Bible verses about Church as Spiritual Organism
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The New Testament shows that God has not broken His pattern. A new Israel is being formed—a people from all ethnic backgrounds. The Kingdom of God is expanding through the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16)! This ties directly into Revelation 19 and the Marriage of the Lamb, because it is this Israel—the Israel of God—the spiritual organism consisting of people of all nations, that will marry Christ, the Lamb.
We can see a progression. First, there is one man—Jacob—whose name was changed to Israel. He was chosen by God, even though his brother was firstborn. Next, the descendants of Israel were chosen from the nations of the world, even though other nations were larger, greater, and stronger. Then, as God's plan takes off with the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, God first chooses from among the Israelites and then from all ethnic groups, choosing and putting them into the Body of Christ, though He says the members of His church are foolish, weak, and base.
So the Israel of God is formed to marry Jesus Christ. This is why Gentiles have to become Israelites. In fact, all of us have to become real Israelites—spiritual Israelites—even though we may be genetically "of Israel."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)Related Topics: Begettal of Holy Spirit | Begettal of the Holy Spirit | Church as Body of Christ | Church as Bride of Christ | Church as Organism | Church as Spiritual Organism | Church as the Israel of God | Holy Spirit, Begettal of | Israel of God | Israelite, Spiritual | Marriage of the Lamb | Marriage Supper of the Lamb | Spiritual Israelite | Spiritual Jew
Grace eliminates for us the possibility of any boasting or any self-glory. Regardless of our material accomplishments—no matter how many doctorate degrees we may have, how much money we may have accumulated, or how many good deeds we may have done—no one can boast before God because, as verse 30 says, we are "of Him." Here is the key to understanding this. In spiritual terms, all that we have accomplished has been done only because of what He gave.
If we want to go back that far, it all began when He gave us life. In terms of spiritual life, we have to go back only as far as His calling. We would not have accomplished anything that we have accomplished spiritually—for instance, kept the Sabbath and the holy days—except that God called us and made us understand His truth. He led us to repentance. He impressed the importance of doing what He revealed on our minds so that we would do them, and so forth. The unilateral acts of God begin to pile up—grace upon grace. God is with us in this entire process.
What we have spiritually is only possible because we are "of Him," that is, because of what we have been given. This particular phrase—we are "of Him"—is describing a personal attachment. It is as if we are part of a living body, which we are, since the church is a living, spiritual organism. The picture that is in the apostle Paul's mind is that we are directly connected to Him, even as the toe is attached to the foot, which is in turn connected to the ankle and then to the leg. All of this is connected, and it receives its strength, life, existence, growth, repair, etc. because it is part of the body. So are we connected to God and receive all these things.
What does the toe have to boast for playing its role in the body? Even so, nobody can boast before God because of grace. We have what we have spiritually only because He has given it.
Further, if our spiritual lives and growth are going to continue, we can do this only within this same environment. If the toe is cut from the body, it begins to die immediately. A degeneration begins to occur immediately. We can apply the same analogy to our spiritual life.
So, there is no bragging, no boasting, before God for anything that we have spiritually. We have it because of our personal attachment to the living Jesus Christ.
Why is this important? Because it puts the relationship with God and fellow man into its proper perspective. Many theologians insist that what they derive from the Bible and from their own experiences in life, is that carnally, the underlying drive or motivation in all relationships is self-assertion, that is, the desire for recognition, pride. We want to be known for what we have done. "I have accomplished this." "I built that." "This is my place." "This is my spouse." The self basks in the glow of the fact that he exists and has and does things. It is a drive to be recognized, noticed, praised, rewarded, and even submitted to, because of who one is and what he feels he has done.
This has horrible ramifications for the relationship with God. Jesus' own counsel to His apostles—and His advice extends to us—is to go in the exact opposite direction and make ourselves of no reputation (as He did; Philippians 2:5-8). He says, "Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). A child is of no value to society because he produces nothing, cannot do anything of value, and in a way, is nothing more than a parasite, as some cultures see children.
Notice, though, that Jesus says that becoming like a little child is the way to real power—in the Kingdom of God. It is the way to gain the right kind of recognition and promotion—the kind that God would give us by grace, not what we have earned on our own.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace
Since Christ has come, the Old Covenant rules and regulations that isolated Israel from other ethnic groups are no longer needed. Israel no longer needed a guardian. The time had come to put away the need for the practices that separated Israel from other nations and caused such hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles. Christ had brought a totally new approach. The church, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), is a spiritual organism made up of people of all races and nationalities who repent and keep the spiritual laws of God as Jesus had magnified them.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
What Was the Law 'Added Because of Transgressions'?
Despite its smallness and visible weaknesses, as the complement of Christ, the church is also in an exalted position. We members do not literally add a thing to Christ's divinity, but in His view, He is not complete and will not be complete until united with His bride. Thus, as He sanctifies and shapes us in holiness, He gradually fills His bride's every part with every gift needed to enable her to function effectively so that she, as a whole, can glorify God in her overall responsibility to our Father and to our Lord and Savior. Since everything in Christ's spiritual body comes from Him, He is everything to every member within it.
No religion but Christianity offers such an exalted and loving, spiritual Being sent to labor on behalf of its adherents. He is our Creator, our Lawgiver, the Forgiver of our sins, the Dispenser of His Spirit, the Giver of eternal life, our Guide through life who blazes the trail before us, and the Enabler of true spiritual growth and overcoming.
This body of believers is not contained within one corporate entity, and an individual cannot just go out and join it. The Father must lead a person to it (John 6:44). When He does, the newly called person will find people who are keeping God's commandments—all ten of them—in both letter and spirit. They will worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24) without dodging spiritual realities, and they will sacrifice themselves despite personal costs. They will be honest to a fault, trustworthy, and uncomplaining. They are not driven by envy and covetousness, nor are they fixed on immediate or self-gratification.
The Kingdom of God is the vision that drives them. They strive to transform into the image of Jesus Christ and to glorify the Father and Son in everything. They live solidly in the present, aware of many of its harsh realities, but they make every move with their gaze on their eternal future. They truly are pilgrims, people who humbly see themselves as mere tiny specks in a vast and awesome purpose yet privileged beyond all bounds. They believe that purpose, and in gratitude, give themselves by faith to see it accomplished in their lives.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?Related Topics: Christ as Bridegroom | Church as Body of Christ | Church as Bride of Christ | Church as Spiritual Organism | Church as the Complement of Christ | Church in Exalted Position | Jesus as Our Creator | Jesus as Our Lawgiver | Jesus Christ as Enabler of Overcoming | Jesus Christ as Enabler of True Spiritual Growth | Jesus Christ as Guide | Jesus Christ as the Dispenser of His Spirit | Jesus Christ as the Forgiver of Our Sins | Jesus Christ as the Giver of Eternal Life | Jesus Christ as Trailblazer | Keeping Law in Letter and Spirit | Pilgrims | Transformed into Image of God | Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth