by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
1 Corinthians 12:24-27:
...While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving 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.
On the cross, the whole human race was legally justified in Christ. We must not make the cross only a provision. Something actually took place in terms of the human status before God. That status was changed from condemnation to justification in Christ. For a better term, we call it legal justification. But this legal justification has to be made effective and it does become effective when each of us, as individuals, surrenders our will to the truth as it is in Christ. Of course, this is done by faith, which we saw is our heart obedience to the gospel, and which is publicly confessed by baptism. Through genuine faith, by heart obedience to the gospel, we become subjectively linked or united to Jesus Christ. He and we become one. This means that His perfect righteousness becomes ours and God looks at us as if we are exactly what He is.
First John is a judgment-hour text. Many Adventists are afraid of the judgment. They look at themselves and see failure and disappointment but here is a wonderful text. The context is the love of God which is the basis of our salvation. 1 John 4:17:
This is how love is made complete among us [that is, in the setting of God’s love in verse 16] so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
If He is righteous, so are we. If He is perfect, so are we in Him. This is what the Bible means by righteousness or justification by faith. Faith simply makes effective what is true of us in Jesus Christ.
The moment we believe in Jesus Christ and become one with Christ and His righteousness becomes one in this transaction, something takes place. The inward evidence of this transaction is what the Bible calls the new birth. That is, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us as Christ’s representative. We become the temple or the sanctuary of God. But there is also to be an outward evidence. The outward evidence of this experience is that the Holy Spirit that dwells in us now walks in us. As we saw in 2 Corinthians 6:16, God wants to dwell in us plus to walk with us:
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
This outward evidence the world needs to see.
What happens to you when you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour? What does it mean to be saved in Christ? Men and women are not saved primarily from the world to heaven, or from death into life. We are saved primarily from the world into the church, which is the body of Christ. That’s the clear teaching of the New Testament. In order for us to be saved, Christ had to redeem us from this world that is under Satan, that stands condemned, and is hostile to God. Of course, the cross reveals that. It was the world united that cried out, “Crucify Him!” Satan united the Jews and the Romans together.
It should be made clear that, when you become a Christian through the cross of Christ, you are saying “goodbye” to the world and you are becoming part and parcel of the body of Christ which the New Testament defines as the church. Notice how the apostle Paul applies the cross to his own life in Galatians, chapter 6. In Galatians 6:12, he defines legalism:
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
He says that many desire to make a false show in the flesh. They constrain you to be circumcised only lest they should suffer the persecution of the cross of Christ. Legalism is a parading of your self-righteousness. In contrast, read verse 14 of Galatians 6:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
In other words, between the world and the church stands the cross of Christ. God allows nothing of the world to creep into the church. We need to know this and yet it is a tragedy that we have not yet fully realized it. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body — whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
In the last study we saw that every believer becomes a temple of God. Now we will see that we all, as believers joined together, make up the totality of Christ. In Ephesians 2, notice how beautifully Paul speaks concerning the corporate body. He is talking to the Ephesian Christians, who are mainly Gentiles. In Ephesians 2:19:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household...
Then, using a building as an illustration (in the Middle East they do not build out of wood, they build out of stone), he says (verses 20-21):
...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
So even though we are individually God’s temple, corporately we become the total temple of Christ, as expressed in the next verse (Ephesians 2:22):
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This is something that we as Christians must be clear on because, if we fail to understand that the church is the body of Christ, that is belonging to the kingdom of God on this earth, and is no longer of this world, we will fail to realize what we are here for. Unfortunately, we are copying the world’s fashions. We are accepting the world’s philosophy and we are also depending on the world to be perfect. We forget that the world is at enmity with God. We must remember this.
No wonder we see today that the church is weak. It can hardly be distinguished from the world. This I notice is much more of a problem in countries that call themselves Christian countries. There is no such thing as a Christian country. There are Christians, and it is true that a lot of our rules, a lot of our morals, were based on Christian ideals. The culture of the world though, is not the culture of the church. We must remember that we are not of the world but we belong to God.
With this in mind, we will read certain texts to show that, when Christ was on this earth, He was a stranger in this world. He was a sojourner, yet He witnessed to the world the truth. He came to save the world but He made it clear, “I am not of this world.” When He was brought before Pilate He said, “If my kingdom was of this world I would cause my servants to fight for me, but my kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36:
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Remember that, as Christians, we have become vitally linked with Christ. The church on earth is a representation of the kingdom of heaven. We must realize that the world must see Christ in us and not worldliness.
From First John we have several texts. When I use the word “world,” I am using it in the Biblical sense. I don’t mean the people of the world. They are also God’s property. He bought them with a price but they don’t know it and they have not accepted it. In 1 John 2:15-16, we read (verse 15):
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
This does not mean not to love the people of the world. But what did John mean by “Do not love the world”? Verse 16 tells us:
For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh [that is, the lusts of the human nature], the lust of the eyes [what we see we want], and the pride of life [boasting of what we have and do] — comes not from the Father but from the world.
In contrast, Galatians 5:24 says:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
And 1 John 2:17 says:
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
The kingdom of this world is already condemned. It will come to an end. The kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom and we belong to that kingdom. The world needs to see that. Now turn to 1 John 4:4-6. Verse 4:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them [the people who follow after the world], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
The Holy Spirit that dwells in you represents Christ. “He” also refers to Christ, in contrast to Satan, who is the prince of this world. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, Christ is greater. Verses 5-6:
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Which world do you belong to? Which kingdom do you belong to? It is very clear that you cannot hold one leg in the world and one leg in the church. It doesn’t work that way because the two are polarizing. When I was in the Boy Scouts in Africa, once we were on a raft. The raft was made of two huge planks of wood tied together. One of my friends took a dive with a knife, went under the raft and cut the rope. I was standing on the raft with one leg on one side and the other leg on the other side. They began to separate. Now I had to make a choice. I could not remain on both planks. I chose one plank. It is the same with you. You can’t leave one leg in the world and one leg in the church. It may last for a while but, eventually, you and I have to make a choice. Which kingdom do you belong to? Remember that the kingdom of the world is going to come to an end. The kingdom of God is going to last forever. It’s obvious which one is better.
Turn to 1 John 5:4-5. Verse 4:
...For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
It does not say “even our human effort.” Righteousness by faith includes everything, even the Christian walk. Verse 5:
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Every believer must realize what it means to be saved. It means that we have said “goodbye” to everything the world stands for: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We have become part and parcel of the body of Christ, which is the metaphor used in the New Testament.
We, as Christians, no longer belong to the world but we have become part and parcel of the body of Christ. Look at Romans 12. The reason that I am giving this is because, in the human body, all parts have functions. In other words, as Christians, every member of the church has a job to do, the same as in the human body every “member” of the human body has a job to do.
Once I was listening to a health expert on the radio and he used the illustration of something that I am still struggling to understand. After six years in America, I still don’t understand one of the most common games of America, football. I don’t understand it at all. Where I come from, soccer is something you play with your legs and feet to kick the ball. I don’t know why they call it football, here, when all they do is bash each other. But this commentator was making this statement: “When you watch a football game, you watch 25 people who are physically overworked and you see 50,000 people who desperately need to work watching 25 people overworking.”
That may be true with football, but it is not true with the church. There are no spectators in the church. There is no room for spectators. Romans 12:2-8. Verse 2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world [no spectators], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
So God has a will for each one of you. Verse 3:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
In other words, faith refers to the gift. Verses 4-8:
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
So he goes on. Every person has a job. Read now in 1 Corinthians 12:27:
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Also Ephesians 1:19-23:
...And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
All these texts tell us as Christians we are part and parcel of the body of Christ.
With this in mind, I would like to bring up certain important implications. How does this affect my Christian walk? Number one: While we are still living in the world, please remember that a change has taken place. Before, while we were of the world, we could live as we pleased more or less, depending on the circumstances because the world which was established by Satan was established on the principle of self. But now, as Christians and a vital part of the body of Christ, we no longer can do and think as we like because the law of the principle of the body demands that we live entirely dependent and under the direction of the Head, which is Jesus Christ.
Here is an example. Let us say my stomach is hungry and my stomach can do nothing about itself or about its hunger. So it sends a message to the head, “I am hungry.” Well, the head sends a message to the legs, “Please take this stomach to the fridge.” Now what would happen if your legs said to the head, “Look, I’ve been walking all day long. If the stomach is hungry, it can go itself.” What would happen to you if your legs did not obey the head? You would not last very long. Does the stomach need the legs? Yes! Do the legs argue with the head? No. It is a slave to the head. It says, “Yes, Sir,” and it goes to the fridge. It has done its job. Now the head sends a message to the hand. “Open the fridge door, because the stomach cannot open that door.” Does the hand say, “I’ve been typing all day long. Why should I work any more?” It doesn’t do that! We need every member of the body.
When Darwin wrote his book on evolution, there were a few scientists who took after him. One of the arguments they used to prove that we have evolved from animals is that: “There are certain organs of the body which are no longer in use, because some of the organs which were useful when we were animals were not needed any more, such as the appendix and the last bone of the spinal column, which is a shortened tail. We don’t need them now.” As science has advanced, we have discovered that each one of these organs has a useful part. There is no such thing as a vestigial organ. The problem is that man did not know about the use of them. Now they are discovering more and more that every part of the body is useful. Likewise, the church — being the corporate body of Christ — will experience the same condition of our human body if they function properly. In other words, there is positive unity in the body. My hands serve the body, my legs serve the body, my eyes serve the body. When I drive the car, eyes tell me, “Watch out.”
Some years ago, our family went to visit my mother in Africa. I don’t know how many of you have been to the Indian Ocean in Africa. Even in Florida, the sea here is cold. Even in California, I tried swimming and I said, “This is for the penguins — not for me.” Having gone to Africa for all those years, we went to the seaside. My brother and I saw those huge, beautiful waves and we got into our swimming suits and dashed into the water and a huge wave (we had a rented car and I was the only one who could drive) came and took my glasses off and I swam without the glasses but I missed them.
I got up at two o’clock in the morning, when the tide was low, and for two hours I searched for my glasses, crawling on the sand with my flashlight, but I couldn’t find them. Then I went to the man who was in charge and asked, “Is there an optician here?” He said, “No.” There was a little shop there and this man had all the glasses that he had found on the seashore. They were all reading glasses and most of them were so crushed I could hardly see. I had to drive 18 miles without glasses. I can’t recognize you three feet away without my glasses. My wife was saying, “There is a pothole there and a cow there.” Here I was driving and I realized how important the eyes are!
As our scripture says, “The eyes do not say to the legs, I don’t need you.” We need every member and, therefore, there is a function that each one must do, but, if you and I do not function as the body should do, then we have problems. Remember that, for the church, there will be a united, corporate body functioning healthfully. Every member will have to function or God can’t use us. If you are the head, work as the head. If you are a leg, work as the leg. Let God use you. In order for this to happen, you must function as the body does. You must become a slave of Christ. You must say, “Not I, but Christ.” You do not argue with Christ. If He says to us, “Go,” we do not argue, we go. God sent us to Beirut. It wasn’t easy. When we saw those shells and saw the buildings shaking, we knew that God was in charge. We have to become slaves of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:7:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
The good is for all the church.
The same thing is found in verses 14-18 of 1 Corinthians:
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being 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 stop being 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 placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
As a member of the body of Christ, we become part and parcel of a body that must go together. Then, as the body of Christ, we have to live totally dependent on Christ and under His direction. As the body of Christ, we must grow just as the human body grows.
When Christ went up to heaven, He bestowed gifts on the church. He had a purpose in giving gifts. Here it is in Ephesians 4:11-13:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his 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.
In other words, just as the world has been growing more and more in sin and sin has been abounding in the world, grace must also abound in the church so that the church, as a body, reflects totally the character of Christ.
A statement in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69, says:
“When the church reflects the full character of Christ, then Christ will come.”
Notice that this is applying to the body. As an individual, I can never fully reflect Christ because I am not all of Christ, I am only a part of Him. It takes the body as a unit, as a corporate entity to fully reflect Christ.
For this to happen we need to follow 1 Corinthians 12:25-26:
...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.
Because the church is one body, there should be no schism nor division in the body but the members should have the same care for one another. And when one member suffers, all the other members should not turn away from that member. We must suffer with it. Or if one member is honored, then all the other members should not become jealous but should rejoice.
In a marathon, two Africans — a Kenyan and a Tanzanian — ran 100 miles. The hands did not run, but the legs ran, but the head took the credit. The legs didn’t say, “I did the running but you get the credit.” We are one body. When the world sees that we have the same care for one another and that there is no division in the church, they will know that this must be the power of the gospel. That is why, when Jesus prayed His last prayer in John 17, He said, “Father, it is my prayer that they (the church) may be one just like you and I are one, that the world may know that you sent Me.” John 17:20-23:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
It is my prayer that the church will be one. There is to be no jealousy, no criticism of each other, for, when we are criticizing somebody else, we are criticizing ourselves. The leg never criticizes the head. It can’t talk but, even if it could, it would not complain because it is one body. It is my prayer that you and I will have a living connection with Jesus Christ and that we will live under His direction, that we will function as His body and not ours, and that the church will reflect the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.