Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



"Physique" is defined by Webster as "bodily makeup," thus we want to discuss the body makeup of the church. Just how are we arranged? We have discussed the leadership and many of the things that the believers in a local church are to do, but just how does God view the family that He has assembled? He views us as a body. We want to discuss the body of Christ for a time.


Who is Head of the church? The pastor? The board? Mrs. Stuffed Pocketbook? Mrs. All-wise? The answer lies in the word itself - Head.

Psalm eight speaks of the dominion of the Lord before He was incarnate. Ephesians one mentions that He has dominion or Headship over the church.

Eph. 1:22,23 "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."

Christ is the head and the church is the body. Let's think about this a moment. What implications are there in this short phrase?

What does the head do?

1. It controls the body. What happens if this control is removed? Ever see a chicken just after its head is removed? As a child I used to go to my aunt's place with my mom. Mom used to make me get clear over to the corner of the yard, then my aunt would chop a chicken's head off in the middle of the yard. the body of the chicken would take off flopping and rolling and flapping around for some time. Ever see a church after its head is removed? A man can remain conscious for a short interval of time after his head is separated from his body, but not for long. A body without a head cannot function.

2. The head contains some important equipment which some church members seem to think are located in the body.

a. The eyes. Christ alone is all seeing. He can see far into the future and make plans. If He sees a chuckhole in the road He can guide the church around it quite well. He doesn't need a busybody telling the church what to do.

b. The brain. Christ alone is all knowing. He does not need the unceasing wisdom of the rich elder that has built a fortune, or the sage pastor that has built a kingdom for himself. He doesn't even need the all-knowing teen that knows the church is being run all wrong. He - Christ can control the body!

c. The nose. He can smell out trouble and alert the pastor or elders to it without the self - appointed gossip helping.

d. The ears. He hears enough gossip without us. God has one that is in the business of reporting our errors to the Lord. A poem by Martha Snell Nicholson entitled My Advocate relates to this point.

e. The tongue. You might try a long detailed study of James 3 concerning the tongue? Our tongues are not really necessary except in witnessing and praising Him.

3. The head tells the body what to do and where to go. How far do we let this go? To what extent do we let Christ lead in the church? It would seem from Matt. 10:30 that Christ wants to lead in all areas of our life, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

A woman in Denver needed a pair of shoes. She found two pair that might work. she really liked and wanted the expensive pair and the cheaper pair were almost ugly. She told the Lord to help her know which pair to buy. She allowed Him to choose. She tried both pair on. The cheap pair did not fit at all. The pair she liked fit perfectly.

We as individuals and as a church are His Body. A close relationship. He is interested in every part of our personal life and our church life. We should learn to take even small things to Him for a decision.

4. The head in the case of the church is the life giver. As the physical body dies without the head, so dies the church without Christ.

How do we treat this head of ours?

Ephesians tells us that God has raised Him, but I wonder if we don't often lower Him. We try to humanize Him and bring Him down to our level.

God placed Christ at His right hand, but many churches put Him beside Rock and Roll music in the sanctuary in the name of evangelism.

God placed all things under His feet, but we tread upon Him - we say we serve Him yet seldom do anything for His work.

He seems to have little power over His church in America today.

God made Him Head of the Church, but for the most part He is more like a headstone in front of a grave full of bones.

A rewrite of Ephesians 1:20-23 might show what man has done to Christ today. "When they lowered him to the depths of humanism--and set him under their feet in every earthly place--and hath placed him as dust, under foot, and gave him to be head over the church which is his dried bones, the emptiness of him that once filled the universe."

Let's consider some verses in Ephesians 1:15-23.

15. "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

Let's consider that phrase, "All things under His feet."

1. All things are subject to Him; the earth, the heavens, all mankind (not outwardly toward Him but He is in control), and the Devil. All the universe is subject to Him, yet He allows the believer to decide his own subservience to his Lord - the one that has the position and power to command subservience.

2. Matt. 28:18 says all power was given to Him.

a. He has the power to provide for us. No matter what our financial position. He is in the business of supplying. (Matt 6:33)

b. He has the power to protect us from danger, from sin, from the Devil.

c. He has the power to prove us. That problem you had last week may have been a test.

d. He has the power to perpetuate Himself through us. By our witnessing, His power can bring people to Himself. Notice: His power.

Another phrase to consider, "Head over all things to the Church."

The key word is "all" - Every area! There is no area of your life that Christ is not over. Not an area that He isn't interested in. In the church the matter is the same. There is nothing in the operation of the church that Christ should not be over!

"Which is His body." As a local assembly with Him as Head are we a 90 lb. weakling or a Charles Atlas? For the younger generation let me explain what a 90 lb. weakling is. When I was a child there was an ad that used to be on all the magazines and comic books. A scrawny guy with a beautiful girl was lying on the beach. A huge muscle man came along and kicked sand into the 90 lb weaklings face and took his girl away from him. Somewhere in the ad was a picture of an even bigger muscle man with the earth on his back. This of naturally was Charles Atlas, the man that was selling the course on muscle building.

With Christ's power we're Charles Atlas - ready to hold the world on our back. Without His power we're a 90 lb. weakling.

"The fullness of him that filleth all in all." The church is the fullness of Christ. Do you really believe that? Think about the church as a whole today. If this is the fullness of Christ, then Christ is a pauper and beggar. We have failed to show forth the fullness of Christ. Imagine - we can show forth the fullness of the one that filleth everything.

"filleth all in all." This phrase has the idea of cram. This is the only usage in the New Testament of this word. Many years ago at work we used to have one trash can in the shop. It was a long way out to where we dumped it. We prolonged the inevitable by pushing it down by hand until we can't push it down any more, then we would use our feet to stomp it down a little more, and then we would stack it so high that it fell on the floor. Then sometimes we would find a box to sit by the trash can which we would cram as full as we possibly could by pushing and stomping.

Christ fills all in all like we used to fill that trash can. He crams every corner and overflows all there is.

That's my Lord! I trust that the church today can sometime visualize what they could do if they applied this text. How do we get ahead in our churches today? Make Christ the one in charge.

What application do we find in this doctrine of the headship of Christ?

Concerning the local church: 1. He should be consulted on all decisions being made. This is done by the prayers of teachers, elders, pastors, and all Christians in that church. 2. He should be preeminent in all things. Everything should be geared to furthering His gospel and His glory. 3. We should seek to build up the body to make it strong, as well as bigger, for Him. The body will one day be His bride.

Concerning the Church invisible: 1. Many will be surprised to see who is in the body. Many of those we disagree with doctrinally will be there. This is not to say that we should be associated with them. Some, I think, will be as members with a disease. They will become holy through Christ's transforming power at the rapture. 2. You can disagree with other churches if they don't give Christ this place of Head in their group or church.

Concerning the believer: 1. This doctrine could also be entitled the Lordship of Christ. Christ is Head - He is Lord. There is one distinction. He's officially Head, but only Lord as we allow Him that position. This is true for the church as well. Allowing Christ Lordship is simply allowing Christ to have control of our life, and to have access to every area of life; be that area your innermost secret, or innermost problem, be that area your dating, be that area your job, be it anything.

Christ is Head officially - now let's let Him be Head in practice. Let us as individuals and churches begin to allow Him to make the decisions.

We need to consider this picture that is used to describe us. We are told that we are the body of Christ. Consider that picture for a moment or two. First, there are several bones in the body of Christ. these bones are also found in each one of us. How well the body gets along depends on how much these bones are used. 1. Knee bone - How much prayer is offered on the bended knee? 2. The backbone - how may great laborers do our churches have. 3. Wishbone - This is often put to use instead of the knee and backbone. ("Oh, I wish the church would grow.") 4. The most used bone in the church today should be the least used - the jawbone. It has its good use - when it's operating for the Lord. 5. Finger bone - It points to everyone's faults. 6. Rib bone - Rib the pastor till he can't take it anymore. 7. Shoulder bone - It does the work.

Some churches I've seen remind me of my own body at times. My mouth runs before my mind is engaged. Sometimes I feel like I'm hooked up backwards; my nose runs and my feet smell.

We sometimes begin to think we're pretty important, but remember as you sit there you are worth $.90 chemically. You're pretty much worthless,

unless you are energized atomically, then you become worth millions per pound because you could produce 11 million kilowatts per pound of flesh.

Spiritually we're worthless without the Holy Spirit, but with Him we are priceless to God.

What kind of a body are we for Christ? The next text has specific reference to the local assembly as does Ephesians four, but by application we could see truths for the invisible church as well.

Take a few moments to read this text, I Cor. 12:12-27. Some facts from the text:

V. 12) One body, many members

V. 13) All are placed in the body via the Holy Spirit. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This takes place at salvation!

V. 15) If a member, out of disgust, declares himself not of the body, he still is in the body, like it or not.

V. 17) There is a diversity of types. The body isn't just an eye. The body isn't just an ear. It's a complete body, arms hands, legs, feet etc.

V. 18) God placed us where He wanted us. This includes what we are. He chose what member you are and placed you in the body where He wants you.

This passage has direct application to every one of us today! How? 1. We should carefully find out what local assembly He wants us working in. 2. After we know where we are to be, we should find out what we should be doing. This means more than just sitting idle while the hand scratches your foot. Every member of a healthy body functions. What are you supposed to be doing? 3. God placed! Not man! We are not to judge another member's place or ability. God thinks his ability is what He wants in that place. You may feel I am a rotten teacher. Maybe I am. Maybe I don't have interesting studies. Maybe I am bald. Maybe I don't have a sense of humor. Maybe I tick you off with all of my detail. But - you did not place me in this position. At this time god wants me here no matter what I'm like. Tomorrow He may want me in some other position. This can be done in a number of ways. Don't judge God's placement of members.

Vs. 21-22) One member can't do without the other if it is going to function properly.

Every job in the church is important to the smooth functioning of the body. Imagine if your left knee joint was rendered inoperative. Just how well would your back feel after hobbling along with a stiff knee? EVERY job is important to the body.

V. 23) We should try to honor these less important members. This is done by giving credit where credit is due and giving a thank you and pat on the back once in awhile.

V. 24) God gives honor to these less important parts, by spiritual blessing, by joy in serving, by rewards later.

A missionary friend once told a church that he'd help with their Vacation Bible School. He didn't get to speak in that church. He served them as a less important member. On his next furlough the church opened a day of services to him and support followed.

V. 25) This honor is done so there is no division in the body.

All members should care for one another. If there isn't a mutual caring, then someone's spiritual life is not in a proper relation to God!

There is a phrase in the Scripture that is very indicative of what we are talking about. "One another." The Bible mentions many things that we are to do for and to "one another." I would suggest a study of these passages for your further enrichment. It will take awhile, yet the benefit will be well worth it. The listing of these passages is in Appendix six.

V. 26) There should be common suffering and rejoicing: How do you feel when your tooth aches? Do you feel great all over? No! How do you feel when it's fixed. Great - all over. So we might surmise that if one member of the church body is off center then the whole body is slightly askew.

Some of the members have certain spiritual gifts to train, while all of us have a gift or more for the enrichment of the whole. Let's look at Ephesians 4:11-16 and see how this relates to the body of Christ. Vs. 11) Some gifts given for a purpose. Vs. 12) We see there is a reason in this verse: For the perfecting of the saints. (complete as a machine, ready to go.) In short, the purpose is to teach every Christian so that he is ready and able to go for God. Be it witnessing or whatever.

The pastor is to be helping complete the others in the church. At the same time there may be others in the church that can help in completing the pastor. This is not open season on telling your pastor what and how to do his work, but there may be opportunity for you to assist him in his ministry in a way that he learns.

The result of this mutual completing is a church that is growing maturity wise as well as number wise. It is a process by which a church can begin to function as a unit and not an octopus with many tentacles flailing the water.

Let's recap:

We - every one of us - is a member of a local assembly.

It does not matter if you hold membership or not. If you are attending a gathering you are in essence a part of that body. You - every one of you - have a spiritual gift. God placed you in your local church at this time because of your gift. It is needed to do what God wants done at this point in time.

These gifts are varied. You may have more than one! You may have the gift of giving, of helps, of pastor-teacher, of evangelist, of governments (oversight), of ministry (material, deacons), of exhorter (paraclete), of ruler (elder), or of mercy.

No matter what your gift you should be sharing that gift with the other believers. If you aren't sharing that gift, you are hindering and impeding the health of the body. What is worse - you are hindering and impeding the work of God.

It's easy to sit back and relax while others do all the work, but when you see it in its true light it's the fact that you are hindering and holding up God's work. Are you ready to admit to that?

There is another warning that might be drawn from this thought. The church leadership which does not allow all of the people to minister is throwing up a roadblock to God's work as well. Every gift is present for a purpose and should be used in the assembly.

God can work around you. He can do this is two ways: 1) by shifting your load to someone else, or 2) by bringing other people into the assembly to take your work.

Is someone else doing work in your assembly that you should be doing?

Not only should we be suing our gifts in the local church, but we also have other responsibilities.

Every organization has rules and regulations - no matter how loose the organization. Every organization has members. those members have set responsibilities. Even in the hippy groups of the 60's there were certain responsibilities. The hippy dress was to be different than the straights. They wore patches and rags so they could be different. My question is this - if they were so different why did they all look alike when they dressed differently? At any rate, they had certain responsibilities to the group.

This holds true concerning the members of the body of Christ. We will be looking at these responsibilities for a moment.

A. The first responsibility is to mature. Even though there are many immature Christians that have been saved for twenty-five years, our prime interest is in maturing and learning in our new life. This can be done in many ways. 1. Regular attendance at services. Not just the am, pm, & Wednesday, but all that are available. Many churches have training hours and different age group fellowships. 2. Daily prayer is needed to keep the channels of communication open. All the sermons, lessons, and devotions in the world will be useless unless you are on your knees asking God to apply them to you! 3. Regular personal Bible study. A very good place to begin here is to read through the Bible so you know what's there. Then get into detailed studies. Mix your ways of studying up so that you don't become bored.

B. You are responsible to honor other members of the body. 1. This does not allow for talking behind someone's back. This does not allow for backbiting. Our pastor years ago preached on the armor of God. He explained carefully how the front of the body was well protected, but there is no protection in the rear. He explained that the Christian soldier was always to be going forward. He also mentioned that it should have included protection from the rear. He told us that he had had more trouble from the rear, from Christians, than he had had from the front.

He didn't say it, but what has happened in today's church is this -the Devil has infiltrated the Lord's ranks by getting Christians to sin. 2. This includes a mutual trust between members. All members are Christians and as such should be honest. If you have any proof of wrongdoing, go to the person in question. If you have only suspicions, be quiet. If God has placed a person in a place of leadership then it is your duty to keep his or her reputation, not tear it down.

C. You are responsible to support the body. 1. This can be in the form of help. Helping in the ministry. All are to be working. Every member. It is wrong to push all responsibilities onto one member. Remember your spiritual gift is to be used to support the body. 2. Spiritual support between members is needed. A mutual encouraging of one another. a. This can be on a one to one basis. b. This can be in informal fellowship. c. This can be during testimony times.

D. You are responsible to build up the body. 1. By personal witness. The early church was built by Christians witnessing, winning and bringing people into church. 2. As you talk to others about your church don't dwell on the dim side, like how little room there is or about how boring the Sunday School class is, but emphasize the positive.

E. You are responsible to keep your attitudes straight. 1. Personal attitudes in a church are very important to smooth operation. 2. Don't get hurt when a vote goes against what you wanted. 3. Don't get upset if someone gets a job you wanted. Volunteer!!

F. It is your responsibility to mind your own business. Our world is changing drastically. Everyone is out to mind everyone else's business. 1. It used to be that how you raised your children was your business, but it seems everyone has to get into the show. A man shared with us once that he had taken a child out for several applications of the board of education on the seat of learning. Still the child gave trouble so he got up again and every person in the church turned and stared. To which the pastor said, "Now you people never mind - that child needs that." 2. It is proper and courteous to allow others to have a different opinion and leave it at that. Today, especially on spiritual things, if you have a difference of opinion you are treated like the scum of the earth. Many times when you take a stand on something you believe in, you are radical and stupid. This oft times is worst from Christians.

G. It is your responsibility to be content with what you have and with where you are in the body. I Tim. 6:8 "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." I Tim. 6:6 "But godliness with contentment is great gain;"

I. You are responsible to apply what you hear and learn from Scripture to yourself and no one else. When you hear something don't say, "Oh boy, does so and so need that." Say, "Does that relate to me?" Let the Holy Spirit work on everyone else. He can do it if you let Him. He is God, and conviction is one of His ministries to the believer.

J. You are responsible to keep your family in proper order so they are an honor and asset to the body. 1. The man has a set responsibility in the family (Eph. 5:22-25). We've been studying Christ's headship. The husband is the head of the family. I see no reason given in Scripture whereby this relationship can be changed. 2. Children are to obey their parents. Col. 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is wellpleasing unto the Lord." Also see Eph. 6:1-3. Note obey and honor are two things for us to do. Another good study for insight is the term "honor" and the term "obey."

As a teenager I was very cautious of honoring my father. He was the county treasurer - above reproach. Never did wrong. One night I went sliding around a corner and sped off only to be followed by a flashing red light. The first thought in my mind was not of the money or embarrassment to me, but of what my father would say and secondly what his friends and acquaintances would say. In court I was thinking about my name being in the paper and the dishonor it would mean to him. As children - not only kids and young people, but everyone that has living parents - it is your duty to honor your parents. Keep their esteem and worth in view in all that you do.

K. You are responsible to help keep unity in the assembly. A group of people bound together by a shared goal will be united behind that goal and the effort to obtain that goal. If you find you are at odds with the group, check to see if you are spiritually (sin-wise) prepared to make your decision, then make your decision on a Scriptural basis. Don't decide on what you think, but on what God says. If you are at odds you might try prayer.

If all of us keep our end of these responsibilities we can expect a smooth running church that will be quite honoring to God. If we begin to slip in these areas we can expect strife, hurt feelings, and trouble.

We've been talking about the body of Christ and the responsibilities of the members. Our study now should turn to how the members can be responsive. Really the only way! Take a moment and read through II Timothy 2:14-26

How do your religious conversations go with other people? Are they argumentative? Are they calm or heated? Are they based solely on Scripture or upon what someone thinks or feels? Are they profitable?

If they are heated or argumentative or based on thought, feeling or philosophy, then they are unprofitable and will subvert the hearers. Possibly an illustration of this concept would be good. Many years ago I was working on an F.M. radio. I was trying to align or adjust it in a certain manner. My boss said, "You can't do it that way." I said, "You're crazy - I'm doing it." A lengthy argument ensued which became heated. At last my boss, an electronic engineer conceded that I, only a technician, was right. What were the last four words about a heated argument? Will subvert the hearers. I had convinced a friend of mine, also. The problem came when I found I couldn't align the radio in that manner. Thinking back I found where I was wrong. The point? A heated argument subverted my friends and my bosse's thinking. I then had to not only tell them I had argued them into falsehood, but that I was sorry for the whole mess.

This happens many times in religious discussions. The same is true when we draw conclusions from discussions based on philosophy or someone's thoughts and beliefs.

Paul says - subverting is the result.

Vs. 15 "Study to show thyself approved...." Someone has asked the question: If you were arrested and tried for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Think about it. If you took your case before God right now and said, "Lord, I've studied in the Word in the following areas and I've spent this many hours a week studying your Word," would He say, "Here is your reward faithful servant." Or would He say, "You're a slothful servant. You will have no reward." Would He put His stamp of approval on you?

"...a workman...." This assumes that you are working for Him. Are you?

"...that needeth not be ashamed...." Have you ever witnessed to someone, or been in a discussion concerning religion and found you can't answer questions put to you - or you feel you were a miserable witness? If so this is your problem. You are ashamed. Why? Because you aren't an approved workman. Why? Because you haven't studied diligently.

This does not require length in study, but diligence to the study you have.

"...rightly dividing the word of truth...." Another area where embarrassment enters in when someone catches you teaching something wrong from the Word. Again this usually comes from poor study.

Vs. 16 "...stay away from babblings...." Another way to explain the discussions of v 14. If you are subverted and continue, you will be increasing your ungodliness. If you are a teacher and teach others, you are multiplying your ungodliness.

Paul goes on to give information concerning false teaching and the importance of being very careful in our acceptance of things taught. I have told classes and congregations all my life to check up on what their pastor tells them and to check up on what I tell them. Indeed, that is a good warning to the reader. There may be things in this volume that are false. Not because I am desirous of misleading you but there are ways in which falsehood can creep in.

We trust that this look into the body aspect of the church has been helpful and that the reader will continue to do further study on the subject as time permits.