The True Church – The Body of Christ
The most frequently put question to the writer over the years has been “…then which church is the true church?” This question has mainly been asked by those coming away from the bondage of a aberrant church, or cult group, which they has once been led to believe was the only ‘true’ church or group on the earth!
It is very hard for a person, who has never been in spiritual bondage, or been deceived, to even begin to understand the dilemma one faces, when the realisation dawns upon you, that what you believed to be the only persons/people that God has accepted and approved of on earth, are in fact nothing more than a dangerous religious group! The proliferation of such groups and churches in our society today, all of them ‘waving their flag’ so to speak, vying for your attention, all claiming to be the true church, or group, is nothing short of mind-boggling!
Ask Questions: No person who has been deceived, ever wants to be deceived again! Usually, such a person tends to adopt an extremely cautious and critical attitude towards all churches, or groups, from that time on. In fact, he begins to apply one of the basic rules one should use whenever told by another that one is in the wrong place spiritually – that rule is to ask questions! Those questions should be in-depth questions regarding doctrine, background, etc., about the group of the person confronting him. In trying to answer such questions, many Christians have, quite unwittingly, placed a stumbling block before the person they are trying to help. Sometimes Christians, because of their own group’s beliefs, can only offer their own denominational distinctives which is wrong, wrong, a thousand times WRONG!
The True Church: The only answer one should give in a situation like this is A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, THROUGH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND “MEMBERSHIP” IN THE TRUE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST!” Anything more, anything less, is not of God.
The reader should not get the wrong slant. I believe that EVERYONE needs to belong to a church, particularly one that functions on Grace and not Law! The local church is the will of God. Not just any local church, but, one that is Christ-centred, preaches the Gospel in its fullness, and openly stands for the Truth. The leader/leadership should not be a law unto himself/themselves. They should all be accountable for their decisions and actions! The church and its leadership must have credibility in the minds of, not only the Christian community, but the community at large. It should be a church that respects the individuality and the inherent ability of all in its membership to find the will of, and to hear from God personally. Importantly, it should be a church that practices love, acceptance and forgiveness, for all!
A Living Reality: Isn’t that a tall order? No. Our Heavenly Father has the welfare of each one of us at heart. In His Word, the Bible, He has recorded for us the way in which He wants His church, the Body of Christ, to function. For many Christians the term “Body of Christ” is just a name to describe all those who are Christians. However, there is much more to it than that. The Bible presents the Body of Christ as a living reality! The writer believes and teaches, that to be able to ‘see’, or perceive the Body of Christ in the right spiritual context (in fact, it is perhaps better described as a ‘revelation’ that comes with time and understanding), which removes the barriers created by the curse of denominationalism! One needs to see that God has placed His genuine Spirit-begotten, Born-again people in every Christ-centred church, whether that be Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Charismatic, Pentecostal, etc.
The Head of the Church: Ephesians 5:21-32 clearly states that the Head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ. To illustrate. Our own body does nothing without first being directed to do so by the head. The Church therefore, should do nothing without the direction of the head of the church, who is the Lord Jesus Christ (after all, it is His Church!). The church is meant to be run by Grace as a theocracy, ie., God ruled. It should not be run as a democracy, or an autocracy (i.e. man ruled)! The church’s authority comes from its Chief Executive, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He delegates His authority to the local church. That delegated authority is vested in what is known by many as the ‘Ascension Gift Ministries’ which are named in Ephesians 4:11 vis., “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers”. The Lord Jesus wants to impart life to His Body through the members. Everyone who is genuinely born of the Holy Spirit is a member of the Body of Christ. If one reads Ephesians 3:9-10 one will agree that it very clearly states that God has chosen to work in this world through His Body – the Church. For it says, “… to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”. This is the exact reason that Satan sets himself the task of disrupting, confusing, and even destroying churches!
Humility: It takes humility to be a genuine member of the Body of Christ. In being a member there comes a requirement that we submit one to another in love. This of course should not be blind submission, but a submission that generates out of a respect for the genuine love of God which covers the many shortcomings of the other members. Remember, we will not agree on every Scripture on this side of glory!
Many of the interpretations of Scripture that have been responsible for the erection of what has become ‘denominational’ barriers over the centuries, are not issues that have any affect on a person’s Salvation. Christians are counselled to pursue a holy life, showing the love of God to one another, and to be about helping each other to progress to spiritual maturity. By assisting and helping one-another to find our unique spiritual gifts and callings in God, we will enable the Body of Christ to fulfil its ‘Great Commission’ (which is outlined for us in Matthew 28:19-20). This should be the top priority of the Church today
One Body: The legendary Watchman Nee said of the church, “If a person does not discern the Body and does not follow the law of the Body, he will be subject to weakness and sickness. Why is it that some people are so easily deceived? Why are some believers the recipients of evil spirits? It is because of one’s inability to apprehend the Body [of Christ]”. We should never reject the Body of Christ, or those who graciously represent it, but rather have the grace to willingly submit oneself to it.
Conclusion: Everything that God wants for mankind is expressed IN, THROUGH, and FOR the Body of Christ. Therefore our very ability to function in the Body exists solely by holding securely to the Head – the Lord Jesus Christ. To be at odds with your brother, except perhaps at times where you need to stand for truth, or against sinful practices, is to at the same time to be at odds with the Head – Jesus! Notice in Psalm 133:2 that when Aaron was anointed, that the anointing oil ran from the top of his head, down his beard and over his garments, or the coverings for his body. This description gives us some insight into how God wants the Body of Christ to function.
The anointing of God is upon His Son Jesus as the Head of the Body. The anointing flows from Him, to the Body as a covering. Therefore, to be out of touch with, or outside the Body of Christ, is to be out of touch with the Head. There are have been people with problems who have sought our counsel, over the years, who have told us that the reason they are not in church regularly, or haven’t attended for months, even years, was because “the Lord told me to step aside and rest” or some such story!
Well, that’s just not true, or even good enough – it is God’s will that we belong to and be a part of the Body of Christ! Yes, the writer allows that changes of location due to employment, disability, personal sickness, sickness in the family, or the like, may mean that it is not possible for one to attend a church regularly. Be assured that a loving God knows you and your family’s needs. However, to be outside the Body is to be outside the will of God. All genuine Christians need to be a part of the Body.
Usually the holders of a wrong understanding of the Body of Christ fall into two basic categories:
Firstly, they have no understanding of same due to poor discipling when they first became a Christian, or committed themselves to a church. This invariably highlights the obvious lack of teaching in the church they attend.
Secondly, in many cases, they are really only seeking to cater to their own selfish whims. In so doing they become just plain disobedient to God. Perhaps they are refusing to accept responsibility for taking their place in the church to pursue the ministry that God has for them. Why? Because they know that to do so will cost them time, energy, money, and worldly ambitions. Many people treat church, as someone has already said, as a cafeteria! This is horrifying. They are just spectators to what God is doing in the lives of a few. God’s will is not for us to be spectators, but for us to be participators. Running a campaign styled, ‘Church Life – Be in It!’ would be really good. This would encourage more people to seek, and find, the fulfilling spiritual life of belonging to, and knowing your place in the Body of Christ. This can only be achieved by encouraging Christians to identify their individual and unique gifts and callings in the Lord.
SOME GOOD ADVICE: If the church you currently attend is not doing this, then ask the Lord to guide you to one that is, and join it as soon as possible! It is only by entering into this on-going learning process, that one finds the promised peace that passes all understanding. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace! (read Isaiah 9:6). True peace and contentment can only generate from knowing that one is in the all pervading will and purposes of God for his life.
© Copyright by Fred Grigg 2005