Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 9, 1956
NUMBER 14, PAGE 4-5a

The Body Of Christ

C. R. Nichol, Homestead, Florida

There are more organizations today than at any time since the creation of man. Organizations for practically everything man wishes to do; political, social, charitable, and otherwise; and in the field of religion possibly more than in any other one field. Even in the field of unlawful endeavors there are local as well as national organizations.

Any group of individuals with designated leaders, banding together by rules expressed, or understood for the purpose of accomplishing certain ends, becomes an organization.

Through the centuries there have been many religious organizations brought into existence, designated as churches, bearing different names. It has not been long since I heard, "over the air," of the "Church of the Open Air." More, it was announced that each one who made a financial contribution to the fund needed to pay for the "broadcast" would be enrolled as a member of that church. Yes, it is the first church I have heard of making money the condition of membership. Each name was to be enrolled, and name read "over the air."

The first "Methodist's" were a few men who began as a society, a group distinct from a church of which they were members, proposing to strive for holiness in life. The movement grew, and in time became a church. Though it began as a very small group, members of a church, it is now of such proportions that there are many thousands of members. The small organization grew into a church. Yes, in a large measure the church into which it grew no longer gives emphasis to the teaching of the first organization, which had Mr. John Wesley as one of its foremost leaders.

There have been numbers of organizations, small in their beginning, with no design of becoming a church which have grown into a church originating with a mere man, and now wearing a man-given name. Its first design was not to become a church, but in these days it is a church, receiving members, and administering baptism.

The church Christ established has not ceased to exist for a single day since it was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ.

Possibly the greatest mistake that has been made by men stems from the fact that they think of the church of Christ as being an organization, rather than an organism. Thinking of the Lord's church as an organization only, men feel free to form organizations in the church to accomplish the work of the church, rather than doing the work in and through the church itself.

Man's body is an organism. Fearfully and wonderfully made. I wonder if we will ever understand ALL about the body of man. In many ways it is a mystery. Does anyone understand all the mysteries of the human body?

It was in the 17th century that Harvey learned that the blood in the man's body circulates through the veins and arteries; but he did not learn that it carried necessary elements to every fiber of the body, without which the body would cease to exist as such. (Gen. 9:4.) The church of Christ is the body of Christ, his spiritual body on earth. "He is the head of the body, the church." (Col. 1:18.) "For his body's sake, which is the church." (Col. 1:24.) Those who are members of the "body, which is the church," are, of course, part of his body. Is it thought that such means no more than that they are in an organization, such as men form today ? Let it be remembered that the church is of divine origin. Said Christ: "I will build my church." (Matt. 16. 16:18.) The Lord adds to his church. Human organizations are governed by men, and men determine on what conditions organizations are to accept men as members. Not so of the church of Christ. The Lord adds to it — it takes divine power to make one a member of the church of Christ. Thinkest thou that there is no vital connection between the members of the body of Christ and Christ himself?

Jesus says that when a man and woman marry they become one flesh. (Eph. 5:22-23.) In the parable of the vine and the branches, Jesus speaks of himself as the "vine" and the disciples as "branches." (John 15:1-6.) Do you not know that there is a vital connection between the vine and the branches? The sap carries to the branches the necessary food for life and growth. Christ is the "true vine," Christians are the "branches." They have vital connection with him, hence the church is an organism, rather than an organization only. So long as people think of the church of Christ as a mere organization, they will continue to think they are at liberty to form organizations to do the work of the church.

I fear many overlook, or fail to retain in memory the admonition found in 1 Corinthians 10:31. "Do all to the glory of God," and the exhortation: "Unto him be glory in the church throughout all ages." (Eph. 3:21.) Let us remember that the existence of the church is not due to the treatment of Christ by the Jews when he was here in person, as some Premillennialists teach — that Christ came to set up the promised kingdom, but when the Jews rejected him, he substituted, temporarily the church! The statement is very clear and positive that it was the eternal purpose of God that through the church was to be made known the gospel. (Eph. 8:8-12.)

Salvation is "in Christ." Paul said: "I endure all things for the elect's sake that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 2:10.) To be in Christ is to be in his body, the church. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:26, 27.)

The members of your natural body cooperate, that is no one member can do all the work necessary to the functioning of the body as a whole. There is work for the hand, feet, eyes, ears, etc.

By divine warrant there existed congregations of Christians, groups called churches; as the church in Jerusalem, Ephesus, and other towns in the days of the apostles; but each individual was the "body of Christ" — Christ's body — which is composed of all God's children.

The church at New Castle may minister to the needs of the sick men in that town; and though the church in Salerno does not contribute to the aid of the sick man in New Castle, it is a fact that the church of Christ administered to the man's needs. The church at New Castle may engage in a series of meetings — preaching the gospel, and the church in Salerno may at the same time be engaged in a like meeting. Though not working together they are surely cooperating in the work of preaching the gospel.

It might prove profitable to study what the relationship should be between local congregations.