J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

The Head Bone is Connected to the Neck Bone – Romans 12:3-8 Part Two

The audio for this sermon can be found at http://www.sermoncloud.com/sovereign-king-church/

4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

This humility and sober judgment evaluated by faith gives Christians the motivation to work through difficulties, forgive, and restore.  When the church functions in that way, the truths of Paul are a sweet balm to any wound of offense.  When we live that way, people don’t flee the church; they are attracted to it.  Paul says that Christians make up one body comprised of many members (a similar description to the one he uses in I Corinthians 12).  Every physical body has multiple members (feet, hands, head, etc) and each one of them serves a specific function.  When one of those members doesn’t function correctly, the body has to either change the way it does things or in worse case scenarios, there are just some things the body cannot do any longer.

Now this makes sense.  We’ve all been some situation or another where our health has failed us.  Maybe your back hurts and you can’t lift things anymore.  Maybe your knees hurt and you can’t play basketball anymore.  Maybe you can’t pick up your children as easily as you once did.  Maybe you struggle to find energy to make it through the day.  Maybe your eyesight isn’t as great as it once was.  The books you read get thinner while your glasses get thicker.  Whatever the case, when a part of the body breaks down, some other part of the body has to compensate to make things work.

When I had my shoulder reconstruction surgery, I couldn’t use my left hand for almost anything significant the first few weeks.  I didn’t think it would be a big deal because I was right handed so I figured using it for everything wouldn’t be a problem.  I couldn’t believe how quickly my right arm and shoulder began to hurt because I was no longer using my left arm.  I was overcompensating and the only way I was going to begin to function without pain was to regain the use of my left hand.  That is exactly what happens to the church body when people opt out and choose not to use their gifts corporately.

We are individuals saved by faith in Christ but we are saved into the body of Christ, the church.  Each of us is intrinsically and inextricably connected.  You are especially equipped to serve within the context of the church so that the church more effectively accomplishes the mission that God has for it.

Think about that truth in the context of Sovereign King Church.  If one of us chooses to opt out, then other parts of the body have to overcompensate and eventually, problems set in.  For example, think about what it takes to plan and implement a worship service.  A sermon has to be written.  Music is picked out according to the themes of the sermon.  Samples and sheet music have to be collected and distributed to the music team.  A music team has to be willing to meet, practice, and play music.  A sound person has to make sure everything is mixed properly and recorded.  A call to worship, time of repentance, prayer for the kingdom, and Lord’s supper liturgy have to be prepared.  A bulletin has to be designed, edited, and printed.  The space has to be cleaned.  Someone has to coordinate refreshments and someone has to sign up.  And folks, this is not even an exhaustive list of all that has to happen for us to gather here on Sunday.  The church also coordinates Fight Club, Project Runway, CE Groups and a host of other activities.  All of these things fit the specific ministry that we are called to do here in Garner and the surround communities.

The beautiful design of God is that by His empowering mercies and grace, if we are humble, look after each other with sober judgment according to the faith that God has given us, if we rely on God’s mercy and grace, we will function like a body.  If we fail to be humble or look at ourselves with sober judgment according to the faith that God has given us, then we’ll be lame or blind or deaf.  We won’t effectively accomplish what God has called us to which is creating and engaging community for the glory of Jesus Christ.

The simple takeaway is this:  By faith, God is commanding each and every one of you to be humble seeing others as better than yourselves.  By faith God is commanding each and every one of us to see ourselves with sober judgment finding infinite value only in Jesus Christ and not in what we do or what honors are heaped upon us.  Then as we do that, we will create that loving community of believers that God intends for us to be.  We’ll show up to events because we all are essential to the life of the church.  We’ll serve without a care and concern about getting personal praise or glory.  We’ll serve in the power and mercy of Jesus Christ seeking to glorify in Him in all we do.

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Paul makes it pretty clear.  Just as God gives a variety of measures of faith, so He also gives a variety of measures of gift to the church and the exercise of each is essential and necessary to the glorious privilege the church has in fulfilling her mission.  Paul says if you have the gift of prophecy, exercise in proportion to your faith.  Now, there are about a dozen different explanations for the gift of prophecy here and I don’t want us to get caught up here and miss the overall exhortation of the utilization of gifts here, but I think it is worth spending a couple of moments on definitions.

There are 3 predominant explanations for the word prophecy here.  The first is expressed well by Wayne Grudem who said, “It is a human report of something that God has brought spontaneously to mind. It is different from teaching in that teaching is based on a written text of Scripture, while prophecy is based on the immediate impression that God is directing our thoughts to information that we would not otherwise have known or spoken.”  The second is expressed by Richard Gaffin who feels the authoritative forth telling of prophecy ended with the completion of the canon of scripture.  The third describes the prophecy mentioned here as, “a Spirit-guided expression of something we otherwise would not know or say, which is powerful for that particular moment and brings conviction or exhortation or consolation for the awakening or upbuilding of faith.”

The last explanation is akin to last week two weeks ago when I was preaching on both the kindness and severity of the Lord and someone in the congregation came up to me and mentioned how one specific example that I gave was exactly something they were struggling with and the biblical exhortation was a perfect remedy for the heartache they were experiencing.  I tend to think the definition of a prophet as simply a future teller is too narrow and tend to agree with Poythress here.

The point being emphasized by Paul here is this, and I’ll use this as a conclusion.  Walk in humility with sober judgment and serve within the context of the church according to the faith, mercy, and grace that Jesus Christ has secured for you.  There are a lot of people in this congregation that need words of encouragement.  Don’t assume it is someone else’s job to give that encouragement.  You give it.  If there is an opportunity to serve, then serve.  If there is an opportunity to exhort and encourage others to greater love and service, then exhort.  You’re going to have an opportunity to see the skills and gifts of teaching and leadership from your elders soon.   There are continually opportunities for us to demonstrate mercy to the GPD, EMS, and Hayes Place.

The central point being given here is that God has uniquely equipped each and every one of you to serve and if you don’t, the church will no doubt still victoriously proclaim Christ, but will do it while compensating for your absence.  If you are a member of Sovereign King, trust God’s mercy and grace, walk humbly with faithful sober judgment and serve.  If you are a visitor to Sovereign King, we would love for you to join us in the incredible work that God is doing here.

As Ephesians 4:7-8 says, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”  When we faithfully exercise the gifts that God gives us, Christ is lifted up, He pours out His mercies to us, and more and more people come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment