Introduction to: AMBASSADORS for CHRIST - by Cornelius Stam
Part 1 of 5 - AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION
Those who seek to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and “test the things that differ” (Philippians 1:10) soon discover that “the kingdom of heaven” must be distinguished from “the body of Christ.”
Concerning the former God had “spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began,” whereas the latter had been “kept secret since the world began” (Cf. Acts 3:21 with Rom. 16:25). Or, to put it in another way: The former was the subject of Prophecy, whereas the latter was a Mystery (Greek, musterion, secret), hid in God, until He revealed it through the Apostle Paul (Cf. Dan. 2:44 with Col. 1:24-26).
Or, to put it in still another way: “The kingdom” will be the fulfillment of covenants God made with Abraham, David and Israel, whereas “the Body of Christ,” the Church of this age, is the product of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Cf. Luke 1:68-75 with Eph. 3:1-11).
We are convinced that the most important division in the Bible is not that between “The Old Testament” and “The New Testament,” but that between “prophecy” and “the mystery,” between that which concerns “the Kingdom of Heaven ” (for the believing of Israel as Abraham's seed) and that which concerns “the Body of Christ.”
Those who see this one distinction hold in their hands the key to an ever clearer understanding and an ever growing appreciation of the wonderful Word of God.
A WORD OF CAUTION
In making this distinction, however, we must be careful not to make the mistake of supposing that members of the Body of Christ have no connection whatever with “the kingdom,” or with Christ as King.
A few simple questions and answers will prove that there is a very vital connection: Where is the King today? He is in heaven, a Royal Exile, unwanted by the world. And where is the kingdom today?
That too, like many a government since, is in exile. It is vested in the King Himself. It remains in heaven while its earthly establishment is held in abeyance. And where is the believer’s spiritual citizenship today?
It is in heaven! Paul tells us distinctly that “our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) and that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
Why then are we left here in the flesh?
For just one purpose: To represent Christ—and the very title Christ means “the Anointed One,” the King.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20).