I Corinthians 12:12-31

Steve Viars July 11, 1992 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

- Tonight we're going to return to our study of spiritual
   gifts from I Cor. 12 and I'd invite you to turn there in
   your Bibles
- remember we said that Paul is writing an extended passage
  of Scripture here that includes chapters 12, 13, and 14--
  all on the important subject of spiritual gifts
- spiritual gifts are divine enablements given to each
   believer for ministry and service to build up the body of
   Christ
- every believer has at least one, and it is imperative that
   we learn what God says about how to use them effectively
   in His service

- tonight we're going to be looking at verses 12-27 and
     studying "Lessons From The Body For The Body"

- if you want a sillier title but one that is definitely in
   line with the argument of the passage - you could title
   these verses - "Think What Would Happen If Your Hands fell
   Off" (we'll say more about that later)

- let's begin by reading verses 12-27 - (please be looking
   for principles the Lord gives us to govern the way we use
   our gifts)

- I'd like to divide these verses into three principles that
   govern the use of our spiritual gifts

I. The Unity Of The Church Is Important

    - you'll notice tonight in our outline that the concepts
      we address are similar to the ones we addressed a
      couple of weeks ago
        - reason for that is - In these verses, Paul is
          illustrating what he said in verses 1-11

    - its just like you're talking to someone and they've
      made several points, and then they use an illustration
      or a figure of speech to further explain or clarify the
      points they've made
   - that's what these verses are, but in so doing, they help
     us greatly in understanding how to use our gifts

   - Paul says - the unity of the church is important
      - now let's take a minute and remind ourselves how Paul
        had emphasized that in the previous verses
    (A. From past verses)
        - over and over, Paul emphasized of the unity of the
          church because our gifts come from a COMMON SOURCE

         - let me ask you to scan down through verses 4-11
           and let's see how many examples we can find of
           Paul emphasizing the truth that our gifts come
           from God (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11)
    - so they're no question that Paul has made a major
      emphasis of this idea of the unity that ought to result
      in the church by recognizing that our gifts have a
      common source
- now that ought to tell us something
   - every person here, young and old--ought to have a light
     go on in our minds that says
        - apparently its very possible for a believer to miss
          this point
        - apparently its very possible to exercise their
          gifts in a way that result in lack of unity in a
          church
             - that results in disharmony in the body

- and I hope every one of us would say - I surely don't want
   to be a person who uses my gifts in a way that divides the
   body
      - Paul is obviously wanting to make a major point of
        this issue and I surely don't want to miss it

- now, please look at how he makes the point in our verses
   tonight

- verse 12 - "for as the body..."
    - INPUT - let me ask you - what body?  (is he referring
               to in this verse?) (think about the argument
               he develops in the following verses with the
               hands, ears, eyes, feet)
        - the answer is - he's talking about the physical
          body in verse 12 (READ the rest of verse)

- he's saying - Our physical body is one - but it has many
   parts
     - INPUT - now, this question is designed for the
        children who are here tonight--you can only answer
        this if you're ten years old or younger.
          - Paul says - our bodies have many parts - What
            are some of the "parts" of our bodies?

- so Paul is saying - the body is one, yet it has many parts,
   and then he turns it around--though it has many parts
    --it is one
- its marvelously complex yet its unified
    - its more than the sum of its parts
    - those parts only work if they're unified together

    - you can't cut a body in several parts and have several
        bodies
    - it stops working
        - OUR PHYSICAL BODIES HAVE MANY PARTS, BUT THOSE
            PARTS ONLY WORK WHEN THEY'RE UNIFIED


- now, this is very important
    - look at what he says at the end of the verse

    - you would expect Paul to say
    - the physical body has many parts, but it is one
       - and that is like...THE CHURCH

- but that’s not what he says, is it?
   - Instead, he says - "that is like WHO?" - our Lord

- that’s a second great reason why unity is so important

    B. Because of the example of our Savior
    - now we need to chew on this for a moment, but this is
       very important
    - "SO ALSO IS CHRIST" - Paul says

- here's the point - our Lord went out of His way to
   demonstrate the importance of his UNITY and
   INDENTIFICATION with the church
- He purposely identified Himself with the church

- that’s exactly opposite of rugged individualism, one of the
    American Hallmarks
- the Daniel Boones and the Davy Crockets and the rugged
    individualists who supposedly didn't need anybody and
    didn't depend on anybody
       - they could go it alone

- our Lord contributed to the doctrine of the unity of the
    church by His own example

    1) During His public ministry, He chose his 12 disciples
       to work with and to be with and to minister with

       He was almost constantly with people

       - our Lord was no loner, no rugged individualist
       - and even though He was the only Person who could
          ever genuinely claim to not need anything
       - yet He contributed to the doctrine of the unity of
         the church by His own example
           - "all the members of the body, though they are
              many, are one body, SO ALSO IS CHRIST"

    2) Our Lord designed salvation so that believers would be
       "In Union" with Him.
            - we are "in Christ" and He is "In us"

        Because of that, we:

        a. receive His life

            - John 14:19 - "because I live, you shall live
               also"
            - I John 5:12 - "He that hath the Son hath life"

- see, our Lord has purposely unified Himself with us
    - believers possess the very life of God

        b. receive divine enablement

            - John 15:5 - "I am the vine, and ye are the
               branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him,
               the same bringeth forth much fruit; for
               without me ye can do nothing."

- our unity in Christ enables us to be fruitful for Him.

- *** You just can't separate our Lord from a believer or a
      believer from His Lord.
        - our Lord purposely identified Himself with His
           church to promote unity.


- that’s why our Lord says:
    1) whoever receives one of these little one receives who?
         - He receives ME - Matt. 18:5

    2) He also made that point in Matt. 25.
        - you remember where he gathered His disciples, and
          said: "Then shall the king say to those on His
          right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit
          the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
          the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me food,
          I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a
          stranger and ye took me in"

        - do you remember the disciples response?
        - "when did we see you hungry and give you food, or
             thirsty and give you drink?"

        - do you remember what the Lord said - "Insomuch as
          ye have done it unto the least of these my
          brethren, ye have done it unto me."

- "all the members of the body, though they are many, are one
     body, SO ALSO IS CHRIST"

- what's the point of all this?
    - we talk a lot about becoming more like Jesus Christ and
      rightly so
    - that’s God's great goal for us (Rom. 8:28-29 - And we
        know...)

    - point is - here's one of the great ways to become more
       like Christ
    - by recognizing the importance of unity, and preserving
      unity, and contributing to unity.

    - Unity is like Christ

- one of the saddest things in many churches today is the
  lack of unity.
- hardly a week goes by where we're not contacted by a church
   somewhere that is having trouble
     - there's unresolved problems and the church is divided

- this person said this, and that person said that
- this person did this, and that person didn't do do that
- there's no unity or harmony in the church

- its like taking any living organism and cutting it into
    pieces
       - where those parts used to function marvelously
         together
       - now its dying, hurting, ineffective
          - surely not accomplishing the purposes for which
            it was created

- let's stop and brainstorm that idea for a moment
    - INPUT - what are some things a person could do or not
        do that would result in disunity in a church?

- Paul said - believers ought to use their gifts in a way
   that promotes unity in the church because it's like our
   Savior
- he gives another reason in verse 13

    C. Because of the work of the Spirit
    - Paul says in verse 13 - we were all baptized by the
       Spirit
    - now this isn't talking about water baptism, it's Spirit
       baptism
    - spirit baptism is a work of the Holy Spirit, where, at
      salvation, we are brought into the body of Christ

         - now it's important to notice that even the carnal
           Corinthians, with all their problems and
           difficulties, are said to have been baptized by
           the Spirit
         - notice also that its in the past tense - it
           happens once at salvation and only once

- you were baptized in the Spirit
    - now its true that some folks talk about some second
      work of grace
    - there's all kinds of different names and descriptions
         - reaching perfection, being slain in the Spirit,
           getting the second blessing

    - there's all kinds of ways to receive it
        - you pray real long, somebody bonks you on the head
            - you become real holy

- the Bible doesn't teach any of that
    - which is why there is such a wide variety of teaching on
      the subject
         - because it doesn't come from the Scripture
         - also often when you talk to these folks you find
            that the teaching is very fuzzy
              - they talk about getting it but they don't
                talk about how

- the reason is - the Scripture doesn't teach any second
    blessing idea
       - this verse is a good proof that it doesn't
       - a person gets all the Spirit they're ever going to
           get at salvation
             - the issue isn't getting some more
       - the issue is submitting to the control of the Spirit
         we already have received by obeying His Word

- that has implications to unity as well
    - the verse tells what they are
        - racial barriers have been broken
        - economic differences are irrelevant

    - we all have the same Spirit, and that unites together

- the unity of the church is tremendously important because
    of the example of Christ and the work of the Spirit

- now I think this point brings out some questions we need to
  ask ourselves:

    1) What impact do you have on the unity of the church?


    2) Is there anything you say or do that results in
       disunity?

    3) Is there anything you're not saying or doing that
        would result in greater unity if you would do or say
        them?

    4) What would our church be like if everyone's attitude
       and actions on this subject were just like yours?

- I mentioned earlier that we get involved with a number of
   situations where folks in churches aren't getting along
- one of the common denominators often times is that the
   issue that we're talking about here was just simply not a
   priority

- maybe that's the real question we need to ask at this point
   - How much of a priority is the unity of the church to you
     and what evidence is there to back up your answer?

- Paul says - the unity of the church is tremendously
   important.

- now he moves on to say--that one of the most essential
  points in preserving the church's unity is understanding:

II. The Importance of the Diversity of the Church

  - Paul switches subjects in verse 14
  - he had been talking about unity in verses 12-13
  - but in verse 14 (READ)

  - there's great diversity
  - we've been given different gifts, abilities,
      opportunities

  - now Paul says - here's what we can't do with those
      differences: (read 15-16)

  - what's the point?

    A. Therefore, I must never think or say "They don't need
         me," or "I don't count," or "What I am or do isn't
         important or it doesn't matter."

        - now I'm not saying we ought to leave with our
          heads puffed up saying "I'm so important" and "I
          really matter."

        - the verses are written to combat the tendency on
          the part of some who fail to recognize the impact
          they have on the body

            - see, some folks are like that
              - they think of the church for what they can
                 get out of it
                   - what the church does for them
                   - how the church can impact them

             - instead of thinking about how they impact the
               church (OVER)

- the effect of their godliness or lack of it
- the effect of their service or their lack of it
- the effect of their growth or lack of it

- see, the concept of our union with Christ through baptism
   of the Spirit is a two edged sword
      - sure there's great benefit to be unified in the body
         of Christ
      - but that brings immediate and profound responsibility

      - because each person's diverse gifts, unique
          backgrounds, and differing opportunities must be in
          place for the church to function smoothly and
          effectively

- genuine unity only comes through proper diversity

- thinking or saying "They don't need me," or "I don't
    count," or "What I am or do isn't important or it doesn't
    matter." is wrong ... for four reasons according to these
    verses

    1. because envy is wrong

        - why might a person conclude "What I do isn't
          important or it doesn't matter"?
        - the answer Paul gives here is "envy"

        - why would a foot say - If I'm not a hand, I'm not
          important?
             - because of envy

        - we ought not to envy one another's gifts and
          abilities
        - A Sunday school class member ought not to say,
          "Well, I don't have to be friendly because I'm not
            a team leader."
        - a choir member shouldn't say - "I don't have to
          concentrate because I didn't have a solo."

   - that’s envy--and its sinful.

- another reason this kind of statement is wrong is:

    2. because it's just not true

        - that’s what's Paul's arguing here

        - just because a foot says its not important unless
          its a hand -- does that make it any less part of
          the body

        - see, people who fail to recognize the impact their
          life and ministry can and should have on the body
          are wrong because its just not true
        - a person can say it and think it until they're blue
          in the face but that doesn't make it any truer

        - its like the old saying the farmers have - "if a
          cow's tail is a leg, how many legs does he have?


        - the answer is "four" - because it doesn't matter
          how often you say his tail's a leg--it's still a
          tail
             - he's still got four legs and no more than four
               legs.

- see, some folks have convinced themselves that what they
   are and what they do doesn't affect the body and that's
   simply not true.

    - what we're saying is important for every person here
       tonight.

        - it's true for the youngest child here.

        - let me talk to our younger children here.
           - let me tell you a way that you can help the
             church body.
           - when a visitor comes to your Sunday School
             class, do you know what you can do?
               - you can be friendly to that person.

- we have some people in our church today who came back a
    second time primarily because someone was friendly to
    their child in Sunday School.

- see, don't ever say or think:
    - I'm just a little old foot
    - it doesn't matter what I do
        - I've just got a smelly sock on and dirt between
          my toes!
        - listen, what you do can have great impact on those
          around.

- that’s the picture that Paul's drawing here
   - you have to use your sanctified imagination

- what would happen if your foot said - I'm not important,
    I'm not part of the body
- or what would happen if your hand said, I'm not important,
    I'm not part of the body

- just picture that in your mind--you wake up one morning and
    you get out of bed and you fall down on the ground
- you think, boy that's strange--that's never happened
    before, I wonder what went wrong

- so you look down, and your feet are gone,
    - and you look over, and your hands are gone

- you crawl back over to the bed, and there they are, still
    tucked in bed.
- you say, that's kind of silly--of course it is

- but that’s exactly the point
    - can you imagine trying to get along even for a day
      without your hands or your feet?

    - see, some churches are doing just that--because some of
       the members have not recognized the important place
       their gifts and abilities play in the function of the
       body.
- as I was thinking about these verses, I was thinking back
   to the gifted persons that the Lord used to have an impact
   on my life as I was making critical decisions about
     1) if I would trust Christ as Savior and Lord
     2) whether I'd get serious about living for Him.

- I could talk about a number of adults, there's no question
  about that.
- but as I think back on my teenage years, and on who the
   Lord particularly used to affect me at that time:
     - three names come to the surface
        - Bob Kelleman, Steve Moisoff, and Jim Bargfelt

- have any of you heard those names? probably not
- those guys were members of our church in Gary and members
   of our youth group
      - they were one year ahead of me in school

- now two of them came from unsaved homes and weren't saved
   until they were in high school
    - one came from a broken home where the mother had left
      the family and their house was in such disarray it used
      to break my heart every time I saw it
         - that someone would actually live it that place

- so these guys weren't coming from particularly great
    backgrounds and they weren't particularly gifted
- but those guys got serious about living for the Lord in
  their high school years

- I don't even know if they knew my name
   - but I was watching them

   - and I decided - hey I want to be like that

   - I want to be serious about living for the Lord
   - I want to learn more about the Scripture
   - I want to get busy growing and handling issues in my
      life

- The bottom line is - I can't begin to put a price tag on
   the impact those three guys had on me by using their gifts
   and opportunities in the body of Christ there in Gary, IN

- a good question for us to ask is - what kind of impact am I
   having on those the Lord has placed around me?
     - do I recognize that what I am and what I do is
       impacting others in the body?

- While I'm talking about youth group, young people, can I
   ask you how you're doing on that?

- what kind of spiritual impact are you having on those
   around?
      - please don't say - well, am I my brother's keeper?
         - don't quote wicked Cain with that kind of attitude
         - the answer to the question is "Yes", in the sense
            that we are responsible for how we impact those
            around us.

- see, I can't say--since I'm not an eye-I'm not part of the
   body -- that's just not true
- Paul also says I can't say that because:

    3. uniformity is ineffective

        - that’s the point of verse 17 (read a little)

        - he's asking us to use our imagination again

        - let's say you get up this time, and your body parts
          are all the same.

        - instead of having a nose there, you have another
          hand
           - you sneeze and it waves

           - instead of eyes, you have hands

- see, hands are great, but if you have more than two of
    them, it's hard to buy shirts!

- in order for a church to be unified and effective, it needs
   everyone's diversity
      - every person, every gift is important

- of course the most important reason is that:

    4. God gave the gifts as it pleased Him

        - every time a person fails to recognize the impact
          their gifts have on the body of Christ--they're
          saying something about their view of the Person who
          gave the gifts.

        - that’s really the root of this whole issue
            - we're talking about a theological problem--a
              problem with this person view of Who God is

    - if we had a better handle on Who gave the gifts, we'd
       be a lot more careful about how we used them.

- (Illus) - if you talked to Kris, she'd tell you I'm a very
             hard person to buy a gift for.

    - I have a very narrow range of taste--I'm not that
         interested in trying new things -- broadening my
         horizon

    - several years ago, my mother-in-law bought me a Arguile
       sweater for Christmas.
    - I'm not an "arguile kind of guy"
        - Kris looked at me to see how I was going to respond
          and I responded very graciously (of course)

        - so the question was after we got home--Are you ever
            going to wear that sweater?

- Do you know the answer?
    "Of course"
     - not because I particularly like the sweater, but I
         love my mother-in-law.
     - I wear that sweater a lot in the winter time--in fact
          I've gotten to where I kind-of like it.
- but the point is - what we do with something that a person
    gives us reveals volumes about OUR VIEW of the Person

- so we can't minimize the potential impact our gifts can and
    must have on the body of Christ because "God has set the
    members, every one of them, in the body, as it has
    pleased him."


- now, Paul develops the other side of that in the next
   verses.
- read v. 21

- now that’s a switch in the argument

- I can't say - "they don't need me," but neither can I say:
    "I don't need them."

    (B. Therefore, I must never think or say; "I don't need
          them.")

        - that's the other side of the diversity issue.

        - the eye can't say to the hand - "I don't need you"
            - the head can't say to the feet - "You're
              unimportant."

        - God gave diverse gifts and everyone of them is
           important.  -- everyone is needed

        - that was a big part of the Corinthians' problem
           - they only magnified the showy gifts
              - the ones that didn't have them either envied
                them or faked them
              - the ones who did have them were proud and
                 wondered why more people weren't like them

***- they were divided when they should have been unified and
      they tried to be uniform when they should have
      appreciated their diversity.

- Paul is going after the tendency of a person wrongly
   elevating his/her importance in the body and minimizing
   the importance of others.

- now these next two verses are kind-of unusual, but they
  give us two good reasons why we must obey this principle.

        1. We're not always good evaluators of what/who is
           really important.

           - verse 22 talks about the parts of the body that
              seem to be weaker, or more feeble.

           - what Paul is talking about here is those parts
             of the body we might be tempted to think of as
             less important.

           - for example, if I asked you "What are the most
             important parts of your body"
               - you might be tempted to say - "my hands, my
                 feet, my ears, eyes, nose"

- but that’s not really true

- the most important parts are our internal organs.
    - that’s why they're protected by our skeletons.

- you can live without a hand, you can't live without a
    heart.

- Paul says - its possible to get that importance issue all
   out of whack.

    - we ought not to overemphasize our importance in the
        church and minimize someone else's.

- now he talks about this from another perspective in verse
    23.  (READ)

- this verse is a clothing illus.

    2. We follow this principle with our own clothing.

        - the idea is - there are parts of our bodies (he's
          talking about our torsos) that are intrinsically
          less honorable in that they ought not to be
          uncovered.

        - so what do we do about that?
           - we cover them.
           - and we spend a lot of money to cover them
               nicely.

- the bottom line is seen at the end of verse 25 - "so that
    we might have the same care for one another"

- see, the big picture is this -
     - one way that we can grow in our appreciation of the
       diversity of the gifts in the church is by according
       proper honor to the place and importance each person
       has in the church.

    - see, why do some people have an inflated view of their
        importance in a church?
    - one possible reason is that they haven't spent enough
       time thanking the Lord for all the other folks and the
       contribution they make to the body.

- isn't this true - unless you take time to consciously think
    about what it takes to get something accomplished or keep
    something going--you might take a lot of things for
    granted.

     cf. - newly married - learned how much work it is to get
             a meal prepared.  (should have been more
             thankful for my mom all those years!)

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video