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Bodily Functions!

By Bill Petri and Scott Morton

1Co 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

1Co 16:16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

We read in these two verses some wonderful words. What a dear saint Stephanus must have been. What wonderful words; "they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." Webster defines an addiction as follows: habitual, turned over to something with a strong desire. Stephanas' house made it a habit to be turned over to the saints with strong desire. In verse 17, Paul tells us that Stephanas and those with him supplied Paul with something he lacked.

1Co 16:17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

1Co 16:18 For they have refreshed my spirit and your's: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

Paul tells us what they supplied in this verse. His spirit and those spirits of the saints at Corinth were refreshed by Stephanas. Webster defines refresh as follows: "to bring back into newness." Paul is telling us that Stephanas brought Paul to this wonderful state. How could someone bring the Apostle of the Gentiles to a state of newness? Stephanas was able to do this with all the saints because he recognized some very important truths.

1Co 12:13 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.

Rom 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us all believers are placed into the Body of Christ (the church). Romans 12:4-5 shows that we belong to one another, we are all members of one body. Stephanas and his household recognized this important truth. They also recognized five important truths about their place and function in the Body of Christ.

1Co 12:13 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.

1Co 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

The first point that we need to realize is that there is a specialization of members in the Body of Christ. We are not one part, but many parts. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the analogy of the human body. If we are all giant noses, would we be able to see? We could sure smell real good, and we could pick out other body parts if they smelled, but we could never see them, or feel them. The point is we are all different. We all are unique, because each one of us brings something to the body that no one else can bring.

1Co 12:19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

This verse gives us the case for specialization. Division in the Body of Christ comes because we fail to see that God made us different. Where would the church be if everyone was an evangelist and no one was a teacher, or preacher. What if we all had the exact same thought process? Praise God, men like Martin Luther thought differently than someone else. We need to realize each of us is a specialist in the Body of Christ, for the purpose of glorifying God.

1Co 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1Co 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

Specialization also means limitation. Therefore, all members in the Body are limited. This is our second point. No one person can wear all the hats. We all have our limitations. Many times when we talk about people, we'll say that so and so is great at task A (specialization), but is weak in task B (limitation). So often, churches rob themselves of many things, because one person is trying to do everything. 1 Corinthians is clear that no one person can do everything. Trying to do everything creates frustration, despair, and burnout.

Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

We see from this verse that we each supply (just as Stephanas with Paul) each other. People feel inferior because they dwell on their limitations, while forgetting they are also a specialist with something only they can supply the Body.

The person who tries to do everything recognizes that he/she is special, but they fail to see they are limited and need others. This is the superiority complex that creates divisions.

Mr. Superior feels he needs no one, because only he has the truth, and there is no need for anyone else. He feels that he can be the super-duper saint that we all want to be. We will see him running to and fro, always busy with some task, yet he accomplishes very little for all the energy spent. Mr. Inferior feels he needs no one, because he isn't worthy of anyone. There is no work he could possibly do, because he has no skill. He always to afraid of failure, so he never does anything, never realizing that failure to act is wasted time. Both Mr. Superior, and Mr. Inferior are wrong, because they fail to recognize our third point.

1Co 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

1Co 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

1Co 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

These verse show us that we are all equal. Notice the word seem in verse 22. In verse 23, it is we who think another member is less honorable, not God. Verse 24 tells us we are all tempered. We are all on an equal standing. Not one person is more important than another. We are all equal. A pastor is no more important than a deacon, who is no more important than a lay person. We all need one another. Would I ever say I don't need one of my body parts? Is my left eye more important than my right eye? Would I ever think of cutting off any of my body parts? After all is said and done, this is what we so often do in the Body of Christ.

Fourth, because we are all equal, there should be unification.

1Co 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Many parts become one entity. Many members, but one body - much like a human body. We have many parts; these separate parts put together constitute the human body. We have two hands, two eyes, a nose, etc. Separately they are just parts, but collectively they comprise a body. We see that the unification of many separate parts comprise one single entity. Each part is dependent upon every other part. This is the wonderful idea behind Paul's terminology of the Body of Christ. Every believer dependent upon every other believer. Separately we have a function, but our function never has a purpose until it is placed into the whole.

Eph 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

There is a unity that should exist in the Body of Christ because of verse six. God is through all, and in all members. We are all unified in God. Furthermore, it is obvious God unified us together. We need to be careful of those who try to divide (by making denominations), because they in essence are taking an ax to one of their body parts.

The reality of this unification is that it is not me doing for God, but all of us working together for God's glorification. This idea is totally foreign to denominations. The danger of denominationalism is it seeks disunity. Denomination A won't talk with Denomintaion B and neither with C. They now fail to see that they are all one and equal. They fail to see that they are limited.

There should be a unity of purpose in the Body of Christ. Our purpose is that collectively we are the manifestation of Jesus to the unsaved. Can one person meet and talk, and minister, and preach to every unsaved person? The answer is no. If our whole body were a nose, I'd be very good at smelling, but I wouldn't walk very far. My body is unified in purpose to function together. So ought the Body of Christ function.

1Co 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

Point five is that we are all necessary. Notice the beauty of this verse: The head cannot say I have no need to any body part. Who is the head of the Body of Christ? Jesus Himself cannot say to the most vile member of the church: "I have no need of thee!" The point is that we are indeed part of His body. Jesus does indeed walk the planet in bodily form today. He is manifested in the church which is His body. Jesus cannot say to any of His parts "I don't need you." The fact is we are all necessary.

Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

We see Jesus Christ is the Head. If Christ himself cannot say to any member of the Body "I have no need of thee," how can we? If I cut off my leg, I would be considered insane. Yet, so many of us do this with fellow members of the Body of Christ.

1Co 12:12 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.

We see the name of the Body of Christ is Christ (pay close attention to the phrase so also is Christ). Jesus Christ placed himself into a relationship of need with us. Just as a human body functions,so does the Body of Christ.

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Pay close attention to the phrase "his inheritance in the saints". Christ receives an inheritance in us. Do we realize the magnitude of how necessary each one of us is? This is why Paul states that we are to endeavor to keep the bond of peace.

1Co 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

Let us again define some terms. An addict: the state of being habitually surrendered over to something. Habitually: is something that is voluntary. Ministering is service, to wait upon another. Wouldn't we all have real body life if we, like Stephanas, put into practice these great truths.

The Body of Christ is a unique entity that God formed. Because God formed the Body of Christ, it is God who tells us how it ought to function. According to Ephesians 1:8-11, God has a purpose for the Body of Christ. In order to do God's work, we are to be ordained.

Ephes. 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

This ordination occurs because we are God's workmanship. Let us shift our attention for the remainder of this paper to the work of the ministry. Local Assemblies contribute greatly in a ministry's work.

Acts 14:19-23

And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. [20] Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. [21] And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. [23] And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

This passage lays out for us the work and importance of a local assembly. The Apostle Paul was stoned and left for dead. Yet, we see him get up and go right back to where he was stoned. Paul's purpose in doing this was to establish local assemblies. The above passage informs us of three important tasks a local assembly is to do. There are three reasons for a local assembly to exist.

The first reason for local assemblies to exist is the work of evangelism.

Acts 14:21

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

Evangelism is the preaching of the gospel to a specific geographic location. It is important for us to note that the gospel that is preached is that unique gospel that was committed to the Apostle Paul.

1 Cor. 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Romans 2:16

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my (The Apostle Paul) gospel.

It is important to note that this saving gospel of God's Grace was given to Paul exclusively. We will not find it outside of his epistles.1 We preach the above to the lost without any works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are to evangelize an area by using the above salvation message of God's Grace plus nothing.

Local Assemblies are to preach this gospel. We are given the message to evangelize unbelievers by preaching to them this incomparable gospel - just as Paul did. We see from Acts 14 that Paul actively brought the gospel to those who did not have it by preaching to them. He did not sit by waiting for people to come to him. Evangelism is proactive, and not reactive. In Acts 14:21, Paul preached the gospel to that city. What greater news is there to give someone than the gospel of God's grace?

2 Cor. 5:18-19

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Jesus Christ gave to the Body of Christ the ministry of reconciliation. This then is the Body of Christ's "Great Commission" (see chapter 3 - The Middle Wall of Partition). When we consider the above verses, it should drive home the importance of evangelizing a particular area. These two verses are the commission to the Body of Christ. It is our duty to take the gospel to the unsaved.

Acts 14:22

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

The above verse is the second reason for a local assembly. We are to bring those who have by a free will decision accepted the gospel to a place of edification. This is done by instructing and exhorting one another to continue in the faith. Ephesians 4:5 tells us there is only one true faith, not many. Hence, any faith that is not based on the Revelation of the Mystery, committed to the Apostle Paul, and then communicated by him to the Body of Christ is a false faith. Such faith makes a vain gospel, and changes the gospel to an unsaving gospel. This is the danger of all denominations. They do not give a saving gospel! At some point they will put a person back under the law and thereby give that individual a condemning gospel. How many people do you know who try to begin the gospel presentation proving a person a sinner. A careful reading of our gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, begins with the idea of all sin already dealt with. It is not sin that sends an individual to hell (did not Christ die for all sins), it is unbelief.

We bring individuals into the Local Assembly (a place for believers) to instruct and exhort them to continue in the faith. Local churches then are not buildings, or denominations, they are believers gathered for the sake of edifying one another.

Ephes. 4:15-16

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The local church is a group of believers gathering itself together for the idea of edifying itself through each other. We read in Acts 14:22 the term "confirming the souls of the disciples." This confirmation is done through doctrine which will teach us how to live in this present dispensation of the grace of God.

Col. 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

2 Tim. 3:16-17

All scripture (keeping in mind God's prescribed way to approach His Word in 2 Timothy 2:15) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Tim. 1:11-14

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. [12] For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [13] Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [14] That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Sometimes, we are too quick to separate from members of the Body and doing that, we harm all people in the local assembly. Furthermore, we often forget the importance of the Word of God and we traditionalize (denominationalize) it. When this happens, the Word can have no effect (read Mark 7 very carefully). We need to assemble in such a way to incorporate eveyone's abilities (tempered by the Scriptures "rightly divided").

Romans 16 is a wonderful chapter that shows us how the Body of Christ should be exhorting one another. Pay attention to verses 4,6,12,16-17. We are to labor one for another. We are to think of all others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3); we are to build each other up in the doctrine, so that the doctrine becomes a reality in our practical lives. This will produce the workman that is "thoroughly furnished" to do good works. This is why Romans 16:17 becomes so important. It can only come about when we "rightly divide the Word of truth". Consequently, we cannot "confirm the souls" without doctrine. That doctrine must be the doctrine given to the Apostle Paul. The scriptures call this doctrine the "revelation of the mystery" (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-5, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10). Without the Word "rightly divided," we cannot edify one another.

Acts 14:23

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

The third key element of a local assembly is to raise up elders to perpetuate the local church. The issue here is two-fold. The verse is clear that every church is to have elders (plural). A singular church is to have elders. The idea of one man rule in a local church is nothing but tradition. Moreover, we do not see Paul teach anything but the idea of a plurality of elders (read Acts 20:17, Acts 15:4, Titus 1:5). Men are to be working and laboring in the local assembly to bring all the individuals to maturity in Christ. The elders are to keep the assembly doctrinally pure, to exhort, to reprove the doctrines to the members, and to rebuke if necessary.

The secondary issue here is that the local assembly is to raise up elders from their own midst who can teach others. This principle of those counted as faithful training otherfaithful people produces a continual replenishing cycle to ensure a next generation.

2 Tim. 2:2

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

This verse, gives us the true church history. The history of local groups of believers taking men from amongst themselves, training them and then placing them into positions of authority to do the same. Where in scripture do we read the idea of a seminary? Where do we read for the local church to bring someone from outside the local church to pastor it?

These elders are then to train up others who can evangelize the lost, to edify each member through doctrine, and lastly to train up the next generation to perpetuate the true church history. The local church is a glorious entity created and established by God to reveal Him until we are raptured out.

1 Tim. 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The church ought to so mirror Christ that the above passage ought to create the question -- "Is Paul talking about the church?" "or about Jesus?" In reality, he is talking about the church. God is revealed through us - The Body of Christ. It is indeed the local assembly that functions in a local geographic area as a pillar and ground of the truth.


1 Paul's epistles are the books of Romans -Philemon. A total of 13 books.



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