THE CHURCH BEING CHRIST
My burden in this chapter is mainly to fellowship with you concerning the church being Christ. First Corinthians 12:12 fully, clearly, and definitely reveals that the church is Christ. This verse says, "For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ."
When we say that the church is Christ, this Christ is not an individual Christ, but a corporate Christ. This corporate Christ, who is the church, is the expression of the individual Christ. In the four Gospels there is the individual Christ. But in Acts and the Epistles, there is the corporate Christ, the church.
What does it mean to say that the corporate Christ is the church? Let me illustrate. We all are members of the Body of Christ. Suppose we all come together to have a meeting. You come with yourself, another brother comes with himself, and I come with myself. We all come here with ourselves. Thus, we are just a group of "selves" coming together. But if you come with Christ, I come with Christ, and he comes with Christ, we are Christ—not the individual Christ but the corporate Christ. We have people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation gathered together (Rev. 5:9) as the church. If they live by Christ, then when they come together, they are the church.
We all have to see what the church is. The church is the corporate Body, which is Christ Himself. The church is the totality of all the saints with Christ added together. The church is not a church building. Christ with His church has been confined by the church building for many centuries. But He is being released from the confinement of the church’s building.
Furthermore, the church is not an organization of many so-called Christians. The church is Christ Himself. In order to have the church in reality, we need to live by Christ. In chapter three we saw that we have to take Christ not only as our life but also as our person. If each one of us takes Christ as his person, not living by himself but by Christ, then each one is Christ. So whenever we come together, we come not with ourselves, but with Christ. You come with Christ and I come with Christ. We all come with Christ. Therefore, the church is Christ.
(The Life for the Preaching of the High Gospel, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)