Forward by Billy Graham
Much is being said today about the church being irrelevant. With many observers of the religious scene, the church has become the whipping-boy for many of the world's ills.
It depends, of course, on how one defines the "church." In Body Life, Ray C. Stedman uses the leverage of the Word itself to bring us back to the church's real meaning and mission. With strong, convincing argument he points to the weaknesses within the institutional church, and clearly reminds us of the strength inherent in Christ's body, the true church.
This book is not all theory and semantics. In Chapter Twelve, the author relates how his interpretation of the church has worked effectively in the crucible of practical experience. He convinces us that the New Testament definition of the church is the outworking of Christ Jesus through his corporate Body.
His Peninsula Bible Church (PBC) began with only five laymen who felt the need for more meaningful and effective Christian witness, and a richer koinonia-fellowship than they were accustomed to. These five, convinced that the church too often boxed itself behind stone walls, took the church to the people of their community with sincerity, dedication, and effectiveness. Today, it is one of the most dynamic companies of Christian believers on the West Coast.
Ray C. Stedman, eager to share PBC's blessings with other groups, has given us a "how-to" book which shows us how the church can relate to community life in a meaningful, satisfactory, and redeeming manner.
Publishers Preface for Revised Edition of Body Life
A generation has gone by and the world has changed tremendously since the original edition of Body Life was first published in 1972. The concepts of Body Life were hammered out during the spiritual and cultural ferment of the era of Vietnam, the Great Society, the Apollo moon shots, Haight-Ashbury, and Watergate--and these concepts have stood the test of time.
The core principles of Body Life are as true today as they were in the '60s and '70s. Why? Because they didn't originate in that era. They originated in the same place that Christianity itself originated--in the mind of God, the heart of God, and the Word of God.
This book, Dr. Stedman's masterpiece on the nature and function of authentic Christianity, has always been a readable and practical favorite. This new edition, however, has been completely revised to make it even more readable, more user-friendly, more applicable to the world in which we live--the world at the end of the twentieth century. A study guide has also been added at the end of the book to help make the concepts of Body Life real in your own life and the life of your church.
This book served as a blueprint for a spiritual revolution in the 1970s. Now, a generation later, its truths are even more timely and practical than ever before. We stand at the brink of a new millennium, facing a brave new world of cyberspace and virtual reality, AIDS and widespread moral breakdown, new genetic technologies, new weapons technologies, spiraling crime rates, racial warfare, and societal decay. The need has never been greater for the church to be reenergized and rededicated to its original purpose.
The church must become the church God intended it to be. We must become the kind of Christians God intended us to be. We must learn again to practice deep koinonia-fellowship, carrying one another's burdens, sharing one another's hurts, confessing to one another, rejoicing with one another, encouraging one another, celebrating the diversity of our gifts and abilities while maintaining the unity of the Spirit.
As our world rolls into the twenty-first century and the third millennium, we must rediscover the meaning of Body Life--the amazing energy and empowerment God gives to His people when they live in close, loving, caring community with Him and with one another. So we commend to you, as a committed follower of Christ, this new edition of a genuine Christian classic--a book not only to read, but to implement, to live in, to build upon.
It will change your church. It will change your life. Welcome to the adventure of Body Life!
Discovery House Publishers