Thus far we have seen that the New Covenant is essentially heavenly and spiritual in its character. We will take a closer look now at the nature of the New Covenant as it relates to its earthly operation and outworking. A word that is helpful in describing this characteristic of the New Covenant is the word “organic”.
To get a working definition of this word, let us consider the first four definitions of “organic” from the Encarta World English Dictionary:
1. Of living things: relating to, derived from, or characteristic of living things.
2. Developing naturally: occurring or developing gradually and naturally, without being forced or contrived.
3. Intrinsic: forming a basic and inherent part of something and largely responsible for its identity or makeup.
4. With elements efficiently combined: consisting of elements that exist together in a seemingly natural relationship that makes for organized efficiency.
From these four aspects of the meaning of the word “organic” we understand that it has to do with life and living things, natural development, inherent factors, and that which consists of naturally and efficiently combined elements (such as an “organism”). We will now take a look at these four definitions as they relate to the New Covenant in its essential character and earthly outworking.
Christ, the Life
The first definition of “organic” is: “Of living things: relating to, derived from, or characteristic of living things.”
When it comes to the New Covenant, everything is on the basis of Divine life. John testifies: “…that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1Jn.5:11-12) Because the New Covenant is in and of Christ, everything about this covenant is living and life-giving. In its earthly outworking, it quickens and transforms everything that it touches with the power of resurrection life. Death is conquered wherever the New Covenant operates. The ultimate test, therefore, as to whether anything is in, and of, the New Covenant, is whether it is “living” or not. Nothing that is outside of the New Covenant is spiritually alive; and nothing that is in, and of, the New Covenant is spiritually dead. Because of this, the New Covenant is essentially, and in the highest sense, “organic”.
Christ, All and in All
For the sake of this teaching, we will look next at the third definition of the word “organic”: “Intrinsic: forming a basic and inherent part of something and largely responsible for its identity or makeup.”
When it comes to the new creation, “makeup” and “identity” are determined “organically” by the working of the New Covenant. The following verse highlights this fact:
“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Col. 3:9-11)
Here we have both “makeup” and “identity” as it relates to the new creation man. This “new man” comes into existence by the operation of the New Covenant as it places a person in Christ, and places Christ within that person. As the Spirit of God becomes one with the human spirit a new creation is birthed (1 Cor.6:17; 2 Cor.5:17; 1Pet.1:4). This new creation man is made in “the image of Him who created him”. Its makeup, therefore, is determined in an essential and intrinsic way, by the indwelling of Christ. The New Covenant, therefore, does not merely work to reform the old man through externals, but works to form a new man, who is created in the image of Christ, through the indwelling Spirit. “Christ…IN all” determines the organic makeup of the new creation.
The New Covenant likewise establishes the identity of the “new man” in a spiritually organic way. We read: “…put on the new man …where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all…” (Col. 3:9-11) Identity in the New Covenant is determined solely on the basis of Christ. As a believer is placed “in Christ”, all earthly distinctions become swallowed up in His supreme identity. The new creation man is no longer identified by the earthly factors of nationality, social status, religious denomination, or even gender (Gal.3:28). The heavenly identity of the heavenly man, “CHRIST”, is the sole designation of all who are a new creation through the New Covenant. Paul declared: “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor.5:17). “Christ IS all”, therefore, is the organic identity of the new creation.
Christ Formed Within
This leads us now to consider the second definition given for “organic”: “Developing naturally: occurring or developing gradually and naturally, without being forced or contrived.”
The way of the New Covenant in its earthly operation is that of natural growth and development. It is never one of force or contrivance. In the “parable of the growing seed” Jesus illustrates the gradual and natural way that the Kingdom of God is established in the earth:
“And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. (Mark 4:26-28)
The Kingdom of God, therefore, operates according to the same organic principle that governs the natural order.
Paul gives us another natural parallel when he is pleading with the Galatian believers to stand fast in the liberty of the New Covenant, and not take back on themselves the external bondage of the Old. He says, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal. 4:19) Paul is in spiritual labor pains until Christ is formed, substantially, within the believers. He is drawing on the natural experience of childbirth to communicate the supernatural process of the new creation man being birthed and developed within God’s people. The forming of Christ in the believer, and in the church collectively, is a spiritually organic process that parallels conception, gestation, travail, birth and growth unto full maturity. In the new creation, life forms and grows from the inside out, “gradually and naturally”, by the supernatural work of the Spirit. The New Covenant does not produce Christ-likeness in a way that is externally driven, or merely put on. The promise of the New Covenant is that God will put His laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts (Jer.31:33). He will, likewise, put His Spirit in us and cause us to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments (Ezek. 36:27). This inward working of the New Covenant produces “organically grown” spiritual fruit, rather than mechanically produced religious works. It, likewise, brings forth a living organic expression of the Body of Christ, rather than a dead institutional form of “Churchianity”. All that the New Covenant produces, both individually and corporately, springs forth gradually and naturally as Christ is formed within His people by the Spirit.
The Body of Christ
Finally, we come to the fourth definition of the word “organic”: “With elements efficiently combined: consisting of elements that exist together in a seemingly natural relationship that makes for organized efficiency.”
The natural created order is filled with living things that fit this definition. They are called “organisms”. In fact, God’s wisdom for virtually the entire living creation is that it is “organismic” in nature. Life comes in complex packages that consist of diverse, yet interdependent parts which work together for the efficient functioning and well-being of the specific life form.
When it comes to the new creation, life is also “organismic” in nature. God’s view is not only to have a multitude of individual believers, but to have these believers baptized into one grand spiritual organism called “the Body of Christ.” The New Testament uses the “body” analogy repeatedly to describe the interrelatedness and interdependence of the many members of Christ’s Church (Rom.12:4-8; 1 Cor.12:12-27; Eph.4:1-16; etc.). This spiritual organism is utterly reliant upon its Head for its life and coordinated functioning, as well as on the active working of every part for its nourishment and upbuilding. It is not essentially institutional or organizational in nature, but rather organismic. This transcends any worldly form or entity, and ushers in the reality of a heavenly-constituted and organically-functioning “body”.
In summary and conclusion, let us look at a picture of the church that is according to the organic nature of the New Covenant, as we have briefly discussed it.
First of all, it is filled with LIFE. It lives and moves and has its being in the power and grace of the resurrected Christ. There is no deadness or dullness that drags it earthward, but it soars on the wings of God’s heavenly Spirit. It is fully alive, and it is life-giving to all who come in contact with it.
Secondly, it is constituted by Christ, and Christ alone. He alone forms it by His indwelling presence. It does not owe its existence to anything man-made or of this world. It has a heavenly origin, a heavenly life, a heavenly government, and a heavenly destination. Not only so, but its sole identity is Christ, and Christ alone. His Name, “the name which is above every name” (Phil.2:9), is that by which it is known. It is not distinguished by earthly designations of any kind. It will not stoop to sectarian labels, denominational tags, or institutional titles. It holds fast to its heavenly identity knowing that only on that ground can it overcome all the divisive works of the enemy and of the flesh.
Thirdly, it seeks to be crucified to the “work of man’s hands” and the “religious works of the flesh” as to its growth and development. Nothing is done by compulsion or contrivance in order to manufacture a desired result. Instead it gives itself to a life of abiding in Christ, the living vine, as the only way of true growth and fruitfulness. It trusts in the power of Christ’s indwelling Spirit, and the sovereignty of His Headship, to build His Church in a way that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. It develops gradually and naturally as it draws continuously upon “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:2).
Lastly, it is fully organismic in its expression. It is a complex living entity where each part is vital and functioning. No one member predominates, and no members are passive. All are interconnected, interdependent, and individually equipped to bring life and edification to the whole. It functions as a body under the Headship of Christ as each part responds to the leading of the Holy Spirit, through the guidance of the Word. It functions with mutual care, so that no one suffers alone, and no one rejoices alone. In its purest expression, it is not bound by institutional straitjackets, or organizational fetters, but is a mutually submitted family that loves, grows and learns together in humility and simplicity. Its leadership is servant-driven and cross-embracing, knowing that life works in others, as death works in them. It manifests the fullness of Christ as each part supplies its own unique deposit of His life, wisdom, gifts and ministry.
These are the essential characteristics of a church that is fully birthed of the New Covenant. This is what the apostles were commissioned to establish in the earth following Christ’s ascension. This is the Church that we find on the pages of the New Testament. I believe this will also mark the Church of the last days that Jesus will return to receive unto Himself.
Much has changed in Christendom since the simplicity and purity of the early days. Much has been incorporated that is not according to the essential nature and ways of the New Covenant. I believe that the Lord is looking for a people who are willing to fully embrace His heart and faithfully return to His ways in these last days. He desires to completely release His people from all that binds them, and bring them powerfully into the heavenly blessing and life of the New Covenant. May we embrace the organic nature of this covenant as one of its essential characteristics, and, in its (supernaturally) natural outworking, find Life!