The Body Is One!

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32, ESV2011)

Have you ever felt a deep longing to be truly one with other saints of God? I mean one in heart, and one in longing for all that the Father has for each of us as we become members one of another IN Him. Since I came to Christ and was filled with His Spirit, my life has been a constant longing to know Him in His fullness, and part of that longing is to know Him as He is manifest in the members of His body, the true ekklesia of God (those who have been called out of this world and its seductions into Him). This has been a life-long struggle for me and I am sure for many of you. Whenever we found a group of Christians who were coming together in the love of Christ for one another, it wasn’t long until all hell broke in and divided that unity. As a result, many of us have been forced back into seclusion where we lick our wounds and pledge not to ever let religious divisiveness touch us again. The problem is that in our caution we can still remain divided from other members of Christ’s body.  Austin Sparks wrote,

Another thing that is basic to the Lord’s purpose is the necessity for an apprehension of the inclusiveness of Christ as to the church which is His Body. In those parts of the revelation given to us in the Word of God, such as the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians where the fulness of Christ is brought into view most definitely, the thing that is right before us is the church which is His Body. The ultimate thing, the great end, is the fulness of Christ but, unto that, the church His Body is brought into view. Does Ephesians bring in the vast dimensions of divine fulness in Christ? “Filled unto all the fulness of Christ“; “The fulness of Him that fills all in all“. What is connected with that? “The church, which is His Body“. The church is essential for the expression of the ultimate fulness of Christ. That means that unto the fulness of Christ we must have an apprehension of the inclusiveness of Christ in His church. That is the collective nature of the instrument, the vessel, which is to express the fulness of Christ. Over against that is the impossibility of an individual, or any number of individuals as such, ever expressing the fulness of Christ. The necessity is for a life of corporate relationship unto the fulness of Christ.

(…)

This is God’s way of illustrating what we have in the New Testament: “The body is one“. There must be an apprehension of the corporate, the collective life of the church, the Body of Christ, before we can go on to fulness. We demand this fellowship for fulness; it is essential. Limitation is always brought about by separation. The defeat of God’s end is always accomplished by breaking up the Lord’s people into fragments. Schism is a real device of the devil to frustrate God’s end concerning His Son, the Lord Jesus. He has pursued that course from the beginning. It is very impressive and very significant that when the fulness of Christ is brought into view in these letters, there is such a tremendous emphasis laid upon the relationships of the members of the Body one to another.

The Lord Jesus stands to suffer loss in the expression of His fulness when the saints are out of fellowship with one another; and we can strike the greatest blows at the adversary by a solid, determined stand, when on no ground save apostasy, will we be divided in spirit from our brethren. To fight for fellowship, to stand for fellowship, to refuse a break in fellowship, is the way of defeating some of the forms of Satanic activity. It is quite easy to take the other line. It is the most difficult thing to refuse spiritual division, because all the power of hell is out to bring that about. It is only as we see how much is bound up with fellowship, with relationship and the fulness of Christ, that we shall be able to move on toward that fulness, for the Lord counts upon it for His ends.

This is no organised one-ness. This is not the unity that is outward. This is not anything that can be brought about by agreements externally. This is not the uniting of the churches. This is not consenting to a common agreement of credal expression; this is the uniting of the Spirit. This works two ways. It is necessary for us to go on in the Spirit in order that we may have the fullest measure of fellowship. We do not mean that fellowship is impossible between the mature and the less mature. We must be very careful that we do not allow any larger measure of light (as we may conceive it) to interfere with our fellowship with those whom we think have not so much light. There ought to be fellowship between children and adults spiritually, but any kind of refusal of light, of the revealed will of God, is bound sooner or later to limit fellowship, so that unto full fellowship there must be a walking according to the light given. The other way round operates, of course, that as we walk in the light we have fellowship one with another. Going on in the light means an increase of fellowship, and that makes the measure of Christ to increase. (emphasis added) (1)

“It is the most difficult thing to refuse spiritual division, because all the power of hell is out to bring that [division] about. It is only as we see how much is bound up with fellowship, with relationship and the fulness of Christ, that we shall be able to move on toward that fulness, for the Lord counts upon it for His ends.” Yes, “as we see what is bound up in fellowship with the fullness of Christ,” we see our own limitations. Seeing this need can get us beyond our fear that leads us to isolation from other saints of God. The saying goes, “No man is an island.” How true. God has been teaching me in my own tendency for isolation from others. He speaks into my heart most often when He leads me into fellowship by the Spirit with other saints of God. I have found that many of my blog articles come from being in touch on a heart-to-heart level with one of His saints.

We are all familiar with Hebrews 10:25 being used to urge us to “go to church,” but let us read it in context:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith… And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:19-25, ESV2011)

Many of us have spent most of our Christian lives going to church “services” where we “meet together” hoping to have heart-to-heart fellowship, only to have the whole time dominated by a preacher or a teacher. Notice that in the context of this Hebrews verse it says, “We have a Great Priest over the house (Grk. oikos – family) of God.” It’s not talking about an auditorium setting here! Jesus presides over our fellowship by His Spirit so that we may “encourage one another to love and good works all the more so as we see the end drawing near.” This speaks of a gathering together of the members of His body who all function together under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to the building up of itself in love. Jesus said, “Where two or three of you are gathered together in my name [in His character], I am there in your midst.” The smallest gathering of the saints, “two,” is honored by our Lord with His presence.

I have experienced this from time to time and it has ruined me for the standard church service setting. I will continue to seek out my fellow saints on this interpersonal level — usually in a small home gathering and sometimes on the internet or even on a street corner– and I hope you do as well. We who are in the Spirit have God graces to edify and build one another up in Christ. We need each other and are being robbed when this doesn’t happen.

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Mal 3:16-18, ESV2011)

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002858.html

16 comments on “The Body Is One!

  1. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    Yes Mike,once again you have hit the nail right on the head! I am currently a lone ranger Christian. My saying for the time is “Christ I love, but not the church ” I have heard it said many times that you can not function this way as a Christian and I agree. But I struggle to find a gathering where I can find real unity in the Spirit Being of God and it seems that everywhere I go the Bible seems to be the god or some sort of political doings or moral-ism. Plus I am trying to find out where Dad wants me geographically —sorry about the bad spelling. Any way I am confident that Papa is going to get me straightened out in His time, I just wish He would speed it up!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Kenneth, I know exactly what you are going through! The “church” today (especially down there in the “Bible Belt”) is exactly where the Jews were 2000 years ago when Jesus came. They were surrounded by Bible (Torah) scholars who said they “see,” yet that world remain in spiritual darkness around them. Amos prophesied of this saying,

      “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies… Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24, ESV2011)

      But to those who truly seek Him it has prophesied, “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God” (Isa 50:10, KJ2000). My brother, Jesus is our Light at the end of this tunnel, not mere men. Of these He said, “Those who dwelt in darkness have seen a Great Light.”

      Jesus said that these last days would be light the the days of Noah. We know how corrupt mankind was then. But consider this part of the prophesy as for YOU and those in your place, Kenneth…

      “This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isa 54:9-10, ESV2011)

      I love you, my brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kenneth E Dawson says:

        Yes that is good advice and its not like I am deliberately just trying to avoid gathering with other saints. So I can be assured that in time He will put me in the right place—-geographically; ekklesia-ly….oh boy, maybe I need to go back to school somewhere so I can learn how to spell!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Yes, my brother. A few years ago when I was praying about a local manifestation of His body to meet with, He simply said, “You are not safe, yet.” I think we all have issues that make us “not safe” to be with one another that He is dealing with. When the time is right, it will happen.

        Liked by 2 people

    • yellowyarrow says:

      Yes, it would seem that there are many Christians who are not ‘members’ of a church (including me) at the moment, and not for several years.
      This does not mean that we do not seek the company of other Christians either face to face or online etc, but perhaps rather, that God has steered us this way.
      For quite a lot of years and for various reasons, it hasn’t been really possible for me to be ‘committed’ to a particular church. We are moving house shortly, into emergency accommodation, then temporary probably, for up to two years until we can get housed by the Council and we will not even know where we are going to be staying until the day we move out.
      I do worry sometimes that I am not going the way God we have me go..however, I have very often felt when in a church service (at the church I used to belong to) that we shouldn’t be in there, we should be ‘out there’ amomgst the lanes and hedgerows so to speak, amongst the people. Not that I have been used much by God for quite a while (so far as I am aware..I am certain God uses people, even in very small ways, without their even realising it). I do believe though, that He has been teaching me in effect, not in so many words, but perhaps to be able to ‘survive’ without the cosy (ish) network of ‘Church’.
      I also found that I was getting bogged-down in a way, as part of a church. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I needed to come away to get my head together, instead of becoming confused by different and sometimes contradictory things that Christians say.
      This is not to say that I don’t want to be one with Christians…in fact I long for the day, as per Jesus’ prayer, that we should all become one in Him and with each other. I pray to that effect and tell God that since Jesus prayed it, it surely must be supposed to happen at some point, so why not now!
      I do know how you feel about ‘God straightening you out’. I feel the same way. At the moment it is hard to pray much or intensively, as the last few years, it feels like all hell’s broken loose…about 4 people dying, including my mother, my sister nearly dying, crisis after crisis with one of my son’s and his wife (now split), that son skidding on ice and writing off his car, also having seizures, ending up in hospital and flat-lining from the medication, our landlord selling the house (which is why we have to go into emergency accommodation). my husband having a stroke a couple of month’s ago…and this is only part of it. It feels rather like that bit in the Bible where it says that God will shake everything that will be shaken. It’s really hard to keep going sometimes…but have to keep trusting God. (As best one can).

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        My dear sister YY,
        I am sorry to hear about your being uprooted and the tragedies in the lives of those around you. We who are Christ’s truly are pilgrims and strangers in this world. Every person in the Bible that God has set apart as His own has had to go through a time of isolation and troubles. He is teaching us how to depend only on Him, seeking Him and His will in ALL things. We are becoming those “many sons unto HIS glory.” This is why Isaiah ch. 53 is not only about Jesus, but about us as well. David knew this as well and wrote,

        “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.” (Ps 71:19-20, ESV2011)

        That which falls into the ground and dies is not that which springs forth. The glory of the latter “house” is far greater than the former. Yes, everything that is of this world and the Old Adam in us is being shaken, but through it all we are being rooted and grounded in the Son where we will remain unshakeable for eternity.

        Thanks for sharing your burden with me. You are in my prayers,
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sweet,Michael. I like it very much.

    One of my favorite things in the bible is the way it always says “preserve” the Spirit, as in “preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” The Spirit is a given, it is already there. It just needs to be “preserved,” not “regulated, enforced, created, or maintained,” or any of that other stuff that tends to afflict religion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      He is a gentle dove. Unity in Him is only found in godly peace and rest. God cries out, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” Yes, WHERE is the place of HIS rest? We have a solemn warning given in Hebrews,

      “Let us therefore fear, lest, although a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it… Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb 4:1-11, KJ2000)

      We have millions of church buildings in Christendom, but God still asks, “Where is the place of my rest?” His house is made of living stones that KNOW HIS rest!

      Liked by 1 person

      • yellowyarrow says:

        Thank you Michael for your reply to me. Sorry this may come up as a reply to Anna Waldherr… I couldn’t see a way of replying directly to you, unfortunately.
        I may not be able to get online very often from Wednesday as we are going into emergency accommodation and then probably temporary, perhaps for up to 2 years. So I will have to resort to using the public library if I want to go online. I have a smartphone, but it’s not a particularly brilliant one for doing stuff online.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Y.Y. your reply came through just fine. I hope you can stay connected on the net with us. I know what you mean about “smartphone” issues. Trying to run a blog from my phone is about impossible. I depend heavily on my laptop.
        May the Lord keep you while you are in your temporary housing. You and your family are in my prayers.
        Michael

        Like

  3. It is a challenge these days to find a Bible-believing church. Too many Christians have experienced exactly what you describe, Michael, as far as division, dispute, and disparagement. Be blessed.

    Love,

    A.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Anna. I have to believe that it is all part of His drawing us out of the world and the worldly churches of men and unto Himself. Like Paul said, we can come together, not for the better, but for the worse. God has no place for the Old Adam among His saints and the purification we go through can be grievous and lonely at times, but afterwards it yields a peaceable righteousness that allows us to be knit together as never before… ONE together IN HIM. Agape to you, too,
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Patricia W. Orr (Pat) says:

    I have just reread ” The Body is One “. It would seem that one of the things that draws people together is to have similar longings. You have written about the desire to be one in Christ with other believers. When we are drawn together because of selfish ambitions, unmet needs, etc., our foundation for oneness is compromised.

    Thank you for the excellent blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wanda collins says:

    Hi Michael,

    For some reason I am not receiving your posts. I sought your blog right now for fellowship and I greatly appreciate it. I do not worry about not having a “church” to attend anymore. Actually I do not worry about anything anymore. It is amazing what God had done inside of me. His will is my will and I am enjoying this “rest” I have in Him. Thank you brother because you have been a faithful friend in my troubles and your wisdom has kept me from making terrible mistakes.

    God bless you Michael,

    wanda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Wanda, I see that you have begun to follow our blog once again. It must be working.

      The “church”(ecclesia – called out ones) is found wherever two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name (We are called out of this world system unto Him). It is made of living stones that have been fitly joined together on the ONE Foundation, Jesus Christ. We who are His are “in church” every day! And we are with Jesus and the Father in His rest. The Sabbath rest of the Father is a heavenly place which is timeless and it is ours as we abide in Him. (see Eph. 2:4-6, Heb. 4:1-4, 1 Cor. 3:11)

      I am glad you are doing well, my sister, and it is good to hear from you again.

      Michael

      Like

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