Do You Have A Shallow Or Deep View Of The Body Of Christ & Kingdom Of God?- (Part-III Of My Important Book Review)

Posted on February 16, 2011

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This is my third and final review of the book From Eternity To Here by Frank Viola.  If you have not yet read part I of my review, you can read it here: Why This Book Review Is The Most Important Article I Have Ever Written  .  If you haven’t yet read part II of my review, you can read it here as well: Why The House Of God Is A House Of Confusion .  I have to admit that this third part of the book was just as impactful for me as the first two parts of the book were.  My understanding of the church as the body of Christ and my understanding of the kingdom of God were greatly challenged.

  

The Church  As The Body Of Christ

 

If you ask the majority of Christians what the body of Christ is, you might get a few to tell you that the body of Christ is the church.  Even a smaller portion of people who understand the church outside of an institutional perspective will tell you that people like you and I are the body of Christ.  That is what I would have told you before reading this book.  If I’m being honest, however, my understanding of the significance of the church as the actual body of Christ here on the earth was quite shallow. 

Although I was not aware of it, this section of the book exposed the fact that I was still viewing myself and the church as being made up of people who were followers of Christ just like the disciples were before Pentecost.  Do you know who the disciples were before Pentecost?  They were people who understood that  Jesus was the Messiah.  They were people who had given up their lives and who were trying to follow Jesus and obey His teachings the best that they could.  They were also people who were led by their fallen flesh however. 

At Pentecost, something beautiful happened.  Those who believed in Christ were transformed!  They went from being followers of Jesus Christ, to being placed In Christ!  We were literally grafted into Him!  For the majority of my life as a Christian, I have never known the significance of what it means to be ‘in Christ.’  There is a huge difference understanding yourself to simply be a follower of Christ, and being ‘in Christ’.  To be ‘in Christ’ means that we are now a part of Himself and that we have become partakers of His divine life.  The term ‘In Christ’ is used almost 200 times in the New Testament.  It is a beautiful mystery indeed!  Simply put, together the church (God’s people)  are now His very body on the earth!  While most Christians give a theological head nod to this beautiful truth, the reality is that many still see themselves, and the rest of the body of Christ, as a group of ‘no-good’ sinners who are simply trying to follow Christ and become like Him.  As a result of the amazing truth of being ‘in Christ’, these three passages of Scripture came alive to me:

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:4)

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”  (2 Cor.  5:16-17)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

These are monumental truths!  In the flesh, we are seperate from one another and from Christ Himself.  Although Jesus was a Jewish man in the flesh, we no longer view Him that way as 2 Cor. 5:16-17 states.  As one who has always existed before any fleshly identity came into existence, we understand Christ in His fullness as God the Son from eternity past, not simply as a human Jewish man in the flesh.   The identity of Jew & gentile in the flesh kept them apart from one another.  Those who were free (in the flesh) were seperated from those who were slaves.  The identity of being male & female kept the two sexes divided.  As those who have been grafted into the very person of Christ, we are now one in Him, and we are His body on the earth!  How beautiful is that?

 

The Church As The Kingdom Of God

 

There is a lot of discussion about the kingdom of God in some Christian circles these days.  Most of the discussion is missing a key component however…the person of Jesus Christ!  In this third section of the book, Viola sheds some very important light on the reality of the kingdom of God.  The main message of Jesus in the gospels was that the kingdom of God was at hand!  The reason the kingdom of God was at hand was because He was at hand!  A kingdom is a place where a king has ultimate authority and where the king dwells.  Jesus was the walking kingdom of God!  God had ultimate authority and dwelling in Him.  Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to earth.  As we know from the Lord’s prayer, God’s desire is that His kingdom would come to the earth just as it is in heaven.  

Wherever the Lord Jesus Christ is made manifest, that is where the kingdom of God is.  Viola goes on to state that Jesus Christ is fully manifested wherever His body (Church) is correctly functioning.  This is a reality now, yet there is also a fuller future reality of the kingdom coming as well.  

This is where it gets sticky.  In part two of my book review, I talked about the importance of the house of God.  If the house of God is assembled together and functioning together locally as a house of ‘living stones’, that is where the kingdom of God is fully manifested.  In the West, that is a rare thing indeed.  The kingdom of God cannot be fully manifested through any one individual, or a collection of individuals that operate seperately. 

There is more that I could say about all of this, but let me encourage you to read the book.  Again, I trully hope you have been pursuaded to get yourself a copy.  I know the book will be a blessing to you as it has been a blessing to me.  Here is a link where you can purchase a copy of From Eternity To Here:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1434768708?tag=reimagchurch-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1434768708&adid=1XBJ2S6S5YFFZHPEY1XY
  

May the grace and peace of Christ Himself rest in you,

Jamal Jivanjee

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