Members of the One Body

1 Corinthians #22: An exposition of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, June 12, 2011.

It is a much discussed topic within evangelicalism.  What is the church?  What should the church look like?  What is appropriate?  What is not appropriate?  What about membership?  Formal or informal?  Should we practice church discipline?  All matters of “ecclesiology” or matters related to the doctrine of the church.  9 Marks Ministries originated with Mark Dever out of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.   9 Marks is dedicated to the recovery of a biblical understanding of the church.  I listened to a panel discussion recently from The Gospel Coalition’s annual conference this past April that asked, “What does the biblical church look like?”  It was a fascinating discussion among three pastors.  One a Southern Baptist, another a Presbyterian and the third, the pastor of a Bible Church.  One of the more interesting rabbit trails was the question, “In light of the recent trend towards video streaming and multisite churches, will we have live pastors in 70 years?”  Will there be a man who knows and seeks to live the faith in the context of that body of believers who stands to deliver the Sunday message or will people gather to watch a video of a man from another place or perhaps even another time?  I mean people love John McArthur and Adrian Rogers and David Jeremiah – perhaps they’ll just play their messages.  And if that were to happen, what would it mean?  What would it say about the nature of the church?  Within the Southern Baptist Convention there is a movement that is concerned about the erosion of explicitly Baptist understandings of church polity or government and it is identified as the “Baptist Identity” movement.  Their concern is that, in many cases, we are loosing our Baptist distinctives.  Obviously they are concerned about the means, mode and proper candidate for baptism but also congregational form government; a symbolic rather than sacramental understanding of the Lord’s Table; and the proper role of church discipline.  I will have to say how we define and understand church does matter.  The Scriptures are not silent on this subject.

When the apostle Paul came to address the issue of spiritual gifts in his first letter to the Corinthian believers he makes it abundantly clear that the nature of spiritual gifts and their distribution among believers are tied directly to the nature of the church.  Our text this evening is found in the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians beginning with verse 12.

Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

The church at Corinth had its share of troubles.
There were divisions and factions (around their favorite preachers & economic/social standing).
There were problems related to sexual immorality.
Believers were bringing lawsuits against one another.
There were marital issues.
Paul repeatedly called on them to “grow up” and to live holy lives.

In chapters 11-14 he comes to deal with matters of public worship.
In chapter 11 – wearing veils & the Lord’s Table.
In 12-14 – spiritual gifts.
In chapter 12 – all are gifted for the common good.
In chapter 13 – love is to be their guiding principle.
In chapter 14 – he deals with the abuse of gifts, specifically the gift of tongues.

In this section we discover the nature of the church and the believer’s responsibility to the church.

I just want to point out 4 things as we walk through this text together.

  1. Our God has sovereignly established His church as a body.  (12:12-13)
  2. As a believer you are part of that body and as a member of that body you have a role to play.  (12:14-20)
  3. As a part of the body you are dependent on the other members.  (12:21-26)
  4. Each of us should strive to fulfill our role without inflating our own importance and without minimizing the importance of others.  (12:27-31)

There is no room for pride, arrogance, envy or disdain within the church.


Because God has arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he choses.  (18)
Because God has composed this body.  (24)
Because God has appointed…  (28)

The church is a body.
As a child of God you are part of that body.
We are dependent on one another.
We each have a role to play.

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