One Body-Part 1
When you read through the New Testament you will find a few key themes. One of the most common themes in the New Testament is unity of the Church. In fact, the New Testament repeatedly compares the Church to a body, and even calls us the Body of Christ. For example, in Ephesians chapter 4, where Paul is talking about pastors and says in verse 12, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” And again just a few verses later in verse 15 where he says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” And back in verse 13 he says, “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” We will never measure up to Christ’s standard until we are united, as one body. Let me be clear here, in order for anyone to be part of this Body they must first trust in Christ. Acts 4:11-12 says, “11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Yes, we need to all be united, as one Body, under one Savior and must agree that salvation comes by God’s grace through faith in what Christ did on the cross. We can disagree on anything else, although if we all stop trying to interpret the Bible and start taking it literally, in context, as a whole, we won’t disagree on nearly as much.
One great example of this is in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where we find Paul talking about the gifts of the Spirit. Here Paul was having issues with the church at Corinth claiming that there were certain gifts that all Christians must have, a claim that some still make to this day. In this part of his letter, he is explaining that we can’t all have the same gifts, so he uses this analogy of the Body to explain the gifts. In the first eleven verses, he explains how one Spirit gives all the gifts, as seen in verses 4 and 5, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.” So, no one gift is greater than another, they are all given by the same Spirit to serve the same Lord. Then in verses 12 through 31 he goes on to talk about the different parts of the Body and how these gifts fit in. He starts out in verse 12 by saying, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” Then, over the next 15 verses, he talks about how these gifts relate to the parts of the body and how the Church couldn’t survive if everyone was a mouth, or if everyone was a hand. We must take the gifts that God has given us and work with them. So, if your gift is teaching, you shouldn’t say I wish my gift was healing. You must be the best teacher you can be for Christ. Verse 27 says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” So, if anyone ever tells you that you must have a certain gift to be a real believer, take them to this passage.
Paul also uses The Lord’s Supper to demonstrate unity. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 it says, “16When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.” For this reason, in our Church gatherings we always used one loaf of communion bread instead of the little wafers. Of course, I’m not saying that this is a biblical mandate, I just liked to use it to remind our local Body about unity every time we observed The Lord’s Supper.
We will conclude this discussion in my next installment.