“…holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”
Colossians 2:19 NKJV
The Church, according to Scripture, is the body of Christ (see Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.) As such, it is essential that the Church have a healthy connection with its Head. Every human being knows how essential the connection between body and head is. We also know how debilitated the body becomes when a spinal injury cuts off the impulses of the head to the body and the body to the head. Even though the head is still physically attached, when the internal communication between the head and the body is cut off, paralysis ensues. Both the external and the internal aspects of the connection between the head and the body are essential for normal, healthy, body life and function.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13 NAS)
It could be said that our baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ joins us to the Head in a spiritually “external” way, while our receiving (drinking) of the indwelling Spirit joins us to the Head in a spiritually “internal” way. The “external” connection is an initial act of the Spirit that is maintained by God, while the “internal” connection is an ongoing work of the Spirit that is maintained by the believer in cooperation with and dependence upon God. Just as in the natural, both the spiritually “external” and “internal” aspects are essential for normal, healthy, body life and function. When both of these aspects are as they should be, each individual member becomes a living expression, outwardly and inwardly, of the headship of Christ according to their unique personality, gifting, and calling.
These external and internal realities are true not only for individual believers, but also apply to the collective body of believers. The body of Christ is a collective, and when it assembles, it must do so with a connection to its Head according to the same principles as that of the individual. The foundation of this is the accomplished, “external” work of the Spirit in baptizing all members into the one body of Christ. If a local expression of the Church is to have a fully functioning connection with its Head, however, it must also maintain the internal aspect of this connection through the indwelling Spirit. Each member is responsible for supplying their measure of this internal connection with the Head to the body, and they will, accordingly, either add to the healthiness of the church or detract from it. Wherever that inward connection between the Head and the member is maintained, spiritual vitality and functionality are increased within the body. Wherever the inward connection between the Head and the member is not maintained, spiritual lifelessness and paralysis are increased within in the body. Each member, therefore, brings either life and functionality or deadness and paralysis to the body depending on the state of their inward connection to the Head through the indwelling Spirit.
When the body of Christ assembles, then, it must do so “holding fast to the Head” both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly it must hold fast to the headship of Christ as to its external manifestation among the assembled body. In order for this to be facilitated, any outward aspect of its gathering that has the potential to substitute for or supplant the headship of Christ must be relinquished to the Lord, or at very most, held lightly. All persons, programs, protocols, traditions, liturgies, plans, and preparations that the body is “holding fast to” must be yielded up and submitted to the sovereign headship of Christ. Only then can the body be free to assemble simply “holding fast to the Head” in all things related to the external manifestation of Christ in their gathering through the Spirit. This is the first aspect that must be collectively embraced and embodied.
In addition to this, the body must also assemble “holding fast to the Head” inwardly through its vital connection with the Holy Spirit. Scripture says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor.2:11 NIV) It is the Holy Spirit who takes the things of Christ, the Head, and makes them known to us. (see John 16:14-15) When the body comes together, then, whatever each member may be “holding fast to” inwardly that is not of the Holy Spirit, must be relinquished to the Lord, or at very most, held lightly. All preconceived ideas, expectations, plans, preparations, and the like must be yielded up and submitted to Christ’s sovereign headship. Only then can each person be free to simply “hold fast to the Head” inwardly and thus be able to receive from the Spirit that which He desires to reveal, impart, and work in and through them. This is especially important for those who serve as leaders and/or in “ministry” as these have a greater influence in either fostering and facilitating the headship of Christ or in hindering and hampering it. Every member, however, is responsible for supplying their measure of Jesus Christ to the body through the manifest working of the Holy Spirit. The body will be filled with life and functionality as every member is found “holding fast to the Head” inwardly. This is the second aspect that must be collectively embraced and embodied
As simple in principle as these two aspects may be, in reality they do not come simply to an assembly of believers. There are many obstacles, both within and without, that will make their actualization difficult. Only where there is a clear understanding, a passionate pursuit, and a persistent “practicing” of their realities can there be an expectation of them being embodied within a people. Apart from the headship of Christ being regularly sought after, apprehended, and entered into in this way, however, there can be no normal, healthy, functioning of the body of Christ.
When the Church comes together, it invariable does so “holding fast to”…something. The critical question that must be asked then is, “Is that something the one thing that the body needs more than anything else: its Head, or is it something else?” For most of church history, and throughout most of the world, the answer has tragically been “something else!” In this last day, throughout the world, however, God is raising up a people who will have a different answer! They will be able to humbly say, “By God’s grace, we are holding fast to THE HEAD, the Lord Jesus Christ, as we gather together in His Name.”
May we, by God’s grace, be found among them!