Difference of House and Body

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In concluding my remarks I would add a little as to the difference and yet connection between the House of God and the Body of Christ.
At the first moment — that is, when the Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost, the house of God was constituted of those disciples who were together on that day, amongst whom collectively and in whom individually the Holy Spirit dwelt. Although the doctrine of the Body of Christ was not yet revealed, we know that at that moment the House and the Body were co-extensive. The revelation of the Body of Christ was kept in abeyance until after the Jews had refused the offer of the Holy Spirit by Peter that Jesus would return (Acts 3), and until they had sent the messenger — Stephen — after Him saying — “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Acts 7).
The first intimation of the truth of the Body of Christ we have in Saul’s conversion in the words, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:44And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:4)). In the opening of Acts 8, we read of the whole assembly at Jerusalem being scattered abroad everywhere except the apostles. Saul is converted to the truth of the union of the scattered ones with Christ. He calls them “Me,” — as when you tread on my foot I say “you have trodden on me.”
Now in the truth of the House, or Habitation of God, there is no thought of head, body, or union at all — but a place in which one dwells. One dwells in his house, but its walls are not united to him; whereas of his body he says, it is myself.
At the beginning all were, doubtless, members of Christ, but for one moment (a short time) only could this be said. All who came then were received by baptism into this House of God, and although wood, hay, and stubble might have come in afterward, it did not cease to be God’s House for the Holy Spirit did not leave it; and, in responsibility it remains the House upon earth where the Holy Spirit dwells. Of course, neither wood, hay, nor stubble enters into that which Christ builds. You get an analogous thought in John 2 when the Lord finds the temple a “house of merchandise,” or as in another place, “a den of thieves”; still He calls it His Father’s House. The House is still the House of God, although materials have entered in when man has built which Christ had not introduced.
The want of distinguishing between the House and the Body has brought in the confusion. Baptism of water was the mode of reception into the former, while the baptism of the Holy Spirit constituted the latter. Man soon began to attribute to the House the privileges of the Body of Christ. Hence in the professing Church they pronounced the child “incorporated into the mystical body of Christ” by baptism of water, and giving the Lord’s supper to all the House (or parish in a smaller sense), and to children as in the infant communion of the early Church, which only belongs to the members of Christ as the symbol of the unity of one Body (1 Cor. 10). In both cases the distinction was lost and confusion came in.
The word “assembly” is used in two ways in Scripture — the word “Church” is not to be found there. Substitute for “church” the true word “assembly,” and the meaning of much of what men say is gone. For instance, say instead of “Church of England” or “Church of Ireland”— “Assembly of England,” “Assembly of Ireland.” You may ask what is that? The meaning is gone at once. The word “assembly” is used in two ways: when we look at Christ on high, the assembly is His Body (Eph. 1); when we look below it is the professing body — the House or Temple (1 Tim. 3:15; 115But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15) Cor. 3, etc.).
If we look at what He forms, all is perfect and nothing can enter into it but what Christ builds, and what is united to Him.
If we look at the House that man builds (1 Cor. 3), there are many who have, so to speak, a sacramental relationship with Christ who, after all, will be lost — ordinances being no security for life.
In 1 Corinthians 10 the Apostle refers to the history of Israel who stood in an ordinancial relationship with Jehovah, partaking of initiatory and other privileges. Baptized to Moses in the cloud and sea — ate the same spiritual meat — drank the same spiritual drink — and yet many of them were overthrown. He deduces from their history lessons of warning to those who profess the name of Christ. He writes the epistle “To the Assembly of God at Corinth,” and embraces all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. Calling on the Lord in Scripture signifies profession. Of course, to be valid there must be life and faith. Many call Him Lord, Lord, whom He never knew (Matt. 7:21-2321Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21‑23)). He presses the necessity of there being reality as well as privileges, as the latter are no security of life.
It is within the House of God that Christians have to walk, apart from the iniquity and falsehood which abounds there “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:2222Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)). There was no such distinction made at the first. Now the faithful are bound to do so, obedient to the Word of God and to the never-changing principle of the Church’s existence as one Body and one Spirit.
As to baptism, they should follow Paul in his use of it. He noted its importance in the place God had given it and used it, but was not sent to baptize (1 Cor. 1:1717For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17)). His doctrine changed nothing as to it, though subsequent to Peter, and that of the twelve.