You are not a horse because you are standing in the horse paddock with a bridle in your hand. Neither are you part of the Body of Christ because you are a Christian. ‘Body’ means part of Him. We become part of The Body as soon as we begin to believe in the Christ of God and agree that He is our life.
The Kingdom of God is a person and not a religion. What you believe about it effects who you are and whether you are actually in the belonging that God has given you. Paul described such people who had not entered in as workers and slaves because they were children of the law.
‘But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son’ Gal 4.30 NIV. These sons do not share in the life of God or The Body of Christ. This the meaning of inheritance.
‘Body’ implies the interweaving God’s being and ours. Body is the collective form of we and Father are one. We belong to the Body if we live in it. Not if we have defined ourselves out of it by bad doctrines. Body is not a definitional term in the nature of the letter. It’s a state of being that is ours as new covenant Believers. The Body of Christ is never an entity of the flesh or the letter. It is a spiritual entity and state of being that is ours as members of the new covenant. What is this state of being. It is union with God. It is this union or lack of it that makes us competent or not competent to minister the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the community of the one with God. ‘One’ not on account of our work but because we believe what God has done.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
As Believer’s we are at liberty to express our life in God in almost anyway. Except create for ourselves a different gospel. ‘But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!’ Gal 1.8. The curse is separation. Some cut themselves of from Christ and the Body by inventing their own gospel.
FALSE CHRIST’S FALSE BODIES
We are not at liberty to construct our own Christ as if we can put one together like a kind of Frankenstein monster. Neither are we permitted to invent our own gospel and carry on as if it is His gospel of the Kingdom. We have our identity in Christ and our union in Him. Not in some perspective of our own. We have no right to a perspective on the Christian message that is not identical with that of Jesus, John and Paul – or the rest of the Body of Christ. There is one Christ, one gospel of the Kingdom and one new and living way of union with God: Jesus.
We are the Body when we live from what Jesus said below.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV. This union makes the authentic Body of Christ. The message of Jesus and the apostles was simple and comprehensive. ‘Christ is our life.’ He is our life in every way and His life for us covers the infinity of all possible needs. Theologians call this the vicarious humanity of Christ.
ONE WITH GOD
We belong to the Body of Christ because we are part of the Christ of God. New covenant reality is that we and Father are one because Christ the Son of God is our life. Each of us becomes an expression of His person when we agree that He is our life. We are one with God not by performance or victory over sin. But one because in Christ we belong in the Family of the trinity.
‘That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ John 17.21,22 NIV. We cannot live in the law and be one with God. The law is the mode of the knowledge of good and evil. It is separateness and death. The gospel of the Kingdom is union with God in the person of Jesus.
If Jesus was subject to law then He was not God because law would be superior. But all things are under His feet. The Son of Man lived neither from the law or from religion or tradition. He lived from His Father and manifested His Father’s life. The contention that Jesus lived from the law is mythical and not found in the New Testament. But it can be found in the additions of man.
Frank Viola puts it well. We are the body of Christ because we are the Second Eve who came from Jesus’ side. We are the Bride of Christ in this sense because we are part of Him. Bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. When we appreciate this reality we can appreciate just how ludicrous the notion of living from the law, yet attempting to be the Body turns out to be. It takes life in the new Adam to be The Body and to be alive.
Jesus and Father were one just as you and Jesus are now one. This is you and all of us as The Body. Let’s be clear. We belong to the Body as part of His life. Not because we have created a culture that we call His life but which is essentially our life and our gospel. We are not of His Body if we are living in the law in Adamic separation from God. Here we are in what Paul called ‘This body of death.’ We are delivered from this body of death. So why live in it yet call ourselves the Body. We need to understand what kind of body we are of.
THIS IS MY BODY
We become part of the Body by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He becomes us. This is done by making a choice to receive Him as our life. We do this in the Spirit. He lives in us. Christ has come in our flesh. The Body of Christ are those who are His life. His life because they are joined in the spirit to His person. The words Body of Christ are not some definition of the letter. They are not some ecclesiastical cover-all. It’s the state of being one with God.
This Body is the communion of those whose life is Jesus. His life is manifest as those who agree that God included them in Himself. The Body of Christ is simply those who agree with the simple fact that Christ is their life.
In the parable of the tares, Jesus warned that not all who claim to be the Body are the Body. Their genetics come from another place. We are not part of the Body if we have embraced a false Christ. False Christs are human inventions that arise from the influence of false prophets or from lies seeded into our souls as misgivings and mistrust of Jesus – from view that He is not enough and we must add something of our own. Then again false Christ’s can be constructed from the teaching of denominations that promote ‘another gospel.’ Another gospel of the kind that undoes all that God achieved in Christ and replaces it with a gospel of the law. Inclusion in the body of death is not being the Body of Christ. We can’t be both.
‘Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children’ Gal 4.25 NIV.
There is a sense in which we all belong. God has made this so through His Son. Sinners belong even before they have come to Christ. But we are not justified in calling them The Body. They do not enjoy the comfort of oneness and fellowship with God that is ours as disciples. They are yet to join oneness in Christ in spirit and in truth. Let’s be clear. If non-believers are not the Body, neither are those with 'other gospels.'
None who have their own gospel are of His Body.
BODY OF CHRIST
Becoming part of the Body in spirit and in truth consists of making this ‘belonging’ our own – by agreeing with what God has done and living from this place of union. We must embrace it. We can be notionally part of the Body yet not part of it in spirit and in truth. Not one with Christ because we have made for ourselves a lesser Christ and a distorted gospel in which we live and gain our identity.
A tumour is technically part of a person’s body. But not a legitimate part. It’s an aberration that destroys the host. There are Christian cultures like this. Jesus called them tares planted by the Evil One. Tumous are in people’s bodies as alien entities. But they are not part of the Body. Matthew wrote of the gospel of the Kingdom.
‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ Matt 24.14 NIV.
One can be part of The Body immediately one believes. If we believe in the Christ who is Father’s Christ and the gospel that is Christ’s gospel. This is why Matthew writes of ‘This Gospel of the Kingdom’ and not some gospel that is a private interpretation. There’s one Christ, one gospel of the Kingdom and one Body of Christ. There is also one you who is legitimate and a you that is illegitimate and a short-selling of yourself. The first is you in Father God. The other is you deformed by the Father of Lies.
Casually speaking all denominations might be said to belong to the Body of Christ. This is because all belong. Yet as in marriage we are not part of our wife’s body if we have never consummated the marriage and even less so if we have had a sexual relationship with someone else.
This is why Paul said we have one husband who is Christ. This is why we must ensure that our Jesus is the Christ of God and not some man-made deformity; it is why we ensure that our gospel is His gospel so that we can live as sons and not alienated workers and slaves.
The extent to which we are His Body is the extent to which He is our life. This is to say, living from Him instead of living from substitutes, the law and religiosities.
There are some Christian communities whose gospel differs so much from the gospel of Jesus and the apostles that what they have is another gospel and another body. It is no gospel at all. It is a tare. You are not a horse because you are standing in the horse paddock with a bridle in your hand. Neither are you part of the Body of Christ because you are a Christian. You belong to the Body when you live from Jesus’ provision that has made you and our Father one. This is not the law or religion. It is the person of Christ.