The True Church (The Body of Christ)
by Fred Grigg
"Then which church is the true church?" is the question that the writer has been asked many times? Mainly by those coming away from the bondage of a church, or group, they once believed to be the only true church. It is very hard for the person, who has never been in bondage, or deceived, to understand the dilemma one faces, when the realization dawns upon you, that what you believed to be the only persons/people that God accepted and approved of on earth, are in fact nothing more than a cult! The proliferation of groups and churches in our society, all "waving their flag" vying for your attention, and all claiming to be the true church is nothing short of mind-boggling!
Ask Questions: The person that has been deceived, does not want to be deceived again! So, he adopts an extremely cautious and critical attitude towards all. 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 - he asks questions! He should ask in-depth questions on doctrine, background, etc., about the group of the person confronting him. In answering those questions many Christians had, unwittingly, placed a stumbling block before the person concerned. They, because of their doctrinal and denominational beliefs, can only offer their doctrine/denomination which is wrong, wrong, wrong, a thousand times WRONG!
The True Church: The only offer one should make 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. EVERYONE needs to belong to a church! The local church is the will of God. Not just any local church, but, one that is Christ-centered, preaches the Gospel in its fullness, and openly stands for the truth. The leader/leadership should not be a law unto himself/itself. They should 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: 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 understanding), which removes the barriers created by the curse of denominationalism! One needs to see that God has placed His genuine Spirit-begotten people in every Christ-centered 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, The Lord Jesus Christ (after all, it is His Church!). The church is meant to be run as a theocracy, i.e., 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 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 that 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 "denominational" barriers over the centuries, are not issues that have any affect on one's Salvation. Christians are counseled 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 fulfill its "Great Commission" (which is outlined for us in Matthew 28:19-20). These should be our top priorities in 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 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 where you need to stand for truth, or against sinful practices, is 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 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. Many people with problems who have sought counseling, over the years, have told the writer that the reason they are not in church regularly, or haven't attended for x, y, or z months was because, "the Lord told me to step aside and rest" or some such story!
Well, that's just not true, or good enough -- it's 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, that it may not be possible for one to attend a church regularly. 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:
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 good. This would encourage more people to seek, and find, the fulfilling spiritual life of belonging to, and knowing your place in the true Body of Christ. This can only be achieved by encouraging Christians to identify their individual and unique gifts and callings in the Lord.
If the church you currently attend is not doing this, then ask the Lord to guide you to one that is, and join it! 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! True peace and contentment can only generate from knowing that one is in the all pervading will and purposes of God.