1st of December
I will start by quoting some scriptures. The first one is taken from Eph.5:23 ¡°For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body.¡± I continue with Eph.4:14-16¡°We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head ¨C Christ ¨C From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.¡±
Jesus says it in a little different way in John 15:5. He says: ¡°I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.¡± If we cut the head off a person, the person dies. The head and the body belong together. You cannot separate them and I therefore think that this comparison is good.
If people have not received Jesus as his or her personal Savior, they are not in Him, nor is Jesus living in them. They are therefore not belonging to the body of Christ. Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, but the whole world does not belong to the Church since so many have rejected Jesus.
We have to make a distinction between the universal church and the local church. The latter is our spiritual home. All the local churches that are built on the rock of Jesus belong to the body of Christ and the universal Church. All the believers of Christ belong to the universal Church.
Jesus and the Father are to-day in Heaven and they are so dependent on the body. They desire the body to function and they want the body to be strong and healthy. The body can¡¯t function by itself, but is totally dependent on the Head. Jesus says in John 15:4 ¡°Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.¡± Nothing must come between me and Jesus, nothing that can stop the flow of life from the tree to the branch. If there is a blockage, the branch might in the worst case die. Jesus says that a branch that is fruitless, will be cut off from the tree. The entire body is dependent on our relationship to Jesus. You might think that your role is not so important, but that is far from the truth. It says in 1.Cor.12:26 that if one member suffers, all the other members suffer too. It continues to say that if one member is given honor, all the members rejoice with it. Even if the smallest toe should hurt, you cannot ignore its pain. It cries out: ¡°I hurt, help me.¡± Too many people are hurting in the body of Christ to-day and too many are ignoring their pain and the fact that they are not functioning as they were meant to. This weakens the entire body. I am called to help the suffering and restore people in order for them to function in their calling. Do not ignore the suffering of your brother or sister! Remember the story of the compassionate Samaritan.
You can go with me to 1.Cor.12. It talks about the spiritual gifts, the diversities and the unity of the body. The gifts are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gift of faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, gift of prophesy, discerning of spirits, different tongues and interpretation of tongues. These are different gifts given by the same Spirit. No one should boast when they operate in the gifts since they are given by grace. We are supposed to use what God has given to us for the benefits of others and to the glory of God.
Paul describes the different parts of the body and compares the body with the different members of the church. Each member is dependent on the other parts. Avoid being too individualistic. We do not talk about your ministry, but your place in the body of Christ. Do not try to compare yourself with another member, but function in the one made especially for you. The invisible ones are just as important as the visible. Can you imagine how stupid it would look if a nose tries to stop smelling and tries to function as a finger. There are unfortunately many such stupidities in the body of Christ. I will write more about that in the next chapters.
Would you please read Eph.4:11+12 which says: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.¡± All the five ministries are placed in the body to serve others and not for their own glorification. Jesus Himself lowered Himself to wash the feet of His disciples and He said that we should do the same. All the members have a serving purpose.
Paul writes about the speaking in tongues and the use of it in the 14.chapter of 1.Cor. He also emphasizes how God is a God of order. If there is chaos in your local church, I can assure you that this does not come from God. Our body functions in order.
You and I are the salt and the light in this dark world. We are not supposed to be invisible. We are told to share the Gospel with others and we are never meant to be members of a club of entertainment. We are here for a purpose. Both Matthew and Mark end their books by quoting the commission of the church. Matt.28:18-20 ¡°Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ¡°All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.¡± Mark says in chapter 16, verse 17+18: ¡°And these sign will follow those who believe; in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.¡± Both these books describe the tasks of the believers. Who should preach the good news if we didn¡¯t? Who should lay hands on the sick if we didn¡¯t do it? Healing is for the righteous and the unrighteous. We are supposed to make disciples.
Paul describes the greatest gift, the gift of love, in the 13Th chapter of 1.Cor. He says that the gifts of the Spirit have no use if they are not used in love. It doesn¡¯t make any sense to have faith to move mountains if love is not present. He might even give his life to be burned, but it is of no value if love is not the motive. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and love never fails. Love is eternal.Love is like the life that goes from the tree to the branches. If we lack love, the branches get dry. We receive love from the Head and it flows to the different parts of the body. If we Christians have no love, we will never be able to reach the people outside the body. They are watching our lives. Do we love them? What do we do to make them members of the body? Jesus was willing to give His life for them. Are we?
I will write a couple of chapters about the strategies of the devil and how he wants to make the body sick and weak. He really doesn¡¯t want to see the body in function.
NOW I WANT TO SAY LIKE PAUL: BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND HIS TREMENDOUS POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!