Today’s Christianity is filled with religion, doctrine, organization, forms, rituals, and regulations. People are helped to be saved, to become religious, to pursue spirituality, and to desire a closer walk with the Lord. But where is the Body? It seems that so many Christians do not see that in the book of Ephesians the church is emphasized. In his subtlety the enemy, Satan, has used various good things such as fundamental doctrine to damage the church. We must stand against the degradation of today’s Christianity. In doing this, we do not fight against people, but against the Devil, the subtle one.
Because the Lord is sovereign, He cannot be defeated. Even today He is fulfilling His purpose. In the Lord’s recovery we are not for religion, knowledge, organization, rituals, forms, or regulations; we are only for the all-inclusive Christ as the life-giving Spirit in our spirit. As we enjoy the mingled spirit in a corporate way, we have the church life.
The book of Ephesians reveals various aspects of the church. In this booklet we shall consider seven of these aspects: the Body, the new man, the Bride, the family, the kingdom, the dwelling place of God, and the warrior.
According to 1:22 and 23, the church is Christ’s Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. It was in this one Body that both the Jews and the Gentiles were reconciled to God through the cross (2:16). We, the believers, were reconciled not only for the Body of Christ, but also in the Body of Christ. We all have been reconciled in the one Body. As we have seen, the gifted persons are for the building up of the Body, and the Body is growing unto the building up of itself in love.
As the Body, the church needs life. Without life, our physical body would become a corpse. The same is true of the Body of Christ.
Some argue that the Body is just a symbol, a figure, not a divine reality. It is utterly wrong to say that the Body of Christ is merely a symbol. Our body is a symbol and a figure, but the Body of Christ is a reality, for our body symbolizes Christ’s Body. To say that the Body of Christ is merely a symbol indicates a lack of a proper understanding of the church. Those who hold this view do not see that the church is actually the Body of Christ. Surely Christ is real. How can such a real One be expressed through a symbolic Body? How ridiculous! In order for Christ to be expressed, He must have a real and living Body.
We do not express Christ by endeavoring to correct or improve ourselves. Through such efforts we can express only our own character. If we would express Christ, we need the life of Christ. We need Christ as the living Spirit to live Himself out from within us. This is not outward correction or improvement; it is the experience of Christ as our inner life. Christ is the life-giving Spirit living within us and lived out from within us. This makes us His Body for His expression. What we express as the Body of Christ is not our character, but Christ Himself as life.
In 2:15 we see that Christ created the Jews and the Gentiles in Himself into one new man. This new man is corporate and universal. There are many believers, but there is only one new man in the universe. All the believers are components of this corporate and universal new man. According to 4:13, we are to grow up until we arrive at a full-grown man, and in 4:24 we see that, in a practical way, we need to put on the new man.
As the new man, the church needs not only life, but also Christ as the person. A tree has only life, not a person. But a man must have a person as well as life. The church not only possesses Christ as life, but also holds Christ as the person. Hence, today the Lord Jesus is not only the life of the church, but also the person of the church. In order to have the church life, we all must take Christ as our person. But if we each hold to our own person, we shall be through with the church life.
Colossians 3:10 and 11 reveal that in the new man “there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.” This indicates that in the new man there is just one person—Christ. There is no room for Chinese, Japanese, American, British, German, or any other nationality. This should not be a mere doctrine, but should be our practical experience in the spirit. As a part of the new man, we all have Christ as our person. We need to pray, “Lord, make this real to us. We cannot be satisfied with knowledge or with the doctrine that the church is the new man with Christ as the person. We want to experience this in our daily life. O Lord, help us to take You as our person.” If we do this, the church will be truly one, and the enemy will be subdued. Whoever comes into the meetings of the church will see a number of people who take Christ as their person. How marvelous!
(Seven Aspects of the Church, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)