The Body of Christ – God’s Church

By John Thiel, mp3

There is something that each one of us must do individually. We are to co-operate with God in this work of gaining victory. We are living in this time now where God has a body of people as He has always had. Part of this message is being part of the church of Christ in the last days amongst all the confusions of church organisations. We want to get it very clear from God’s word what makes God’s true church. What is it really?

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 

We are to reach that by the knowledge of the Son of God. It is the knowledge of the Son of God that brings about fullness of the stature of Christ in our life. That verse is couched in the subject of God’s church.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

What for?

Ephesians 4:11 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 

In the body of Christ we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of God unto a perfect man.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Here is the description of the body of Christ. It is a collective company of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so on. Over the years of God’s church history which are all working in unity to produce a company of people who are in the stature of Christ. This is our objective in our study now that what is it in the body of Christ, in church function body of Christ, how does that relate to what we have been studying all the way through these last days?

This powerful message is actually the only way by which we can get a correct view of the body of Christ. As with any other subject, this subject of the power of the cross, the atonement of Jesus with us and each individual honing in on that.

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the Saviour’s atonement. Those who study the Redeemer’s wonderful sacrifice grow in grace and knowledge.  {5BC 1137.7}

Haven’t we grown in the knowledge of these beautiful things that we have studied? As we do this it is the great central truth to correctly understand everything else.

I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross of Calvary. This is to be the theme of every discourse. Christ declares, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (MS 70, 1901).  {5BC 1137.8} 

The power of the cross is the theme of every discourse. It is the great central truth to correctly appreciate and understand any other subject. The subject we are looking at now is to see the connection of what we have studied in regards to God’s church, God’s united body. We are instructed that right to the very time of the end, God has His church.

Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme are in grave peril. It is Satan’s studied effort to separate such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. For any worker in the Lord’s cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy and overthrown. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to co-operate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God.  {AA 164.1} 

This is the direction that is given, but you notice that there is an atonement content in this. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian and church to church. Here is the important key note of God’s church. Christians bound ever with each other. Is that not the word atonement? This is the qualification. Sr. White goes into the instruction here that God had given them that they had to function and organise together and that there were strong feelings against that organisation, etc.

As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.  {TM 26.2} 

     Yet there was strong feeling against it among our people. The first-day Adventists [SEE APPENDIX.] were opposed to organization, and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas. We sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand His will, and light was given by His Spirit that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church–that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God’s people on the earth.  {TM 26.3}

We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by His providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attended this advance movement.  {TM 26.4} 

The church of Christ, the body of Christ is an organisation or in different words, an organism. Let us explore Jesus to comprehend this organism so that we will get a clear understanding of the body of Christ in the madness of organisations of today. We have come to such a point where every succeeding generation has left behind an organisation and now we stand in front of all the organisations and say where are we? You have this tiny little company and statements of the nature that make it look as though we are the ones that will not listen to the rest of the brethren. That is what is levelled against us by the reform and by all the other churches that claim to be Adventists.

Let’s go right back to what we comprehended; by sin all are separated from God. Adam and Eve when they first sinned, because of sin separation, God levelled a promise to them. Here is the gospel right there in the separation that took place because of sin.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

What is written in reference to this? What is this referring to? The very thing that we have been studying. Jesus suffering under the sin of every one of us and Satan bruising Him as he has bruised us, but He bruises Satan.

The promise given to Adam and Eve in Eden was the gospel to a fallen race. The promise was made that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, and it should bruise His heel. Christ’s sacrifice is the glorious fulfillment of the whole Jewish economy. The Sun of Righteousness has risen. Christ our righteousness is shining in brightness upon us.  {7BC 932.3} 

The language does not mean anything to you until what we have studied is a reality to us and then we can see what is meant. The sacrifice of Christ is the glorious fulfilment of the whole Jewish economy. Christ our Righteousness is shining in brightness upon us. We identify the living entity of that statement. This is what Genesis 3:15 was given for. In consequence of that, there is a company of people. The Jewish economy was God’s church on earth at that time. To all through all history that which has been established by God in God’s true organisation, in God’s true church is the gospel of Christ. This is where our focus has been. Jesus came and delivered the atonement in consequence of sin as it was promised in Genesis 3:15.

Romans 5:11 And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 

What we have studied is the atonement of Christ. Death has passed upon all men so Jesus became, as we studied, a mortal as a man. He became mortal because He received our sin. Death was by sin and so death passed upon all men.

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 

Jesus came and suffered death but He was obedient unto death even the death of the cross. He was obedient to trust in God’s mercy and goodness to Him that He went through all this so that when we go through it we have the recovery of our sins. By His obedience many were made righteous. If you reflect on everything we have studied that’s summarised in that statement.

Christ is the “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. As through Christ every human being has life, so also through Him every soul receives some ray of divine light. Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. But against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power. The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man’s experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist. {Ed 29.1} 

Isn’t that what we just studied? We cannot do it. While there is goodness in a person, there is a force of the law of sin and death in the human flesh that he cannot resist.

To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power. That power is Christ. Co-operation with that power is man’s greatest need. In all educational effort should not this co-operation be the highest aim?  {Ed 29.1} 

Unless the people are educated in the realm of studies that we have been going through and this is made clear to the people, then there is no power by which they can conquer this force inside of them.

This is my experience and here is the answer to my experience, the power of the cross that is found in Christ. Every individual included in that experience in Romans chapter 7, the good I want to do I can’t do, the evil which I don’t want to do; there is a law in my members that was part of this discovery that is to be found in Christ, that Christ took upon Himself that experience. That is what the apostle Paul said in Romans 7. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Then he says I thank God through Christ Jesus.

The word of God plainly presents before us this truth, that our physical natures will be brought into warfare with the spiritual. The apostle charges us to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Every perverted appetite becomes a warring lust. Appetite indulged to the injury of physical strength causes disease of the soul. The lust which the apostle mentions is not confined to the violation of the seventh commandment, but every indulgence of the taste which lessens physical vigor is a warring lust. {4T 215.1} 

It’s those passions we have been studying that are in the hormonal system.

The apostle declares that he who would gain special victories and make higher attainments in righteousness must be “temperate in all things.” Temperance in eating and drinking at our tables, as well as the exercise of temperance in every other respect, is essential if we would overcome as Christ overcame. God has given us light, not to be treated indifferently, but to be our guide and help.  {4T 215.1} 

We must conquer our passions our emotional and our hormonal life. It is found in Christ.

You need to cultivate self-control. The lesson you should have learned in your youth should be mastered now. {4T 215.2} 

Whatever pulsates through my system that wants to get control of me, I conquer that. That is what Jesus did. He could do nothing of Himself, He relied on the power that came from God; He demonstrated it at the cross.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

What’s that mystery?

To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 

Those words don’t become meaningful unless you study in detail the science that is behind the power of the cross which we have been doing. It is Christ in you the hope of glory which is going to produce perfection by controlling the impulses of our sinful nature as Jesus did. That is the power of the cross. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

Here is the connecting link. With what He has been saying about what Jesus has done and what the people are connecting intelligently in the science of this atonement he says you now rejoice in my sufferings for you and  fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: The body of Christ is the church. The mystery of Christ in you the hope of glory is connected with His body, the church.

The mission of Christ, so dimly understood, so faintly comprehended, that called Him from the throne of God to the mystery of the altar of the cross of Calvary, will more and more unfold to the mind, and it will be seen that in the sacrifice of Christ are found the spring and principle of every other mission of love. {HP 319.2}

That connects with  the great central truth; the mystery from which springs every other mission of love, that is to unfold to us more and more. God’s people are to learn this mystery, and it is actually expressed which is revealed whom we preach. It is made known. The early apostles made this known. The mission of Christ so dimly understood, so faintly comprehended, that called Him from the throne to the mystery of the altar of the cross of Calvary, will more and more unfold to the mind. Today it’s been completely brought into an intellectual argument instead of this unfolding of the experience of Christ in us.

All who enter into that experience of the mystery of the atonement of Christ in His experience in the power of the cross because His experience becomes their experience and their experience becomes His experience when we are to die with Him and rise again as with the representation of baptism. The living experience of this mystery is what apostle Paul was trying to get across to the people.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 

He lived by faith as we saw at the cross. He relied on the power of God. I live that life now who loved me, and gave himself for me.  This is the whole foundation of God’s body, a people as Christ’s body who are one with Jesus, who enter into the power of the cross together with Him. Apostle Paul said it is my experience and everyone who makes that experience has the same experience as Apostle Paul.

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 

2:10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 

We studied that. He was made perfect through suffering.

Hebrews 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 

Here is the body of Christ; a people who engage together with Him in the power of the cross. That makes them part of Him.

Ephesians 5:23 For 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.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 

Here it is again the product; the atonement is to produce a people who are perfect without blemish.

Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 

We can see very clearly that the body of Christ are the people who have entered into union with Him in all reality.

Ephesians  5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 

Marriage is a beautiful representation of the atonement.

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband. 

Here we have this intimate communion in the power of the cross we have studied and here is the church, the people who do this. That is what Jesus said in John 17. He said that they may be one even as we are one; Jesus in us and the Father in Him.

In conclusion of all that, who then is the church? In our research of understanding the church of God on earth it is understood alone by those who have entered into union with Jesus in the power of the cross that we have been studying.

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church.  {UL 315.5} 

What is God’s church on earth? It is all the faithful ones who have been under the pure doctrine of this mystery of the everlasting gospel of the mystery of the atonement of the power of the cross and those who connect intelligently and practically with this are the humble few. This is Christ’s church. Of course they will be functioning in an organised manner but as we come to the last days, we know so well that all that is left is a little remnant but they are part of the body of Christ that has been concentrating on this pure gospel of the power of the cross.

The body of Christ, the unity of individuals with Him and hence are individuals with one another. The unity of each individual with Him and hence through individuals with Him in the atonement and the power of the cross become entwined with one another.

He has given gifts unto the church and what were the gifts for?  The gifts of prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers who are entwined with Christ like the apostle Paul and they are given for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ until we all come in the unity of the faith in the knowledge of the Son of God unto the perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

No more tossed to and fro but speaking the truth in love grow up in Him in all things which is the head even Christ from whom the whole body is fitly joined together. This is not just an organisation of church people today; it is the people who enter into that experience. They are a connected company in a world of contradictory churches. Don’t we see it? There is a splintering of churches even down to the reform experience.

Is Christ divided?–No. Christ abiding in the soul will not quarrel with Christ in another soul. We must learn to bear with the peculiarities of those around us. If our will is under the control of Christ’s will, how can we be at variance with our brethren? {TDG 262.5}

If we control ourselves under the power of the cross how can there be variance among us? We will submit ourselves. Anyone who doesn’t submit himself how can they be at unity with one another?

If we are at variance, we may know that it is because self needs to be crucified. He whom Christ makes free is free indeed. We are not complete in Christ unless we love one another as Christ has loved us. When we do this, as Christ has given us commandment, we shall give evidence that we are complete in Him.  {TDG 262.5}

This is indivisible orderly communication with each other, they demonstrate God’s church on earth. In the last days arise, shine for the glory of the Lord is come upon thee. This is the powerful message in the last days. When gross darkness covers the earth there is going to be a people that are identified as God’s church on earth even if they are small in number.  The prayer of Christ was to be fulfilled.

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. 

The church is to be the one that teaches them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, not only some things, not just 99% of things but all things. The great central truth which is most important of all which has been diminished as Sr. White says poorly understood to be the very force and the central part of that message.

What Christ’s Prayer Envisioned.–The prayer of Christ is not only for those who are now His disciples, but for all those who shall believe on Christ through the words of His disciples, even to the end of the world. Jesus was just about to yield up His life to bring life and immortality to light. Christ, amid His sufferings, and being daily rejected of men, looks down the lines two thousand years to His church which would be in existence in the last days, before the close of this earth’s history.  {3SM 18.2} 

The Lord has had a church from that day, through all the changing scenes of time to the present period, 1893. The Bible sets before us a model church. They are to be in unity with each other, and with God. When believers are united to Christ, the living vine, the result is that they are one with Christ, full of sympathy and tenderness and love. {3SM 18.3}

There is God’s church in the last days that existed in Sr. White’s time and it exists today but unfortunately it is a very, very small remnant left because we have already seen how the churches have been torn apart. Today to be His church embraces a union with Jesus part of His organism so that we can function together in unity and harmony. That is God’s church. Any disharmony in that area, any lack of sympathy and tenderness and love disqualifies the people from this union.

That is our connective tissue study of understanding correctly the subject of God’s church. We can get the perfect confidence that we are on the right platform when we have the power of the cross operating within us.

May God bless us in the light of these things and thank God that He has left no stone unturned for those who, it is so poorly understood but it will unfold more and more until God’s people will stand in perfect unity with Christ in perfection because He has brought them by the power of the cross to conquer their own personal weaknesses. God bless us all in this.


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Posted on 02/08/2014, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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