Last time, we discussed the “Trail of Blood,” and how our Christian forefathers faced persecution and martyrdom for standing firm in their Faith. The history of the Church and the line of the Baptists is riddled with suffering and sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Now, society is collapsing into carnality as our churches are filled with fewer Bible believing Christians.
This time, I am looking at typologies, because they have significant value when studying God’s word. There are many characters, places, and themes that are “pictures” or “types” of others. David is a type of Christ. Egypt is a type of the world. Pharaoh is a type of Antichrist.
When we better understand typology, the Scriptures really open up.
Today, I would like to look at typologies of the Church beginning with the Body of Christ
The Body of Christ
Colossians 1:24 defines the Church as the body of Christ, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”
This typology is furthered in 1 Corinthians 12:12 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”
Systems are made up of members that work together within the systems, and work with other systems for the body to function. This is how the local church systems operate within the Church
Seven Main Systems of the Body
Depending on who you ask, there are variations on the number of systems of the body. I went with seven because it is the number of completion and we might as well add some numerology to our typology.
- The Nervous System
The primary organ here is the brain, which receives messages from five senses, processes them, and gives orders throughout the body. The brain is a physical organ that is connected to the mind – which is more abstract – as it is believed to be the center of thinking and decision making. Christians might say that the soul is the center of our emotions and decision making.
We consume information and the brain (body) filters that information through the mind (soul) and affects our spirits when making decisions.
The Pastor fulfills this role in the local church. He consumes information from the Bible and the church, processes it, makes decisions, then disseminates orders to the leaders and members.
- The Circulatory/Cardiovascular System
The heart is the primary organ for this system. It distributes nutrients and oxygen through circulation of blood. It is also where DNA is stored and is passed down through your ancestors. Your blood type is passed down through your parents.
Most of us have heard the phrase that “blood is thicker than water,” because blood relates to the family.
Thus, I would argue that the circulatory system of the local church are Christian families.
Romans 10:9 tells us “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” So there is certainly more than one spiritual application here.
- The Respiratory System
The primary organ(s) are the lungs, and their primary function is breathing.
God gave Adam life through His breath. God expired (breathed out) and Adam was inspired (breathed in) according to Genesis 2:7.
Similarly, the Bible is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) and alive (“quick” – Hebrews 4:12)
The lungs oxygenate the blood (family) and inspire (the word of God). I would argue that Sunday School teachers are the lungs of the local church, because they inspire our families through teaching the Bible.
- The Digestive System
The stomach (belly) is the primary organ of the digestive system, and its primary function is to take in nutrients and expel waste.
Most mentions of the belly in the Bible seem to be negative. Satan’s curse as the serpent is first mention (Gen 3:14). There is also the curse upon adulterous women in Numbers 5. The belly of the whale is a type of Hell in Jonah.
However, there are some positive mentions as well. It is a womb in Jeremiah 1:5. It is useful in purging, according to Mark 7:19, and Proverbs 20:30 tells of how the belly cleanses the body of evil.
I would liken the members who are sitting on the pews to the digestive system who consume and digest the preaching. All of us need fed, and sometimes we must purge waste in our lives.
- The Muscular System
Muscles are the primary organs here, and their function is movement. Our muscles propel us to action when given orders to do so from the brain.
Those who serve in a church are like muscles. Ushers, nursery workers, cleaners, maintenance, security, sound/media team, choir, etc., are propelled to action by the pastor.
- The Skeletal System
Obviously, bones are the primary organ of the skeletal system. They give our bodies shape and protect the heart, lungs, and other vital organs.
Deacons are the “bones” of the church who support and protect the other vital organs in the church.
- The Reproductive System
If you are reading this, then I hope I do not need to tell you what the primary organs are here. The primary function of this system is the production of offspring. A sound, soul winning church reproducing by leading others to the Lord so they will be “born again.”
All parts of the body are necessary for a properly functioning whole. We can lose parts and still function, but the body is not complete. Remember that each part has a purpose in the body, just as each Christian has a part in the Body of Christ.
In the Church, we unite based on our differences, because we each serve in different areas and have different talents and abilities. Thus, our differences should be celebrated, which is the opposite of what society teaches.
1 Corinthians 12:25 says, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”
Can you think of schisms in the church? The 1,200 different Christian denominations are a schism. There are estimates that there are over 450 English versions of the Bible. That is a schism. How about the different doctrines – Calvinism, Arminianism, Easy Believism, Lordship Salvation, Gap Theory, Young Earth Theory, Day-Age Theory, and so many more? Schism. Church splits obviously create a schism. Even cliques within a church can be a schism if they are too separate from other church members.
Christianity today is not “one body” as we are supposed to be, but we also must reject efforts made by some to unify disparate groups that fundamentally disagree on the most important of all doctrines – the Gospel.
Not only are truly saved Christians the Body, but we are to be the Bride of Christ.
The Bride of Christ
There are several typologies that symbolize the marriage relationship between the Christian and Jesus Christ.
The story of how Isaac met Rebekah in Genesis 24 is one such example. The major players are Abraham, Isaac, the servant, and Rebekah.
Abraham is a type of God the Father. He “sacrificed” his son Isaac (or at least was prepared to). He also sent his servant (a type of the Holy Spirit) to influence Rebekah (the Bride/the Church) and introduce her to the Isaac (a type of Jesus Christ who was the one “sacrificed” and seeks a bride).
Rebekah is a type of the Gentile Church, because she was from Mesopotamia. She could not have been Jewish, because she was not of Abraham’s seed. She was “grafted” (Romans 11) into the Abrahamic line through marriage, just as we Christians are grafted into the spiritual family of Abraham through salvation.
The Proverbs 31 Woman
If you have been in a Baptist church for any length of time, you have likely heard of the “Proverbs 31 woman,” who is the ideal archetype for Biblical femininity. She is the classic “woman who men want to be with and women want to be.”
I listened to a fantastic sermon from pastor Mike Veach who used her example as a type of the Church. If you are a Christian, you should desire many of these same qualities:
- Virtuous (v. 10a), Valuable – price far above rubies (10b)
- Trusted (11)
- Good (12)
- Works willingly (service) (13)
- Rises up early (in the day/in life) and provides sustenance (15)
- “considers a field” – sees potential, “plants a vineyard” (16)
- Strong (17)
- Reaches out to the poor and needy (20)
- Makes sure her husband (Jesus Christ) is well-known (23)
- Clothed in fine (appropriate) clothing, strength, and honor (25)
- Speaks wisdom and kindness (26)
- Good steward (27a)
- Not idle (27b)
- Fears the Lord (30)
- Produces good fruit and a good reputation (31)
This comparison to the Body and Bride begs the question of how we be both.
First of all, marriage is a type of our relationship with Christ through salvation. Ephesians 5:25 says, “husbands love your wives as Christ [Bridegroom] also loved the Church [Bride].”
Now consider that we become one flesh with our spouses in marriage (Mark 10:8). This makes us both body and bride physically. In Christ, we become one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17) with the bridegroom, so we become both body (of Christ) and bride spiritually.
This is not the easiest concept to grasp. In fact, both of these doctrines – the Body and Bride of Christ – are considered “mysteries” according to Ephesians 5:32, so it might take some additional prayer and study to better understand it.
The Battalion of Christ
Ephesians 6 tells us that we are in a battle against spiritual wickedness. Along with being the Body and Bride of Christ, we are also soldiers.
A battalion is a large military unit. We Christians are supposed to wear he whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17) which features:
- Loins gird with Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
- Shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of Peace
- Shield of Faith
- Helmet of Salvation
- Sword of the Spirit (the word of God)
Take notice that the armor of God is offensive, because we face the enemy and move forward; no retreat. We are in spiritual battle every day on earth. The enemy has us surrounded, but we have the greatest leader one could possibly ask for.
Revelation 19:14 tells us that “the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
We are the army that is with The LORD as He defeats Satan and Antichrist. We are on the winning side.
The only way to be in the battalion, the body, and the bride of Christ is to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Going to church is not going to get you into the Church.
The Church is the body – the members and systems that work in unison, the bride – virtuous and valuable, and the battalion of the Christ – ready for spiritual battle against our adversary, the Devil. We work together as Christians to fulfill God’s will. Our heavenly rewards far outweigh earthly treasures. Our value surpasses all wealth. Our victory over the Devil will be swift, and our eternity will be perfect.
But there is still work to be done. The Church Age is not yet over. Next time we will look at some more Church typology, and some practical ways in which to run a local church.