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The Doctrine of Christ

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    Section XV—THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

    LESSON SEVENTY-FOUR The Body of Christ

    1. The Son of God took the flesh and revealed himself in a human body. Hebrews 2:14; 10:5; 1 Peter 2:24.TDOC 218.1

    2. Before leaving the world to return to the Father, Jesus promised that the Comforter would come to dwell in believers. John 14:16, 17.TDOC 218.2

    3. Through this impartation of the Holy Spirit who ministers the life of Christ to his followers, the church became the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:24; Ephesians 5:23.TDOC 218.3

    4. Christ is both the head of creation and the head of the church, the head of the original creation and of the new creation. Colossians 1:16-18.TDOC 218.4

    5. The fact that the husband “that loves his own wife loves himself,” and that “no man ever hated his own flesh,” is used to show the closeness of the union between Christ and his body, the church. Ephesians 5:28-30, ARV.TDOC 218.5

    6. The growth of the body, the church, is dependent upon this union with Christ, the Head. Ephesians 4:15, 16.TDOC 218.6

    7. So complete is the identification of Christ with the church, his body, that the church bears his name. 1 Corinthians 12:12.TDOC 218.7

    8. When Christ dwells in his body, the church, by the Holy Spirit, the decisions made concerning sin and righteousness are accepted in heaven. John 20:22, 23; Matthew 16:19; 18:15-18.TDOC 218.8

    NOTES
    The Head and the body are one

    “‘The church, which is his body,’ began its history and development at Pentecost. Believers had been saved, and the influences of the Spirit had been manifested to men in all previous dispensations from Adam to Christ. But now an ecclesia, an outgathering, was to be made to constitute the mystical body of Christ, incorporated into him the. Head and indwelt by him through the Holy Ghost. The definition which we sometimes hear, that a church is a voluntary association of believers, united together for the purposes of worship and edification, is most inadequate, not to say incorrect. It is no more true than that hands and feet and eyes and ears are voluntarily united in the human body for the purposes of locomotion and work. The church is formed from within; Christ present by the Holy Ghost, regenerating men by the sovereign action of the Spirit, and organizing them into himself as the living center. The Head and the body are therefore one, and predestined to the same history of humiliation and glory. And as they are one in fact, so are they one in name. He whom God anointed and filled with the Holy Ghost is called ‘the Christ,’ and the church, which is his body and fullness, is also called ‘the Christ.’ ‘For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 12:12. Here plainly and with wondrous honor the church is named , commenting upon which fact Bishop Andrews beautifully says: ‘Christ is both in heaven and on earth; as he is called the Head of his church, he is in heaven; but in respect of his body which is called Christ, he is on earth.’”TDOC 218.9

    The glory of Immanuel

    “Christ has made provision that his church shall be a transformed body, illumined with the light of heaven, possessing the glory of Immanuel.”-Testimonies for the Church 8:19.TDOC 219.1

    Christ’s supremacy

    “The supremacy of Christ is to be asserted in his union with his saints. God gave him to, the church ‘to be head over all things.’ He is supreme in the church as well as in the rest of the universe; and the church is ‘his body,’ in which all the wealth and the energy of his life are revealed, the perfect organ of his will, the very home of his glory.”TDOC 219.2

    The church may be a corpse

    “The Spirit is the breath of God in the body of his church. While that divine body survives and must, multitudes of churches have so shut out the Spirit from rule and authority and supremacy in the midst of them that the ascended Lord can only say to them: ‘Thou hast a name to live and art dead.’ In a word, so vital and indispensable is the ministry of the Spirit, that without it nothing else will avail. Some trust in creeds, and some in ordinances; some suppose that the church’s security lies in a sound theology, and others locate it in a primitive simplicity of government and worship; but it lies in none of these, desirable as they are. The body may be as to its organs perfect and entire, wanting nothing; but simply because the Spirit has been withdrawn from it, it has passed from a church into a corpse.”TDOC 219.3

    Christ given to the church

    “At the topmost height of his glory, with thrones and princedoms beneath his feet, Christ is given to the church! The Head over all things, the Lord of the created universe, he and none less or lower is the Head of redeemed humanity. For the church ‘is his body’ (this clause is interjected by way of explanation): she is the vessel of his Spirit, the organic instrument of his divine-human life. As the spirit belongs to its body, by the like fitness the Christ in his surpassing glory is the possession of the community of believing men. The body claims its head, the wife her husband. No matter where Christ is, however high in heaven, he belongs to us. Though the bride is lowly and of poor estate, he is hers and she knows it, and holds fast his heart. She seeks little of the people’s ignorance and scorn if their Master is her affianced Lord, and she the best beloved in his eyes. How rich is this gift of the Father to the church in the Son of his love, the concluding words of the paragraph declare: ‘Him he gave to the church [gave] the fullness of him that fills all in all.’ In the risen and enthroned Christ God bestowed on men a gift in which the divine plenitude that fills creation is embraced.”TDOC 220.1

    Christ and his church

    “The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which he bestows his supreme regard. While he extends to all the world his invitation to come to him and be saved, he commissions his angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to him in repentance and contrition, and he comes personally by his Holy Spirit into the midst of his church.”TDOC 220.2

    “The Lord has a people, a chosen people, his church, to be his own, his own fortress; which he holds in a sin-stricken, revolted world; and he intended that no authority should be known in it, no laws be acknowledged by it, but his own.TDOC 220.3

    “The Lord has provided his church with capabilities and blessings, that they may present to the world an image of his own sufficiency, and that his church may be complete in him, a continual representation of another, even the eternal world, of laws that are higher than earthly laws. His church is to be a temple built after the divine similitude, and the angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The church is to be fed with manna from heaven, and to be kept under the sole guardianship of his grace. Clad in complete armor of light and righteousness, she enters upon her final conflict.”TDOC 220.4

    “To his church, Christ has given ample facilities, that he may receive a large revenue of glory from his redeemed, purchased possession, The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is his depository, in which the wealth of his mercy, his love, his grace, is to appear in full and final display.”TDOC 220.5

    The life-giver to his body

    “Not until our Lord took his place at God’s right hand did he assume his full prerogative as life-giver to us. He was here in the flesh for our death; he took on him our nature that he might in himself crucify our Adam-life and put it away. But when he rose from the dead and sat down on his Father’s throne, he became the life-giver to all his mystical body, which is the church.”TDOC 221.1

    Christ manifests himself through his body

    “The glorified Christ manifests himself to man through his body. If there is a perfect correspondence between himself and his members, then there will be a true manifestation of himself to the world.”TDOC 221.2

    The invisible presence

    “The Holy Spirit during the present time is in office on earth; and all spiritual presence and divine communion of the Trinity with men are through him. In other words, while the Father and Son are visibly and personally in heaven, they are invisibly here in the body of the faithful by the indwelling of the Comforter.”TDOC 221.3

    What is needed

    “Jesus Christ, the ever-living Son of God, is the one supreme answer to the restlessness and travail of our day. But he cannot, he will not reveal himself. Each person in the Holy Trinity reveals another. The Son reveals the Father, but his own revelation awaits the testimony of the Holy Ghost, which, though often given directly, is largely through the church. What we need then, and what the world is waiting for, is the Son of God, borne witness to and revealed in all his radiant beauty of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as he energizes with and through the saints that make up the holy and mystical body, the church.”TDOC 221.4

    The church God’s temple

    “After his ascension and the sending down of the Spirit, the church takes the name her Lord had borne before; she is the temple of God, and the only temple which he has on earth during the present dispensation.”TDOC 221.5

    The clue to the apostasy

    “Would one desire to find the clue to the great apostasy whose dark eclipse now powers two thirds of nominal Christendom, here it is the rule and authority of the Holy Spirit ignored in the church; the servants of the house assuming mastery and encroaching more and more on the prerogatives of the Head, till at last one man sets himself up as the administrator of the church, and daringly usurps the name of ‘the Vicar of Christ.”TDOC 221.6

    The sin of sacerdotalism

    “Of course Catholic writers claim that the Pope is the ‘Vicar of Christ’ only as being the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost. But the Spirit has been given to the church as a whole that is to the body of regenerated believers, and to every member of that body according to his measure. The sin of sacerdotalism is, that it arrogates for a usurping few that which belongs to every member of Christ’s mystical body.”TDOC 222.1

    The Holy Spirit In the church

    “The Holy Spirit not only dwells in the church as his habitation, but also uses her as the living organism whereby he moves and walks forth in the world, and speaks to the world and acts upon the world. He is the soul of the church which is Christ’s body.”TDOC 222.2

    The Son revealed through the church

    “After Christ had returned to the Father, and the world saw him no more, he sent the Paraclete to be incarnated in his mystical body, the church. As the Father revealed himself through the Son, so the Son by the Holy Spirit now reveals himself through the church; as Christ was the image of the invisible God, so the church is appointed to be the image of the invisible Christ; and. his members, when they are glorified with him, shall be the express image of his person.”TDOC 222.3

    The body to he taken to heaven

    “The Comforter, who on the day of Pentecost came down to form a body out of flesh, will at the Parousia return to heaven in that body, having fashioned it like unto the body of Christ, that it may be presented to him ‘not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.... holy and without blemish.”TDOC 222.4

    God’s voice in the church

    “The voice of the Lord must be heard in his church, and to the Holy Ghost alone has been committed the prerogative of communicating that voice. Is there any likelihood that that, voice will be heard when the king or prime minister of a civil government holds the sole function of appointing the bishops, as in the case of state churches? Is there any certainty of it when an archbishop or bishop puts pastors over flocks by the action of his single will? We may congratulate ourselves that we are neither in a state church nor under an episcopal bishop; but there are methods of ignoring or repressing the voice of the Holy Ghost, which though simpler and far less apparent than those just indicated, are no less violent.”TDOC 222.5

    Anarchy or unity

    “Whether the authority of this one ruling sovereign Holy Ghost be recognized or ignored, determines whether the church shall be an anarchy or a unity. a synagogue of lawless ones or the temple of the living God.”TDOC 222.6

    The experience of the church

    “The church, which is the fullness of him ‘that fills all in all,’ completes in the world his crucifixion as well as his resurrection. This is certainly Paul’s profound thought, when he speaks of filling up ‘that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body’s sake, which is the church.’ Colossians 1:24. In other words, the church, as the complement of her Lord, must have a life experience and a death experience running parallel.”TDOC 223.1

    “A self-indulgent church disfigures Christ; an avaricious church bears false witness against Christ; a worldly church betrays Christ, and gives him over once more to be mocked and reviled by his enemies.”TDOC 223.2

    The basis of spiritual life

    “He is head and beginning to his church by means of his resurrection. He is the first-born from the dead, and his communication of spiritual life to his church requires the historical fact of his resurrection as its basis, for a dead Christ could not be the source of life; and that resurrection completes the manifestation of the incarnate Word, by our faith in which, his spiritual life flows into our spirits.”TDOC 223.3

    A paraphrase of Ephesians 4:16

    “We may paraphrase the sentence [Ephesians 4:16] thus: ‘Drawing its life from Christ, the entire body knit together in a well-compacted frame, makes use of every link that unites its members and of each particular member in his place to contribute to its sustenance, thus building itself up in love evermore.”TDOC 223.4

    The church and the word

    “It is certain that the church existed before the Bible, and Christianity before the New Testament Scriptures; but it is also certain that the church and Christianity derived their own existence from the word which those Scriptures contain. The word was antecedent to the existence of the church, as the cause is to the effect; the writing of that word, and its reception when written, were subsequent to the formation of the church, but the writing only made permanent for future time the word by which the church had been created; and the reception of the writings only recognized them as the same word in its form of permanence. Thus while the church is chronologically before the Bible, the Bible is potentially before the church; since the written word, which is the ground of faith to later generations of Christians, is one in origin, authority, and substance with the oral word, which was the ground of faith to the first generation of Christians.”TDOC 223.5

    Added to the Lord

    “The story of Pentecost culminates in the words, ‘and the same day there were added about three thousand souls.’ Acts 2:41. Added to whom? We naturally ask. And the King James translators have answered our question by inserting in italics ‘to them.’ But not so speaks the Holy Ghost. And when, a few verses further on in the same chapter, we read: ‘And the Lord added to the church daily such ass should be saved,’ we need to be reminded that the words ‘to the church’ are spurious. All such glosses and interpolations have only tended to mar the sublime teaching of this first chapter of the Holy Spirit’s history. ‘And believers were the more added to the Lord.’ Acts 5:14. ‘And much people were added unto the Lord.’ Acts 11:24. This is the language of inspiration-not the mutual union of believers, but their divine communing with Christ; not voluntary association of Christians, but their sovereign incorporation into the Head and this incorporation effected by the Head through the Holy Ghost.”TDOC 223.6

    Dealing with a wrong-doer

    “No church officer should advise, no committee should recommend, nor should any church vote, that the name of a wrongdoer shall be removed from the church books, until the instruction given by Christ has been faithfully followed. When this instruction has been followed, the church has cleared herself before God. The evil must then be made to appear as it is, and must be removed, that it may not become more and more widespread. The health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand before God unsullied, clad in the robes of Christ’s righteousness.TDOC 224.1

    “If the erring one repents and submits to Christ’s discipline, he is to be given another trial. And even if he does not repent, even if he stands outside the church, God’s servants still have a work to do for him. They are to seek earnestly to win him to repentance. And, however aggravated may have been his offense, if he yields to the striving of the Holy Spirit, and, by confessing and forsaking his sin, gives evidence of repentance, he is to be forgiven and welcomed to the fold again. His brethren are to encourage him in the right way, treating him as, they would wish to be treated were they in his place, considering themselves, lest they also be tempted.TDOC 224.2

    “Verily I say unto you,’ Christ continued, ‘whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Matthew 18:18.TDOC 224.3

    “This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ’s stead. It is God’s instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among his people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all questions respecting its prosperity, purity, and order. Upon it rests the responsibility of excluding from, its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christ like conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with, the directions given in God’s word will be ratified in heaven.”-Testimonies for the Church 7:262, 263.TDOC 224.4

    God’s glory in the church

    “Christ came not to save men only, but mankind. It is ‘in the church’ that God’s consummate glory will be seen. No man in his fragmentary selfhood, no number of men in their separate capacity can conceivably attain ‘unto the fullness of God.’ It will need all humanity for that, to reflect the full-orbed splendor of divine revelation. Isolated and. divided from each other, we render to God a dimmed and partial glory. ‘With one accord, with one mouth we are called to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Wherefore the apostle bids us ‘receive one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.’ Romans 15:6, 7.TDOC 224.5

    “The church, being the creation of God’s love in Christ and the receptacle of his communicative fullness is the vessel formed for his praise. Her worship is a daily tribute to the divine. majesty and bounty. The life of her people in the world, her witness for Christ and warfare against sin, her ceaseless ministries to human sorrow and need, proclaim the divine goodness, righteousness, and truth. From the heavenly places there she dwells with Christ, she reflects the light of God’s glory and makes it shine into the depths of evil at her feet.”TDOC 225.1

    An appeal

    “I would fain press on every conscience the sharp-pointed appeal. What is this Christ to us? Is he any thing to us but a name? Do our ‘hearts leap up with a joyful Amen when we read these great words of this text [Colossians 1:15-18]? Are we ready to crown him Lord of all? Is he our head, to fill us with vitality, to inspire and to command? Is he the goal and the end of our individual life? Can we each say, I live by him, in him, and for Him.”TDOC 225.2

    “Happy are we, if we give to Christ the pre-eminence, and if our hearts set Him first, him last, him midst and without end.”TDOC 225.3

    A distinguishing feature

    “The one feature of the worship of the church, which distinguishes it radically and totally from that of the temple is that it is mutual. Under the law there were priests and Levites to minister and people to be ministered to; under the gospel there is a universal spiritual priesthood, in which all minister and all are ministered to. Every act of service belonging to the Christian church is so described. There must be prayer, and the exhortation is, ‘Pray one for another.’ James 5:16. There must be confession, and the injunction is: ‘Confess your sins one to another.’ James 5:16. There must be exhortation, and the command is: Exhort one another.’ Hebrews 3:13. There must be love, and we are enjoined to ‘love one another.’ 1 Peter 1:22. There must be burden bearing, and the exhortation is: ‘Bear you one another’s burdens.’ Galatians 6:2. There lust be comforting, and the command is: ‘Wherefore comfort one another.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:18. So with the worship of song. Its reciprocal character is emphasized, not only in the passage just quoted, but also in the epistle to the Colossians: ‘Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and spiritual songs.’ Colossians 3:16. This is according to the clearly defined method of the Spirit in this dispensation.TDOC 225.4

    He establishes our fellowship with the Head of the church, and through him with one another. All blessing in the body is mutual, and the worship which is ordained to maintain and increase that blessing is likewise mutual.”TDOC 226.1

    The wondrous unity

    Lord, in thy people thou dost dwell,
    Thy people dwell in thee;
    O blessedness unspeakable!
    O wondrous unity!
    TDOC 226.2

    One with thee all thy life they know,
    And all thou hast possess;
    In thee they underwent all woe,
    And wrought all righteousness.
    TDOC 226.3

    They rose upon thy rising day,
    With thee to heaven did soar:
    Thou lives evermore, and they
    Shall live forevermore.
    TDOC 226.4

    When thou thy kingdom shall obtain
    And put thy glory on,
    Your endless reign shall be their reign,
    The King and they are one.”
    TDOC 226.5

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