Elders, deacons, and evangelists all have important functions in the church, but that does not detract from the members who also have important roles. The focus of the church is not serving the leaders, but the leaders serving the members by helping them find their function and equipping them to pursue it.
ROBERT >> In our study of that church you read about in the Bible, we have seen that it consisted of apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors, deacons; but I want us to see today that that church had many members, and that every member had a place and a function to perform.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love
ROBERT >> When we talk about the church, we’re talking about that church you read about in the Bible. And today we’re noticing that that church had many members.
In Romans 12:4 the Bible says, “For as we have many members in one body.”
Yes, the church is the body of Christ, the spiritual body of Christ, his church, Ephesians 1:22-23. And let me say just because you’re not an apostle or a prophet or an evangelist, a pastor or a deacon, it does not mean that you are not a part of the body of Christ. You are. And if you’re a Christian, whoever you are, you have a place in the church. We all have an office, a function, a role, a ministry, a work, a place in the body of Christ. But I want us to notice a few things from Romans chapter 12, and let’s just read it together first, and then we’ll come back and look at some of these things together.
But Romans chapter 12, beginning in verse 4, the Bible says,”For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
You see from this verse that, yes, the body of Christ does consist of many members; but we also see from this that we do not all have the same function.
And why is that?
Well, it’s because you cannot have a body without different members performing difference functions. If there’s only one member, or if all the members perform the same function, there is no body. Look how the apostle Paul illustrates this in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and look at verses 17 through 20. It’s quite humorous.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members each one of them in the body just as He pleased.”
Imagine if you could before you on the TV screen there just a big old eye here looking at you. Or imagine if you could here just a big old ear before you there on the television. Imagine that I was just a big eye or I was just a big ear. That’s not a body.
Now imagine if every member of the body of Christ was a preacher, or imagine if every member of the body of Christ was a song leader. That’s not the body of Christ. You see, if we’re going to have a body, then we must have many different members with different functions. But there’s another reason that we do not all have the same function, and that is because we all have different gifts. I know some of you Christians, you’re good at some things, and some of you are good at others; and these gifts are given to us by God to perform our function in the body of Christ.
Let’s read on back in Romans chapter 12, and look with me there in verses 6 through 8. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion
to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministry; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. So you see the many different members performing many different functions because they all have many different gifts.”
Let’s note that we’ve already learned that prophecy, the first gift here mentioned, has been done away with, having served its purpose, as we learned from 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 in an earlier lesson concerning the apostles and the prophets. But all of these other functions listed here are still needed in the body of Christ.
Also, let’s note that Paul does not list all the differing gifts and functions in the body of Christ, but only gives us a sampling. So we can’t find all the gifts here in this one passage or in any other passage; but all of them together we find the different gifts and functions that we have in the body of Christ. From this we learn different functions require different gifts.
You’re not going to do well at teaching if that’s not your gift. Nor are you going to do well at showing mercy if that’s not your gift. So find the place best suited for you, Christian, in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul teaches us to perform our function, and he teaches us here to perform our function first of all in proportion to our faith.
Did you notice that?
The one who prophecies there in verse 6, in proportion to faith? That ought to be true with all of our gifts. God doesn’t expect of us more than we’re able to do. But we need to use our gifts as we have them so that we can gain more. He also wants us to exercise our gifts in the body of Christ with liberality.
Did you see it here again?
We noticed it, for example, in verse 8, “He who gives, with liberality.”
God expects us to give generously of our money, but God expects us to give generously of our time, to give generously of ourselves. That’s the way we ought to use our gifts. And we ought to use them with diligence.
As you read on in verse 8, “He who leads, with diligence.”
God expects us to work hard. God expects us to make every effort. He’s given us these gifts not to be wasted or to be laid aside, but to use them in the very best ways that we can. And he also wants us to use our gifts with cheerfulness.
You see that at the end of verse 8. “He who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
God expects us to do what we do not because we have to do it, not grudgingly, but because we want to do it, with a cheerful heart. God help us to be that church, to realize that, no, we don’t all have the same function, but to all do what we can best do in the body of Christ. If we all realize that we have a gift, that we have a place and a role, then we’re going to do the very best that we can to work together in harmony to build up his church, so that it can perform efficiently and effectively in this world for God’s glory. But let’s notice something else today.
Every member is important and necessary. I’m afraid that sometimes Christians begin to think that they’re not really important, they’re not really necessary to the body of Christ, his church. Sometimes they don’t
think that they contribute that much or that they’re much of a help. And some don’t think that they’re really needed. In fact, some think that the church might be better off without them. But you don’t believe that. Don’t believe that, because God has placed every one of us in the body of Christ as it pleased him. And everyone is important and everyone is necessary. These are the very points that Paul was trying to make not only here in Romans 12, but in 1 Corinthians 12. So I want to go back over there to 1 Corinthians 12, and look at a few verses with me.
Look in 1 Corinthians 12 beginning in verse 4. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
Did you get that? The same Spirit, the same God, the same Lord gives us these different gifts, these different ministries, these different activities. And all of this is for the profit of all.
Look at verse 11. “Here it says, But one and the same Spirit works allthese things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
Now, I know in this chapter Paul is discussing the miraculous gifts that are done away, like the prophecy we mentioned before; but the principles here apply to all the different gifts we still have in the church as well. The same Lord, God, and Spirit are working in all of us for the profit of all of us. And it doesn’t matter who you are. God can use you to profit the church, because it’s not about what we can do so much, as what God can do in us.
Look at verses 14 through 16 here in 1 Corinthians 12. “For in fact, the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, Because I’m not a hand, I’m not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body?”
Can you imagine living without a foot or living without an ear, how difficult it would be to walk without a foot, or how difficult it would be to hear without an ear?
Now, some of you know what it’s like to live without a foot, maybe, or an ear. Maybe you have been disabled. And you know the body is extremely disabled when it loses any one of its members. It can’t function at its best. And so just because you may not have the same function as somebody else in the body of Christ, it does not mean that you are not important, that the church does not need you, that you don’t belong. No, Christian, you’re important, and you are necessary to the body of Christ.
Let’s read a little further here in this chapter. Look at verses 21 and 22. “And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”
Imagine seeing something to eat there, but not having a hand to eat it with. Imagine thinking you’d like to go have somewhere and you’d like to do something, but not having feet to walk with. Some of you may think that you are a very important member of the body of Christ. Oh, I’m so important. And that you don’t need some of the other seemingly lesser important members. I’m so important, I don’t need these other folks. You’re wrong. No, much rather, Paul says, those members of the body
which seem to be weaker are necessary. God help us to be that church, to realize that we are all, every one of us who are Christians, every member of Christ’s spiritual body, his church, that we are all important to the body of Christ. And never think that we would be better off without any other member.
Yes, every one of us has a different gift, a different function in the body of Christ, and every one of us is necessary and important to that body. But let’s notice this third thing today. We should have the same care for one another.
Readwith me 1 Corinthians 12:23-27. Here Paul writes, “And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our presentable parts have greater modesty. But our presentable parts have no need; but God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. If we see a member of our body that’s weak, we try to strengthen it, don’t we?
For example, when we lift weights to strengthen our arms when they become weak. Or if we see a member of our body that’s less honorable or unpresentable, maybe our ears or our toes, we guys don’t care a whole lot about that, but you know, the ladies, they’re going to put on earrings and they’re going to paint their toes so they’re more presentable. Some members of our body we cover in modesty. Now, if you see some member in the church who seems weak or less honorable or unpresentable, you don’t ignore them. Christian, don’t go talking about them to everybody else or see what you can do to get rid of them, no. Show them the same care that you would every other member. You help them if they need help. You strengthen them if they’re weak. You compliment them, and you encourage them if they’re down, if they’re discouraged. And you forgive them. You cover them with your love.
I love how Peter puts this in 1 Peter 4:8-9. He says, “And above all things, have fervent love for one another; for, he says, love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Be hospitable, he says, open your hearts, open your homes to one another, without grumbling, 1 Peter 4:8-9. We need to take those words to heart as we try to care for one another in the body of Christ. This is so important. In fact, it’s important for two reasons that Paul gave us right here in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Let’s read again verse 25. He says, “That there should be no schism in the body.”
We cannot have division in the body of Christ. This schism that Paul is talking about here is literally a split or a gap. God doesn’t want anything to come between the members of the body of Christ and divide us. And we must learn to work together in peace and harmony for the health and the growth of the body. Division will destroy the church.
But not only that, look what he said here in verse 26. “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
You see, what happens to one member affects the rest of the members, too.
What happens when you stub your toe really bad?
You know what happens. The whole body goes into a fit. We’re jumping up and down, we’re grabbing our foot, we’re hollering, we’re screaming.
What happens when you feed your stomach a good meal? The whole body feels good, doesn’t it?
The whole body’s happy, and it’s time for a nap. We need to remember the words of Paul in Romans 12:15 when he said, “Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Let’s learn to be sympathetic towards those that are hurting. Let’s congratulate those who have something good coming into their life. Let’s not be jealous or envious. Let’s have the same care for one another in the body of Christ because what happens to one member affects the whole body. God help us to be that church, to have that kind of care for each other. The church had many members; and no, we don’t all have the same function, but every member is important, every member is necessary to the body of Christ. So let’s have the same care for one another. Any other church is not that church. I want to remind everyone listening today that what Jesus did, he did for everyone.
I’m talking about the fact that “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.
You see, God loves us all, and he cares for every one of us. Everyone is important and necessary to him in the body of Christ. He’s not wishing that any should perish, the Bible says, but all should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9, the Bible tells us. Oh, how patient and loving our God is. The only reason the Lord has not yet come to take us home to heaven is because he wants others to turn from their sins, to get their heart and their life right with him so they can join us on that way home to heaven.
The Bible teaches us in 1 Timothy chapter 2 to be praying for all men because it’s God’s desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And he tells us in verse 6 of that same chapter that Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all, that he gave himself for each and every one.
I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done or where you’ve come from, God says, I love you, I sent my son for you, I want you to be saved, I want you to be with me for all of eternity in that place called heaven, that home that I prepared for you.
Yes, there’s not one of us that God doesn’t care for enough that he would send his son to die.
“He gave himself as a propitiation, that is, an atoning sacrifice not only for our sins, those of us in the church, but for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.
Don’t think that God does not love you, that God does not care for you. I remember Paul’s writing to Timothy how that he called himself the chief of sinners, because you see, he had persecuted God’s church, consented unto their deaths, until he came to see that Jesus was the savior and Lord and turned his life over to Christ. Believing that Jesus was the Christ, the preacher came to him and he said to him, you get up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. The preacher told old Saul of Tarsus, who later became the apostle Paul, God loves you, too, even though you persecuted his church; and if you’ll call upon him in faith, being baptized into Christ, your sins will be forgiven, washed away in the blood of Jesus. Yes, he died for Saul of
Tarsus, that great persecutor, he died for me, and he died for you. But he did not stay in the tomb. God raised him that third day to give us the hope and the assurance of eternal life. And that hope can be yours. I hope that you will see the love that God had for you and that you’ll respond with that same love in your heart to become a Christian today, that you’ll let us know how we can help you here at The Truth In Love.
SINGING>> Hallelujah, praise Jehovah!
From the heavens praise his name.
Praise Jehovah in the highest,
all his angels praise proclaim!
All his hosts together praise him,
sun and moon and stars on high.
Praise him, oh, ye heaven of heavens,
andye floods above the sky.
Let them praises give Jehovah,
for his name alone is high.
And his glory is exalted, and his glory is exalted, and his glory is exalted far above the earth and sky.
All ye fruitful trees and cedars, all ye hills and mountains high,
creeping things and beasts and cattle,
birds that in the heavens fly, kings of earth and all ye people,
princes great, earth’s judges all, praise his name,
young men and maidens, aged men and children small.
Let them praises give Jehovah,
for his name alone is high.
And his glory is exalted, and his glory is exalted,
and his glory is exalted far above the earth and sky.
ROBERT >> I’m so glad you watched our program today. We have but one goal, to help us all towards heaven. This is the mission God has given us, to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ, baptizing and teaching them.
And we know that the gospel of Christ is God’s power unto salvation, Romans 1:16.
And Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me, John 14:6.
Yes, there’s no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
And therefore, like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “We seek to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. ́
And unlike so many other religious television programs, we’re never going to ask you for any money. Everything’s provided by churches of Christ, individual Christians who support us so that we can bring this to you absolutely free of charge. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions, comments, or requests. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, whatever you need, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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Again, remember you’ll never have to pay for any of our materials and services. We want to thank the many churches of Christ who help support this program. And let me also encourage you to visit one of them in your area very soon. Their names will be scrolled on the screen at the end of the program. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven.
So let us know how we can help you, and please, join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,V showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.”
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.