"THE UNITY OF CHRISTíS BODY" Part 1
First Corinthians 12.12-30
1. How many of you folks were here two weeks ago, when we studied First Corinthians 12.4-11? Were you glad the Bible taught what it did?
2. To refresh all of your memories, two weeks ago we learned something that ought to be a great comfort to every child of God.
3. I suppose every one of you grew up with the insecure feeling that, somehow, you were different. And among most unregenerate people, and in the families of most lost people, to be different is felt to somehow be wrong.
4. A brief history lesson: Al Capp, a very unsavory character who authored the comic strip "Liíl Abner," pointed out something in a lecture on the campus of the Oregon State University back in the early 1970s. He pointed out that nearly all of the 1960s hippies were really ugly people. And if you go back and look at the pictures of those first several thousand hippies in the 1960s you will see that he was right. They were ugly, by societyís standards.
5. As I look back on that time in society, as well as that same period of time in my own life, I am of the opinion that those people, realizing that they did not measure up to societyís standards for physical beauty, decided to repudiate societyís standards. To put it another way, since they were physically quite diverse from the mainstream of society, they set out to make themselves the new mainstream of society.
6. That they and their early followers moved an entire nation to adopt their standards of attire and behavior is a testimony to the truth that you donít have to be beautiful or handsome to have a powerful mind that is capable of influencing others.
7. Those earliest hippies were unconventional, but they were also very smart. Not able to conform to societyís standards, they caused society to conform to their standards. The result? Almost every kid in America played follow the leader to them.
8. Only one problem. Those hippies were lost, and their efforts, while brilliantly conceived, were born of rebellion and were, therefore, sinful and actually quite destructive to the fabric of society.
9. Had they known Jesus Christ as their personal Savior they might have appreciated what we learned two weeks ago: Our God created us diverse and it is His will that we be different.
10. History might have been different had they the spiritual insight to delight in their differences instead of being filled with bitter hatred of a society for not being able to be just like the majority of those in that society.
11. Folks, if you strongly desire to polly parrot others, if you expend energy to look like, walk like, talk like, think like, everyone else . . . you are at least thinking like a lost person. And if your children are not learning to be individuals, then you need to work on that area of your parenting. Amen?
12. That was two weeks ago. Diversity. Whereas First Corinthians 12.4-11 deals with the great diversity that exists within the Calvary Road Baptist Church, our text for today deals with the unity of Christís body.
13. In First Corinthians 12.12-30, Paul shows that despite individual diversity in Christís body, there is, nevertheless, real unity.
14. This concept is seen in four things which are shown in our text, two of which we shall examine today, the remaining two, God willing, next Sunday.
15. So, letís stand together as we read First Corinthians 12.12 and 13: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
1A. THE UNITY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IS FIRST SEEN IN THE ANALOGY USED BY PAUL TO DESCRIBE IT
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."
What do I mean when I use the word "analogy?" An analogy is a comparison of two things which are similar in certain respects, but otherwise they are not similar.
Letís see how Paul draws his analogy.
1B. He Begins With The Human Body. This Is The Physical Counterpart To The Spiritual Truth That He Wants To Communicate To Us. Now, We Are All Pretty Familiar With The Human Body, But The Whole Concept Of An Analogy Requires That Only Certain Characteristics Of The Human Body Be Used In The Analogy. What Characteristics Are They?
1C. The unity of the human body is one characteristic.
1D. Think about your own body for a moment. Have you ever thought of the implications of your body not having unity? That is, is it possible for a body to be more than one entity?
2D. Of course not. An absurd notion to think of a body in that way. One of the necessary requirements for your body to exhibit what we call unity, to actually be one, is for all parts of your body to be located in the same place and connected together.
3D. If your body were not all in the same place there would be no unity. Your body would not be one. It would be two or three.
2C. Another characteristic of the human body is the existence of many members.
1D. Does it need mentioning how diverse these members are? I donít think so. There are no two parts of your human body which are alike.
2D. With a little reflection you will have to admit that even those parts which appear to be identical are actually mirrors of each other, opposites. You have two eyes, which are opposites, just as every other paired member of your body.
3C. Finally, Paul comes back to the fact that in the midst of very diverse organs and appendages, each human body is a unified whole. Itís as if, in verse 12, he wants to stress the unity of the human body, but without denying the great diversity that lies within that same body.
2B. Now, What We Have Seen About The Human Body, In Verse 12, Is Also True Of Christís Body.
1C. Notice Paulís words: "For as the body is . . . so also is Christ."
2C. Beloved, I know that itís possible to carry this comparison of the human body to Christís body to ridiculous extremes, so we must remember that an analogy compares the similarities of otherwise dissimilar things.
3C. This means that in most respects the human body is not similar to the body of Christ, but in a few characteristics there is a similarity that are important for us to understand.
4C. First, there is unity. May not seem like there has always been the kind of unity in this Church that we have seen over the past five wonderful years, but if Paulís analogy is to be trusted more than mere human powers of observation, which cannot see the realities of that which is spiritual, then we know there has always been an underlying unity here.
5C. Next, there is diversity in this Church. Just as the human body has many diverse members, no two being alike, we have learned that in our Church there is also a great diversity. And though Paul spent verses 4-11 proving it, here he begins to tie his concept of diversity together with his theme of the unity of the body of Christ.
6C. Finally, just as in the human body, the diversity of the body and the unity of the body do not conflict, but rather compliment the bodyís efficient function and life.
7C. Folks, the Corinthians had no trouble seeing the great diversity of their congregation with the naked eye. They did need to be told that their diversity was acceptable to God, that it was even planned by God. Nothing wrong with diversity.
8C. The difficult thing for the Corinthians to understand was that, despite the obvious contention that existed within their congregation, there was still an underlying spiritual unity that needed to be recognized.
9C. The thing to learn from this verse? The diversity of the body in no way detracts from the unity of the body. Quite the contrary. The analogy of the human body teaches us this.
2A. THE UNITY OF THE BODY IS ALSO SEEN IN REGARD TO ONEíS ENTRANCE INTO IT (12.13)
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
This verse is a general procedure which describes a personís entrance into Christís body.
In Acts 18.1-8 we find the historical account of Luke which Paul is actually hearkening back to. Letís turn there and read together:
1After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
2And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
3And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
4And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
5And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
6And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain manís house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
Now, letís turn back to First Corinthians 12.13 and look at this verse topically: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Note: You are about to see doctrinal distinctives that no one who is not a Baptist holds to.
1B. First, The Means Of Entrance
1C. The word we see in this verse is the word "baptized." Itís a controversial word to many modern Christians, but the word was not at all controversial to the Greek speaking believers of the first century.
2C. The simple and straightforward meaning of this word is "immersion." Famous Greek scholar A. T. Robertson indicates that this verb form of the word is aorist, which means that the immersion happened at a point in time in the past. Itís passive, which means it was something that happened to them. And itís indicative, which means the action was real to the speaker. Sometime in the past all of Paulís readers had the real to them experience of being immersed.
3C. Folks, there is no confusion among those who read the Greek New Testament about the meaning of the word "baptism." Even John Calvin, one of the founders of the Presbyterian movement, and a man committed to sprinkling infants and not immersing those professing their faith in Christ, admits that both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ administered baptism by plunging the whole body beneath the water.
4C. Thus, the means of entrance into the body of Christ, and the mode of baptism, can be proven to be immersion.
2B. Next, We See The Men Of Entrance
1C. That is, if this baptism is how a person becomes a part of the body, what prerequisites are there for this baptism?
2C. There is only one requirement. You must be a saved person. Only those born again qualify for baptism. Letís read a few verses to illustrate this point: Acts 2.41; 8.36-38; 10.44-48 [Read].
3C. Just a few verses, backed up by many others, which shows that baptism is Godís will for believers only.
4C. Why shouldnít the lost person be baptized? For two reasons: First, it would be hypocrisy for a lost person to give such a public testimony of salvation as baptism gives. And second, since a Church is supposed to be a redeemed body, only saved people should become members in this way.
5C. Why, then, do pastors not put forth more effort to make sure their baptismal candidates are truly converted? Why donít they take more care to ensure that their members are truly converted? Thatís another sermon, is it not?
3B. The Means Of Entrance ( Immersion ), The Men Of Entrance ( The Redeemed ), And Finally The Mover
1C. This is the Holy Spirit of God. He is the One back of this step of obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember from 12.1-3, His goal in the life of the believer is to demonstrate the lordship of Christ. And obedience in believerís baptism certainly does this. No surprise the Holy Spiritís behind it. Amen?
2C. Some of you may ask, "But pastor, I was always told that this verse refers to the so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit. Why should I believe that this is water baptism and not Spirit baptism?"
3C. Simple way to show you. Turn to Matthew 3.11: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
4C. In this verse John the Baptist prophesies concerning the authenticating sign that would testify of the Messiahship of Jesus. A great sign accompanied miracle that would prove that Jesus was the Christ, once and for all. Of course, this prophecy was initially fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as well as on a couple of subsequent occasions.
5C. Folks, if you will look very carefully at Johnís prediction of what we now refer to as the baptism of the Holy Ghost you will quite obviously see two things: First, the One Who is predicted to perform the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He Who shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, John tells us. Second, what is the medium of baptism? That is, in what will Christ baptize people? The Holy Spirit.
6C. Now back to First Corinthians 12.13. Who performs the baptism in this verse? The Holy Spirit. Folks, do you really think that Paul is talking about the same thing as John the Baptist was, especially since he has already told us how each Person of the Trinity performs different roles in a believerís life?
7C. Folks, Paul is teaching about a different baptism than John the Baptist was . . . and John was talking about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Two baptisms.
8C. Friends, by the simple process of elimination this verse must and can only be a reference to believerís baptism. This means, then, that through the ordinance of baptism the Holy Spirit of God places a believer into that body that Christ has chosen for him to serve in, using the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave to him when he was indwelt. And that body is the local Church, since you arenít dunked in water to become a part of the so-called universal body of Christ.
9C. So then, because of a common means of entrance (baptism), and because of a common prerequisite for entrance (salvation), which is the result of a common Mover (the Spirit of God), the Corinthians were all a part of the Corinthian body.
9C. Thatís another reason why there is unity in Christís body, the local congregation.
1. Forget what you observe with your eyes. You should know by now that your five senses are unreliable in gathering certain kinds of spiritual information. We ought always to submit to the declaration of Godís Word over the observation of menís senses. Amen?
2. Is there unity in the body of Christ? Sure there is, if you discount what information you have gathered with your eyes, ears, nose, tongue and fingertips. Just take the testimony of the Word of God. Amen?
3. The analogy of the body illustrates unity. What kind of body is there which has one member here and another there? Only a dead one. Amen?
4. The body of Christ is a visible body. And itís a greatly diverse body. But itís also together. Thereís unity.
5. But unity is illustrated in another way. By the way of entrance. Let me ask you a question: If everyone walks through the same door, will they end up in the same room? Sure they will.
6. As verse 24 declares, baptism, as an entrance into the body of Christ is the way "God hath tempered the body together."
7. So, yes, there is unity in the body of Christ, Calvary Road Baptist Church.
8. Would you be a part of this body? Itís really very simple:
#1 You must be born again.
#2 You must be Scripturally baptized in obedience to Christís command.
9. Then you are entitled to all the rights and prerogatives of membership, including the communion of the Lordís Supper.