Sermon preached on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Selected Scripture.
I truly love the opportunity to preach & teach the Word of God. Today I am especially excited about speaking to you about the body of Christ.
The church is referred to many things in Scripture. It is said to be...
1. "one flock" - John 10:16
2. "God´s temple" - 1 Cor 3:16-17
3. "one new man" - Eph 2:15
4. "God´s household" - Eph 2:20
5. "a spiritual house" - 1 Pet 2:5
6. "a holy priesthood" - 1 Pet 2:5
7. "a chose race" - 1 Pet 2:9
8. "a royal priesthood" - 1 Pet 2:9
9. "a holy nation" - 1 Pet 2:9
10. "a people for God´s own possession" - 1 Pet 2:9
11. "the brotherhood" - 1 Pet 2:17
12. "the bride of Christ" - Rev 21:2, 9;22:17
In 1960 Paul Minear, in his book Images of the church in the New Testament, identified no less than ninety-six (96) images applied in the NT to the people of God. Interesting enough, 16 of those found in the first epistle of Peter.
Yet, the most distinctive metaphor for the church is THE BODY OF CHRIST. It is imperative to understand what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.
Let me put it this way: Without understanding the concept of the body of Christ, we will not know where we belong or who we really are.
Or: What is not properly understood cannot properly be applied.
It´s about our identity...as children of God we are the body of Christ. So sacred is this truth that Paul calls it "a great mystery."
Turn to Ephesians 5:32 -
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
There Paul is speaking of the union between a man & a woman in marriage (cf. v. 31 "for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh").
Marriage is said to be a reflection of the union between Christ & His church. This Paul says is a great mystery.
Calvin notes -
"...no language can explain fully what it implies."
It was not until the NT that the church came into being & was seen/understood for the first time - before that it was a mystery.
“Mystery” (Gr. μυστήριον) – refers to a secret, something that was hidden in the past but now revealed.
There are many mysteries, such as:
• “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:7–8),
• “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16),
• the mystery of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51),
• “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11),
• “the mystery of His [Christ’s] will” (Eph. 1:9),
• the mystery of Christ (Col. 2:2; 4:3),
• the mystery of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32),
• “the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19),
• the mystery of Christ in believers (Col. 1:27),
• “the mystery of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9),
• and several other mysteries mentioned in the book of Revelation (1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7).
But the most common mystery spoken of in the New Testament relates to God’s providing salvation for Gentiles as well as Jews, placing them in the same body, the body of Christ.
This is what I want to talk about today. I want us to understand this great mystery.
Now when I say the church, I am talking about the church as a whole, comprised of all believers from Pentecost & onward who are baptized into the body of Christ.
For that is when the church was launched comprising of both Gentiles and Jews. You might recall that Luke records in Acts 2:42-43 –
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
From that time onward it has been called the universal church or the invisible church. The Greek word for church is ἐκκλησία, which means “an assembly of called-out ones.” The church is made up of people who have been called by God to be His children or as the reformers would say, the invisible church is made up of the elect only.
Of this church, of this body Paul writes in Eph 4:3 –
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
This ONE TRUE invisible CHURCH is said to be the following:
It is said to be holy because its people are called to be distinct from the world.
It is said to be catholic because it includes true believers everywhere of every age from the apostles and onward (“catholic” simply means universal).
It is said to be apostolic because it was the apostles who played a foundational role in the building of the church. We know that Jesus is the both the foundation and the head of the church, but Paul makes it clear in Eph 2:20 that “God’s household” has been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”
*What’s sad is that when you do not see the unity with Christ and other Christians there is only schisms; where there is no holiness, there is only sham religion [cheap falseness]; where there is no catholic faith, there is only apostasy; where it is not apostolic, there is a lack of biblical truth.
When these elements are extinct then there is no Church of Christ/God. This is why the leaders of the Reformation labored in love to revive & restore the medieval church back to its origin.
It is this household of God that we want to discuss this morning. Though there are many metaphors for the church in the NT. I want to take time to develop this understanding of the church as the body of Christ.
The question I want to attempt to answer this morning is the following:
What does it mean to be a part of the body of Christ?
This is important! If you can know the answer to that question you will know your obligation as a member – not only to God but to each other.