Thursday 20 January 2022


   1 Corinthians  12.  Verses 12 to 31


Here is a passage dealing  with the great theme of the Christian Church, most significant in the Bible.  The Apostles Paul is telling that Christ is the body of the Church, and the Church should recognize this and see members as parts of that body.  Jesus is no longer in this world, and  in his last words on earth, he told his Apostles to take the gospel to all nations, and make disciples.  They did so, and now Jesus depends on members to continue that task on his behalf.

 Paul draws a picture of the unity which should exist within the Church in order to fulfil its proper purpose. A body can only be healthy and fit if all parts of the body are functioning perfectly.  We in the Church have to realize we need each other, there cannot be isolation in a Church, and we care for each other, for as Christian we live in  hostile world.

 We have to be conscious of the fact, that as Jesus is no longer physically in the world, so members of the Church are required to do His work here on earth; we are to be His voice and hands.  This is such an important task, and we should not try to avoid it.  Literally, we have to be His body, and the supreme glory for the Christian is that he/she is part of that body.

 But a body only functions properly if it is healthy, and every part is working properly.  We must accept we need one another, and there is no need for competition or jealousy.  Occasions arise when, someone feels they are not being given the recognition they feel their secular work demands, and others are doing what they should be doing.  If any organ in our body fails, the whole body is affected and any disruption in the Church affects the whole situation.

 Sometime of course, it may seem as your work is not appreciated when you do not get the thanks and recognition your work has merited.  Do not be depressed or disheartened, if you have done it for God, He will be pleased and recognise you.  When all our gifts are put together we can become a strong body, able to serve the Lord as He would want. 

 In the last verses, Paul speaks of the various forms of service in the Church. At the head are the Apostles, who were the greatest figures, not having a settled ministry, but having to go into all the nations with the gospel.  The essential qualification for an Apostle was that he had close contact with Jesus  during his earthly life, and was a witness of his resurrection.  They also had contact during the period immediately after his resurrection.

 A prophet was a man who lived close to God, that he knows God’s mind and intention so he can make it known to men.  He brings warning, telling men their action is not in accordance with God’s will.  He brings guidance and advice seeking to direct men into the ways God wants them to go.

 Paul adds teachers who were so important. There were evangelists, who with the Apostles preached the gospel, and the teachers had to build up and instruct people who did not know Christianity. The importance of these men was because at that time there were no printing means, and the first gospel written was by Mark thirty years after Jesus died.  The books had to be handwritten and cost so much ordinary people could not afford to purchase them.  Such was the task of the teacher, and by the personality and ability of the teacher much could be learned.

 There are so many other tasks to be carried out in a Church which require people to do them. A Church should be clean and tidy to impress a visitor who calls, flowers to be arranged, and people welcomed by stewards, a most important duty, for if people just have a book put in their hand and given a gruff ‘good morning’, they won’t be motivated to visit again. Stewards can make a huge impression if they greet people with a smile, an offer to meet a member of similar age and sex to be guided by.  But above all, members must work together and not try to outshine others.

 The impossibility of all being alike in our abilities, is shown in that Paul is intent on showing this by the manner in which he separates each gift.  God will have given you something you could use in his service. If you don’t know what it is, ask him.

 Let us now consider an outlook for today. All should treasure their church, and not try to tear it apart.  Those of us who have been in the Church for a long time can see such a change from say twenty years past.  There are so many fancy ideas that we may think of gimmicks, introducing from the highest Offices new interpretations of the Bible to try and get people in.  The anomaly is that the Churches with the largest congregations, clearly demonstrate it is because they are not responding to activists from outside the Church.  Look at the popularity of the black Churches, where people are getting messages which are not dragged from society. 

 Who at one time, would have believed bishops were calling on congregations not to attend a world famous evangelist visiting this country, because he had upset non-believers by quoting Scripture.  If you have ‘Sky’ television, or even YouTube, look for videos of United States Churches where thousands can attend the same Church, and the pastor is actually preaching the Bible.

 By one spirit we were all baptized into one body.  We may worship in different forms, from high ceremonial style to basic Christian teaching, and such is acceptable, for God never made all the flowers roses, he had different varieties, rooted  in the same soil and growing together. So a Catholic Church and a Pentecostal may have different forms of service, and all will be acceptable provided all have the same doctrine from Scripture.  We are not here to talk of climate change, which seems to be popular if you believe it or not, nor give personal opinions of the Bible. Tell it as it states in the book .

 Just as among people there are different personalities and appearances, so with the Church.

No matter how great the disparity may be between Christian people race, gifts, talents, status in the community;, if alive in Christ he/she has been made by the same spirit and is a partaker of the same divine nature.  We can visit other countries, and discover we have the same divinity, above all our baptism by the Holy Spirit into the church, the body of Christ.  This meant to be a  company of men and women who have met Christ, and have joined together to form the body of Christ.

 We should be united in our spiritual beliefs, completely to his death and resurrection, and for the whole purpose of the Church. Sadly, it grieves me, frustrates and depresses me greatly when I read of senior figures in the Church challenging and calling for Bible teaching to be ignored. If they cannot subscribe to Scripture, which they must have vowed to do at ordination, they should look for alternative employment.

 We also have to read disgraceful accounts of people within the Church who commit serious sexual offences, despite from which denomination or affiliation, all Christians are placed in situations which they should not have to.  Ministers are often given more attention than ordinary men, and to some it goes beyond their intelligence to realise much is due to status, not the actual person.   

 No greater error was created than when Churches excluded married men from ministry. There is no justification for it in Scripture. When God gave women to be man’s helper, it was the most precious gift he could give. If both work together there is a strong bond,, as each add their own talent, and make a healthier atmosphere, devoid of need for other casual relationships.  My ministry was made stronger by a wife, who could by her presence complete what I had done, by conversing  with people.  We know marriage was not banned for the Apostles by Jesus, for the Bible tells how Jesus healed Peter’s ‘mother-in-law.

 We are living in an evil age when morals and honesty are loose. The behaviour of men and women has no bounds from theft, corruption, infidelity, even murder which was at one time a serious crime which held the nation in shock, but has just become another me.

Any one, particularly younger women, who venture out at night are literally taking their life to risk. What exacerbates the situation, there is no limit to the commission of moral  or improper misbehaviour to the highest level in public service, or higher.

 This makes it even more than ever for the Church to come forward and be a national beacon of light in a dark and deadly world. The Church of England has bishops in the House of Lords who have been granted membership to protect the moral state of the nation. Why then has there not been an outcry against young children being taught all explicit forms of sexuality; of youngsters of  four being asked if they are in the proper gender. Letters are often written to the ‘Times’ newspaper (of course) protesting about political issues, rarely if ever about moral failings.

 God created his Church to help people live good lives in company with all other people. To prepare for salvation for followers, with every member happy in the will of God, yet many homes are caught up into a sinful unhappy state of life.  The Church of Jesus Christ should be a body that penetrates everywhere. May all Christians help to put an end to the devastation being caused to our Churches when leadership shuts down Scriptures as the Churches are doing now, almost across the range of denominations, to be in line with modern culture.

 May God bless his Holy Word to us and may his Holy name be praised .                          

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