Demystifying the "Body of Christ"

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26)

So, where is He, that a person may follow Him and be where He is? Who wouldn't want to be the servant He speaks of here? Who wouldn't want to serve Him where He is? If only we could be where He is, then everything would be so clear. Then there would surely be no more confusion and no more division. Is this talking about going to heaven one day, or what?

In John 14:18, He promised us, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Surely He was not talking about His bodily return at the end of this age. If that is what He meant, then we have been left as orphans for the last 2000 years. But it is clear from John 14:15-17 that He is speaking of being with His disciples in the person of His Spirit:

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.

So His true disciples, the ones who put His words into practice,1 will find themselves together in the same place, serving Him where He lives, as He goes on to describe in John 14:23:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.

Of course, this is exactly what happened in the first century:

And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common... (Acts 2:44)

This was no mystical unity of an invisible Church. It was a definitive, locatable Body, where Messiah Yahshua dwelled by His Spirit.2 It is hard for people to understand this today, but the apostle Paul understood it! He understood it perfectly from the day that the Master confronted him on the road to Damascus and said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"3 This "Me" referred to the tangible corporate Body of believers who were one in every locality, according to the Judean pattern.4

This one Body, housing the one Spirit of God,5 was described by Paul in Ephesians 4:16 as "fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part". The members of this Body are intimately connected with each other, dedicated to building each other up, until they would all attain to the full-statured maturity that their Master possessed6 and the perfect unity that he prayed for in John 17:23.7

According to the words of our Master's prayer, the unity in this Body is an amazing phenomenon. It is such an obvious marvel, that it causes the world to know that the Father in heaven sent his Son, and that He loves the people of the world as much as He loves His own Son.8 Such unity only comes about because of the glory He has given to His disciples, to those who are willing to do His will.9

But what is this glory? Is it a mystical concept? No, it is the real inward worth which He imparts to all His disciples because of the inestimable price He paid to redeem them. This glory shows itself in what they say (and how they say it) and what they do (and how they do it).10 These good deeds11 -- done in fellowship with their Savior, by the power (or grace) of His Spirit -- command the respect of others. So, as each disciple sees his fellow disciples walking as his Master walked, day after day, his respect for them deepens, thus deepening the bond they all have with each other and perfecting their unity.

So where is He today, that we might be where He is and serve Him? Is He just in heaven, waiting for us to die and join Him there? Is He mystically present in 'true believers' scattered here and there among the 'tares' in the various denominations? Or is He come in the flesh, as 1 John 4:2-3 expresses? Does He dwell, by His Spirit, in a discernible Body of disciples whose love and unity prove to the world that they belong to Him?

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the {spirit} of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)

  • 1. John 8:31,51  
  • 2. Ephesians 2:22; John 14:2-3  
  • 3. Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14  
  • 4. 1 Ths 2:14  
  • 5. Ephesians 4:4  
  • 6. Ephesians 4:13; 1 John 3:2-3  
  • 7. He was not praying that his disciples would merely "agree on the essentials." They already agreed on the essentials. They wouldn't even be disciples if they didn't "agree on the essentials."  
  • 8. John 3:16  
  • 9. John 7:17  
  • 10. 1 Peter 4:11  
  • 11. Revelation 19:8; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:12  

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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