“Living in the Body”

 Introduction:  This sounds like a strange title, “living in the body,” since each of us does that until the day we die.  Of course I am talking about the human body.  I have one and I hope you do too!  God prepared these physical bodies for us so we would have a place to live while on this earth.  Your body is the house of your soul.  Both your body and soul are made “alive” by your spirit, so you are body, soul and spirit.  Your spirit gives life to the real you which is your soul.  Your body gives your soul a place to live and to have contact with God’s creation around you.

Genesis 2:7  “And the LORD God formed [the body of] man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [spirit] of life; and man became a living soul.”

Since your present body goes into the grave at death, and turns back into dust, it is only a temporary dwelling place for the real you!  But while you live, the body represents the outward part of you to others.  It is the first impression that others get of you.  It is the main part of you that interacts with others.

The Scriptures describe three “bodies”.  One is mankind’s physical body.  Second is Christ’s physical body.  Third is Christ’s representative “body,” the church, which is known as the “body of Christ.”  The first and second are easily understood, but the third causes confusion, which can be cleared up by comparing it to our own body.

 N.T. Descriptive Terms for the church

      A. Church (“called out assembly”). The follow terms describe the church(es) in its various capacities.

            1. Holy Temple (place of worship toward God, Eph. 2:19-22).

            2. Habitation of God (God’s dwelling place, Eph. 2:19-22).

            3. Church of God (God’s assembly with His people, 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:15).

            4. House of God (God’s place of family & stewardship, 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17).

            5. God’s Husbandry (“tilled field, cultivation”) (God’s place of care and growth, 1 Cor 3:9).

            6. God’s building (God’s place of spiritual protection, 1 Cor. 3:9).

            7. Temple of God (God’s place of His presence, 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21).

            8. Bride of Christ (God’s virgin betrothed to His Son, 2 Cor. 11;2; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:9)

            9. Body of Christ (God’s earthly representation of Christ, Rms. 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12; 1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:12; Col. 1:18; 2:19, etc.).

 Remember that the word church does not describe the body of Christ, but that the term body of Christ describes the local church.   Jesus Christ, when He said, “I will build My church” to His disciples, used the common term ekklesia (church) in Matthew 16. The disciples knew exactly what He meant—A qualified people called out to assemble for a purpose.  In the verses referenced in #9 above, the Holy Spirit (through Paul) describes/pictures this same called out assembly as a body.  What is a body?  A body is an organism. An organism is a highly organized living thing.  The body is a local assembly of various parts/organs that are connected together for specific functions.  All the parts work together in unity, harmony, and are coordinated.  So we could understand the concept of the church as a body, the Holy Spirit used something they were very familiar with—a body as a picture of the local church!

The reason the Holy Spirit describes the church as the body of Christ is to bring home the point that the local, Baptist church is the earthly representative of Christ to a lost and dying world.  Christ is seated at the right hand of God in glory, so the local, Baptist church has been given authority to be His representative on earth (Matthew 16:19).  We are commanded to do what Christ would be doing if he were here in His earthly ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).  He is the head of the church, and the members of that church are the body.

It is not my intention to be theological in this lesson, or to cover all the verses about the church as the body of Christ, but to be practical so you can see your importance to and in that body.

I Corinthians 12:12-31

I. The Corinthian Church

    A. Worldly, therefore in need of instruction from God’s viewpoint

    B. “The” body of Christ (v27)

         1. “A” body of Christ (v27)

         2. Members (“a part of the body”) in particular (“a particular part”)(v27)

Note:  The human body is made up of the following systems:  (Which “system” are you in?)

1) Nervous system (those that “fire-up” and motivate)

2) The senses (those with spiritual discernment)

3) Skeletal (bones) system (those that support)

4) Muscular system (those that provide strength)

5) Digestive system (those that take in and give out the Word of God)

6) Respiratory system (those that are a “breath of fresh air”)

7) Circulatory system (those that keep things moving)

8) Excretory (bowels) system (those that absorb the good and remove the bad)

9) Lymphatic (lymph nodes) system (those that cleanse the system)

10) Endocrine (hormone) system (those that quietly activate others to action)

11) Reproductive system (those that reproduce themselves)

II. The Church-Body is to be Like Christ

     A. One (v12-14)

          1. One with other members (v12). 

               a. Though there are many members, they are to be one (in doctrine, in practice, in fellowship, in giving, etc.)

Philippians 2:5   “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

               b. No matter their race, social status, financial status—no matter their position in life (v13b)

           2. One with the Holy Spirit (v13a)

               a. Baptized members of an independent Baptist church

               b. Serving members of an independent Baptist church (“drink into one Spirit”)

           3. One in humility (v14)

      B. Different, but unique (v15-17, 19-24a)

           1. The foot/ear, not the hand/eye (v15a, 16a)

           2. Unique in the body (v15b, 16b)

           3. Necessary to the body (v17)

                a. If all one member (“part of the body”), you are unnecessary (v19)

                b. But you are many [different] members,  but one body (v20)

                c. In the body, no member can dismiss (“have no need of”) another member as unnecessary (v21)

                    1) Those that seem (“think, suppose, are accounted”) to be more feeble (“weak, infirm”) are necessary (“what one cannot do without”) (v22)

                    2) Those that seem to be less honorable (“of less esteem, lower estate/place”), upon these bestow (“present”) more  abundant (“over and above”) honor (“respect, appreciation”) (v23a)

                    3) Those that seem to be uncomely (“deformed”), have more abundant (“over and above”) comeliness (“charm, elegance”) (v23b)

                         a) The comely (“elegant, influential, wealthy”) parts have no need (v24a)

      C. One with God (v18, 24b)

           1. God’s time (“but now” {‘this very time’})

Esther 4:14  “... who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

           2. God’s purpose (“set {‘place, make, establish’} the members”)

           3. God’s plan (“every one of them in the body”)

           4. God’s intent/will (“as it has pleased Him,” {’as it has been His desire’})

Matthew 6:10  “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Hebrews 10:7  “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.”

           5. God’s tempering (“mixed together to form one”) of the body

                a. Giving more abundant honor to the part which lacked (v24b)

       D. One in presentation to the world (v25-26)

            1. No schism (“rent, division”) in the body (v25a)

            2. No discrimination in the body (“the same care/providing one for another”) (v25b)

1 Peter 5:7  “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”

            3. No differentiation in the body

                a. When one member suffers (“to suffer sadly, be in a bad way”), all members suffer with it (“in like manner with another”) (v26a)

                b. When one member is honored (“praised, acknowledged”), all members rejoice with it (“to rejoice with, to congratulate”) (v26b)

II. Now, When You Do These Things

     A. Ye are the/a body of Christ and members in particular

“God has manifested Himself in the creation, as a Being infinitely wise.  ([ ] indicate substituted words)

     There is no [person], however useless it may appear to us, but what has its particular [purpose in the church, the body of Christ]; and all are so formed as to answer, in the most proper manner, the [fulfillment] of their [life]. 

     If we begin with the [pastor], and descend to the [least member], we shall be obliged to acknowledge, that in order to be perfectly adapted to the [purpose] for which they were [assembled], they could not have been formed in any other way; and, that, relatively to those ends, there is no defect/[flaw] in them. 

     The very [least members of any church] are evidently well adapted to their particular [places]; they accomplish the functions which God has prescribed; and the whole [church body] would be defective/[lacking/impaired], and could not [fulfill], but imperfectly, the [purpose] of its existence, were any of its parts/[members] to be cut away/[removed], or injured. 

     And how wonderful is that whole, which results from the relations and connections which the [members] have among themselves.  Each [member] is in its place; each has its proper functions; and these functions are necessary to the [accomplishments] of the whole [church body]; and none of these [individual members] can fail without producing more or less disorder in the whole. 

     When we [consider] to ourselves the [Creator] Who has formed [these many members], Who has designed each of [them to] a particular [purpose], which forms an admirable whole [church body], where the most perfect harmony [exists]; must not we cry out, ‘O! the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’”

 

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