Words of Faith 7-14-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Corinthians 12
 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Many of the problems in Corinth had to do with a lack of understanding concerning the spiritual nature of the church. In many ways, the church or "ekklesia" (called out ones) was a brand new thing.
Those who came from a Jewish background were accustomed to the close community of Judaism locally and as a nation, but much of the fervor of this connection had grown cold. Greeks and Romans were familiar with their national identity and membership in religious societies, but none of this had the same spiritual connectivity that had been born at the time of the Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2).
While this new gathering of "called out ones" was "grafted into" the vine of Jewish identity (Rom. 11:17), the nature of the church was still different in many ways. This new thing called "church" was not so much an organization as it was an organism. The church was alive with the Spirit of God. It was growing by leaps and bounds. It was a diverse gathering working toward certain goals at the direction of the Spirit. The very best way to describe it was as a body-- the Body of Christ.
For Paul it was critical that Christian believers understand their relationship to the church-- the Body of Christ. The human body is a unit. The human body has many parts, with a necessary diversity in its members. The parts of the human body work together as one, with a dependent mutuality as each part fulfills an important function. Likewise the body of Christ has a diversity of parts functioning together.
The One who gave these diverse gifts, the Spirit, is also the medium in which, by which, and with which that unity exists. The baptism of the Spirit is experienced by all who believe, at the moment of salvation (Rom. 8:9). In that baptism, believers, regardless of nationality (whether Jews or Greeks) or station of life (slave or free), are identified with Christ and are indwelt by the Spirit. Believers are given the one Spirit to drink (John 4:14; 7:38-39).
The era of the church began with a Body of Christ that was unified and glorified. But that unity did not last long. If we just look on things in the physical realm, twenty centuries of church history have certainly taken their toll on those representations of the Body. The institutions and denominations of the church could hardly be more splintered. And while there is truth in pointing out that God works in different ways among different people, it must also be said that this surely cannot be the "real church".
Paul reminds us that there is something bigger. The real church is a matter of the Spirit that makes us one. One catches a glimpse of it when there is a connection of the Spirit that transcends culture, language or nationality. We see it in a Spirit that immediately moves beyond divisions, prejudices and petty jealousies. We experience it when we meet people for the first time who seem to be old friends. Why? Because of the Spirit of God in them that makes us one.
Several years ago, we were in Israel with a study group and we got onto a cable car to ride up to the summit of Masada near the Dead Sea. The cable car was jammed full with about 120 people from many different nations eager to see the sights of the Holy land. As we started to move up the incline, someone began to sing the familiar tune of "Amazing Grace". Suddenly the cable car was filled with more languages that I could count, unified in the singular spirit of thanksgiving for the grace of the Lord Jesus. I remember thinking that this must be a little of what Pentecost was like and what heaven will be like.
As we departed from that cable car, these people from many nations had tears in their eyes as they realized that although we could not greet one another in our separate languages, we had connected at a much deeper level. We departed knowing that we would one day see each other again. This is the Body of Christ. Many parts. One Body. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Father God, I give thanks today for the Body of Christ. I rejoice in knowing that the forces of evil cannot destroy the Body. Thank You for Your gift of Amazing Grace. In Jesus' Name.