I Corinthians 12:14-31

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Text: I Corinthians 12:14-31

Aim: To show the relationship between spiritual gifts and the body of Christ

SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND THE BODY OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

In I Corinthians 12:1-11 we have seen in:

I Corinthians 12:1-3 that true believers operate in accordance with the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:4-7 that spiritual gifts are intended to edify the local church.

I Corinthians 12:8-10 the listing of nine special spiritual gifts which divide themselves into three groups containing 2 gifts in group 1, 5 gifts in group 2, and 2 gifts in group 3.

I Corinthians 12:11 that spiritual gifts are distributed according to God the Holy Spirit's will.

In 12:12-31 we see the relationship of the spiritual gifts and the body of Christ.

We have already seen that -

I. THE BODY IS ONE - 12:12-13

I Corinthians 12:12-13 - 12 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. 13 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.

We have seen that -

1. The body is Christ

We have seen that -

2. We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body

What does it mean that we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body?

It cannot mean that the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the mystical body of Christ at the instant of their salvation because the command for believer's baptism has never been rescinded and because Ephesians 4:5 clearly states that there is only one baptism.

It is true, however, that the Holy Spirit places believers in the family of God at the instant of salvation.

Rather than the Holy Spirit performing this baptism as some believe, the Holy Spirit directed believers to be baptized by immersion in water following their salvation as a public testimony of what they had done in receiving Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord of their lives.

Into one body refers to the local church as it did in the previous verse, and there is no reason to conclude that it refers to an invisible universal church in this verse. In believer's baptism all have been identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. By baptism all have acknowledged (1) that they are dead and buried to the old way of life they had been living prior to their salvation and (2) that they are going to live for the Lord from then on.

The fact that we are all baptized indicates that it was normal for all believers to be baptized upon the profession of their faith and not to wait months or years after salvation to be baptized.

It also indicates that believer's baptism was necessary for membership in the local church. It was an honor to be identified with Christ in believer's baptism as well as an honor to be part of a local church.

We have also seen that -

3. We have been all made to drink into one Spirit, i.e. "imbued with" or "saturated with." He dwells within us.

Made to drink into one Spirit implies to partake of the Holy Spirit. He indwelled them all and worked in all their lives, not only as individuals, but also in and through the local church.

We see next that -

II. THE HUMAN BODY CONTAINS MANY MEMBERS - 12:14-17

Paul uses the illustration of the human body to demonstrate that differences in spiritual gifts exist in the local church.

I Corinthians 12:14-17 - 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 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?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

Likewise the local church is comprised of many members, all of whom are gifted differently. It would be ludicrous for all the members of the local church to be gifted with the same gift, whatever that gift may be.

We also see that -

III. GOD HAS SET THE MEMBERS IN THE HUMAN BODY AS IT PLEASED HIM - 12:18-26

I Corinthians 12:18-22 - 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 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.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

More feeble = weaker

I Corinthians 12:23 23 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.

Less honourable and uncomely parts have to do with our private parts which we honor by clothing them.

I Corinthians 12:24 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

Comely parts are those not covered with clothing = face, hands

God hath tempered the body together = God has composed the body (by unifying it to form one organism).

I Corinthians 12:25 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

Schism = split, division

Should have the same care one for another = should be concerned about each other.

I Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

We see next that -

IV. THE LOCAL CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST - 12:27

I Corinthians 12:27 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Members in particular is members in part or members individually. Each believer in the church at Corinth is an individual member of the local body of Christ, the church at Corinth.

We see furthermore that -

V. THE LOCAL CHURCH CONTAINS A VARIETY OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS - 12:28-30

I Corinthians 12:28-30 - 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

I Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Verse 28 continues the comparison of the spiritual gifts given to members within the local church with the various members found in a physical body.

The various parts included in the local church body which God has formed include apostles, prophets, teachers, those who work miracles, those with gifts of healings, those who have the gift of helps, those who rule, and those who speak in tongues.

This list of the gifts given to the local church is not exhaustive. Some gifts are not mentioned here (e.g. evangelists).

God is God the Father.

Hath set is used of bringing about an arrangement in the sense of fixed, established, set, or arranged; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. Hath set was also used in verse 18 of the human body; whereas, here it is used of the local church body.

Some suggests that these gifts were given to individuals but gives no indication of how many individuals there were.

In the church means in the local church. The appears before church in the Greek text in order to treat it generically as a class or group. What is true of one local church is true of all local churches.

First, or in the first place, introduces the sequence in which God placed the spiritual gifts in the church. The gifts are listed from most important to least important.

The first group is apostles, men like Peter, James, John, Thomas, Matthew, the rest of the twelve, and Paul, appointed and sent out by Jesus. Although most churches have never seen apostles, there were apostles in the first local church in Jerusalem.

The second group God placed in the church, which is introduced by secondarily, understood in the sense of secondly or in the second place, is prophets. These are those who received divine revelation directly from God and then delivered these messages to others.

The third group God placed in the church, which is introduced by thirdly or in the third place, is teachers, i.e. those who instruct others in the things of God.

After that, which suggests next in succession and is understood in the sense of then, introduces the gift of miracles, people with the ability to do signs or wonders in a supernatural way. It is power to work wonders or to do miracles.

Then, which is understood in the sense of next in order of time, God appointed gifts of healings, i.e. spiritual gifts of healings, i.e. the spiritual ability to restore people who are ill or injured to a full measure of health.

Another gift God placed in the church is helps, i.e. helpful deeds. God has given some the special ability to be helpful to others, regardless of the situation.

One more gift God placed in the church is governments, i.e. administrations, which suggests the ability to hold leading positions in the church.

One final gift Paul lists is diversities of tongues, i.e. kinds (or classes) of tongues or languages.

It is no accident that the gift of tongues is listed last. The Corinthian believers were glamorizing the least important gift. Just as God has placed the different members in the physical body, so God has placed various spiritual gifts in the local church body. Although most of these gifts are not found in churches in the twenty-first century, all of these were found in the first church body, i.e. in the local church in Jerusalem. The gifts of apostles, prophets, miracles, healing, and tongues have all ceased.

I Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

All four questions expect negative answers = No

I Corinthians 12:30 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

All three questions expect negative answers = No

We see finally that -

VI. BELIEVERS SHOULD BE SEEKING THE BETTER SPIRITUAL GIFTS - 12:31

I Corinthians 12:31 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Covet = be seeking

The best gifts = the spiritual gifts, the better ones.

Why spend time and effort seeking after lesser gifts when better ones are available?

The more excellent way is the way of love discussed in chapter 13.

CONCLUSION:

Inasmuch as there is a unity within the body of Christ, the local church, and inasmuch as God has distributed the individual members according to His will, we as individuals should seek to function within the local church in accordance with whatever gift or gifts God has given us, and we should not be overly concerned with the gifts that He has not given to us.