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One Body… Many Parts


Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(4/28) Today we continue looking at the spiritual gifts. And we will be reading from 1 Corinthians at chapter 12. But before we get into it I’ll start by telling you about Jesus and then we’ll go right into our text for today. The reason for that being is that one of my deepest convictions is that the whole Bible is about Jesus, and so everything’s about Jesus. I am totally into Jesus. You know its like that DCTalk song "Jesus Freak". Are we Jesus freaks here?

Totally. Like the worst you’ve ever seen right? We’re totally into Jesus and I believe that you get into all kinds of trouble when you get away from Jesus. So we want to connect everything to Jesus. That’s what keeps us on course… close to the truth... and so here’s what we believe, according to the Bible. We need to remind ourselves of these things… you see the world is denying the truth… so I’ll tell you…

That there’s one God who made the earth and who made us, male and female. He gave us this earth to care for, to enjoy, and yet mankind violated His trust, we disobeyed God, and we sinned. The result of our sin is separation from God and death.

God knew that we had messed up in a big way and so in his great compassion, He came into human history as the man, Jesus Christ and he lived a life without sin and he served throughout the course of his life. And you see repeatedly, where God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are working together. So it’s the Holy Spirit who enables Jesus’ mother, to conceive and birth him… it’s the Holy Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism… it’s the Holy Spirit that filled and led and empowered Jesus to do ministry. So all the teaching and preaching and healing… all the ministry that he did was by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus died for our sins and rose. He appeared for 40 days, proving beyond the shadow of doubt that he had, indeed, conquered sin and death, and then he ascended back into Heaven, where he’s alive and well today. But he didn’t leave us alone… he sent the Holy Spirit. And so now the Holy Spirit transforms us and makes us new creations, so that we have hearts that love Jesus… minds that understand Jesus… and wills that obey Jesus.

Not only that but the Holy Spirit, gives each Christian, each born again believer, a gift, the ability to do ministry like Jesus. So some of us teach… some of us serve… and some of us encourage… and in doing so, we are enabled, empowered, and gifted by God the Holy Spirit, in some mysterious way, just like Jesus was. So each of us who is born again has an aspect of the ministry of Jesus. And that’s what it means when the Bible says that a church like ours is the body of Christ… that we are the hands and feet of Jesus here in Emmitsburg today. That Jesus is working in Emmitsburg through those of us who are filled, enabled, empowered, and gifted by God the Holy Spirit to do the ministry of Jesus to our community. And that’s our mission isn’t it.

And so today, we’ll look at a few different gifts. We’re going to look at the purpose and process in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, beginning in verse 27, and then we’ll look at another list and the desired result, the fruit, in Ephesians Chapter 4. And so we’ll jump around the Bible a little bit because I don’t want anyone to send me an email to say, "You skipped my gift… I want a refund!"

So let’s read in 1 Corinthians 12:27, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts…" (NIV).

I. Purposefully… Serving in Love.

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." So what the Bible is saying is that every Christian has ministry to do. Each one of you is essential for the effective ministry of this church. You are needed… you are indispensable for our church. And verse 28 says, "In the church God has appointed first of all…" So obviously there is some degree of rank and order… some gifts are more prominent… some gifts are more public… some gifts are more related to leadership… while other gifts are less visible, equally important, but less visible… and more of support type gifts… these are like the backbone… the infrastructure of the church.

So some people have certain gifts. Some people have other gifts. Everybody’s different, but everybody’s got their own part, their own role, in the church, in the body of Christ. So everybody’s been given a gift. And God has empowered and enabled each believer as He saw fit, so that we’re not all the same, and that’s a good thing. Our diversity is our strength.

And he goes on to say, "But eagerly desire the greater gifts" in verse 31. Now this verse is easily taken out of context and I’ll explain that to you briefly. You see there’s an alternative way of translating that verse, which says that "they were" eagerly desiring the greater gifts. You see the church was doing something wrong and the apostle was correcting them.

I like the way the NLT says it in verse 30… "Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all." (New Living Translation).

I believe that is a more contextual translation because in verse1, he said they were "ignorant about spiritual gifts". Then leading into the next chapter in verse 31, he says, "I’ll show you a better way… I will show you the most excellent way... the way of love."

And Paul continues in the 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, saying that they’re being childish… they’re being immature… and so the bottom line is that he’s telling us not to desire the flashy, showy, rock star, extra cool gifts. He’s rebuking them because that’s what they want… everybody wants to stand in front… everybody wants the gift of preaching… everybody wants to sing on the worship team… but nobody wants to serve. Everybody wants to preach, but nobody wants to pick up the trash, nobody wants to sweep the floors, nobody wants to wash windows.

That was what was going on in the Corinthian church. Everybody wanted to be a star and nobody wanted to be a servant. So part of what Paul is teaching here is that the most helpful gifts are those that are beneficial to the body of Christ. So he urges believers to discover how we can serve Christ, how we can serve His body, with the gifts He’s given us. And he shows in the next chapter that we’re to serve, that we’re to exercise our spiritual gifts in the context of love. Great faith…sacrifice… and even miracle-working power are meaningless without love. You see its love that makes our spiritual gifts useful for building up the body of Christ.

II. Purposefully… Building Up the Body.

That’s how love works. So, we’ll jump from here to Ephesians, Chapter 4 and I’ll give you the next list of gifts. There are four places that the gifts appear in the New Testament. Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:11-13 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's 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." (NIV)

So what he is telling the church is that all the gifts exist to do what? …to build up the church… to make us a better church… one that is more and more like Jesus. In First Corinthians it said that the gifts exist for the common good in the building up of the body. Paul echoes that thought here. He says all the gifts exist to build up the church so that the church is more unified… working together… to do the ministry of Jesus. That’s what he means by, "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." The goal is that together, we’re becoming more and more like Jesus… and not only that… but more and more people are able to meet and grow in their relationship with Jesus.

So how has God done that? How has he planned to accomplish all this?

Paul tells us, "He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service…"

These are people who have gifts like evangelism, teaching, leadership, and faith. People who reach out into new cultures and subcultures… who start new churches… who pastor other pastors. These are people who are building up the body… people who think classroom... notes… and PowerPoint. People who have the ability to communicate Biblical truth in human terms. Not learning Latin… but redneck jokes and NASCAR… its relevance, understanding, and application.

It’s deacons and leaders in the church, both men and women, who serve and help. Those who minister to the church… they do the work of the ministry with their hands… they are those who serve the church… they are working behind the scenes… they are the jack of all trades.

They are those with the God-given ability to give direction and make decisions for efficient operation and the accomplishment goals. It is those who probably love highlighters and sticky notes and files. It’s those whose favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 14:40. That "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."

So what Paul is saying is that all the gifts exist to build up the church and make us more and more like Jesus. So we can all walk together, so we can get sin out of the way, and get closer to Jesus, loving one another. And the gift of pastor enables this to happen. The pastor and teacher is somebody to disciple the church, mentoring the church, teaching the Bible to the church, and helping them overcome sin, growing in their faith.

So maybe you’re the guy on the baseball team who can play any position. You go to the ballpark and you’ve got seven gloves and a winning attitude. You’re the person who shows up at church and says, "What do you need? I’ll do anything. I just want to be on the team and I like to help and serve. I don’t care. Whatever you need, that’s what I’m willing to do."

If that’s you there are an infinite number of places that if you like to serve, we can put you to work. Just to pull off our service on Sundays and Wednesdays between janitorial, ushers, greeters, sound, parking, children’s ministry, hospitality… it takes volunteers… lots of people just to make it happen.

Make what happen?

III. Purposefully… Becoming More Like Christ.

Ephesians 4:13

"…become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

So summing up it up, let me tell you how this all works. So we’re looking at the gifts because this is how we all work together, we’re just like the parts of the body. And we are wanting to build up the body of Christ. You see, "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Together as the body of Christ we want to build up the church… we want to introduce people to Jesus… to bring them to the church… and plug them in so that they could be taught to become more like Jesus. So that order can be brought out of chaos of their lives. That they could overcome sin and grow in their relationship with Jesus. That all of our gifts would work together and the more we work together, the more the church would effectively do the ministry of Jesus and more people can be touched by Jesus.

And so at this point, where are you with Jesus? That’s the bottom line. Everything begins between you and Jesus entering into an unbroken, unending relationship of trust and love. Will you commit to turn from your sin… that’s the essence of Christianity… repentance… where you turn to Jesus… where you acknowledge that he’s God who has ministered to you. That Jesus is our apostle. He is the capital "A" Apostle who planted this church. That Jesus is our evangelist. He is the one who makes us Christians. That Jesus is our teacher. Anything we know that is true, ultimately, is connected to Jesus. Jesus has served us and helped us by dying for our sins and rising for our salvation. That Jesus, is our administrator who brings order out of the chaos of our lives and Jesus is our pastor, he is our senior pastor, whom for the rest of our life, helps us to mature and grow to be less about sin and more like him.

Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Have you turned from sin to trust in Jesus? That’s the first most important question. If not, you can become a Christian today because God knows your heart. God knows your thoughts. God knows even the secret longings that you don’t speak. Even if you, in your seat, ask Jesus to forgive you of sin and make you a Christian, he will. If you’re not sure, you can come up afterward. I’ll pray for you. I’ll answer your questions. I’ll tell you more about Jesus. Or I’ll encourage you if you already know him. That’s part of my ministry here at the church.

Now we are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as we close. We are going to have communion remembering Jesus Christ… His Body broken… His blood poured out to take away sins, to give us the Holy Spirit, to empower, and gift us to do ministry like him. Let’s celebrate our Savior Jesus, as our apostle, evangelist, teacher, servant, administrator and pastor. Let’s celebrate the goodness of Jesus in our town and in our lives.

Our Father in Heaven, to you our hearts are open, to you all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden. Yet in your infinite love when we fell into sin and became subject to death, in your mercy you sent Jesus Christ, your only Son… sent to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, and to reconcile us to yourself. In obedience to your will, your Son Jesus Christ stretched out his arms on the cross at Calvary and offered himself, a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. I ask that by faith in the finished work of Christ upon that cross that we would be cleansed of our sins, that by your Holy Spirit you would sanctify our hearts, so that we may perfectly love you and glorify your holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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