Serving Christians Seeking to Live a Holy Life

THE CHURCH III

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Member Involvement
Leon L .Combs,Ph.D.
July 18, 1999

Knowing what the church is makes it clear that we must be involved. The church is not a social agency to meet the needs of the community or a place to come to be baptized, married, and buried. The church is not a religious social club where like-minded people meet for fellowship and service activities. The church is the Body of Christ, the called-out people of God who are declared to be His children (John 1:12)..

In analogy to the human body, the ear does not have a choice about becoming involved in helping the physical body to function. The little toe does not have a choice about becoming involved in helping the physical body to function. We could name every member of the physical body with the same accompanying statement, all parts must function for the whole to be as healthy as it should be. We are the adopted children of God (Rom 8:15, 23; Rom 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5) and we need to behave accordingly. I think that the reason many people are inactive members is a lack of understanding of what the church is and who we are in relation to the church. Each child of God needs to find the local church in which he/she can contribute the best according to God's plan for us (gifts, talents, personality, etc.). We also must remember that we are always His children, wherever we go. To not serve is an insult to God and is "mooching" off the other children.

We will examine 1Cor 12 for a discussion of the topic of member involvement.

1Cor 12:2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led.
1Cor 12:3 Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
1Cor 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Cor 12:5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
1Cor 12:6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.

Before we were born again, we were all pagans and we had our dumb idols to which we were led away ( we were slaves to sin (Rom 6:17; Eph 4:17-18; Titus 3:3). Now we have to be very careful to not let them "sneak" back into our lives. All of us should name some of these now for we each should be aware of the particular weaknesses in our lives. Some that are particular apparent in our society are self-fulfillment, hedonism (behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain), self-aggrandizement, amusement, gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, etc.

In verse 3, Paul said that saying "Jesus is accursed" as an utterance prompted by the Holy Spirit was impossible, so the utterance came from some other source. The people's statement could have had as its origin the gnostic influence (everything physical is evil, only the spiritual is good). The gnostics said that Jesus the man was not God, but the Spirit of God descended upon Him at His baptism and left before the crucifixion. A gnostic would not have said that "Jesus" is Lord -they would say "Christ" is Lord. An unbeliever can utter the words (Matt 7:21), but no one can make Jesus Lord of their life without the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Rom 8:9).

Verses 4-6 are extremely important in understanding the involvement of children of God in the Church. All gifts and ministries are from the one and only God. God distributes His gifts in a variety of allotments to His children. "Ministries" means services, so different people can serve in different services with the same gifts. Each gift is a service gift. Some might have the gift of teaching and the ministry to children in an orphanage. Some might have the same gift of teaching and the ministry to people in a retirement home. There are many possible ministries for the same gift and it is God who decides upon the gifts and the ministries. So after you determine the gifts that God has given you , you need to determine the service area in which He has determined for you to work.

"Effects" means "what is worked out or energized". Our gifts and ministries are given supernaturally by God, and God energizes them. Only God can empower them so that they are effective. What a beautiful teaching about how God prepares us for work within the Body of Christ. He gives us gifts, appoints us to services with those gifts, and empowers us for using the gifts in that service.

1Cor 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1Cor 12:8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
1Cor 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
1Cor 12:10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
1Cor 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

All of these gifts are given for the common good of the Body of Christ. All the gifts are given by the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to each individual according to His will.

1Cor 12:12 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, so also is Christ.
1Cor 12:13 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.

We should all function in unity, a symphony of edifying activity led by the Holy Spirit to glorify God. All (Jews, Greeks, slaves, or free) were baptized in one body, and we all were made to receive the same Holy Spirit (we don't have to seek a "second blessing"). See 1 Cor 6:19 and Eph 4:4-6. All also receive the same amount of the Spirit (John 3:34).

In verses 14-20 note that the diversity of function is necessary for the body to function as one. Also note in verse 18: "just as He desired". There are many members but only one body. Remember my comments at the beginning of this article concerning the importance of the function of each individual member of the body. We will each be accountable for our lack of participation in the Body of Christ. An inactive member is disrespectful to God.

Verses 21-26 point out that everybody is important and essential. Note in verse 24 that God composed the body. We must not show disrespect is we don't like our role and wish that we had another role. If we all function properly there is no division. All have the same care for all of the others.

1Cor 12:27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.

The first part of this verse refers to us as the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16; Acts 7:48; 1Cor 6:19; John 14:23) and the second part refers to us as members of the universal, invisible church.

Verses 28-31 tell of several appointments made by God. "Helps" means people gifted to help the local church deal with the poor and the sick. "Administration" refers to people given the gift to govern and manage the affairs of the local church. Note that Paul tells us that God has not appointed all gifts to all people. We are each needed to function with our particular gift for the edification of the entire Body of Christ.

So, we don't have any choice about being involved in the church. We are each individually members of it and we each have been given a gift, a service within which to use the gift, and the empowerment to function so that the entire Body is edified and God is Glorified.


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Web Author: Dr. Leon L. Combs
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