the purging of the Vinedresser. We are the branches, and He is the Vine. Does everyone understand that so far?

Good, then let's keep moving...

Jesus used the vine metaphor. However, He did not stop there. He also used the Shepherd metaphor. We are a flock, we all know that passage in John 10, am I right? I've heard many of you use it. John 10, verse 27, "My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me." And Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He goes out into the wilderness to save just one of His lost sheep. He lays down His life for the sheep. He leads the sheep into good pasture. He protects the sheep from wolves. This metaphor is expanded all throughout the New Testament.

So, now you have these three basic Old Testament metaphors, which are applied by Jesus to the Church in the New Testament. There are four other ones, but these are the main ones in the Old Testament. Now the four other ones, that are alluded to in the Old Testament that Christ also uses where the New Testament applies to the Church. These are as follows: God’s people are also a kingdom. A kingdom. And by that we mean a kingdom is a sphere of rule. A kingdom is a dominion where somebody rules. And we, as Christ’s own beloved sons, children, brothers, God’s sons, Christ’s brothers we are in the dominion of God’s rule and Christ’s rule. We are literally, right now in His spiritual kingdom in the sense that He rules us. God rules, Christ rules. We are a kingdom. That's pretty basic.

Now pay attention here; God has delivered us. Paul says in Colossians 1:13 that God has delivered us, watch this now, "He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." That’s right, His Son. "The Son He loves." So, Christ even exercises His rule over us through the Holy Spirit. Now, if you read carefully between the lines here, this is what’s really being said in Romans 14:17-18, where it says, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men. We are literally a kingdom."

Not only that, here's another metaphor that we are designated by in the New Testament, we are also a family. We are sons of God and brothers of Christ. According to Romans chapter 8, we are joint heirs And according to Hebrews chapter 2, brothers. God has begotten us again into His family He has adopted us. He has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts whereby we call Him Abba Father, which in Greek means Papa, a term of endearment or one of closeness. And we are to take no anxious thought for tomorrow, because we know our Father knows our needs before we ever even think of them. We are to occupy ourselves with the kingdom of God and all the other things will be added unto us.
We see that in the New Testament Scripture, Matthew 6:25

In this little section, we are not only a kingdom, and a household or a family, we are also a building. The Church is a building. A building, incidentally, not made with hands but a building nevertheless. Who is our foundation? Paul said, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” And we are built up on that foundation, the apostles being the first ones on the foundation, and we from there on up. We are a building of God.

Fourthly, we are a body. The body of Christ. And this particular metaphor has absolutely NO Old Testament equivalent. None at all. The first three have major Old Testament equivalents. The second three in a minor sense are alluded to in the Old Testament. This one has no Old Testament allusions whatsoever. The concept does not even exist in the Old Testament.

In Closing...

I know, that some of you are probably saying, "So what?" I'll tell you so this. So this! This, this is our unique position in Christ. We are the body of Christ. This is unique. It has no Old Testament equivalent. This is our single identity. We are the body of Christ. We are not a building. These buildings are totally extraneous. Yes, we have them, but only because we have to come and sit somewhere to hear the Word of God. The Church is not the physical building. We are a spiritual building, as we said previously, not a physical one. This is not the Church; you are the Church. I am the Church. We are not an organization; we are a koinōnia; we are a communion; we are a fellowship of one body: The body of Christ.

This unique metaphor is going to form the basis for our study for the next several days.. at least.

Beloved, we are called to be alike in Christ. We, who believe and accept Jesus, is the Son of God, crucified, risen on the third day. We who believe and confess, Jesus as Lord. We are a part of the body of Christ. And as such, we as believers, The Body of Christ, are not to fight with each other, but function in unity, helping in our weaknesses and sharing in our burdens and suffering and our joys as One Body. There is no doubt, that we all possess different gifts, but they are to be used for the same purpose. If you fight with your fellow believers, you should think and reflect, ask yourself if you are really a part of the body of Christ, because as The Body of Christ, we are One Body, with different members, Just as our natural bodies, are one, with many parts of the body, which are never in battle with one another. Just think about that...

We'll wrap this up for today. As I said earlier, there's a lot to cover

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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