"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." 1 Cor. 12:12
Have you ever wondered why God uses the human body as a picture of the local New Testament church?
Actually, when you study it out, you realize that God chose the perfect illustration. For example:
q A church body needs adequate nourishment if it is to survive and grow. The Apostle Paul told a group
of pastors: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers, to FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD, which he hath purchased with his own
blood" (Acts 20:28). Good nourishment comes from preaching the "meat" of God's word. "For every
one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But STRONG MEAT
belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised
to discern both good and evil." Heb. 5:13-14
q We know that when a well nourished human body gets a virus, it can normally produce antibodies that will make it more resistant to that same virus the next time it's encountered. In a similar way, persecution can strengthen a well nourished church, making it more resistant the next time it is persecuted. For example, when the church at Jerusalem suffered persecution, the result was a congregation that became more determined and united in its goal of carrying out the Great Commission.
In ACTS 4:29, after being threatened by Caiaphas, the high priest, the disciples prayed: "And now, Lord, BEHOLD THEIR THREATENINGS: and grant unto thy servants, that WITH ALL BOLDNESS they may speak thy word." Later on in ACTS 5:40-42 they were capable of sustaining more than mere threats. This time they were beaten for the faith: "and when they had called the apostles, and BEATEN THEM, THEY COMMANDED THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SPEAK IN THE NAME OF JESUS, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, THEY CEASED NOT TO TEACH AND PREACH JESUS CHRIST."
q Another way the human body pictures a local church body is when it comes to glorification. For example, let's imagine you are watching the Bulls playing against the Knicks (I say imagine because I know that none of you ever watch T.V. since you're so busy reading your Bible). Now, let's say Michael Jordan makes one of his incredible slamdunks. How would you react if the sportscaster began praising Michael's hands and feet? Would you think it strange? After all, without his feet to propel him and his hands to handle the ball, he would not have made the shot. Yet, in spite of all the coordinated body parts it took to get that ball in the hoop, it is Michael Jordan, the body, that gets the praise. Likewise, in spite of our individual efforts as members of the church, it is Christ, the body, who gets the glory.
And so it should be, as expressed by EPH. 3:21: "UNTO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH BY CHRIST JESUS throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
We can find more examples if we focus our attention on the members themselves. But first of all, if you are saved through repentance and faith and [after salvation] have been baptized into a given church body, you should realize that it was solely due to God's intervention. The Bible says so. Look at 1 COR. 12:18: "But now hath GOD SET THE MEMBERS every one of them in the body, AS IT HATH PLEASED HIM." Amazing, when you think back to how God intervened in your life by drawing you to where you could hear His word, get saved, and [after salvation] be placed within a church body. There you could carry out a specific task using a talent that God gave you in the first place. (We'll talk more about this God-given talent later). The Bible says, "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." 1 COR. 12:13. Your placement within the church body serves a necessary function, which brings us to our next example:
q When it comes to the human body, all its functions are necessary. And you know from experience that if one body part is not functioning as it should, the whole body suffers. This applies to any part, no matter how small. If you don't believe me, go stub a toe and see how the rest of your day goes. The same applies to a church body. Every member has a special function. No one is excluded, no matter how untalented or incapable you may feel you are. In fact, 1 COR. 12:22 says: "Nay, much more those members of the body, WHICH SEEM TO BE MORE FEEBLE, ARE NECESSARY."
q Speaking of stubbed toes, we know from experience that when one member of our body hurts, the other members will tend to pick up the slack accordingly. As in the case of the good foot being favored over the one with the stubbed toe. Likewise, in the church body, the members are to help one another as personal problems arise. Paul said in 1 COR. 12:25-26: "..the members should have the same care ONE FOR ANOTHER. And whether ONE MEMBER SUFFER, ALL THE MEMBERS SUFFER WITH IT; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
q We also know, from looking at the human body, that one function alone (no matter how sophisticated) is not enough to carry out all the things that a body is supposed to do. That's why Paul says in 1 COR. 12:14: "For THE BODY IS NOT ONE MEMBER, BUT MANY." He goes on to say in 1 COR. 12:17: "IF THE WHOLE BODY WERE AN EYE, WHERE WERE THE HEARING? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" If you've been around a New Testament church long enough, you know the same is true concerning the various members and the ministries they run. If the whole church was just a bus ministry, how could it print Bibles for missionaries? If it were just a printing ministry, how could it run a youth program and reach the teenage population for Christ?
q We begin to see more and more why God chose a human body to picture a local church. But the similarities don't end there. When rebellion takes place within the human body, doctors call it cancer. And in the same way that cancer can eat away at the body, rebellion of any kind among the members can eat away at the church and its mission: the salvation of lost souls. We know that removal of the cancerous part is sometimes the only remedy. Likewise, removal of a rebellious member is sometimes the only way to keep the church body alive and well.
When Paul heard of the fornication that was taking place at the church at Corinth, he rebuked them and said: "And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed MIGHT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM AMONG YOU" (1 Cor. 5:2). He pointed out that a little rebellion within the body can grow and eventually spread throughout the whole church. He said: "Know ye not that A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENETH THE WHOLE LUMP? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened" (1 Cor. 5:6-7). God Himself will many times perform the removal so that, according to 1 COR. 12:25, "...THERE SHOULD BE NO SCHISM IN THE BODY; but that the members should have the same care one for another." A classic example that comes to mind is that of Ananias and Sapphira, who have the distinction of being the first recorded church members to be removed by God Himself when He killed them! (Acts 5:11)
Now let's talk about you and how you fit into all this.
We've already mentioned God-given talents. We all have them. They don't always come in the form of musical ability or artistic talent or anything along those lines. In fact, many talents have to do with social interaction. For example, Barnabas was known for his gift of exhortation. He had a God given talent for building people up. He was an encouragement to others. In the Bible he's not known for his preaching abilities, but we do see him encouraging Paul, who as you know, went on to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time. No doubt Barnabas, through God's grace, played a role in making that possible.
Your talent is important because, just as the parts that make up the human body all have a special
ability, so it is with the church and its members. Paul makes reference to this when he says in
1 COR. 12:4-7: "Now THERE ARE DIVERSITIES OF GIFTS, but the same Spirit. And there are
differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are DIVERSITIES OF OPERATIONS,
but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is GIVEN TO
EVERY MAN TO PROFIT WITHAL." Remember, the same Spirit that placed you into the church body
has given you a specific task in accordance with a God-given gift. We see this made reference to in
ROM. 12:4-8: "For as we have many members in one body, and ALL MEMBERS HAVE NOT THE
SAME OFFICE: So we, being many, are ONE BODY in Christ, and every one members one of
another. HAVING THEN GIFTS DIFFERING ACCORDING TO THE GRACE THAT IS GIVEN TO US,
whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait
on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he
that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy,
Your gift could very well be a talent that you had before you got saved (which was God-given in the
first place). I sometimes wonder if someone like Barbara Streisand will have to answer to God for not
using her beautiful God-given voice to glorify Christ. Or think of the great orators of the world who
could have used their God-given talent to preach and save souls instead of using it for the devil. On the
other hand, I think of an Alan Ives who, before he got saved, played in a semi-famous rock band but now
uses his musical ability to glorify Christ. Or, how about a Dr. Michael Hays who could have easily made
a great secular psychologist, but instead, uses his God given gift to bless countless others as a Biblical
counselor. And let's not forget that these two men are working through and out of a local church body.
Prior to his salvation, Paul was knowledgeable in the Scriptures, a possessor of several languages, and a
Roman citizen to boot. When God saved him, he became the perfect vehicle to evangelize the known world
while a member of the church of Antioch.
As you hear these examples, ask yourself: what is my God-given gift? And should I be using it to give
my local church body the ear it lacks. Or perhaps I'm supposed to be an eye or a hand or a foot. No part
is too small, all parts are needed. Paul says in 1 COR. 12:19-24: "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:"
In ending, the following list of church "body parts" is provided to help you determine what role
God would have you fill. Please read through it, and in prayer, ask God to show you where you belong.
And remember: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." 1 Cor. 12:27
The HANDS of a church provide: church maintenance, food preparation, writing, printing, a pat
on the back to encourage others.
The MOUTH provides: Sunday school lessons, youth ministry, choir, musical specials, song leading,
The FEET of a church provide: visitation, bus ministry, ushering, rides to church.
The EARS of a church make up: the audio tape ministry, the radio ministry.
The EYES of a church look: for any other needs that come up.
If you died today, are you 100% sure you
would go to Heaven? The Bible says you can!
"These things have I written...that ye may
know that ye have eternal life," I John 5:13.
A. You must realize where you stand with God.
1. Your sins separate you and God. "your iniquities
have separated between you and your God,"
2. That includes everyone. "For all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God;" Rom. 3:23.
B. You must realize that Heaven can't be earned.
1. Not by doing enough good things. "Not by
works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us..."
2. Not by being baptized, joining a church, or
obeying the Ten Commandments. "For by
grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."
C. You must be willing to change your direction.
"the wages of sin is death;" Romans 6:23.
1. Self righteousness will cause you to miss Heaven.
Rom. 10:2-3; Luke 13:2; Matt. 5:20; Rom. 3:28
2. Faith in yourself, your baptism, your church will
cause you to miss Heaven. John 1:12; John 3:3
3. You must repent. "Repent ye therefore, and be
converted," Acts 3:19. "The Lord is...not
willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance." II Pet. 3:9
* Repentance means to change your mind about sin.
D. You must receive Jesus Christ by faith as your
personal Saviour. "being justified by faith,"
Eternal life was paid for with the shed blood
of Christ. Accept it as a free gift. "For
whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
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