1 Corinthians 12:12–31 (NKJV)
1. Do not ride in an automobile (or get in the way of one), as automobiles cause 20 percent of all fatal accidents.
2. Do not stay at home; that’s where 17 percent of all accidents occur.
3. Do not walk across the street; pedestrians are victims of 14 percent of all accidents.
4. Do not travel by air, rail or water; 16 percent of all accidents are the result of these activities.
5. Only .001 percent of all fatal accidents occur at church and almost none of these during worship and Sunday School.
Obviously, the safest place to be is in worship and Bible Study with your family and fellow Christians
The church is never a place but always a people;
never a fold but always a flock;
never a sacred building, but always a believing assembly.
The church is we who pray, not where we pray.
A structure of bricks or marble can no more be a church than one’s clothes of serge or satin can be he.
There is in this world nothing sacred but man, no sanctuary of God but the soul.
Today I want to talk about… You guessed it the Church… and it’s NOT this building… It’s everyone of You! No matter how few or how many of you… there are!
So let’s get on with our reading
1 Corinthians 12:12–31 (NKJV)
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
This section of scripture can be divided into a number of sections
1) Paul speaks about the parallel between the Body and the Church.
a. That even though the Body appears to be one, and IS one
i. It is made up of many different and unique parts or members.
1. Each with an important purpose to serve.
a. Did you know there are NO unimportant parts in your body
i. Even the appendix and tonsils actually have recently been discovered to serve important immune related purposes.
b. And some parts of your body serve multiple purposes
i. Your lungs deliver oxygen to the body, while removing waste gases
ii. Your Liver as well filters your blood, and produces much needed enzymes.
ii. It is amazing… the stuff you can discover about a person… by looking at one part of a body
1. Let’s take their bones for example.
a. You can tell their sex
b. You can tell their approximate age
c. You can even tell a lot about their occupations.
d. You can learn about their past
e. Scientists can even tell a lot about the health of the body by examining the bones.
2. And people looking at the members of a church can tell a lot about the church itself…
a. Is it healthy?
b. What the church represents?
c. Where is it going?
d. Just by examining their members
b. Yet even though the body is made up of many different and varied parts… it acts as one and moves as one.
i. This is amazing isn’t it???
ii. We have these bodies… made up of all these individual parts.
1. Most of which we’re unaware of in our day to day lives.
2. Yet they all work together to support the Body.
a. And when cells in the body don’t work to support the Body…
i. It is known as cancer
ii. And that’s what happens to a church when people think only of themselves or their individual ministries
1. And NOT of the Body they belong to.
c. So… what unifies us?
i. The church is formed when we as believers are baptized by Christ with the Holy Spirit.
1. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NKJV)
a. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
2. Now being from a Baptist church you may be thinking I’m talking about water baptism
a. I don’t know what your church believes in this regard… but let’s not go there right now
b. Let’s just say water baptism plays no part in the conversion of a believer, but is an outward testimony to the church and the world that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior
c. Spirit Baptism, on the other hand,
i. Is a work of God
ii. Is the same as Salvation itself
1. This is when you become born again.
iii. Now some of you may be saying “Spirit Baptism”????
iv. How does that come about? Paul says it again in Galatians 3:26–27 (NKJV)
1. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
2. Again… That baptism is NOT water baptism… which is just an external sign…
3. What this is talking about is deeper, and occurs at the point of salvation
3. The point is we become members of the one body when we become believers in Jesus
a. And are baptized with His spirit
b. We become part of that one body
i. Notice it doesn’t matter our physical standing
2. Gentiles (us)
ii. Notice it’s an all or nothing deal
1. There are NO partial Christians
c. He reiterates this in Ephesians 4:4–6 (NKJV)
i. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
d. When we are born again, not only are we placed in the body of the Church
i. But the Holy Spirit is placed inside of each one of us.
ii. And we’re given gifts to use to God’s Glory
d. Churches today, no matter how big or small share this in common
i. There are different people performing tasks
1. Each of which is required for a healthy church
ii. Some church’s have committee, others have individuals
1. It’s what God has planned.. Look at verse 1 Corinthians 12:18 (NKJV)
a. But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
2. See we’re not here by accident.
a. Everyone one of you has been placed here by God as he saw fit.
b. Just as God designed our bodies, he has designed our churches
i. Each of us has a purpose in the Church
ii. And no purpose is unimportant
e. Which brings us to our next point
2) It talks about how each of the parts… cannot be something it’s not. There’s another word for this… its called envy!
a. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:15–16 (NKJV)
i. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
b. Here’s another example…
i. It’s like the nose saying to the foot
1. I want to be the foot… see I can run too?
2. Just like the foot can turn around and say I can be a nose… I smell <G>
3. So can a member of a body decide that it’s no longer a member?
a. The easy answer is no of course not… it doesn’t matter what the member says
b. The only way for a member to not be part of the body is to be physically severed
i. And the pain of that severing will never go away.
ii. It’s called phantom pain
1. And the body will always, somehow remember that former member.
c. Envy can and does kill churches
i. How many times have we seen someone talk about wanting leadership of a ministry
1. If the ministry already exists, they start by backstabbing the current leadership
a. They start picking apart the leadership
b. Undermining their authority
2. If the ministry doesn’t exist
a. They try to push it thru without leaderships approval or consent
3. But what they really want is ownership of a ministry
a. They want to tell people what to do and when to do it.
b. But they want the limelight
i. NOT the work light
c. And their ministries usually reflect this.
4. Carnal people look at the other positions in the church and wish for those which the public sees.
ii. Now honestly, sometimes leaders look at positions in churches like stepping stones.
1. They start you out as maybe a helper in Sunday School
2. Then they progress you to being a Sunday School Teacher
3. Then maybe they put you to work on a trustee committee
4. And suddenly you’re on the Deacon/Elder board.
a. All the while you get more and more overwhelmed… and long for the days of being a Sunday School Teacher, or trustee
i. If you are where God wants you to be… and are constantly talking to Him about it and seeking His counsel…
1. YOU CANNOT GET OVERWHELMED.
iii. And I understand the thinking behind it.
1. Give people a little responsibility and see how they handle little things before giving them more.
2. BUT BEFORE we start plugging new members into the body.
a. We need to really get to know them
i. Where do they stand with the Lord?
b. We need to look at how the interact with other members in the body
c. Remember each part of the body is different.
i. Sometimes when someone leaves our fellowship… we try to find someone exactly like that person to fill their shoes
ii. But we’re all different and we need to remember that
3. We also should remember that as members of a church we should set the goal for a ministry
a. Then let the leaders of a ministry lead in order to obtain that goal.
i. And those goals should NEVER be
1. Numbers of people in ministry
a. Numbers don’t matter to God…
b. Hearts and Souls DO!
2. Money being brought into the church, by a ministry.
a. God will provide the money a ministry needs
iv. We can’t all be pastors, or elders or deacons or secretaries… especially secretaries…
1. My wife Tracy is our AWANA Secretary… and let me tell you… she has the hardest job in the Church.
a. Delores does too.
2. I couldn’t imagine a church of just pastors, or gulp secretaries.
3. Just like I couldn’t imagine a body made up of one Big EYE. Or One Big EAR
a. When I was a kid that verse really freaked me out
i. I had just seen an old 1950’s horror movie… about this Giant Eye…
1. But that eye could control minds
2. Talk about confusing a new believer…
d. And They shouldn’t leave the body because they don’t get their way
i. I think we’ve all had experiences like this
1. Someone doesn’t get their way and they pick up their marbles and leave.
2. But that is unbiblical
a. Now if God is calling you to leave that is a different story.
e. Envy is a hard thing to deal with
i. Because in general, people don’t come out and say it
ii. Remember God put us in this church…
1. And he gave us our gifts
2. So when we’re envious of other’s gifts
a. We’re questioning God’s wisdom
3) Now if you say… well I don’t have a ministry
a. A Christian who does not have a ministry is a contradiction.
i. He is disobedient and denies God the right to use him in the way He intends and for which He has gifted him.
ii. When we refuse to follow God’s will and God’s plan
1. We deny His authority and Lordship as well as His wisdom and goodness.
2. As members of Christ’s Body we are not to do our own will but the Lord’s.
3. See this is where this Analogy really takes off
a. Christ is the Head, the brains, It’s His spirit which posses each of us.
b. If the brain is no longer being listened to by the body
i. The structure of the Body is still there
1. But it has no purpose… no direction
2. It just lays there… taking up space, but doing nothing
3. Or worse flopping about in every direction
4. Sounds like a lot of church’s I’ve seen
c. When churches stop seeking the Lord’s council in ministries
i. They fall back on organization
ii. We start throwing bodies at problems, with no thought to a person’s actual gifts
1. And we’re all guilty of it
iii. So you may ask… what if there is no one to run a ministry with the proper abilities, and our church has always had that ministry?
1. If God has not provided a person with the proper gifts to run and support a church’s ministry
a. Then perhaps God has other plans for that ministry… outside of this Church.
iv. A lot of church’s today have accepted the 80/20 rule as it’s gospel
1. 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people.
a. I’ve also heard of some churches saying it’s a 90/10 rule… now that’s scarier still
2. But that’s NOT Biblical
a. When we become believers we are all given gifts, which we are to use for God’s glory
b. As Members of HIS body
c. Continuing his analogy based on the 80/20 rule
i. You’d have either church’s all with one ministry or
ii. You’d have feet doing the work of hands
iii. And while I know people with some pretty flexible toes…I’d hate to see them try to swing a hammer with one.
4) One part of the body cannot look down on another part, because of their position (pride)
a. We need to keep our eye on pride
b. I’ve heard of a pastor… who started out as a humble man
i. Then over time… pride over took him
1. Insisted people call him bishop
2. Said if anyone questioned him they were heretics
3. Refused to listen to anyone’s advice
4. A large group of members tried to approach him in accordance to Matthew 18
a. He ignored them
5. They left en mass
a. I believe he’s trying to sell this once thriving church
i. Still swearing up and down it was everyone else’s fault
ii. This is a perfect example of the eye saying it didn’t need the hand.
1. We as members of the church are all dependent on each other.
iii. Not to just beat up on just pastors
1. There are no freelance Christians.
a. We know of Christians who bounce from church to church.
b. They never put down roots in a church, never get too comfortable with one particular church.
c. They develop some relationships, but never help out with ministries
d. Then they leave, and move on.
e. They treat the church like a building
5) The value of one body part over the other is never obvious
a. You can lose an arm or a leg
i. Even an eye or a ear
ii. And it’ll hurt and you will miss it, but you will survive
b. But it’s the organs you don’t see that are the most important.
i. Try losing a heart
1. I don’t think you’d last that long without one of those
ii. Or stomach
iii. It’s the parts inside that truly matter
c. John MacArthur says that the most surprised Christians will be before the Bemas seat
i. (2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)
1. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
ii. It’s there we may see a lot of Christians, who worked behind the scenes,
1. People who may not have been in the most public of jobs
a. Maybe they were the ones who setup tables before a church dinner
b. Or they washed all the dishes when they were done.
c. Perhaps they sheet rocked a hole in the wall
d. receive rewards for all they’ve done and a lot who are expecting who won’t get diddly
2. Because if you’ve been rewarded on this earth for the things they’ve done on earth… you won’t get any reward in Heaven
d. We need to keep our eyes on the mission God has given us.
i. NOT others
ii. I think Henry Ford said:
1. Obstacles are those pesky things which get in our way when we take our eyes off the goal
6) Everything that a church does or is done to… is done to each of it’s members.
a. If one of you is hurt… all of you are
i. That’s why church splits are so painful
b. If someone says something nice about this church its said about all of you, NOT just those in public office
c. Going back to the analogy of the body
d. If your right hand has a splinter…
i. It hurts doesn’t it? A LOT… for such an amazing small thing a splinter is so painful
ii. But is it possible for the right hand to take the splinter out of itself?
1. No the other hand needs to help
2. It’s the same way when we have spiritual splinters in our lives
a. No ministry is the whole body
i. All ministries are made up of different members of the Body
ii. And all the members of the Body work in unison
b. As Christians today we tend to shoot our wounded,
i. NOT come along side them
Phil Keaggy wrote a song about this very fact when a fellow Christian performer… was caught having an affair on his wife.
ii. He wrote about it. For a believer that so many lookup up… the lyrics offer a very stark vision of our shooting our wounded
I heard the news today
That another soldier tumbled,
A fragile warrior slipped and fell from grace.
The vultures swooped to tear his heart
And pin him to the ground,
And from the shadows someone took his place.
Today we talk amongst ourselves,
We never bought his words.
We say we've seen the madness in his eyes.
Tomorrow he's forgotten as
We've scrubbed him from our hearts,
And as he bleeds we slowly turn our eyes.
But it could've been me,
I could've been the one to lose my grip and fall.
It could've been me,
The one who's always standing tall.
For unless you hold me tightly, Lord,
And I can hold on too,
Then tomorrow in the news
It could be me, it could be me.
iii. We look at them as failures, when ministry leaders struggle.
iv. We don’t get in the trenches along side of them
1. We don’t offer to help in any way.
v. Sometimes leadership calls coming alongside a leader,
1. The taking over a ministry
2. And that should happen if a leader is recognizing the authority of the church’s leadership team
7) 1 Corinthians 12:25 (NKJV)
a. That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
b. Schism means division
i. Remember who designed this body
ii. We need to care and love one another
You know this whole passage is about both unity and diversity. How can something be different yet the same? When it’s different but part of a bigger thing.
Things we should take away from this
1) We are all part of the body of Christ
2) Each of us has a role to play, and a gift we were given
a. BOTH of which has come from God
b. There are No less gifts and there are no more gifts
c. They are gifts we are all supposed to used, not to bring glory to us, but to God
3) There’s a balance which needs to be looked carefully after
a. If there’s too much unity it becomes uniformity
i. Where we all march in lockstep on every issue with one another
1. We all become an eye, or ear
ii. We cannot stifle, creativity and new ideas
1. Story of a women who always cut her roasts in half
a. Remember don’t get locked into doing things the same they’ve always were done
i. By someone who is no longer around
2. Now I’m NOT saying if someone comes and starts preaching Jesus lite
a. You shouldn’t stand up and give them the boot
i. So whose the foot in this congregation <G>
b. I am saying though if a ministry head comes to the leadership team, with a good idea, that’s well thought out and fits into the goals that have been set for that ministry.
i. The team should let the leaders lead
b. Now if you swing the other way on the balance, are only diversity
i. That will destroy a church
1. It’s called anarchy, and it’s not good
ii. The church has a leadership(or transition) team for a reason
1. Their job is help maintain that balance
iii. One of the first hot spots where over diversification like this happens is youth groups
1. Youth today are taught that they’re supposed to be rebellious
a. But that’s not how it should be
2. And who do we normally put in charge of youth programs
a. Young couples (new Christians)
i. Who are looking at number of kids as a goal
1. Remember numbers shouldn’t matter
ii. Who want to be hip and popular
iii. This is always a dangerous combination
3. And because of these two things
a. Youth groups tend to rebel against the authority of the church
b. Illustration of guy who went to concert against the wishes of the church leadership team
4. Now I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t have youth programs
a. I am saying that as a church you cannot just let ministries run on auto-pilot.
b. I am saying You as a church need to be involved in the ministries of this church.
c. And never let the argument occur where someone says…
i. “You’re too old… you don’t understand the youth of today”
1. That’s usually the first indication that something is wrong.
2. Now I freely admit I don’t completely understand the youth of today
a. Does anyone???Really??, BUT
3. I understand what the Bible says
a. And that should be our always be our guide
4. So if what the youth leader are asking does not conflict with the Bible
a. Let your leaders lead
5. But if it’s a co-ed sleep over
a. That’s an easy one
b. We don’t want to throw our kids into temptation
ii. And be willing to speak your mind in love
c. Diversity leads to disunity when the members compete with one another;
i. but diversity leads to unity when the members care for one another.
1. How do the members care for each other?
a. By each one functioning according to God’s will and helping the other members to function.
b. Remember… If one member suffers, it affects every member.
i. If one member is healthy, it helps the others to be strong.
d. The key is balance, and balance comes with maturity
4) 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NKJV)
a. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
i. Paul reiterates that we are the body of Christ and members Individually
ii. The letter is to the Corinthians, but he’s talking to us as well
1. Remember the Bible is a Living, breathing document
5) 1 Corinthians 12:28–30 (NKJV)
a. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
b. Now some of you may say…
i. Wait a minute do you mean there’s a hierarchy in the church?
1. Ummm Yes
a. In this paragraph, Paul pointed out that there is a “priority list” for the gifts,
i. that some have more significance than others.
b. But this fact does not contradict the lesson already shared
i. that each gift is important and each individual believer is important.
c. Remember even in the human body,
i. there are some parts that we can do without,
ii. even though their absence might handicap us a little or a lot.
c. So what is this hierarchy?
i. The Apostles and prophets, of course, appeared first on the scene because they had a foundational ministry Ephesians 2:20–21 (NKJV)
1. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
ii. Teachers were needed to help establish believers in the faith.
iii. The other gifts were needed from time to time to help individual believers and to build the church.
6) 1 Corinthians 12:29–30 (NKJV)
a. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
i. The answer to all of these is NO
1. Again we don’t want any mind-controling eyes running our churches
7) In verse 31
a. But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
b. Best should be translated Greater
i. Paul wanted every believer to desire greater gifts
1. He believed prophecy was the greatest
a. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NKJV)
i. Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
2. The Corinthians believed tongues were
a. Notice where Paul put prophecy on his list
c. Warren Weirsbe said
i. Unity and diversity must be balanced by maturity, and that maturity comes with love. It is not enough to have the gift of the Spirit and gifts from the Spirit.
ii. We must also have the graces of the Spirit as we use our gifts to serve one another.
AW Tozier wrote:
The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it
I know this church as been through a lot this past year… there’s not one person here who hasn’t been touched by this past year… right?
You may be asking yourself… why God would allow this to happen
1) I have a couple of questions
a. Did this church follow God’s guidelines for a church body?
b. When trouble first appeared was it handled in a Biblical manner?
c. This is a hard sermon, and I have struggled with how to present this to you
i. Out of all my messages to you this was the hardest
Illustration 1 = Communist soldiers clearing out the non-believers
Now I believe God is still working here in Clermont, I believe that He has sifted this church, and removed those
Illustraton 2 = I wish I could take credit for this…. But… I read about a church that over the door leading out…put a sign that read:
The Church is now leaving the building!
And that is so true… this building is just that a building… but YOU are the church… remember that.
And as we learned today you were each placed here by God, with a purpose and a gift
I know some of you are hurting, your families have been torn a part
But unless God has given you new marching orders, your job is to continue with the last orders you were given.
I want to end tonight by reciting a song I recited on Wednesday night… it’s the theme song to the TV series Cheers
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go - where everybody knows your name
and they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see - our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
1) That’s how our church’s should be
i. Where everyone knows your name
ii. Where everyone is glad you came
iii. Where we can see our troubles and they’re all the same