What We Learned Together This Sunday August 20, 2023
INTRODUCTIONToday will be the first of three special messages during this transition time before starting our new series in the Book of Colossians in September. We as a church body learn and grow how we might minister to one another as a church family using the spiritual gifts bestowed upon this body of believers. This is Christian ministry through every gifted individual as members of the body of Christ. Therefore the presence and the work of the Spirit of God through every member.
Many Images used in the New Testament to describe the church: Flock of God, People of God, Temple of God, the Bride of Christ, Vine and Branches, stones and building, Shepherd and His Sheep, The Body of Christ With Christ Jesus as the Head. The Christian life is a call to do things together and understand the one anothers as we gather together as a body of believers. Some questions to consider today. What places has God given me in this church body so that we would show the unity of the body and diversity of the gifts? How are you using your gifts so that God would be glorified as the one who placed us in this body? His will would rule and not my will decide in my participation and action as a member of this church body. The reason why people are not more involved in the church body because of ignorance of spirituals gifts [cf. 12:1-2]. Throughout this chapter there is the emphasis and focus on the work of God in the Body of Christ. First, there is 1 Corinthians 12:7, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Second, 1 Corinthians 12:11-12, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Third, 1 Corinthians 12:18, “But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired.” Fourth, 1 Corinthians 12:24, “But God has so composed the body . . .” Fifth, 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” The title of the message this morning is “Being Members of the Body of Christ.”
Here are a few thoughts to get us to First Corinthians 12:14 this morning. In verses 4-11 Paul begins with Christian Ministry Is The Variety of Gifts and Diversity of Individuals in the Church Body Manifesting the Spirit of God for the Common Good. The point being taught is the lack of understanding the use of spiritual gifts in church ministry will hinder the working of the Spirit in and through the church of God. In verses 4-6 “the same Spirit . . . the same Lord . . . the same God.” Also in verses 4-6 “there are differences/varieties of gifts . . . ministries . . . effects” and the statement “but the same God working all things in all.” The main point is found in verse seven “but each one given the manifestation of the Spirit to the common good.” Every believer has a gift and every bestowal of a gift for the benefit of all. Paul reminds us again these are given [1 Corinthians 4:6-7]. And verse eleven “all these things works the one and the same Spirit.” The Spirit of God is at work is the emphasis in the work of the church. The design of God according to the desire of the Spirit. In verses 12-13 Paul continues his teaching with Christian Ministry Reveals The Unity of the Body and the Diversity of the Members as the Body of Christ. The indwelling presence of the Spirit of God in the church and individual believers. [cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20] The point being taught is the lack of functioning according to desires of the Spirit in church ministry will cause the deviating from the design of God for His church. The Structure of the Body As One With Many Members. Paul using the Illustration of the human body with diversity in unity, and one whole body with many members. Throughout this chapter the body is described fourteen times. Another Scripture passage also shows this theme. “For just as we have many parts in one body and all [f]the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.” [Romans 12:4-5] The Nature of the Body by One Spirit in One Body---The members give testimony of this act with the Spirit by their ministry towards other members of the body of Christ. John Baptist described Jesus as the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit [Cf. Matthew 3:11; John 1:33]. And seeing verse fourteen, “For the body is not one part, but many.”
Now we look at verses 14-27 with the teaching this morning. The title of the message this morning is “Being Members of the Body of Christ.” Christian Ministry Teaches The Unity of the Body and the Activity of the Functions of Each Member of the Body of Christ. As we begin the understanding of Different members of the human body which have different purposes, abilities, functions, roles, and designs. And yet at the church of Corinth there was much missing, as there is in many American churches. Thinking that you are a member of Christ here! Each member functions the way it is deigned in the proper working of the whole body.
First, Misunderstanding the Importance of Your Place Being A Member of the Church Body [vv. 15-20]. In verses 14-17 Defective Attitude of Insignificance. The statements repeated “I am not a part of the body.” Such words stating, “I am nothing and they are something.” Paul describes his argument this way, “If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand . . . And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye . . .” And both perspectives conclude “I am not a part of the body.” Here is the undervaluing one’s role in the church body because of other members. Yes there is something special about the eye and something ordinary about the ear! Also unity involves mutual dependence and ministry together as the body. This would then teach us that personally using your gifts promotes unity of the body. In verses 18-20 Unity of A Body With The Biblical Approach As A Body. Especially verse 18, “But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired.” Divinely arranged according to the desire and design of God. In verse are four truths declared which we testify as a body: “placed the members . . . each one of them . . . in the body . . . just as He desired.” [cf. 12:28]. It is about what is He will and why He placed you here in this body. Much more God orientated in understanding these truths about the church body. For the last phrase tell us so much, “just as He desired.” We all give expression of this reality and responsibility in this church body! If every one of us was being a member of this body then we would never have need for more workers! And we want the Lord to bless the ministries of New Life Fellowship so more members loving and serving for the next season of this church body. This is where we must think clearly about these matters not my gifts but our gifts in this church body. We must be thinking about what God desires and wills for me in this body than what I think I want to do and will not do according to my opinions and selfishness. Enough of the defective attitude of insignificance! Because you are placed in this body as a member for the desire of God for this church body. Think about the illustration of the orchestra different instruments, different parts with four families: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Such a special sound and so much great music made together with each part playing their role. What place are taking in this church body so that the gifts which have been given produces ministries to be done? There is a much different picture of the church body in these verses.
Second, Misrepresenting the Significance of Your Place Being A Member of the Church Body [vv. 21-27] In verses 21-22 Divisive Attitude of Independence “I have no need of you.” Such words stating, “I am somebody and they are nobody.” Here is the overestimating one’s role in the church body because of other members. Also individually using your gifts pictures diversity of the body. Notice how Paul explains this point in verses 21-21. “And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” His conclusion is then, “On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” In verses 23-27 Ministry of The Body With The Biblical Action As A Body. Verse 24 says, “But God has so composed the body . . .” Divinely composed according to the plan and purpose of God. This word means “to cause parts to fit together in an overall arrangement ‘to put together, to compose, to structure.” More truths declared which we value as a body [cf. 12:24-26] including care, honor, and sympathy. Paul describes what he means with the phrases, “And if one part . . . all the parts . . . if a part is . . . all the parts . . .” Look at verse 27, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” It is as if Paul ends this section calling upon the church to be the church body as though he was saying, “Be this! Being members! Be individuals who hold these truths as a church body.” There is the Illustration describing “A Carpenter’s Tools.”
In this Scripture passage there is both encouragement and exhortation being members of the Body of Christ. So grateful for so many who need encouragement because you are taking your place, using your gifts, serving the body of Christ here at New Life Fellowship. There are also those who need exhortation because either the defective attitude or the divisive attitude remains in your life, and therefore affecting your involvement here in this church body. First, confronting any spectator mindset and every attender only mentality. The most obvious and yet the clearest lesson for us in the American church culture. Our spectator culture produces limited involvement and gives room for such attitudes confronted here in this Scripture passage. Each one gifted is necessary & needed for the Spirit has given to the body. We will not be and cannot become all that this church body will be according to these verses is any one of us doesn’t understand the importance of our place in this church body. Third, unity of the body and ministry of the body being our Christian testimony. Fourth, remember the grace you have been given with the presence of gifts here. And finally, learn the place each one of us has being a member of the Body of Christ.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.