Head and Body
1. We looked at the concept of headship a couple of weeks ago and noted that headship involves authority and unity.
2. There is ONE Head. That one Head is in absolute authority over the body. That Head is Christ… and He rules the Body.
3. One Head also implies unity… unity around the Head. There are many members with many various functions, but they are in sync with each other because they are in sync with the Head.
4. Today we are going to look at a few other aspects of Headship:
a. One Head; one will… not my will but Thine…
b. One Head; one life… Christ in you… to live is Christ…
c. One Head; one purpose… with one mouth may glorify God…
d. One Head; one power… power of the resurrection…
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HEAD AND THE BODY
A. The Gap Between the Head and the Body
1. The Head has been raised from the dead into a new realm – into the heavenlies.
a. Col. 1:18 – the firstborn from the dead.
b. There was no church when Christ was on earth during His period of humiliation… His earthly ministry.
c. Christ was not the Head of the Body. There was no Head or Body.
d. But Christ rose from the dead into a new realm: glory!
e. He arose from the dead in a glorified human body as HEAD of this New Man… the church.
f. Eph. 1: 20-23 – it was the resurrected Christ who was GIVEN as Head of the Body.
2. The Body has been raised into a new realm spiritually and positionally.
a. Eph. 2:5-6 – the born again believer of this age has been raised up spiritually WITH Christ in heavenly places.
b. Col. 3:1 – we have been raised up with Him…
c. The church, the Body is an assembly of born again believers… every one of which has been raised up spiritually.
d. Hence, the church is a heavenly body… God’s heavenly people.
e. Heaven is our home; our citizenship is there; it is our position by virtue of the fact that we are now IN CHRIST who is there.
3. But the Body is still living in a cursed earth, physically.
a. Our head is in heaven, but the Body is on earth.
b. The Head has been raised into immortality; to incorruption; to a glorified human state as the God-Man.
c. But the Body is still on earth, in mortal bodies, dealing with corruption… both physically and spiritually.
d. The Body is still infected with SIN… every member has a sin nature… and yet, every member also has a new nature as part of the new creation.
e. The Head dwells in the blissful environment of heaven, while His Body lives (physically) in a world system that is anti-God; anti-Christ; and takes out its wrath against Christ on any manifestation of Christ-likeness demonstrated through His Body.
f. This creates massive problems for the Body today: sin, worldliness, manifestation of the flesh rather than a manifestation Christ, and often persecution when the Body does manifest Christ.
g. In one sense, there is a huge disconnect between Christ the Head who is in heaven, and the Body which is on earth.
h. The Head and its Body are in two completely different environments… in two different realms.
i. What an apparent disparity:
» Heaven for the head/earth for the Body;
» immortality/mortality; incorruption/corruption;
» glorified human body/suffering and sickly human body; heavenly bliss/cursed earth;
» sinless perfection/struggling sin nature;
4. Dwelling on this disparity is cause for great discouragement.
a. One might be led to believe that the Head is far away; disengaged from His Body;
b. One might develop a “detached” mentality that is so prevalent in the evangelical world today:
» The Head is way up in heaven and He is coming some day for His Body.
» Until then we are on our own to struggle the best we can until He returns to take us home.
» Hence, an attitude is developed that sees this life as almost a waste of time… just bidding our time until it’s over…and THEN real life begins.
» Not so. This life is important to God. Our new life… our abundant life in Christ… our eternal life does not begin when we die and go to heaven. It begins the moment we are born again!
» God does not want us to live as if we were “detached” from the Head! He wants us to be engaged with our Head… involved with what He is doing… so that we can say, “For to me to live is Christ!” Today! Now! This life is Christ… or should be!
» Christ is near and not afar off. The whole concept of head and body is designed to highlight this truth!
c. Some turn to one form of legalism or another.
» They are hoping that if we can behave better… perhaps we can get closer to Christ our Head… and bridge the gap.
» This is what the Judaizers were teaching in Colossae.
» Some assemblies develop a set of do’s and don’ts, and if you follow that list meticulously, then you are allegedly closer to Christ.
» Being obedient to a set of man made rules does not mean that we are close to the Head. The Sadducees and Pharisees were obedient to their rules… but they were far from God! They drew nigh with their mouths, but their heart was far from God!
» It is so very possible to be busy DOING things for Christ and yet have no close personal relationship to Him! Martha was guilty of that.
» Service FOR Christ is no substitute for a relationship WITH Christ.
» Service alone isn’t going to bring us close to Christ our Head.
d. Some struggle and fail so many times they give up… and some eventually return to the world.
» If our concept of the Head/Body relationship is that Christ is far away… detached… and the only way to draw near is by being good…
» And if we think that being good is something that rests on our shoulders… by our efforts… then we are doomed for failure.
» As believers, we KNOW the heavenly walk that the Head expects for His Body…
» And how discouraging to KNOW what kind of walk the Head expects… and to DESIRE to walk that way… and yet to discover that that heavenly walk is way beyond our grasp… and every effort we exert to produce such a life eventually leads to failure!
» A close relationship between the head and Body will never be accomplished through self effort.
e. Others know virtually nothing about the Risen Savior, and devote themselves to learning about Christ in the gospels and attempt to imitate His earthly life…
» With the best of intentions, they hope to develop a relationship to Christ by imitating His earthly life.
» Imitating Christ’s earthly life is SELF attempting to demonstrate how Christ like it can be.
» God doesn’t want us to imitate Christ’s life. He wants our life to BE Christ… not I but Christ! For to me to live is Christ!
» The Christian life… being close to our Head is Christ living His life through us… and manifesting His life through His Body… so it is no longer I but Christ.
» We are not to IMITATE His life by self effort. God doesn’t want us to imitate Christ’s life.
» Rather, God wants to REPRODUCE Christ’s life in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit.
» It is God working in you… not you working for God.
B. God’s Means of Closing that Gap: FAITH
1. The Head is in heaven and the Body is on earth…
a. To the natural eye, there is an infinite gap between the two. Never the twain shall meet! God seems afar off… as far as the heavens are above the earth!
b. The works system is so INGRAINED in us!
» The unsaved man thinks he has to DO something to earn his way up to God.
» Even the untaught believer adopts this view. Even after being saved by faith, we often assume that to have a close relationship to God we have to DO something spectacular to prove to Him our love and dedication.
» Martha as an individual was BUSY DOING FOR the Lord… and she missed out on the one thing that was necessary… fellowship and communion WITH the Lord!
» Churches make that same mistake… assuming that the more activity that takes place… the more LIFE of Christ is being manifested through the Body. Not so.
» Activity is not necessarily demonstrations of LIFE… of the life of Christ.
» It CAN be a demonstration of the flesh… human effort… misguided zeal…
c. The church at Laodecea is an example of an assembly where there was much activity… (Rev. 3:14-22)
» They were busy working and Christ observed their works… their activity… their business… (vs.15a)
» They were evidently ministering to each other on a horizontal level… man to man — for all their earthly needs were being met… they had need of nothing.
» Vs. 20 – but this body was not connected to Christ the Head. He was on the outside… desiring fellowship… desiring communion with them… but they were too busy with their programs and their own plans to spend time with Him!
» Their activity made the church APPEAR to be alive and healthy… but the spiritual reality was far different. They were in fact wretched, miserable, blind, and naked!
» This is an ever present danger in our day and age… and in our culture… a culture of self sufficiency… a culture of success… to substitute business with life.
» This is why I stand so opposed to the church growth movement… which thrives on using business techniques in the church.
» And they DO seem to work on an organizational level… business skills are put to work… administrative skills are put to work… advertising is incorporated… proven Madison Avenue techniques are put to work…
» Human talent and skill can MAKE an organization successful… but that successful organization could at the same time be DEVOID of the life of Christ and the power of God… forms of godliness that deny the power thereof!
» I have seen it work. I have read their books describing how others can put these techniques to work in their church… and become a successful business organization.
» But successful business techniques often translate into a miserable failure when it comes to the functioning of the BODY of Christ as a spiritual organism.
2. The Body is healthy ONLY to the degree to which its individual members are yielded… surrendered… and submissive to the Head…
a. Eph. 1:23 – When that is the case, the body is full of the fullness of HIM… not full of itself, but full of Him… not full of its own ideas or activities… or its own will… but full of Christ…
b. This body is healthy when we all walk in humility before God, yielded, and demonstrate the mind of Christ: Not my will but Thine be done! Not I but Christ! He must increase but I must decrease!
c. When the members share that mindset, the Body is full of Christ.
d. When the Body is full of Christ, there is NO GAP between the Head and the Body… perfect union and intimate connection… the way a body SHOULD be!
» His power is operating
» His life and His character are manifested
» His will is being carried out
» His name is exalted and glorified
3. But God has provided the means for that gap to be closed…FAITH; trust; resting; abiding.
a. Rom. 12:1-2 – It involves putting our all on the altar of sacrifice for God’s glory.
» Have you come to that place in your Christian life?
» Is there something you are withholding from the Lord? Something you are unwilling to let go of?
» If so, you are missing out on the very power of God in your life!
» AND you are hindering what God wants to do through His Body!
» Yielding to God involves an end to our earthly self life… it is the crucified life…
» Until we let go of self will… and put our all on the altar, we will be earthbound… left to struggle in the flesh… and unable to experience the power of the resurrection in our lives… and unable to experience a close relationship to the Risen Savior…
» There is a disconnect between the Head in heaven, and a member of His Body on earth. That hinders God.
b. I John 3:6 – Abiding in Christ by faith is God’s answer.
» The one who abides in Him sinneth not!
» That place of full surrender… yieldedness… putty in God’s hands… willing to do, say, or be whatever He desires for us… is a place of spiritual safety and health.
» Notice that “sinning not” is linked to our relationship to Christ… an abiding relationship…
» By faith, the yielded member… and therefore, the yielded Body, will experience Christ… His power and life will flow through that Body… and that Body will manifest the life and character of the Head.
» The branch that abides in the Vine will produce much fruit. The believer who abides in Christ will not be sinning.
» Are you struggling with sin? Then stop trying to conquer that sin on your own… and START believing Christ.
» Christ has already defeated our foes… the world, the flesh, and the devil… our sin nature is a defeated enemy.
» BELIEVE it. Trust God. Rest in Christ. And allow yourself to be FILLED with the fullness of God. And by faith – the power and fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in your life. This is God’s means of victory
» That which is true for the individual member is also true for the assembly of believers corporately too.
» If we want to fulfill God’s purpose for us as a church – that goal will be fulfilled only to the degree that we are abiding in Christ… and thus by faith, connected to the Head… resting in our heavenly position.
» THEN fruit is produced in us by the Holy Spirit.
» As a church, we can be busy starting soup kitchens, establishing a school, forming committees and countless ministries… and it COULD all be for nought…
» This is naught but useless frenetic energy of the flesh – unless the Body is being directed by the Head, empowered by the Spirit and filled with the fullness of God.
4. All of this is involved in individuals ABIDING in Christ…
a. When that is the case, the Body is as close to the Head as a branch is to the Vine…
b. When this is the case, then Christ’s life, power, and will is manifested in and through the Body…
c. FAITH enables the Body which is on earth to experience a connection to our Head which is in heaven.
d. As a church, a body of born again believers, we ARE connected to the Head. Each one of us has been baptized into His Body by the Spirit.
e. This is our heavenly calling… IN Christ… Positionally, we are as close to the Head as one can get: we are His Body!
f. But not every believer DWELLS in his position. Not every believer sets his affections on things above… or reckons himself to be dead to this world… and that HINDERS the Body from being filled with the fullness of Christ.
g. But when we DO concentrate on Christ and our relationship to Him, THEN His life and power will RADIATE through His body…
h. And that is what we are here for…
i. This results in fruit to His glory because it is His work in His Body.
j. His love for the lost being manifested through us will result in personal evangelism… each one of us…
» Some churches have one evangelist come to speak to the church.
» I prefer to have the assembly gather for worship and edification… and then send out 150 taught and edified evangelists into the community when this service is over!
» If we are connected to Christ, then His love for the lost will be manifested through us…
» This doesn’t require renting out the local football stadium for a high pressure evangelistic meeting once every couple of years. This is how a business organization operates.
» Rather, it means that there will be hundreds of evangelistic meetings… perhaps over a cup of coffee at a coffee shop with a neighbor… perhaps at a soccer game… perhaps in the cafeteria at work… perhaps after school with some classmates, one on one…
» This is how the church as a living organism works…
THE WHOLE BODY IS CONNECTED TO THE HEAD
1. It is not just an individual finger connected to the Head; or a knee connected to the Head, or a hand connected to the Head… it is the WHOLE BODY that is to be connected to the Head.
a. What a hideous picture – a head with a finger or a knee attached randomly to it…
b. One would look at such a sight and remark, whoever designed such a thing? What was he thinking?
c. Well, that’s NOT the way God designed the Body.
d. But it is the way many believers operate today… the ones who go to St. Mattress church on Sunday… or perhaps they attend the Church of the Living Room… or Home Baptist Church…
e. There is a movement of believers today who are attempting to by pass the local church… and seek to have a relationship to God as individuals… or as individual families.
f. Some of this has arisen from the home school movement… which has blossomed into a home church movement…
g. This is contrary to God’s plan… the local church… His Body… His Bride…
h. Imagine the audacity of a finger attempting to bypass the body and connect itself directly to the Head… and refusing to submit to the place in the Body God designed it to fit? (I Cor. 12:18) That’s the folly of an individual believer attempting to abide in Christ on its own in this age!
i. Imagine the audacity of a hand (with several fingers) attempting to connect itself directly to the Head… and refusing to submit to the place in the Body God designed it to fit? That’s the folly of a family rejecting God’s plan for the local church and having their own “family Bible church.”
j. That is NOT God’s plan.
k. I can understand the frustration of some. Some folks have had some pretty bad experiences in churches. Some have been stung… burned… and hurt. Some see much carnality in the churches.
l. But you don’t throw the baby out with the dirty bath water.
m. The local church—with all of its shortcomings… is STILL God’s plan for this age.
n. Eph. 5:26-27 – And in spite of all the wrinkles we see in the local church, how does God view the church… His Body? From His heavenly vantage point, it is “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing!”
» God sees the church in its heavenly position… cleansed… pure… holy…
» And it is PRECIOUS to Him; as a bride to the bridegroom!
» So be careful how you treat the Body…
» I Cor. 3:16-17 – He that defiles the Temple of God shall be destroyed by God! I’m not sure I understand all of what’s involved in that—but I know enough to not want to be found guilty of that!
» The Body is precious to God… holy and pure… chaste… heavenly.
» DO you see the Body of Christ in that light? We should… we should view God’s plan from our heavenly position… from eternity’s perspective… from heaven’s vantage point.
» To ignore the local church or treat it lightly is to ignore or treat lightly Christ Himself. It is His Body.
» We can’t see the Head; He’s in heaven. But we can see His Body on earth. We can’t minister to Christ directly… but we can minister to members of His Body.
» Our attitude towards Christ is reflected in our attitude towards His Body.
» I’m convinced that the believer who really loves Christ and desires to spend time with Him and be with Him, will also love His Body, the local church… and will desire to spend time with His Body as it assembles together.
» Christ and His Body are inseparable… like the bridegroom and his bride!
» Our love for Christ will be demonstrated and manifested in our love for and ministry to His Body… the local church.
» May God help this truth to sink deeply into our minds and hearts.
» Eph. 3:9-10 – God manifests His wisdom to men and angels as they observe how the BODY functions and fellowships together… not just a couple of Hebrew Christian families meeting together… nor is it a few wealthy upper crust, blue blood families meeting together… nor is it an ethnic community meeting together to share their ethnicity and culture… nor is it an assembly of Harvard grads, home schoolers, factory workers, baseball fans, nor is it a group of poor migrant farmers meeting together to pray.
» The church is a body of believers from ALL walks of life meeting together… folks so different from each other, they really shouldn’t be ABLE to get along, but they do…
» And this diverse Body functions in harmony and unity when the individual members are all focused on Christ… the Risen Savior… walking the same narrow way… helping each other in love… as a spiritual family…
» Diversity tears things apart in the world. Look at Iraq. Look at America! But diversity works beautifully in the Body of Christ… when we acknowledge His Headship…
» And this is the glory of this age! Christ in you, the hope of glory!
HEADSHIP INVOLVES HIS WILL
1. The Headship of Christ over His Body is more than a theory.
2. It is intended to be exceedingly practical when one considers that Christ is called the Word in John 1:1.
a. The One who presides as Head of the Body is called the Word of God… and He has also revealed His will for that Body in the written Word… the Scriptures.
b. John 5:39 – The Scriptures bear witness of Christ… who He is… what He is like… how He thinks…
» In the Word we have the mind of Christ… His will…
» If we truly seek to carry out the will of the Head, we MUST be sold out to the idea of being as Biblical as we can possibly be!
» The question that we should seek to answer is not “what are all the other churches doing?” OR “what do the people like or want us to do?” but rather, what saith the Lord? What does God’s Word say about the local church?
3. A local church can be said to be in submission to the Headship of Christ only insofar as it submits to the written Word of God.
a. All authority resides in the Word of the Head.
b. The church is not a democracy. Christ rules.
c. Congregational rule is not what the Bible teaches. The people don’t rule — Christ rules! The church is not governed through a popular vote. — Christ rules!
d. When the people rule, God’s purpose for the local church is violated (Rev.3:14-20). Christ is no longer in a position of preeminence… but is on the outside looking in…
e. Christ rules! And He does so through His objective Word.
f. It is not up to us to come up with our own ideas as to what a church is or what it is to emphasize.
g. It is not up for us to decide. It is up to us to READ what is written and thus follow the will of our Head.
h. The pastor and the board of elders are said to rule in I Tim. 5:17—but only inasmuch as they are submitted to the Word of God. And thus, the real authority does not reside in them, but in Christ through His Word.
4. Since the Head of the Body has given us His Word, the will of the Head can be known and practiced.
Most of it is recorded for us in the Word.
His will doesn’t need to be discovered (as if it were hidden); it needs to be read and obeyed.
As the members of the Body saturate their minds and hearts with His Word, they are transformed into the image of Christ (II Cor.3:18). As we follow His pattern – His purpose for our lives is carried out.
» The thinking of those believers will be in harmony with the mind of Christ (I Cor.2:15-16).
» Instead of being conformed to the philosophies of the world, they will be transformed into Christ-likeness (Rom.12:1-2).
» Their minds being renewed will thus be enabled to prove (practice) that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
5. The Head rules in an assembly when its members have offered themselves to His service as living sacrifices are filled with the Spirit, and are (by faith) dead to self will.
When the Body members get self out of the way – the will, the power, the character, and the indwelling life of Christ will be manifested through us—which in turn exalts our Head—the Lord Jesus.
The heavenly Christ LIVES in and through His Body on earth – as a witness of His power to save a soul… and transform a life… and brings glory to God.
With all of the problems and difficulties involved in Body life and functioning together—this goal is worth it all!
If you love God, you will be involved in what He is doing on earth today: manifesting His Son through the local church!
If you love the Head, you will be faithful to assemble together with and minister to His Body… the local church.
This is a life worth living… the crucified, yet resurrected life.
The church… the Body is dead to this world, yet functions in the world and is connected intimately and organically to the Risen, ascended, glorified, ascended Savior!
When we as members of the Body of Christ are willing to put our all on the altar, put self out of the way, THEN the resurrection power and indwelling LIFE of our Risen Head is manifested to the world for His glory!