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You are the body of Christ, Diversity in Unity - Part 1

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Acts 20:28-31
28
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore, be alert. ESV
 

·        Last week we emphasized the unity of the church in “who do you think you are?”  And we came away with the unifying statements that; ‘you are a chosen race’, ‘you are a royal priesthood’, ‘you are a holy nation’, and ‘you are a people for his own possession’.

·        Let me emphasize that even in this unity we still maintain our culture or way of doing everyday things.  But the significance of one culture compared to another has now taken a lower rung on the ladder of my priorities.

·        In other words my hero, the one I look up to and strive to be like has drastically changed.  My hero is now Jesus Christ who is my Lord and Savior

·        Today let’s build on this knowledge of ‘who you are’.  Knowledge that will enable you to avoid the deception that is evading the local church today.

·        Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12 and stand with me while we read verses 12-31


1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 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 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ESV

·        My topic today is “you are the body of Christ, diversity in unity”

·        You are, my brothers and sisters of New Hope, the body of Christ, diversity in unity

·        By ‘diversity’, I mean the state of being diverse (of a different kind, form, character); difference, unlikeness, variety, and multiformity

·        As an introduction, I would like to say that first and this is important, diversity within unity belongs to the character of God Himself.  This is presented and illustrated in the earlier verses of this chapter 12.  Listen to verses 4-11

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. ESV

·        There is but one God in three persons, in these verses we hear that Spirit, Lord, and God.  But this passage says there are varieties of gifts, services and activities.  And such diversity in God manifests itself by what verse 7 tells us; to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

·        Verses 8-11 give us illustrations of several of these. (Read this again)

8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

·        There are really just three points in our passage; the imagery and the application.  The application verses have two parts. Hopefully we can get through one point today and conclude next week, Lord willing.

·        Listen again to the imagery that Paul presents;


12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

·        The key verse is verse 14 teaching us and reminding us that even though the body is one, it does not consists of one member but many, thus arguing for the need for diversity, since they are in fact one body.

·        Verse 12 strike the note of diversity ‘for just as the body is one and has many members’ and the note of unity; ‘and the members of the body, though many are one body

·        The ‘for’ lets us know that verse 12 is intended to offer further explanation to the points of verses 4-11.

·        This imagery was common in the ancient world and Paul uses it first in this letter in chapter 10 verse 17

1 Corinthians 10:17
17
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. ESV

·        And again in chapter 11 verse 29


1 Corinthians 11:29
29
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. ESV

·        It is a blessing that we are hearing this on our ‘Lord Supper Sunday’

·        In the 10:17 passage, Paul’s point is that the many are one and that point we also make during the communion we who are many are one because we eat from the same loft in remembrance of the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

·        Here Paul argues from that point, teaching that the one (the body) is also the many (the members).  The one implies the unity but that does not mean uniformity.  And my brothers and sisters that is so evident in the image of the body.  For I don’t need to take an advance Biology class to know that the texture of my eye is not the same as the palm of my hand, my hair is not the same as my finger nails, and even my left hand is different from my right hand and this can go on and on.

·        The statement in verse 12, ‘so it is with Christ’ is a metonymy for the church and is a shortened form for ‘body of Christ’.  Look forward in this chapter to verse 27 and the first few words of 28; “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it, and God has appointed in the church.”

·        This is what God has done to us New Hope and He has done this in an amazing way by bring to diverse fellowship together as one.  Surely you can say amen when you hear that we are diverse within our fellowship and it is that diversity that makes us who we are.  Take our preaching and teaching, it is the same Word of God from his Holy Bible that Brad, Willie and I preach from but Brad don’t preach like Willie who don’t preach like me and I don’t preach like neither of them.  But know this my brothers and sisters, we are united.  There is diversity in our unity.

·        You use to say that God did this!  Well, know this, He is still doing this! 

·        Having a promotion to try to get new members is nonsense to me because God is doing this.  He, by His Spirit, brings some and He sends some.  Some will join and some will leave.  In all the sending and the leaving, God gets the glory

·        Verses 13 and 14 is an explanation and also an elaboration of verse 12;

·        Verse 13; “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

·        In Paul’s writings, it is about the Spirit listen to just a few of the Scripture passages that show this

1 Corinthians 2:10-14
10
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. ESV

Galatians 3:2-3
2
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? ESV


Romans 8:14-17
14
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ESV

·        In verse 13 the reference to the Spirit takes us back to what Paul writes in verses 4-11 how all the manifestation of gifts and our very conversion is by the Spirit.  Again I must recite the Psalm passage; “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves”

·        Notice again ethnicity and social status are eliminated, two basic distinctions then and now that separates people. 

·        And thus he can say we all were baptized into one body.  Brothers and Sisters again here is why I say that ethnicity and social status in the Lord just does not have the same significance as it does to the world

·        And now verse 14 even though we came by the one Holy Spirit and call the same Jesus our Lord and Savior and I pray that we begin to call Him also our hero.  We are not one member but many

·        Can we appreciate our diversity in our unity?  I don’t know about you but I thank God for our diversity.

·        Choir members who are soprano and altos and tenors; our music ministry

·        Older members who can testify and remind us that we too will understand it better by and by.

·        Sisters who love to cook, brothers who love to fish, members who love to read.

·        Workers who love working with the sisters, with the young men, with the young women, with the elderly and workers willing to work just let them know the time and the place

·        We got some serious brothers and sisters and we have some who are easy going

·        But to each of us is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good and all of us are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one of us individually as He wills.

·        To God is the glory for the things that He has done!

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