1 Corinthians 12:27
August 19, 2018
Lord’s Day Worship
The sermon starts at 16:00 in the audio file.
Or, To Be and Build the Church
As I’ve described the last couple Sunday mornings, each summer our pastors take a couple months of meetings to review our previous ministry year and make prayerful plans for the upcoming year. We also take time to look back and look ahead with our small group leaders and their wives at our annual retreat, and we held our retreat at the beginning of last week.
Usually I choose a theme for the retreat, starting each of our sessions with a short devotion before getting into our discussion, and often the retreat theme rolls into a theme for the upcoming year.
For 2017-18, the theme was “All Are Yours.” It came from 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
The phrase, “all are yours,” is reality, and Paul used it to inform/remind the Christians that they didn’t need to divide themselves based on their favorite preacher; all the preachers of the word of the cross were theirs. More than preachers, the space-time continuum was theirs, and is ours. It’s a great and categorical-expanding truth, a structural concept that changes how we look at the world. It’s like getting bookshelves for the first time and finally having a place to put things. Believe that “all are yours,” and boasting is no longer limited to how far one man can take you. Believe it, and one’s place in the world becomes a constant opportunity to receive in thanks.
We eventually worked through 1 Corinthians 3 throughout the year and saw the theme in context. And the same will happen again, Lord willing, this upcoming year.
The theme is “You Are the Body of Christ” and it comes from 1 Corinthians 12:27.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
This is more indicative, more statement of reality, more truth to be believed. Chapter 12 begins Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts, teaching that goes through love in chapter 13 and tongues in particular in chapter 14. The Corinthians could compete over anything, including their favorite gospel preacher as well as their spiritual gifts. But they missed that gifts are given, and these gifts are of the nature that they come with strings, or better ligaments, attached.
There is one Spirit that gives a variety of gifts, there is one Lord for whom the gifts should be used, there is one energy by which the gifts are exercised (1 Corinthians 12:4-6), and there is one body that all the gifts benefit. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). There are many members, a whole lot of parts, and they are all connected.
The identity of each individual member is given by God, and the identity of the whole body is given by God: You are the body of Christ. This is indicative, to be received and believed. This is identity, to be cherished and embodied. Though we may know it as fact, I pray that we get it stuck in our minds, that we remember and meditate on it. When we wonder what we should do, may we start with who we are. You are the body of Christ.
In chapter 14 Paul exhorts our attentiveness to the body.
Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
This relates to our trellis talk from last Lord’s day. Be abounding, be overflowing in your effort to strengthen one another. This is the way of the Spirit. This is the imperative that follows the indicative.
In a pastoral effort to structure our corporate lives together in such a way as to promote the embodying and edifying of the body, here are some of the specific vision and trellis plans for the 2018-19 ministry year. We’ve already addressed some of the Why of these trellis pieces, this is What they will look like with their new coat of paint.
We will continue through 1 Corinthians. We are a little more than halfway through the letter, and perhaps we’ll be able to finish the epistle near next August. The theme of these upcoming chapters are being (12:27) and building up (14:12) the body of Christ.
There will also be occasional small breaks, including the usual liturgy/worship refresher at the beginning of the calendar year.
I spent a good amount of time on this trellis piece two weeks ago.
We are moving to only twice a month (so no 5th Sunday evening services, except 9/30 in order to finish the evening epistles).
There are a variety of things that gathering again on Sundays enable us to do, and we’re not trying to make it a repeat of the morning. We have scheduled three choir practices, two prayer nights, two family nights, a Thanksgiving testimony service, Seminar, Easter evening service that hopefully will include some baptisms, ECS graduation, and the Independence Day Extravaganza.
For evenings with teaching we’re going to work through two small series, each elder will teach once in each series, wrapping up with all the elders for a Q&A. Series 1: Downhill Apologetics: Witnessing in the Name of the Lord (Kuyperian Apologetics. Jesus is Lord, let’s talk like it.) Series 2: To Take Dominion: Working in the Name of the Lord (Kuyperian Business. Jesus is Lord, let’s work like it.)
Because our growth as a body has been mostly manageable, the elders are still able to know the sheep and what’s happening across the flock without needing to switch groups. We don’t usually recommend that people who are attending switch without good reason, since it is easy to move around and avoid people actually getting to know you. That said, if the group you’re in is too large for your liking, perhaps you could jump in to a smaller group (though you would make it bigger).
Due to bandwidth for leaders and sheep, and to encourage participation in a variety of things, including the Omnibus auditing, both Titus 2 and Men to Men will move to once a month, first and second Mondays respectively.
Titus 2 will meet on the first Monday of the month at the van der Bekens’. This year they will be doing a Bible reading challenge, along with perhaps a small book on contentment and another small book on identity. Ladies can plan other things for the third Monday (for example, Gail Martin could hold a Bible study, Mo is considering an open question night, there’s been talk about another night of fellowship at the gun range.)
Men to Men will meet on the second Monday each month, and we’re moving from the Marlatts’ to the Halls’ in Marysville. At our first meeting on 9/10 we’ll introduce reading the New Testament, then read the whole NT over the next three meetings (which occur over five months). We will prepare a reading sheet with major theological categories for the men to annotate with verses they find. Then we will read Men and Marriage by George Gilder for the next three meetings, and finish with Wisdom and Wonder by Abraham Kuyper for our final two meetings next summer. Men will be encouraged to attend Kuyperian Camaraderie in the fourth week of the month. Elders will consider attending the City Council meetings on the fourth Monday in rotation.
Less meetings, with more variety, with larger sections of reading, aim to address some of the feedback we received.
I was in high school when I started to desire to be a pastor. And from the beginning I never wanted to be a youth pastor, but the reason was because I believed youth ministry is crucial. Everyone expects the youth pastor to say that, though, and I always thought I could have greater impact on the youth from the “outside” by encouraging people to consider that work. The Bowers, Halls, young Weinbergs, along with some other leaders, continue to give great care for our junior high and high school students, and that will continue in the Sunday evening gatherings and annual retreat.
In February we will have another afternoon to evening seminar on Fellowship: A Mess Worth Making – How to live with people in fellowship, navigate relationships with grace, etc.
Especially with the work of the ladies to decorate and snack us and feed us, it’s an enjoyable day together as a church body, while also providing some edification.
Though it is good to get away with the guys only, perhaps we can scratch that another way. This upcoming spring we will encourage couples to attend, with possibly alternating between couples and guys only. The extra day before the conference start was great, so encourage as many as can to do that. Couples will need to arrange their own housing.
There are some printed church calendars available at the back table, and the online calendar is updated through next August.
Not everything, but a lot of this is based in input we solicited over the last year.
Being together, building together, as the body of Christ. (Jonathan will have more from Ephesians 4 tonight.) Hopefully these messages related to our trellis have encouraged you to think about your involvement with the vine, and perhaps have increased your thanks for what we have while also increasing your excitement for what is to come.
You are the body of Christ. “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30). You are the body, and as you love the church and give ourselves up for one another, you are also the glory of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV)