The Body of Christ
The five foolish virgins lost even their Salvation because of neglect. They did not go on to receive the oil in their vessels with their lamps. This is typical of the churches which deny the teaching of Sanctification to the people. Because of this, the Bible tells us that iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold. The people backslide. The result of backsliding is bickering, contention and disunity.
What is most generally observed in the visible church of today is bickering, contention, assassination of character, backbiting, envy, place-seeking and every evil work. What is wrong? Sanctification is denied! It is fought with a vicious hatred because it means the crucifixion of “self” and the lowly way of the cross. Where one member is found working against another, take note that this one belongs not to the Body whose Head is Christ, who will not give an order to one member that will act as a detriment to another member, just as a natural member of our body will not harm another part of our natural body. The church member, or professing Christian, who speaks or acts to harm his fellow member belongs to another body whose head is Satan.
Christ has called His true Church to oneness. “And a highway shall be there. and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” — Isaiah 35:8.
This leaves no indication that there is more than one way, or that all roads lead to Heaven. It does not say that God honors only the theology taught to the educated. The Bible must be spiritually discerned by those who are “born of the Spirit.” There are some who do not try to attain unto perfection in the thought, “We are required only to live up to what we know.” But willful ignorance will not pass by God when we stand before Him to give an account of deeds done in the body. God says His people are one.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith. one baptism, One God and Father of all. who is above all, and through all, and in you all” — Ephesians 4:4-6.
The seventeenth chapter of John tells of the prayer of Jesus for our Sanctification. Before going to the cross, Jesus poured out the anguished burden of His heart to His Father in behalf of His Bride — the Church. For her sake He was about .to offer the supreme sacrifice. He spoke of His “called out ones” yearningly, as those whom the Father had given Him. He made it clear that it was not for the world He was praying at this time, but His thoughts were upon His Church, and in her pure hands alone was He leaving the ministry of the reconciliation of the lost in the centuries to follow. His prayer included those who, in time to come, would call upon His name (vs. 20). His Bride is to be made complete before His return.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” — Psalm 24:3,4. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” — Matthew 5:8.
It is Sanctification that is the prerequisite of the Bride of Christ, It is only through heart purity that she shall be counted worthy to be joined to her heavenly Bridegroom. Jesus prayed that His people might be one. In essence, this was His prayer: “Father, just as I am one with thee and thou with me, give them that same oneness with each other, that they may also be one in us. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world; but they are mine and I have kept them in thy name. Now Father, sanctify them that they all may be one. The glory which thou gavest me I have given them. Make them one, that the world may know that thou hast sent me.”
The prayers of Jesus were always answered. “And I knew that thou hearest me always.” — John 11:42.
We see the answer on the day of Pentecost. They were all of one accord in one place. Only 120 were there out of all the teeming multitudes that thronged about Him as He walked among them. It is a “hard saying” to most, and it was this that once prompted the astonished Peter to ask:
“Lord, are there few that be saved?” — Luke 13:23.
It was then that they were baptized with the Holy Ghost -there in that upper room where just a little flock lost themselves in travail of soul, longing for the Comforter that had been promised. It is when we are sanctified and of one accord with Christ and with His true Church (the sanctified ones) that we can receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. God will not fill a vessel that is unclean (unsanctified).
In I Corinthians, chapter 12, we read how the Church, or the Bride, makes up the Body of Christ, of which He is the Head.
“The God of all grace . . . make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” — I Peter 5:10.
It has been said many times that the doctrines are the bones of the gospel. This being true, the entire nervous system in the back or spine of the natural body joining together and making it one, is like the experience of Sanctification in the spiritual body. This is what Sanctification is in the plan of Salvation. It is the nerve center of the whole “body.”
“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” — Colossians 3:14.
Here the Bible says, “And above all these things put on charity . . . . ” Then it explains what charity is: “. . . which is the bond of perfectness.” We are told to be perfect as He is perfect — which is in heart, motive and love. The word “bond” means tie, stamp, seal or band. Charity is the signature or endorsement of perfectness. Charity is perfection personified. Sanctification renews you again in the image and likeness of God as man was created in the beginning (Holiness within in the inwards parts). See Colossians 3:5-15.
This Body, of which Christ is the Head, is pure even as He is pure. Every member contributes his part which works in building up the other members. Those members that we think to be less honorable, upon those we bestow abundant honor. The members which seem to be more feeble are necessary.
“For the body is not one member, but many” — I Corinthians 12:14.
In the natural body, each part works in perfect unity. The eye guides the path and is working for the good and protection of the whole body. The ear is alert to any benefit it can impart to the other members. Surely not the most comely, the faithful feet tirelessly bear the weight of the whole body, without which it would be immobile. Not any Dart works against the other, but each does its best to shield the other members from harm. Can you imagine one foot working against the other to trip it up, or one hand striking the pencil from the other because it desires to do the writing? Rather, it gently holds the paper that it may remain firm under the hand that holds the pencil. If one part of the body is in pain, the whole body suffers and comes to the aid of the injured member.
Likewise is the spiritual Body of Christ. The eye cannot say it has no need of the hand (vs. 21). In this pure, sanctified Body which is the true Church, there is absolute, unmarred harmony. It is not confined to any certain group. Rather, it is an invisible Church and its members are here and there throughout the earth. From age to age it has been so. In this Body God has, and will bestow, the gifts of the Spirit. To one the word of wisdom, to another knowledge, to another discernment. He has set apostles, prophets, teachers; after that miracles, gifts of healing and many others. Neither are all teachers, nor are all bestowed with helps and governments. But God has tempered the Body together. Without schism, the members have the same care one for another as do the members of the natural body. In Ephesians, chapter 4, we read of that state of perfect love and unity of the Church. Rich in the gifts of the Spirit, the Church is perfected and edified unto a perfect man (II Timothy 3:17). It is in this blessed state that the Church will stand fast in one Spirit, and with one mind will strive together for the faith of the gospel (Hebrews 13:9). She stands even now in her beauty and purity and raiment of needlework. In every corner of the earth she awaits His call through the air, for she is of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. In her spotless robes of righteousness, she watches for His return, and her cry is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Come and walk in the light of the Lord. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” — Hosea 10:12.
The study of holiness is inexhaustible. The Bible is full of lessons on Sanctification, purity, perfection — “. . . holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” This should inspire the reader to clean living and a constant yearning for a closer walk with God and to see Jesus face to face. There is nothing that can be formed into words to fit any better than this:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” — Hebrews 13:20,21.