The Christ-as-Life Church
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Dr. Stephen Phinney
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom 12:4-5)
This article is one of hope and renewal, aimed at equipping individuals and families to stand, walk free, and complete in the indwelling Life of Jesus Christ by the miraculous mystery of the Holy Spirit in us. This is the key to renewal in the Church as well.
The Misnomer of Church
The organic term ‘Church’ is not what the masses refer to as church today. In our church culture, we reference ‘church’ as denominations; a church building, church house, or a church building used for “Christian” worship services that adhere to a set of collective doctrines. The challenge is that these doctrines are hand-picked by leaders through divisive disagreements and self-interpretive views OF the Bible. Most exaggerate selective passages, build a denomination and propagate portions of the Holy Word while deleting, minimally de-emphasizing portions of the Bible that leaders deem offensive or unnecessary.
The original label of ‘Church’ came from a description of individuals who became members of the Body of Christ – born-again & graphed into Jesus Christ as His earthly representative of His body. It is the reason we are told that we are the temple (body) of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Thus, the Church is the global representative of all those receiving Jesus Christ into their mortal bodies. In the Scriptures, all references of the Church are directly connected to believers who have been indwelt by Christ - gathering in separate communities. As in the church at Ephesus, the Seven Churches stated in Revelation, etc.
The transition of the Church going from a collective group of indwelt Christians to denominational types that devolved into independent “churches” took place due to the division of beliefs and interpretations of the written Word. It began during Biblical Paul’s time, about 67 AD, and the Church then morphed into churches. Within a few generations after Christ’s ascension, the term Body of Christ faded into the misnomer of “churches.”
While it is acceptable to use the term churches, we need to keep the context of the initial logic of this label. That of a group of indwelt Christians meeting in a community, i.e., the church at Ephesus. Originally it was to communicate a group of born-again believers that gather at a particular location. Today it is used as a group of “believers” gathering under a structure of selective doctrines.
However, each time I use the term Church, I am referencing the Body of Jesus Christ as a whole. Since you cannot lead a nation or church into the saving Life of Christ, we shift our focus to the individuals within the nations or churches. For example, America has been known as a Christian Nation. The irony is, nations cannot be born-again – only people. Churches cannot be born-again, and only their people can. Thus our emphasis is on the doctrinal ideologies of the Body of Christ.
The Christ-as-Life Church
When I use the phrase “Christ-as-Life Church,” I am addressing every indwelt Christian who has a desire to learn more about how to allow the Life of Christ to minister (or live) through their mortal being – no matter what community they gather.
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)
God gave us the ability through the Life of Christ within us to admonish (put in the mind) one another to assist our Groom in keeping each of His Bridal members on the same road, teaching sound doctrines. However, non-indwelt self-proclaimed Christians are putting false doctrines into the minds of real & fake Christians by terminating the doctrines of Christ in you.
The commission to admonish one another does come with some restrictions and guidelines. For example…
He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?; And not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. (1Ti 3:4-6)
When we decide to admonish another believer, we first look at his ability to manage. And that is done by carefully reviewing his family, history of broken marriages, etc. Even though this standard has drifted into our lukewarm culture, it is the Biblical mandate put before us. This evaluation is not dependent on selective children who chose the route of a prodigal, and however, it is dependent on the man’s skillful methods of managing such trauma.
The organic reason why we are to evaluate the “who” we are to invest the pearls of Christ is simple. The correlation between a man’s family and the family of God is perfectly in line with the methods of God’s ordained governance. It is a statistical fact that a man will lead the Body of Christ in the same manner he governed his earthly family. While noting a man can be transformed, the discipler must keep a watchful eye on the flesh pattern of the past that can show its “ugly head” on the days of walking after his flesh.
“Do not give what is Holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)
Who we invest the treasures of the Gospel for reproduction is a top priority for Jesus. As our passage reveals, if you invest in a potential worker of the Gospel who does not pass the test of family management, ultimately, they will turn on you and tear you to pieces. Betrayal of workers of the indwelling doctrines of God is as old as Christ Himself.