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The Greatness of God’s Body, the Church

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The Greatness of God’s Body, the Church

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - July 15, 2012

*How do you feel about your body?

-Denn Guptill says: “Most of us would rather not think about our bodies, and if we do we probably don’t think very complementary things. It’s too fat or too skinny, too short or too tall, -- bumpy, lumpy or just plain ugly. At least that’s the way we think about it. So it’s kind of strange to hear Paul say that Christian, right now, you and all believers are Christ’s body.” (1)

*The church is the Body of Christ, and we believers are all part of His Body.

-Understanding this truth can transform the way we look at ourselves, the way we look at one another, and the way we live.

*There are people all around us not going to church today. And one of the main reasons why is because when they look at the church, all they see is the building and the flawed people like us.

*They need to see the church like God sees the church!

-We need to see the church like God sees the church.

-So let’s explore what God’s Word has to say about His church.

1. Christians: First, we see our placement in the Body of Christ.

*Listen very carefully to what Paul said in vs. 12&13:

12. For as the body is one and has many members (or parts), but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

*These verses are not just symbolic language. They reveal a mysterious, but literal, spiritual truth. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we literally become a part of the spiritual body of Christ. We are “baptized” or “submerged” into the Body of Jesus Christ. The water baptism we go through is symbolic of the spiritual baptism that God performs on every believer. Verse 13 tells us that the Holy Spirit does this work of placing us into the spiritual body of Jesus Christ. From the moment we believe, we are literally in Christ.

*The phrases “in Christ,” “in Christ Jesus” or “in the Lord” are used this way almost 100 times in the New Testament. So this truth is extremely important. When you place your trust in Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, Jesus literally comes to live in your heart. But at the same time, the Holy Spirit places you into the Body of Christ.

*Listen to a few of the verses that talk about believers being in Christ:

-Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

-Then in Romans 16:7, Paul said: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were IN CHRIST before me.”

-2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is IN CHRIST, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

-Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now IN CHRIST JESUS you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.”

-And Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places IN CHRIST JESUS.”

*Christians: In a way, we are already in Heaven, because, right now we are literally and spiritually IN the Body of Christ. That is an amazing, miraculous place to be.

-Here God talks about our placement in the Body of Christ.

2. And He talks about our profit to the Body of Christ.

[1] God wants you to see your value in the Body of Christ.

*And the truth is that all of us have great value in the Lord’s church. This fact helps us avoid the error of low self esteem. That’s important, because a lot of people feel inferior due to their background, education, income, or looks.

*One of the things that always disturbed me about pop star Michael Jackson was the way he kept having surgery on his nose. It was grotesque at the end. Have you ever wondered why he kept having those plastic surgeries? -- Kent Crockett tells the sad story that when Michael was a little boy, his abusive father constantly mocked him, saying he was ugly because his nose was too big. (2)

*Maybe someone in your past has hurt you and made you feel worthless. But God doesn’t want you to feel that way! Christian, God wants you to see your value in His Body. This was Paul’s message to Christians in vs. 14-19.

*Listen to these verses from the New Living Translation:

14. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.

15. If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body.

16. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body?

17. Suppose the whole body were an eye -- then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything?

18. But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it.

19. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part!

*The point is that every part of the Body is significant. God wants you to see your own value. He wants you to know how important you are in the Body of Christ.

*Think about your physical body. Nobody in their right mind would trade a finger for a thousand dollars. Would you trade your arm for $100,000? Would you trade your tongue for a million? -- Of course not. And these are just parts of the temporary body God gave us for this world, things we can really live without. (3)

*Your real life, your soul, is worth more than all the riches of the world. Think of the incredible value of your life. Jesus wants you to know, and so in Matt 16:26, He asked this question: “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

*Your life, your soul is worth more than every dime, every diamond and every drop of oil. Your soul is priceless. There is nothing worth more.

*On top of that, think of the incredible value God has put on your life. God the Father values you so much that He was willing to send His only Son into the world to die on the cross for your sins. That is why in 1 Peter 1:18-19, the Apostle tells believers that we should live our lives in Godly reverence, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

*Your life has incredible worth. But you cannot find the ultimate value of your life, until you trust in Jesus and take your place in the Body of Christ.

-God wants you to see your value in His Body.

[2] But He also wants you to see the value of others.

*So listen to vs. 20-22, in the New Living Translation. -- There Paul says:

20. Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

21. The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."

22. In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary.

*Every part in the Body of Christ has importance. We all matter. We all need each other! Christian, never think you don’t matter in the Body of Christ, because we all have God-given value.

-So God talks about our profit to the Body of Christ.

3. He also talks about our purpose in the Body of Christ.

*We all have great purpose in the Lord’s Body. And Paul shows us 3 major ways to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives:

[1] The first is Godly service.

*Jesus calls all believers to a life of Godly service. And we are designed to serve together in the Body of Christ. This truth is obvious from the examples Paul uses in these verses:

-The foot in vs. 15 walks, and the hand holds.

-The ear in vs. 16 hears, and the eye sees.

-The nose Paul was thinking about in vs. 17 smells, (and sometimes it holds up our glasses).

*Every part of the body has a purpose, as we serve the Lord together. And there are countless examples of Godly service we could we could give:

-Teaching in Sunday School.

-Helping in the Nursery.

-Checking on the sick and home bound members.

-Singing for the Lord.

-Helping in the kitchen.

-Praying for the sick, our families and lost people.

-Giving to help missions around the world.

*Every part of the body has a purpose, as we serve our Savior together, remembering that He is the Head of the Body.

-Verse 18 in the NIV, tells us that “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” This is true in our physical bodies. And God is doing the same thing in the Body of Christ.

*Ephesians 4:11-15 in the NIV tells Christians that:

11. . . Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

12. to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

13. until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

15. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is THE HEAD, -- that is, Christ.

*Jesus Christ is the Head of His Body.

-He is our Lord.

-He is our Leader.

-And we can count on Him to lead us in the right direction.

*George Young was a little-known preacher in the 1800’s. George was also a carpenter. He spent a lifetime humbly serving the Lord in small communities. Financial support was often lacking, and it was hard on George’s family. But through all the ups and downs his faithful wife never wavered in her loyalty to God and to her husband.

*After a long struggle, the family was able to move into their own small home (which George built himself). But later when George was away preaching, some local thugs, who didn’t like his Gospel preaching, set fire to the house. It was totally destroyed. But out of that experience George wrote this wonderful song:

-“In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along;

-Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along.

-Some through the waters, some through the flood,

-Some through the fire, but all through the blood;

-Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.” (4)

*God leads His dear children along. You can always count on that as we serve the Lord together. And Jesus calls all believers to a life of Godly service.

[2] But He also calls us to a life of Godly sympathy.

*It’s the Godly sympathy we see in the first part of vs. 26, where Paul tells us that: “If one part (i.e. one part of the Body of Christ) suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”

*In God’s Body, the church, we hurt together. Isn’t that the truth with your physical body? -- When you have a bad toothache or headache, your hand surely doesn’t think: “So what, I don’t care!” Let me tell you: When I had my kidney stone, my whole body was along for the ride! And that’s the way God planned it for His Body, the church.

*When you are part of the Body of Christ, you don’t ever have to suffer alone. We are designed to hurt together. And we are designed to help one another.

*The Bible teaches this truth back up in vs. 24-25. There Paul continued to compare our bodies to the Body of Christ, and said:

24. . . Our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,

25. that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

*We are called to care for each other in the Body of Christ. When one part of the Body is hurting, God wants the rest of us to do everything we can to help. He wants us to show that we care. Jesus calls all believers to a life of Godly sympathy.

[3] But He also calls us to a life of Godly success.

*It’s the success we see in the last part of vs. 26, where Paul said: “If one part (of the Body of Christ) is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.” We win the victory together!

*The last thing Paul wrote in this great letter was this:

57. . . Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor 15:57-58)

*On July 24, 2002, nine miners in western Pennsylvania got trapped 240 feet below ground in a flooded mine shaft. Think about a building 20 stories high. That’s how far down they were! Rescue efforts began right away. But the rescue crews knew the odds were against them saving those men.

*Almost everybody in the country had their eyes glued on the news from the mine. Those 9 miners were trapped for three days, then, miraculously rescued. Even the mainstream media called it a miracle, because there was such a slim chance that anyone could survive in that flooded mine. The 55 degree water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia. And the rescue shaft had to be drilled in just the right place, 250 feet down in time for the men to be saved.

*Those miners were gasping for air, as floodwater rose to their chins. Blaine Mayhugh asked his boss for a pen when the water in the shaft kept rising. He said, “I want to write my wife and kids to tell them I love them." They tied themselves together so that no one could float away or slip under the water, but also so all their bodies would be found if they died. They shared food from a lunch pail that floated by.

*After they were miraculously saved, the men said that it was their decision to bond together that saved their lives. From the outset they watched out for one another.

-If one man got tired, his bond to the other men kept him afloat.

-When one got cold, the other eight would huddle around him and warm him up.

-They vowed that whether they lived or died, they would do so together.

-What a picture of the Body of Christ! (5)

*But there is another great lesson from that miracle in the mine, because even together, those men were hopeless without help from above. And when their rescue came, all they had to do was receive it: Just climb aboard that yellow rescue cylinder and be lifted up to safety. That’s what Jesus Christ does for all who will trust Him and call on Him. He will put you in Him, and you will be saved forever.

*But this salvation didn’t just take 3 days of non-stop work. It took 3 days in the grave. And Jesus Christ was the only one who could die on that cross for us.

-Now the Risen Savior is more than able to lift us up to everlasting safety!

*Put your trust in Jesus Christ. He will save you! And He will make you part of the Body of Christ, so that together we can live the best possible life now and forever.

*Let’s go to God in prayer.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “What Part Are You” by Denn Guptill - 1 Cor 12:12-27

(2) “Do You Like the Way You Look?” by Kent Crockett - May 27, 2009 - kentcrockett.blogspot.com200905/do-you-like-way-you-look.html

(3) Original Source unknown, but I think the original idea came from Zig Ziglar


(5) "Miners took vow to live or die together" by Larry Neumeister, Associated Press, The Knoxville News-Sentinel July 29, 2002, p. A1. (Source: sermon “I Can Make It By Myself - Five Things Christians Should Never Say, #2” by King Duncan - 1 Cor 12:1-11 - 2005)

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