The church is the most precious thing in God’s eyes, and Christ gave Himself up for the church to redeem her and bring her to Himself. We need to see a vision of the preciousness, importance, and practicality of the church: the church is very important to God, and the church is both universal and local, the one universal church being expressed in many local churches on earth.
After we have seen the vision of the church, we need to go on and see the vision of the Body of Christ. The church is the outward frame, but the Body is the inward and intrinsic constitution.
Just as an apple tree is the outward frame of the tree, and what we enjoy from the tree is the apple as the essence of the tree, so the Body of Christ is the essence of the church, and without the Body the church is an empty shell.
We need to see that the Body of Christ is the intrinsic significance of the church (see Eph. 1:22-23); without the Body of Christ, the church makes no sense. We as the many believers in Christ are not merely individual believers or part of the church but we are members of the Body of Christ, and individually members one of another (Rom. 12:4-5).
Seeing the vision of the Body of Christ is higher than seeing the vision of the church. Once we see the vision of the church, we need to go on and see the vision of the Body.
The Body of Christ is a divine-human constitution of the Triune God and the believers in Christ (see Eph. 4:4-6). The Body of Christ is the Triune God being wrought into His people to build Himself into them and constitute them with God for God to dwell in man; also, the Body of Christ is man being brought into God, built into God, and constituted into God to dwell in God.
The building up of the Body of Christ is taking place in the mingled spirit – we are being built up as the dwelling place of God in spirit (see Eph. 1:22-23). The building up of the Body of Christ is the constitution of the Triune God and the tripartite man in the mingling of the Spirit of God with the spirit of man (see 1 Cor. 6:17; Rom. 8:16).
This is so mystical yet so real and practical, since we can experience it day by day! First, we need to SEE the vision of the Body of Christ as the intrinsic significance of the church and the divine constitution of God with man!
The Body of Christ is the Intrinsic Significance of the Church
In the age of the degradation of the church today it is the Lord’s mercy that we would have our eyes enlightened and the veils removed so that we may see the vision of the church, the most precious thing in God’s eyes, in its universal and local aspect.
In His sovereignty God’s purpose for the church is that there would be one church universally and a local representation of the church in each city: one city, one church. After we see such a vision of the church, we need to see the vision of the Body of Christ (see Eph. 1:17-18, 22-23; 4:16; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13, 27).
The Body of Christ is the intrinsic significance of the church. The church as the assembly of the ones called out by God can be something outward and social if it doesn’t have the Body as the essence and significance. The church makes no sense without the Body, and without the Body the church has no meaning.
Christ is the Head of the Body and He is above everyone and everything, constantly transmitting all that He is and has accomplish to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all and in all.
An illustration of the relationship between the church and the Body is an apple tree: the tree is the outward frame, but the essence of the tree are the apples themselves. We don’t eat the apple tree but the apples. In a similar way, the church is the outward frame and the Body is the intrinsic essence and significance. When people come to the church, they need to see the Body of Christ.
We are all not only part of the church but we are members of the Body of Christ and individually members one of another in the Body (Rom. 12:4-5). We can’t consider ourselves as separate individual believers – we are members of the Body! The church of God is “the frame” and the Body of Christ is the organism, the essence.
No local church should be isolated and apart from other churches, but all the local churches need to be in the reality of the Body of Christ and in much fellowship with other churches. Hallelujah, we are members of the Body of Christ!
Lord Jesus, cause us to see the vision of the Body. May we realize that the Body of Christ is the intrinsic significance of the church. Lord, may we see that we are members of the Body! May we realize that we are NOT merely individual Christians but we’re individually members one of another in the Body. Lord, save us from separating ourselves or staying away from the saints. Keep us in the church life being built up with the saints, our fellow members in the Body!
The Body of Christ is a Constitution of the Triune God with the Believers in Christ
What is the Body of Christ? Paul speaks of this term, the Body of Christ, in a few places; but what exactly is the Body? Simply put, the Body of Christ is a divine constitution of the Triune God with the believers in Christ.
If you read Eph. 4:4-6 you will see that the Triune God is being mingled and constituted with the tripartite man to be the Body of Christ, an organic entity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit – the entire Triune God – are being united, mingled, and incorporated with man to be blended and built up together to become the Body of Christ.
I was really helped to understand what the Body of Christ is by the following sharing by brother Witness Lee on this matter,
The Triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit — is dispensing, transfusing, and building Himself into the believers whom He has redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, and transformed, so that they and the God who redeemed and transformed them can be constituted into a corporate entity, which is the organic Body of Christ….The building up of the Body of Christ is the constitution of the Triune God and the tripartite man in the Spirit of God and the spirit of man. This constitution is the union and mingling of God and man. It is divinity constituted into humanity to be man’s dwelling place, and it is humanity built into divinity to be God’s dwelling place. (The Issue of the Union of the Consummated Spirit of the Triune God and the Regenerated Spirit of the Believers, pp. 52, 54)
Wow! As regenerated people we have the Triune God being wrought into us so that He may constitute us with Himself and build us into himself so that we and Him would become a corporate entity, the Body of Christ.
God is being built into man as the frame and man is being built into God as the intrinsic constitution, and together they become a mutual dwelling place where God dwells in man and man dwells in God.
And the practical building up of the Body of Christ takes place in the mingled spirit. We are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17) and the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16). The building up of the Body of Christ is the constitution of the Triune God and the Tripartite man in the Spirit of God being mingled with the spirit of man.
When we exercise our mingled spirit, we build up the Body of Christ. When we exercise our spirit by touching the Lord, calling on His name, opening to Him, praying and pray-reading His word, singing in spirit, etc we are being built into the Body of Christ.
Our mingled spirit is crucial: it is here that the building of the church takes place, and it is here that we are mingled and constituted with God. The Body of Christ is an organism, an organic entity composed of God and man being mingled together, and this organism is both divine and human to express Christ in all His fullness (Eph. 1:23).
The all-inclusive, vast, rich, and unlimited Christ as the One who fills all and in all needs a Body to contain Him, enjoy Him, and express Him. As the church, we are the Body of Christ enjoying the riches of Christ and becoming His fullness for others to see Him expressed and glorified.
May we see the vision of the Body of Christ as the constitution of the Triune God with His believers in spirit!
Lord Jesus, may we clearly see that the Body is not something outward but the organic constitution of God and man. We open to Your dispensing, transfusing, and building Yourself into us, the ones who have been redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, and transformed! Lord, we exercise our spirit to both see the Body and build up the Body so that You may have Your fullness! Hallelujah for the Body of Christ as a constitution of the Triune God with the believers in Christ!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Minor Chen’s sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, The Issue of the Dispensing of the Processed Trinity and the Transmitting of the Transcending Christ (pp. 90-92), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Heavenly Vision, week 3 / msg 3, The Vision of the Church – the Body of Christ (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Further reading on the matter of the mingled spirit:
# The Mingled Spirit (via Affirmation and Critique, excellent reading, PDF file).
# What is the mingled spirit and why do we call it “mingled spirit”? (via ContendingForTheFaith).
# The secret of the Christian life: living in the mingled spirit (via, holdingtotruth.com).
- Hymns on this topic:
# The church is the building up / Of all God’s chosen and redeemed, / Regenerated and transformed people, / The ultimate work of God, / His counterpart, the new man, / The seven golden lampstands, / God’s house on earth, / The Body of Christ, / The desire of God’s heart. (Song on the Church as the Body)
# Not the individual Christians, / but a corporate entity— / God must have it for His full expression now; / Not just individual churches but the Body corporately— / Hallelujah, we are in the Body now! (Hymns #1226)
# One God, one Lord, one Spirit- / Her elements all one- / One faith, one hope, one baptism, / One Body in the Son; / The triune God is in her, / One Body members own, / By faith they are united, / In hope of glory shown. (Hymns #824)