We are permanently related to Jesus Christ at salvation, which is illustrated in the Bible by the use of analogies.
The analogy of “the Head and the Body” is a reference to Christ being the head of the Church, which is called “the Body of Christ”. The Church is made up of all believers in this age (the Church Age) from the Day of Pentecost to the Rapture. This, of course, is a reference to Positional Sanctification when the believer is placed into union with Christ at salvation. Therefore, all Church Age believers are members of “the Body of Christ”. (Ephesians 4:12-16; 5:23-30)
As part of the body of Christ, all believers are to function as individual members of the body using the spiritual gift or gifts given to them at salvation by the Holy Spirit. It is only as the believer uses his gift that the body of Christ functions properly. The unity of this body is also very important. This means that we are to follow the leadership of Christ and put away all mental attitude sinning (bitterness, hatred, gossip, etc.) and instead exhibit the character of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 214-18; Galatians 5:22-23)
Jesus Christ is our Shepherd because He gives His life for “the sheep” (Positional Sanctification). (John 10:9-11) Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd, Who was raised from the dead (Experiential Sanctification). (Hebrews 13:20-21) And Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd, Who will come in glory (Ultimate Sanctification). (I Peter 5:4)
Christ is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. As sheep we have certain needs that must be provided for us by the Shepherd. For example, sheep cannot guide themselves (John. 16:13), sheep cannot clean themselves (I John. 1:9), sheep are helpless when injured (Psalms 9:9; 46:1), sheep are defenseless (John. 14:27), sheep cannot find food or water (John 14:26), sheep are easily frightened (John 14:16), sheep produce wool that belongs to the shepherd. (John 15:4-5) Our Shepherd provides guidance, cleansing, help, protection, spiritual food and drink, freedom from fear, and all that we have belongs to Him.
In this analogy Christ is the vine and believers are the branches. The branch takes its life from the vine. The branch must periodically be “pruned” so that it will continue to produce a maximum amount of fruit. In the same manner, when we as believers abide in Christ (continue in fellowship) and He is abiding in us (God’s Word, the mind of Christ) we are able to produce maximum divine good. Just as a branch will wither and die when separated from the vine, the believer will experience temporal death (temporary loss of his spiritual life in time) by staying out of fellowship with God for a prolonged period of time. Failure to abide in Christ and to allow His Word to abide in you results in the failure to execute the Christian Way of Life.
Abiding in Christ means that you understand God’s recovery system from personal sin. It also means that you use it to spend a maximum amount of time in fellowship with God, being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Abiding in Christ also means that His Word is circulating in your soul, which is the means by which the Holy Spirit guides and teaches you. (John 15:1-14)
A cornerstone in biblical times was much more than a mere symbolic stone placed in the corner of a building with the names of builders, architects, founding members, etc. In biblical times a cornerstone was a load-bearing stone that connected and held together two walls of a structure. It is with this in mind that Peter and Paul used the cornerstone as a type of Christ and smaller stones to represent believers. Both are necessary to the overall building, but it is the Chief cornerstone (Jesus Christ) that we rely upon to “bear the load” and to “connect us” together with God and other believers.
Paul, for example uses the analogy to show that believing Jews and Gentiles are united in the body of Christ. (Ephesians 2:20) Peter uses the analogy to refer to the Royal Priesthood of the believer (living stones) and the spiritual house that they are building. (I Peter 2:1-8)
Jesus Christ is our royal High Priest. (Hebrews 5:6,10) In order to become our High Priest, Christ had to become a human being. Jesus Christ represented us before God first on the “altar of the Cross”, and now represents us in Heaven before the throne of God. By becoming our High Priest, Jesus Christ became our mediator with God.
(I Timothy 2:5-6) As believers in this age, we belong to His priesthood (the Royal Priesthood). This priesthood is far superior to any that existed in the past. (Hebrews 7) As our High Priest, Christ won the strategic victory over Satan in the Angelic Conflict. (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:17-20)
The priesthood of Christ is the reality of those priesthoods that previously existed in the Old Testament. Just as the rituals and the sacrifices were shadows of the real things which were to come in the future, the order of the Royal Priesthood of Christ is the realization of those shadow types. (Hebrews 8)
During the Church Age, God is forming a bride for the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ). It is the body of Christ (the Church) that will become the “Bride of Christ” in the eternal state. This analogy refers to the fact that we are uniquely united to Christ at salvation. We are placed into union with Him in the same manner as a bride and a bridegroom “become one” in marriage. (I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 21:9) As the Bride of Christ we will participate in the marriage feast, which will be a time of joy and celebration. As the Bride of Christ, Church Age believers will be “dressed in fine white linen”, which is a reference to God’s righteousness. (Revelation 19:7-9)
The fact that God has a kingdom means that there must be a king. We have seen that Jesus Christ will be the king on earth during the Millennium, but who is the king of the Kingdom of God? Remember that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom. Therefore, the king of this kingdom must be a spiritual being. The king of this kingdom is also Jesus Christ. He is perfect humanity and perfect deity in one Person forever. Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to be both the earthly ruler as part of the royal line of David and to be the spiritual ruler as the Second Person of the Godhead. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in one Person forever.
This royal family that we now belong to has an honor code, which each of us as believers is expected to follow. Adherence to this honor code brings magnificent blessings and rewards to the believer. Failure to adhere to this honor code brings misery and shame to the
believer. This honor code is clearly taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12 through 16. We will look at ten standards that can be seen in these passages that define this honor code. (Taken from “Christian Integrity, R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
All Christians have spiritual freedom, but we also have a responsibility to others not to cause a stumbling block by the exercise of our liberty in Christ. It also means that we respect the rights of others, especially believers. It means that we are to refrain from gossip, maligning, judging, character assassination or listening to others as they do these things. We are to “live and let live”. Privacy is essential to freedom. Every believer is has the right to grow spiritually at his our pace without interference from others.
Impersonal love is based on your integrity and demands that you do not hold a grudge or resentment toward anyone. Personal integrity rejects self-pity and does not seek pity from others. Impersonal love is treating others the way that Christ would treat them.
Every believer advances to spiritual maturity at different rates, if at all. It is our responsibility as royalty to be thoughtful and courteous to all believers, regardless of their stage of growth. The potential exists for any believer willing to learn and apply doctrine to advance to maturity. Some will and some will not, but in either case it is between them and God.
Integrity is superior to morality. Integrity is based on the useable Bible doctrine that you have stored in your soul. Morality is included in integrity. Morality can be distorted into a system of legalism, but integrity cannot. Integrity embraces morality without the distortion because integrity recognizes that morality is NOT the Christian Way of Life.
Talent, personality, intelligence, self-sacrifice and human ability do not merit the blessings of God. The only reason you are blessed is because you possess the righteousness of God and have capacity in your soul to receive blessings. Capacity comes from time logged in the study and application of Bible doctrine.
6. Depend entirely on the integrity of God.
You cannot depend on God’s integrity until you get to know Him – His character and attributes – and how they relate to the Christian Way of Life. It is confidence in God that motivates you to exhibit love for God and impersonal love for people.
Since the Christian Way of Life is a life of thinking, knowing and understanding, God renovates your thinking from human viewpoint to divine viewpoint.
The Royal Family Honor Code is for all believers regardless of age, I.Q., social status, race, spiritual maturity, gender or position in the community. It is God’s honor code. Therefore, we are not to become arrogant because we have discovered a superior way of life. It is God’s laws, mandates and doctrines that sustain and advance us and it is always a matter of God’s grace, not our human effort.
Every believer in Christ is royal family, but not all are at the same stage of spiritual growth. The spiritually strong believers have a responsibility to the spiritually weak believer to lead by example. The strong should be setting an example of tolerance, kindness, goodness, patience, faithfulness, honor and generosity. While he maintains a relaxed mental attitude, the strong believer must also maintain a sense of humor about self, about life and about others. Impersonal love implements all behavior of the strong toward the weak.
Strong believers recognize the importance of submitting to authority. First they submit to the ultimate authority, which is God. And then they submit to the authority of their pastor, as he teaches accurate Bible doctrine. Under the doctrinal concept of the privacy of the priesthood, each believer is to be given freedom and privacy to grow spiritually at his own pace without interference from another believer.
Supporting your local church means attending Bible class on a consistent basis, being positive and being attentive when you’re there. It means that the believer should pray for his pastor and others in the local body. And you should support the local church with your offerings. Giving is commanded in the Scripture, but no one is ever to be coerced to give. God measures giving based on the motivation, not the amount. New Testament giving is not a set amount or percentage. We are commanded to give as we determine, in a joyful manner because of our appreciation of Bible doctrine. The believer is not to give money if it would in any way jeopardize the health or welfare of his family.