THE HEAD AND BODY OF CHRIST
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Christ, the Anointed Deliverer, consists of a Head and a Body. This does not mean the Lord Jesus Christ is merely one part of a many-membered deliverer. Jesus Christ remains Lord and Head of all that is included in the universe of God.

We capitalize "Body," not to assign an exalted place to the members of the Body, but because the Body, although comprised of human beings (having been made new creations through Christ), is to become an integral part of the Head and completely identified with Him throughout all eternity.


THE HEAD AND BODY OF CHRIST

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (Colossians 1:15-19)

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

Christ, the Anointed Deliverer, consists of a Head and a Body. This does not mean the Lord Jesus Christ is merely one part of a many-membered deliverer. Jesus Christ remains Lord and Head of all that is included in the universe of God.

We capitalize "Body," not to assign an exalted place to the members of the Body, but because the Body, although comprised of human beings (having been made new creations through Christ), is to become an integral part of the Head and completely identified with Him throughout all eternity.

Yesterday morning (May 26, 2002) I was praying in my office in the church. I always seek the Lord prior to the service to find out what He wants to say to the people at that particular time. I seldom know in advance the subject of the morning or evening message.

I could sense the burden was that the saints give themselves to the Lord to determine His will for their life. In particular, they should be seeking the gifts and ministries of the Spirit in order to build up the Body of Christ.

When I concluded the message I felt the Presence of God. I did not know what to do. I knew we were not finished with the service.

I asked the people to come up and stand in front of the altar, and ask God to give them a spiritual gift; to show them what He wants them to do.

I still was grappling with what was supposed to be done at this point.

Then there appeared before me what one might term a vision, although it could be referred to as a strong mental impression. I saw the Body of Christ, but it was skin and bones.

I felt I was supposed to prophesy, but I could not bring it to birth. I asked if someone had something from the Lord to speak up.

Finally my Wife, Audrey, came forth with a powerful prophecy.

I cannot remember the words of the prophecy, except there was something about "caravans from the East."

We discussed this later. We decided it either was referring to the caravan that purchased Joseph and brought him to Egypt, or else to the "kings from the East" of the Book of Revelation. The kings from the East, represent, I think, those who are to govern the earth, led by the Lord Jesus Christ. However, there is nothing in the Book of Revelation about these kings coming in a caravan.

If the Lord is speaking of the caravan that purchased Joseph, God is saying the ones whom the Father has chosen and have been in a pit are ready now to be tested by the Word of God in the realm of morality. After that comes imprisonment. Finally rulership over Egypt, representing the world.

If this is the true interpretation, it will be a while before the Head returns to be joined to the Body.

In any event, as soon as Audrey finished with her prophecy, I was released to speak about the impression of the emaciated Body of Christ. As I started to describe what I was seeing, I began to prophecy.

The burden of the prophecy was that God is ready to build the Body of Christ into a perfect creation. Then the Head will return and be joined to the Body. The completed Christ will go through the earth, bringing justice to the nations.

Now, you see, the burden had changed from that of the people seeking their personal place in the Body to that of the Head being joined to the Body.

As often is the case, in the evening this burden was still with me. I could still "see" the Body before me. The "vision" is abating somewhat this morning.

The idea of the people entering more into the Life of Christ and into their ministries and gifts had developed into the need to build the Body of Christ. But a further development had occurred. The emphasis now was on the members of the Body being responsive to the Head.

For years I have been saying as we move past the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost into the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles we are going to have to learn stern obedience to the Father.

The first feast, Passover, emphasizes the Passover Lamb and the blood atonement.

The second feast, Pentecost, emphasizes the Holy Spirit.

The third feast, Tabernacles, emphasizes doing the will of the Father.

This I have been teaching; but now I realize the importance of utter obedience. If we are to be members of the Body of Christ, and if the Head is to come down upon the Body, we must be perfectly responsive to the Head, to the Lord Jesus.

Throughout my experience as a Christian I have noticed that most Christian work (or so it seems to me) is performed without a clear understanding of the immediate will of God. We all know the general will of God, that His will must be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Godís will is described in the New Testament. But even this understanding has been warped into the concept that we are saved in order to make our eternal residence in Heaven.

But the immediate will of God, what God is saying and desiring right now, seems to not always be clear.

During the centuries of the Christian Era much effort has gone forth in the attempt to bring salvation to people. But that this work has not been done under the immediate supervision of Christ is evident. If the work had been directed by the Lord Jesus, there would never have been Christian religious persecution. Nor would there have been the entanglement with world politics. Nor would there have been created thousands of competing denominations.

I notice today that there are any number of programs designed to "bring people to Christ." But I get the impression that this worthy goal is often being pursued apart from clear directions from the Lord.

I do not believe the Head will come down on the Body until every member is completely responsive to the Head. Before we can be part of the Body of Christ we will have to learn to move according to every impulse coming from the Head.

The Body of Christ is the Christian Churchóultimately the new Jerusalem. There will be no member of this Divine entity that is not totally, immediately responsive to the Head, just as the Lord Jesus is totally, immediately responsive to the Father.

Can you see the reason for this?

Paul compares the entire Christ, Head and Body, with the human body.

Whenever any part of our body does not respond completely to our head, we are ill. This is not an acceptable condition. From major parts of our body to the smallest cell, all must be under the control of the head.

So it is with Christ. There can be no part of Christ that is not totally responsive to the Head, to the Lord Jesus.

This means the members of the various Christian organizations have an enormous transition to make. Even though a person has been saved through the blood atonement, and has been filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she is not as yet eligible to be part of the Body when the great Head descends from Heaven to be joined to the Body.

We must learn stern, uncompromising obedience to the Head, and we must learn it today.

Let us begin with the Book of Romans. The first two verses of the twelfth chapter of Romans  put together the burden that came on me yesterday.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Godís mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godóthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godís will isóhis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

"Offer your bodies as living sacrifices."

This is the concept I was burdened with yesterday morningóthat the saints would cease from their own ways and works and live on the altar of God. This means every plan, every desire, every thought, every action is directed toward the Lord Jesus for His approval.

We are alive. Yet, we are crucified with Christ and seeking to conduct ourselves so it always will be true that it is Christ who is living and not we ourselves. We do not learn how to live this way overnight. It requires years of faith and patience.

"Holy and pleasing to God"

I was in the United States Marine Corps. I added many words to my vocabulary. These words and phrases are used continually by servicemen, many of whom are righteous and honorable people. I respect their integrity, their willingness to throw themselves on a hand grenade to save the lives of their buddies.

But I cannot use such language myself. Why not? Because God wants me to be holy, and God does not talk like that. Such expressions are not pleasing to God.

We speak much of worship these days. The best form of worship is the presenting of our body as a whole burnt offering to God, so to speak.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Slowly but surely the nations of the world are being brought together as one great city, with common terminology and common values. This is being accomplished by telecommunications, such as television and the Internet.

Any student of group dynamics understands the power present in a group to bring all of its members to consensus on a range of topics.

We who are called to be members of the Body of Christ are not to accept the values of the world. We are to be transformed as our mind in renewed in Christ. Renewing our mind in Christ means daily prayer, daily reading of the Bible, and bringing every decision to Christ throughout the day.

We must be careful that the information that bombards us daily through the newspaper, the television, and the Internet, do not affect the intensity with which we are seeking the Lord. Such maintaining of Godís values in the midst of the hurricane of worldly thought is extremely difficult in the United States of America.

We cannot test and approve Godís will for our life until we are presenting our body a living sacrifice to the Lord and are being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Such is the firstóand probably most important aspectóof learning to be responsive to the Head, to the Lord Jesus.

Remember, we cannot be part of the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, until we are totally responsive to the Head. Christ will not have paralyzed or spastic members in His Body. I am speaking spiritually.

Sometimes the Word of the Lord comes to us through personal prophecy, or journaling, or a word of wisdom or of knowledge. Such supernatural communications can be helpful, but their value is minimal if we are not denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord.

The Scriptures are the greatest of all guides to Godís will. But they tell us one thing, and then another. The sons of God are led by the Spirit; and the Spirit never contradicts any part of the Word of God.

Many saints of our day hear directly from the Lord. There are many more who do not. How are they to find out what God is saying?

The prophets in the churches often can give us a sense of what God is saying in the present hour. But we still need guidance for the decisions we must make each day, especially the major choices. The best passage of which I am aware is the following:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Trusting in Jesus with all of our heart and not leaning to our own understanding is the opposite of the pattern of the present world.

We are to acknowledge Christ in all our ways. If we learn to acknowledge Christ in the small things, such as what we should be doing during the day, then when we come to the larger issues, such as if and where we should move, we are apt to acknowledge Christ in these decisions also.

"He will make your paths straight"; or, "He shall direct your paths."

No matter how we may feel, when we keep on acknowledging the Lord, the Lord keeps on directing our paths and making them straight before us.

Often we are confused in our mind as to what steps we should take. The way out of such confusion is to pray! pray! pray!

In fact, the members of Christís Body learn to pray without ceasing.

There are three indicators that often are helpful in determining the Lordís will.

First, the Spirit of God never leads us in a manner that violates the written Word.

Second, when we think about what we have planned to do there is a deeply settled joy and peace. If when we think about our actions, or planned actions, we have a sinking feeling, this often is an indication we are getting off the path.

The leaders of Christian assemblies learn that when they are uncomfortable about something taking place in the church, there probably is something wrong regarding this circumstance. Then they are to wait and pray for wisdom.

Third, the physical circumstances must be in agreement with the projected course of action. Sometimes the Lord calls us to walk on the water, so to speak. But if it is the Lord, the water will support us. If we begin to sink, and we call on the Lord and still sink, we probably are out of Godís will. This is not always the case, however.

Sometimes the way before us is difficult, complicated, perplexing. This does not mean we are not in Godís will. But it does signify we should pray harder to insure we are obeying the Lord.

If we find ourselves forcing people and circumstances, such as the preacher who is continually begging for money, we need to go back to greener pastures. We may be attempting to do the Lordís will without the Lord.

At the end of the Gospel of Mark it states that the Lord worked with them, confirming the Word with signs following.

Let us say a colonel assigned a squad of soldiers to enter enemy territory and gather information. The colonel would give them a map, point out key locations, and promise them they always could contact him by radio and he would send in support-helicopters.

This is what the Bible means when it declares the Lord worked with them confirming the Word. It does not mean someone got an idea of what would be helpful in the Kingdom, charged out according to his own notions, and then looked to the Lord to confirm the undertaking with works of power.

The Lord will not work with us confirming His Word with acts of power unless He is walking with us and directing us.

There always must be two witnesses if Kingdom work is to be accomplished. The Lord is the great witness. We are the visible helper, the second witness. The Lord moves the logs. We chirp along by His side.

Eliezer put out a fleece:

May it be that when I say to a girl, "Please let down your jar that I may have a drink," and she says, "Drink, and Iíll water your camels too"ólet her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know you have shown kindness to my master." (Genesis 24:14)

There were ten camels.

Sometimes we put out a fleece in order to determine the Lordís will. It may happen that Rebekah waters nine camels, we might say. But something happens with the tenth camel. It does not get watered.

Watch out for this. That tenth camel may be the Lordís way of warning you that something is not right.

One criterion I use is to picture the circumstance in question being reported on the front page of the New York Times. If the average cab driver or waitress views the action or circumstance as being weird, it probably is not the Lordís will.

This reminds me of an account in one of Perettiís novels. An evangelist came annually to a small town and berated the handful of people in the congregation about "taking the town for Christ." This sort of thing is so common!

Peretti describes the people of the town as being pretty normal, quite average Americans. They had not intention of being "taken for Christ." Nor did Christ have any intention of "taking them." This was just so much religious fervor operating in ignorance of Godís design for bringing people to Christ (recounted in Frank Peretti, The Visitation. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999)

The average New York cabby or waitress would assess the situation in Perettiís book and say, "This preacher is out of touch." And they would be correct.

Sometimes a husband and wife approach nearly everything in a different manner. There is a tremendous opportunity for objectivity in this case. Since finding Godís will often is a subjective enterprise, the husband or wife should wait until the other agrees that the action is Godís will. If both are in agreement, objectivity has been applied.

It seldom is Godís will that a husband or wife must nag, plead, cajole, deceive, and otherwise force and wrench in order to do what he or she believes to be Godís will. This is not the way of the Lord. If God wants something done He is perfectly able to speak to both partners of a marriage.

We who are active in Christian work sometimes do not wait until we know what Christ is saying or doing. We assume God wants this or that. But we do not  know for certain. Someone gets the idea that all the Christians in the city should hold a parade. The churches rally their members. It may be true that none of them are hearing from the Lord.

Christians are so ignorant of spiritual warfare! They do not know whether they are establishing the Kingdom of God with their parade, or giving an opportunity to the enemy to create destruction. They just suppose this is a good idea. Military people know it often is advisable to conceal your assets. Secrecy is one of the principal weapons of warfare. "Tell no man!"

A few years ago an evangelistically minded group came up with the bright idea of putting the slogan "I found it" on advertising signs on the back of busses. The thought was, I suppose, to arouse curiosity so people would ask what you found.

Perhaps numerous souls were saved through this device. I do not really know. It never touched our church, to my knowledge.

I noticed that someone put on his back bumper "I lost it." This kind of drollery would appeal to the common people of Perettiís novel.

I was in public education for many years. Every so often enterprising educators would come forth with a brilliant plan to enhance learning. One year it was heuristic learning, in which the children would reinvent the wheel of knowledge by discovering truth for themselves. I think it was the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics that complained arithmetic is not taught efficiently by waiting until the child stumbles on the times table.

Then came the highly touted "transformational grammar." Although I have a doctorate of education from the University of Rochester in New York, I never did grasp what was being presented. Good old adverbs and prepositions have stood me in good stead and I have never understood why they would not be a help to elementary-school children.

Oh well! There is more than one discipline in which we always are learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Sometimes we have to just plow along while we are praying and waiting for the Lord. But we ought not to make major plans, or design some great scheme to get the world saved, until we hear "Set aside for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Honestly, all leaders of Godís people should be in prayer constantly to insure they are not being directed by the current stress on getting the world saved, or "healing a lost and dying world." We may be assuming something that is not in the mind of Christ.

Do we really know what God is saying right nowóto us as individuals? It might be a good idea to find out.

One time a friend of mine was serving on the board of a large Charismatic church. The board was interviewing a candidate for the role of pastor.

My friend asked the candidate, "What is God saying now?"

The answer was, "What God has always said."

Tell me the old, old story!

You know, every new generation presents a fresh challenge. Every new generation is nearer to the return of Christ. Every new generation is experiencing the maturing of wickedness and of righteousness. Every new generation is nearer to the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

This is the age of communication. The opportunities for bringing the Word of Christ to every person on earth are here now, or soon will be here.

Christ has something for you and me today. There are powerful, contemporary methods for telling the old, old story. We are not to rush off, attempting to copy the Book of Acts. We are to wait, wait, wait on the Lord.

Christ promised He would build His own Church. And He will! He doesnít need you or me, you know. He is the very Expression of God Almighty.

Christ invites you and me to work alongside of Him, not that He needs us but for our joyóso He might have the joy of giving us joy and an inheritance.

God can save and heal everyone in the world any time He chooses. But God has chosen rather to develop sons who can share the inheritance with the greater Son.

However, we must be brought to the stature of the fullness of Christ if we are to share the inheritance. In order for us to be brought to the stature of the fullness of Christ we must be ministered to by the gifts and ministries of all our fellow members of the Body of Christ.

But first the members of the Body of Christ must present themselves in total obedience to God so they can find out what their role is in building the members of the Body.

In other words, there is an enormous task before us in the twenty-first century: we must persuade Godís people to cease doing their own works, and to look to the Lord Jesus so they may help in the work of building the Body to maturity. The objective is to prepare a complement to the great Head, the Lord Jesus.

Right now the Church is a charnel house of very dry bones.

It is time now for Godís prophets to begin to prophesy to the bones. God is ready nowóin our dayóto bring the Body of Christ to maturity so it will be ready for the Head to come down from Heaven and be joined to it.

Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ĎThis is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.í" So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feetóa vast army. (Ezekiel 37:9,10)

This army is the Body of Christ.

The vision of the dry bones may refer also to the nation of Israel. But the army comprises both Jews and Gentiles by physical birth. They shall be one stick in Godís hand.

This gigantic Christ, the promised Christ, the Anointed Deliverer, will come to the earth and execute all the judgment of God. Justice will be brought to the nations. Satan and all his helpers will be removed from the earth. This will take place at the coming of the Lord.

To be part of the promised Deliverer we must be totally, sternly obedient to the slightest direction from the Head, just as Christ is totally, sternly obedient to the slightest direction from the Father.

Remember the consequences of the disobedience of Adam and Eve and of Lotís wife.

Remember the consequences of the obedience of Noah, Abraham, and the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps the greatest issue in the Bible is that of obedience to God.

Jesus Christ does only what God directs. We are to do only what Jesus Christ directs.

While I was in Bible school, many years ago, there was talk about how the world was waiting for the person who would do Godís will perfectly. I think the students were referring to something said by Dwight L. Moody.

At that time, being unmarried, with no brothers or sister, my mother in the hospital and my father living on welfare, I decided to do Godís will perfectly.

I did not know whether I would be struck down for such an audacious decision. But I told the Lord that if He would give me the grace I would do whatever He said.

I had nothing to lose! I was an inconsequential mote in the world, and I had sense enough to realize this.

I have kept that vow to the present day. I have made many mistakes along the way. But when the Lord has pointed out to me that I was on the wrong track, I have turned around, made restitution as necessary, took my knocks, and have got back up on my feet and pressed forward.

I have learned from this that anyone can and must do Godís will perfectly, and at all times.

What? Are we rebellious children that we will not do Godís will? Or is God such a monster that no one can do His will?

It is Satan whom no on can please, not our loving Father in Heaven.

So the Christian churches have lived under this satanic bluff, that no one can do Godís will.

The good news is that none of Godís commandments are grievous, although sometimes we experience pain when God calls for some of our idols. But God only removes our idols from us so we will enjoy righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

God wants to find rest in ChristóHead and Body. This is why Christ gave the gifts and ministries to His Churchóso that God might find rest and be able to express Himself throughout His creation without rebellion or confusion.

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebelliousóthat you,  O LORD God, might dwell there. (Psalms 68:18)

"That you, O LORD God, might dwell there." The forming of the resting place of God is the ultimate goal.

When we consider the fact that the Head is to come down upon the Body until there is one new Man, and then think about the immaturity and disobedience of Godís people at the present time, we gather that it will be some time for the Lord Jesus returnsópossibly fifty years or more. It is going to take a while for Christian people to even be willing to accept the Headship of Christ over them.

However, the Scripture speaks of a quick work, one that will be cut short in righteousness. It also is true that a nation (the holy nation, the Christian church) will be born at once. So it is possible the next few years will witness wholesale changes in the Christian churches, as the members undergo the transition from church membership to discipleship.

God has told us if we pray for wisdom He will hear our petition and provide generously for us without finding fault with our request. This we need to do, because of the prevailing confusion.

We have to make an effort each day to seek the Lord, and to fervently desire the gifts and ministries that best will contribute to the building of the Body of Christ. These are the "greater" gifts.

And as for the Head and Body of Christ:

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaronís beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalms 133:1-3)