WHI-1259 | Members of the Body of Christ

Sunday, 24 May 2015

This week on the White Horse Inn we discuss what it means to be a member of the body of Christ. We are joined by Thabiti Anyabwile who is the assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He has written numerous books, including most recently The Life of God in the Soul of the Church.

Should the church attempt to engage the culture in relevant ways, or does this strategy end up continuing to divide us by worldly preferences and priorities that are opposed to the gospel? What does it mean to be a member of a healthy church and, additionally, what does it mean to be a healthy church member? Join us as we seek discuss the body of Christ, the church, this week on the White Horse Inn.

GUEST QUOTE
“When Paul, for example, talks about this idea of our union with Christ, he is always writing to particular, local churches, and he is applying that truth to their particular, local setting of relationships and witness as a community. So, there is no Christianity that is free of the visible, living, local church in a known area.
“In this union with himself, Christ has given us an identity that supersedes all those other natural kinds of barriers. This is what Galatians 3:28 means in part, that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, and so on. Well, it doesn’t mean that men and women no longer exist. It means that in Christ, there is now this new identity that is over and above those lesser identities.”
– Thabiti Anyabwile
TERM TO LEARN
The Body of Christ
The metaphor of body is used in two New Testament passages concerning the church, Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 1:18. This image must be interpreted in relation to the more basic paradigm of the covenant. The meaning of the “body of Christ” metaphor is to be found in the concrete historical contexts in which it was given. The church as a holy commonwealth exceeds common communities by virtue of the fact that it alone is elected by the Father in the Son through the work of the Spirit. It is held together by the sinews of covenantal love, not simply of friendship; it is the fellowship of brothers and sisters (a family) and not simply neighbors who share the same racial, ethnic, national, socio-economic, or cultural affinities.
The body of Christ is found in union with its head, the Lord Jesus, and in communion with other Christians, the church. Chosen in Christ, redeemed in Christ, sealed in Christ by the Spirit, the church is the one place where worldly divisions no longer take place. Paul links this ecclesiology to the ascension of Christ, as the source of the gifts that he now pours out lavishly by his Spirit to his saints through the ministry of Word and sacrament. It is this ministry alone that creates, sustains, unites, and brings maturity and health to the body of Christ. Each member (or body part) is useful for the whole and in need of each other, as Paul stresses in 1 Corinthians 12. The body of Christ is likened and explained by the marital metaphor in Ephesians 5, where Paul says that Christ is one with his body (the church) in a way that is similar to the union of husband and wife as “one flesh.”
(Adapted from Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, p 733-36)
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