Monday: Nature of the Church: Part 2
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Besides the word ecclesia itself, the New Testament describes the church with several images that further explain its nature and function.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Today we will look at just two crucial concepts regarding the church: the church as the people of God and the church as the body of Christ.

1. The “people of God” as a concept is applied in the Bible to the children of Israel (Deut. 14:2). Read 1 Peter 2:9, where the concept is clearly applied to Christians. How are we to understand what this means for us today?

Notice that even as the concept is applied to Christians, it is still used to describe the nation of Israel (Luke 1:68Rom. 11:1-2). Evidently the New Testament applies the concept to the church in a way that suggests continuity and consummation.(See Gal. 3:29.)

2. “Body of Christ” – Romans 12:51 Corinthians 12:27, and Ephesians 1:22-23 depict the church as the body of Christ. How do these texts help us to understand better its nature and function?

Numerous ideas can be found within these texts, perhaps the most obvious one being the unity (see Wednesday’s lesson) that should be seen in the church. This is an idea expressed elsewhere in the New Testament, especially in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul writes: “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 Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (1 Cor. 12:12-17).

Some people suffer from what are known as auto-immune diseases: their own immune system, which is supposed to protect the body, attacks it instead. Think about the implications of this analogy for the church as ‘the body of Christ’.

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Monday: Nature of the Church: Part 2 — 25 Comments

  1. I have experienced the strength that is present in the parts of the body (the bretheren) supporting each other. I thank God for the bretheren who are always there for me, and with me. I ask for the courage and strength to do what is right in His sight, and to confess my secret sins to God so that he can give me the ultimate victory.

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  2. The lessons tells us we are become a body in Christ when we come together as a church. How can individuals who stay far beyond church buildings also become a body in Christ with a church?

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    • Hi Osei, am not sure if I got your question, but what I understood from the lesson is that - it does not talk about the building but church member fellowship in the church. So if you are not part of the fellowship in the church, how can you be part of Christ' body? When we come together in the church and worship together and ministering together we build Christ's body which we are part of.

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    • Some individuals are called to areas where there is not an assembly of God's people. But they are not alone. God is with them and still requires that the individual be the body of Christ where they're located. This may be your situation. If you are true to God he will work a wonderful harvest and you may build an assembly in your area. In the meantime, feel free to utilize the resources you've found to encourage you in your study of God's Word. The web church can act as a "body for Christ" too. We can pray w/you and discuss God's Word but your faith in God will be what shines to your community and will light the way for an assembly. Align your actions and speech w/God. Don't give up. Pray for God's guidance.

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  3. yesterday I was in a company of brethren who conducted a visit to a sick member of our singing group. It was inspiring to have sharing from different members and I was encouraged to attend more visitations to come. Honestly I used to despise such gatherings and as I came to learn, fellowship, an aspect of being in church is in itself enough to give us motivation even find relief from things that from our personal views, appear to be real problems. In church we find fellowship that helps uplift our hearts with hope! God bless you.

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  4. I am so touched with today's lesson - we Christians as a body of Christ. However, as indicated above, it is true that the body is suffering from auto-immune diseases. We fight amoung ourselves, we are jelousy to our fellow chuch members, gossiping and laugh at them when they fall! If we are really part of Christ's body, we need to change, otherwise we are not part of it and we are devil's agents while claiming that we are part of Christ' body - this is dangerous as we will perish while in the Church!

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    • I really appreciate your comments. My daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. The way doctors explained it, her immune system saw her pancreas's insulin secretion process as a "foreign" activity and attacked it, shutting it down. I wonder whether we, as members of the body of Christ, behave similarly? We see something different, strange, or "foreign" in our eyes and we rush to shut it down instead of recognizing its inherent value to the body.

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    • Ronald, here is the quote from Wednesday lesson - 'Though stresses and strains are inevitable at every level of the church, we all need to keep an attitude of humility, self-denial, and a desire for a good that is greater than ourselves. So many of the divisions that arise do so because of selfishness, pride, and a desire to exalt oneself and one’s views over others. None of us has it all right; none of us understands all things perfectly. Whatever the inevitable differences that will arise, were we all to daily take up our crosses, daily die to self, daily seek not only our own good but the good of others and the good of the church as a whole, so many of the problems with which we struggle and which hinder the work would vanish'. Here you can see the auto-immune disease and its cure.

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  5. GOD is calling for us to recognise our ROLE as apart of the body. Is the seeing? Is hearing? Etc. Unless we recvognise that w have an individual purpose then web become like those auto-immune diseases and infect the body _the Body Of Christ. I say Lord have Mercy!!!!

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    • Joy, Yes we are people of God please Read 1 Peter 2:9, which clearly indicates our status/our position as God's people. However, unless we go out and proclaim His goodness to others, we become parts in the His body.

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  6. The church of God has one foundation, personally the exprience acquired from sharing sad and joyous times with the bretherens has changed my life. Written on my heart are expriences of waiting to see our Lord and Savior as he takes us home to endure what we as his family have waited for long.

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  7. The memory text says the church is the ground of the truth...i believe the cure 4 this auto-immune disease is truth. John 14:6 Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life..." Revelation 14:5 "and in their mouth was found no guile..." The body of Christ unless it be united by truth it'll affected by this illness. Even in our churches today people leave the church (the body) because there's malice, guile, hypocrisy, envies, evil speaking (1peter 2:1) people don't want to live a life of truth.

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  8. The body of Christ consists of many parts that work together for the overall benefit of the body. It does not matter who we are or what we have. When we work together we create an appetite in others to become a part of us and thus promulgate the Good New about Christ.

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  9. When we are held hostage to auto-immune disease we will not realise our mistakes.If we seek the counsel in Colossians 3;12-16 we shall have no infightings that we experiencce in our churches.The church elections are here with us which has been a great cause of conflict in our churches

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  10. Fasting and prayer are the answers to the auto immune disease. Come together to rid ourselves of this infestation. Remember that if a part of the body is not used, it will atrophy and die. We need to be in the community, making a difference, exercising our "parts" to stay healthy and whole. Pray God that we will be willing sevents in his service.

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  11. Spiritual autoimmune disease and its healing

    A few comments on autoimmune disease (the immune system attacking some member of the same body considering it as an enemy): Spriritual autoimmune disease is caused by slandering tongues attacking other members of the same body. The apostle James describes this self-destruction of the body as a blazing fire destroying the whole forest (James 3:5) and staining the wohle body (vers 6). The healing of this disease consists in dedicating the tonge to the Holy Spirit every morning. The function of the tongue will change and be redirected to Christ`s service. Then the tongue will "know how to sustain with a word him that is weary." (Isaiah 50:4 RSV) The Holy Spirit at Pentecost is symbolized with fire (Acts 2:3) also purifying the speech of the apostles. Words coming out of heart and mouth will be purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit. The tonge will be an instrument of the gospel.

    Winfried Stolpmann

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  12. I see this lesson in a bigger picture. There are hundreds of christian churches who serve and worship the same God that we SDA worship. I see these churches as the many parts of the body whose main goal is to win souls for Christ. SDA is just one part (one church) who cannot do it all to spread the word of God intimately to every human. We need to learn to work with other churches to function as part of the body just like the biblical examples have shown us.

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    • Raphael, it is my considered opinion that you might be taking the concept of unity a bit too far. If your understanding of the subject is true then the Christian church should never have formed congregations separate from Judaism and should have won souls to worship in the synagogues instead of the many house churches of the first century. But they couldn't because Judaism rejected Jesus as the Messiah and was involved in righteousness by works.

      When the mother church of Christianity was hit by the reformation the reformers should have laid all differences aside and ignored all of that for the sake of the Gospel, but they didn't because there were fundamental errors they couldn't lead someone into unless they didn't care what side of the controversy they were on. And today as part of an ongoing reformation the Seventh-day Adventist Church has separated from the other churches of the reformation because they reject the doctrine of the Sabbath along with other key doctrines that are important in the process of salvation.

      What you are then asking the SDA church to do is to join hands with error. As Paul said:

      Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:14-17 NKJV).

      Now I do believe there are some things we can do with them such as work with them in soup kitchens and helping in disasters but when it comes to doctrine it is like night and day and the stakes are as high as salvation itself.

      That being said I do believe God works within the ranks of other churches because being in one of those other churches is better than being an atheist but I also believe if at all possible He will move those people into a good SDA church where one exists because there is far more truth there. I also believe there may be cases where God might choose to keep people out of some SDA churches because in the long run it is more dangerous spiritually there than in the world. That is the reason why, "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14 NKJV). There nothing worse than a church that professes to be Christ like yet acts like the devil. It is deceiving and leads people right to hell without them ever being aware of it.

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      • Dear Tyler,
        I do understand your position. I have lived in many parts of the world and met many christlike non-SDA christians. Many of them have passed away and I am just saddened by our belief that they are not worthy of salvation. Only God can judge. I was in Africa recently and people in that city have not heard of SDA. We have work to do. To bring Christ in people's lives. WE cannot do it alone. Our growth is so miniscule while the Earth's population is exponential. I do understand our position in Universalism but I also understand that we have God that so loved this world and not just SDAs.

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