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The Mystery of His Body

By David A. DePra

     All through the New Testament, we read such phrases as “in Christ,” or “in Him.”  For instance, Paul writes, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.”  He also writes, “In Adam all die, but in Christ all shall be made alive.”  To the Corinthians, Paul says, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”  (II Cor. 5:19)

     What does it mean to be “in Christ?”  Are these mere poetical phrases, with no real meaning?  Or is there a great Truth here?

     There is indeed great Truth here.  When God says we are IN CHRIST, He means it more literally than you and I might imagine.

     In Romans 6, Paul tells us that “we are planted together into the likeness of His death.”  The same thing is said with regard to the resurrection.  In fact, Paul tells us that the fact we are “planted together” – which means to ENGRAFT – is the very reason why “the old man,” or “our body of sin” is destroyed.  His death becomes ours.  His resurrection becomes ours.  He are at one with Him.  We are planted into Him; baptized into Him; engrafted into Him.

     Jesus said the same thing.  He said, “I am the Vine.  You are the branches.  Abide in me and live.  Cut yourself off and you will die.”  (John 14)

     The point is, when God says we are IN CHRIST, He means it.  We are actually IN HIM – engrafted into Him.  It is obviously not a physical engrafting.  It is spiritual.  But rather than make this less real, it makes it more real.  Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, God has made us One with Him in Jesus.  There is a very real union which has taken place.

     When Jesus bore our sin on the Cross, we were made ONE with Him.  That is why His death destroyed our “old man.”  That is why His death becomes ours.  Did you realize that you don’t escape death because of Jesus?  Nope.  Not your “old self.”  Rather, you meet death.  You were made just that much ONE with Him.  And through the resurrection His life becomes yours in a divine and supernatural union.

     Paul says, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.“  (Eph. 5:30)  But if you look up the passage in Ephesians, you will find that Paul is talking about more than just being part of the church, the Body of Christ.  Actually, he is comparing the marriage union to the fact that we are “one flesh” with Christ.  He is, of course, speaking of the Body of Christ as a whole, since the church is the wife or bride of Christ.  But the analogy hits the point home.  Paul is saying that just as a husband and wife become ONE, so are believers ONE with Jesus Christ.  We are PART of Him in a supernatural way that is MORE REAL than any physical union could express.

     The “Body of Christ” is not merely a poetic term.  To be a MEMBER of His Body is not talking about being a member of a church, or a member of a group of true believers.  No.  Being a member of THE BODY of Christ is the spiritual equivalent to being a hand or an arm on a real body.  Things are just that close and real.  Again, we are PART of Him.

     Did you notice how we came to be “in Christ,” and therefore part of His body?   We were planted INTO Him.  Into His death and resurrection.  Into His Person.  Jesus supernaturally and eternally become ONE with us.  He did this on the Cross, once for all, finally and forever.  But it is sealed for the individual at salvation – by grace through faith.  Thus, the reason we are IN THE BODY as a believer is because we were planted IN HIM on the Cross, and received Him by faith.  THAT is the doorway into being “in Christ.”

     Now all of this carries a special significance.  Jesus Christ was God AND man.  He was the One in whom BOTH natures met.  But notice:  It is precisely IN the God-man that God and man MEET!  IN HIM we are reconciled back to God.  But this is not just a cute way of saying that Jesus died for sin.  He did.  But literally, in the broken body of Christ, man was restored back into union with God.  He was ENGRAFTED back into the True Vine.  And through the resurrection, this is sealed forever.

     It is in the God-man that we find our oneness with God Himself – and are restored back to the original relationship of full communion that God originally intended.  Redemption has won us back to God.

     What all of this tells us is that nothing we do, and nothing we are, fails to affect Jesus Christ personally.  We ARE His body.  We are part of Him – of His very flesh and bones.  This would, of course, not be possible in the temporal, physical realm.  But it IS possible in the eternal realm – in a way for which we have little frame of reference.

     But this is nothing new.  God is a Trinity, isn’t He?  How can you have three Persons in ONE God?  Yet we do.  In the eternal realm, this is normal.  Here, it is unheard of.

     Jesus said, “The Father and I are One.”  Impossible here.  But normal there in the eternal realm.  And He also prayed, “That they might be one even as we are One.”  The good news is that God always answers the prayers of Jesus!

     Of course, there is yet another aspect to the Body of Christ.  Because all believers for the last two-thousand years are part of that ONE Body, this means that everything we do affects each other as well.  But again – don’t think of this as LESS real than the physical.  Think of it as MORE real – indeed – beyond the physical.  We have little idea of the import of our choices in the church today.

     Can we now see why it is so terrible to pollute the Body of Christ?  This Truth should cause us to develop a reverence for God – a holiness which values the fact that we are, right now, as much as part of Jesus Christ Himself as our finger or hand is a part of us.  If we hurt, He hurts.  If we sin, it affects HIM – and every other person planted into Christ – whether any of us really recognize it or not.

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