THE BODY OF CHRIST: A message on it with surprises in it. (28 NOV 2016)
When we refer to the Body of Christ, we refer to several related & entrained things that are yet still separate. The original Body of Christ (the man Yahshua) shed its blood as a cleansing atonement for humanity’s sin. Those members of humanity who join themselves to Christ spiritually by accepting his payment for their debt become members of the extended Body of Christ; they are entrained & become one with him. And Christ’s body is the “image of God”.(A) Image of God?
IMAGE OF GOD. The first Scriptural place that the “image of God” is mentioned is when the Creator makes man. By this time, He has already created plants & animals, and called them all “good”.(B) But nothing in the plant & animal kingdoms carried His “image”, so He then created something that would.(C) Yet, God is spirit (D)–not a body…indeed God says you can’t compare His image to anything, any shape you would see(E)–so it was not man’s body that was in God’s image…it was something else about man. And this makes sense, because man’s body is not that different from say a gorilla or chimpanzee. And all these animals & plants were alive without God breathing into their bodies–but for man, God had to breathe His Spirit into Adam (man), & this made man’s body a Temple of the Holy Spirit.(F) So the body will go back to the ground, but that living spirit will go back to God. Now where is Christ, the image of God??
WHERE IS CHRIST, THE IMAGE OF GOD?? Christ came to restore the image of God within humanity. First, let me say according to Christ: that which is highly esteemed by man is an abomination in the sight of God.(G) Are you telling me that a beautiful body like a Greek statue, which is highly esteemed by man, is an abomination in the sight of God?? The answer may surprise you. What kind of body did Yahshua (Christ) associate with?? We get some clue with the Proverb “whoever is kind to the needy honors God”(H) And we get another clue in the teaching that whatever we do for the least of humanity we do for Christ & God (I). Christ who was the image of God, did not associate himself with the figure of an Olympic athlete…the Word tells us about him: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”(J) Did you get that?? “no beauty”… “we hid from…him”…”he was despised & we did not esteem him”. Wow! He did not come as men expected…they were expecting someone beautiful like Apollo…but they got someone ugly on the outside. But his inner beauty completely made up for it. Have you ever met someone who has so much inner beauty that you totally overlook their ugliness. I have known good people like that. I love them so dearly that I am not capable of seeing their “ugliness”. But I am sure that people who only look on the surface do. Yes, I know the World mistakenly thinks he was just another Apollo. But remember, the image of God is not in the physical aspect of man–it is in the spiritual aspect of man!!
MAN LOOKS ON THE OUTSIDE, GOD ON THE INSIDE. The Word of God asks, “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” (K) Well, Christ repeatedly warns that we should not do that: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (L) So Lazarus the beggar covered with hideous sores, who loved God, was beautiful to God.(M) God has chosen the lowly things of the World.(N) In the Kingdom of God, it is not an outward beauty contest, but an inward beauty contest! And if you do have a beautifully strong Greek athletic figure–the Word of God says don’t boast in it, but boast that you know & understand God!(O)
A BLOODY MESS. Typically, the sight of blood is horrible…and just the mention of it to survivors of SRA is triggering. But one doesn’t have to be a survivor of SRA to be repulsed by blood. The natural man is repulsed by it. But the spiritual man is cleansed by it! The ancients did not understand the inward workings of the body–but on the inside of the body, blood actually does cleansing! A pinhead size of blood contains 5 million red blood cells, 300,000 platelets, & 7K white cells. Each of your trillions of cells is nourished by 60K miles of blood vessels which use the red blood cells to haul away all the garbage from each cell. Each red blood cell is incredibly busy hauling away cellular garbage. In 4 months before it wears out, a red blood will make half a million round trips hauling away garbage. Outwardly, blood is yucky–inwardly blood is the life of the body…hauling essential groceries to each cell, and hauling away their garbage. The Word repeatedly says the life is in the blood!(P)
CANNIBALS? A popular & widespread slander of the early Christians in the Roman empire was that they were cannibals. This was because they misunderstood Christ’s words: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day, For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (Q) Wow, not only was Yahshua ugly, but on the surface, one of his foundational teachings is ugly. So after many of his disciples left him, Yahshua asked his disciples: “Do you also want to go away?” Peter answered, “Lord…you have the words of eternal life.”(R) He was referring to Christ’s teaching: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”(S) Then he taught them to drink wine & break bread to symbolize his blood & body. So the Revelation of Christ describes a multitude of believers who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (T) In the same way that blood inwardly cleanses the body (made in the image of God), likewise forgiveness through the blood of Christ inwardly cleanses the Body of Christ. It is an analogy that was unknown until modern medicine figured out how red blood cells on the tiny cellular level cleanse the body! The white cells take out anything dangerous attacking the body. “They overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb”.(U) So the Blood protects the Body of Christ.
HMMM. Critics of the Bible say it was just the propaganda of some ungodly men making up stories. And I tell you, a worldly person would make up a story that appealed to people. He would have a savior that was handsome like Apollo, and taught things that made sense to the ancients. Instead, the Word of God has an ugly savior, who rides around on a donkey teaching people to drink his blood and wash their clothes white with his blood. Not a good storyline to appeal to people. The significance & action of blood to protect and feed the body was not known by the ancients. It was not known until microscopes could look at things on the cellular level. The spiritual analogies in the Bible (and there are many more than the two I have given)…demonstrate that the writers were inspired by a Spirit far beyond human intellectual knowledge of the time.
FINAL THOUGHTS. When Christ taught the Pharisees that they were washing the outside of the cups & leaving the inside dirty, he wasn’t talking about their dishwashing.(V) He was teaching the principle that the Spiritual (inward man) was what was important, not the Physical (outward appearance). This being the case, how much time do we spend praying & confessing before we go to church vs. time we spend washing & beautifying the outward body??? Have we spiritually cleansed ourselves? It is NOT done with a physical fluid—the Blood of Christ is our spiritual cleansing agent. Those who worship God have to worship Him in Spirit & in Truth. He is a Spirit…so people need to start thinking spiritually. “For the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”(W) Christ said he intentionally spoke in language that would keep unspiritual, carnal men from understanding what he was teaching! That was very true!
(A) COL 1:15, 2 COR 4:4, HEB 1:3 (B) GEN 1 (C) GEN 1:26, 27 (D) JN 4:24 (E) ISA 40:18 (F) 1 COR 3:16, 6:13, 2 COR 6:16, EPH 2:12, HEB 3:8 (G) LK 16:15 (H) PRV 14:31 (I) MT 25:40 (J) ISA 53:2b-3 (K) 2 COR 10:7 (L) JN 7:24 cf. MT 23:24 (M)the story of Lazarus is LK 16:19-31 (N) 1 COR 1:26-29 (O) JER 9:23-24 (P) LEV 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:11, 14, DT 12:23 (Q) JN 6:53-58 (R) JN 6:66-68 (S) MT 26:28 (T) REV 7:14 (U) REV 12:11 (V) MT 23, LK 11 (W) 1 COR 2:14
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