1 Corinthians 12 – The Body of Christ
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want men live chatyou to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. (1Co 12:1-2)
Paul precedes his teaching on the proper way to use spiritual gifts with a reminder of where the Corinthians came from. Prior to Christ, they were an idolatrous and pagan people. Now that they are found in Christ, they must not take any of their old religious practices as being normative for Church practice.
Contrary to the pagan view of spiritual gifts, the Christian holds that we must rely upon God’s revelation to us in Scripture to set permissible and impermissible practices. We can’t allow our imaginations or desires get in the way of the will of God as revealed in His Word.
Check yourself today…see if you have any elements of your pre-Christian life still clinging to you. Do you expect to have an encounter with the God of the Bible in church, or do you expect to be entertained and have your ears tickled?
Right now take a moment and, in prayer, search out and deal with any extra-biblical influences that pollute your devotion to God. Make it your highest priority to glorify God in all that you do, with all purity.
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever cover page apa format example says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1Co 12:3)
Jesus Christ is the one who gave of Himself to the shedding of blood and taking on the Father’s fierce wrath on our behalf. And in spite of this, His name is used as a curse word. The name of Christ is trampled underfoot as it�������������������s used in place of other vulgarities. What an impious culture that would take the bleeding face of Christ as He hung on the cross and spit on it with contempt.
We see in our reading that the Corinthians cursed the name of Jesus prior to their conversion. But now, they confess that He is Lord! And we���������re told how this happened – by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Be in awe of the power of the Holy Spirit, that He could take a heart so calloused and cold as to curse its only Savior, and transform it into a lively heart of flesh…softened to the touch of the same Christ that it once cursed.
Find time today to praise God for His Spirit and the work that He continues to do in you. It���s not just that the Spirit regenerated us from our dead state into a living communion with God…He also continues sanctifying us as we remain in our pilgrimage on earth. He is not only the Spirit that we rely on for applying Christ’s redemptive work in our salvation, but also the Spirit that we rely on for applying all of Christ’s graces to our daily lives as we run our race of faith.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1Co 12:4-7)
This passage shows us that the Holy Spirit works in the Church through spiritual gifts, administrations, and operations. The important thing to consider here is that while there are great differences and distinctions in the Church, all are unified in that they write my assignment now are from God, they are given to all believers, and they serve the same purpose of profiting the Church as a whole. The Spirit works in each member of the Body of Christ for the benefit of that Body, which is made up of other believers. We have not come to a faith that calls us to live a life of independence from others, but rather a life that leads us to a greater dependence on others in the Body…dependent on them to nourish us just as they are dependent on us in the same way.
Consider those in your church who may be considered as less honorable than others. God is using them to strengthen the Church so we dare not despise or think less of them. Consider the words of Christ soberly…
… as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Mat 25:40)
Be careful how you treat those whom Christ has redeemed, for in as much as you deride them you do so to Christ Himself.
For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 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. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1Co 12:8-11)
This is an interesting passage because it speaks of both miraculous – which have ceased, and normative spiritual gifts – which still exist. Wisdom, knowledge, and faith are listed first, and are those gifts that the Spirit still gives to the Church. Healing, miracles, prophecy, spiritual discernment, and tongues are listed second, and are those gifts that the Spirit has seen fit to cease giving the Church upon completion of the Scripture.
It’s not that the miraculous gifts have no bearing on the Church today, but rather that they are no longer administered by individuals. In other words, prophecy still exists but prophets don’t. Rather than being found in an individual these gifts are found in Scripture and Jesus Christ, whom the Scriptures witness to.
Healing – no longer comes from a “healer,” but comes from God as Christians and particularly the Elders pray for the sick…
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (Jas 5:13-15)
Prophecy – no longer comes from a “prophet,” but comes from Scripture as it is rightly preached and the testimony of Christ is put forth…
… the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10)
Tongues – no longer come by way of direct revelation from one to another, but rather is practiced by Bible translators who prepare the Word of God for people of different cultures with different languages.
The key to the text is in the multiplicity of gifts given by the same Spirit. The Spirit is one yet the gifts are diverse. The Church is one yet the members are diverse. Take time today to celebrate your diversity and the diversity of others in your local church. Praise God that He has given us such diversity that we would need each other as a body in order to serve Christ well.
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. 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. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 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. 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. 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? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 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.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 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, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1Co 12:12-26)
The focus in this passage is clearly the unity of the Church as the Body of Christ. Calling it a ���body” draws a wonderful picture of what the Church is to be like.
The body has a head, and the head of the Church is Christ Himself. When our head is Christ, how can we look at others in the body with disdain�����knowing that we serve the same head?
The body is comprised of different parts with different functions. All functions in a body are needed. If we didn’t have our unpresentable parts then we wouldn’t be able to excrete the waste from our body. This would, in turn, poison the other body parts that the body is made of…slowly killing the whole body. The body parts that excrete this waste may not be looked upon favorably, but they are most needed for the health of the whole.
There is no division in the body. If one part is injured, all other parts feel it. Consider that if we sprain our foot it becomes more difficult to walk to the dinner table and eat our food. Consider that if we break our arms it becomes more difficult to keep our body clean.
When there is division in the body there is trouble. The most serious division is to be severed from the head, Christ. When the head is severed from the body nothing can be done by any of its parts…
…apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:5)
Today consider that you are part of a larger body of believers, and this is to come under the headship of Christ. If you are neglecting the larger body of believers, you are also neglecting the head, Jesus Christ. If you find yourself thinking little of members who have a different function from you, remember that we wouldn’t be a body if we all served the same function, and that every member’s function is important for the health of the body as a whole.
We are part of a body of believers so that we can serve Christ, the head, and bring Him glory. Let’s put Christ as the head in our lives and we will most certainly be drawn into a deeper communion with the rest of the body. So let’s not disdain the Body of Christ or the other members in the body, but…
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:15-16)