Parable of The Body
Nose and Hand were sitting in the church pew talking. The morning service led by Ear and Mouth, had just ended. Mr. Hand told Mr. Nose that he and Mrs. Hand were looking for another church to attend. Mr. Nose was shocked and asked why they were leaving the church.
Mr. Hand said, “We like Pastor Mouth’s preaching but we have a different style of music than Pastor Ear. I guess we’re looking for a place where people are more like us.”
Mr. Nose questioned, “But our Bible Group will miss you and your family.” Mrs. Hand responded, “Yes, that is another reason we are looking for another church. Mr. Foot is a good teacher but all the Socks in the class just want to keep talking about serving the Toes and Ankles. That just doesn’t fit in our busy schedules. Besides, the odor is horrible and we can’t stand talking about dirt.”
Mr. Nose questioned further, “Aren’t Christian’s supposed to be concerned about dirt and odor?”
Mr. Hand became angry. “Look Nose, that’s not the point. We are looking for a place that is more like us – a place where we can clap other Hand’s, raise some future Finger’s.” Mrs. Hand was also upset that the nursery workers didn’t pay much attention to their daughter Pinkie. The Hand family was ready to wave goodbye.
Nose thought this whole conversation smelled funny. He considered giving a sneeze but chose rather to hold it in. He wondered whether their church needed a new set of Eyes for their Pastors anyways.
This scenario may sound slightly humorous but unfortunately it is all too common. Christians are often challenged with the motivation for being a member at church. People struggle to understand the purpose for the church.
Today’s message will help you better understand the identity of the church.
EXAMINE 1Corinthians 11-12 Cross Centered Worship (pt. 1)
Note: This message is actually going to be two parts on the theme of worship. This week we will examine chapters the latter half of 11 and most of chapter 12. Next week is Easter and we will touch on chapter 15. Then the following week we will come back to the first half of chapter 11 and also chapter 14 to more fully cover worship and spiritual gifts. Then the first week of May we will close our study in 1Cor with chapter 16.
The church gathers to celebrate the gospel (1Cor 11:17-33).
The Corinthian church had multiple problems which the letter addresses. When they “come together” (word used 5x / v.17, 18, 20, 33, 34) their assembling led to divisions (schismata, v.18) and differences (haireseis, v.19). This was a people who were not cross-centered or gospel-driven. They did not gather to magnify the name of Jesus but instead to magnify their own preferences. When Christians magnify their own name and preference they minimize Jesus.
The specific problem in this chapter was related to when they participated in eating the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. The Lord’s Supper is a serious element in the corporate service of worship. It was instituted by the Lord Jesus, for believers to regularly repeat. “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19) and in Acts the early church was devoted to “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42) and Paul says he received this instruction from the Lord (1Cor 11:23).
The elements of bread and fruit of the vine represent Jesus’ action on the cross of his body and blood being sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. When the Corinthians participated in this ordinance, “their gatherings did more harm than good” (11:17). In other words, they participated without proper purpose – the wealthy ate ahead of and more than those impoverished (11:21-22); members became intoxicated from extravagant drinking (11:21b). They ate and drank the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner (11:27).
µ For believer:If you came today to teach a class, lead a musical instrument, sing a song, or even just to sit in the crowd and see friends, then you are missing the purpose of church. We have come to meet God.
à Have you prayed before worship service to thank God for the grace to worship?
à Have you prayed before worship to seek God’s Word to your heart & life?
à Have you prayed before worship to whom you will share God’s Hope and help to others?
µ For the unbeliever:If you come new today, we are encouraged by your presence. Today and each week you visit, it is our hope that you will not just see people gathered to perform religious duties but see & experience the presence of God that has been made known & tangible through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
µ Following the message we will participate together in a sincere and special way of eating food elements. Eating the food elements will not bring you any closer to God. But eating the food elements speaks of a close commitment you have of knowing & following Jesus. For those who do have such a committed connection to Jesus as Savior & Lord then the ordinance is open to you; but for those who do not – those who have not trusted Jesus as Savior or are willingly disregarding His Lordship in your life (unwilling to repent once sin has been confronted), then our encouragement is for you to pause and pray and let the trays pass you by.
- We look backwards to Christ’s death on cross and its meaning
- We look upwards in fellowship with God through the gospel
- We look inward in self examination
- We look around in fellowship with others
- We look forward to Christ’s promise of return
- We look outward to allow the elements to proclaim the gospel to others
The church gathers & scatters to demonstrate the gospel (1Cor 12)
The Apostle Paul continues informing the Corinthians about their relationship before God and their relevance to each other and toward the world. The life of the believer and the service of worship is to be characterized by the Spirit of God.
12:1 Spiritual Gifts (12:1 pneumatikon = “spirituals”; 12:4 charismaton = “gift/grace”) Jesus equipping you to love God and love others (inreach & outreach). There are four main passages that offer lists of various spiritual gifts: Romans 12; 1Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; 1Peter 4.
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
- going to the Father is Jesus returning to God but sending the Holy Spirit - greater works not in quality but in collective scope through gathered & scattered believers.
12:7, 11 “Each one” Jesus has given every believer spiritual gifts. Every believer receives at least one, many times a few spiritual gifts at varying levels. Sometimes a person may have a gift only for a limited season of time for God to accomplish a specific purpose. In all, there are not two classes of Christians of those with/without spiritual gifts.
No spiritual gift should be a litmus test for salvation. Christians should beware of churches or believers that emphasize two-levels of Christianity (if you don’t have a certain gift then you are less spiritual); this is opposed to the full meaning of the gospel.
12:7, 25 “for the common good… that there may be no division in the body but that the members have the same care for one another”
Jesus gave spiritual gifts for the purpose of His Body to mature and grow in unity and urgency of things that matter for eternity.
Paul is correcting a misappropriation of the gifts. Some were boasting of their gifts (ex: prophecy, tongues, healing, word of knowledge, etc.). Their boasting looked down on others who may have had other gifts less public in nature (ex: service, helping, administration, etc.)
The Corinthians were immature in thinking and practice. Paul teaches that every believer is uniquely gifted with a specific function (eyes see, ears hear, hands serve & hold together, feet walk). The body of believers is to work together in unity or the body will not be healthy. Each member needs the other in order to properly accomplish all that it was designed by God to do. When rightly exercised among the body there is a shared sense of purpose and fellowship (Acts 2:44-47; 1Cor 12:13, 21-26; 13:1-3).
µ When believers say, “I don’t need the church” or “It doesn’t matter if I participate in service” they are saying I am more important than the other members. But God works through members of the body to meet each other’s needs AND to meet worlds needs.
ex. When your leg itches the brain sends signal through neck down the arm and back. The signal tells your back to bend over and your arm to move your hand and fingers to scratch the itch. If your body is healthy and works properly, all of this occurs with systematic efficiency and effectiveness.
ex. When you have a crisis and pray…
- God help my marriage: God answers by sending other couples in your life to model and minister to your marriage. – God help my finances: God answers by granting a generous church and wise financial planners to counsel your budget & spending habits. – God help my kids: God answers by providing other parents, youth leaders & Pastors to provide encouragement and counsel. When you pray for God to work in your life but are disconnected from God’s people then you have short-circuited away from God’s power and undercut God’s plan to work in the world.
Illus: True fellowship is true connection among each other. If you have 2 close friends and 1 passes you may think you have more of the living friend. But that is false because there are aspects of that living friend that only that deceased friend could bring out… you actually have less. Illus: In first 6 years of marriage I had Danielle all to myself BC (before children). Going on 13 years we have 4 children and it would appear I have less of my wife to me. But that is false because there is something in each of my children that I see a deeper character and beauty in Danielle that now means more to me than previously.
12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it…”
Paul wants to unify the Corinthians but also wants to help them understand not every gift is present or necessary in the church. The implied answer to each question in vv. 29-30 is “no”.
In other words, not every need has your/my/our name on it.
- You/Me/church have limited resources and the reality is this creates tension.
- People seek money, air time, building space, focus/attention, etc.
- God may gift you for a certain ministry but that does not automatically attach other people or more – the church to such a ministry.
We must be careful with this.
- If you only knew how many requests from personal requests, emails, physical mail, phone calls… 1 person and 1 church can only do so much.
- People often do not understand this and think – “but the church is supposed to meet everyone’s needs”. Nope… the church has one mission: make disciples of all nations. Your needs and preferences come second to fulfilling the Great Commission.
- Those that bristle at this really need to evaluate their heart and motivation.
SPBC is a church to grow godly generations, equipping people to love God, love others and lead generations. Note the phrase “equipping”. Our goal is not to start a bunch of ministries but to build up and send you out to minister.
Celebrate the gospel. Demonstrate the gospel.
1) Lead prayer for those who want to receive the gospel.
Worship Song: The Power of the Cross
2) Lead prayer for those who are hindering the gospel being advanced in their life & our church.
3) Celebrate the gospel through gathered participation of Lord’s Supper
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph 2:13
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Eph 2:19
4) Commission believers to scatter and demonstrate the gospel in word & deed
EASTER 2014: Invest, Invite, Incarnate & Intercede
 Adapted from Mark Dever, What Is A Healthy Church, 9-11.
 The frequency of the Lord’s Supper is not mandated in Scripture, only its importance and how it is served & shared together.