Intro: The church at Corinth was a carnal church. They were plagued with divisions, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. They had never matured as believers and were still like babies in Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. They tolerated immorality in their midst, 1 Corinthians 5:1-2.
Yet, this was still a spiritual congregation, 1 Corinthians 1:7. It seems that this carnal group exhibited most, if not all, of the spiritual gifts. You see, it isn’t just the “super saint” that possesses spiritual gifts, but every believer has at least one spiritual gift and probably more than one, 1 Peter 4:10;1 Corinthians 12:7.
The problem at Corinth was not that they didn’t possess gifts, it was that they wanted gifts that they had not been assigned by God. When God gifts the Christian, He does so in His own Sovereign will,1 Corinthians 12:11;18. So, the people at Corinth were stepping outside the boundaries laid down by the Lord and were trying to practice gifts they had not received. As a result, there was chaos and confusion in the church.
(Ill. It is interesting to note here that the gifts they sought out were the flashy gifts. They were reaching out for the gifts that called attention to self and ignoring those which brought the most honor and glory to God. It would seem that the believers at Corinth thought that every Christian should possess the gift of tongues., since this is the one Paul spent the most time discussing. However, they were not seeking for those gifts which honored God or which ministered to others (i.e. ministry, helps, exhortation, giving, mercy, etc.).
We see the same thing in our day. We are told that if we want to truly enjoy the Lord then we must “be baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.” These people choose the most flashy of the gifts and attach great significance to it, when God says that this particular gift builds up self and not the church, 1 Corinthians 14:4;12:7. It is also worthy of noting that the Scriptures make it crystal clear that not every believer will have the same spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:29-30.
In this series of rhetorical questions, Paul teaches us that we do not all have the same gifts. Therefore, to make tongues, or any one gift, the proof of the Spirit’s presence in a life is to add to Scripture and to teach false doctrine. It does nothing but bring confusion and division into the church, and neither of these things are of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:33.
Besides all this, what is being practiced today is not the New Testament gift of tongues! It is emotionalism, and it is self-serving!) With that in mind, Paul speaks to this situation in 1 Corinthians 12:31. He tells them that they are guilty of “coveting” more than they were given, but that he is writing to show them a better way.
This brings me to the thought that I want to convey to you this morning. Every believer in this room has been gifted by God for service. And, in this passage, as it unfolds, we are going to see that, while we differ in our gifts, abilities and our position in the body of Christ, we are nonetheless vital and important in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12 makes it crystal clear that we are distinct in our functions, but we are still one body. The church, not the building, but the redeemed of God, is an organism made of up many millions and billions of parts, yet it is still a cohesive unit, functioning as one.
This morning, lets take a few minutes to look into this passage and see just what it is that the Lord wants to teach us about being the body of Christ. I would like to preach for a while on the subject Your Place In The Body Of Christ.
As I do, I hope you will see that even though you are not like someone else, and even though you may not possess the gifts you want, you are still important to the proper functioning of Christ’s body in the world. Let’s find your place in the body of Christ.
I. 1 Corinthians 12:13 YOUR PLACEMENT IN THE BODY
(Ill. Just how does one go about getting into the body of Christ?)
A. It Is Passive – We are told that we should “seek the baptism of the Spirit.” We are told that if we seel it and meet all the conditions and do our part then perhaps God will grace us with a second blessing and give us the Holy Ghost. This is false doctrine!
At the very moment of conversion, we are given the Holy Spirit and we are placed into the Body of Christ. It isn’t something we seek, nor is it based on what we do, it is the Sovereign act of Almighty God! (Ill. “Baptized” = to immerse in, to place into something.)
The baptism of the Spirit is a real event, it happens, however, at the instant of conversion and not at a later date! In fact, if the Charismatics are correct, then us Baptists are lost, because if you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not saved – Romans 8:9. They are wrong! Every child of God possess the Holy Spirit, in His entirety! We do not get more of Him as we go along, He simply gets control of more of our life. As a result, we grow and become more spiritual in our daily walk.
B. It Is Personal – Ill. “We are all.” This is something that takes place in the life of every believer. Every sinner who places is faith in Jesus Christ for salvation experiences this baptism of the Holy Ghost. This is the event that places you in the Body of Christ. The real concern is that every person be sure that he/she is truly saved. Have you in fact trusted Jesus as your personal Savior? Are you truly born again? That is a question that no one but you or God can answer!
C. It Is Permanent – Once a person has been “baptized” into the body of Christ, they are there to stay. The verb phrase, “are we all baptized”, is in the aorist tense. This speaks of a one time action that took place at some unspecified time in the past. In other words, when you receive Jesus as your Savior, there is a one time, for all time, action that places you into the body of Christ. When you get in the body of Christ, you do not get out!
I. Your Placement In The Body
II. 1 Corinthians 12:14-24 YOUR POSITION IN THE BODY
(Since every believer is placed into the body of Christ, it is important for us to know how we fit into this body. In this section, Paul calls attention to our position in the body of Christ.)
A. 1 Corinthians 12:14 Every Believer Is Part Of A Unit – (Ill. The Human Body or an Automobile – Every part is essential to the proper function of the whole, yet the body or the car is thought of as one.) This is true of the body of Christ as well. His body is formed of believers from all walks of life, all cultures, all stratum of society, and all levels of wealth. His body is made up of people who have nothing else in common, except the fact that they have received Jesus as their Savior.
(Ill. It would be safe to say that the Body of Christ is a unified diversity. When every believer fills his/her place, the place they were assigned by God, then the body functions as it should, God is glorified and the work of the Kingdom is carried out.)
(Ill. If you were to take a gas tank, a tire, a radiator hose and a steering wheel and lay them side by side, nothing would happen. They have absolutely nothing in common, except for the fact that they are part of a unit called a car. Yet, when that tank holds gas, that tire is mounted to a wheel and attached to the car, that hose carries water and that steering wheel is in it place, then the car can function as it should. The same is true of the body of Christ!)
(Ill. Every believer is part of a larger unit and has a function to perform. When we all do our part, unity and blessing are what follow.)
B. V. 15-20 Every Believer Is Placed By God – In these verses Paul uses some pretty comical reasoning. A foot, usually, doesn’t get the attention that a hand does, (i.e. handshakes and waving), neither does the ear get the attention afforded to the eye, (i.e. poems, songs, stares of love and longing, etc.).
But, just because these parts of the body do not get the attention they think they deserve, they have no right to try and divorce themselves from the rest of the body. If every part were an eye, the body would be useless for anything but seeing. If it were all a foot, it would be good for nothing but a doorstop.
What Paul is saying is that God has placed us in the body where He wants us to be. It may not be a high profile position, it may not be glamorous, it may bot even be what we want to do, but if it pleases the Lord, then it is the right place for us.
Therefore, no matter where you are functioning within the body of Christ remember that you were placed in that exact office by the will of God. To me, there is no greater knowledge that to know you are walking in the will of God. If I fulfil my place in the body, then I am doing just that. What I am saying is that we need to surrender to our place in Jesus, even if we would like to be something else.
You see, God knows us and He knows where we can best function. Therefore, when we submit to His will, He is glorified and His Kingdom is advanced in the world! That after all, should be a primary goal, 1 Corinthians 10:31.
C. 1 Corinthians12:21-24 Every Believer Plays An Important Role – Again, Paul tells us that every member is important to the proper function of the entire body. The eye cannot tell the hand that it doesn’t need it. If the eyes were disconnected from the hand, it would never be able to attain the object of its desire. The head cannot tell the feet to get lost, for without them, it has no method of locomotion. What Paul is saying is that every part of the body needs every other part to fully carry out the work of the body.
(Ill. Your human body. Who ever thinks of their liver? Not many of us ever give it a second thought, but take it away from your body and you will know it. Do you ever think about your toes? No, but without them, you would not be able to balance the rest of your body. What about your thumbs? Thank God we have them, or else we would be hampered every minute of our lives. Just think of the many parts of our bodies we take for granted. Yet, if any one of them was removed, the whole body would feel the loss.)
(Ill. Your automobile. When you sit down in you seat to go somewhere, do you ever take time to think about the distributor? The radiator cap? The hood latch? The lug nuts? The oil pan bolts? Probably not! However, they are all essential to the proper operation of the car. If any were to fail or come up missing, you would know it.)
(Ill. The whole point of this section is to teach us that every member, not matter how insignificant their office or gift may appear, is essential to the proper operation of the entire body. No one should ever be guilty of believer that he/she is unimportant to the operation of the body. No one should think that they are not needed. No one should ever say to or about another believer, “We don’t need you.” Every member is vital, every member is important. There are no big “I’s” and little “You’s.” There is only us and we all need each other to function as a body.)
(Ill. Preachers are arguably the most visible people in any congregation. When things go bad we get the blame, when things go good we get the credit. When people talk about any given church, they always talk about the preacher, whether he is good or bad. Now, some people are envious of this. They are jealous when someone brags on the preacher and give him credit for the success of the church.
However, we need to remember that while the glory goes to God for everything that is accomplished, from a human standpoint, no one accomplishes anything by themselves! When we consider the success of the church, it is the preacher that often gets the public recognition. But, for every preacher who got patted on the back for a job well done, there were dozens who were praying for the work and for the preacher and they are just as much a part of the success as the man who gets the recognition.
Therefore, whether you are a preacher, (the one being seen), or a knee, (the one praying that nobody see), always remember that you are vitally important to the Lord’s work. If it weren’t for those parts of the body no one sees, the parts we do see would never have any success. We are in this together and we must always remember that. Also remember that God keeps perfect records and He will balance the scales one day. There will be a lot of knees, ears, feet, etc, in the body of Christ that will receive many more rewards than many eyes, hands and so on.)
I. Your Placement In The Body
II. Your Position In The Body
III. V. 25-27 YOUR PURPOSE IN THE BODY
(Ill. If we all have differing functions and responsibilities, then what is our purpose in the body of Christ?)
A. 1 Corinthians 12:25a To Promote Unity – When every member does his/her part and submits to God in willingly doing what they are called to do, then the body of Christ will function in absolute peace and unity. In our day, there are too many feet who want to be hands and too many ears who want to be eyes.
When this happens, the body if fractured and chaos results! God’s plan for His church is that we be united – 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 1:27. When we are not in unity, the body of Christ suffers, 1 Corinthians 1:10. (Ill. Divisions = a butchers term meaning to divide into pieces. When we practice disunity in the body of Christ, we are in effect butchering the Lamb of God.)
(Ill. Imagine that one day you awakened to find that every part of you body had decided to try and be another part that day. You would be in a mess! It is only when each part functions in the place where God placed them that we can enjoy peace, unity and success in the work of the Lord!)
(Ill. I may not like my place, but I am called on to accept it and function in that place until Jesus comes for me. It is obvious from Scripture that we are not all alike, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30. Therefore, we should just try to be ourselves and grow where we are planted. Let us learn to function in the body in a manner that promotes unity and peace and success for the entire body.)
B. 1 Corinthians 12:25b-26 To Practice Mutual Care – Paul reminds us that we are a unit and as such we each have responsibilities to the other parts. When another believer is hurting, we need to respond to that need, Galatians 6:2.
(Ill. Your body. You may never take the time to think of your fingers. But, just slam the car door on them and watch how the whole body gets involved in responding to their crisis. The nerves will carry the message to the brain. The brain in turn sends a message to the feet which begin to hop around, to the eyes which water, to the mouth which hangs open in surprise, to the other hand which tries to find the door handle, etc.
When one of those less visible members gets into trouble, every thing else responds to the need. The appendix is another good example of a member that is not often thought about, but can get you whole body involved in its misery.)
(Ill. What I am saying is this, we are not just to respond to the needs of the high profile members. We are to practice mutual care that encompasses the entire body. What if the hands refused to give hygiene to the other members? The body would become diseased and have problems. So it is in church. Every member is called upon to look after the need of every other member, regardless of their place in the body of Christ.)
This is what Paul means when he tells us to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Rom. 12:15. We are not to seek a position that glorifies self, but we are to seek the good of the body of Christ and thereby glorify God, Philippians 2:4.
C. 1 Corinthians 12:27 To Participate Together In The Activity Of The Body – This carries the thought a little further. When a member hurts, it affects the entire body. When one is exalted, the entire body should be blessed by it. The idea is this. When everything functions as it should, the body operates efficiently and accomplishes much.
However, when parts do not function as they ought, then there are problems and nothing gets done as it should. Paul’s goal is to get the church to see that every member needs every other member to be in their place and doing the assigned function.
Together, we are a complete body, individually, we are a small, but vital component of a very important organism, the body of Christ!
Conclusion: You may not possess the giftedness or the position occupied by another. You may not even know what your gifts are. Let me encourage you today to come before the Lord and ask Him to show you what you gift, or gifts, may be. At the very moment you received Jesus into you heart as Savior, God in heaven placed you into the body of Christ.
When He did, He gave you certain gifts to be used for His glory and for the good of the entire body. But, you can’t use them until you know what they are! So come to Him and let Him teach you about your gifts.
You may be guilty of seeking some seat or position that you know you are not gifted for. Or, you may be envious of some other believer who has a more high profile calling than yours. You need to come to the Lord and confess that you’ve been trying to be something you are not meant to be and you need to be willing to accept that place He has especially for you.
Others may not even be saved! You may have never received Jesus into your heart and life. What you need to do today is get out of your seat and come before Jesus and put you faith in Him for salvation. He loves you and died for you, why not respond to His call and come to Him today. Whatever the need, bring it to Jesus today and He will meet it right now!