The Body’s Divinely Derived Gifts

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.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26, ESV

Sermon Outline

  1. Unity: one body (vv. 12–13)
  2. Diversity: many members (vv. 14–20)
  3. Equality of the members in the body (vv. 21–26)

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Take your Bibles and turn to Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. First Corinthians. Starting in verse one, reading to verse 26, though with the folks to this morning’s sermon bam, verses 12 to 26. But it’s been a while since we’ve been in Corinthians. So I’ll read that whole chapter. Word from First Corinthians starting at chapter 12, verse one, First Corinthians 12. One. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I did not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans? You were led astray to mute idols. However you were led. Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, Jesus is a cursed, and no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are various other varieties of gifts, but the same spirit and varieties of service but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities but the same God who empowers them, all in everyone, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 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 spirits and other gifts of healing, by the one spirit to another, the working of miracles, to another prophecy to another, the ability to distinguish between the spirits to another various kinds of tongues into another interpretation of tongues. And all these are empowered by the one and the same Spirit who portions to each one, individually as He wills. 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 bad. ties into one body, Jews or Greeks, slave 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’m not a hand and I belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the air should say, because I am not in I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. The whole body we’re in i, where would be the sense of hearing, if the whole body were in here, 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 I cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you know, again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you. On the contrary, parts of the body that seemed to be weaker are indispensable. And on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow, the greater honor in our unrepresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which are more presentable parts do not require. But God so composed the body giving greater honor, honor to the part that lacked it. 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. So for the reading God’s word, may he had his blessing to it now he will give you the extended time that we’ve been away from First Corinthians. Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of what’s going on in the passage we are re entering this morning First Corinthians 12, verses 12 to 26. That’s the passage that’s before us. Apostle Paul, what’s going on? He was answering a question that the Corinthians have asked him in a previous letter. The answer that Paul gives goes from chapter 12 verse one all the way to the end of chapter 14. And the question they asked had to do with the practice of speaking in tongues. And Paul specifically speaks of this, in speaking in tongues to chapter 14. And in chapter 12, he begins to lay the groundwork to answer this question by telling them that the foundation of understanding the gifts of the Spirit more broadly speaking, right there where the cameras Mata Paul says that we can understand spiritual things. And once we first confess that Jesus is Lord of all that he is the Son of God come in the flesh that he died for the sins of his people. It was raised for the justification. Jesus is Lord is the foundation for understanding Of course we know from the rest of our Bibles that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus Christ. And so Jesus is Lord Paul is saying, as he lays the groundwork is the foundation for understanding and we see the fruit and the first part of this chapter that I read verses one to 11 that this is a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that Jesus is Lord. The Lord Jesus humbled himself in the father exalted Him and installed him at his right hand, as what as Lord of all. Remember that rich and glorious declaration that we read from Philippians chapter two. We’re speaking of Jesus, it says he humbled himself by becoming obedience to the point of death, even death on the cross. And therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed upon him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee, should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And this makes sense, right? Because of the centrality to the Christian faith of the Lordship of Jesus. It’s no surprise that we read elsewhere that salvation comes when people confess, Jesus as Lord. We look in the past at Romans chapter 10, where it says this in verse nine, it says, because if you confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You will be saved. pagans were driven and seduced by false gods but Christians confess that Jesus is Lord. We know as well about this confession that it is not derived from the self right last week we talked about Salvation being extra knows right outside of ourselves. And indeed, this confession comes as well from outside of ourselves. The confession is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual, all the gifts manifested by believers flow from Jesus, His Lordship and his sovereignty. Praise God that it does. And they had a problem as Paul is addressing them and unfolding correcting them and instructing them. The Corinthians were thinking pagan Lee, dividing the body, creating a pecking order, right, a hierarchy, and they were looking down on some in the body as inferior because of the gifting they had or did not have. And those were certain gifts. Those were the top tier of the congregation. And the Corinthians needed to realize just as we in our day, even we in this church need to understand that Christ unites our differences, our diversity And uniting us together in himself as one body. The world likes to pretend that it can achieve peace through fabricated and forced diversity. And it’s apparent that this does not work. Right? It isn’t any more authentic or genuine or helpful, or any it’s not those things more than any other times when societies who tried to have peace through force unity the world can’t see beyond this world. Because according to its worldview, this world is all that they’ve got. And all along it has only the Christian is only the worldview of Scripture that can make sense of unity in diversity and diversity in unity. It’s an ancient problem, really. But if you have studied philosophy, it’s an ancient problem. The quest to find the answer the problem of the money and the one we’re not going to go any further to heavy philosophy. than that, it’s enough to simply see what the Word says. We see in this passage, that because we have true unity based on our common faith in Christ Jesus, we can have peace and service to one another with our diverse gifts. Paul talks about these things. You’ll you’ll recall, way back in October, when we looked at the first point, here, Paul talks about the same talks about the unity, right, the one body of Christ, there was one body. And secondly, talks about the diversity of that one body within many members in that one body, many diverse, different members. We see that in verses 14 to 20. And then he also talks about the equality of the members of the body. I think they’re not better than one, no one is better than the other. This is a problem. This hierarchy this looking down and assessing and describing value in status based on what your gift was. says we are truly united in our common faith in Christ and united to Christ. Because that we can, with all of our differences and all of our diverse callings and giftings we can live in peace ever tasting, right, that beginning of that here in this foreign land even now. So let’s look first briefly again, to reorient ourselves at the Unity the Paul talks about there’s one body of Christ, verses 12 and 13. And again, just briefly to summarize what we saw last time when we were in First Corinthians 12. In verse 12, Paul starts discussing the church, Christ spiritual body, and that one body is made up of many members. Right, verse 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. He says. It doesn’t take long when you have any kind of physical problems, to realize that And be amazed. Right? We talked about this last time be amazed at all the different parts, right? The members of our of the human body, and all the different things that they do. We don’t use the term members. So often. Now it seems kind of strange to us to use members. We don’t talk about that. But members simply means the parts of our body. And we still do have the vestiges of some of this when we hear the word dismember. Right right to dismember someone, we know that that means to remove their limbs or the parts of their body, from the person or the animal I dis member to remove the members or the parts. And I mentioned last time that we still don’t know what all of the parts of the body do right? their function is still great their beloved mystery in medicine, and having recently gone through intimate contact with many, many doctors. I’m convinced sometimes sometimes doctors just make things up and hope that we’re not listening The things that they do, they just throw things out there. But I will confess my extreme gratitude to the Lord, for allowing the advances that we have had in medicine and science. They’ve given us a great deal of comfort and relief from anything’s. There’s a vast multitude of functions of the parts that make up the body. But there is a basic unity that goes beyond all the differences. And Paul says, notice at the end of verse 12, and so it is with Christ. Right, we might expect verse 12, to end. And so it is with the church is to say that, he says, so what is with Christ, and that tells us that this body that the body of Christ is no ordinary body. The members of this body belong to Jesus, and they manifest Christ to the world. And in this letter, Paul emphasizes, his emphasis is in the union that the believer has with Christ is Lord Recall way back when we were in First Corinthians, chapter one, verse 30 speaks of this right and because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Everyone who is a true believer is in Christ is united to Jesus, just as all believers are in dwelt with the Holy Spirit. And so that’s it right? Many different, all kinds of people united into one body, as God sees fit the Church of Jesus Christ unity in diversity. And then in verse 13, we read about read about the way that we are incorporated into Christ visible body, the visible expression of that body in the local church, and that’s done through baptism by the sign of the family of God. Notice and further verse 13. talks about baptism as it relates to the unity of the body of Christ and to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling I verse 13, for in one spirit, we were all baptized into one body. Jews are Greek, slave or free, and all were made to drink of one spirits. Remember, baptism was one of the things causing great division in the Corinthian church. Paul tells them, that it’s baptism that integrates that incorporates people into the visible Body of Christ. Baptism, you recall is the initiatory right? It is the sacrament of incorporation and of unity. And what is the point of the unity and diversity? Well, it’s another reason why the Corinthians were doing what they were doing didn’t make sense. It was so wrong. Remember, they were using gifts, particularly the sign gifts, that they highly esteemed as a way to exalt people. Who’s with those particular gifts over those with seemingly lesser gifts. But the problem with that is that the gifts Paul is emphasizing were not for the individual they were for the common good of the body, and for the glory of Christ. So to see them as ways to divide the body, which is what they were doing into factions was to miss the whole point of what it was. They use for the common good for the glory of Christ. And if you are one that confesses Jesus to be your Lord, You are part of Christ’s body. And that body of which you are a part is visibly made clear in the local church. In this body of diversity gift, the people, Paul says they all drink of one spirit. And this is the same Spirit who builds the body of Christ, the church who creates faith in the hearts of individuals and unites us to Jesus. And it’s a union. You’ll see it. See you As we look at all these things, it’s a union that cannot be broken. Right? It’s a union that cannot be broken. Isn’t that an encouraging truth brothers and sisters? Right The Union we have a Jesus is unbreakable. What a precious promise of God in times of desperation and depression and the sweeping struggling all of our lives. The same spirit builds the church, creates faith in your heart, unites us to Jesus will maintain that union will never be broken. And all of the stuff of our lives, what comfort and joy to know that you belong to Jesus, and if you do so, he will never sever he will never dismember you from him, ever. That is a glorious promise for all of those united to him. And though this is the case, there can be damage to the union of the body by the misbehavior of its members. This is what Paul was dealing with in the problems with the divisions and the fact that And the party loyalties that were going on. Right? Remember, it was a personality driven church. And the cure for some of this wrong pagan thinking was a reminder of the purpose of the Spirit given gifts, and the Unity they all share due to their union with Jesus, and their common faith. These things are very important to God brothers and sisters, reconciliation is very important to God. The health of his church is very important to him. And it needs also to be for us, their Christian needs to be for us as well. And so we see the Union, the one body of Christ and next we see Paul discussing the diversity, right, the many members of that one body and verses 14 to 20. Paul says in verse 14, for the body does not consist of one member, but of many. So there is one body that we enter, but that one body is made up of many different diverse members. Every member Christ body is needed. It is needed it is in need of needed and is in need need of the other members of that body. And Paul is making the point that individual members cannot exist by themselves. That is an oddity and scriptural thinking. Right in the same way that no single individual Christian is the church, no individual member of the body constitutes all that the body is. Paul goes on discussing the body of Christ in terms of the human body, by way of analogy, and he uses this analogy to talk about the relationship of the unity and diversity in the church. Every single member of the body of Christ is equally important and essential to the health of the whole. Members of the body can’t just declare themselves independence from all others. They can’t exist on their own in health apart from the body. parts of the body that have been dismembered what happens to those departs they’re dead. Right? Think of the human body. If a leg is removed from the body, what happens to that leg? It doesn’t go on living on its own it dies. And what about the body? Is it affected at the loss of a limb? You better believe it is. It’s no longer hold. It’s limited. It’s incomplete. it suffers. And the passage continues verse 15, and 16. This is the foot should say, because I’m not a hand, I did not belong to the body. That would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the air should say because I’m not an I don’t belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. The issue is that the Corinthians there at that church clearly left some people who had what were being considered lesser gifts, right they consider them lesser inferior, unimportant. That was the result of seeing the spiritual gifts through the lenses of paganism, right? They were still had the lenses, the vestiges of what they were called that from the culture that they were, indeed living in. And Paul is trying to show them something. You’re trying to show them that the gifts weren’t badges of honor or esteem to pump up the individual. The guests were given for service and for Christ glory. And so Paul’s chastising them. These individuals who saw the gifts from a pagan perspective, and he is encouraging those who had a footlight gift, right or gifts that were seemingly unimportant or lesser, lesser esteem and significance. And every church knows this to be true. Some gifts go unnoticed, but they are not unimportant, right. They’re not less important. I think it was just by way of analogy, our church right there’s the signup sheet for cleaning the church and for mowing the lawn. Right right when that doesn’t happen. The longest, longest pretty, pretty gnarly, you could have a, you know, corn maze type thing and there gets so long and grow so fast. But those are great acts of service, the great acts of service, by the way, for young people, for children to contribute, to test their gifts and four children have a sense of contribution to their church and a sense of service to the body of Christ. Even he even here and they are noble ways to serve. We have to be careful to maintain right attitudes about all of these things. Paul is warning us he’s showing us he’s trying to try and correct something that is going on there that they didn’t remain, maintain right attitudes. They were thinking like pagans. If someone isn’t content and serving, unless he is lauded or praised, he or she is praised or given the title. That’s a sign of a heart problem. They’re discontented until they acknowledged. Right you understand the scenario. One man agrees to do whatever you can remain invisible, contented the body profited or served is served by his help. Another man looks for ways to be given a title or public credit for his helping out, he’s discontented, until he’s recognized. The first man gets it. Right, he sees that it’s not all about him, but about Jesus and serving the body of Christ, the second that needs help with his heart to heart problem. His focus is wrong, his motivation is wrong, His goal is wrong. And our place in the body of Christ is not a matter of personal pride or status. Rather, it’s a matter of God’s design and his sovereignty. I listen to what he says in verse 17, and 18. If the whole body when I wear would be the sense of hearing, and the whole body wear an ear wherever the sense of smell, but as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. Do you trust God? Your people with his gifting according to his desire and his desire, he gives gifts and he calls as he sees fit. It is for us to trust him in that, to trust our Lord, to give gifts for the health of the whole body, whom he loves, loves, as he chooses. And he goes on in verse 19, and it kind of closes the book ends or the kayaks. And then he began in verse 12. He raises the same themes. He says, if all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts yet one body, right and so you hear again, the themes of unity and diversity of the body. There was 21 Paul shifts from the under under spectacular gifts to those who were more public and openly seen gifts. Right and he makes this important thing as he transitions Verses 21 the 26 and he speaks of the equality of the members. They’re not different tiers or hierarchies in the body and the gift and he says he, I cannot say to the hand I have no need of you, or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you feet. God is the sovereign gift giver was always remember that the gifts are not for the purpose of status were for the purpose of service. We can ever look down on those with seemingly lesser gifts, seemingly lesser gifts. We all need each other. We all need one another. There is a unity in diversity. And they are all equal. They’re all needed. They are all significant. Verse 22, he says On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. Paul says that the weaker members like feet and ears are equally important to the body is the head and the eyes. It’s interesting there that the word for weak, right? The weaker are indispensable. weaker is the word that means sick. It’s more, it’s more. There’s a different focus or emphasis. When you read in the Greek it means sick, the sick are indispensable to the body. Right? They are indispensable. And then in verses 23 and 24, for Paul points us to see how we consider our own bodies. Many people give lots of attention, lots of attention to how they closed their feet. Right? They’re impressive shoes. I remember as a young boy hearing of Imelda Marcos, right, right was was well known for having hundreds of shoes. In the Philippines, this is what she was known for kind of strange. And we stress the importance of being modest or covering up ourselves, but the presentable parts or bodies aren’t treated special if at all. Lord has taken all of these parts and brought them together into one body. And they work together in a way that all are to be honored as they glorify Christ and serve one another for their health and their stability. And we read why this is the case in the next verses, the last two verses 25 and 26. Where it says that there are many, 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. And if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Part of the point of what Paul is saying, and these emphasizing is to draw attention to how serious division in the body is, right? And to take the analogy of the human body even further. We’ve all seen probably those who have been obsessed and neurotic about their own bodies, and that slippery slope of plastic surgery, right it wreaks havoc on the body and destroys the body. All the various and diverse parts are equal, or two equally care for one another. If one suffers, it says, all suffer, if one part is honored, all rejoice together. What a glorious thing that we don’t suffer alone, and that we don’t rejoice alone. We’ve all experienced this very thing. Right in this church in the last couple years we have had many, many children be born and we rejoice together with those families that are blessed with a new covenant child. When one falls ill. We are all impacted, right? We’re all impacted as the body of Christ. And when one is honored, we rejoice together, we rejoice with them. In all this these considerations, we can see that it is never appropriate for the members of the body to cause divisions or faction. pitting one against the other is never appropriate. It is simply this the gifts of the Spirit for the building up the body to for the common good of the body of Christ and for the glory of God. If we keep that in mind, Paul is telling us here that will do a lot by way of correcting some of the bad behavior particularly that he saw in this church in Corinth. Brothers and sisters, we in the body of Christ, are different in many ways from one another, we’re very different. But the faith that we confess is in the same Jesus Christ. Many different people confessing the same thing Jesus is Lord and united together, we are members of his body, the body of Christ. And so we’re not identified as as so much the case and today’s politics, right identity politics, by the way we look. We’re not identified by the way we dress or by economics or at ethnic backgrounds are standing in society, or social status. None of none of this were densified by what identifies us as one in the body of Christ. That is our common confession that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. And we become one body when we were baptized into our Lord’s death, and resurrection, and it’s only in Christ. There’s true unity. And praise God, that unity we have anticipates. And it reflects that glorious day after our Lord returns when all sin is eradicated, and we become the Spotless Bride of Christ. What a glorious thing to meditate upon this Lord’s day. And it is then that we will have not a false or forced or fabricated unity. That indeed is just temporary, but true unity, born by the work of the Holy Spirit, and we experienced that we begin to do that even here now in the Church of Christ is that the True of you, dear people, as you have been purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Is that true if you make that confession, right, bend your knee. Jesus is Lord. And if you have been bought by that which is not perishable, like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of our great God and Savior, our Redeemer Jesus, that is you may you delight and rejoice in your Prophet, priest and King. delight and rejoice and give praise when you render him all praise and honor. Maybe new newly be overwhelmed by these trues with the love that was shown to you by plucking you out of a fire, saving you from the punishment of your sins by being punished for you and your place. What a wonderful Savior we have. What a blessing to be servants of the king, indeed to be children of our Heavenly Father. Glorious and D let us get praise rather than sisters and thanks that we are members of the body of Christ chosen, gifted by God and commissioned to serve the body and bring him glory. That is due his name. Amen. Let’s pray together. merciful God become again before you. Acknowledging You were the one who is pleased to condescend to speak to us through this your word. And to grant us all grace that we may not may not be mere heroes of your word, but doers also, you prayed your father that you would give us your Holy Spirit, that we may believe what has been promised to us. In this word, may we bring glory and honor to your name and all that we do. As you conform us to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. All of this gracious Father, we ask in his name, the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and King, amen.