May 22, 2016

My Part In The Body

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Miscellaneous Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12–20


My Part In The Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-20
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Pastor Randy Smith

Did you know you are wired by God to want to feel loved? Did you know that God has created you with a hunger to belong? Did you know that there is a special longing deep inside of you to have your life count for something? You are on a quest to have these needs met. It is part of being human. It is unavoidable. You will pursue them, but will you join the countless others who settle for cheap imitations by seeking to meet them in all the wrong places?

Don't buy the lie that "self-esteem" or frivolous spending or immoral sex is the answer to feeling loved. Don't do drugs or join a gang to meet your need to belong. Don't believe the size of your assets or the popularity you've achieved is the measurement of a successful life. These are just some of the ways the evil one has prostituted the good gifts from God and deceived people to live unfulfilled and joyless lives.

I believe they are healthy desires. I believe they have been given to us by God. And therefore I believe we should pursue them (more radically than we do) in an effort to maximize our joy. And I believe that our joy depends on having these desires met not in second-rate pleasures of this world, but rather by the all-sufficient, most excellent, living God himself. And when we do find our ultimate joy in Him, our heavenly Father receives much glory for being the One who truly satisfies a hungry soul. So I believe our God has given us these needs to cast ourselves fully into His loving arms and realize that only He is truly able to satisfy. And I believe the more we are most satisfied in Him; the more He is most glorified in us.

Specifically how do we get these three needs I spoke of earlier met in God? This morning we will discuss one of the greatest ways.

Our God has designed it in such a way that He has enlisted us to be part of His eternal plan. What I am talking about is how the Creator uses us to accomplish His will measured at "God-sized" proportions. What I am talking about is how God condescends to take broken and flawed people like you and I and use us as vessels to fulfill a purpose that will long outlive our earthy existence. What I am talking about is how God has enlisted us to be servants in His master plan.

John Piper put it like this: "The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won't enlist you unless you are healthy and Jesus won't enlist you unless you are sick. What is God looking for in the world? Assistants? No. The gospel is not a help wanted ad. It is a help available ad. God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them" (Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, p. 39).

God can get along just fine without any of us. To believe that God is dependent on you to accomplish His purposes is a massive ego trip. God does not need you, but you need God. You need God to feel loved. You need God to belong. You need God to feel your life is not wasted. And God in His infinite love and mercy has decreed it in such a way to include you in His eternal plan whereby He might work in and through you. My friends, that is radically meeting your needs and that is radically exalting the goodness of God!

For example: I remember the days when I would be all over the yard with my plastic lawnmower while my father was cutting the grass. I wanted to be like my dad. I wanted to help in the project. I believed I was belonging and contributing to a worthwhile task. Yet if you looked at the reality of the situation, you would understand that plastic lawnmowers don't cut grass and I only made more work for my father. Though I thought I was serving, whose goodness was really exalted?

I am convinced that it would be easier for God if He would just do all the work Himself. He does not need us, but He has chosen to use us to accomplish His purposes. Our needs to feel worthwhile are met and His goodness and infinite patience is exalted.

Now here comes the shift as we get ready to dive into 1 Corinthians 12. Though God does not need our service, we need the service of one another. What I am saying is that when we refuse to serve the Lord because we are disobedient, not only do we lose on fulfilling our greatest needs, but we also hurt our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. We need each other!

I remember hearing this week about the soccer stadium in England that was forced to evacuate because they found what they thought to be a bomb. It turned out they were doing drills the day before and were using a fake bomb to simulate a terror attack. It turns out that someone forgot to remove the fake bomb. Look what happens when just one person does not do his job!

After that long introduction, the sermon title is "My Part in the Body" and our passage of study is 1 Corinthians 12:12-20

1. The Body Explained (verses 12, 13, 18, 20)

Let's begin with the first point, "The Body Explained."

Throughout Scripture the church is referred to as the "Body of Christ." Jesus is our Head and we are His members. Diversity in the interest of unity. The church is one body and what greater way to exemplify this reality than to draw an illustration from the human body.

The following two verses serve as bookends for our unit of study. Verse 12, "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body" (stop right there). And verse 20, "But now there are many members, but one body."

The human body is a remarkable machine.

Did you know the average human heart pumps over 1,000 gallons a day, over 55 million gallons in a lifetime? That is enough to fill 13 super tankers. It never sleeps, beating 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.

Did you know the lungs contain 1,000 miles of capillaries? The process of exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide is so complicated that "it is more difficult to exchange O2 for CO2 than for a man shot out of a cannon to carve the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin as he passes by."

Did you know DNA contains about 2,000 genes per chromosome - 1.8 meters of DNA are folded into each cell nucleus? A nucleus is 6 microns long. This is like putting 30 miles of fishing line into a cherry pit. And it isn't simply stuffed in. It is folded in. If folded one way, the cell becomes a skin cell. If another way, a liver cell, and so forth. To write out the information in one cell would take 300 volumes, each volume 500 pages thick. The human body contains enough DNA that if it were stretched out, it would circle the sun 260 times.

Did you know the body uses energy efficiently? If an average adult rides a bike for 1 hour at 10 mph, it uses the amount of energy contained in 3 ounces of carbohydrate. If a car were this efficient with gasoline, it would get 900 miles to the gallon.

To say that the human body evolved is a step of faith I am unprepared to take. The human body is a wonderful testimony to the work of a skillful Creator. So I am amazed when I consider all the different body parts, at least thousands, working in perfect harmony and accord. And when we consider the body's complexity, diversity, efficiency, fragility, mutuality and unity it serves as a perfect illustration for the church, the Body of Christ.

We see the transition in the final four words in verse 12. After explaining the human body, Paul says, "So also is Christ."

Now, I would have imagined him saying, "As goes the human body so goes the church." But what we read is, "As goes the human body so goes Christ."

For Paul, the church is subordinate to Christ. Yet the church does not submit to Christ as a distinct entity. The church is the Body of Christ. The church is one with Christ. The church is "in" Christ to such a point that when you mess with the church, you mess with Christ. Remember, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me" (Ac. 9:4)? And (now within the context) when you serve in the church, you are ultimately serving Christ. Remember Jesus' words, "To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me" (Mt. 25:40). We cannot separate Christ from the church.

Since we are just diving into 1 Corinthians 12, possibly a small step back at this time to examine the overall context will be helpful. The Corinthian church was spiritually immature. They were tearing the body apart with their selfish desire for the showy gifts. They were elevating one gift above another and looking down on others with spiritual contempt. Sin was running ramped and their worship services were becoming a three-ring circus. In chapter 13 Paul told them they needed love. In chapter 14 Paul told them they needed edification. And here in chapter 12 Paul tells them they need instruction, basic instruction, regarding the nature of spiritual gifts. With their competitive, elitist and selfish mentality, they were not functioning as a body.

With that as a background, verse 13 should make perfect sense. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

Listen to the wording in this pivotal verse carefully. Spoken to a church that created a caste system amongst its people, we read in verse 13 that "by (some prefer "in") one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." This verse clearly teaches that all believers are equal and through the same Holy Spirit are spiritually baptized, or we can say immersed into the same Body of Christ. That is why the verse continues by selecting groups at historical enmity, Jews and Greeks and slave and free, and demands that they are now one in Christ.

The whole process of our position in Christ is a deathblow to our fleshly quest for self-exaltation. In 1:30 Paul said, "By His doing you are in Christ Jesus." And in verse 18 he says, "God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired."

Where is the room for boasting? Where is the excuse for disunity? Where is the place to exalt one race or gender or age above another? And now within the context, where is the audacity to believe my gifts are better than your gifts and my gifts are a measurement of my spiritual status? My friends, that spirit does nothing to unify the Body. What God had joined together, these Corinthians were dividing!

Our gifts, distributed by the Spirit as He desires (verse 11) are not to be used, graded, pursued or exalted according to human standards. As we are all spiritually baptized into the same body, we are to use our gifts for the "common good" (12:7) in an effort to edify the church (14:12) and manifest the Sprit (12:7). And because we are one in Christ and have been given gifts by a wise Creator and placed in the body just as He desired, every member in the body is necessary and in many ways dependent on each other for the church body, just like the human body, to survive. I say that again. As a body, we are dependent on one another.

2. The Body Mobilized (verses 14-17, 19)

That takes us to our second point, "The Body Mobilized." Going back to his body metaphor, Paul now explains what happens when one body part thinks he is not necessary.

Follow along as I begin reading in verse 14: "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, 'Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,' it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,' it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be" (1 Cor. 12:14-17)?

It appears Mr. Foot is definitely having a problem with envy. The Hands family is getting all the attention because Mr. Foot happens to belong to a body that enjoys juggling and wants nothing to do with soccer. Further, the hands are exposed for the entire world to see, but he is hidden behind a smelly sock and dirty shoe. The hands are praised, but he and his partner, Mrs. Foot are rarely mentioned. So Mr. Foot has come to the conclusion that he is no longer a necessary part of the body and therefore ceases to function. It doesn't take a great imagination to know most of the body's activity would cease due to his selfish decision.

The excuses I have heard in the church body are similar as they are many: I don't serve in the church body:

Because someone hurt my feelings.

Because I don't get the attention I deserve.

Because I'm too busy to get involved.

Because I have nothing to contribute.

Because my gifts are second-rate.

Because I'm not worthy.

Because I'm not wanted around here.

My friends, all these excuses of self-pity stem from an attitude of pride. Pride, preoccupation with self, the root of all sins can cause us to walk over others with our spiritual gifts or (like I'm speaking of here) fail to serve others with our spiritual gifts. Bottom line: When we refuse to serve we sin, and we negatively affect the body of which we are a part. Listen, in the Body of Christ, none are self-sufficient and none are useless.

"Sir Michael Costa was conducting a rehearsal in which the orchestra was joined by a great chorus. About halfway through the session, with trumpets blaring, drums rolling and violins singing their rich melody, the piccolo player muttered to himself, 'What good am I doing? I might just as well not be playing. Nobody can hear me anyway.' So he kept the instrument to his mouth, but he made no sound. Within moments, the conductor cried, 'Stop! Stop! Where's the piccolo?' It was missed by the ear of the most important person of all" (Today in the Word, July 1990, p. 18).

Maybe you are the piccolo at Grace Bible Church. Maybe you too need to hear the voice of God saying, "Start playing. I want to use you. I put you in the Body for a reason. You're an integral part of My master plan! You've been given a gift - use it!"

John MacArthur once said, "Each of us has one spiritual gift, a blend of the different gifts the Spirit has put together for each of us. Like a painter who is able to create a infinite number of colors by mixing any combination of the ten or so colors he carries in his palette, so the Spirit of God blends a little of one gift with a little of another to create the perfect combination within you. As a result, you have a unique position in the Body of Christ, with an ability to minister as no one else can" (The Master's Plan for the Church, p. 165).

A chain is only as strong as its weakest length!

How beautiful the Body of Christ is when each person understands his or her gifts and joyfully uses his or her gifts for the common good. How beautiful it is to see Spirit-empowered believers serving in diverse capacities, but crafting a project in perfect unity all for the glory of God!

This morning we have gone through great lengths to have a ministry fair to show you all we have to offer at Grace Bible Church. The goal is to see these ministries filled through the appropriate giftedness and see the church to go forward in the same mind with the same purpose.

Unity in the midst of diversity - That is what it means to be a body. Not elevating certain gifts above the others - That divides the body. All gifts are important in the body. Verse 19, "And if they were all one member, where would the body be?"

The Word of God is clear. All of us were baptized into the same body. All of us have been given the spiritual gifts of God's choice. I would like to think God does not give bad gifts. I would like to think we should be content with the gifts God has given us. I would like to think God knows how to build His church. And I would like to think that we should be using the gifts that God has given us! Therefore all of us should know our gifts and faithfully use our gifts as a good steward of the manifold grace of God for our joy, our neighbor's good and God's glory.

And here is your chance! Since any sermon is meaningless without application, we have done everything we can through this instruction and the highlighting of the ministries here at Grace in our Ministry Fair to help you be successful.

How are we using our time? Are we devoting it to something that is eternally important? Do we care about serving the Lord? God is willing to use you! Do we care about meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ Remember the sermon title, "My Part in the Body!" Please, by the grace of God, get involved!

other sermons in this series