"THE UNITY OF CHRISTíS BODY" Part 2

First Corinthians 12.14-30

INTRODUCTION:

1. If you were with us last week you began to see the underlying spiritual reality of the unity that exists in our Church.

2. You know, weíre not perfect, and because we are fallible saints who have been saved by the grace of God, visible strife and schisms are going to occur from time to time.

3. But just as real as the occasional blemishes which are seen on the complexion of an otherwise healthy body, so also is the underlying yet unchanging unity that we, and every other real Church of Jesus Christ, have.

4. Donít get me wrong. You may see things from time to time which appear to show the certainty of disunity, but you are quite mistaken. Itís a mistake born of prejudice or an inadequate understanding of what Biblical unity is.

5. What is reality in spite of what we oftentimes think we see? The reality is that the body, this body, is one in Christ. Thatís what Godís Word says.

6. Last week we saw two things in our text which establish this truth. Today we shall see the remaining two.

7. Let us stand as we read First Corinthians 12.14-30:

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

8. There is obviously way too much in this passage than I can do justice to tonight. But we can see, as we stay focused on the direction Paul is going, two more ways in which the unity of this body of Christ is seen.

1A. FIRST, UNITY CAN BE SEEN DESCRIPTIVELY

In verses 14-26 Paul describes the Corinthian Church to its members in such a way as to firmly establish the reality of the spiritual unity of that body. Letís look at the four ways in which he described that body.

1B. In Verses 14-17, They Were Diverse, Yet Unified

1C. Notice the determination (12.14)

"For the body is not one member, but many."

1D. Paul has already established the analogy of comparing this congregation to a physical human body. You will recall that he did that in First Corinthians 12.12, as we saw.

2D. Now Paul seeks to use this parallel with the human body again. And in this verse the diversity, the differences, between members is again brought to our attention.

3D. In Paulís comparison the body is the congregation of the Corinthian Church and the physical member is Paulís designation of an individual Christian in that Church. This is what Paul determines.

2C. Now, with that in mind, notice the declarations (12.15-16)

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1D. Here we have two similar declarations. In each case there is a member of the body who is saying that he is not of the body. In essence, these are examples of Church members denying the unity of the body.

2D. How is this denial of the unity of the body accomplished? By saying, "I am not of the body." And what could the motivation be for saying such a thing? "Because I am not..." the more desirable member.

3D. Folks, notice what we have here. We have at attempt to use, or a desire to use, outward conformity, being like someone else, used as a determining factor in deciding whether or not spiritual unity exists.

4D. The member, whoever it may happen to be, concludes from external factors considered, that he is not of the body. But I ask you, is that member correct? Of course not.

5D. The personal opinion of an individual as to whether or not unity exists is quite irrelevant. And the declaration that a person is no longer of the body is meaningless.

6D. Folks, we need to realize that unity is not really dependent on or even related to your estimation, your evaluation, or your opinion. Amen? Or mine.

7D. And in direct response to those who would prefer conformity over God-ordained unity with all its diversities, Paul asks two questions in verse 17: "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?"

8D. And both questions point out the truth that if everyone is the same in a body, it isnít really a body, but something grotesque.

9D. The body really is diverse, but unified.

2B. In Verse 18, Set, To Please God

"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."

1C. Here is answered the question, "How does one get to be an eye, or an ear, or a hand?"

2C. Do you just do what you want to do? Is it your will which is key in something like this? Apparently not. From this verse we see that it is Godís will which is supreme.

3C. Does that make you unhappy? Does that frighten you? Do you think that God may want you to do or to be something that would make you miserable?

4C. Turn to Philippians 2.13 and read: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Donít worry about what God wants you to do. When things are right in your spiritual life He will make it so you will want to do His will. So, even though you are set in your place of ministry by God, and itís all done to please God, it will be pleasant for you, too.

3B. In Verses 19-23, Dependent, Upon Each Other

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

1C. We all know that you canít have a body with a bunch of identical members. Who would allow a bucket of wings to be passed off as a chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken? No one would. Thatís verse 19.

2C. In verse 20 the unity is again stressed.

3C. And in verses 21-23 mutual dependence is noted. And on this subject of mutual dependence, itís stupid for eyes or a head to think they donít need the help of the hands or the feet.

4C. As a matter of fact, things too often get backwards in this respect. How often are we wrong about the importance of certain organs?

5C. The eyes are obvious to everyone. The eyes are beautiful. The eyes get a great deal of attention. But how important are the eyes next to the liver? You canít see the liver. But without the liver the body dies. And as important as eyes are, the body doesnít die without them.

6C. The mouth is important. It is a key part of our ability to communicate with others. But does the body die without a mouth? No. What do you think would happen without a heart, or without a stomach?

7C. My quiet and unassuming friend, donít you dare think you are unimportant to this body. You may not receive a great deal of attention. Folks may not think of you as often as they should. But remember, folks donít think about livers or hearts very much either. And you know how important they are to the human body.

4B. Finally, In Verses 24-26, Tempered, To Care For One Another

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

1C. Do you see the word "tempered" in verse 24? Some define it as mixing together. Others define it as welding. In either case itís the blending together of different things, dissimilar materials, which is what both the cementing process and the welding process involve.

2C. I like to think of the Church as a cake mix. Lee Moyer is the flour. Archie French is the salt. Shirley French is the sugar. Lavona is the eggs. Toni is the baking soda.

3C. When mixed together and baked, are the ingredients distinguishable? No. If the ingredients can be distinguished the cake didnít turn out right. Amen?

4C. In like manner, as I mentioned last week, in believerís baptism the Spirit of God blends us together to form a composite, but inseparable, whole.

5C. Look at the word "no" in verse 25. In the Greek language there are two different "no" words. With each "no" the word that immediately follows it in the sentence is negated.

6C. One of the "no" words is typically used to negate a concrete reality and the other "no" word is used to negate an abstract thought. The "no" we have here is the second one.

7C. This means that even the idea of schism or disunity actually existing in the body is to be discounted. Instead, members should have the same care one for another.

8C. Itís just like when you stub your toe and it really hurts. Every part of the body attends to the toe. The eyes examine it to see how serious the damage to it is. The hands touch and feel it. The feet walk differently to compensate for its pain. Why, even the facial expression changes in accordance with the level of damage done to the toe.

9C. In the same way, should those of us in this body care for each other when there is pain. The reverse is also true. The whole body can delight when the little toe is tickled.

10C. "But pastor, what about when there is a Church split?" Terrible as a Church split is, it is not the rending in two of a Church. Rather, it is the painful ripping from a Church of those who are not, after all, really converted, First John 2.19.

2A. AS THE UNITY OF THE BODY WAS SEEN IN PAULíS FOUR DESCRIPTIONS OF IT, NOW WE SEE THE UNITY OF THE BODY PERSONALLY

1B. The Church Is The Body Of Christ (12.27)

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

1C. Here is where Paul brings the analogy, the parallel, home. All of this conversation about the body . . . I was speaking of you.

2C. Your congregation is the body of Christ, he tells them. And there are two clues in this verse which reveal that Paul is referring to a congregation and not to all Christians.

3C. First, notice his choice of personal pronouns. The word "ye" and not "you" is used. You might even be surprised that Paul doesnít use the word "we" here. Why this choice of pronouns? Because Paul is writing and addressing his remarks to the Corinthian Church.

4C. The second clue isnít what is there, but rather what is not there. Do you see the phrase "Now ye are the body of Christ"? In Greek there is no definite article in front of the word for "body." That means, again, Paul is referring to this congregation directly, and not to all Christians.

5C. Folks, a correct interpretation of this verse does not detract from the oneness of all those who are in Godís family. Thatís undeniable. All Christians are brothers and sisters in the family of God. This verse affects that oneness not one bit. But properly understood, this verse does make a powerful statement about the unity of each individual congregation, the Church.

2B. They Were Members Of That Body (12.27)

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

1C. One of the great tragedies of the 20th century is the sight of Christians everywhere pouring their personal efforts, prayers, and allegiance into some mystical and mysterious spiritual concept that no one can really define.

2C. Paulís concept, or rather Christís concept that was communicated through the ministry of Paul, was that the concrete ministry through which each and every believer can and should serve his Lord, and of which each believer should be a member, is the local congregation. They were members of that body. Each of us should be members of a body, as well.

3C. I remember well David Hocking, who was a teacher of mine and who taught on the radio program "The Biola Hour." He said to us in class one day, "Men, though it runs contrary to my personal theology, I have discovered that whenever a Christianís energies, efforts and prayers are diverted from their local Church to any other Christian endeavor it hurts them. Itís almost as if God designed Christians to live and express their Christian lives through their local congregations."

4C. When Dave Hocking said that the class erupted with questions and challenges to what he had said, except for one student. You see, what he had discovered through the practical experiences of being a pastor committed to seeing his Church grow was what I already believed from my personal study of the Bible. For this dispensation, Godís will for Christians is to live their lives in and to serve Christ in and through and from their local Church, not to be Christians at large or free lance Christians.

3B. Finally, Their Church Did Have Diverse Ministries (12.28-30)

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

1C. No longer does Paul refer to the physical body analogy here. As he did in verse 27, heís speaking literally and directly about the congregation now.

2C. Look back at verse 18: "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." There we see that God has "set" the members. Here in this passage we see a partial list of the ones He has "set."

3C. Look at the word "first" in verse 28. That word oftentimes refers to an order of sequence. If it means that here, then tongues was the last gift, of this partial list, to be given. But when was the gift of tongues first given? Right. Pentecost.

4C. Folks, if "first" means what it often means, then at least seven gifts were set in the Church before Pentecost. Do you realize the implications of that? That powerfully suggests that the Church was brought into existence before the day of Pentecost. Just thought Iíd throw that in.

5C. Sound like heresy? It shouldnít. Do you realize until the 20th century all Baptists believed Christ began the Church before Pentecost? As a matter of fact, it appears that all the way back in Luke 6.13 the Church may have existed, since thatís when the apostles were named.

6C. But Iím digressing. The main point of verse 28 is to illustrate the gifts set in the Church by God . . . and the fact that they are diverse.

7C. Paul actually closes out his argument in verses 29 and 30:

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

He has satisfactorily proven the indivisible unity of that body and of ours, no matter what appearances happen to suggest.

8C. But these final questions are asked to once again illustrate our great diversity. There are six short and direct questions here. And as usual with Paul the answer is so obvious it isnít supplied.

9C. The answer, "No!" once again destroys the notion that God has, or that God wants to, make us all alike.

CONCLUSION:

1. In First Corinthians chapter 12 we have learned that God wants us different.

2. Therefore, anyone who tries to get you to conform to any pattern other than Christ is wrong. Amen?

3. Dad, donít you try to make your son a preacher. Mom, donít you try to make your daughter into a Womenís Sword Jubilee speaker. You let God do that. You shouldnít even try to make your sons and daughters like you. Let them be who God created them to be, not clones of you.

4. Pentecostal person? Donít you dare try to get the gift tongues into everyone you know by acting like they donít have what God wants for them until they speak in tongues.

5. And Baptist? Donít you try to force everyone in your Church to become anything. Recognize that different spiritual gifts will result in folks being used by God in different ways, but all the while using them to play a part in bringing sinners to Christ.

6. And donít worry about not being able to conform people. We have unity as a body. Christ has ordained it and Paul witnesses to the fact of it . . . so we donít have to make unity ourselves.

7. What we need to do is reflect it in our lives, by tolerating differences and by avoiding judgmentalism, without compromising our stand against sin.

8. Letís thank God for what we have; individuality and unity. That done, letís get to work as a congregation to bring sinners under the sound of the Gospel. Amen?


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