'THE BODY, THE CHURCH"
ONE TRUE CHURCH
Present in the world today, just as it was in times past, there are to be found numerous religious organizations, institutions, denominations, assemblies, orders, sects, groups etc. Many consider themselves to be the only 'true' church in existence. We are told that their way alone is the right way, the best way or even the only way to salvation, to heaven, or to oneness with God. Some consider them -selves to be the only "chosen of God" who have the only true doctrines. These alone, are major factors which very often tend to cause division between these structures and sometimes even between individuals within these structures. In reality, these groups and even the people themselves are in many ways, bonded in unity of the flesh and not of the Spirit. All fleshly thinking and acting can only bring fleshly divisions, and in apparent contradistinction, division always returns again to patch itself in fleshly unity.
We see man with his own efforts and his carnal doctrines, constantly trying to build the one 'true church.' He is every trying in his carnal thoughts and acts to bring about a lasting unity of both flesh and Spirit. Nevertheless, there is no denying that there remains division everywhere in the church world of today.
Most Christians know however, that the Christian Bible speaks of an ideal church, a wholly unified church, ONE CHURCH BODY that is the only true church of the Creator of heaven and earth. Is any one of these particular divided segments of bodies of peoples the only true church which the Bible reveals is in existence today? If so, where is it? Who belongs to it? These are answerable questions whose true answers are be found in the basic biblical revelation of the universal "BODY OF CHRIST." We will begin to search these things out from a Christian perspective by laying down a solid foundation of scripture whereon the building of the true church can be found.
THE TRUE CHURCH'S FOUNDATION
Few are the ones who truly understand that there can never be any carnal division in the real makeup of the true church, nor has there ever been in the past -1Cor. 9:18; chptr.3. The true church has always been one in the Spirit of God...united by the Spirit...yet ironically, divided by the ever present reality of the carnal and fleshly mind. Few there be who understand that God's true church is an eternal, universal, and basically heavenly entity. It is a growing spiritual body, an organism whose outer visible makeup consists of all persons, both living and passed on, that have acknowledged and experienced their personal salvation through the revelation of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ - Ro. chapter. 8; Ro.10:9, 10.
Few are they who understand...that when Jesus prayed that they might all be part of the one undivided body (Jn. chptr.17), His prayers have already been answered. If only man could realize that it is this true spiritual union that really matters and that any unity in the flesh and of the flesh, matters little. Armed with this knowledge, he would better be able to peaceably keep this true "unity of the Spirit" (Eph.4:3), which in actuality has also never been apart from the true "unity of the faith." Eph. 4:13. So, all those of any denomination or otherwise who have a true union with God through their revelation of a personal salvation in Christ, make up the one true united church. Though man may separate himself from fellow Christians' in his natural preferences and loyalties, choosing one church building or denomination over another or even no building nor denomination at all, he is nevertheless, an integral part of the exact same "church."
Few also are they who really understand what Jesus meant when He told Peter, "I will build MY CHURCH, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Mat.16:18. The truth is, hell's gates have not prevailed, nor can they ever prevail against this church. Notice, He didn't say churches. When Jesus spoke of "MY CHURCH", He could only have been speaking of the one true "church of God." 1Cor.10:32; Col.1:13. He also said that He, not carnal men, would build it. The Rock He mentioned was clearly speaking of the basic revelation of Himself being seen by men as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt.16:16), "the chief Cornerstone" (1Ptr.2:6; Eph.2:20), even the "foundation" (Eph.2:20; 1Cor.3:11) upon which the whole true "church" would be built - Isa.28:16. Here then began the true one world church! For those of you who are waiting for a "one world" church to yet be formed; the truth is, it's already here!
From the foregoing, we can begin to see that the true church of God being built, must be something more than a natural, physical, man-made thing. We will discover it is not limited, & cannot be limited to any one religious fellowship nor church body, that like unto all others has been organized & built upon in any part by carnal man. The true church supersedes any human organization & transcends all denominations, all sectarianism and all racism. Above all else, this ONE true church is a divine spiritual organization that includes ALL MEN EVERYWHERE in whom God in His sovereign wisdom & timing has chosen to activate the power of His salvation through the "Lord of all" (Ac.10:36; Gal.4:1), even He who "is the Saviour of all men" (1Tim.4:10), "our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."2Ptr.3:18.
This power of and for salvation comes not at all through man's own reasoning but originates from God sovereignly and supernaturally "through the revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal.1:12; 1Cor.2:7-16. Unless Christ is divinely revealed unto Him by the power of God, man in his carnal and spiritually depraved nature is hostile to God - Ro.8:7. No man can know the things of God except the Spirit of God first be given him that he might know - 1Cor.2:11-14.
No wonder the Bible says "there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are ALL gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good.."Ro.3:9-20. Man is born totally dead in trespass and sin - Eph.2:1-3. He is trapped and bound in inherent disobedience, unrighteousness, sin and death (Ro.chptrs. 5-7). He has no power of himself to effect his escape, his salvation. Oh, he has self-will you say? Know ye not that self-will is nothing more than will of the fallen carnal self. It is the opposite of God's will. Therefore, any power must first be imparted from Him. Only then is man enabled to receive it and believe it - Jn.1:12,13; 3:27; 6:29, 44, 65.
Man's tradition says we cannot receive initial salvation unless we first believe. The Bible teaches man cannot believe in salvation unless he first receives. Prideful man teaches his ultimate destiny is in his own choices. In other words, it all comes down to chance. However, the Bible teaches it is solely in the power and the choice of God. Despite carnal man's belief that the ultimate size and the growth of the Lord's universal church is the result of man's own choices, the Lord says , "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH" (Matt.16:18) and He in no way is bound nor even hindered in bringing it to completion - Isa.43:13; Ro.9:11-23; 11:32,36; Eph.1:9-11; Isa.46:9-11 etc.
Most of the true church yet believes that God planned and willed that all men be saved. But then in a moment of utter foolishness, contrary to His own will, He turned the responsibility and execution of His plan over to man, thus ensuring for eternity that His will would never be carried out and that most of His work would be for nought. Here we have a supposedly absolute omnipotent, omniscient, Sovereign and Almighty Saviour God who entrusts His divine desires, will and work to a fallen creation, thus for the most part, defeating His own purposes and guaranteeing major ineffectiveness of the blood of Christ. Then the church has the audacity to sing "Amazing grace" and "How Great Thou Art." All the while, they have no idea nor any understanding of the truly amazing scope and absolute power of His exceeding great salvation and grace!
The tradition of men in the natural, fleshly divided church, has on the whole made the true word of God of non effect not only in their minds but in their lives as well. Yet amazingly, even this does not hinder God at all from working His absolute and ultimate will in order to complete His divine counsel and purposes in all the earth - Psa.135:6; 33:10-11; Prv.19:21.
For all those who profess to believe that the Bible is the inspirited word of God, is it so hard to believe that "THE CHURCH OF GOD" presently consists of a divinely specified group; a general assembly of diverse individuals which includes people of all races & creeds? Yes, this one true church of which we speak is according to biblical revelation, made up strictly of "THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS, called to be SAINTS with ALL THAT IN EVERY PLACE CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.." 1Cor.1:2; Ac.2:39. In this calling God is neither respecter of a persons character nor of his nationality - Ro.2:11; Ac.10:34-36. The "church" or "ecclesia" as it is called in the Greek language, denotes "a calling out"...a religious congregation, an assembly of chosen individuals divinely ordained (Ac.13:48), called by the Spirit of God to come apart from the powers of darkness in spiritual death. Simply put, any state of being apart from the Spirit of life in Christ abides in a form of spiritual death.
These elect individuals are called to come into redemptive light & life through revelation of Christ Jesus their Lord - Co.1:13,14. These are being progressively saved through grace which is present in the reception of divine faith (Eph.2:8,9; Ro.10:9,10) having been redeemed "from the power of darkness" (Col.1:13) through Christ's precious blood (1Ptr.1:18,19; Col.1:14)) unto eternal life (Jn.3:16) in "the kingdom of His dear Son." Col.1:14. There is only one true church, namely "THE CHURCH OF GOD which He hath purchased with his own blood. "Ac. 20:28. This true WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD is not at all referring to any one earthly denomination.
The Bible reveals the true church to consist not only of many individual gatherings & local assemblies of BELIEVING BLOOD WASHED SAINTS (Ac.11:22; 14:23; Ro.16:5; 1Cor.4:17 etc.), but it also clearly shows THIS CHURCH AS A WHOLE to be A SINGULAR yet CORPORATE COLLECTION of individuals - Eph.3:10; Ac. 20:28. The Lord has continued to add to & build upon this church daily - Ac.2:47; 1Cor.12:28. It was this scattered many membered CHURCH OF BELIEVING SAINTS which Saul at one time persecuted - 1Cor.15:9; Gal.1:13.
The word of God further reveals to those who have eyes to see, that since Christ's death and resurrection, this corporate human entity called "the church" is really only the lower earthly manifestation of a great & mysterious INVISIBLE CHURCH --a corporeal SPIRITUAL CHURCH BODY which is likened unto one glorious individual's body, THE BODY OF CHRIST. In General, it is a mysterious and supernatural body dwelling in both the realm of heaven & the realm of earth. The scriptures speak of it as being ONE BODY & ONE CHURCH. The fact that Christ's visible BODY here on earth is the one true CHURCH (Co1:18,24), is a great spiritual truth that needs to be seen by all God's children. We will look at this and confirm it through God's word in several ways.
THE HOUSE OF GOD
This true 'CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, the pillar & ground of the truth" (1Tim.3:15) is also ascribed certain other names such as "THE HOUSE OF GOD". "A SPIRITUAL HOUSE" (1Ptr.2:5; 2Cor.5:1, 2) even that church & building of Christ "WHOSE HOUSE WE ARE" (Heb.3:6) both individually & corporately.
Through Christ only, "We both [Jew & Gentile--all nations, all men] have access by ONE SPIRIT UNTO THE FATHER" (Eph.2:8), being made "fellowheirs of THE SAME BODY [Christ's]" (Eph.3:6) & also "fellowcitizens WITH THE SAINTS, & OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD...in WHOM ALL THE BUILDING fitly FRAMED TOGETHER (Ezk.40:2) groweth unto AN HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord: IN whom YE also are BUILDED TOGETHER (Eph.4:16) for AN HABITATION OF GOD THROUGH THE SPIRIT." Eph.2:19-22; 1Cor.3:9, 10.
"Christ is not entered into "THE HOLY PLACES MADE WITH HANDS" (Heb. 9:24), nor into "TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS" (Ac.7:48; 17:24) but "into "A GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE" Heb.9:11. He has entered into His creation of man and it is here that he shall dwell for ever more - 2Cor.6:16.
Truly, if you believe this word then "YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST which is IN YOU" (1Cor.6:19; 3:16), & you have become on of the members of the new spiritual "HOUSE OF ISRAEL" (Ezk.34:30; 36:22-29), even a member of the Spirit filled "BODY OF CHRIST" (1Cor.12:27) that now is also called "THE WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL." Ezk.37:11. It is written that the former "house of Judah shall walk with THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL and THEY SHALL COME TOGETHER.." (Jer.3:18) to become THE WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, ONE NEW BODY, ONE NEW MAN, ONE NEW NATION IN CHRIST.
The old or "former" house of Israel has become desolate (Matt.23:38), as devoid of the Lord's indwelling Spirit of life as that of any unsaved Gentile. The "LATTER HOUSE" (Hag.2:9) which in truth is also the holy city, the body and the bride of Christ, is the only house God has chosen to fill with all His glory - Hag.2:7; Isa.60:7.
The present HOUSEHOLD OF GOD" (Eph.2:19) is also the one & only "Israel of God" (Gal.5:16) even "the church of God" wherein He now dwells through the Spirit. We shall further see the revelation of this same household as "the city", "the body" & the "bride of Christ."
Centuries ago, the city of Babel was a type of the people being united in their attempt to build a city whose builder & maker was obviously not God. The old city became a symbol of all religious attempts to be of one mind & one accord - Gen. 11:1-9. There is only one holy city in heaven & earth which has eternal foundation & whose builder & maker is God - Heb.11:10. This is not a natural earthly city. It is spiritual. ALL the houses & temples of it being constructed TOGETHER IN THE SPIRIT, make up "THE CITY of the living God, the HEAVENLY [spiritual] JERUSALEM...THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY & CHURCH of the firstborn which are written (Lk.10:20) in heaven." Heb.12:22, 23.
This heavenly church is also known as "the holy flock...of Jerusalem (Ezk.36:38; 35:31) the "HOLY PEOPLE, THE REDEEMED of the Lord" who are that unforsaken newly descended CITY (Isa.62:12; Matt.5:14; Rev.21:9,10), even "that GREAT CITY, THE HOLY JERUSALEM (Rev.21:10) which is slowly but surely being built by the Holy Spirit of God in the earth.
The true church, as individual heavenly & earthly houses (2Cor.5:1-4) & temples (Ac.7:48) are now the place of God's sanctuary - Isa.60:13. Collectively, they are referred to as "THE CITY OF THE LORD" (Isa.60:14) & "THE CITY OF TRUTH" Zec.8:3. The redeemed "FELLOWCITIZENS" & "fellowheirs" of this great city of truth, are in these New Testament times, the true holy city & the true heirs of the Lord. This CITY, this GENERAL ASSEMBLY, this CHURCH, is also known as "THE CHURCH which is HIS BODY, the fullness of Him who fills ALL IN ALL--for IN THAT BODY lives the full measure of HIM WHO MAKES EVERYTHING COMPLETE, & WHO FILLS EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE." Eph.1:23; 1Cor.15:28.[Amplif.]
HIS NEW BODY OF FLESH AND BONE
The "GENERAL ASSEMBLY" or "CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN" is as alive & present today as is He who is "the universal & SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH." Eph.1:22 [Amplif.]. Look at it like this. If ONE died for ALL MEN, then in a sense, they all died - 2Cor.5:14. Now, because He has come forth from death in newness of life, a NEW SPIRITUAL BODY, even THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN has risen TOGETHER WITH HIM as partakers of His life - Col.2:12, 13.
"He that liveth & was dead" (Rev.1:18), the first One of the new church who "was dead & is alive" (Rev.2:8) is our leader & head. "Jesus Christ ... is the faithful witness & THE FIRST BEGOTTEN [BORN] FROM THE DEAD.." Rev.1:5; Heb.1:5, 6; Ac.13:33. Yes, "HE IS THE HEAD [King, leader, ruler, master] of THE BODY, THE CHURCH who is the beginning...THE FIRSTBORN from the dead" (Col.1:18), and believe it or not, He is also "THE FIRSTBORN of EVERY CREATURE." Co1:15; 2Cor.5:17.
In this dispensation, Christ is the first of many firstborn - Ro.8:29. Christ is "the firstfruits" (1Cor.15:20, 23) of every "kind of firstfruits of His creatures." Jas.1:18; Rev.14:4. The church shall not be experientially COMPLETE until ALL OF HUMANITY who where spiritually dead are made alive again in Christ (1Cor. 15:22, 23; Ro.5:18, 19) through first (Ro.8:21-23) being "BORN of the Spirit" [Grk. generated from above] (Jn. chptr. 3) thereby becoming "A NEW CREATURE ALTOGETHER." 2Cor.5:17 [Amplified]. "And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose--the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind OF RESTORING THE WHOLE CREATION TO FIND ITS ONE HEAD IN CHRIST." Eph.1:9, 10. [Wey].
In the following scriptures we see even clearer pictures of the TRUE CHURCH BODY with Christ as its preeminent FIGUREHEAD. Eph.5:23 says, "the husband is the HEAD of the wife, even as CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH: and He is the Saviour of THE BODY." Yes, "Christ ...loved THE CHURCH and gave Himself for it "(Eph. 5:25) to save it and cleanse it. As part of all those who in varying degrees and divers manners are being saved and washed by the blood of the Lamb and the clear water of the word, "WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY, of His flesh [the parts which are external and visible] and of His bones" (Eph.5:30), that foundational structure of His spiritual body in the heavens which is internal and invisible.
Just as the Bible says we all have an individual physical body [an "outward man"- 2Cor.4:16] joined unto an individual spiritual body ["the inward man", the spirit]... which when lumped together with all other individuals, makes up ONE NATURAL BODY OF HUMANITY....So also THE CHURCH is composed of many natural bodies whose sum total together form ONE CORPORATE SPIRIT BODY. Hence we read, "He that is joined unto the Lord is ONE SPIRIT." 1Cor.6:17.
Man's spirit becomes divinely infused in the essence and nature of God's Holy Spirit becoming an integral part of our Lord's glorious new body. Each new Christian could be likened unto a new living cell in this growing body with each having a specific set place in a part of this body; both the place and the function determined by God. This is based on the principle of 1Cor.12:18.
There is truly a divine fusion of flesh and spirit in the individual (Ezk.37:14) as well as in the collective BODY (Ezk.37:10) OF CHRIST - Ezk.37:1-14. In like manner that Christ took on a new kind of body of flesh and bone (Lk.24) after resurrection and ascension, so in a spiritual sense have the chosen ones of "Israel" become a newly created body, bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh....THE [female part of the] BODY OF CHRIST - Gen. chptr.2. This new body in perfect union with His "help meet" [like unto His Spirit with our soul] have in New Test. times, become "ONE STICK", "ONE NATION", "ONE KINGDOM" under the headship of ONE SHEPHERD KING AND ONE EVERLASTING COVENANT - Ezk.37:16-28.
Ezk. chptr. 37 is among other things, a spiritual picture of the former BODY OF ISRAEL which rejected the body and life of Christ and now contains "dead man's bones." Matt.23:27. There is no life of Christ in them. Some of these bones being first brought together to form the foundational structure of a new body, were a picture of the disciples, apostles and prophets of the early church - Eph.2:20. After "breath" [the life of the Holy Spirit] came into them (Ezk. 37:10; Jn.20:21), the rest of the body [the flesh] then began to be added - Ac.2:47. Together, they formed ONE NEW BODY, THE BODY OF CHRIST which as "an exceeding great army" was raised up to withstand the powers of darkness - Eph.6:11 -18. Now, like unto natural blood, the Holy Spirit within them brings life and cleansing to this --THE BODY OF CHRIST.
MEMBERS OF ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT
It is evident that THE BODY OF CHRIST IS ONE UNDIVIDED BODY even as the Father and Son in oneness of their holy Spirit, TOGETHER ARE ONE GOD but yet are different members in particular. If you are truly members of the true church, then "YE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST and members in particular." 1Cor.12:27. Likewise, "We being many, are ONE BODY IN [and also of] CHRIST, AND EVERYONE members ONE OF ANOTHER." Ro.12:5; 1Cor.10:17.
Brethren, there is but ONE BODY AND ONE TRUE CHURCH and it is only "BY ONE SPIRIT are WE ALL baptized into ONE BODY ...and have been made ALL to drink into ONE SPIRIT." 1Cor.12:13.
Indeed, "there is ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT...ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM" (Eph.4:4, 5) even a spiritual immersion whereby one becomes a member in particular of this ONE BODIED CHURCH of which we speak. It was this supernatural spiritual experience of initial salvation to which Jesus was primarily referring when he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mk.16:16. Once the Spirit initiates the salvation process, there are diversities of gifts and there are diversities of operations and differences of administrations and manifestations of God's Spirit. But, it is ONE AND THE SAME SPIRIT given to all believing brethren - 1Cor.12:4-11.
ALL ARE MEMBERS OF ONE BODY
Again, we see THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH likened unto the human body. This truly is a UNITED CHURCH. "For as the [human] body is one [singular entity] and hath many members [arms, legs, organs etc.] and ALL the members of that ONE BODY, being many, ARE ONE BODY: so also [it] is [with] Christ." 1Cor.12:12; Song 6:9. "By means of the personal agency of ONE HOLY SPIRIT we are ALL whether Jew or Greek, slaves or free, baptized [and by baptism UNITED TOGETHER] INTO ONE BODY, and ALL made to drink of ONE HOLY SPIRIT." 1Cor.12:13 [Amplif].
It is plain to see the true BODY OF CHRIST does not consist only of a few "elite" or special members of the ecclesia as some do wrongly believe and teach. Nor does it consist only of one specific church organization. This ONE BODY scripturally includes ALL the member of the ONE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH---and that church is not the Catholic Church nor the Protestant Church nor any of its divided denominations. Neither is it the Mormon Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Watch Tower Society nor any other earthly religious organization. "FOR THE BODY [OF CHRIST] is not [merely composed of] ONE MEMBER [one man, one earthly organization nor just a few exclusive members], but MANY." 1Cor.12:14; Heb.2:10.
Also, as the ONE TRUE CHURCH, "your bodies are the members of Christ." 1Cor.6:15. As individuals born of the Spirit, regardless of whether you attend "church" or not, you collectively become THE CHURCH, even the earthly BODY OF CHRIST. Whether one is a so called member of a church or not, has nothing to do with his real blood bought membership in the true church of God.
When we talk about the true church, the real church, "THE BODY IS OF CHRIST" (Col.2:17), & not in any way of man. As in the natural body "there are certainly limbs and organs, but A SINGLE BODY." 1Cor.12:20 [Amplif]. As individual members and brethren of this great & mystical universal Christian church, "Ye are CALLED IN ONE BODY" (Col.3:15) being "RECONCILED unto God IN ONE BODY by the cross." Eph.2:16. "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are ALL OF ONE: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb.2:11.
A FEMALE BODY
The true church of Christ in New Testament biblical imagery portrays the body of Christ in the female gender. This church is described as a spiritual woman and wife, appearing as a great wonder (Rev.12:1); Eph.5:30-32) who is pregnant with child. This woman is none other than the true BRIDE OF CHRIST and "HE that hath the bride is the bridegroom." Jn.3:29; Ro.7:4. In the Spirit realm, Christ the bridegroom has chosen this New Testament woman to share in nuptial union, to be ONE FLESH WITH HIM in the full consummation of that marriage - Eph.5:30, 31. In the natural realm, when a woman marries a man, she becomes one flesh with him upon consummation - Gen.24. So it is in the spirit.
Beloved of the Lord, the wedding day has come. The first divine union of Christ's Spirit with man's spirit in the process of biblical salvation is known as "the marriage of the Lamb." Rev.19:7; Jer.3:14-17. Actually, the marriage takes place in three realms and in three stages involving man's spirit, soul, and finally his body.
Speaking of His church, God reveals that He has espoused a pregnant virgin "to ONE HUSBAND" "that I may present you as A CHASTE [pure, clean, perfect] VIRGIN TO Christ." 2Cor.11:2; Isa.62:45. Not merely a virgin but a chaste virgin. He continually admonished His wayward church to "Turn, O backsliding children...for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU . He is married in perfect undefiled union with His bride's spirit. He is now perfecting union with her soul so that His glorious Spirit also becomes joined in a perfect marriage relationship unto a new and glorified body. 2Cor.1:10 and 1Ths.5:23 reflect this principle.
The New Testament "children of the living God" (Ro.9:26) are the "heirs of God, and JOINT heirs with Christ (Ro.8:17) in His living spiritual body. This present day body is also the CHURCH, THE WOMAN, THE BRIDE, THE Lamb's WIFE - Rev.21:9, 10. The scriptures are clear. She is progressively being "prepared" and increasingly made manifest "as a BRIDE adorned [beauty filled & decorated] for her husband." Rev.21:2. She is being sanctified and cleansed of soulish impurities, that eventually He might present a firstfruit remnant of this woman's BODY "to Himself, A GLORIOUS CHURCH, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing." Eph. 5:26, 27.
The Lord is looking for chaste virgins; wise virgins (Matt.25:1-13) who are undefiled and are without fault that they might be the first to inherit the full nature and authority of Christ - Rev.14:4, 5. When the appointed time comes where Christ determines that "His wife hath made herself ready" (Rev.19:7), only then will she be full term, read to give birth to a pure and perfect body that shall come forth in the likeness and image of Christ Himself - 1Jn.3:2,3; 1Cor.3:18; 4:10,11; 7:1.
THE WOMAN WITH CHILD
Here we see another picture of the same thing. In analogy unto Christ in man as his individual hope of glory (Col.1:27), there is a hidden body being formed within the womb of the present BODY OF THE CHURCH - Gal.4:19; Phil.3:21; Ro.8:29; Isa.66:7-9. Though only one [the woman, the church] is presently visible in the earth, the two are of ONE BODY and ONE SPIRIT.
The past and present day church is likened unto a travailing virgin who carries an unborn MALE CHILD in her womb. This Son's Spirit & body has been growing in stature in the womb of the mind and is almost ready to be birthed--to be made manifest to the earth as the PERFECTED FULLY FORMED BODY OF CHRIST. Just as the virgin Mary carried the male Christ child who was developing within her body before as well as after her marriage still hidden from most of the world...so is this present day A SPIRITUAL WOMAN, the new BRIDE and WIFE of Christ, THE CHURCH, also carrying a hidden new creation as part of her own body.
In a secondary fulfillment of Matt.1:23, there is presently an unborn body, a holy Son still hidden within the midst of the travailing church. In the fullness of time, this new male child through a coming resurrection and ascension, shall be fully birthed ["born again"] made mainifest in the earth as a glorious, mature corporate son of God - Ro.8:19-23. At this time, not just one Son but "many sons" shall be brought forth in the full glory of their firstborn brother and captain, the Lord Jesus Christ - Heb.2:10; 2Ths.1:10-12.
Actually, not only the church, but also the whole creation is in travail unknowingly awaiting the soon arrival of this perfect male child..a mature body of sons supernaturally conceived and brought forth from the woman with child, the one and only true church in the earth today.
Truly, God is creating in and of Himself IN HIS BODY "ONE NEW MAN", ONE new expression of Himself so making peace - Eph.2:15. Therefore brethren, continue to "PUT ON THE NEW MAN which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" for we are all members of His body and "members one of another." Eph.4:24, 25. As yet, "the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not....It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when HE shall appear , we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." 1Jn.3:2.
A MAN CHILD
"THE WOMAN WHICH WAS READY TO BE DELIVERED...brought forth a MAN CHILD, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up [in glory and in authority] unto God and His throne." Rev.12:4, 5.
Unlike the woman, this new body of the Son of God and the son of man but which actually is OF THE SAME BODY AS THE WOMAN, shall begin to rule (Rev.5:10) "as A PERFECT MAN" (Eph.4:13) with the "King of kings" as his captain, his head. This NEWLY FORMED BODY shall have developed "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Eph.4:13.
They shall begin their kingdom reign in the midst of the temple of His [church] body (Rev.3:12), ministering great works (Jn.14:12) with the supreme authority and power granted of Christ - Rev.2:26,27; Psa.2:8,9; 149:4-9; Dan.7:27 etc. This shall be the divine privilege not of the present CHURCH, WOMAN, BRIDE, which is of spiritual FEMALE gender, but shall be of the Holy Spirit's gender, Christ's MALE gender, after the order and pattern of divine spiritual authority - Eph.5:23.
The Spirit takes precedent over the soul and in godly fusion the two become one. As it is brought into birth or manifestation by the soul, it is the Spirit that takes its rightful place in rule over the body and the soul. Therefore, in type, it is not HER that overcometh but "HIM that overcometh" (Rev.3:21; 21:7) and loved not his own life, but only His Lord's until death - Rev.12:11; Matt.24:13; Heb.11:4, 5, 35.
Those who make up the body of the woman [church] now are only complete IN the fullness of CHRIST who "is the HEAD of all principality & powers." Col.1:20. Soon another part of the body of Christ shall come forth in fulness of birth, this time manifesting Himself in a many membered BODY OF SONS, full of His power and glory. Yet the two, the woman and her newly birthed son, shall ever be of ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT, ONE FAMILY as they fulfill their divine calling and destiny. We know THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH, is made up of individual bodies, yet they are ever joined in an eternal spiritual union as ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT. So it is also with the married woman and her corporate manchild.
Whether male or female, we see the two genders "IN CHRIST are ONE AND THE SAME SPIRIT and they are of THE SAME SPIRITUAL BODY. In analogy, the whole human race in its fallen state likened unto a harlot woman, even "mystery Babylon", can also be seen as ONE BODY, ONE FLESH and consequently, ONE SPIRIT - 1Cor.6:16. In much the same manner as the first created Adamic body, the natural body whether male or female, becomes JOINED AS ONE FLESH (Gen.2:24; Eph.5:31)...so the second man Adam body [the married male and female BODY OF CHRIST] is JOINED AS ONE SPIRIT, even ONE SPIRITUAL BODY elected of Christ.
AN ELECT BODY
Out of the old Adamic nature is birthed & brought forth in the salvation of Christ, a new soul, a new spiritual nature. Likewise, out of the old woman, the former mother of Israel, even THE CHURCH OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (Ac.7:48), there has been birthed a new daughter. We see the Spirit of the Bridegroom expressing His love towards her saying, "My dove, my undefiled is BUT ONE; She is THE ONLY ONE of her mother, she is THE CHOICE ONE of her that bare her" (Song. 6:9) and she is now Christ's only beloved - Song.6:3. Though He has divorced (Isa.50:1) the woman of the Old Testament[Israel, the flesh], the New Testament offspring [the children of God; church; body, woman, the soul] has been dvinely impregnated with His own Holy Spirit to become the ONE SEED He has chosen to live within and for ever love - Gal.3:13-29; Heb.13:5.
Who is this offspring, this new woman elected by Christ to become His beloved wife? This "new creature" (Gal.4:15), even this new creation body and nature that has replaced the old, is none other than the only "TRUE ISRAEL OF GOD" (Gal.4:16 Amplif.) whom God refers to as "MY PEOPLE ISRAEL." Matt.2:6. She [her collective body] was formerly known by the Lord as "ISRAEL MINE ELECT." Isa.45:4; 48:12; 65:9, 22. However, this natural, worldly woman "ISRAEL AFTER THE FLESH " (1Cor.10:18) was divorced and [mired still only in Old Testament ways and understanding], purposely cut off as the only chosen nation from seeing the realities and the fulfillment of many of God's promises - Ro. chptr. 11.
Since the promised Messiah has risen from the dead, "they are NOT ALL ISRAEL WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL....that is they which are THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH [natural descendants] THESE ARE NOT [now any longer] THE CHILDREN OF GOD [no longer the true Israel of God after the promise IF they have not become new creations, born from above into the ONE NEW spiritual NATION [body, woman] of Israel - Ro.2:28, 29] BUT THE CHILDREN OF PROMISE ARE - Ro.9:8; Ac.13:32, 33.
Only these new creations born of the new covenant are the true Israel of God. "For the promise was not to Abraham or his [natural offspring] seed through the law, but [rather] through the righteousness of faith" (Ro.4:13) which is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. Now, "YE ARE ALL OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS...and if ye be Christ's [only] then are ye [counted as] Abraham's seed, and [are] heirs according to the promise." Gal.4:26-29. Christ has become the mediator of "a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Heb. 8:6-13; 9:15.
We find that Paul was an apostle of Christ "according to THE FAITH OF GOD'S ELECT in the hope of ETERNAL LIFE...promised before the world began." Tit.1:1, 2. He did not serve Christ because he was an ELECT ISRAELITE. He served Him because he was elected and justified, not through any faith that originated from him, but only "by THE FAITH OF [from] JESUS CHRIST" whereby he was chosen to see "light from heaven"(Ac.9:3) and believe - Gal.2:16; 3:22; Phil.3:9. Saul [Paul], like all who have been granted faith to believe, was chosen and elected by God to be adopted into the body of Christ before the foundation of the world - Eph.1:4-7. So we now can see how "it is OF FAITH [even from the gift of faith that originates in Christ] that it might be BY GRACE." Ro.4:16.
"So then at this present time also there is a remnant [of Christian believers, not by their own faith nor their own choice, but only] ACCORDING TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE." Ro.11:15. This must be so in order that "the purpose of God ACCORDING TO ELECTION might stand, not of works, but OF HIM THAT CALLETH [Grk. :elects]." Ro.9:11. "ISRAEL [all they of natural descent] hath not [at this present time] obtained that which He [she, they both] seeketh for [to be joint kingdom heirs with Christ according to the promise]; but THE ELECTION [those chosen unto salvation in Christ] hath obtained it [through divine grace and faith - Ro.2:8,9] and the rest were blinded [purposely not yet given of the Holy Spirit to see]." Ro.11:7; 2Cor.4:3-6.
THE ELECT CHURCH
It should be clearly evident that "the election" under the new covenant now has nothing specifically to do with the flesh descendants of natural Israel nor whether they keep the Old Testament laws and rituals or not. Nor does the term 'THE ELECT" specifically speak of any special select or particular chosen groups or individuals of the present true Israel of God - Jas.2:5; 1Cor.1:22-31. The word "ELECT" does mean select, chosen [by implication: favorite or favored] but in the Bible, always refers generally to "THE WOMAN", "THE BODY OF CHRIST", "THE CHURCH...[those] ELECTED TOGETHER WITH YOU." 1Ptr.5:13.
Again, we see the true CHURCH composed of ALL those who are THE ELECTION OF GOD. Paul said, "unto THE CHURCH...which is IN GOD the Father and IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST...knowing BRETHREN, BELOVED, YOUR ELECTION OF GOD." 1Ths.1:1-4. Again, it is not the religious Israelites nor Jews who are any longer the elect, but only those who had accepted Christ did Paul call "holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING." Heb.3:1. Peter addressed ALL THE CHURCH as the election. "BRETHREN, give diligence to make your CALLING and ELECTION sure." 2Ptr.1:10.
There is only ONE ELECT NATION, ONE ELECT BODY OF CHRIST. According to God's purposes, "the old things are passed away." 2Cor.5:1. They become lifeless things of the past in the light of new creation life in Christ. The Old Covenant has served its purpose, the nation of Israel served God's purposes but now in Christ, there has been a new election through faith. Peter spoke to his brethren that had "obtained like precious FAITH" (2Ptr.1:1) even "to the strangers scattered [Grk. --CHOSEN sojourners]....ELECT according to the foreknowledge of God (Eph.chptr. 1) through sanctification OF THE SPIRIT...and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ -1Ptr.1:1. The natural Jews or Israelites are no longer the "elect" except they become spiritual Jews or Israelites through Christ! Ro.2:28,29; 9:4-6; Gal.6:15; Gal.3:29; etc.
Peter addressed ALL people who were "being born again" (1Ptr.1:23) as "new born babes" (1Ptr.2:2), "CHOSEN [Grk. -ELECT] OF GOD and precious." 1Ptr.2:4. He called these same ones "a spiritual house" (1Ptr.2:3), "A CHOSEN [Grk.: ELECT] generation, "an holy NATION" (1Ptr.2:9), once again referring to true ISRAEL, the true CHURCH who now only are God's "sought out", "redeemed" and only "holy people." Isa.62:12. These truly are of another priesthood (Heb.7:11, 12) and "another tribe" (Heb.7:13) than the former, having become ONE BODY, ONE HOUSE, "ONE NATION" (Ezk.37:22) by being spiritually birthed into this new Israel of God, "the land of ISRAEL." Ezk.37:12.
ONE UNIVERSAL BODY
Presently, all who are yet "without Christ", be they Jew or be they Gentile, they are still "aliens from THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL and strangers from the covenants of promise." Eph.2:12. In New Testament times "NOW if ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, he is none of His." Ro.8:9. Whether Jew or Gentile, it matters not. He is not yet of the elect household of God. He is still a stranger and a foreigner and not a fellowcitizen together with the saints - Eph.2:19.
"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." Ro.8:11. "If ye then be risen with Christ...ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When CHRIST WHO IS OUR [new] LIFE SHALL APPEAR, THEN SHALL YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY... Put on AS THE ELECT OF GOD...charity which is the bond of PERFECTNESS. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also YE ARE CALLED IN ONE BODY." Col.3:1-15.
Ye who are of this perfect BODY, "Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old [unregenerate] SELF with the new [SPIRITUAL SELF] which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect] knowledge after the image [the likeness] of Him who created it (Gen.1:26). [In this NEW CREATION all distinctions vanish]; there is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whither alien] barbarians or Scythians [who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man but Christ is all and in all--everything and everywhere, to all men, WITHOUT DISTINCTION OF PERSON." Col.3:10,11 (Amplif.).
We see in conclusion that "as many of you that have been baptized INTO CHRIST have PUT ON CHRIST. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, THERE IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE: FOR YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS."Gal.3:28. The CHURCH is really only ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT. God's universal CALLING of persons in INITIAL ELECTION UNTO SALVATION is unto ALL (Isa.45:22; 2Cor.5:14, 15; 1Tim.2:4; 4:10) and the wondrous truth is: EVERY person's election unto life in Christ is made evident in different periods of time - 1Cor.15:22, 23; 1Tim.2:6; Ac.13:48; Jude 4; Eph.1:1-13.
Christ "IS the Saviour of ALL men" 1Tim.4:10. It's not that He merely desires to be, hopes to be or potentially could be. Whether men believe it now or not, the truth is...HE "IS" THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN! It is not a matter of conjecture, it is a simple matter of fact. Human salvation is wrought entirely through His work, through His power through His death, through His resurrection, through His life; through His blood, through His Spirit , through His grace, through His faith; through His choice, His election, His will.
According "to the praise of the glory of His grace", Christ has "before the foundation of the world", "purposed in Himself" that all those He died for be predestinated "unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ", "being predestinated according to the purpose of Him, who worketh ALL THINGS after the COUNSEL of HIS OWN WILL" and "according to the good PLEASURE of His will." Eph. 1:1-12. Can the clay nullify the work of the Potter? Ro. chptr. 9. Many in the church still seem to think so! But the Lord saith, "I am God, and there is none like me, DECLARING THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, and from ancient times THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT YET DONE; saying, MY COUNSEL SHALL STAND, and I WILL DO ALL MY PLEASURE...yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I HAVE PURPOSED IT, I WILL ALSO DO IT." Isa.46:9-11. Let God be true and every man a liar!
In "the dispensation of the fullness of times" (Eph.1:10) wherein remains and abides "the dispensation of the grace of God" (Eph.3:2; 1Cor.9:17), even His "everlasting gospel" (Rev.14:6), Christ speaking of His death , resurrection and ascension promised He "WILL draw ALL men" unto Himself - Jn.12:32. Christ, "WILL have ALL men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1Tim.2:4. The results of His ransom for all will be testified to and made evident IN DUE TIME - 1Tim.2:6; 1Cor.15:22, 23. But for now, the truth of salvation is especially being made manifest and evident in those who are the firstfruit believers - 1Tim.4:10; 1Cor.15:22-28.
For centuries, many servants have been going into the world, preaching the gospel of salvation - Mk.16:15. But, we see that even though "many are called...few are CHOSEN" [ELECTED] (Matt.22:14) of God during that time. Their appointed time for election into the true church simply has not yet come. Fewer yet there be of the firstfuit earthly elect body that are "called, chosen and faithful." Rev.17:14; Psa. 132:12.
THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST'S BODY
At this present time, there are actually TWO BODIES in the earth. One is ungodly, the other godly and holy. The antichrist HARLOT WOMAN of worldly Babylon (Rev. 17) and the holy, godly woman of spiritual ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM WHICH IS ABOVE who in allegory is a mother who gives birth and new life to all - Gal.4:26. At an appointed time in the ages to come, there shall survive but ONE WOMAN, ONE BODY for God hath divinely purposed and ordained to be no less than "ALL in ALL." 1Cor.15:28.
The true light of God (Jn.1:9) will radiate its light of truth in its many forms of glory within the completed many membered body, even the WHOLE of humanity - 1Cor.15:22. The old creation Adamic body of former humanity will be no more. The unregenerate soul and all she has brought forth, death included, will be swallowed and destroyed in the more abundant grace and life of Christ...her redeemed creation becoming an integral part of HIS WIFE, HIS CHURCH "which is HIS BODY, THE FULNESS OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL."Eph.1:23.
Beloved, seeing these things, let us work toward this glorious goal. "Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him, who is the Head, [even] Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed ONE. For because of Him, THE WHOLE BODY [THE CHURCH, in all its various parts closely] JOINED AND FIRMLY KNIT TOGETHER by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], GROWS TO FULL MATURITY; building itself up in love." Eph.4:15,16 [Amplif.]
"Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind---having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude; and put on THE NEW NATURE [THE REGENERATED SELF] created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and done now with it, let everyone express THE TRUTH with his neighbor, FOR WE ARE ALL PARTS OF ONE BODY and MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER." Eph.4:23-25 [Amplif..]. We all who have experienced the power of God unto our salvation are "firstfruits" of "THE BODY, THE CHURCH" of Him who is the reason ALL THINGS in the universe consist and hold together as they do - Col.1:17, 18.
"For this reason [because I preached that you are THUS BUILDED TOGETHER], I Paul, am the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake and on behalf of you Gentiles. Assuming that you have heard of...God's grace...and how the mystery [secret] was made known unto me...by direct revelation..When you read this you can understand ...[This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles [consecrated messengers] and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit.
[It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], MEMBERS OF THE SAME BODY, and joint partakers [sharing] IN THE SAME DIVINE PROMISE IN CHRIST through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings [the gospel]. Of this [gospel] I was made a minister...to proclaim...THE UNENDING [boundless, fathomless, incalculable and exhaustless] riches of Christ. Also TO ENLIGHTEN ALL MEN and make plain to them what is the plan [...providing for THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN]...THE MYSTERY KEPT HIDDEN...AND CONCEALED UNTIL NOW IN [the mind of] GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS BY CHRIST JESUS.
[The Purpose is] that THROUGH THE CHURCH the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects MIGHT NOW BE MADE KNOW TO THE ANGELIC RULERS AND AUTHORITIES [PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS (Eph.6:12) in the heavenly sphere.
This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect, in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph.3:1-11. [Amplif.]
"TO HIM BE GLORY IN THE ECCLESIA AND IN CHRIST JESUS FOR ALL GENERATIONS OF THE EONS OF THE EONS." Eph.3:21 [Conc. Lit.]
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