In the previous message we saw that the central thought of the book of Romans is that God is transforming sinners into sons to form the Body of Christ. This—not justification by faith—is the basic concept of this book. If we do not have this view, we shall have a very superficial understanding of Romans. Ultimately, this book is not merely for our personal salvation; it is for the formation of the Body of Christ.
In the book of Romans there are four stations: justification, sanctification, the Body, and the churches. All Christians may be classified according to these four stations. Many real Christians have stopped at the station of justification. They have been redeemed, justified, reconciled, and saved, but they have stopped their journey at justification. It seems that they are satisfied and do not want to hear anything further. In the past I have talked to many Christians about seeking the Lord and going on with Him. But some have said, “Isn’t it good enough to be saved? I have been saved, the blood of Jesus has redeemed me, I have been regenerated, and I am now a child of God. One day I shall go to heaven. Please don’t bother me with anything else.” A great part of genuine Christians go no farther than this station.
By the Lord’s grace, other Christians seek for what is called the deeper life or the inner life. They are not satisfied merely with justification, but pursue something further, higher, richer, and deeper. These Christians eventually reach the station of sanctification in Romans 8.
After the end of World War II, some of the saints in the second station began to talk very much about the Body. According to the book of Romans, chapter twelve is the station of the proper Body life. But according to the experience of many Christians today, it is not actually the station of the Body, but the station of Body-talk. Thus, we may call these Christians the Body-talkers. When I came to this country, I was surprised at all the talk about the Body ministry. Later I learned that what was meant by Body ministry was several preaching one by one instead of only one preaching. Although Christians talk so much about the Body, where is the Body? The more they talk about the Body, the more divisions they cause. Before 1945 there were not so many divisions in the United States as there are today. But from that time, hundreds of little groups began to form, nearly all of which were talking about the Body.
We do not have the Body simply by talking about the Body. The Body can be realized only in the local churches. If you do not have the church life, how can you have the Body? Thus, along with the third category of Christians, the Body-talkers, there is the fourth category: those who practice the church life. This is the fourth station in Romans.
Where are you in relation to these four stations? I have the full assurance that I am in station four. God has been and still is working to transform sinners into sons of God. These sons of God are the members forming the Body of Christ to express Christ. As we have seen, God is in Christ, Christ is in His Body, and His Body is in the local churches. This is the basic concept and central thought of this book. If we do not see this, we are short-sighted.
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