Scripture Truth 1941, p. 104
“So also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). We cannot today see, in actual form, our Lord Jesus Christ, as did the Apostles and others when He was on earth, because He has gone to the Father, but, though He is personally invisible, we are aware of His presence on earth in that wonderful structure called HIS BODY.
This we know is composed of all the children of God (and only such), who believe on Him during the time of His rejection by the world, to the moment of His coming again. These have been quickened by the Spirit of God, by whom also they are united to Christ in glory as members of His body, and thus formed into one perfect and divine unity; so united that in describing its absolute completeness the Scripture says, “So also is Christ.” The two, Christ in heaven, and His members on earth, in this mystic unity are so identified as that one name, that is “the Christ,” covers and denominates both.
Now this, though spiritual and mystic, is surely not invisible. Each of its members, great or small, has its own place to fill in the whole, each is a “member in particular” and none can fulfil the functions, or do the work of another. All are interdependent and none can fulfil the functions, or do the work of another. All are interdependent and under the control of the Head, just as the human body acts in its varied members in perfect organic harmony and order, and it is used, in our chapter, as an illustration. This takes the truth of the “Mystery of Christ” out of the region of mere theory, and presents it in a truly practical light.
The blessed Head on high is ever active on behalf of His members. How dear to Him we cannot tell. He loves them to the end. He described them to Saul of Tarsus as though they were Himself. “Why persecutest thou ME?” How perfect the identity; how close and inseparable the tie!
But this implies similar activity on the part of the members, in relation to each other. Hence, “if one member suffers, all suffer.” Do we appreciate this touching fact as we should? Or this—“If one member be honoured all rejoice”? What mutual affection, regard, sympathy, and unselfish consideration, if we do. What withering up of mere party or sectarian animosities there would be. But the church as the body of Christ has lost, in leaving her first love those family, nay those corporate, affections that shone in fervent reciprocity in early Pentecostal days. Iniquity abounds and love waxes cold.
Albeit the unity of the body remains intact. No power of evil can break or mar that unity. “For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Could unity be more perfect? Could the proper articulation of co-membership be better secured? Need the ear say, in jealousy, because I am not the eye I am therefore not of the body, when the ear though less beautiful, can perform in its own province, that which the eye cannot? Each is necessary in its place.
Far less may the eye say to the foot; in unbecoming pride, I have no need of thee, for the eye, in spite of its glory, cannot do the essential, if lowly, work of the foot. Such an idea in the body natural, were folly; though, alas, possible and actual in the body spiritual.
These members, these gifts, have been set in the church by God Himself, and each is placed by Him in the sphere intended.
But what a marvellous organism does the body of Christ thus present to us! How divine the conception! How profound the statement: —“So also is the Christ.”
But, secondly, if we turn to Ephesians 3 we find that the mystery of Christ affects a wider field than the body itself. This unity is to be viewed as an exhibition of the manifold wisdom of God, by principalities and powers in heavenly places, the wonder of the ages, the vessel of the surpassing riches of His grace in His kindness to us through Christ Jesus. There we find what are called, “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” and there are to be seen, if eyes are only divinely open, the administration—the practical and visible operation of this mystery.
In chapter 4 of the same Epistle we see the operation itself, first of all the kind of spirit that is absolutely necessary in those who would endeavour to keep the unity, not indeed, of the body, but of the Spirit, with whom that body is so closely allied, animated, and sustained in vigour.
And so we have gifts from an ascended Christ for the perfecting of the saints of whom the body is composed, till we all come in the further unity, that of the faith to the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” How practical in every sense is the mystery of Christ, as it is now revealed by apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
This is proved, thirdly, in the epistle to the Colossians, by the agony of soul through which the Apostle passed, when in prayer for that assembly and others. The riches of the glory of the mystery, hidden for ages but now revealed, is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” It was the coping stone to all the revelation of God; it completed the Word of God.
In this mystery of God, he tells us, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and to be possessed, therefore, of that treasure the soul is put on guard, intelligently against the mental seductions of the foe, such as philosophy, the traditions of men, circumcision, all that militates against the cross, the worship of angels, an abuse of the body which panders to fleshly pride—things which could have no existence, not be allowed, if the fullness of the Godhead bodily, in a risen Christ. and His headship as the ascended Man, were truly held.
In 1 Corinthians 12 the mystery has for its object the mutual care of the members; in Ephesians 3 the enlightenment of heavenly principalities and powers; and in Colossians 2 the preservation of the saints from the intellectual attacks of Satan and the world.
This is all intensely practical, the importance of it causing such conflict to the Apostle, who was specially appointed to be the minister of the church.
No wonder then finally, that in Romans 16:25 he regards it as essential to the establishment of the believer in the truth of the gospel, of which it is the complement; and although, without the knowledge of it, the believer may be justified, yet He lacks an apprehension of Christianity proper, and his work cannot but be defective.