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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome y’all to HBS and thanks for taking the time to study your Bible with us.
If you’ve been with us for awhile, then you know our Apostle Paul is writing to a very troubled church; a church which exists in the midst of a very corrupt city and culture where paganism is the norm. Regardless of the sarcastic comments appropriately scattered here and there in this letter, it still conveys a positive and uplifting mood as he addresses these believing saint’s concerns and their questions.
As I’ve said before, when it comes to this book I am a stickler for the details; I pay attention to what this book says and what it does not say. Since we began this study, have you noticed our Apostle Paul has not questioned the salvation of these folks once? Instead, Paul has affirmed not only their present standing in Christ Jesus but their future benefits as well. Some of these saints in Corinth may not receive a future reward when they are summoned before the Lord at the Bema Seat, but not one single Believer has lost his or her salvation. Paul knows the certainty of their salvation rests not with the Believer but with the One who called them and the One who will complete all that He begun (Philippians 1:6). This Truth serves to assure Paul as well. He knows his continued ministry to this church in Corinth will not be in vain – God’s got this!
Please turn to 1 Corinthians 12:12 and we’ll pick up our Bible study right where we left it one week ago.
1 Corinthians 12:12
Because some of the people in this church were arrogant (puffed-up) concerning their social status, their spiritual knowledge, their spiritual gifts, etc. they deliberately looked down on other members of the church merely because they were poor, they were spiritually weak, and their spiritual gifts were deemed to be less important or insignificant, and this disruptive attitude was causing problems in the church.
Paul response to this arrogance was to use an illustration comparing the human body to God’s church. He said: 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, so also is Christ (v12).
This is as good as place as any to point out to everyone, so that no one is left unaware, that nowhere in the N.T. does God name His church and that’s because there’s no reason to name something when there’s only one in existence. For example let’s compare our Moon to Saturn’s Moons. Saturn has 62 moons with confirmed orbits. 53 of these 62 moons have been named. Now, what do we call our Moon – the Moon, right? We call it “The Moon” because it’s the only one. If you walked up to me and said, “Did you see the Moon last night?” I wouldn’t ask you, “Which Moon?” That’s because we don’t recognize our Moon by any other name. Yet, if you speak of the church to someone today, I bet they ask you, “Which one?”
Since Scripture explains God’s church as a living organism, why do so many people still think of it as a building? Why do so many people believe to become a member of the church they have to get involved in a particular church group’s system or denominational set of procedures? I don’t find this anywhere in the Bible. Instead, Paul states clearly the church is a spiritual body, it’s a living organism made up of individual Believers. You become one with Christ and His one church through faith and the quiet working of the Holy Spirit (12:13).
In other words, if all these buildings were by some means, taken away, they vanished overnight; God’s church would still exist on earth for you and I, just like every other true Believer on this planet, are God’s one church: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Let’s go to verses 13-14.
Our Apostle Paul wants the saints in Corinth (and us) to know there are no inferior or superior body parts in Gods’ church, which means no one should hoard their spiritual gifts and there’s no reason to be “puffed-up” - 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. For the body is not one member, but many (13-14).
The body-like unity of Believers in the church is not a goal to be achieved; it is a fact to be recognized – for we were all baptized into one body. All means all; the meaning hasn’t changed over the years. People in the church may see others differently and label them accordingly, but Scripture clearly says, God sees us as one body – we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
People have adopted this passage, in regard to water baptism, to teach its necessity as a kind of initiation ceremony into their church community. As long as they’re not attaching your salvation to this ritual, there’s no harm in getting wet. However, the Bible clearly says the Believer’s baptism is about identification with Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5); there isn’t a drop of water involved in Spirit baptism.
Paul said all Believers have experienced Spirit baptism. The earth doesn’t move, the Believer doesn’t undergo an “out-of-body” experience, but this supernatural event occurred the moment you and I believed the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Holy Spirit Himself baptizes the believer, one at a time, into the Body of Christ, making them a member of God’s church.
The other thing that also happened, which I don’t find many people teaching today is this Spirit baptism also means, if you belong to Jesus Christ, you belong to everyone else who belongs to Jesus Christ. In other words, we’re all in this together for the Lord folks for we are one church family. It doesn’t matter what it says on the placard posted outside on their church building. If the folks down the street are true Believers, then you are one with them through Spirit baptism. When we all come together in the clouds to meet up with Jesus Christ at the Rapture, we will be one church again at that instant, as God intended from the start. These 217+ church denominations that currently exist in the USA today will be done away with along with the hindrances that divide us.
Let’s go to verses 15-16.
15: 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.
16: 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.
In both of these verses the phrases, “I am not,” from Paul is meant to communicate the feeling of not belonging; the feeling of being insignificant or unwanted. Here Paul speaks for the Believer, who “feels” inferior or excluded from the body saying, “No one thinks I have any value; evidently I’m insignificant; I don’t matter to this church.”
The question is why does the Believer feel they don’t matter to this church? The response, as it pertains to the Corinthian issue can be found in the word “feelings” – they supposed this was true based on what they felt. If the foot felt or declared itself not part of the body because it was not a hand, Paul’s saying the foot would be both foolish and mistaken. He says this because the Creator God loves variety therefore diversity does not disqualify anyone from the Body of Christ.
Let’s go to verse 17.
Some of these Corinthian saints were discouraged with their spiritual gifts because they were not attracting much attention to themselves; they weren’t in the limelight like the hand and the eye. Meaning, even though their gifts didn’t equal some of the others in the church whose gifts garnered them a lot of attention, they wanted to be accepted for who they were. Instead, they found no function or comfortable place in the church to serve. Paul responded to this problem by being practical: If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole (body) were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? Paul’s point being God’s one church needs each member and each member’s spiritual gift for the Body of Christ to function properly in this world.
What saith the Scriptures? The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them (Proverbs 20:12). The LORD God designed the human body. Paul builds on this Truth by saying: God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, (and the thought of this is not only ridiculous it’s impractical) where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body (v18-19).
Note God has gifted each member in the church (not just some members) and He has placed them as He desired. We are many members but one body called to do God’s will on earth. Each member of the body is somebody; there’s no reason to adopt an inferiority complex. We all have a function to perform in the church and this makes us an important member of the body, bearing in mind we’re all in this for the common good.
I bet you never stop to think of your body’s organs during the day, but if your liver, your kidneys, your spleen, or your heart ever stopped working, if even one of these essential organs stopped performing their God-given function within your body for one minute you’d immediately appreciate them a great deal – believe me! This is why Paul told these folks: And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you” (v21).
Let’s go to verses 22-25.
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
There’s a flipside to every situation; while some people in this church were frustrated with their spiritual gifts and their position in the body, others were boasting of theirs.
In these verses Our Apostle Paul gets to the heart of this matter so as to correct this improper attitude within the body.
Back in verse 14 Paul instructed these Believers that the body is not one member but many, and that it takes all parts to make a whole, therefore each saint should accept their God-given position in the body with thanksgiving, serving the Body of Christ, each in his or her own particular way. But in verse 20 he’s telling these Corinthians, especially those who boast about their God-given gifts and positions, that there is but one body, and each person but one of its many members.
In addition to all the other problems in this church, we have a church with members thinking of themselves as inferior, questioning whether or not he or she even belongs to the body, while other people with a superiority complex are thinking and acting as if he or she is the whole body. To address this inequality Paul proceeds to point out to his readers that we need some members of the body which “we deem less honorable.”
We attend church services and see people in the limelight or the forefront all the time. However, we do not often see the many members behind the scenes exercising their spiritual gifts, week in and week out, who help make it all work so seamlessly, for the common good. I’m talking about the people who labor faithfully and quietly out of the spotlight. We never see their faces; I bet you don’t know their names, but without a doubt their contributions to the body often are the reason the leaders look so good.
Paul is saying every member of the body is important. There aren’t any exceptions.
Those body parts that are deemed less honorable or less presentable are all critically important. As I pointed out earlier, try removing just one of these vital members and watch the human body begin to destabilize. Paul follows through with his analogy rejecting the Corinthians criteria for evaluating which gifts were most honorable outright. They had chosen the most visible or audible gifts for selfish reasons. In their self-centeredness they overlooked the important fact that the same God who designed the human body also designed His one church. God gives spiritual gifts to each member for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ, which means the true criteria for judging the worthiness of any of God’s gifts would be its usefulness to the body.
Let’s go to verse 26.
26: And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine headache, you know exactly what Paul’s talking about here. Your whole body hurts and not just your head. If you ever got up in the middle of the night and stubbed your toe on a piece of furniture, you also know full well what Paul’s saying. Not only does your toe hurt you feel pain all over your body… maybe that’s why Paul used this analogy – we certainly don’t know, but it fits.
Once again, please note what this verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t say every member of the body “should” suffer together with it. But it does say, if one member suffers, all members suffer with it; and the same is true if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
To understand what Paul is actually saying in verse 26 you have to backup and consider what he taught the Corinthians (and us) in verses 18-25. God Himself has structured the Body of Christ. Put another way, the supreme authority in all creation has specifically placed each Believer, a.k.a. member of the body, within it and He has gifted each one of these with spiritual gifts to be used in the building up of Christ’s body. If the body is to function, as He has purposed, each part must recognize his or her individual dependence upon and concern for the whole. In addition, each member must understand what the body has been designed by God to accomplish. Therefore it is the responsibility of each member to humble themselves before God (arrogance runs contrary to God’s plan and purpose) in order to produce the unity that will enable the whole body to perform its function here on earth for the common good.
The Lord Jesus Christ expressed these concerns through our Apostle Paul because He wants His one church to function effectively and properly in complete unity. Verse 26 expresses the meaning what happens to one part of the body, or what one part does, affects the whole body. What we do, or choose not to do, as the case may be, makes a difference because we all are individual parts of a living, spiritual organism. Our actions, or inactions, will produce an increase or a decrease in good or evil within the one body. There will either be productivity for the common good or inefficiency in the use of one’s spiritual resources. We can be an effective witness for the Lord or an ineffective witness based on our actions.
(To be continued)
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