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But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. (Ephesians 4:7 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit's gift to us collectively is Christ. Jesus' parting gift to the church is the Spirit of Christ Himself. After He was received up into heaven He gave "gifts" or graces--unique expressions of Himself to every believer. "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure (metron, a limited portion or degree) of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7). Each believer is called to recognize both their portion and that of the other saints. We all are needed in His holy assembly to make up the whole, even Christ. When each one contributes their limited portion, Christ is seen. He becomes the sum and full manifestation of all His earthly parts. The fullness of the stature of Christ is only attainable by the cooperative sharing, (koinonia) partnership and participation in the Spirit that is poured on all. One believer who had an exceptional understanding of these things, referred to this cooperative participation as "Christ in Session."

This is a great mystery. May God open our eyes to see it! Before we can understand what Jesus has done for us we first have to see that it is not all about us! It is not about our giftedness or our ministry. Everything the Father is doing here on earth is about His Son, Jesus. We are endowed with Jesus. Paul wrote, "And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:17-18 NKJV). And again, "...for in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28 NKJV). "Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1:3-4 NKJV).

The Message Bible has a very direct interpretation of Ephesians that shows God's priority in His creation. "He [Jesus] is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this Christ rules in the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence" (Ephesians 1:22-23 MSG). It is not about the church, but rather about Christ having a body through which He can speak and act and fill everything with His presence. The ekklesia of God is an organism through which Jesus acts here on earth. It is all about Him manifesting His preeminence. We exist as a manifestation of His love for the world. We do not exist so we can carve out a niche for ourselves with His graces, or perhaps worse yet, bury them in the sand like good little pew warmers cowering under the preeminence of a mere man.

Thus Paul emphatically states, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. By Him, of Him and through Him do all things consist...yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6 NKJV).

We exist for Christ's sake. "For, even as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the one body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12 RYLT-NT). The presence of the word the in the Greek text implies the one and only or genuine article. The many-membered body of Christ, the fullness of Him, is the Christ on earth just as surely as Jesus the temple of God, was Emmanuel, God with us. Just as Jesus made no distinction between the earthly temple and the temple of His body, here Paul makes no distinction between the ascended Christ seated at the right hand of God and the multi-member body of Christ walking on the earth. He viewed them as one and the same: "so also is the Christ." This is a great mystery, but it is essential that we understand it if we are to go on in God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explained this mystery as God revealed it to him.

Through his Spirit, the crucified and risen Lord exists as the Church, as the new man. It is just as true to say that this Body is the new humanity as to say that he is God incarnate dwelling in eternity. (The Cost of Discipleship, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.)

T. Austin Sparks put in plain words what so many of God's children are learning,

The Church is a Person and that Person is Christ in corporate expression. We must revise our mentality when we talk about the Church, the Body of Christ. What are you talking about? -not an it, a something, as though it were a something in itself, and a teaching in itself. No, it is this Man with a family; with children, brothers and sisters, begot-ten of God, that is the Church. Oh, how much ecclesiasticism we can have without the family life, but the Church after all, when you come to the final Word, is just the measure of Christ that there is in those who make it up- 'till we all attain unto the measure of Christ' -every one of us. That is the Body of Christ, that is the Church.

The fullness of Christ cannot be realized in a closed ecclesiastical system, but only in a body context as every joint contributes what they individually receive from the Head. Have you ever thought that our human bodies are a parable of a true spiritual reality? That God has made them this way so we can see how He sees His kingdom, hoping that we would participate? This is how it is, brothers! This is how the body is knit together (Ephesians 4:12-16). This is how we live out this glorious New Covenant reality. We cannot overstate the importance of every member's participation. "A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part" (1 Corinthians 12:19 TCEV).

Nowhere do the scriptures imply that Christ gave grace only to a few extraordinary members. God's Spirit has been poured upon every believer. "Every one of us is given grace" (Ephesians 4:7); "every joint supplies" (Ephesians 4:16); "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all . . . distributing to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:7-11); "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10, NKJV).

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