Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Blessing of the Body

One of the treasures in my office is an old commentary series given me as a gift from my grandfather's personal library. The New Testament commentaries of James Burton Coffman, published by Firm Foundation in 1976, continue to provide great value to my study. For example, in studying through the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14, I came across this discussion of the body of Christ and the simplicity of the gospel.

"The great Pauline teaching that the church comprises the spiritual body of Christ is among the most important teachings revealed to men. God's device of accounting men righteous is that of forming them into a corporate unity, of which Christ is head, all the saved being members of it, the body itself being identified as 'Christ,' and therefore partaking of the perfect righteousness of the Son of God himself. God saves men, not by injecting righteousness into them, but by transferring them 'into Christ,' identifying them 'as Christ,' and making them, in fact, to be Christ. By this heavenly device, man becomes truly righteous and thus saved, not as John Doe, but as Christ. Faith and obedience of the gospel are the conditions antecedent to God's transfer of sinners into Christ, baptism being the action through which God effects the actual entry into Christ; but neither the faith of the sinner nor any act of obedience is the ultimate ground of his redemption, that all-important ground being the perfect faith, obedience and righteousness of the Christ himself...Any man failing to fulfill the prior conditions of being 'in Christ' is not a part of the body in view here, i.e. 1 Corinthians 12.12-26" (202).