DEEPER CHRISTIAN LIFE MINISTRY – SEARCH THE SCRIPTURE 23RD MAY 2021 (LESSON 1001).
Topic: Loving And Serving The Body Of Christ
MEMORY VERSE: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
TEXT: Galatians 5:13-15; Romans 12:3-10 (KJV)
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
From the text, we discover the scriptural explanation of the relationship of the members of the body of Christ. The Bible is not silent on the duty of each believer in the church. Indeed, it emphasises the possibility, necessity and the responsibility of serving the body of Christ. The New Testament paints a clear picture of what is meant by the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church is likened to a bride and members of the Church to the flock being watched/ tended by the Shepherd. The Church is also likened to a kingdom where Jesus Christ is the ruling King. The Church is also called the family of God, where Jesus Christ is the Head. She is described as a building whose foundation is Jesus Christ. Over and above all these, the Church is referred to as the Body of Christ. All these metaphors are used for the Church.
THE UNITY OF BELIEVERS IN CHRIST (Romans 12:4,5; I Corinthians 12:12-14; 10: 17; Galatians 3:26- 29; John 17:20,21; Ephesians 2:10-22; 4:4-6)
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). The word of God emphatically dwells on the unity of the Church, the body of Christ. In the twelfth verse, it says, “the body is one”, and this truth of oneness in the body runs through the three verses. Though there is unity in the body, there is also diversity in the function of the members. This is similar to the human body. While we speak of only one body, there are several parts of body — head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, legs, toes. Though these parts of the body are several, they all in unity constitute the body.
Question 1: How can one become a member of the body of Christ?
The Church ought to be one just as the members of the physical body. All the members of the Church (blood washed and saved) ought to know that Christ placed them in His body for a purpose. At salvation, the Holy Spirit baptizes (puts) the new believer into the body of Christ: “for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (Verse 13). That one body consists of all “Jews or Gentiles bond or free”. As soon as we are born again, all tribal, national, social, professional or academic discriminations are removed and we are fused into one identity — the body of Christ. “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of an, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:3-6). Here we see very clearly how the Holy Spirit emphasises the unity of the body. This is the prayer of the Lord in John’s gospel: “Neither pray I for these alone’ but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one…” (John 17:20,21)
Question 2: Mention some attitudes that can affect church unity today.
It is a sin against God when brethren in the church divide along tribal or other lines. Our marriages must not be coloured by tribal or other ungodly considerations. It is a sin to discriminate and denounce a member of the church along gender lines. Competition, hatred or resentment in the church contradicts the prayer of Christ and it is a sin. It amounts to resisting the Holy Ghost. The goal of Christ is that “all may be one”. It takes humility to keep the unity of the brethren in the church. Cooperation of all the members of the church is required for unity to be achieved. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another ‘ (Romans 12:3-5). None should be self-centred or self-conceited. We should humble ourselves before other believers and let the body be one. The key to the unity of the Church is humility.
UPHOLDING LOVE AND UNITY IN THE CHURCH (John 13:34,35; 15:9-12; Romans 12:9,10; John 17:9-11, 19- 21; Galatians 5:13-15; Acts 2:44-47; 1 Corinthians 6:5-8; 12:23-26)
Problems are tests of unity in the church. When there are no problems, almost all members profess love, unity and brotherhood. But when problems arise, real unity is proven. This happened in the Corinthian church. “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren” (1 Corinthians 6:5-8). We may accidentally step on one another’s toes; our interests may clash at one time or another and we may be bandied about by some so-called brethren in the local church. We may even be overtly cheated. Such offences are settled in the church by the leaders where there is unity. Such problems in the family are settled within the family or best by the leaders of the church; never by the extended families or in-laws. The Bible says, offences must come (Matthew 18:7). Whatever the offence, and wherever the source, we must endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the home and the church in the bond of peace. All segregations must stop. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love ne another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
Question 3: Mention the reasons some brethren despise others in the church.
Some people despise because they feel that other brethren are uncultured or uncivilised. But if Christ were to look for reasons He cannot love us, He would not need to look too far before He spots a thousand and one faults in our lives. Christ loves us just as we are, and He expects us to love the brethren in the same manner. Do not look for reasons you should not love your brethren. Rather, search for the things in their lives that would compel you to love them. God commanded us to love our brethren; that is why we must love them. Second, the soul of our brother or sister is precious before God; so, we must love what He deems precious. Third, a brother or sister may seem physically unattractive in our estimation, but he/she has a sweet, beautiful spirit; and for that, we must love him/ her. Fourth, some brethren may not be intelligent in bur evaluation but spiritually, their hearts are perfect; and for that, we must love them. Fifth, a brother or sister may not be a possessor of a university degree, but he/she possesses the rich grace of the eternal God to live right and victoriously.. For that, we must love him/her. The duty and great service we owe one another is love. We should love under all circumstances. Brethren may make obvious mistakes; we should still love one another. Your wife may behave unwisely, still love her. A house fellowship member may deliberately go into mischief, still love him/ her. Your children may playfully damage some household utensils, still love them. People may not grant you the recognition you expect in the church, still love them. A sister may be lacking the basic things of life today, you are to still love her; she might be mightily blessed of God with all comforts of life tomorrow. We should love one another unconditionally as Christ has loved us. Our love must also be sacrificial and sincere.
Question 4: Why must we love the brethren?
“And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6). We have different members of the body carrying out diverse functions. These functions, if not specified and carried out, may cripple the body. We should seek how best to serve the body of Christ. Several services are available in the church.
UNDERSTANDING AREAS OF SERVICE AND MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH (1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Romans 12:4-8; Acts 6:1-6; 8:26-40; Galatians 5: 13; Acts 9:36-39; Titus 2:3-5)
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth: on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do It with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).The areas of service and ministry in the church range from the sensitive assignment (responsibility to the daily regular duty of caring, giving and showing mercy. There is a duty for you to carry out, In the house fellowship, not all the members can lead. But all can give something to comfort, assist and cheer up the needy. In the local church, all the members cannot teach, but all can show mercy one to another, bearing one another’s burden. In every church, all the members can be involved in serving one another. Such duty of serving the brethren is described as a “ministry” in the seventh verse. Some serve the body by helping the brethren in various ways: assisting young mothers, comforting the distressed and bereaved, cleaning up the church, visiting the sick, weak and lonely. “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:29,30). The thrust here is that we should not compete with one another. We should do whatever the Lord has for us with all our might. Philip, in the church, accepted what he was given to do and did it cheerfully. The work looked mean, but he concentrated on it. He later became an evangelist and the city of Samaria received the gospel through his ministry. Some Christians can hardly appreciate or adjust to serve in small things. But they err. We should start like Philip and leave the future to God. “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great oldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 3:13). If you start on a seemingly low rung of the ministry, the Lord can, in future, lead you into a higher position; there is always the next level. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). The old women who are supposedly mature in the Lord should be teachers, instructing the younger sisters on Christian living, domestic manners and responsibilities.
Question 5: Mention some ministries and areas of service available in the church.
Some people classify some works in the church as unimportant, but they miss it. God places high premium on every ministry in the church because He set up all the ministries. The Bible says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). So, do not idolise any ministry. Giving, visitation, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and giving water to the thirsty are as rewarding as any other ministry or position in the body (Matthew 25:31-46).
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