The Church as Christ’s Body

Something interesting about the Godhead is that their unity is described in the same way as the unity in marriage. We read in the shema (Deuteronomy 6:4 to be exact) “the Lord you God is one”. That Hebrew word is echad. The word echad means one just like our English word means one. But you can describe one in a manner that is not one. For example, if I talk about one bundle of sticks, I am not talking about one stick, but multiple. Likewise, echad is used in multiple places where it is obviously not talking about one, but multiple. One of those places is in Genesis 2. We’re told that Adam and Eve would become ‘one’ flesh. Jesus then presses this while answering a trick question and says, “If they are no longer two, but are now one, then let no man separate what God has brought together”. Thus, Jesus teaches the solidity of the word to mean one, even though we aren’t saying that married couples literally join at the hip when they “come together” in marriage. What it means for them to be one flesh will be explored a little later. For now, we use this point to display that God is unified, and is one, even though we see three. Yet, there is a further point to argue. We are the Bride of Christ, and in that, we are now united to Christ the same way that the husband and wife become “one flesh”. Therefore, the Church is no longer simply humanity, but instead united to God.

As individuals, we are not divine. However, we as the Church are one with God. He has elevated the Church to being co-heirs with Him. In this sense, the Body of Christ as a whole is placed in a position of authority to rule and reign. The whole Body has been made more than human, and now alongside of God. There has been an exaltation of the corporate Bride of Christ to the alignment of deity – not to say that we are deity, but to say that we have been seated alongside of deity. While we are on this earth, we are not divine. Yet, we see a marriage of the Lamb to take place, and after that marriage, the Bride is no longer “under” Christ, but instead a partner with Christ. Part of the Bride making herself ready (reference Revelation 19:7) is the sanctifying work of the Spirit to bring us into complete conformity to the image of Christ. No longer is there a distinction between humanity and divinity, but now such a stature in God has been found that the two have become one. That moment is the return of Christ, for we read in 1 John 3:2, “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

As of right now, we cannot make an authoritative case to say that the Body of Christ has been elevated to that platform. Yet, we do see this elevation as a future event. Therefore, if we are to discuss God’s triunity, then we must also make mention at the very least to the exaltation of the Bride to a deified stature. In this we find the nature of grace. God is revealed through Jesus to us, through the Holy Spirit in us. When flesh and Spirit have united to become one, and no longer two, we enter the realm of bodily resurrection. The question is twofold: is God free to reveal Himself to us, be our God without at the same time ceasing to be the sovereign Lord? And is God free in us, free to deal with us as His own, who belong to Him and obey Him, although we are but men, and sinful at that?

2 Corinthians 8:9 reads, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich.” So God’s grace is defined in that He put aside His deity to become like us, so that after being humbled (even unto death), we, through His resurrection, might become like Him. Thus, God’s revelation is only limited to our willingness to also humble self in order to be exulted. There are no hindrances from God fully revealing Himself to us in the man Jesus Christ, only a hindrance to Him revealing Himself in us by the Spirit. But God has fully revealed Himself to us in the man Jesus. Grace is God’s freedom unhindered either by Himself or by us. God is not bound in any manner – not even in us – because when we see the end, we find that somehow God has indeed brought a beautiful and spotless Bride to glorious perfection. While the hindrance of God is made manifest in our unwillingness to conform to His image, God’s sovereignty is made known by the fact that there will be a pure and spotless Bride in spite of our free will and unwillingness.

“He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, this is the definition of grace; that God would exult those who are humbled unto death. Humility is to be made (transformed into being) “like” God. Jesus humbled Himself unto death, and therefore was “exulted” above even the Father (if we can use such language). Because Jesus in His life submitted fully under the authority of the Father, the Father then promoted Jesus above all other names – including His own name. Likewise, when we obediently submit unto death, we too find that God will exalt us to having a name paralleled with Christ. We are not over, nor under, Christ, but instead will rule with Him side by side.

Is God able to reveal Himself to us and in us, or does our freewill hinder God’s ability? Apparently, our freewill does not limit God’s sovereignty in the slightest. Flesh and Spirit marry to become one, and this gives fuller expression to both flesh and spirit alone – first in the man Christ Jesus, and then also in we, His Body. God reveals Himself to us in Christ, and in Christ also expresses His via quo itur (footnote: way to which one must go). Jesus also lived in a manner, and taught in a manner, to display the via qua itur (footnote: way by which one must go). Yet, what we find in the Bride is that we follow Christ’s example, and thus we display the via qua itur through the Spirit by calling others to follow Him, the via quo itur. Jesus alone is the Way, and we do not take possession of that title. By our demonstration of the via qua itur through the eternal Spirit, namely, offering ourselves unblemished to God – to be ministers of the New Covenant with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit – we thus also become one with the via quo itur – the man is the message.

Thus, we conclude that the Bride of Jesus Christ will be one with Him in eternity, and this is how we define grace. Grace is known, not simply as unmerited favor, but instead in the sanctifying work of the Godhead in humanity. Grace is the expression of exaltation after humiliation. We are humbled unto death – being made one with Christ in His death – and thus are also the beneficiaries of His resurrection. Grace is known by the way the Father has exalted Christ Jesus, our first fruit from the dead, so that we have the blessed hope of partaking in that same life from the dead. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).

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