The Body of Christ is a local church

I Corinthians 12:27 - Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 


Some time I was preaching ago on the subject of the local church being the body of Christ.  I might have been using Ephesians 1:22,23 or some like passage, I don’t remember which passage.  I stated that IBC was the body and Christ was the head.  In my mind, I saw one body, attached to that body as a head.  IBC was the body, and Christ was the head.  I said that if IBC severed itself from its head, we would die.  That is correct.  But as I said it, I thought to myself, but I didn’t say it, that the head (in the picture I had in my mind) would also die.  I knew that wasn’t correct, because Christ will never die again.  I have been thinking some about that topic, but didn’t know what to do with it.  Then along came a book by Chuck Hunt, describing exactly the situation I found myself in.  His book answered the dilemma for me. 


I was wrong when I gave the illustration of the body of Christ.  The principles I spoke about were correct, but the illustration was wrong.  I pictured, in my mind, one body, complete with a head.  IBC is the body, Christ is the head, but that is error.  Christ is complete in himself, without us.  He does not need us to complete himself, although we might like to think he needs us.  Instead of one body, there should be two bodies.  One body will represent IBC, and the other body will represent Christ.  There are some scriptures that show my error, but first, it will be good to define the word “head”. 


There are two different meanings to the word correctly translated head.  AV-head 76; 76

1)      Actual - the head, both of men and often of animals. Since the loss of the head destroys life, this word is used in the phrases relating to capital and extreme punishment.

2)      Metaphorical – anything  supreme, chief, prominent

a)      of persons, master lord: of a husband in relation to his wife

b)      of Christ: the Lord of the husband and of the Church

c)      of things: the corner stone


The above metaphorical definition is what I missed. 


Some scriptures declaring the metaphorical head.

I.    Ephesians 5:23 states, For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 

A.     Paul understands that wives have actual, physical heads, and husbands have actual physical bodies. 

1.       Paul understands the wife has a complete physical body (including her physical head) just as the husband has a complete physical body (including his physical head). 

B.     The subject of Ephesians 5 is not the family, the home, or the relationship of the husband and wife.

1.       The subject, according to Ephesians 5:32-33 is the proper operation of the church of Jesus Christ. 

2.       In this passage, the husband is said to the be head of his wife.

a.       That doesn’t mean the husband sits on top of his wife’s shoulders. 

b.       It means the husband is the master, or chief, or leader of the wife. 

c.       The wife has a head of her own, which sits on top of her shoulders. She is an individual person, who is able to make decisions on her own, and she should, but she should make decisions based on the desires of her husband. 

3.       The church also has a head, the pastor.

4.       The church is able to make decisions on her own, and she should, but should only make those decisions based on the word of God, and the leadership of Jesus Christ, who is her head. 


II.    I Corinthians 12:21 – And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 

A.     There is a head in each church, just as there is an eye, and ear, a mouth and feet in every church, which is necessary to that church. 

1.       The head in this sense is probably the pastor, for everything that takes place in that church should go through the pastor. 

a.       That is his job, not because he is better than others, but because that is his position. 

b.       The pastor can never say, I have no need of the church, just as church members can never say, I have no need of the pastor. 

2.       Both pastor and church member are as necessary to the well-being of the church, as the head is necessary to the well-being of the body, and the body is necessary to the well-being of the head.  


III.    I Corinthians 12:18 states, But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 

A.     This passage confirms that every member of the church is established in that church by God himself. 

B.     This passage is speaking about the members of each local church, as Acts 2:47 states, …And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. 


IV.    The local church and sanctification. 

A.     Just as the wife cannot be sanctified outside the marriage, a church member cannot be sanctified outside church membership. 

1.       The Bible knows nothing about people being saved, and not being a church member, except it is implied in Acts 5:13. 

2.       After Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying to God, many failed to join the membership of the church, even though they were saved. 

3.       It is my opinion many believers misunderstood why Ananias and Sapphira died, therefore figured they would be saved, but never join the church, never identify themselves with other believers. 

4.       These people started out wrong, therefore they will end up wrong. 

B.     When I speak of the local church in this fashion, which is how the Bible speaks of the local church, it leads me to ask this question: Can a person be sanctified outside the membership of the local church? 

1.       Ephesians 4:11-16 answers this question. 

2.       The purpose of the church is to teach us how to submit ourselves to Christ, because we must submit ourselves to one another. 

a.       Example:  IBC is considering purchasing some land to have a building in the future, and room to grow the various ministries of the church. 

b.       Here is my opinion. 

c.       I would like to see us purchase the land, but if the church doesn’t believe that is God’s will, I am perfectly content to submit myself to the will of the church, believing God has spoken through you to me. 

d.       Are you willing to submit yourself to the church in that fashion, not just about purchasing or not purchasing the land, but about every other decision as well? 

3.       There may be some things we do not understand, but will we be contentious or submissive about matters we do not understand? 

a.       If God has added you to IBC, as stated in Acts 2:47, are you going to submit yourself to church authority as the believers in Acts 2? 

b.       Or are you going to go off on a tangent, trying to draw disciples away from the church to follow whatever plan you have in mind? 


V.    There is nothing wrong with teaching that believers have Christ as their head, but there is something wrong with teaching the metaphor of the body of Christ teaches that truth. 

A.     The relationship of believer to Christ is rightly described in the vine/branch teachings of John 15. 

1.       Romans 11:17-18 states, And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 

2.       These are examples of salvation metaphors, not of functional or church/Christ relationships. 

B.     Salvation metaphors always depict Christ as the life-sustaining source but as possessing within himself the fullness of life independent of anyone or anything. 

1.       John 15 – Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches.  The branches can be cut off, but the vine will still live. 

2.       Jesus is the bread which comes down from heaven.  We will stay dead if we do not partake of the bread of life.  Jesus is the one who multiplies bread without limit.  We simply partake. 

3.       Jesus is the water of life, and we must drink of him to have the well of water springing up into everlasting life.