Seven Figures of Christ and the Church
Seven New Testament figures of Christ and the Church illustrate the intimacy of the relationship between Christ and believers in the Church Age. Each picture reinforces the truth that fellowship with Jesus Christ is the only thing that can satisfy our souls. Each picture also points to the organic unity of the Church and reinforces the truth that all Church Age believers are irrevocably joined to one another.
  1. The Shepherd and the sheep pictures the utter helplessness of all believers and the extent of the Lord’s tender love (Joh 10:2–16, Joh 21:15–17). Christ is the Shepherd who provides life, liberty, amd sustenance for the sheep . As the Good Shepherd, the crucified Lord laid down his life for the sheep (Joh 10:11). As the Great Shepherd, the resurrected Lord sustains and supplies believers with every good thing in the plan of God (Heb 13:20–21). As the Chief Shepherd, the returning Lord is the source of eternal blessings and eternal reward for those who follow Him (1Pe 5:4).
  2. The Vine and the branches pictures the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ and the production in our lives that comes from communion with Him (Joh 15:1–7). Jesus Christ is fruitful through the branches that draw their life from Him. All life flows through the vine; the branch can do nothing on its own. Christian fruitfulness has to do with abiding, with faith, with receiving—never with working from human strength. Only in Christ can we bear fruit.
  3. The Chief Cornerstone and the stones of the building pictures the invisible, spiritual temple being built by Jesus Christ (1Pe 2:5–9). Israel had a temple, the Church is a temple, "a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:22). The cornerstone aligns and ties together the entire building. Believers are related to each other as stones, built on one foundation (1Co 3:11). It takes many stones to make a building, and all are dependent on each other. The stones themselves do not do anything except allow themselves to be fitted together by the builder (Mat 16:18).
  4. The High Priest and priests of the temple pictures the relationship of service shared by Christ with believers (1Pe 2:9; Rev 1:5–6). The function of Old Testament priests was to represent the people before God. Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Heb 5–8). He is a priest forever (Psa 110:4). Because He is also the King, we are members of a royal priesthood. As priests, we are to offer worship and sacrifices of praise, of intercession, and of ourselves to God (Rom 12:1; Heb 13:15).
  5. The Head and the Body is the most often used description of Christ and the Church. It pictures the unity of believers and the authority of Christ (Rom 12:5). In the human body, each member has a specific and individual function. Each member, though different, is necessary. All members take their orders from the brain; but all, by nature, serve the other parts and exist solely for the function of the whole. The Church is one body—the Body of Christ. Every believer is placed "in Christ" at the moment of salvation (1Co 12:13) and all are exhorted to live as one (Eph 4:1–32).
  6. The Last Adam and the new creation pictures the risen Christ as the head of a new race—a new species of creation (1Co 15:45–50). The first Adam brought sin and death; the Last Adam brought righteousness and life. By spiritual birth, believers have become part of the new creation, but the glories of this relationship await Heaven when all believers will be released from their sin natures, will become citizens of Heaven, and will be given bodies like the resurrection body of Christ (Gal 5:17; Joh 14:2–3; 1Co 15:20–57; Rom 8:23).
  7. The Bridegroom and the Bride is perhaps the most intimate description of the relationship between Christ and His Church (Eph 5:22–23). It pictures not only Christ’s authority over and protection of His Church, but also the tenderness, the love, the unity, and the intimacy that will exist between Christ and the Church forever. The Church is not yet the Bride of Christ but will be in the future. She will be claimed by Christ at the Rapture, and she will reign with Him (2Ti 2:12), sharing in His glory (Eph.1:20–21; Rom 8:17). 
 This material was originally a highlighted topic in "The Basics".

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