New Life Course Lesson Five: The Body of Christ

Study Five

 THE BODY OF CHRIST

 After they were converted, baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, the new converts ‘joined’ themselves to the local Church. This is part of the normal process of becoming a Christian. In the New Testament several different terms are used to describe the Church, such as ‘Body’ or ‘Building’ or ‘Branches of the Vine’.

I.          MEMBERS OF THE BODY

What do you learn about the Body of Christ from Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:25 and I Cor. 12:27?

Write down other things you can learn concerning what the Church should be, by thinking of a human body.

Tick one of the following. The relationship between the various parts of the human body is:

A.   Vague, loose and indefinite

B.   Close, firm and well-defined

The members of a body receive life, strength and direction through other members and pass it on to one another, but it all originates in the head.

Who is the Head of the Body? (Eph. 1:22,23).

What attitude should members of the Body of Christ have for one another?

1.   I Cor. 12:25,26

2.   I Cor. 1:10

3.   I Pet. 4:8-10

What advantages are gained from being a living member of the Body rather than an isolated limb?

II.          STONES IN THE BUILDING

 What does Peter call Christians in I Pet. 2:5?

Study Eph. 2:19-22 and answer the following:

A.   Who is the chief corner stone?

B.   What is the building growing into?

C.   Is the process finished?

D.   Complete this: “You are also being built

E.   What is the purpose of the building? (v.22)

Consider the differences between a pile of bricks and a completed building. List some differences.

What do you consider are the advantages to a Christian of being ‘built into a temple’ of the local Church rather than being isolated?

III.  BRANCHES IN THE VINE

 Study John 15:1-8.

Who is the Vine?

Who are the branches?

What is the purpose of the Vine?

Which part bears fruit?

Can a branch bear fruit on its own?

What happens to a branch that is separated from the Vine? (v.6)

Consider the difference between a pile of branches and a living vine. What are the advantages of being joined to other ‘branches’ of the vine? List some of these advantages.

IV.        THE UNITY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

 The New Testament knows nothing of isolated individual Christians. If there were such, they would be as grotesque as a dismembered body, as desolate as a demolished building, and as withered and fruitless as a chopped up vine.

Read through John 17 and note the verses which refer to the disciples being ‘one’. Make notes on what you learn about the unity of the Body.

Read Eph. 4:1-16 and make similar notes on unity.

N.B. We must never seek to maintain unity at the expense of truth or righteousness.  Can you think of examples?

Becoming ‘one’ does not happen by accident. It requires definite action. We have to ‘join’.

 V.         THE MEANING OF JOINING

The word ‘member’, as used in the New Testament, is not to be identified with merely having your name on a church roll, keeping certain rules and contributing to the offering. That is ‘club-type’ membership. New Testament Church membership is being a ‘limb’ of a living body. Some evangelical churches, in an attempt to avoid the ‘club’ image, have done away with a membership list. But they have missed the point. Many churches without lists of members are as much like clubs as many other ‘club-type’ churches. A list of members is purely an administrative convenience, and it is clear that there were such lists in the early Church (e.g. Matt. 1:1-17; Lk. 6:13-16; Acts 1:13; 2:42). But what does ‘joining the Church’ really involve?

A.   Commitment (I Cor. 10:16,17)

To join is to commit yourself to the Lord as He is seen in your brothers and sisters. It is a sort of covenant between you. This brings a sense of belonging. It carries with it a certain responsibility to and for your fellow members. This implies loyalty to all members and leaders alike. Make notes on your thoughts about these terms concerning the Body of Christ:

1.   Commitment

2.   Covenant

3.   Belonging

4.   Responsibility

5.   Loyalty

B.   Love for the other members of the Body. Write notes on these verses:

John 13:34, 35

I Pet. 1:22

C.   Obedience

Look up these verses and make notes on this question of obedience:

Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 16:25,26; Heb. 13:7

D.   Contribution

Every member of the Body should play his part. Rom. 12:4-8; I Pet. 4: 10,11; Mal. 3:8-10. Make notes on these verses.

VI.        THE RESULTS OF BEING A MEMBER OF THE BODY

 A.   Joints are formed. (Eph. 4:16, cf. Col. 2:19). These joints are relationships in the Body. What do you learn from these verses?

B.   Life flows from one to the other. (Eph. 4: 15,16; Rom. 12:4-8; I Pet. 4: 10,11; Jn. 15:1-17). How do you think life flows?

C.   There is mutual care. (I Cor. 12:25,26; Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-35). Give examples of how this can happen.

D.   We are pastored. This includes a measure of protection.

(Eph. 6:10; cf. I Cor. 5:3-5).

It implies being under authority (Lk. 7:6-8; Acts 13:1-3; Heb. 13:17).

Being subject to training and discipline (Heb. 12:5-11; II Tim. 2:2; 4:2).

Write comments on these.

E.   We have shepherds and leaders (Jer. 3:15). Who are they?

EXERCISE

Answer the following:

1.   Do you belong to a live Church?

2.   Is there anyone over you in the Lord?

3.   Is there anyone close to you and alongside you?

4.   Have you made any progress in the areas covered by this study? If not, write down what you are going to do as well as pray.

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