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New Body Life - Newsletter #40
Lambert Dolphin with Lawrence Hoppis

New Body Life


Never heard of Body Life? It's in the Bible! You are living in a body right now, unless you have died already or are inanimate. You may need to get connected to your Creator and not be a Zombie.

Interpersonal relationships have been important in the world since Adam got to know Eve in the Garden. We’re social creatures who entered the mainstream of life on the planet as helpless babies. The world is not exactly user friendly, and most of us found that out early in life. Many of us grew up with a bevy of brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and perhaps god parents. There can serious bonding issues with family but we are quite helpless as babies and must trust someone to feed us, change our diapers and keep us clean. 

When he was here on the planet children were attracted to Jesus. He did not turn them away but let them jump up on his lap, chiding his disciples for chasing them away. Whether we’re kids or grups, we all need to know that Jesus is a friend of all of us sinners and has loved us each since the day we was born’d. His call to us is universal and applies to young and old alike.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Body Life: We don’t live now, however, in the Garden in Eden but in a very broken world. The Owner, and our Landlord (God) is active in healing, repairing, and gathering for Himself a forever family! The body we live in is the most broken part of who we are right now. At great cost to Himself, God has made a way of escape from death so that we are able to live forever – healed, whole, restored, and equipped with brand new bodies. The collective ensemble of those who know Jesus as Lord is called the "body of Christ." This is one of several New Testament descriptions of Christ's true church.
"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting convent the...”
(Isaiah 55:1-3)

Families are a template for all that God is doing to fix our messed up world. But the very mention of family life is a turnoff for many who grew up in abusive families, were raised by a single parent, were orphans, or raised in a foster home.  Many discover how broken they are when they marry or risk even a simple hookup for a weekend. Some very lonely people have no friends because of childhood trauma or entrapment by fear. Arrested Emotional Development is all too common. God is actually a loving Father, but in today's culture few of us are well-bonded with a father. Gender confusion is a big deal these days because of marriages that are far removed from Biblical norms.
Some suppose that joining a fraternity or a church or country club will activate their dormant social skills. Sports and outdoor events do help some of us to come out of a sheltered life. Psychotherapy and counseling bring lots of people (like me) to the point where they are willing to trust Jesus. (After all He’s not personally presently with us here in the flesh). 

A fascinating passage in the New Testament describes the intimate new family Jesus is calling together now—to be members of His body, and members of one another. 

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Therefore He says:"
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

"(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.“
(Ephesians 4:4-16

The central message here is that every follower of Jesus is connected directed to Jesus Christ Risen from the dead. Jesus is in charge of the entire family, and He is the Head of the true church, which is "His Body." As a malfunctioning liver, a headache, or an upset stomach can ruin our day so that we are of no use to God or man, temporarily we Christians are connected to Jesus 24/7. Our private conduct matters as much as our public lifestyle. Our motives matter a lot, as we don't know ourselves very well. Family and friends often can tell others who we really are better than a resume or a bio. And, Jesus knows us way better than anyone. He identified with us intimately on the cross (outside of time) when He traded places with us on the Cross.

Few Christians today have discovered that we are actually connected to one another in the one Body Christ. Also, each of us was given at least one spiritual gift (a supernatural endowment) so that we all have a role to play in relationship with one another and in the family of God. This is because we are as intimately connected and interdependent as the parts and systems in the human body.

Traditional churches following the Old Paradigm ignore all this! The early church, before Constantine (~320 AD), knew only real body life, and caring concern for one another. There were no church buildings nor any distinction between clergy and laity. Everyone instinctively fell into his or her place exercising what spiritual gifts he or she had. One big change was instituted 500 years ago by reformers like John Calvin. Troubled by excesses in the Roman Catholic Church they came to believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit (except pastor) had ceased after the original Apostles died. Wikipedia has good summaries on Cessationism and Continuatism which are important for us to be aware of these days. Ray Stedman openly taught that the Spiritual Gifts were all still being given--though he did not believe any new revelation was being given these days. That is, there were no primary Apostles today, and some gifts such as Tongues were easily misused. See The Gifts of The Holy Spirit and Body Life.

The current lockdown related to the Corona visit has closed many Old Paradigm Churches. But much of these closures are surely coming from the hand of God because we have strayed so far from Body Life as it's taught in the New Testament. Chuck Missler (a disciple of Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa) learned from experience how dysfunctional most churches in America had become. See The Once and Future Church. A group of us mentored by Ray Stedman gathered together weekly in the home of Gerhard Dirks, a Silicon Valley pioneer, to discover what later became practical Body Life. See History of the Wednesday Brothers of Thunder.

The human body has natural life (zoe) but Christians also have added to them the vast resources of Jesus indwelling each member as well. The work of the ministry is therefore everyone's calling: not only for paid professionals (who constitute a special class we call "the clergy.")

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4)

 If you’d like to read ahead, check out Ray Stedman’s classic book, Body Life. Think healing, wholeness, fulfillment, and dreams coming true — because God IS love. Think community and fellowship and loving your neighbor as yourself in a protected environment. When he wrote the book "Body Life" about 1970, Ray gave a limited illustration of the ensemble of followers of Jesus as a body having four main systems. He called attention to 1. The skeletal system and muscles, 2. The digestive system, 3. The nervous system and 4. The circulatory system.

In an era when most preachers did topical teaching, Ray championed the lost method of Expository teaching. His Single Messages are nevertheless of great weight and value. Early in his 40-year tour of duty the church elders felt Ray should spend half his time away from home teaching at Bible conferences   especially pastors' conferences in the U.S. and overseas. For this reason he was not able to leave us with Expository Studies of the entire Bible, book by book.

But beginning in 1964 Ray taught through the entire Bible covering one book of the Bible per Sunday evening service. This classic series, Adventuring Through the Bible, later became a best-selling book. The online series is available in audio or html formats. See On Expository Preaching to appreciate that this method of equipping the people of God has a long and illustrious history. At this late hour in history, Bible illiteracy is at an all-time high.

The Jesus Movement and Body Life

The Summer of Love in 1967 in nearby San Francisco provoked a nationwide reaction and was a wake up call to slumbering churches. Many dispatched evangelists to the City to win converts to Christ. Most utterly failed. Then came the Jesus Movement because many young people came to know Jesus Christ but immediately chose life styles that were not part of the Establishment. Wikipedia has a very good history and overview.
What is most important to see is that all followers of Jesus have already been placed into Christ, made members of His body, and members of one another. Each has been given one or more spiritual gifts, or enablements.

Brother Lawrence Writes...

When a believer thinks about body life, they may be tempted to think of their own body as an example. The Bible tells us that the Body of Christ is made up not of any individual single believer, but of the Church, all being knit together across all time and space! What an awesome image to believe and understand that Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob and the Apostles are all currently part of the exact same body with you and I.

There is more. This body life is not only the body life of Jesus Christ, who is the head and husband; but it is the temple of the Holy Spirit as well. From the beginning, God intended to dwell with us. He does it today "wherever two or more are gathered in His name, and prior to the fall, He walked with Adam and Eve in the coolness of the garden likewise. What a pleasure it is to write here more about body life.

We have to understand that body life should not ever go about undressed; but must learn to garment itself and this is done with the practice of salvation and the righteousness of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, praise and patience, washed in the blood of the Lamb (Colossians 3:12, Isaiah 61:3). Body life also is meant to be a light, a city on a hill, a good leaven, and filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit and of gladness.

Lambert Writes: I answer almost all of my email personally. I am neither an oroganization nor a “ministry.” Anything I write is free. I want to avoid being known as just another “peddler.”

Homework and Extra Credit


Lambert Dolphin

Our God has promised to supply all our needs—though not always our “wants.” He has certainly been providing for me very generously since my last paying job in 1987. The effects of the Lockdown have been devastating for many friends of mine. Probably more Hard Times lie ahead but God keeps all His promises: He is utterly faithful. Thank you for your partnership in Jesus. 

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Lambert Dolphin / Lawrence Hoppis · 1103 Pomeroy Ave. · Santa Clara, CA 95051 · USA

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