1Cor 12:13                            The Body of Christ                                      7/18/2010      ßą   

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1.                  What Measure of Honour? (1Cor 12:7-11, Heb 11:1, Gal 5:22, Isa 55:8-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Š            Pride in Spiritual Gifts (1Cor 12:9-11, James 1:17, 1Cor 14:29,1John 4:1, 1Cor 14:18, John 1:38)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.                  Baptized into One Body (1Cor 12:12-14, Matt 3:11, Eph 4:5, Rom 2:28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 1:1 (2X). We have been in this Epistle already for six months, and only now are we getting to the main purpose why God wrote this letter to the church at Corinth. The main purpose was the problem with the phenomenon of “tongues” in the Corinthian church. Those who believe in “tongues” today believe that they are receiving Divine messages in a strange language from God the Holy Spirit. Although the subject of “tongues” is the big question for today, the principle which is not being debated but which is at the foundation of the problem is this:What is the Word of God?” Does God still give Divine messages today? Does God still speak to people in a tongue, or in a dream, or in a vision today like He spoke in Biblical times? If He does, are these Divine messages also the Word of God? And what do we do with these messages? Should we draw a circle around all the messages from God, including the Bible? What is in that circle? This then becomes the ultimate authority in defining who God is and what we must believe in order to be saved. This then is the source which dictates all information for the Christian religion and you may not leave anything out that must also be considered the Word of God. These are the questions we should have in our mind when we search for a complete understanding of the problems with “tongues” and with “signs and wonders”. The qualifying question is not: “Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God?” Most cultists will answer “Yes” to this question. The qualifying question which distinguishes all the cults from the true Christian faith is this: “Do you believe that God is still giving Divine messages today?”

The Corinthian church had the opposite problem. They did not have enough information. They had only some of the OT manuscripts, for they were mostly converted Gentiles, and they had some verbal instructions from Paul and Silas, and they had some messages from God through people who received a message in a tongue. And thus we need to consider another question: Does God have a program that is different for them than it is for us now? And if it is different, when in Biblical history did God change His program for the NT saints? Let us begin to read the first three verses of 1Cor 1.

1Cor 1:1-3  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 tells us that Paul was sent out as an apostle not by his own will but through the will of God. Then in verse 2 God tells us three things all at once: #1, “To the church at Corinth” is actually restricted “to the saints at Corinth”. #2. This letter is also addressed to all other Christians around the world. #3. All other Christians around the world are also called saints. Then in verse 3 we read that this greeting is from God. It means that the words in this Epistle are not words from Paul, but these are words from God And thus we must read this Epistle with proper attention and reverence. Please turn to 1Cor 12 (2X).

We see that in chapters 1-4 God digs immediately into the two main issues of this Epistle: #1. Proper

and improper use of spiritual gifts at Corinth, and God supplied all their spiritual gifts generously. #2. God was displeased with factions in the church at Corinth. Factions are cliques or parties within the church that are often contentious or self seeking. In chapters 5-7 God criticizes their sexual conduct and lifestyles that were contrary to their guidance by God the Holy Spirit. And this too was causing divisions in that congregation between libertarians and legalists. In chapters 8-11 God again addressed their factionalism caused by self imposed rules and regulations and by being so inconsiderate of one another. The apostle Paul shows them, by his own life as example, that those problems can be solved by a greater commitment and love for one another. And notice that he is taking sides, not leaving anything unresolved. In chapter 10 he indicates that their forefathers showed a lack of commitment, accompanied by idolatry; therefore he urges them to stay away from idolatry and increase their commitment toward one another. It is again a plea for unity in the Gospel. Since I have already preached on 1Cor 11 six months ago, we will dive immediately into 1Cor 12:1-6.

1Co 12:1-6  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

Note that in verses 4, 5 and 6 God speaks about diverse “Gifts of the Spirit”, and these are to be distinguished from diverse “ministries to serve the Lord”, and these are again to be distinguished from diverse “operations that are originating from God.” Keep in mind that God has given the church all these abilities “for the purpose of edifying each other.” This is what we must keep in mind when we interpret chapters 12, 13 and 14. God has given the church all these gifts not for her own glory, but for all the members to serve one another. The gift of loving one another must be seen as the umbrella where all the other gifts reside under the shadow of it. Therefore the “Gifts of the Spirit”, which are also listed in verses 8-11 all originate from God the Holy Spirit. All these refer to different abilities to edify or serve each other, and God was helping them in doing just that, by giving them spiritual wisdom, physical strength, and guidance through personal messages. These different abilities were not uniting them, but were causing divisions, because we are dealing here with a group of people who are basically evil in their heart. It takes an act of God to transform us to selfless saints who are seeking to glorify God alone in all our doings. For example, we remember the problems that we had in our own church in the past.

#1.                  What Measure of Honour? (1Cor 12:7-11, Heb 11:1, Gal 5:22, Isa 55:8-9)

What prompted the apostle Paul to write this letter to the church at Corinth? Paul received reports from the household of Chloe and from other people who brought complaints to his attention. And the complaints centered around the spiritual gifts in the church at Corinth. Some people received more spiritual gifts than others, and those who received more claimed to be worthy of greater honor than those who received less. And so, the church at Corinth asked Paul to give them counsel in various matters. What measure of honor should be given to those who now can speak in tongues? 1Cor 12:7-11

1Co 12:7-11  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.

What is God saying here? The main point is that all these manifestations of the Holy Spirit were given to the members for the profit of all. That is what God says in verse 7. In verse 8 to one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge. The first group received wisdom in spiritual matters; or received insight in the true nature of spiritual things, such as in parables or in allegories. The second group received knowledge about spiritual things, such as God, and Christ, and salvation, which are necessary for pastors and teachers to have these gifts in order to keep the congregation faithful. In verse 9. To others faith is given by the Holy Spirit, to others the gift of healing is given by God the Holy Spirit. From verse 9 we learn how we must interpret the words “to others”. It is evident that faith is given to everyone who is truly saved. God says in Heb 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What are the things hoped for that are in the forefront of our mind? It is election and salvation and the hope of a place in the NH&NE. But when God has given us faith from heaven, an unnatural faith that we could not have conjured up in our own mind, a faith of believing all things that God has written in the Bible, including all those things that we do not like, then we know that this is the substance of things hoped for, and it is the evidence that we indeed have been elected by God, and we have been saved, and we are on our way to eternal life in the NH&NE. These are the things that could not be seen, but now we have the evidence, and now we can see for ourselves. We cannot see it in others, but we can see it in ourselves. And so, the gift of faith is given to everyone of the saints. It is our assurance of salvation. And so, the words “to others” are not restricted to just a few, but these words can also mean “to every one of the saints”. But another important point that flows out of verse 9 is that “Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit”. Some people think that they first must have faith in order to be saved. Obviously, that idea is incorrect, because faith is listed here with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, in Gal 5:22 faith is mentioned alongside 8 other fruits of the Holy Spirit. And so, the correct view of the process of salvation is that God first makes us spiritually alive, and then He gives us faith. And the faith He gives us is not a faith that we could conjure up ourselves, for we believe even the strangest things that are recorded in the Bible. God says in Isa 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The miracles of salvation through Christ crucified, and the miracles of the bruising of the head of Satan by the blood of Christ are not miraculous battles that we can conjure up ourselves; we can only know about them and believe them through revelation from God. And so, what measure of honor should be given to those who have received faith from God the Holy Spirit? NONE! We are all recipients of the same Holy Spirit. We are all equal in the sight of God, for salvation is entirely by grace. In the life hereafter there are no special rewards for some of the saints over and above what all the other saints receive. What was the problem?

Š            Pride in Spiritual Gifts (1Cor 12:9-11, James 1:17, 1Cor 14:29,1John 4:1, 1Cor 14:18, John 1:38)

Again verse 9: “To another the gifts of healing.” The Greek word for healing here can mean physical healing as well as spiritual healing. Some people have the gift of becoming physicians, others have the gift of being a psychologist, and others have the gift of bringing the true Gospel in a very attractive way. The gifts of healing in this verse can apply to all three types of physicians. These gifts definitely were not distributed to all the saints. Nevertheless, no one should be proud for having received such abilities, for all these abilities were given freely. God says in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Our mental abilities are gifts as well as we call artistic talents gifts. And so, the person who has received gifts of healing is certainly blessed that he can be of service to other people, but he should not be placed on a pedestal. God could have passed him by and have given this gift to someone else.

Verse 10. Here we read: “to another the working of miracles” and “to another prophecy”. What kinds of miracles are in view here? Miracles is here an inappropriate translation. The Greek word for miracles is actually the word “power”. It means a power or force of supernatural origin, such as the casting out of Satan in the process of salvation. It is the power of God to convert souls. God does not transfer this power to mankind. We are strictly instruments God uses to perform these kinds of miracles. And since God uses every one of the saints to bring the Gospel to the unsaved, and God can use every one of these occasions to convert souls, this gift of miracles is a gift given to every one of the saints.  For the second spiritual gift in verse 10 we read, “to another prophecy”. What is prophecy? To prophesy is to speak the words God spoke to mankind. And thus, when we read out loud the words God wrote in the Bible we are prophesying, because every word in the Bible comes from God. Therefore this also is a gift that has been given to every one of the saints. The third spiritual gift listed in verse 10 is “discerning of spirits”, and it means “being able to distinguish clearly whether certain spirits are evil or from God”. The spirits referred to are teachings and statements by other people either inside or outside the church. This gift is given to some in the church who are in a leadership position to warn the church against false prophets. We definitely need this gift. Since we are approaching the end of time many false prophets have gone out into the world. Examples of this are given in 1Cor 14:29 and in 1John 4:1. The first example speaks about order in the church. We read in 1Cor 14:29, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” The second example speaks of discernment of many doctrines that are being challenged in these last days. We read in 1John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” In other words, “Beloved, believe not every preacher, but test the preachers, for many false preachers have gone out into the world.” Any prophetic utterance has to be tried as to the message it contains. And how do we try the preachers? We try them with the Word of God. This is especially important near the end of time. The fourth and the fifth spiritual gift mentioned in verse 10 is the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. In fact, of all the people who received spiritual gifts these two groups were the most prideful of all. We can understand this, because these were the least educated, having no position of authority in the church. But suddenly they have been endowed with the gift that God Himself was speaking through them. It gave them such a spiritual high; they were walking on cloud nine all the time. Now the Greek word translated “tongues” always means “languages”. What kind of languages? In Acts 2 the context makes it clear that “other tongues” means human languages different from their own, and by implication, previously unknown to the speakers. In the Corinthian church it was a different phenomenon, but it still means languages. Some hold to the view that it referred to a heavenly language; assuming that such a thing exists. Most of Scriptural evidence, however, does not support this view of heavenly languages. Let me explain this with a few examples. In Mark 16 the expression is “new tongues”. The Greek word for “new” does not mean “new in time”, but it means “new in the sense that it was never used before, but not new in time”. For example, our Lord was buried in a new tomb that was never used before. It does not mean that the tomb was hewed out of the rock the night before. It was not new in that sense, but in the sense that it already existed but was never used before to lay a dead body there. Therefore those who claim that the “new tongues” in Mark 16 mean “new languages or heavenly languages” are not correct. What it does mean is that the Gospel was supernaturally proclaimed in languages which already existed, but wherein the Gospel was never proclaimed before”. It was not supported by trained linguists but by God supernaturally endowing His messengers as a credential to the messengers that He has sent, and to credential that this was indeed God’s message. In the Corinthian church those who spoke in tongues also spoke in languages previously unknown to the Corinthians but not unknown to the world. These were not just ecstatic utterances. How else could Paul state with confidence in 1Cor 14:18, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.” How could Paul quantify that? He could do that because he had proclaimed the Gospel throughout the known world, and during his travels he had experienced that God gave him the ability to speak many languages. How else could Paul know that he spoke in tongues more than them all if it was always in a heavenly language? NO! The gift of “tongues” in 1Cor 12:10 means “the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without having learned it.”

Then we read in 1Cor 12:10 about the gift of “interpretation of tongues”. The Greek word for interpretation means, “explaining the meaning of words in a different language”. Examples of this are given in John 1:38, and in John 9:7. The meaning of this word is straightforward. However, nowhere in the Bible do we read about the qualifications of an interpreter. Anyone can pump himself up as an interpreter. No one can unmask an imposter, for there are no qualifications. Obviously, in NT times this would be the source of much deception, for now the fox is put in charge of the hen house.

Verse 11 says that all these nine gifts are gifts from God the Holy Spirit. Some gifts are obviously supernatural, and some appear like special talents or skills. But God says that He is the originator of al those gifts, for the purpose that they benefit each other and simultaneously for the purpose of building up the church. God says, “It is the same Holy Spirit who does all these things, and who gives all these gifts according to God’s plan. However, the Corinthians need discernment in order to know what is truly from God and what is false. Throughout the NT time the saints are being warned to watch out for false teachers and for false prophets.  Let us now continue to read in 1Cor 12:12-14.

#2.                  Baptized into One Body (1Cor 12:12-14, Matt 3:11, Eph 4:5, Rom 2:28-29)

1Co 12:12-14  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

Verse 13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” This does not refer to water baptism, but rather to baptism by the Holy Spirit. God told us through the words of John the Baptist in Matt 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire”. And since we must harmonize this with Eph 4:5 which says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” we realize that the most important baptism we experience is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for therein we are washed in our soul, whereas the baptism with water is only for the cleansing of the body. Subsequently by God the Holy Spirit we are fitted each into his appropriate place in the church for the purpose of building up one another. Please put a sticker here in 1Cor 12 and please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 2:28 (2X). Whether we be Jews or Gentiles, all who have been saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost in our soul we all now belong to the category of NT Jews, children of Abraham, in whom there is no more distinction between Jews and Gentiles. We read in Rom 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” This we need to realize when we read that we are all baptized into one body.

Notice also that 1Cor 12:14 clearly states that we who are many are one body, the body of Christ. From this information we can better understand who Antichrist is. The Devil is a great imitator. He sees that Christ has one body, which consists of many members, and so Satan has formed Antichrist who also has one body made up of many human members, through which He can rule the world without actually being present everywhere. Let us now continue in 1Cor 12:15 (2X).

Now God gives us a parable wherein He compares the church with a human body. We are all different, and we have received different gifts of the Spirit, but together we form one body, the body of Christ. We read in 1Cor 12:15-26,

1Co 12:15-26  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

And now we see finally the whole purpose of chapter 12 of the letter to the Corinthians. God instructs us to take care of one another. There are no people who are high or low on the totem pole. I think that is a Dutch expression to indicate that we are all of the same rank. When it comes to loving one another God has to teach us a great deal more, and we need to listen. God tells us that we love one another by serving one another. That is just the beginning. Can we think of anything that is more useful or more satisfying than loving one another? We begin with all being different from one another. That is an excellent start, for this means that we can all be useful to one another. We can do things that others in the congregation cannot do. We who have been teachers, or still are teachers, can apply our teaching skills in explaining things that are otherwise too difficult for others. We who have computer skills can help others with their little computer problems. And so on. But can we all see that we do need more time to communicate with one another? We need to know one another personally. In this great Los Angeles basin that is a difficult matter, for most of us live far away from each other. But it is not impossible. We only need some determination to do it. And for this, of course, we need people with initiative. I will try to participate as much as I can, but you, the congregation must come up with the ideas. Do not let the pastor do every thing, for that is not the way to go.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.