The Sovereign Design of the Body: Part 1

Focus: Pauls wants the church to see the unification of all believers by the Spirit into Christ’s body so they strive for unity even among diversity.

I. Joined into One Body

A. God’s Picture of the Church (12)

1 Corinthians 12:12 NASB95
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1. Christ is head of the body
Paul gives his famous metaphor for the church by calling it a body in verse 12. He states that while a body is one it has many parts or members. We have the hands we have the feet. We have the organs that function uniquely. These parts are all diverse and yet they are part of the whole. This is one of Paul's most well-known metaphors that was used throughout his writings.
Ephesians 1:22 NASB95
22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
Ephesians 5:23 NASB95
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
The word “head" here signifies leadership and authority as we have just recently studied but Paul is also using it literally as well, referring to the physical head as above and leading the body and its faculties. What can your arms and hands and organs do without the head as the central governance to the body.
When we consider the church being part of the body of Christ, we must rejoice in the truth of belonging to our Savior in such a way. This unity, we we already witnessed as on display in the Godhead, is also a reality of all of God’s people. This unity is not just important as peace between one another, but ultimately belonging to God.
We can see in these verses that Paul wants to communicate that the church, the body of Christ, is an entity that we are added to. Look at verse 13
1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB95
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
We will dive deeper into the phrase “baptized into” in just a little while, but consider the tense of this phrase meaning that believers in Jesus Christ are added to that which already exists. The body, with Christ as the head, which we call the church, is actually not a pentecost created entity. In other words, the church was created on this earth at Pentecost in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles, the gospel was preached and people were saved. But the body of Christ, was actually the plan of God in eternity past.
Romans 8:29–30 NASB95
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Ephesians 1:11–14 (NASB95)
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Both these verses speak of God’s sovereign plan to form a people for his own possession, those whom he would save and conform to the image of Christ. Pauls calls these people the body and bride of Christ, the church. This church existed in the purpose and plan of God well before God created humans to be drawn to and included in such a community. But with the unfolding of God’s plan by the word and Spirit, we see and understand more clearly this body and how believers have been invited to and included in this eternal people of God.
Therefore, being united to the body of Christ cannot be compared to any earthly connection or relationship. There can be no greater gift to a human being than to belong in relationship to the King and Lord over all. No civic club, sports team, work relationship or even marital union can be compared to as equal to knowing and being joined to Christ.
But consider such a union and we must see in ourselves the fleshly, idolatrous tendency to neglect one for the other. How easily we as believers, forsake the relationship with Christ for the earthly relationships that will have a shelf life. These relationships with teammates, workmates, and even helpmates were never intended to be eternal, but our relationship with Christ is eternal. Which of these relationships has displayed more love and sacrifice and blessing towards you?
We should then be reminded as the body of Christ that we find joy in our head. He is our source of life and satisfaction. Our purpose and existence is nothing without Christ as Lord over us. We cannot function properly wihtout him and we should not want to exist without him. He is truly our all in all.
Members of the Body are Many but One in Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12 NASB95
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Paul is also making the point that with Christ as our head, and we his body, then we are one in Him. The church is not one member, but many members. As we look at last week, that means that diveristy and unity is the key to understanding the church. Paul will make this point more clearly in the following verses 15-16 and he will make that point so that the diversity of gifts is not a hindrance to the work of the church. A parallel passage to remember is Romans 12:3-5
Romans 12:3–5 (NASB95)
3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
The universal and local church is blessed to be composed of unique believers who were all called by God’s Spirit to salvation in Christ and gifted individually gifts that are used to function together towards one common goal in the church. Paul wants the church to understand that diversity in gifts is nothing to divide over which is why he warns that “thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think” is a danger to unity. Instead, we celebrate the diversity of the church as God intended it.
We also grab tightly to Paul’s words in Romans 12:5
Romans 12:5 NASB95
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
We are members to Christ and members of one another. In other words, we are united together to serve Christ and serve each other. Obviously this contrast fighting against each other, but it also is contrary to neutrality with one another. Instead the community in the body of Christ is full of love and self-sacrifice towards the other members. Your gifts in the Spirit are designed to serve others. If preaching, doling out the word that nourishes the soul. If mercy, then acts of compassion towards helping others. If administration, then giving aid to those who need help in organization in life and ministry. All of these gifts have purpose because God’s design of his church is based upon his wise and sovereign construction of the church for exactly what is needed to carry out his mission in the world.
Now let’s look at the second idea today: God‘s formation of the church

B. God’s Formation of the Church (13-14)

1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB95
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
In thinking about how God’s forms the church, we want to focus on three aspects:
1. The Spirit of God joins us to Christ
2. The Spirit of God Unites as one in Christ
3. The Spirit of God Satisfies us in Christ
1. Spirit-Conversion joins us to Christ
One of the reasons that few verses will be expounded today is because verse 13 requires our deep attention. To begin we look at the phrase
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body”
The discussion of this phrase has accounted for great distinction in theological views regarding the Spirit of God. If the church is being baptized IN the Spirit, then it is claimed that baptism is NOT referencing a baptism of the Spirit at conversion, but instead a post-conversion coming of the Spirit of God separate for the believer. This theology is built on this one preposition, to which they translate IN THE SPIRIT YOU WERE BAPTIZED. In this discussion of spiritual gifts, some claim that baptizing in the Spirit is in relationship to receiving gifts like tongues and therefore the doctrine of the secondary baptism of the Spirit is born.
The baptism of the Spirit as a secondary experience in the Christian life has been a defining pentecostal theology among charismatics. This second coming of the Spirit, a baptism where you are given a second helping of the Spirit, is claimed to come only to some, with a sign of speaking in tongues that accompanies it because this is what happened in the book of Acts at Pentecost. This theology points back to key verses of the formation of the church which we will look now.
Matthew 3:11 NASB95
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Later Jesus stated in John 16:7
John 16:7 NASB95
7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
and finally Jesus said in Acts 1:8
Acts 1:8 NASB95
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Pentecostals would argue that the apostles were already believers in Acts 2 and therefore these promises of the Holy Spirit coming were their receiving the Spirit at Pentecost, with accompanying tongues, and that was a second gifting of the Holy Spirit. Their argument from 1 Cor 12 is that Paul is now dealing with tongues and therefore he must be describing the baptism of the Spirit as post-conversion blessing.
This interpretation must be rejected and let me give you a few reasons why.
1. One reason that the pentecostal interpretation of Baptism of the Spirit should be rejected is because the promises of John and Jesus are foundational promises that set up the formation of the church whereby every believer is baptized by the Spirit at their conversion, not some secondary experience. When the Spirit came at Pentecost, it came uniquely to the apostles at that time because the church was forming on earth for the very first time. That eternal promise of the body of Christ was being realized. The coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 was accompanied by tongues for the unique purpose of showing signs accompanying specific groups coming to faith in Christ. A helpful table has been produced that helps us see that unique gifting of the Spirit with tongues.
(table of baptism of Spirit) Hinn, Costi W.. Knowing the Spirit (p. 106). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
What this table show us is that gifts that were given like tongues, following the baptism of the Spirit, came to just these four groups in the book of Acts in order to authenticate that the Spirit had come on those besides just the Jews. This actually gives us further proof that this was the redemptive plan of God to bring into his church people from every tongue, tribe and nation as those professing Christ as Lord.
2. The second reason takes us back to 1 Cor 12:13 where we see then that Paul also then is speaking of the church as a whole, baptized by the Spirit. With Paul’s message of unity, then we can see that “all who are baptized in the Spirit” means that Paul also is teaching baptism of the Spirit comes at conversion, when we are transformed from death to life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Spirit comes upon every believer, empowering him to believe and live for His glory. This Spirit gifts every believer so that the church may serve Christ and one another.
The last reason to reject baptism of the Spirit is because the
3. THE Spirit of God unites us to the body instead of creating disunity
Costi Hinn, who was liberated from a life of this erroneous theology under his uncle Benny Hinn, wrote this in his book “Knowing the Spirit”
“Some will propose that there can be believers who are baptized in the Holy Spirit and those who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit but need to be. This creates division where the Bible does not. This fosters disunity between people, spiritual elitism in those who think they are “upperclassmen” in God’s family, and insecurity for those who feel they are second-class citizens”.- Hinn, Costi W.. Knowing the Spirit (p. 104). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
This is exactly the opposite of why Jesus gave the Spirit to the church. He did not give the Spirit so their would be elitism created with classism and ranks among believers, depending on who received the baptism of the Spirit and who did not. The Spirit was given to all at conversion so that all would live as God’s people who love God and love one another equally, without prejudice and disunity.
This also can be seen in our passage in 1 Cor 12:13
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB95)
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Paul wants the church to see spiritual gifts should lead to division among the body of Christ in the same way that ethnicity nor social class should lead to division. The church as the body of Christ is this beautiful tapestry of a variety of people, all from different economic and ethnic backgrounds and yet who are given commonality in Christ. We all are baptized by the Spirit upon our conversion to Christ and therefore we are all one in him.
This is powerful in today’s society where Satan is trying to divide us based on race, economics, and politics. The church needs to see the schemes of the devil here as a counter attack to what God has designed for his body. The regenerate membership of the church holds its union with Christ and their brothers and sisters in Christ as chief above all else, including their own cultural distinctives. When we let race or economics or politics get in our way of loving each other first as brothers and sisters, we are not living by the Spirit of Christ in us. He unites us and we cannot let anything bring division in our midst.
3. Spirit-Conversion satisfies us
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB95)
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Lastly, this passage teaches us that we are satisfied in Christ by Spirit generated work in us. Think of the life of an unbeliever that lives in perpetual long-term dissatisfaction with the world around them. Unbelievers cannot be satisfied because their lusts and their desires that are governed by the sin nature are acting against creation. In other words, our desires our twisted because sin has twisted this world away from what all creation is meant to accomplish- the worship and enjoyment of the one true God forever.
But when Christ came, he came to put an end to this twisted regime and in doing so He provided a way for satisfaction to occur in every person who puts their trust in Him. By the power of the Spirit, at conversion, we are baptized by the Spirit but equally we are “made to drink of the Spirit.” This same act by the Spirit not only comes upon us to unite us and bring the effects and blessings of salvation in Christ, but in it we are supernaturally satisfied.
When Paul says that we “drink of one Spirit” the idea of drinking has already been linked in this letter to the Lord’s Supper. In conjunction with the LS taking us back to the work of redemption, the idea of drinking always portrays satisfying thirst just as eating means alleviating hunger. When we drink at the Lord’s table, the symbolic blood of Christ is said to represent the satisfaction of atonement for our sins that was provided in the life Christ gave.
1 Corinthians 10:4 NASB95
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
Jesus makes a similar point in th gospel of John,
John 7:37–39 NASB95
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
We undestand then that the Spirit of God, which was poured out on us at our conversion, much like it was poured out on those at Pentecost, was given to bring us something contrary to our human nature longs for in this world- satisfaction in Christ. This means that Christ is our greatest treasure, a desire that is born from the Holy Spirit. When we as believers begin to treasure other things outside of Christ, the Spirit warns us with conviction that we are falling into spiritual adultery. We are to be satisfied in him because his life gives us what we need. To find satisfaction in any earthly thing is not only a substitute for the Lord Jesus, but it is a deadly substitute that is addictive but not for your good.
Let me challenge you this afternoon to consider what truly satisfies your soul? Is it really the Lord Jesus? Do you long for Him as the psalmist writes,
Psalm 42:1 NASB95
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
Psalm 107:8–9 NASB95
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! 9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
The Spirit gives us that satisfaction in Christ alone. Without that satisfaction in him, we are hungry beasts with an unquenchable thirst for this world that never leaves us until death. But the Lord satisfies our thirty souls. Let us trust in him. Let us be unified in Him and not divided, for He is our Lord and head of the body, the church. Praise be to God!
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