Lesson 24 | Sabbath, 11 December 2021
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church–He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.
“The church is organized for service; and in a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties. This is an important part of one’s training; and in a church imbued with the Master’s life, it will lead directly to effort for the world without.” –Education, pp. 268, 269.
1. Can we say that the church is a body like many others? Whose body is the church?
Colossians 1:24. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.
1 Corinthians 12:27. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
“Such is the infinite goodness of God that through Jesus Christ’s merits He not only spares but pardons and justifies us, and through the righteousness of Christ imputes righteousness to us, and exalts and ennobles us by making us children of His adoption. We become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. He lifts men and women from their degradation and exalts them in righteousness…. He calls them His jewels, and a peculiar treasure unto Him. They are trophies of His grace and power, and of His greatness and riches in glory. They therefore are not their own, but are bought with a price, and through the extraordinary office of the atonement of Christ have been brought into nearness and the most sacred relationship to Jesus Christ. They are called His heritage, His children, the members of Christ’s body, of His flesh and of His bones; yea, they are joined to the Lord by intimate relationship with Him.” –Our High Calling, p. 17.
Flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones
2. In what sense is the church the body of Christ? How do we relate to that?
Ephesians 5:30. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
“The Lord has wrought with you, enabling you to act your part as His workman; but there are other workmen also who are to act their part as His instrumentalities. These help to compose the whole body. All are to be united as parts of one great organism. The Lord’s church is composed of living, working agencies, who derive their power to act from the Author and Finisher of their faith. They are to carry forward in harmony the great work resting on them. God has given you your work. But He has other instrumentalities, and to them He has given their work, that all may become, through sanctification of the truth, members of Christ’s body, of His flesh and of His bones. Representing Christ, we act for time and for eternity; and men, even worldly men, take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and have learned of Him.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 174.
3. Since we all are part of Christ’s body, what relationship do we have with each other?
Romans 12:5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.“As long as we are in this world, we must be linked one with another. Humanity is interlaced and interwoven with humanity. As Christians we are members one of another…. The Lord designs us as His sons and daughters, whom He calls His friends, to help one another. This is to be a part of our practical Christian work.” –Our High Calling, p. 184.
“Christ is the uniting link in the golden chain which binds believers together in God. There must be no separating in this great testing time. The people of God are, ‘fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.’Verses 19-21. The children of God constitute one united whole in Christ, who presents His cross as the center of attraction. All who believe are one in Him.” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 21.
4. If the church is truly the body of Christ, who is the Head? What does this mean for each person in the church?
Ephesians 1:22, 23. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Colossians 1:18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
‘The head of every man is Christ.’ God, who put all things under the Saviour’s feet, ‘gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.’ 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22, 23. The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its Head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, ‘All ye are brethren.’ All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. ‘Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.’ The Lord ‘is the Rock, His work is perfect.’‘ Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.’ Jeremiah 17:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 2:12.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 414.
Holy, unblameable, and unreprovable
5. What did the Lord go through to unite us with and form His body? What is His high purpose for His church?
Colossians 1:22. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.
The Son of God stooped to uplift the fallen. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth to be ‘wounded for our transgressions’ and ‘bruised for our iniquities.’ Isaiah 53:5. He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He knew what it meant to be hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He was a stranger and a sojourner on the earth–in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women of today are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin. Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, He represented the character of God. ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,… full of grace and truth.’ John 1:14.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 472.
6. What ministries and services has the Lord established so that His body may achieve His holy, eternal purpose?
Ephesians 4:12. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
“God has appointed apostles, pastors, evangelists, and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith. God declares to His people, ‘Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.’ There must be a continual advancement. Step by step His followers must make straight paths for their feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. Those who would labor for God must work intelligently to replenish the deficiencies in themselves and glorify the Lord God of Israel by standing in the light, working in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Thus they will carry the church forward and upward and heavenward, making its separation from the world more and more distinct.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 406.
7. How can the believers grow in all things to become the holy image of the spiritual Head? From whom does the whole body, joined and perfectly fit together, receive the ability to grow in charity?
Ephesians 4:15,16. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
“Although a company of Christians united in church capacity have not all the same talents, yet it is the duty of everyone to work. Talents differ, but to every man is given his work. All are dependent upon Christ in God. He is the glorious Head of all grades and classes of people associated through faith in the Word of God. Bound together by a common belief in heavenly principles, they are all dependent on Him who is the Author and Finisher of their faith. He has created the principles that produce universal oneness, universal love. His followers should meditate upon His love. They should not stop short of reaching the standard set before them. If the principles of Christianity are lived, they will produce universal harmony and perfect peace. When the heart is imbued with the Spirit of Christ, there is no quarreling, no seeking for the supremacy, no striving to be reigning lords.” –(Manuscript 46, March 31, 1902, “Unity a Sign of Discipleship”) The Upward Look, p. 104.
For additional study
“Not the slightest wound can be given by word, spirit, or action, that does not touch the heart of Him who gave His life for fallen humanity. Let us bear in mind that Christ is the great heart from which the lifeblood flows to every organ in the body. He is the head, from which extends every nerve to the minutest and remotest member of the body. When one member of that body with which Christ is so mysteriously connected, suffers, the throb of pain is felt by our Saviour.
“Will the church arouse? Will its members come into sympathy with Christ, so they will have His tenderness for all the sheep and lambs of His fold? For their sake the Majesty of heaven made Himself of no reputation; for them He came to a world all seared and marred with the curse, He toiled day and night to instruct, to elevate, and to bring everlasting joy to a thankless, disobedient people. For their sake He became poor, that they through His poverty might be rich. For them He denied Himself; for them He endured privation, scorn, contempt, suffering, and death. For them He took the form of a servant. This is our pattern; will we copy it? Will we have a care for God’s heritage? Will we cherish tender compassion for the erring, the tempted, and the tried?” –(Letter 45, 1894) Welfare Ministry, pp. 23, 24.