The Gospel Church Member

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ALAN GILES – November 8, 2009
“THE GOSPEL CHURCH MEMBER”

Well, if you can remember, last month we took some time looking at
“The Gospel Church,” and we finished with a pretty detailed definition of
what the Gospel Church is…

A Gospel-Driven, Fully-Committed, Christ-Centered,
Called-Out Body of Witnesses

Now, we spent an entire sermon just developing this definition, and then
we finished with an in depth look at how God’s Gospel has propelled Christ’s Church from a small informal gathering of believers in an upper room, all the way around the globe, through every tribe and tongue, and even into this very body of witnesses.

And I shared with you, how I went through this phase where I didn’t really
see what the need was for church, or why I should necessarily even go to church, but how through this realization, this revelation, if you will, of what the church actually is, and whose it is, that God dramatically changed my heart and not only softened it toward His church, but placed within it a real passion for this Bride of Christ.

Now if I look over my life, and we follow this sort of narrative path we have taken, then I would say the next thing that God showed me… was really where I fit within this monstrous, 2,000 plus year gospel push, and how my life had actually been strategically designed for this very place and this very time.

So this week, we are going to zoom in on this thing we have defined, this Church, and I want us to take a look at the individuals, that is you and I,
who make up the members of what the Bible calls … The Body.

So if you would, turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12, and we will begin by reading today’s …

Key Passage
1 Corinthians 12:12-27

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

So to begin with, Paul confirms what we learned last time, and that is that
the Church is a Body.

And not only that, but Paul digs a little deeper and shows us that not only are we A Body, but that we are THE BODY of Christ and that every one of us is a part of it, or that every one of us is what I am calling today …

A Gospel Church Member

So today, I want to look at us, the people who make up the greater Body of Christ, the parts … the members and I want us to see, not only what we were created to be, but I also want us to see the God in whose image we were created.

In order to do that we need to check out two Great Christian Doctrines.

Both can be found in the first two chapters of the Bible, and both are incredibly important to our understanding of not only what A Gospel Church Member is … but also what a Gospel Church Member’s life should look like.

The first is Creation itself, and the second, the doctrine of the Trinity.

Two Great Doctrines
CREATION and TRINITY

So let’s start at the very beginning… Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Now, next comes the account of the creation of all that we know pertaining to life on earth … First comes light, then the sky, then land and seas, and all of this God says is good.

Next comes vegetation, trees and plants, and seasons and days and years, and stars in the skies to mark these times, and all of this God says is good.

Then on the fifth day God creates sea creatures, and birds, and then on the sixth day comes land animals, livestock, and forest and jungle creatures, and all of this too God calls good.

Then finally, before the end of the sixth day, God says in verse 26,
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”

and the first human is breathed to life … and for the first time there is something that is not good, and that God identifies in Genesis 2 when He
says … “It is not good for man to be alone.”

And so in Genesis 1, God makes everything on earth and in the skies and the seas, and it is all good, and then He finishes by saying let us make man in our image, and He does so, but then He says this is not good… or in other words this is not fully In Our Image just yet, because man is alone.

And so in chapter 2 we read that God places man in the garden, and He gives him dominion over all created things, but then in verse 18 comes one of the most significant statements that ever came from the mouth of God …

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now that… is a big deal.

Isn’t it absolutely amazing that God looks at Adam, this newly created man,
this man who has no sin, this man who is living in paradise, walking in unbroken fellowship with God, his maker, and says of his situation…

“It is not good … (that is) It is not good for man to be alone.”

And so Eve is created. Brought forth from the rib of Adam, and given to him in marriage, and the two become one.

Or in other words … the 2 parts … are brought together… and from them… one more perfect body is formed.

And so from the very beginning of human life, God establishes this idea of man, living for more than just himself … living in community, living as a member of a larger body.

This is one big reason why the doctrine of creation is so incredibly important – maybe even a big part of why this doctrine is under such heavy attack today.

You see there are those who don’t want to have to come face to face with the fact that we human beings were intelligently designed by a creator for a purpose, or they would have to abandon their pursuit of themselves and come to grips with the fact that we human beings were created to live for more
than just ourselves.

And so this is why so many people turn to a big bang for an explanation of how we came to be, or why so many people are so eager to believe that we are the result of the evolution of the mobilization of some sort of single cell bacteria.

You see, if we choose to believe, as the Bible teaches, that we are not just here by chance, but that we are here as part of an intelligent design by this Creator God, than we have no other choice but to look at why we were designed the way we were, which then leaves us with the realization that we were not created to live alone, not even alone with God, but that we were created to live as a member of a larger body, and this might mean we have to set our selves aside for the good of someone else.

But there is more. Within this very account of creation that we just read, is another important doctrine that helps us see what this life as a member of a body looks like.

Look again at Chapter 1, verse 26.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”

Now anybody with any sort of curious mind immediately jumps on a statement like that and has to wonder… “Who is the us?”

I mean we are in Genesis 1… and there is no one to talk to yet…

And so now we come to the Doctrine of the Trinity.

There is one God, who exists as 3 persons. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. And God the Spirit is God. There is one God.

Or in other words, within God Himself, there are 3 members, who make up
one body.

And this idea of a Trinity, or God as 3 persons, is not restricted to the account of creation alone. It runs throughout the course of the entire Bible.

All throughout the Bible we are told that there is one God.

Moses said “…The LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (Deut. 4:35).

Similarly, God Himself told the Jews “. . . there is no god beside me” (Deut. 32:39).

King David wrote, “. . . you alone are God” (Ps 86:10).

And then finally, God spoke to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah saying,
“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5).

And so the Bible is very clear… There is one God.
And yet the Bible is also very clear about another thing.

There is, within this 1 God, 3 persons, who live in perfect fellowship together, in perfect unity, as one body, the Triune God.

Look with me if you would at the Baptism of Jesus, in Luke 3.

When Jesus came out of the water, The Holy Spirit of God came down from the sky – in the form of a dove, and it rested on Him. Then God (God the Father) said in a voice loud enough for all to hear, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

And so God shows us, at the baptism of Jesus, that there is indeed three people, or three members, of this Trinity.

And then look if you will at John chapter 1, verse 18

Jesus says, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the
Father’s side (Kolpos – Bosom), has made him known.” (John 1:18)

And then Jesus teaches us, all throughout the gospels, what this Trinitarian life, or life as a member of one body, looks like.

Jesus… God the Son… teaches that “The Father… Loves the Son.” (Jn. 3:35) … and that the Son… “loves the Father” (John 14:31) and that in Him, The Son, resides the Spirit of God… and that He and God are one. (John 10:30)

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.”
(John 3:35)

“I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
(John 14:31)

“I and the Father are one.”
John 10:30

And then in John 16, Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of the Trinity when
He says,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine.
That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”
John 16:12-15

All that belongs to the Father… belongs to the Son… and all that belongs to the Son… belongs to the Spirit.

And so God the Father … gives freely to the Son… who gives freely to the Spirit… who then uses what is given him and makes it known to us… in order that he might bring glory to God the Son.

One more passage (John 17:1-5) …

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

And so here is the picture we are given of God.

There is one God… as we saw earlier… and yet He exists as 3 persons …
or 3 members… of one Body. So there is one Triune God.

We see that all that is God’s is given freely to the Son who gives freely to the Spirit, who uses what is given him to bring us into relationship with the Son, so that he might be glorified through this, and we might have eternal life, and all of this so that the Father may be glorified through the Son, who is being glorified through the Spirit, who is in fact… the very Spirit of God.

This is what C.S. Lewis called The Dance, and that is that all of them are in constant exaltation of each other, and that all of them give freely, one to the other, and that there is a unity within their diversity.

This is the Triune God of the universe. This is the creator… the designer of all that is… and this is whose image we bear.

So when God says, back in Genesis 2, that “It is not good for man to be alone.” It is because of the fact that back in Genesis 1, man was created in God’s image, that is the image of a Triune God, and so naturally when God looks down and sees that there is no one for Adam to experience this freely-giving, diversely-unified relationship with, He says … “This is not good.”

And so now I want us to take these concepts, these dual doctrines of creation, and the trinity, and I want us to go back to 1 Corinthians 12, and see not only what a Gospel Church Member is… but how we were created to live.

So first of all, I want us to see that

The Gospel Church Member Is…
A Strategically Placed Part Of The Body Of Christ

Paul tells us in verse 27 that …
“we are the Body of Christ, and that each one of us is a part of it.”

And not only that, but if we look back at verse 18 I think it is important to note that not only are we a part of the Body of Christ, but we have been strategically placed, by God, exactly where we are within the body.

“God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them,
just as he wanted them to be.”

So if we think back to the last sermon, and we recall just a portion of what God has done to build this body of Christ over the last 2,000 years, and we zoom in on our own lives, then in light of this truth, we can recognize that we have been strategically placed, by the creator of the universe, in this exact time, in this exact location, in this exact church, even in this exact seat…
for a reason.

It is just as God wanted it to be… I am just as God created me to be.

I am a Strategically Placed Part of The Body of Jesus Christ!

That means something to me … That means that I am here for a reason.

I am a part of this body for a reason. I am exactly where God has seen fit to place me… I am not here by chance, or by accident.

I did not randomly evolve to this point in History, I have been created… by a Triune God… and strategically placed within the body of Jesus Christ.

Secondly,

The Gospel Church Member…
Celebrates Equality In Diversity

Back in 1 Corinthians 12, starting at verse 17 …

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part,
where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

In the Body of Christ, there is no master race… no master culture, no master socio-economic status.

You see the Body of Christ… is fully integrated… at every possible level.
Which means the white man, and the black man, and the Asian man, and the Hispanic man all sit equally… one right next to the other.

It means the poor live among the rich equally, and the uneducated walk among the educated… as equals.

And this is just like the Trinity. Just like how in the Trinity there is no indebtedness, of one to the other, no power play, it is so diverse that there are 3 distinct persons of the Trinity, yet so equal that there is only one God.

The Gospel Church Member celebrates this diversity, and he marvels at the equality that is able to exist within such a diverse body of people.

In Revelation we get a glimpse of what heaven will look like, and in chapter 7 we are shown a body of people, a great multitude, so great that there are too many people to even put a number to, and that this multitude is made up of people from every nation and tribe and language, and that this multitude is all clothed in white robes and together, as one body, they are worshipping the Lord.

This is where the church is headed, and it is what we are called to even today, here on earth.

If the whole body were an eye… where would the sense of hearing be?
If the whole body were an ear… where would the sense of smell be?

If we were not all different, than where would the body be?

Lastly…

The Gospel Church Member…
Freely Gives Of Himself… For The Good Of The Body
(1 Corinthians 12:21-

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot
say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable
are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

We delight in one another (Rejoice Together) and we help each other when we are in need (Suffer Together), we Freely Give of Ourselves… for the good of the other members of the body.

* We Delight In One Another… We Rejoice Together

This is the model set out for us by the Trinity. This is the Father saying,
“The Son, The Son, The Son.” This is the Son saying “The Spirit, The Spirit, The Spirit.” And the Spirit saying, “Let me point you to the Son who can reconnect you with the Father…”

None of them hold the other in debt, all freely give, all freely receive, and all of them seek the glorification of the others.

We have been made in this image, and it is only by living a life that follows this model that we can ever fully experience what we were created to be.

This means we delight in the honoring of each other, we are thrilled when one of us gets a promotion, we rejoice in each other’s strengths, and we are eager to see each other succeed in life.

Where this does not happen jealousy will creep in, and a critical spirit will overtake the body and poison the relationships between its members.

* We Help Each Other When We Are In Need… We Suffer Together

The Gospel Church Member feels the pains of the one going through sickness as if it was their own body.

The Gospel Church Member sits quietly and listens to the one who is going through a season of doubt.
The Gospel Church Member pays the rent when the rent can’t be paid, brings the meals to the home of the family who just had a baby, cleans the bathroom of the young mother who is struggling just to get a few hours of unbroken rest.

The Gospel Church Member calls after the death of a spouse if for no other reason… than to just say “I care.”

The Gospel Church Member gathers around the death bed of an elderly saint to hold cell group with her one last time before she goes to be with the Lord in Heaven.

The Gospel Church Member loves, laughs, and rejoices… and The Gospel Church Member cares, hurts, and cries.

The Gospel Church Member gives freely of themselves… for the good of the body.

This is the model that has been set forth for us… This is what we are called to.

Within the very trinity there is a strategic fit for each member, a celebration of equality within diversity, and an unprecedented giving of oneself for the good of the others.

This is the image we were created after, and this is the image that the gospel is redeeming us back to.

Colossians 1: 18-20 tells us that …

And he [Jesus] 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, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

The Gospel Church Member…
Is Being Reconciled Back Into A Trinitarian-Like Body

Remember God said that it is not good for us to be alone.

We were created in His image, and therefore by design have been created to live as a Strategically-Placed, Diversely-Equal, Freely-Giving, Member of The Body of Christ.

And so we are not only a Body of Witnesses… but we are actually… together… One Great Witness.

One strategically-placed and connected, diversely-equal, freely-giving, witness… to the redeeming power of the Gospel.

You see the greatest witness we will ever have… is the body that we are
a part of.

As the world watches… it will marvel.

It will marvel not at our willingness to hand out tracks, or door to door evangelize, or even to preach the gospel from the street corner.

The world will marvel not at what we do… but who we are.

The world will marvel at the fact that we are secure in where God has placed us… that we are a part of something so incredibly diverse… yet so miraculously united… that we live lives that are so freely giving… and so freely receiving… and that slowly… one day at a time… we are being reconciled back… into the triune image we were created after.

Oh! What a glorious thing it is to be a Gospel (A Good News) Member of the Church of Jesus Christ!

Final Thot:
We Are The BODY of Christ… And EACH One Of Us… Is A PART Of It.

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