The Head and the Body

Romans 12 (Ephesians 4:16)

by The Rt. Rev. Daniel R. Morse


I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:16

St. Paul tells us that we have no life in ourselves if we are not one with Christ. He is the Head of the body which means that our life flows from him. And if we are one with him, we are also one with everyone who is joined to him by baptism and faith.

Walk worthy of your calling to be a Christian in patience, love, preserving the unity of the Spirit, using your gifts for the good of the saints, enjoying the fullness of Christ, and maintaining your stability in the truth.

I. Union with Christ

A. Essential to the life of the Church—We live because he lives—no Christ, no Church—are you joined to him?

B. Essential to the growth of the Church—If you want to grow you must get it from Christ. We cannot make one step toward heaven without him. Christ is building his Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The Church, and only the Church, can do what other groups cannot do—show forth the life and power of Christ.

C. Essential to the perfection of the Church—Will there ever come a time when we are perfect without Christ, when we can stand before God without a mediator, or when we will have a spiritual beauty that renders the imputed righteousness of Christ unnecessary?

D. The honor of Christ is served by these—we receive nothing outside of our connection to Him.

II. Our Individuality

A. We must be united to Christ’s body, the Church, and we cannot rightly call ourselves Christians if we are not doing anything in connection with the Church. A beautiful part of the body is not beautiful if it is separated from the body. No one can have spiritual life if not joined to the body, the Church. It is each Christian’s duty to be in the visible Church. We are sheep, not dogs. Sometimes we see a man all by himself claiming to be a Christian though he seems to spend all his time snapping at everybody. I am afraid he is a dog after all. But when you see a person who enjoys the company of other Christians, who comforts and feeds them, then I say he acts like a sheep.

B. We must keep our true position in the body. The parts of the body are right where God put them for a good reason. The eyes, the feet, etc., are right where they should be. This means that each one of us should find out what part Christ meant us to play in the Church, and then do it. Some people have a great gift for finding fault with everyone around them, but there is no place in the body for that gift. It is a disease. Let each one do his work so well that no one can justly find fault.

C. Be careful of your own health. If your little finger, or your throat, hurts, your whole body is in pain. You have difficulty doing anything else until you get the problem fixed. That is, if the most insignificant member of the Church is in poor spiritual health, the rest of the Church suffers. Do not say that it makes no difference whether you pray or not, whether you stay in close contact with Christ, your Head, or that you are not an important member of the body.

D. Be careful to grow. If you care about the growth of the Church, then you must grow in your relationship to Christ. There is a great deal more to being a Christian than just making sure that you are going to heaven and escaping hell.

III. Our Relationship to Each Other

A. The joint-oil of love—bones grind against each other—some complain that there is no love in the Church. If you have it yourself, you may find some in response from others.

B. You are where you are by God’s choice. You need these particular Christians that God has put around you for your benefit and growth. They may seem prickly and obnoxious to you, but don’t reject them. God knows better than you do what you need.

C. Accept the ministry of others.

IV. Applications

A. How Can All This Be Done? Not by preaching or the preacher alone. It is the job of the members of the Church to

1.   Introduce non-Christians to Jesus Christ.

2.   Demonstrate to Christians the power of the Gospel to transform lives.

3.   Give other Christians the opportunity to be the channel of God’s grace.

B. Calvin on the Lord’s Supper

1.  The Lord’s Supper reminds us to seek all things pertaining to our souls in Jesus Christ—not half our life—not seeking one drop or crumb elsewhere.

2.   We are nothing—God calls us to Himself by knowing that Jesus Christ is given for our poverty. We have no righteousness, merit, or strength except in Him.

3.   We cannot partake of Him without also partaking of all the good things He has received from his Father.

4.   It is not just good things that we receive from Christ—righteousness, the benefit of his sacrifice and death, the obedience he rendered. He says, “I am yours. You can have me.”