Chapter 12: Defining the Body of Believers

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Jewish readers will need to work their way through a lot of references to what Christians call the first coming of the Messiah, in order to grasp the full meaning of prophecy directed specifically to the Jews. If you have never done so, for whatever reason, this may be a good time.

Those “who believe” is a reference to those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, that He was crucified and buried and rose on the third day, and that He is now at the right hand of the Father. The body of believers consists only of those who, by the grace of God, have experienced salvation by faith in the atoning sacrifice made by Jesus, faith that has brought them to repentance. The Word makes clear what it is that God wants you to know about the church and its Foundation.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NKJ)

22 And He put all things
23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 3:8-10 (NKJ)

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should
9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

Ephesians 5:23 (NKJ)

23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJ)

25 …Christ also loved
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

“Believers” is perhaps too broad a word, as we identify the church because the Bible says:

James 2:19 (NKJ)

19 “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe– and tremble”!

Jesus adds meaning to what the word believe means.

Luke 8:1-18 (NKJ)

1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,
2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities– Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:
5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.
6 “Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.
7 “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.
8 “But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 “And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.
17 “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.
18 “Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

The message is clear. A true believer is one whose witness and life has “staying power.” They do not, as Jesus said, have shallow roots nor do they reside in sin. Their lives bear fruit and they declare the secret that has been revealed to them. As they do so, not only will their opportunities to witness, bear fruit, but God will bless them more abundantly than those who do not serve Him. Those who believe that God’s blessings are only “material” fail to understand that the material blessings are temporal. Material things, including our flesh, will perish. The true blessing of God is an eternal life, but right now we are blessed by being in His will and by enjoying the fruits of the Holy Spirit. What God gives us more of is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22, 23) and these gifts will distinguish us from those who hate, are depressed and angry. The Scriptures say:

1 John 4:7-11 (NKJ)

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

If you, as a Jew, understand the issues surrounding the rapture of the church (the body of believers), the events prophesied will be as a beacon to your path. Whether the rapture occurs before, during or after the “great tribulation,” the scriptures indicate that it will occur. When it does, your choices will become increasingly complex and yet very clear. You will see the rest of the signs unfold. Pray for courage and discernment.

Paul presents a good summary of Jesus as the Head of the church. He said:

Colossians 1:18 (NKJ)

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:24 (NKJ)

24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

First, in verse 18 and again in verse 24, Paul refers to the “body” as being “the church.” When you think about the “body of believers” being caught up in the clouds,” in the “rapture” (this is defined in the chapter 11, (The Rapture), you are referring to the church.

Therefore, there is only “one” church. In heaven there will not be denominations, each independently seeking to serve God, but one single “body of believers,” the church. I suspect that denominationalism, with its “We are right, you are wrong” mentality greatly grieves God. God calls you to a personal relationship with Him and has provided an Enabler, a Redeemer who can present you blameless to the Father. Then and only then will you be in the body of believers, the one and only true church.

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