The church of God (1 Cor. 10:32) as the manifestation of God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16) is organically the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). The church of the living God is the house of God, which is the manifestation of God in the flesh. The living God, who lives in the church, is subjective to the church. Because He is living, the church too is living in Him, by Him, and with Him. A living God and a living church live, move, and work together. The living church is the house and household of the living God. Hence, it becomes the manifestation of God in the flesh.
In 1 Timothy 3:16 Paul says, “Great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh…” The mystery of godliness is God becoming man that man may become God in life and in nature but not in the Godhead. This mystery of godliness is the manifestation of God in the flesh. The word He refers to Christ, who was God manifested in the flesh. As the organic Body of Christ, the church of God is the continuation of Christ as the manifestation of God in the flesh.
The Body of Christ is a divine and human constitution.
The Body of Christ is constituted with the regenerated and transformed believers as its outward, visible frame—its members (Eph. 5:30).
As a divine and human constitution, the Body of Christ is also constituted with the processed and consummated Triune God as its inward, invisible content (4:4-6). Whereas the frame is outward and visible, the content is inward and invisible. The outward, visible frame is the believers, and the inward, invisible content is the Triune God.
God the Father, who is over all, through all, and in all, triune in Himself, is the source of all. As the source of the Body of Christ, God the Father is the Originator, the Initiator.
God the Son, who is the Lord, is the element of the Body of Christ. Every substance has its element, its nature. Christ is the element for the constituting of the Body of Christ; He is the element with which the Body of Christ is constituted.
God the Spirit is the essence of the Body. The essence of a certain thing is within the element of that thing. To get the essence it is necessary to extract the essence from the element. Let us use an orange as an illustration. The element of an orange is simply the orange itself. The essence of the orange is the juice. If you extract the juice from the orange, then you will have the essence of the element of the orange. From this illustration we can see the difference between element and essence. Regarding the Body of Christ the Son is the element, and the Spirit is the essence of the element for the constituting of the Body of Christ as a divine and human constitution.
Have you seen what the Body of Christ is? The Body of Christ is a constitution, constituted with the believers as the outward frame and with the Triune God as the inward content. This content has a source, an element, and an essence. The source is God the Father, the element is God the Son, and the essence is God the Spirit.
Whereas many of the teachings in Christianity are the “orange peel,” the teaching in the Lord’s recovery concerning the Body of Christ is a teaching of the element with the essence. For many of today’s Christians the Body of Christ is merely a term, but, by the Lord’s mercy, we have seen that the Body of Christ is a divine and human constitution constituted with the regenerated and transformed believers and the processed and consummated Triune God.
(The God-Men, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)