And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
Most of us are familiar with the diagrams of the human body found in a doctor’s office. There may be one of the skeletal structure or one of the muscular structure. You may see a depiction of an inner ear or of the eye or of some other vital organ. Perhaps you will see one of the feet, hands and arms. These diagrams illustrate how the parts of the body are interconnected and interdependent. (The eye does not operate independent of muscles, nerves and the brain, and so on.)
God uses the human body to illustrate the unity of the body of Christ, His church (1 Cor. 12:12). Christians in a local church are interconnected; we do not stand alone (cf. Rom. 14:7). In 1 Corinthians 12-14 it is evident some in the Corinthian church viewed themselves as superior in the cause of Christ while others were counted as inferior. They had incorrectly deduced this from the miraculous spiritual gifts they received from the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:11, 27-31; 14:1-5). They forgot these gifts were “for the profit of all” and not for self-elevation over their brethren (1 Cor. 12:7). They needed one another. So do we.
Although the age of miraculous spiritual gifts has ended the principle upon which the apostle exhorts the brethren remains: “For in fact the body is not one member but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). Just as the parts of your body work in harmony for the good of the entire body, so it is that the members of the local church must work together for the good of the entire church.
The fact that members of the local church has different roles, tasks, functions, capabilities and capacities neither elevates nor diminishes their value to and their place in the local church.
You are necessary to the success of this church! Whether you are a mother caring for and teaching a crying baby how to behave during the worship services or an elderly person who has faithfully worshiped and served in the kingdom for many years, you are needed here. When you are not here the body suffers; what you add to this work is missed and consequently, the entire body of Christ is affected.
Paul illustrates our interdependency in the local church in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27. As previously noted, he reminds us the body is composed of many members, not one (1 Cor. 12:14). Please consider the points the Spirit of God directed him to make that teach us how to view ourselves and each other in the local church.
1) Each member is vital (1 Cor. 12:14-19). A foot does not function like a hand. It cannot grasp objects or make a fist. It has a different part to play. At the same time, the hand is not made for walking! Yet each member, with its own function and ability, is important to the body. This is Paul’s point: each member of the church, although possessing different gifts, capabilities and work, is very important to the church accomplishing its purpose (cf. Rom. 12:4-5).
It is noteworthy that whether you are a “foot” or a “hand” or an “eye” or an “ear” that “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Cor. 12:18, see v. 11). Who are we to argue against God? He blesses each of us with work to do and the ability and opportunity to do it (Matt. 25:15). Our task is to function by faith as a vital part of the body of Christ and thereby advance our unity and service in Christ (Eph. 4:3).
The young person who sets a godly example and the elderly saint who patiently endures life’s trials are both crucial to the church. The Bible class teacher, song leader, preacher, helper at the Lord’s table – all these and more are vital to the health of the body of Christ.
2) Each member is needed (1 Cor. 12:20-22). Just as the eye cannot tell the hand, “I have no need of you” and the head cannot say to the feet, “I have no need of you”, Christians in a local church cannot begin to act toward each other as if they are unimportant.
No Christian is insignificant. No work done in the name of the Lord is trivial. There are to be no “church bosses” – no dominating Diotrephes who intimidates, manipulates and regulates the church for his selfish, sinful purposes (3 Jno. 9).
Perhaps we’ve heard (or thought), “That Christian is so weak; they are a real drag on everyone else!” Is that the view God wishes us to have toward the weak? Is the weak a “drag” on the Christian who comes alongside to strengthen him and to help him heal his spiritual pain (Heb. 12:12-13)? No! What a great opportunity to reaffirm love, to redirect faith to new heights of service. As Paul put it, “No, much rather, those member of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Cor. 12:22). Those Christians who appear not to have much to offer the body are in fact “necessary” – they do have something to offer. As we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” we learn each Christian is needed (Gal. 6:2). The entire body (church) is benefited by helping such a one occupy his place of faithful service to Christ.
3) Each member is worthy of honor (1 Cor. 12:23-24). The opinionated ranking of importance among brethren is sinful. Such treatment of one another is evidence of division (“schism in the body”, v. 25). Just as we clothe our bodies so that all parts are honorably (modestly) presented, God has arranged His body the church in a way that every member is properly regarded. The “less honorable” parts of the body nevertheless serve great benefit and give divine blessings. Therefore, we give them honorable treatment. Christ built His church without respect of persons. Every Christian is worthy in Christ and must be viewed and treated honorably (Jas. 2:1-4).
4) Each member is to show mutual care (1 Cor. 12:25-27). As each member of a church has “the same care for one another” marvelous things begin to happen. Selfishness is overcome by empathetic charity; Jealousy is overcome by mutual joy (v. 26). In the body of Christ there is to be an intertwining of mutual care for one another, of mutual dependence upon each other and of mutual devotion to each other. Whether in joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, life or death – we live together in Christ!
Alas, Satan is hard at work trying to disrupt unity in the body of Christ. Local churches exist in which Christian will not speak to Christian, where hurt feelings trump faith and where self prevails over humble surrender. Christ is dishonored and disgraced. His body is divided, left wounded and bleeding instead of advancing to victory (cf. Eph. 4:1-16).
You are needed in this church. You have a place to fill and a work to do that is yours alone. You cannot pass it off to someone else, nor should you want to do so. The body grows and Christ is honored when “every part does its share” (Eph. 4:16). Hear the Lord’s exhortation through Peter to faithfully serve each other in the church of Christ: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10). If you are not doing so, why not? Remember, “There are many members, yet one body” (1 Cor. 12:20).
Scripture Reading:Jude 20-25
is a trait of our Savior and one we are expected to possess develop in our
hearts and lives, Col. 3:12-13.
I. COMPASSION OF A SHEPHERD, Isa. 40: 11; Ezek. 34:15-16 (Matt. 15:24).
Compassion Gives Help to the Helpless, Lk. 15:1-7; Lk. 6:36-38.
II. COMPASSION OF A SAVIOR, Isa. 53:4.
Compassion is Willing to Act Out of Pity for Others, Matt. 8:2-3; 14:14;
Compassion exists in the heart that has not given up! There is still hope,
so compassion responds toward those hurting and in need of merciful help.
Satan and Evil are Real
The murderous rampage at the Aurora CO theater last week is another stark and glaring reminder that evil is real. As in the days of Job, Satan continues to go “to and fro on the earth” deceiving and devouring men and women with the allurement of evil (Job 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:8). Amazingly, a 2009 Barna Research survey showed 40% of professed Christians strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil. An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they ‘agree somewhat’ with that perspective” (“Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist”, barna.org). That means that a minority of Americans who claim to be Christians believe Satan is actually real and active.
Satan is real; not merely the personification of evil. The Bible describes Satan as the “god of this world” who actively blinds the minds of people from the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). Liberal theologians have long since relegated Satan to a figure of speech, a motif or symbol of evil (however man chooses to define evil). Nonetheless, the Bible unequivocally states Satan is real; from his presence in the garden in Genesis 3, to his conversation with God in Job 1-2, to his temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4, to Paul’s discussion of his devices in 2 Corinthians 2. To conclude Satan is only the personification of evil will eventually demand a similar treatment of God. Would not consistency demand one also conclude from Job 1-2 that God is the personification of goodness and not a real being? God is real; the evidence is abounds (Rom. 1:20; Ac 14:15-17).
Evil is real. Sin is deadly to the soul (and it can be deadly to the flesh as seen by events in Aurora CO, Rom. 6:23). Do not underestimate the presence and power of evil in the world (Eph. 2:1-3). It destroys lives and souls. Get away from it (1 Ths. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:22). Protect yourself against it (Eph. 6:10-17). Christ destroys the work of the devil (1 Jno. 3:8). Follow Him to be saved.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/29/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA