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Life Together Part 3: The Church’s Members–1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Covenant Presbyterian Church https://www.cov-pres.org

God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

The Apostle Paul likens the church to a human body in which each part plays its own vital role.  His purpose is to affirm the importance of the unity of the church, the place of each member in the body, and, in particular, to remind those who are glorying in sensational gifts, that in the body of Christ, as in a human body, every member is important and its proper function depends upon every member serving the interests of the whole. The statement in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “So it is with Christ,” is short for “so it is in the body of Christ.” It is a wonderfully powerful way of speaking.  So it is with Christ, in other words, is another way of saying, so it is with the church.

All of those united to Christ by faith along with their children are members of the visible church. Formal church membership in a church is questioned by some on the basis that such membership is not specifically commanded in the New Testament. The fact is, however, formal church membership is assumed throughout the Book of Acts and the Epistles. Everything from the elder’s role as shepherds, the deacon’s ministry of addressing physical needs, church discipline, stewardship, accountability, and discipleship depend upon a community of Christians who are bound together.

In I Corinthians 12:13 Paul mentions “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” This is not to be taken as some sort of internal personal experience. Think rather of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the church to equip her to be fruitful in service to others and to Christ. This was the original idea in Acts 1:5 where the Lord promised his disciples that after he left the world they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Because of this, they were able to bless others and serve Christ with the gifts that had been given to them (Acts 2:4). Fruitfulness in service, spiritual gifts with which to minister to others, that is the idea behind Paul’s mention of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a baptism, a pouring out, which is common to all Christian churches. 

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