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Are you better than Jesus?

By: Scott Morton

There is a problem which has been present among the members of the Body of Christ. This issue is not new and has continued to grow over the years. The members of the Body of Christ draw lines of division among themselves and will often refuse to minister with each other, even when they agree on almost everything.

These divisions often are not based what the Bible says. Too often the problem has been created by personality conflicts among individuals, leading groups to say they cannot work with the others. In the United States, there are several cities where there are multiple churches teaching right division. Comparisons of these churches show they often agree on over 95% of the doctrines they teach. Instead of focusing on the places where there is agreement, the tendency is to focus on where there is disagreement. These local assemblies are not having the effect they could, as they would be more effective sharing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) with others if they were working together as they are instructed.

The Body of Christ is supposed to function together. Throughout this article, we will look at how this ministry is supposed to work.

Becoming a Member

The first issue is how one becomes a member of the Body of Christ. This happens when an individual puts their trust in the gospel:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

This is the gospel which saves an individual today. This is the gospel which the Apostle Paul, who is the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), was given and refers to as my gospel (Romans 2:16). This is the preaching of the cross which is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). The moment an individual puts their trust in this message, they are made to be members of the Body of Christ.

There are no works an individual can perform that give a person their salvation, no matter how small the work may appear to be. This is why Romans 4:5 is written, as belief is the only requirement. The Apostle Paul also makes it very clear in the following passage:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The Apostle Paul could not have made it any clearer in this passage how an individual receives their salvation. You cannot perform any good work nor do anything which is going to give you salvation, except believe the gospel. Many individuals try to put something as a condition of their belief. Some of these things include:

Keeping the commandments

Water Baptism

Praying a certain prayer

Confessing all of their sins

The Apostle Paul makes it clear a person only has to put their trust in the gospel in order to receive salvation. The issue of sin was taken care of by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). We already have received the forgiveness of sins through the shedding of His blood (Colossians 1:14).

Losing Membership?

The question comes up about someone being able to lose their salvation. This comes from the confusion of attempting to have Hebrews 6:4-6 apply to us as members of the Body of Christ. This passage is written for Israel and does not apply to us today. The Apostle Paul does make a reference to the issue of the possibility of losing our salvation:

Ephesians 1:13-14

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The members of the Body of Christ heard the Word of truth and trusted the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) in order to be made members of the Body of Christ. The next step in this process is the seal which has been put in place. This seal is designed to keep us in the Body. It only works as well as what it is made of to keep us in place.

We should consider ourselves lucky when we realize the seal God has used to keep us in the Body of Christ. The seal is the Spirit, one third of the Godhead. There is nothing which could affect God in a manner which would cause the seal to be broken. Therefore, we are given a guarantee of our salvation. This guarantee is going to last until God says it no longer will work.

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The seal will last until the day of redemption. The day being spoken of here is when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come back for the members of the Body of Christ and will fulfill the promises which have been made to us (receiving a glorified body, being placed into positions of authority in heavenly places, ruling with Him for eternity, etc.). This is the time we have theologically referred to as the Rapture. This is a guarantee which has been given to every member of the Body of Christ. There is nothing we can do which would break this seal.

Our positions in the Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-19

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. [13] 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. [14] For the body is not one member, but many. [15] If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? [16] 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? [17] If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? [18] But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. [19] And if they were all one member, where were the body?

The Apostle Paul speaks of the positions we are given as members of the Body of Christ. Once we have believed the gospel, we are made members of the Body of Christ. This is another function which is done by the Spirit.

The members of the Body are also given functions to perform in the Body. According to what is written here, there are different functions which are given to different individuals. This is something which should be recognized, as all members of the Body of Christ are not going to be the same. Each individual has a different set of skills and responsibilities they have as members of the Body. This is all being done as it is pleasing to God, which shows the level of acknowledgement and respect we should have for how this works out practically for the Body.

All of the positions and different abilities are necessary for the Body of Christ to function. In the next section, we will see how important it is for these things to be there and how these cannot be eliminated from the Body.

Can we eliminate positions in the Body?

1 Corinthians 12:20-25

But now are they many members, yet but one body. [21] And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. [22] Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: [23] And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. [24] For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: [25] That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

This is the major question, as many people feel they have the responsibility and the ability to not be around individuals who are members of the Body of Christ. This passage shows the responsibility we have as members of the Body of Christ.

There is not supposed to be any schism in the Body. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that individuals cannot say to one of the members of the Body of Christ 'I have no need of you.' He also brings up the issue of the head (the highest member) not being able to say to the feet (the lowest member) I have no need of you. The Bible identifies who the Head of the Body is:

Colossians 1:12-18

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: [15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: [16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [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 the Body is the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, one third of the Godhead is not able to say to a member of the Body of Christ �I have no need of you�. If the Lord Jesus Christ is not able to say this, how can we say these things? We do not have the ability to say this to a member of the Body of Christ.

Aren't bad behaviors or bad doctrine reasons to say this?

In the book of 1 Corinthians, the church is told to separate themselves from an individual who is living a lifestyle they shouldn�t. The problem they had was when the individual stopped living this lifestyle. They were supposed to restore him as a brother. Instead, they kept treating him the way they were and wanted nothing to do with him. The Apostle Paul addresses this with them in 2 Corinthians and points out the mistake they are making by demonstrating this behavior.

A lifestyle which is detrimental to the position we have as members of the Body of Christ cannot be condoned. However, the responsibility we have is to try to help the person get back on the path God would have them be on:

2 Timothy 2:24-26

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

The Apostle Paul shows the goal for the believer when they are dealing with an individual who is not doing what they should. The issue is to instruct this individual. It is impossible to instruct someone if we are having nothing to do with them. They need to be given information out of the Word in order to understand what their behavior should be.

This instruction is to be done in the spirit of meekness. This does not mean we are to ignore the situation because we do not want to get involved. We are to deal with these issues. However, we are not to yell and scream at someone who is involved in bad doctrine or behavior. This display of attitude does not work, as the individual who is being dealt with will ignore someone if they are doing this. We, as members of the Body of Christ, should demonstrate the spirit of meekness the Apostle Paul is referring to in the passage above. The following definition for meekness comes from the Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

MEE'KNESS, n. Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations.

1. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractoriness. Gal 5.

I beseech you by the meekness of Christ. 1 Cor 10.

Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated, and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.

There is a gentleness with which we are to be communicating with someone. This can be demonstrated by sharing the Word of God with someone. The following are two examples of speech, which will help demonstrate the difference:

"I can't believe you are teaching that garbage. Don't you know your perverting the Word of God?"

"Brother, I hear what you are saying. Let's sit down for a few minutes and discuss what the Word of God says on this subject."

Which one of these two patterns of speech reflects the issues of meekness the Apostle Paul is trying to have us follow? Obviously, it is the second pattern of speech. Unfortunately, many individuals gravitate towards the first pattern. This does not demonstrate meekness and will only drive individuals away.

Some individuals will argue this is a sugar coating of doctrine and is not dealing with these issues. This is an inaccurate assertion. The first pattern of speech listed above does not focus on the Word of God, but instead focuses on the person speaking as the expert. Our responsibility is to do things with love towards one another. This is why the Apostle Paul gives the instructions he does:

Galatians 6:1-3

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. [2] Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. [3] For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The first pattern of speech above demonstrates the person who is thinking himself to be something, as they are the expert in all things. This is the person who is deceiving themselves and is not demonstrating the meekness they are supposed to have.

The goal is to attempt to restore the individual. Both of the passages which have been dealing with helping the individual have shown this to be the goal. This is why meekness is needed, as the individual is putting themselves to the side and the Word of God is the only thing to focus on. When we are putting ourselves to the side, this would include all aspects of ourselves, including personality. This is why yelling and screaming can never work, as this focuses on us more than the Word of God and only causes individuals to not want to listen to what is being said.

As members of the Body of Christ, we have to be careful about how we function. We need to be following the doctrine given to us in Romans through Philemon. We cannot put ourselves above the Lord Jesus Christ and need to strive to work together in order to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9).



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