2000-06-03 - The Unity of the Body of Christ
Spiritual Gifts, Part 5
The reason that the Spirit "divided to each one severally as he will" is "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
It is important to remember that true biblical unity is obtained automatically through the Spirit of God at the moment of salvation; it comes as the result of being baptized into one body (the body of Christ, Ephesians 1:23; 4:4). It is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit- not by any outward organizational effort.
The expression "baptism of the Spirit," originated with John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12). His audience was divided. There were those who came in genuine repentance, submitting themselves to John's baptism in water, but the Pharisees and Sadducees were there only to criticize him. The phrase "and in fire," was directed towards those religious critics. Continuing to speak to them he warned, "...The chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire." In this solemn warning John was refereeing to everlasting punishment in hell. In view of this fact, no believer would request that the Lord baptize him with fire.
John the Baptist spoke in terms of what he was doing in the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 is Pauls explanation of this experience. The baptism of the Spirit - "one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) is a spiritual experience which comes to one immediately upon being saved; it has nothing whatsoever to do with water baptism. Water baptism (Matthew 28:19,20) is important after one has been born again. Nowhere in scripture is the believer instructed to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul explains, "In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (a past experience, taking place at the time of salvation. Paul continues by saying, "...And were all made to drink of one Spirit." It is very likely he is referring to what Jesus said, "... If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" ( John 7:37-39, see also 1 Corinthians 10:4).
God places each believer in the body to do a certain type of work. If every Christian would only realize that, jealously among his children would cease."For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now they are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof." (1Corinthians 12:14-27)
Keep in mind that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth to instruct them in the subject of spiritual gifts. The Greeks laid great emphasis upon oratory and the use of ornate language. Since the gift of tongues was one of the spiritual gifts it was natural for them to desire this gift because they viewed it as the quintessence of religion.
To be continued.
In His Service,