The Beauty of the Body of Christ

Dr. Steve Viars December 1, 2019 Multiple Passages
Outline

Leviticus 4:32-34 - If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring it, a female without defect. He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they slay the burnt offering. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.

Exodus 12:21-22 - Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.”

Isaiah 53:6-7 - All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet he did not open His mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

John 1:29 - Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Revelation 5:11-12 - Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

3 reasons Christians love the concept of Christ’s body

I. Because the Incarnation Demonstrates God’s Love for Us

“There is no Christianity without the incarnation. Moreover, the incarnation is not some vague notion of the divine identifying with the human. It is relentlessly concrete: the Word that was with God and that was God became flesh.” D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, December 2 devotional reading

A. He dwelt among us in His body

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth.

B. He overcame temptation in His body

Matthew 4:2 - And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

C. He modeled servanthood in His body

Philippians 2:5-7 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

D. He learned obedience in His body

Hebrews 5:8 - Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

E. He became our sympathetic high priest in His body

Hebrews 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

1 Peter 2:24 - …and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

II. Because the Crucifixion Demonstrates God’s Mercy Upon Us

A. His body was given for us

Luke 22:19 - And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

B. He bore our sins in His body on the cross

1 Peter 2:24 - …and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

C. His body was cherished by His followers

John 19:38-40 - After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

D. His body was raised from the dead

I Corinthians 15:20-21 - But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection from the dead.

John 20:26-29 - After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus aid to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

2 Corinthians 5:8 - …to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

III. Because the Church Demonstrates God’s Power Among Us

A. We were all baptized into His body the church in exactly the same way

1 Corinthians 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.

B. Our common baptism into His body is the foundation of our unity

1 Corinthians 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.

Ephesians 2:16 - …and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

C. Being a body helps us value each person’s unique contribution

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 - For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I’m not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. 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. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

D. Being a body motivates us to provide compassionate, consistent care to every member in need

1 Corinthians 12:25-27 - So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

- There are many words and phrases in the Bible that are both power-packed and also multi-faceted

- in other words…as soon as you hear that particular concept from God’s Word, your heart is moved because of the truth the word or phrase contains….

- and also multi-faceted in the sense that just like in every language, many words in Scripture can refer to several different ideas depending on the context in which it is found…

- for example, the word lamb…

- it only has four letters…but the power and meaning contained in that short little word is a feast for the soul…

- so when I said that word, you may have thought of the OT sacrificial system…to a passage like Leviticus 4:32-34 – If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring it, a female without defect. He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they slay the burnt offering. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.

- and I realize that you might say – ewww, I don’t like that…well, God doesn’t like sin…and I hope you don’t either…

- so very early in the history of God’s dealings with His chosen people, he wanted them to understand that sin demands a sacrifice…and thankfully, sin could be forgiven and the penalty could be erased…

- someone else when I said the word lamb, might have thought about the Passover Lamb…

- same word, but a much more specific occasion…where Moses followed God’s command at the end of the ten plagues on Egypt and … Exodus 12:21-22 – Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.”

- powerful images from such a small word…

- perhaps you thought about a specific prophecy in the book of Isaiah concerning the coming Messiah…Isaiah 53:6-7 – All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet he did not open His mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

- same word – calling to mind powerful and multi-faceted images…

- someone else may have thought of John the Baptist who served as the forerunner to the Messiah and when Jesus approached he said, John 1:29 - …”Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

- or even this marvelous scene in the book of Revelation – Revelation 5:11-12 – Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

- so I think we’d all agree – there are many words and phrases in the Bible that are both power-packed and multi-faceted…

- Another that fits in that category that helps bridge several important themes on this first Sunday morning in December is the phrase “the body of Christ”…that’s what we’d like to talk about this morning…as we celebrate the launch of many of our Christmas ministries, and plan to observe the Lord’s table together in a few moments, and rejoice in those who have been baptized and/or joined our church family today….let’s think together about The Beauty of the Body of Christ

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to 1 Peter chapter 2…page ____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re going to be thinking about many passages of Scripture and for sake of time, we’ll have them on the screen…but one that ties all of this together especially well is 1 Peter 2:24 so we’ll be there eventually…

- the goal is to consider 3 reasons Christians love the concept of Christ’s body.

- it really does bring Christmas, and communion, and baptism and church membership together in a fascinating package….

I. Because the Incarnation Demonstrates God’s Love for Us

- the word incarnation is a theological term that describes Jesus Christ being willing to take on a human body…

- D.A. Carson explained its significance when he said – “There is no Christianity without the incarnation. Moreover, the incarnation is not some vague notion of the divine identifying with the human. It is relentlessly concrete: the Word that was with God and that was God became flesh” (D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, December 2 devotional reading).

- so one way to think about “the body of Christ” is to consider what was accomplished at Christmastime…Scripture tells us that…

A. He dwelt among us in His body.

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth.

- there’s no replacement for a friend or a loved one or a mentor being willing to spend time with you…to dwell among you…

- you can probably recall some of your happiest moments, and some of your saddest ones…and what often stands out about such occurrences are the men and women who were there for you…and they brought their bodies with them…

- that’s what they hugged you with…or talked to you with…or laughed with you with…or cried…or sat…or ate…or danced…

- we love the body of Christ because it shows he loved the human race enough to dwell with us…

B. He overcame temptation in His body

- one of the ways Jesus demonstrated His deity was by being tempted in all points as we are (the writer of Hebrews would later say), yet without sin…

- and part of what contributes to the power and authenticity of those temptations was how much was focused on Jesus’ body…

- so He was taken to the wilderness – Matthew 4:2 – And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

- and then our adversary told Jesus to turn stones into bread…but Jesus explained that man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God…

- then to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and lastly to use His body to fall down and worship Satan…

- and even in that weakened state physically, Jesus countered each time with specific truth from the Word of God proving that He was the perfect lamb of God…

- that, by the way, is why it was so important for Jesus to be born of a virgin…because even though He tool on a physical body, it was not in any way tainted with sin…

C. He modeled servanthood in His body

- Paul told the Philippians – Phil. 2:5-7 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

- we don’t have to wonder if it’s possible to use our bodies to serve God and others instead of serving ourselves – or struggle to see what that actually might look like in real time…Jesus modeled servanthood by being made in the likeness of men…

D. He learned obedience in His body.

- this is a fascinating concept in Scripture but this is exactly what the Bible affirms…

- Hebrews 5:8 – Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

- and of course we’re talking about experiential knowledge…but none of us could ever say – well, Jesus doesn’t understand how hard it is to live in a body…yes he does…the body of Christ is beautiful…

E. He became our sympathetic high priest in His body

- a few verses earlier the writer of Hebrews explained – Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

- this is part of what motivates, and fuels, and directs our Christmas ministries…

- whether we’re talking about CFE, or the LN, or our Christmas Sing on December 15th, or the Christmas Eve candlelight services, or our winter break ministries…

- we have marvelous news to proclaim – The God of heaven and earth became flesh…He was willing to become a human being…He took on a body…

- that’s how much He loved us…

- This truth also prepares us to observe the Lord’s Table…Peter said – 1 Peter 2:24 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

- we love the body of Christ…

II. Because the Crucifixion Demonstrates God’s Mercy Upon Us.

- there is no more sobering reality than Jesus being willing to suffer for us in His body…

- that is part of what He emphasized to His disciples during the last super…

A. His body was given for us

- Luke 22:19 – And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

- while the greatest horror of Christ’s death was His separation from the Father while he bore the weight and penalty of our sin…what he suffered in His body during the mockings and the scourgings are hard to fathom in our finite minds…

- you can imagine what it would have been like to be present at this last supper and watch Christ pick up that loaf of bread and break it…and give it to them…

- what an incredible picture of what He was about to do…have you and I ever been given anything else this precious?...

- this is my body, which is given for you…

- as we saw a moment ago in 1 Peter…

B. He bore our sins in His body on the cross.

- 1 Peter 2:24 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

- you may remember Peter’s reaction to one of the first times he heard that this would have to happen…it’s recorded in Matthew 16 right after Christ’s announcement that He was going to build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it…

- then He explained that He would first have to go to Jerusalem, and suffer, and be killed, and then be raised again on the third day…

- Peter said – “not so, Lord”…

- because he didn’t understand that the only way He could have a personal relationship with a holy God, and have a secure place in heaven for all eternity…was if Christ first died on His behalf…and Peter then placed his faith in that and that alone…

- well, by time we get to Peter writing his first epistle, he gets it – [repeat verse]….

- [develop the gospel]…

- this is why…

C. His body was cherished by His followers

- This is another one of those fascinating details in the gospels…

- John 19:38-40 – After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

- this was the most temporary burial in all of human history…but it shows the love and reverence these men had even for the body of Christ…

- and then of course the Scripture affirms that…

D. His body was raised from the dead.

- Paul emphasized this to the Corinthians when he said – I Corinthians 15:20-21 – But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection from the dead.

- later in the chapter he even explains the exact nature of the resurrected body because this is an essential aspect of the gospel…

- you may remember that one of Christ’s disciples had trouble believing all of this?...who was that?...doubting Thomas…he wasn’t present when Christ appeared to the others and Thomas said – I won’t believe unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side…so what did Jesus allow him to do?...[in the spirit of – be careful what you wish for…]

- John 20:26-29 – After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus aid to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

- this ties many of the themes that converge on this particular weekend together…

- we just finished stewardship month at our church – part of what motivates us to greater stewardship with our time, talents, and our treasures – is what is accomplished by the body of Christ…

- we also celebrated the thanksgiving holiday – and we have many things for which to be thankful – nothing higher on the list than what we’re discussing this am…

- as I mentioned – this is why we do what is necessary to participate in all our Christmas ministries…

- and even for those who are about to go into the first Christmas season without a loved one who died in the Lord this year…

- you are no sorrowing as those who have no hope – because for your loved one, 2 Corinthians 5:8 - …to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

- so we love the body of Christ because the incarnation demonstrates God’s love for us, and the crucifixion demonstrates God’s mercy upon us…

- but then amazingly, Jesus uses this exact same phrase to describe His church…we are called to be…the body of Christ…

III. Because the Church Demonstrates God’s Power among Us

- the majority of times the phrase “body of Christ” is used in the NT, it is speaking about the church…

- so just as His body reminds us of the incarnation, and His death, burial, and resurrection…the body of Christ also reminds us…of us…

- how is that true?...

A. We were all baptized into His body the church in exactly the same way.

- 1 Corinthians 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.

- to be clear, this is speaking about Spirit baptism that occurs the moment a person trusts Christ…but the point here is that there aren’t multiple ways to become part of Christ’s body the church…

- there’s not one way for rich people and a different way for poor ones…

- not one way for Chinese people and a different way for Hispanics…

- not one way for people who grew up in a Christian homes and a different way for those who didn’t…

- if you ever needed evidence of how the ground is level at the cross…here it is…

- that’s why ever person who will become a member of our church at any of our campuses today meets the same two requirements – they know that they know that they have a relationship with Christ and they’ve been baptized by immersion as a demonstration of that fact…

- and by the way, if you have never publicly demonstrated your faith by water baptism as Christ commanded, I would encourage you to speak with your service pastor and make a plan to take that step in the coming year…

B. Our common baptism into His body is the foundation of our unity.

- in the previous verse Paul explained – 1 Corinthians 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.

- this is a prominent theme throughout the NT…

- Ephesians 2:16 – and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

- I always enjoy watching our church family serve together during this time of year…because you have men and women from all walks of life in the trenches serving together…regardless of all the ways we might be different…

- that unity that comes from being part of the body of Christ has served us well…

- [could develop the first year we started the LN – such a diverse group of people working together]…

C. Being a body helps us value each person’s unique contribution.

- If you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 12, you know Paul has an extended and rather humorous discussion about this point…

- 1 Corinthians 12:14-18 – For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I’m not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. 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. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

- please think about each person who will join our church family today…

- each one has been added by our Savior to our body…

- and each one has a unique set of gifts, and experiences, and potential contributions that are perfectly designed for what our local church body needs at this particular time in our history…

D. Being a body motivates us to provide compassionate, consistent care to every member in need.

- 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 – So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

- [develop the way we try to serve person in our church family in need – because they are part of the body…]

- [develop – if you are not part of the body of Christ here – why not plan now to take steps next year to make that happen]…

-[develop – illus of Girl’s b-ball team and their game with Carroll]


Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

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