Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Understanding of the Church

The Church is One in Reality

We read from John 17:21, "That they all may be one; as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." Only as we become one as Jesus and the Father are one, will we be able to fulfill the purpose of God expressed here, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." I Corinthians 6:15 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ?" I Corinthians 12:12, "As the body is one and hath many members, all the members of the body forming one body for all their members, so it is with Christ."

Christ makes us one in the body of Christ when we receive His atoning work. Then we must go on to grow up into Him and take on the mind of Christ. This is all being done by and through a perfect plan which God ordained from the foundation of the world. That plan is Christ in us, and us in Christ. As our wills are fully surrendered to His will, His word is made manifest in us. The life of God within us can do only one thing: bring us together in God's order. As we walk in the Spirit and obey the Spirit, we will fulfill God's word which says that we shall be one.

We must each let Christ be our Head, and be properly connected to Him. As each member fulfills his function, directed by the Head through the Spirit, the body of Christ will function in oneness. Members will not be aware of themselves, but only doing what the Spirit is leading and directing them to do. Some would rather seek glory for themselves than function as part of the body to the glory of God, but God has placed each one in the body as it hath pleased Him (I Corinthians 12:18). The Lord said that unless we are willing to lose our life (our self-life), we will not live (find our life in Christ) (John 12:25). But if we will find our life in Christ and function as a member of His body, we will contain the glory of the presence of Christ by the Spirit. "But we all with open faces, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). As we behold by faith what the Spirit is revealing of Christ, we are being changed into that same image from glory (which is one revelation) to glory (another revelation) by the Spirit.

Our life in the Spirit has no other purpose but to glorify the Head. Christ has given the church His glory, and the church is a glory to Him as it shows forth oneness or unity. The church can only find its life in Christ. When Christ is not the head of a gathering, it is not the church. Man's organizations and movements will only bring about the will and control of man, allowing man to take the place of Christ as head. This is unfaithfulness to Christ, and it causes the members to be conformed to the image of what they are following rather than being conformed to the image of Christ.

In many circles today, standards are being dropped in futile efforts to bring about a "oneness" that is only man's doing. All efforts to become one by worldly systems are false because they are worked out by human means, or by compromise. The life of God will not accept sin or compromise. Sin must be purged. It is a divine principle that as we do God's will, we know His teaching (John 7:17). We cannot compromise the doctrines or teachings of Christ. Paul said there were some who compromised and caused many to stumble and go away from the faith. (II Timothy 2:18) So also today there must never be a letting down of scriptural standards for the coming together of the body of Christ. God is bringing His body together by the Spirit, cementing it together by the love that He places in the heart of each member. If we try to bring it together by compromise, sooner or later it will crumble and fall. Only that which is done by the Spirit of God will remain. The work is only done when there are repentant hearts, turned to God and relying upon Him, and His divine power working in each member.

To fulfill God's will, we must see the church brought to a place of oneness in Christ. God does not have an alternate plan. His plan is working through those who are willing to let God's life flow through them rather than trying to realize their own life. It is His life that He intends to bring forth in us, conforming us to His image. The rule of man must be broken and the headship of Christ realized; then our security will not be in man but in God. We must choose whom we will serve. We must start to realize by the Spirit that our goal is not greater numbers, but to have the Spirit and to obey His leadership. There must be a total dedication of love to Christ. We do not pattern our lives after each other, but after Christ, and we move only as the Spirit directs. This is the only way that the body with all its members can be complete.

Anything that is out of the divine order set forth by God will not bring forth the life God has ordained by the Spirit. But as each member is under the direction and leadership of the Holy Spirit, there will be no confusion or division in the body, but every member will function according to the grace given to him, that the needs in each member may be supplied in a spiritual manner. In a spiritual body, the needs are spiritual needs and can only be ministered to by the Spirit, through the body. It will be the strength of God working in earthen vessels, manifesting His glory and His strength in mortal flesh.

God has said, "The just shall live by faith" (Hebrews 10:38). God has called us to a walk of divine life, manifested as we exercise the faith God has given to each member of His body. We will not be able to see the way in its fullness until we are willing to take steps of faith, moment by moment. Then God will reveal the way as we walk in it. God has revealed in His word the mystery that was hidden from all ages in the past. He spoke through Paul, making it very clear that it is, and ever shall be "Christ in you"--Christ in the church--"the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). This glory shall always be in the church as a testimony to God's marvelous, wise design, throughout all ages (Ephesians 3:21). It is the glory of Himself in His body, the church, the people He indwells and has for His very own. These are His sons and daughters. They know no division or carnal power, but are kept together because of the indivisible God.

The way is hidden only from those who refuse to see. Those who have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" will be able to move in that which God is doing in this hour. It is not some mystical thing, but a glorious work of God made visible in every locality, in the lives of those who are stones in the building that God is erecting for His habitation.