July 12, 2015
College Park Church
Growing Up: Who am I & who are we? Qualifications for Discipleship 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Joe Bartemus 12
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though
many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves4 or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am
not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,5 yet one body. 21
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no
need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:12-16 (ESV)
Introduction This morning we are continuing a series started by Andrew Rogers last week on discipleship and soul care. He preached from Ephesians 4 on “I wanna be like Christ.” Disciples want to be like Christ. This week I will follow that sermon with one dealing with the qualifications needed to be involved in discipleship. As I was praying about and preparing for this sermon, I had a dream (not really, but it illustrates the point). I dreamed that a Martian was on the interstellar web and found a cosmic digital copy of the current Christianity Today magazine (July/August 2015). He had read several articles, which caused him to ask the question: Who are these Christians that have magazines? He also found an earth site that noted a church in Indianapolis whose mission statement was to “ignite a passion to follow Jesus.” He wondered what that meant, so he fueled up his Martian spaceship and came to earth to visit College Park Church. The receptionist directed him to my office, and he entered and 1
asked me rather bluntly to explain his findings in this magazine (remember this is only a dream and any parallel to real life is merely coincidence). He cited articles entitled “Inside a New Experiment that Tests Our Hidden Racial Biases,” “The New Transgender Movement,” and “Why Fashion Matters.” He finally showed me a print of a poll that says of the 245 million adults in the US, 62 million claim to be evangelical Christians, and 56 million claim to be “nones.” He was unfamiliar with “nones” and was confused what these other issues have to do with following Jesus. I realized that he would need a long time to understand the context of these articles, but I suggested that we put down the magazine and look at the Word from God whom we desire to follow and to make disciples of Jesus. I took him to 1 Corinthians, and explained to him that I was just in Corinth, a prosperous city in Greece that an early follower of Jesus named Paul visited and to whom he wrote three letters (before there was Internet or whatever). I wanted to show him all of my pictures but thought it wiser to just show one of the bema (judgment seat) in Corinth that had as its backdrop a temple to Aphrodite (with possibly 1,000 prostitutes). On our trip we saw the road Paul probably walked to the city, a temple to Apollo, and the market place where meat was sold. I told him that Paul stayed there for one and a half years and started a church. In his first letter Paul tells of the many problems in that church — sexual identity (chapters 5-7), culture wars (chapter 8 — meat offered to idols), debates on how it will all end (chapter 15), worship wars (chapter 14 — tongues or not), and many other problems. Paul draws them back to the center of Christianity, and that is God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I encouraged him to come to the sermon this Sunday where I would preach from 1 Corinthians and show what Paul said about Christian identity and discipleship. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 — Paul Explains Two Truths that Define Who Followers of Christ Are I. Who am I? Answer: IN (Oneness/unity come as a disciple; baptized in the spirit into the body of Christ) vv.12-13 Chapter 12 begins a new section in the letter. Paul is responding to a problem in which the believers of Corinth were arguing about gifts and which were better. In verse 4 Paul records a beautiful Trinitarian statement of the unity of the Godhead in dispensing and activating gifts. The Spirit apportions the gifts as He wills (v. 11). In verse 12 Paul continues to speak in redundant verbiage, repeating the ideas of the one and many. The word “body” is used some 16 times in this passage, and here Paul wants to emphasize unity with diversity: “one body, many members.” Paul was writing to intelligent, philosophically capable Greeks who knew of the discussion of the priorities of the “one and the many.” That discussion goes back to the beginning. Satan thought that he as an individual (one) was more important than the unified kingdom of God (many). Adam and Eve also wanted autonomy (oneness), not the glory of God for all creation. The question shows up in contemporary contexts such as an individual soldier submitting to the greater cause of the many (country). In confused families the individuality of the child is allowed to disrupt the unity of the whole family. In the church, there can be the opportunity for the individual members to desire their good, comfort, and ease over the 2
mission of the kingdom of God. Paul describes a beautiful union of many members (individually) and the one body of Christ. Both the individual and the group are important. Verse 13 is a profound and glorious verse. Here Paul speaks to all the people of the church and identifies them with a simple but profound preposition. He says that all (believers) are IN one Spirit and were baptized into one body. Some versions translate the preposition as “by” (by one Spirit), and it could be, but it seems unlikely. In his commentary, Blomberg prefers to translate it as “In” and says that the concept here is the “spiritual action of being incorporated into the company of the redeemed and suggests that the Spirit both indwells and surrounds us.”1 Christians are baptized IN the Spirit into the Body of Christ. This suggests more than that the Holy Spirit does the work of baptism but that we are baptized IN Him. It is a strong statement of relationship. We — all believers — are so closely related to the Spirit that we are said to be IN Him. Paul goes on with some shocking news to the Corinthians. This connection with the Spirit manifests itself in some phenomenal manners. Racial and ethnic distinctions are crumbled. Socio-economic restraints are broken. There is such unity and oneness that Paul says we all drink and are filled with the Spirit. We are immersed IN Him. We are “ALL IN!!” That is who we are, Mr. Martian. We are IN the Spirit in the body of Christ. We are lost in Him. That is who we are as disciples! We are not just on His team or in His organization. We are not just His trophies, items on His resume, or His accomplishments. We are IN Him. It is intimate and at the core of our identity. We are one with the Spirit! APPLICATION: So what does that mean –“IN”? 1. Identity: Believers are not just in a new club of Christians. Being “IN” is at the core of who we are. We are united with the Spirit, and united with Christ, and united with the Father. We are new creatures. We are all in God, and He is in us. 2. Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit has a unique action in this union. We are in the Spirit. That includes intimate relationship with God through the Spirit. The Spirit give us life (John 3). He is our life and spiritual breath. He is our helper in life and comforter (John 16). Since we are in Him, He is our guarantee of eternal inheritance with God (Eph. 1:14). He is our power and the one who apportions gifts (1 Cor. 12:11). We are in Him and desire Him to fill us as we yield to Him (Eph. 5:18). There is much more, but it all revolves around the beauty of being IN the Spirit, not just a toy for the Spirit to play with. Nor is he a toy for us; we are IN Him! Disciples are one with God as we are IN the Spirit.
3. This gives us security, confidence, courage, and direction because of the indwelling Spirit.
Blomberg, Craig. I Corinthians: NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 246.
4. The church is not just a social group; it is a group of Holy Spirit-baptized people who love the diversity of the church — racially/ethnically, socio-economically, etc. That diversity does not minimize our union in the Holy Spirit. We share in a baptism from the Holy Spirit that binds us together with an unbreakable bond. We are on a mission, and the mission is that of the Holy Spirit: to make Christ known! II. Who are we? Incarnate (we are many working together as the body of Christ) vv.14-26 Paul pursues a humorous and fairly obvious discussion of body parts and how they work together as individual parts for the good of the whole. A. We are not INferior to others (vv.14-20) Paul shows from the clear reality of a body that every body has many members, but they are independent and all are needed. In verses 15-17 he starts with the foot and says that it is not less of the body because it is not the hand. He then makes the comparison of the ear thinking it is less than the eye. It is possible that disciples in the church can think they do not have anything to offer, but the reality is that all are necessary. College Park may be a large and talented church, but all of us are necessary to the health of the body here. You cannot get away with the excuse of inferiority. I do not want a body that has no feet, nor does Christ want a church where some are not willing to be all “in” and where some think they cannot contribute. In verse 18 Paul tells the readers that God Himself has arranged the members as He chose, and He is the master artist/conductor. He is the sovereign king and has not made a mistake. Later, in v. 27, we are called the body of Christ. Why not the body of Jesus? Maybe because Christ is an Old Testament term that would cause one to think of king, and the king sets up his kingdom for his purposes, but we are in His body to do His will. Our mission as ones in the Spirit is to be active in the body, living as the incarnation (body) of Christ. B. We are Interdependent (vv. 21-26) Paul then continues the picture of a body and changes the emphasis. Now it is parts thinking they are too good and do not need the others. In verse 21 he speaks of an eye that says it does not need a hand. Paul disagrees with this autonomous view of the body and refutes it by saying that even the weaker parts of the body are indispensable. We even bestow greater honor on body parts that are less presentable, vv. 22-23. He may be referring to the stomach/intestine type parts which are not seen, but he probably refers to our “private” parts that are very important but not open for all to see. In mentioning this, Paul may be referencing Genesis 1-2, where God created His greatest human diversity in male and female, and that was part of reflecting the diversity of the triune God. In verses 24-26, he concludes this section with a call to unity. God is the composer of the body. There is not to be divisions because of the various roles played in the body. The body needs to care for one 4
another to reflect the beauty of Christ’s body. Suffering with those who suffer and rejoicing with those who rejoice — this is total unity as the body of Christ, filled with people in the Spirit. Conclusion: What do we do with this? 1. Learn and live, being “all in” — A disciple is one who knows who he or she is in the Spirit and in the body, who strives to live that out in life, and who invite others to become followers of Jesus. 2. Develop a good theology of the Spirit: Walk in the Spirit, continually rehearsing the reality that we are in the Spirit and in the body of Christ, and living out our identity. Hear the Spirit’s call to repentance. Do not grieve the Spirit.
3. The Sovereign God has designed the body and is the master artist of this beautiful unity of diverse members. Trust in His wisdom and give Him the position of Lord. Be happy in what He has for each of us in His church. 4. Commit to living in unity as a church: love sinners, racial unity, economic unity.
5. Bringing all we have to the body, whether we are College Park North Indy or College Park Fishers, we are Not autonomous, not looking for me and mine. Look to incarnate the life of Christ in the world today.
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