Monday, July 13, 2009

The Body of Christ

Post #1
Shawn Brasseaux (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) wroteon May 9, 2009 at 11:54pm
The Church, the Body of Christ*
[4 May 2009]

*To clarify, this is NOT a reference to a particular denomination or group: this term STRICTLY refers to grace believers (those indwelt by the Holy Spirit).

Did you know that you will not find a single hint of the Body of Christ anywhere from Genesis through the Book of Acts, and from Hebrews through Revelation? Hmm, interesting, but why? Why is it that the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon) ALONE contain references to the Body of Christ? This REQUIRES a dispensational approach to Bible study, but the answer is simple if people would just read God’s Word and have faith in it!

God’s whole purpose for creating the Nation Israel was to “sanctify” (set apart) a group of people who would carry out His will on Earth. In other words, Israel as a converted nation would then reach the entire lost world with God’s Word. The Lord’s covenants with the Jewish patriarchs like Abraham, Moses, and David all focused on Israel rising to a glorious earthly kingdom. When Israel’s King and Redeemer (Jesus of Nazareth) came, they rejected and crucified Him—with the exception of a small remnant of Jewish believers, including the eleven apostles. Sadly, Israel did not feel regret after crucifying Him either!

Read Acts 28:28 KJV, where Paul is speaking to Jewish leaders: “Be it known therefore unto you [Jews], that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (compare Romans 11:11-12 KJV). Israel was still mostly unresponsive to God years after Calvary, so God would call out a people for His name from the GENTILE (non-Jewish) world: the Body of Christ. Israel’s kingdom would be postponed, and God would reach the Gentile world without benefit of the Nation Israel being entirely converted. God would go to the Gentiles, WITHOUT Israel as His means—this was something unheard of in the Old Testament! That is why the Body of Christ cannot be found in the Old Testament.

The Lord selected one religious Jewish zealot steeped in Judaism, Saul of Tarsus, and converted him. So, the Lord would send Saul (now Paul) to minister to the Gentile world (which was originally the purpose of the Nation Israel). God’s dealing with man changed, and the Dispensation of Law faded off the scene: Israel was dispersed, spiritually blinded, to be restored one day. Because the twelve apostles were sent to Israel, they could not write or speak about “the Body of Christ.”

With the Jewish program of prophecy now gone, a new dispensation would begin: “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-2). Just like the Dispensation of Law was entrusted to Moses, the Dispensation of Grace was entrusted to Paul. This makes Paul’s Gentile ministry SEPARATE from the twelve apostles’ Jewish ministry. Israel and the Body of Christ are two SEPARATE entities in God’s dealings with man. The Body of Christ is a Pauline revelation—revealed only to Paul—because Paul was “THE apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13 KJV). The Old Testament was written to Jews under Law, whereas the Body of Christ is Gentiles under Grace. Because Jesus ministered to Jews under the Law (Romans 15:8), He had no reason to reveal to them the secret of the Body of Christ.

“The revelation of the mystery” found in Paul’s epistles was “KEPT SECRET” from the Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:5, 9). You cannot find the Body of Christ in the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, or in James through Revelation. The Old Testament always prophesied a coming earthly kingdom for Israel; but, God kept it secret from those prophets that Israel would reject their King Jesus, and He would go to Gentiles without using Israel in that earthly kingdom! Gentiles having a personal relationship with Israel’s God was VERY rare in the Old Testament (exceptions included Rahab, Ruth, and the city of Ninevah). This made the early Gentile churches targets of violence and persecution brought on by jealous Jews.

Today, and for the past 2,000 years since Paul’s conversion, God has been adding one believer at a time to the Body of Christ. Once a person genuinely places his or her faith in Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), the Bible says that the Holy Spirit supernaturally baptizes the person into the Body of Christ—1 Corinthians 12:13 is NOT water baptism! As God is dealing with the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace, He has to keep postponing that kingdom promised to Israel for nearly 4,000 years. But, one day, God promises to fulfill His Old Testament covenants with Israel and bring in the New Covenant, bringing in that glorious kingdom they rejected at Christ’s First Advent nearly 20 centuries ago.


• There are NO unbelievers in the Body of Christ. Unbelievers can fool you by going to your church and professing salvation, but God personally knows the true believers. Those not currently in the Body of Christ today are LOST, and unless trust Christ by placing their faith in the Gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the Scriptures warn of an impending eternal doom. With almost two billion people in the world professing Christianity today, there is but A SMALL FRACTION WHO ARE TRULY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST: globally, only a remnant of people is genuinely saved.
• While the Body of Christ is primarily non-Jewish in nature, a small number of believing Jews are in the Body of Christ today. (But remember, Israel is spiritually blinded today according to Romans 11:25 and very few modern Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah/Lord).
• Why is it called “the Body of Christ?” I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians chapter 12 for the answer. In it, you will learn that the Body of Christ is similar to our physical human body. Just like our physical body has many “members” (hands, toes, feet, legs, arms), and a brain controlling them, the Body of Christ has many “members” (Christians with various spiritual gifts), all being directed by the Head, Christ Himself (see Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-24).
• Pastors and Bible teachers may be working for all to see (analogous to nose which is seen often, for instance): a lonely Christian widow praying at home is not seen by most (she is like a little toe that is often unnoticed, though still important).
• The Body of Christ is filled with believers to whom the Holy Spirit has imparted spiritual gifts—this EXCLUDES the sign gifts (tongues, healing, and prophesying, for instance) that were given to benefit unbelieving Israel in the early church. See Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28-31; Ephesians 4:11-12. What I want you to recognize is that these spiritual gifts are to be used to edify (lift up) the CHURCH, the assembly of believers—do not use your spiritual gift(s) to edify yourself in egotism.
• The Body of Christ has been promised SPIRITUAL blessings in the heavenly places, NOT material blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Members of the Body of Christ are “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). No one else in the Bible but the Body of Christ has been promised this! Israel was only promised material blessings, and here we are as Gentile believers in Christ being JOINT-HEIRS WITH GOD ALMIGHTY! WOW! What a privilege!
• Whenever the Body of Christ is complete (“the fullness of the Gentiles is come in;” Romans 11:25), and when that last believer is placed into the Body of Christ, the Church will be raptured. God can then pick up again with Israel’s prophetic program that He interrupted when He started the Dispensation of Grace by sending Paul to the Gentile world. The pre-Tribulation Rapture ensures that God’s mystery program with the Body of Christ does NOT mix with the prophetic program of Israel.

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