By Jimmy Tuten
A. A transformed life will manifest itself with a display of certain qualities such as humility (vv. 3-5) and usefulness (vv. 6-8). Both attributes are to be found in this and the next study.
B. Having seen what Christian individualism (duty to oneself) constitutes in the preceding verses, we now enter into a discussion of the Christian’s relationship and duty to others in the body of Christ.
C. Where ignorance exists regarding scriptural views of the church of Christ, ill feelings and improper attitudes exist. An understanding of “many members in one body” will promote a right state of mind in believers toward one another.
1. Where there is humility and usefulness the keeping of the “unity in the bond of peace” becomes a reality (Eph. 4:1-3).
2. The two studies on the text will greatly aid us in comprehending the mind of God on these important and interesting matters.
D. Let us observe then how the life of Christian dedication is set forth in practical bearings controlled by two great principles: humility as regards one’s self and love regarding others (the latter falls under the purview of another study, v. 9).
I. This objective will be achieved by first looking at membership in the body of Christ (12:2-5).
A. The body of Christ is composed of many members.
1. . This one body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18,24). “Many members” were baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13,18). Therefore there is one church (the Church of Christ is not apart of the body; it is the body – Eph. 4:4).
2. This one body, the church is the saved people (“church,” Gr. ekklesia, a called out body of saved people, 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Thess. 2:14). The church, the body, and the saved are the same people. Note:
a. “We are saved by hope” (Rom. 8:24). These Romans constituted the church at Rome (Rom. 1:6-7).
b. The Corinthians were those who had been washed, etc. (1 Cor. 6:11). They constituted the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1).
c. Christ is the Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23). The saved are added to the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:18).
B. The body of Christ is composed of people who are diversified in character and function (office, Rom. 12:3-4):
1. The analogy to the human body shows that each member of the church, though less distinguished, is beautiful, wonderful and essential to the completion of the body (each has its distinctive function, 1 Cor. 12:15-19).
2. This is how the church is constituted (Rom. 12:6-8, some minister, others teach, etc.).
3. But as members of the same body we are to follow the teachings of the Lord regarding love and affections (Rom. 12:9-21).
4. Each member supplies his part and cannot say to others, “I have no need of thee” (1 Cor. 12:21-24; Eph. 4:16).
5. There should be no schism (division) in the body (1 Cor. 12:25). “Have the same care one for another” (i.e., suffer and rejoice with each other and let peace rule, 1 Cor. 12:26; Col. 3:15).
C. The body of Christ is not a denomination. (It is not a part of the whole, as is the case with denominationalism. It is the whole.)
1. Denominationalism is wrong because:
a. It repudiates the teachings of the apostles (1 Cor. 1:10).
b. It makes unbelievers (Jn. 17:20-21).
c. It teaches that God contradicts himself (1 Cor. 14:33).
2. He who is mindful of these things can never speak disparagingly of the church. He will hold the body of Christ in the highest esteem possible. Are you a member of it? How exalted your position, how highly prized is your relationship and you should strive for the health and well being of the whole body!
II. Relationships sustained by members of the body of Christ.
A. “Members one of another” (“for just as you have many members in one physical body and those members differ in their functions, so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and are members one of another,” Phillips Translation, Rom. 12:5).
1. Inspiration declares therefore the purpose of being, the reason for existing, and the union with our Savior that really connects and binds us together (all spiritual blessings are in Christ, Eph. 1:3).
2. All identity and guidance comes from him and not ourselves. He is the head of the body, having all authority (Matt. 28).
3. Being bound together in Christ shows our affection and gratitude to him who did the binding.
4. The tender relationship with Christ causes us to be tender with each other in a partnership of fellowship (1 Jn. 1:7).
5. We need to learn how to behave ourselves in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15).
B. Mutual dependence (1 Cor. 12:12-25). One cannot esteem himself to be of no importance; but neither, should any member think himself to have more right to boast than others. Our oneness in the body is threatened if we do not see others therein as having an equally precious soul though their talents may differ.
1. Each has a distinct function, yet his is a part of all others members.
2. This union is not like that of some civic or social club based upon friendship, preference, etc., but is in constant and intimate fellowship with God, drawing its life and purpose, its meaning and significance from God in Christ.
3. He does not stand alone in the body of Christ. Every member is important!
C. Cooperation for the good of the whole body (Eph. 4:15-16).
D. “Same care” (sympathy, 1 Cor. 12:25-27).
E. Withdrawal as a last resort (amputation, if necessary [Tit. 3:10-11; Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6]).
1. From these relationships there comes the obligation for right thinking, not only regarding others, but in regards to oneself.
2. Our next lesson will deal with attributes that the Christian should display in the body of Christ.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 7, pp. 202-203
April 4, 1991