Home  |  Who We Are  |  Activities  |  Messages  |  Publications  |  NewsWatch  |  Outreach  |  CS Catalog  |  Contact Us!  
Cornerstone Fellowship News
  Vol. I,  No. 1 October, 2002  
Building Up the Body - Part 1

Beginning in Ephesians 1:15, Paul tells us:

"Wherefore I also...cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah), the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him...which He wrought in Messiah...and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the HEAD over all things to the Church (Gk. Ekklesia), which is HIS BODY, the fulness of Him that fills all in all" (Eph. 1:15-23).

Why do you suppose that the Bible presents the saints as comprising the Body of Christ, rather than, say, the house of Christ, or the garment of Christ, or maybe the sword of Christ? Think about it for a moment.

Since we all have a human body, it can come as no surprise that God would adopt this as the most likely familiar analogy possible to illustrate so many life lessons. Not only is the body such a familiar entity to people, it is also designed in such an intricate and interdependent way as to cause its numerous parts and functions to picture spiritual principles and processes that apply to we humans in our divine calling. The more one contemplates the body as a spiritual analogy, the more perfect God's choice becomes.

Consider the fact of the Messiah's actual physical body when He walked the earth. We may not think about His literal body very often, but even it presents a number of types and patterns that apply to believers who comprise the spiritual Body of Christ. For instance, we are told in Luke 22:19, on the occasion of the Last Supper, that Yahshua:

"Took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is MY BODY which is GIVEN for you: this do in remembrance of Me."

The parallel passage recorded by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians puts this statement of the Savior as follows:

"The Lord Jesus (Yahshua) the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is MY BODY which is BROKEN for you: this do in remembrance of Me" (I Cor. 11:23-24).

In the case of the Last Supper, Christ took bread, and it is specifically stated that He BROKE IT. We know, of course, that there is great significance in this act, because Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11 that as often as we do this we show forth the Lord's death until He returns. Yahshua's literal body was indeed broken for us-not the bones, but the body itself. He suffered on our behalf. But what about the spiritual Body of Christ?

In Luke 22:19, we read that our Savior stated His body was GIVEN for us. Think about the full significance of this saying. First the Father GAVE His Son; then the Son GAVE Himself, and the Scriptures affirm that He even bore our own sins in His BODY (I Pet. 2:24). If His physical body was given for us, what about His spiritual Body? The fact is that in both of these New Testament statements, we cannot help but see that there is deep meaning to the body analogy. True believers in and followers of Messiah are, in essence, to be GIVEN for the world of sinners. Paul writes in Romans 12:1:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you PRESENT your BODIES a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

To present means TO GIVE; to sacrifice means TO GIVE. Indeed, just as Yahshua's physical body was given for us, so are we, His spiritual Body, to give ourselves as a sacrifice unto God for others. In like manner, the literal body of Christ was broken during His ministry upon the earth, even as the broken bread so represents. And, true to form, His spiritual Body is also to be BROKEN, for we are told by Peter:

"Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has SUFFERED in the flesh has ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God...If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf...Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (I Pet. 4:1-2, 16, 19).

In Mark 14, we read of the event where Yahshua's body was ANOINTED with very expensive spices by a certain women who broke the box and poured the precious ointment over His head. Some of the disciples actually became indignant, both at what they perceived as this unnecessary extravagance, as well as the seeming effrontery of this woman, of all people, to presume to come into their company and perform such a bold act as this upon the Messiah.

Do we also not know that the spiritual Body of Christ is ANOINTED? Indeed we do, for it is said by the apostle John:

"These things have I written unto you concerning them that would seduce you. But the ANOINTING you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him" (I Jn. 2:26-27).

Are we not also aware that there are those who are opposed to the anointing of the Body of Christ, who, instead of commending believers and encouraging them in their supernatural gifting, seek rather to control them, denying the special divine anointing that each true member has received? Indeed we do, for all of us have been compelled to leave the company of those who have sought to curtail the spiritual empowerment of the individual saints!

Let us not, therefore, forget the fact that when the Messiah's physical body was anointed, He immediately responded to the detractors, telling them to leave the woman in question alone; and I will testify to you that this is precisely what He is saying to those who through the power of religion have tried to impose their will upon the children of Yahweh. He is saying, "Take your hands off them, and leave them alone!!"

Yahshua further told the offending disciples:

"Why do you trouble her? She has wrought a good work on Me...She has done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body...Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her" (Mk. 14:6, 8-9).

Always remember this woman, what she did and the fact that she did it. Do we think even for a moment that God the Father thought that the ointment was too costly to be wasted on His Son; that the anointing of His body wasn't something very special? We better believe it! And I submit to you that He feels just as strongly about the anointing of the spiritual Body of His Son, and will not countenance any of those who object to it, who play it down, who deny it, or who attempt to control and quench it in the lives of His people!!

Not only was Messiah's literal body broken in sacrifice for us, it was also destroyed in death and buried in the earth. What about His spiritual Body? We too, as true believers, are told by Paul in Romans 6:3:

"Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah) were baptized into His DEATH."

And in the very next verse, Paul continues by saying:

"Therefore we are BURIED with Him by baptism into DEATH" (Rom. 6:4).

Yahshua explained the truth of this matter in another way by saying:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Expect a corn of wheat fall into the GROUND and DIE, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him FOLLOW ME; and where I am, there shall My servant also be" (Jn. 12:24-26).

Yes, the physical Body of our Savior was given for us, broken for us, died for us, was buried for us; and in every single one of these great events His spiritual Body is profoundly portrayed. Remember that He said if the grain of wheat dies and is buried in the ground, it will bring forth much fruit. This is precisely what transpired in His life, and it is precisely what should and will occur in ours as well, for we also know that He came forth out of the heart of the earth as the risen Savior of the world. And just as His own literal body was raised from the dead, so also is His spiritual Body. Picking up where we left off in Romans 6, Paul continues to graphically finish the picture he is painting by stating:

"For if we have been planted in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His RESURRECTION; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin...Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also LIVE with Him...For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lives, He lives unto God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but ALIVE unto God through Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah) our Lord" (Rom. 6:5-11).

So, we see that just as Yahshua died with one body and was raised with a new one, so likewise is His spiritual Body considered to be a NEW CREATION, something so new and different that it literally never existed before! That is how special the true saints are to both the Father and Son. And in like manner as the Messiah now lives forever unto God, so should we believers eternally be bound to our Father in heaven through the newness of life that has been granted us in and through our Savior.

In Colossians 1, we read again about the position the Messiah occupies with respect to our discussion. Beginning in verse 16, Paul writes:

"For by Him were all things created...visible or invisible...all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the HEAD of the Body, the Church (Gk. Ekklesia-the called out ones, not church, which actually is derived from the ancient pagan goddess Circe!)" (Col. 1:16-18).

We believers are considered by Yahweh to be the Body of His Son. He Himself is not called the Body, but rather the Head of the Body. Now the head is surely the most significant part of a body, but it itself is still not the entire body.

Would it be incorrect or inappropriate, therefore, to conclude that, with respect to how God chooses to operate in and through human beings, Messiah is not complete without the various component parts of His Body? Just as every body has absolute unquestioned need for a head, without which it could not survive, in like manner, every head also requires a body, in order for its purpose and functions to be fulfilled and bear fruit. Viewing the subject in this light, would we not be compelled to say that, for things to operate in a manner that is approved of God and that is truly productive, Yahshua the Messiah has need of His Body. We, therefore, as believing saints, are actually necessary, indeed vital, to the success of Christ's mission. We know this is unequivocally true, because the Scriptures compare us to the parts of a human body, an analogy with which we are intimately familiar, and which makes it ever so easy to see ourselves from the same perspective that God the Father views us.

One of the main reasons that Yahshua told the disciples that once He returned to heaven, they would do not only the works that He did, but even greater works than these, had altogether to do with the fact that those very initial believers were destined to compose the very Body of Christ upon the earth. In other words, He was saying to them, and by extension to us as well, that while He remained upon the earth, He had only His physical body, just which like all human beings, was limited. Upon His return to the Father, however, He promised them that, in place of His human body, which could only go so many places, speak to so many people, and do so many things, He would have a spiritual Body through whom He could achieve far more than He ever did as a human being upon the earth.

Is it actually possible that the Almighty has arranged things in such a manner that His success in accomplishing His purpose for the human race is dependent, at least in part, upon the response of His true people upon the earth? It would certainly seem so. This, of course, in no way lessens or denigrates the Father, who clearly has within His own province the right and power to do precisely what He so chooses. The point is, however, that He has chosen to operate in a particular fashion, because He knows exactly what approach will cause His efforts to be successful, and He is smart enough and determined enough not to permit Himself to succumb to any other method, no matter what the circumstances might happen to appear like at any one time.

In this regard, I think it is both interesting and very instructive that David was inspired to write in Psalms 78 the following rather bold statement. Speaking of Israel, he said:

"How often did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and LIMITED THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL" (Psa. 78:40-41).

Note the fact that the Father was limited at times as to what He could accomplished in and through Israel, based entirely upon their own erroneous response or lack of any response to His will for them. Note further that the Messiah was limited by His own physical body while He conducted His ministry upon the earth, thus leading Him to stress the fact that He would, upon His ascension, work through a much larger and widespread spiritual Body. And finally, note also that it is quite possible that if Christ's spiritual Body upon the earth is weak or sick or asleep or complacent, He, like His own Father, is limited in what can be done within the established divine framework of things. Therefore, the value of the Body to God, whether during Old Testament or New Testament times, is of paramount importance to the success of His great program. We, as believers today, are therefore significant and necessary elements in the way God has chosen to work. Just as we must depend upon Him and can do nothing without the presence and power of the Messiah in our lives, so also He is depending upon us to utilize the gifts and wherewithal that He has given us that He might fruitfully operate throughout the world. We comprise the hands and arms and feet and legs of Christ Himself as we go forward in our lives.

Now, consider which body part or parts you would like to live without. Would it be your hands, your feet, your heart, your eyes, your nose, your ears, your mouth, your skin? Or how about other, less obvious members? How about your liver, your lungs, your blood vessels, your lymph system, your glands, or your intestines? I'll guarantee you that not a single one of these components would be considered disposable by you or me. We wouldn't want to be without every part of our bodies; we would never choose to be without every part of our bodies; and we would use all of our powers to prevent injury or removal of any part of our bodies! That's just the way it is, isn't it? Well, ask yourselves, how much more important do you suppose the Body of Christ is to God and His Son? How much more do They value the individual members of that Body, as opposed to mere human body parts?

We ought to become and remain acutely aware that each individual one of us is a necessary, vital, highly prized component of the greatest Body in all the universe! Being a part of such an entity is not to be viewed as something merely figurative or symbolic, but real and dynamic! Always remember what it would be like if your head had no body. When believers, however, are not taught who and what they really are; when they are not made aware of their function, and of how they have been divinely equipped to operate; when they never see their actual spiritual reality modeled, how can Christ successfully accomplish His work, since He would essentially be a Head without a Body?

When the Body of Christ is weak, sick, languishing, complacent, sleepy, distracted, easily swayed by every wind of doctrine, divided into hostile camps, critical, judgmental, ignorant, exclusive, or deceived, how is it possible that Yahshua can successfully operate in the world and fulfil His ministry upon the earth?

Even though it may not be popular to say this, I cannot accept the notion that everything is well and good on the Church of God landscape today. Do you ever wonder why the New Testament is literally filled with the work of impacting the world, while the Sabbath-keeping groups of this era spend most of their time sort of drifting off on their own self-designed course, and consequently the world is no longer powerfully affected by the fullness of God's truth? Yes, it is true that a number of the larger mainstream Sunday-observing church organizations do preach a form of what they call the gospel, but those of us who believe in and seek to walk by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Almighty seem to be either embroiled in arguments over twiggy doctrinal matters, or following after certain men with whom we have become infatuated, or simply sitting around waiting for something big to happen! This appears to me to be a major problem facing many true believers today, and I strongly feel that one of the chief reasons for this obvious lack of spiritual empowerment and thus the missing dimension of really impacting the world has altogether to do with the fact that Body of Messiah is suffering such fracture, that the full mission of Christ is simply devitalized, apathetic, listless, languorous, and enfeebled.

There was a time when the existing Body of Christ was all together in one place and in one accord. Soon, however, they were dispersed by the unfolding of many adverse events, and the closeness enjoyed by the very earliest band of believers could never be recaptured. And so it is in today's world as well. We are so scattered today, that it is impossible to replicate precisely the same situations and circumstances that we read about in the book of Acts or elsewhere in the New Testament. That, however, really isn't the point in question.

As perfect as we might wish to assume it would be if we believers could all somehow be together, that's simply not the way it's going to work at the moment. That day will come, but for now, we must show forth the Body of Messiah in spite of our separated condition. This is admittedly difficult to do, because we generally have no real concept of a Body with its various parts scattered throughout the world, and because we can't very easily conceive it, we tend not to live it.

There are, however, some things that we can do, things that are positive, active, and fruitful to enhance the spiritual health of the Body. First of all, no viable body can serve more than one head. Think about that for a moment. Any human being that, for whatever odd reason, had two or more heads would be considered a freak of nature! Now, please consider how God looks at the Body of Christ, with all the parts following after this human head or that. What does He see-a FREAK??!!! Well, in many instances, when He looks at the various bodies that have been formed, ostensibly in His name, bodies with many heads or the wrong head, yes, He probably does view these entities as freaks!

The Scriptures teach that there is ONE BODY, not many; and a body has ONE HEAD, not numerous ones. Therefore, the first and foremost step any believer today should take is to make absolutely 110% certain precisely which body he or she truly belongs to, and who the head of that body actually is. In stating this, I emphatically do not mean that we are to make assumptions about the Body and the Head. I do not intend to suggest that anyone simply repeat to themselves what they think is the right thing. I am speaking to the real, hard-core issue of which body you are truly connected to, and exactly who the head of that body is.

What I am suggesting is that each of us go to our knees, and before God look at our lives and openly and honestly assess them, even asking the Father to search us and try us. As you ponder your life, think about those parts of the true Body who have gone before us, whose examples are recorded in the Scriptures. Compare yourself to some of them, not in a sense of competition, but in analyzing and determining if you are a part of the identical Body to which they were connected. How does your life measure up to that of the Savior? How do you stack up against Abraham, Moses, David, or Paul?

Such comparisons are valid for believers, because the lives of these earlier champions of the faith are for our admonition and instruction. Therefore, does the landscape of your life parallel that of the Biblical examples preserved for us? You need to examine such a question seriously, and demand an accurate and truthful answer.

Many people in the faith will not subject themselves to such scrutiny. They have been taught to look at the life of an Elijah or a Daniel or a Peter as simply the relic of a bygone era, lost in the long passage of time and circumstance. So few are willing to relate the lives of the earlier saints to their own spiritual situation. Ministers, in order to placate their followers, refuse to challenge them to ask the really hard questions; opting instead for a soft-soap approach. I have seen it happen time and time again, when someone brings up, for instance, the example of a certain well-known Biblical character, only to have the minister play down the likelihood that our lives today could ever be expected to parallel that of the ancient saint. This is, in fact, precisely what the apostle James was facing when he reached the end of his epistle. Note the following from James 5:

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (Jas. 5:16).

Think about this situation carefully. The subject here is the effectiveness of fervent prayer. Now the believers of James' day did not, of course, have the New Testament record as do we today. But they did have the holy Scriptures which we, perhaps erroneously, refer to as the Old Testament. As you know, that body of writing contains countless examples of righteous men and women. Had the brethren to whom James was directly writing viewed those examples as genuine patterns by which to model their own spiritual lives, the apostle probably would never have had to bring this issue up, but that apparently was not the case, for James goes on to say:

"Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit" (Jas. 5:17-18).

What does James do? He takes the one man whom the Jews truly had placed on a pedestal, the one and only Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets, the very one who was given a seat at the annual Passover. In the first century, some thought that John the Baptist might be Elijah, and others even supposed that Yahshua Himself was the great prophet.

James, therefore, takes the most revered of all the ancient saints and proceeds to literally pull him down from his exalted, idealized status, and present him to the people as someone just like themselves-no different-no smarter, no stronger, no more special, just as subject to problems as anyone else. And yet this mere human being had the effrontery to ask God to withhold rain from the land, and possessed the faith to see it come to pass precisely as he had prayed.

There probably wasn't a single first-century reader of James' epistle that would have dared to think of himself as having the favor and the power of Elijah. After all, Elijah was a great man, a miracle worker, someone who simply was superior in his spirituality. And yet James' very point is precisely the opposite-namely, that Elijah was just like every one of the first-century brethren, and that if this man could pray earnestly and boldly and get powerful, even dramatic answers to his prayers, then so could each and every one of them! This has to be one of the most significant, profound, eye-opening lessons in all the Bible!

Now if James could cite Elijah as an example of fervent, effective prayer, and thus encourage the saints of his day to believe that they too were Elijahs; then we can go to any number of other Biblical characters and see them as examples of other specific truths and the application thereof to our lives.

Along this line, we could say that Abraham was a supreme example of faith, because he was willing to unquestionably and unhesitatingly drop everything, leave his country, his city, even his father's house, and go wandering on a journey to a place he had never even heard of, much less ever been to. And what can we draw from this great example? That when we receive a calling from God, we can be an Abraham. We can confidently go wherever God leads us, and do whatever He commands us, even if we don't know where we're going, and have to give up everything we have in the process! If more believers were willing to identify themselves with Abraham, rather than regarding him as some exalted, unapproachable man of God, many would discover that they possessed much greater faith than they ever imagined, and could go farther and accomplish more than a hundred complacent believers stuck in the quagmire of life!!

Try this principle with other well-known Scriptural characters, and as you analyze each life, say to yourself, The lesson here is that I can be...a Noah, a Joshua, a Deborah, or an Esther in my own life situation. Doing this has the potential and power to transform your life in God's service, and it will help you to confirm that you truly are a part of the same Body as these ancient greats of the Bible.

We know that the Scriptures state there is but one Body, and, of course, that is a true saying. But in coming to understanding and applying the principles of building up the Body, it is also good to think of every genuine local assembly to be a kind of body in and of itself. After all, when Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, and made reference to the Body of Christ, his comments were directed not to all believers everywhere, but to the Corinthians. The same could be said of his letter to the Romans, where in chapter 12, he goes into a long discourse on the Body. In this regard, it is not at all inappropriate to suggest that each separate congregation can rightly see themselves as a body, and the instructions with respect to whole Body can and should be applied locally and individually.

Some brethren might assume that because their own local fellowship is so small, that there are not enough members to comprise a legitimate body, but this is likely based on a misconception that every gift of the Spirit must be in place before a local body can be considered viable. On the surface, this assumption might appear to be valid, but closer examination reveals its flaws. If, for instance, you compare the books of Romans and I Corinthians, you will discover that the Romans were told about only a relatively few of the gifts, whereas Paul discussed more than twice as many gifts with the Corinthians. What are we to make of this information? Simply that any given individual assembly may have more or less gifts in operation than another congregation, and the differences would be reflected in the contrasting work in which each group might be respectively involved. Furthermore, there is really no substantive proof that the only possible gifts of the Spirit are the ones mentioned in a couple of New Testament books. That does not necessarily follow, as God has the capacity of giving numerous and varied abilities that can be utilized in His service and in building up the Body of Christ.



Since this is the first issue of this publication, perhaps it would be good if I explained the purpose and vision behind it. I am convinced that Christ is interested in drawing out and gathering of a group of dedicated believers who sense that the Body is in a state of disrepair and division, and yet who believe that there is still great hope and potential among the saints in this generation. These brethren will be among those who are seriously focused in their calling, who have let go of their pursuit of men, and who have subsequently come out from the control of men as well, who champion the spiritual empowerment of the individual, but who also desire to see the Body healed, strengthened, and galvanized so that the work God has given us to do as a group can and will be successfully accomplished.

I hope that eventually this group of believers will be very closely allied, tied together by common purposes, common vision, and common practices that are designed to build up the Body of Messiah in this world. I see this group networking with each other, keeping in close touch, making certain that each person is linked together in lock-step moving toward the common goal.

I see this group as being bound together, even as it is said in the Word that David's heart was knitted to Jonathan's. I see this group of believers really taking the time to encourage one another and build up or edify one another, and ever more so as they see the Day of Christ approaching.

I see this group of saints coming into absolute agreement among all the members, just like we can sense the earliest disciples were when, in the time of greatest opposition and yet greatest opportunity, they were together with one accord and prayed with one voice, and the place where they were was shaken, and the gospel went forth with boldness, power, and effectiveness as never before!! And like the brethren in Antioch were when the Holy Spirit said, "Separate unto me Barnabus and Paul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2), and from that one local assembly emerged the most fruitful work of God ever accomplished in the history of mankind!! This is the vision that I have in mind, and it is one that I sincerely hope you and many others will share.

In time, not only will this small publication hopefully help serve as a forum of practical advice and input, but I further propose that those individuals who are interested eventually participate in a 30-minute conference call once a week, when ideas, problems, solutions, etc. can be openly discussed, thus binding us even more closely together in this effort. And that effort will be directed at MODELING THE BODY, so that other believers can grasp the objective God has in mind for His people today.

Home  |  Who We Are  |  Activities  |  Messages  |  Publications  |  NewsWatch  |  Outreach  |  CS Catalog  |  Contact Us!