The Church And Physical Organizations
By Fred Mobley
Because of our long association with another group that had come to misunderstand and had blurred the distinction between THE CHURCH ( the Body of Christ ) and the physical organization that conducted the business of the Church, we have come to have a wrong understanding of these two separate entities and their purpose and relationship. To come to a true understanding we need to start from the basics and define the terms we use to identify these bodies or organizations.
First, THE CHURCH: This is a Spiritual organism or body. It is referred to in the Bible as the Body of Christ ( Rom 12:5, I Cor 12:12, I Cor 12:27, Eph 4:12 ) and consists of those people, truly repentant, converted and obedient to God's Law, who are disciples of Christ. Membership in this Body is not based on any affiliation or fellowship maintained with any particular physical organization. Christ is the Head or ruler of this Body ( Eph 5:23 and Col 1:18 ), not any man or group of men ( Matt 20: 25-27 ). God calls each individual and places them in this Body (John 6:44 and 65 ). Second the physical or corporate organization: This is an organization set up to support THE CHURCH and to allow it to best do business in compliance with, the laws of the secular governments of the world around us. It also gives THE CHURCH legal protection from the world around us. We find no counterpart in the Bible for this type of organization since society, at that time, did not create the same needs as does our present day litigation happy society. God does not call or place anyone into this physical corporate body.
The organization that we left had come to look on the corporate body and THE CHURCH as synonymous. They believed that the corporation was to be the body that was doing the work of God and was to be visible to the world. In their view the Body of Christ, i.e. the Church members, was to remain relatively unseen and was primarily called to provide the financial support to allow the corporate bureaucracy to "do the Work of God" *. The corporation was to exercise authority over THE CHURCH, actually ruling through its human head over THE CHURCH. This concept completely ignored the Biblical statements that Christ was the head of His Church! Since leaving that organization God has led many of us to see that these concepts are in error. We now see that the corporate body is in existence only to serve and support THE CHURCH, and that it is not THE CHURCH! The corporate body exists only at the will of THE CHURCH and exercises no authority over the Body of Christ! Only Jesus Christ, as head of THE CHURCH, can rule over THE CHURCH ( Matt 23: 8 and 10 ).
The corporate body is not ecclesiastical in nature, but rather serves in the same manner as Deacons, whom the Bible describe as "table servers" (Acts 6:1-4 ). The corporate body is not the visible body which does "the work", while THE CHURCH remains behind the scene and provides support. Rather it is THE CHURCH that is to be the visible body and the corporate body is to remain in the background and provide support for whatever work THE CHURCH may do! The corporate body may also be one of several tools available to THE CHURCH for doing "the work" and preaching the Gospel. Where God is leading us now with this deeper understanding we don't really know. We do know however we must move forward in the direction God is leading. At the proper time He will show us what we are to do, but for the present we must walk by faith not sight (II Cor 5:7 ), as Abraham did when God called him to leave his home land: "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went", Hebrews 11:8
Notes: * The phrase "the work of God" is only used one time in the Bible. It is interesting to see how Jesus Christ defined that term. John 6:28 "Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the work of God? 29) Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent".
United Christian Ministries