Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Body of Christ - A Glorious Reality

The Body of Christ, God's Perfect Design

When we realize that the body of Christ was designed by God to express His life, it should not surprise us to realize that the design is absolutely perfect. A perfect God could never design anything less than a perfect way to express a perfect life. If we would come to grips with that truth and let it order our lives, it would remove a great deal of the confusion that we see today in the religious world. Some have even gone so far as to say that the church has failed. How could the church, under the direction of the Head, fail in what God purposed to do? God has never failed at anything--how could He? It is only man that fails, when he removes himself from God's authority. But the church is not men's doing. It is God's creation in Christ Jesus; therefore it cannot fail.

Jesus said that He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). The church, which is the body of Christ, has not failed and will not fail. When men say that the church has failed, they are looking at something other than the church of Jesus Christ. They are looking at what man has done, and truly what man builds does fail. It cannot express God, because only what is done by God can express His life.

If we do not see this truth clearly by revelation, we will try to improve upon God's design instead of going back to God and asking Him to reveal it to us. This .is exactly what many have tried to do. They have looked at what they thought was the body of Christ (it wasn't), concluded that the church had failed (it hadn't), and then designed their own plan to do God's work (which will fail). What a terrible thing to do. How foolish can we be in our thinking? Let God wash all of these lowly concepts out of our minds, that we may see the body of Christ as God has designed it. This will then give us a proper basis to labor in what God is doing. God's plan in Jesus Christ is victorious. The only question is whether we will be a part of what God is doing.

If we read I Corinthians 12 through 14 very carefully, we will see that God has put each member in the body as it pleased Him. Again, this is God's design, not men's. Our place is not to question God's design or improve upon it, but to know it by revelation and move in it in faith. God knows exactly what it will take to touch the heart of man; after all, God created man. He also knows exactly what it will take to wash away the effects of sin and bring each member to a place of full maturity. He knows how to build a house to contain His glory. He knows exactly what gifts to give each man, who to give them to, and what they are designed to do. If another gift were needed, or would be better, He would have given it. If something were not needed, He would not have given it. No part is unimportant and no part is lacking. His plan is perfect.

Consider a natural illustration. A builder goes to build a house. He takes with him a hammer, saw, and square. Each tool is for a purpose. If he tries to put in a nail with a saw or cut a board with a hammer, he will be a fool. Is God less than man? Notice the gifts given in the church. They are all given by God, and each has a purpose. All are for edification and building up. All are under the control of the Holy Spirit. All are necessary, and when one is needed, another will not suffice. What has man done with this? He has said that pastors are all that are needed, and that in fact only one pastor is needed. Both statements are wrong. Pastors are only one of the gifts, and they are always given in plurality to keep Christ as Head of the body. We cannot bypass any part of God's design in the body and expect God's results.

Consider the organizations of men that attempt to do the work which only God can do within His plan. They create organizations with presidents, directors and committees. Where do we see these in the church? What gifts are these? When we create these organizations, then we are free to define qualifications and functions without reference to God. Elders must meet God's qualifications, but directors of men's organizations only need men's appointment or election. Why do we think we can get God's results in this way? If God thought directors were necessary, why didn't God give them? Israel also thought they needed a king, but God didn't think so. He told them what would happen if He gave them one, but the people said to give them a king anyway so they could be like everybody else. Is this not the spirit of so many religious men today? The religious organizations are patterned after the world, instead of God's design. They get results, but only temporal results. The numbers look good at times, but the spiritual fruit is absent, because God is absent.

Even when we come to the church, man brings in his own ideas. Let this truth sink deeply into our hearts: we cannot improve on God's design. The design of the human body apart from the effects of sin is perfect, and the body of Christ is no less perfect in its design. When sin enters into the church, it must be purged so that the expression of Christ may remain pure. If it is not, God leaves, and the only thing left is an empty, lifeless form. These forms are what many call churches. The reason that they do not express the love and oneness of God is that God is not there, and without God, His nature cannot be expressed.