The Holy Spirit
by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira

5 – In the Life of the Church

1 Corinthians 12:4-31:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
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 ?  be20As 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.  And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?  But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

In our study of the Holy Spirit, we have considered the mission of the Holy Spirit to the world.  We have looked at the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, especially as we cooperate with Him by walking in the Spirit.  But the work of the Holy Spirit does not stop there; it also includes the whole church.  In this chapter, we will examine the Spirit of God in the church.

When we by faith accept Jesus Christ by obeying the gospel, the Holy Spirit takes us and baptizes us into the body of Christ.  Then we become one body in Jesus Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, the Apostle Paul tells us:

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.

The famous 20th Century martyr under Hitler was Dietrich Boenhoffer.  He made this statement in his book, Life Together:

When God’s Son took on flesh, He truly and bodily took, out of pure grace, our being, our nature, ourselves.  This was the eternal council of the Triune God.  Now we are in Him.  Where He is, there we are, too, in the incarnation, on the cross, and in His resurrection.  We belong to Him because we are in Him.  That is why the Scriptures call us [we believers] the body of Christ.

The words “Body of Christ” is the key metaphor used in the New Testament to describe the Christian church.  But before we can understand the work of the Holy Spirit in that body, we need to realize that, when we become part of that body, we also become part of each other.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12 we read:

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.

Romans 12:5 says:

...So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

The New Testament tells us that the Christian church is a closely knit body of men and women of all walks of life, from all cultures, who are joined togther by the Holy Spirit, or by the control of the Holy Spirit, with no distinction.

In 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, we read the conclusion that Paul comes to as he discusses the Christian church as the body of Christ.  If the church is really functioning as it should, Paul says:

...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 [it does not say that all the other members are happy], every part suffers with it; if one part is honored [it does not say all the other members are jealous], every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Galatians 3:26-28 says:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:17 that when we take the Lord’s supper:

Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

And that loaf, that bread, represents the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Salvation is really an exodus, an exodus from “in Adam,” which is our natural position by birth, to “in Christ” which is our new status by faith and baptism.  Baptism is putting on Christ.  That means, when we belong to Adam, we live under the principle of self, because Adam passed on to us a nature that is egocentric.  So we live for self; the world lives for self, because that is the basis of our sinful nature.  But when we become Christians, we die to that.  We say good-bye to Adam, because we cannot belong to Adam and Christ at the same time; they belong to two opposite camps.  We cannot belong to both.

A German came to the U.S.A. some years ago.  He became a millionaire as a photographer in New York.  He wrote to the Emperor Willem in Germany requesting an audience, referring to himself as a German-American.  The Emperor wrote back saying, “Germans I know, and Americans I know, but I don’t know any German-Americans.  If you were a German, and you became an American, you are no longer a German.”  In the same way, when you become a Christian, you are no longer an Adamite.  You are no longer of this world.  You belong to the kingdom of heaven.

Both these kingdoms are run by different systems.  The kingdom of this world is controlled by self:  “I do what pleases me.”  The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life:  these are the three basic drives of our world that we live in.  1 John 2:16:

For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.

But when you become a Christian, you have crucified the flesh with all it’s desires and you have made Christ the head of your life.  Galatians 5:24:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

We have seen so far that the Christian church is the body of Christ.  We know that every body has a head.  Ephesians 5:23 tells us who is the head of the church:

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Note that it does not say that the husband is the dictator of the wife.  Christ must be our example.  We find this same thing in Colossians 1:16-18:

For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he 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.

So Christ is our Head.  The church, to which all of us belong, is the body of Christ and, because we are one body, we are members of each other.

In 1 Corinthians 12, in Romans 12, and other passages, Paul uses the human body as a model.  As an example of the model, let us say that my stomach is empty and the stomach wants food.  So the stomach sends a message to the head and says, “I am hungry!”  Now the stomach needs help to get food.  So the mind says to the legs, “Take this body to the fridge.”  Now if the legs replied, “I’m not hungry; if the stomach is hungry and wants food, let him go himself,” there would be a problem.  But the legs are a slave to the head.  They don’t ask questions.  They say “Yes!” and they go.

When the eyes look in the fridge, they see two things.  They see an apple, and they see a chocolate bar.  And the flesh says to the mind, “I want that chocolate bar.”  And the Spirit says, “No.  Give him the apple.”  But what the mind decides takes place.  The mind says to the hand, “Get the apple; I’ll listen to the Spirit,” and the hands obey.  “Now, feed the stomach,” and the hands do that and the body grows in harmony.

But if my body was not functioning that way, I could not survive; it would be impossible.  It is exactly the same way with the Christian church.  When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ, but He doesn’t stop there.  He then decides what function we will have in that body and according to what He has chosen He gives that individual the gifts to fulfill that function.

Beginning with 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, we see the work of the Holy Spirit:

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.  [Notice, He’s the active agent.]  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  [One Head.  The Spirit is the Representative of Christ.]  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. [The word “men” is a generic term for mankind, so it includes women.]  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

In other words, God gives every believer gifts so that the whole body may be blessed.

We read further in 1 Corinthians 12:14-18:

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.  [Nor can the hand say to the foot, “You don’t belong to 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.

Every part of our body has different functions, but they all belong to the same body.  Romans 12:5-8 explains this further:

so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying [which means proclaiming], let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Every member has a function.

Peter presents the same idea in 1 Peter 4:10-11:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.

We must use our gifts.

When God calls us to speak before others, He gives us the grace because that is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have to depend on our natural ability.  He gives every believer one or more gifts because the church should function as a body.

We are told some of the gifts of the Spirit in Ephesians 4:11:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, ...

But to find the purpose of these gifts, we will look at verse 12 (through 16):

...to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

It is impossible for any individual in the church to fully reflect Jesus Christ because we are never the total body.  It takes the whole church, united together by the Spirit to reflect Jesus Christ and when the character of our Lord is reflected in the church then Christ will come.

To explain how this can take place, we will use the human body as a model as Paul does.  Remember that the Holy Spirit represents Christ, so the Head of this body is not only living in heaven, He is living in us through the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:9-10 tells us that the Spirit dwelling in us is synonymous with Christ dwelling in us:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Remember that the Head is not far away; He is in us through the Holy Spirit.

Next, for the Holy Spirit to control and to fulfill His purpose in the body — the church — each individual who is a part of the body, who belongs to the body of Christ, has to have some very important relationship between them and the Holy Spirit.  First, we have to acknowledge that the Spirit is the head and that we are the slaves.  An example of this is found in Philippians 1:1a.  In many places Paul introduces himself as the slave of Jesus Christ:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, ....

The word “servants” is in the Greek doulos, which really means slaves.  Paul is saying, “We are slaves of Jesus Christ.”

So we have to be slaves of God; we have to acknowledge that there is only one head in this body:  it is the Holy Spirit and what He says, we do.  There are some things He tells you to do that you don’t want to do, but we don’t argue with the Holy Spirit, just as the members of the body don’t argue with the head.  Sometimes God will ask us to do menial jobs.  Are we willing to do it?  Is our boss the hands, the self, or the Holy Spirit?

For the Holy Spirit to function and produce in a church perfect unity and perfect performance as a body, there has to be a linkage between every believer and the head, Jesus Christ, just as my body is connected to the head by nerves.  Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17:

...Pray continually....

He did not mean to go on your knees 24 hours a day.  He meant that we should keep a living connection to the Head so that there is communication.

We do this in two ways:  by prayer, which is us keeping in touch with God, and by Bible study, which is God keeping in touch with you, because, very often, God will reveal His will to you through the Word of God.

Then in verse 19 Paul says:

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; ....

Let Him control you.  If the nerves between my hand and my head are disconnected — if the nerves in my spinal column are disconnected from the head and the rest of the body — my hand becomes paralyzed.  It is still alive, but it is useless to the body and useless to anybody else.  It’s a hindrance, because the body has to drag along that hand that is useless.  There are too many members that are paralyzed.  They are useless to the church and a hindrance so that the body cannot grow.

That is why we must learn that as Christians we have only one Head, Jesus Christ, and we are His slaves.  We simply do what He tells us and we keep a living connection with Him.  When that happens, we will grow as a church.  There will be no jealousy, no backbiting, no accusations, but we will grow in Christ until we begin to reflect the head.  Christ revealed the Father to the world and now He wants the body to reveal God.  When that happens, then the world will recognize that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  This is the crying need of the church today, because when people come in, and they see us fighting with jealousy and envy they say, “I want nothing to do with the church.”

It is my prayer that we will learn to walk in the Spirit; we will learn to be submissive to the Head; we will learn to have a living connection with the Head so that, as a church, we grow as a body.  It is my prayer that we have the same care for each other; that there is no schism in this church, that there is no jealousy between the churches.  We are one body and the world desperately needs to see this.  It is my prayer that we will be willing to deny self, take up the cross, and allow Jesus to work in and through us and unite us that we will be one just as Jesus and the Father are One.


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