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One Body… Many Parts

Like a Dove

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(4/14) Last week, we kicked off our new series, One Body… Many Parts, and I shared with you the foundational principles of our unity, our diversity, and community. We got to know this… we’ve got to embrace this… ‘cause this is how we do life together as the church… the church is not just a building… it’s not just a place… it’s not an event… it really and truly is, in its essence, people living their lives together with Jesus at the center. It’s Jesus there, as Lord, God, and Savior. He’s the one who is connecting the various people together… He is the one that’s changing lives… and He is the one working through each of us, so that we’re blessed and so that more people get to meet him.

And so the question is, "How is Jesus doing this? How do we have this unity? How do we have such focus?"

The Apostle Paul tells us, that its actually something that God does through the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body… whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free… (it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from) we were all given the one Spirit to drink" (1 Corinthians 12:13; NIV). And he is not referring to water baptism, he’s referring to that moment when the Holy Spirit came into your life and all of a sudden, your mind opens and you understood that Jesus Christ is God… that he died for your sins… that he rose again… and in love for you He has gone to prepare a place for you… and He is coming back… He wants to spend forever with you! The moment that clicked in your mind and the light bulb turned on… the moment that connected… your heart was changed. And you found yourself loving Jesus like never before. You were born again… you were a new creation… and Paul says, that’s the Holy Spirit… the Spirit of the Living God changing you from the inside out. And that’s being baptized by one Spirit into one body… that’s where the Holy Spirit comes into you and empowers you… that’s where the Holy Spirit gifts you to serve Jesus Christ. So, God is telling us that this is a work of the Holy Spirit.

And today I want to share with you the beginnings of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church. Let’s look together at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1. In the beginning of Mark’s Gospel the Lord sends a messenger, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, a man named John. So John came, preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River. And let’s read together at verse 7, of chapter one, in Mark’s Gospel… "And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him." (Mark 1:7-13; NIV)

1. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

As we continue in our discussion of the unity of the body of Christ… of spiritual gifts… and of the work of the Holy Spirit in each Christian. We must start with Jesus, because if we ever study anything and I don’t connect it to Jesus… if I don’t point you to Jesus… then we are bound to get into a lot of trouble. And so as we get into the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church… as we get into this… there are many controversial issues, like tongues, prophesy, and healing. And in the coming weeks, I will share with you about these gifts for the church, but first… let me start by telling you about Jesus.

Jesus came into human history as a man. He was born, grew up, and lived just like us, but he spent the final three years of his life in public ministry. He taught people, He healed people, He served people, He encouraged people, and He counseled people. As we study the Bible this morning, we find that Jesus did his ministry by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the best book to read on this… the best book to see this connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus… is the Gospel of Luke.

Luke tells us that after the baptism of Jesus and the temptation in the wilderness that, "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14). News about him spread through the whole countryside. One day while speaking in the synagogue, Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed…" (Luke 4:18). Luke continually connects the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. And why I’m stating this is that because often those who talk a lot about the enabling and empowering and gifting of the Holy Spirit… well sometimes they aren’t as much into Jesus as they are the Holy Spirit and we must always maintain the preeminence of Jesus.

You see the Bible tells us in Colossians chapter 1, that Jesus Christ "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy…… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…" (Colossians 1:15-19).

And so what I want you to see is that Jesus did ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him… And Jesus said in Luke chapter 11, at verse 13, "…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" So you and I, once alienated from God, are now reconciled by Christ's physical body through death… you and I have become servants… and you and I can do ministry like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. For God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in each believer. And so the Holy Spirit and Jesus are not competing for our commitment. But just as the Holy Spirit was in and enabled and empowered Jesus… the Holy Spirit will indwell, enable, and empower those of us who are Christians to do ministry like Jesus.

2. Empowered By the Holy Spirit

And today I want to show you how this works. In John 14:12, Jesus made a very interesting statement… one that has been argued over for centuries… He says to his disciples, to his followers, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12). Now some have proposed that Jesus in his incarnation… in his earthly body… was junior varsity, and we’re like varsity. But honestly, I don’t know how anyone could say that we’re better than Jesus. You know I’ve never walked across Rainbow Lake… I haven’t showed up for a game with a Subway sandwich and fed a whole Ravens crowd… I haven’t done the things that Jesus did… I didn’t rise from the grave... I haven’t brought anyone else back from the dead... I didn’t come down from Heaven… there’s a lot of things I haven’t done! And so Jesus’ resume is far superior to any of ours, so what could it possibly mean when Jesus says that we will do greater things than he did?

Well, here is what I believe he is saying… that he could feed thousands, but billions of Christians could feed more... That he could pray for people, but billions of Christians could pray for a lot more... That he could teach people, but billions of Christians could teach a lot more... So it’s not that our ministry is greater than Jesus ministry, but that our ministry as the body of Christ is greater numerically… our ministry has greater impact… because there are so many serving as one.

And the reason we can is because Jesus went to the cross. Jesus died as a substitute… in our place… for our sins. Three days later, he rose… and on the evening of that first day of the week, Jesus came and stood among the disciples... He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. And today, you and I who are Christians, we are all baptized by that "one Spirit into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13). That’s what it means to be a Christian.

And so Jesus demonstrated his resurrection for some 40 days… he hung out around town… and then he ascended to Heaven where he is today. But you know before he left, he said something very strange... just before his departure, he said, don’t "go and make disciples…" (Matthew 28:19) don’t go… don’t do ministry yet. Wait!

"Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you’ve heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5).

Now do you remember what John the Baptist had said in verse 7, "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Jesus tells the disciples, wait… something else needs to happen! I will send the Holy Spirit and when the Holy Spirit comes, he will enable you, he will empower you to go… to do ministry… and to be my witnesses all over the world. So Jesus rose into heaven… the disciples watched Him go… and just as he promised, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. And today, you and I who are Christians,

we can experience Christ’s baptism in the Holy Spirit… a baptism for service!

For those who are willing… for those who surrender… those who are asking… we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and we can be gifted by the Holy Spirit to do the ministry of Jesus on the earth. And since there are so many Christians, we can spread around the world… and we can touch more people than the one man Christ Jesus could.

You see now the Holy Spirit is working through all of God’s children to continue the ministry of Jesus. So when you think of doing ministry, what you need to do is ask Jesus to be led, empowered, and enabled by the Holy Spirit to do what He has called you to do. It is a win win situation. He has called you and he will gift you with His Spirit. And so we are always looking to Jesus for our example. And we are looking to the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us. So my last point is that we need to…

3. Nurture the Gift of the Holy Spirit

Now if you could turn to 1 Corinthians 12:1-3… we’re going to camp out here for a while… lets read verses 1-3.

Now the Corinthians apparently had a lot of questions about the Holy Spirit… about spiritual gifts… and they were confused and needed teaching. And so what we find often is, when it comes to spiritual gifts, even the gift of the Holy Spirit, there are a lot of ways that people can be confused and not understand.

So Paul says, in verse 1, "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant…" What God was saying through Paul was that there’s a lot of misuse of the gifts… misunderstanding of the gifts… and ignorance regarding the gifts. There was just a whole lot they didn’t understand and they were doing wrong. He even says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that they’re acting like children… they’re childish. And so God is hoping to clear up some of their confusuion and Paul writes. "You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols." In other words, you worshiped false gods, you had these other things like sex and money and power and fame and IQ and those things aren’t real gods. They don’t love you. They can’t help you. They can’t save you. And those things are false gods.

"Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. So he begins by saying that to be a Christian means, by definition, that you have the Holy Spirit. That he has come to dwell in you… that he has given you a heart of love for Jesus… a mind of knowledge of Jesus… and a will that obeys Jesus. So the mark of a Christian… of someone who has the Holy Spirit… is that they love Jesus!

And so when the Holy Spirit comes in and makes you a Christian… when that miracle occurs… the Holy Spirit brings with him a gift… an ability to do ministry like Jesus. It’s a supernatural enablement to love and serve like Jesus. And so God wants us to know that these supernatural gifts are given to every generation… that they should be practiced today… and they should be exercised in a way that’s biblical… that never violates the teachings of the Word of God. And so we are going to learn about some of these in the next few weeks.

So if you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit… and God has given you gift… a spiritual gift… one way to serve God… one supernatural enabling to do ministry like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. But you know in addition to your gift, God is going to give you passions. Some of you are really fired up about a part of the world, maybe about a certain people group. Some of you have a heart for women who’ve had abortions. Some have a heart for people that have been addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some have a heart for people who are financially upside down… for elderly people… or whatever the Lord puts on your heart.

You see its often your passion and your gift that work together to give you a ministry. And so we want to find ways to discover your spiritual gift as we get into this series. And one of the ways is to ask… what are you really passionate about? That’s probably a sign of where your gift is. And you’ll want to discover your spiritual gift, because there is joy that comes from using your gift, because you know you’re finally doing what God made you to do.

So I want to encourage you to recognize your passions, to discover your spiritual gift, and to nurture it. You need to grow in it. And we grow as we surrender to the Lord. As John the Baptist said, "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). Let’s stand and worship together… All to Jesus I surrender… make me Savior completely yours…

God bless you!

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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