Today on Insight for Living. Galatians 3 says there is neither male nor female significance in the body. God doesn't take you according to the priority of your gender or of your color or of your financial status.
You're going to have prejudice. You're going to have favoritism and status, but not in the body of Christ. When it comes to the role of the church in our culture, Chuck Swindoll has said there's a lot of fuzzy thinking. We tend to have preconceived notions about God's design for this institution based entirely on our personal experience growing up in a church. Today on Insight for Living, we'll attempt to gain a fresh and realistic perspective by going directly to the scriptures. Today Chuck defines the vital signs of a healthy church as demonstrated by the church in the first century. Chuck titled his message, God's Bodybuilding Program. Since the beginning of the church, our Lord has been reaching down into the ranks of humanity, selecting, choosing, calling, drawing to Himself, people, men, women, boys, girls, teenagers, older folks, all of whom He has given us. Men, women, boys, girls, teenagers, older folks, all different sizes, all different kinds, He continues to call them out from among. And He places them where?
He places them in His family. The only way you become a member of this body is to believe in Jesus Christ. Sincerity won't get you in. Church-going won't get you in. Paying your bills won't get you in.
Being a good leader in your community won't get you in. This group is reserved for believers in Christ. If you're a believer, you're in. If you're not, you're out.
It's exclusive. It's ever-growing, ever-increasing. Let me show you the growth. Acts chapter 2, verse 41, this is the day of Pentecost. His Spirit has come, He has ignited that small body of people in that upper room, and they've come pouring down into the streets of Jerusalem, and Peter has become their spokesman. And this is the result, verse 41, so then those who had received His word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. That's the first little body of people. 3,000 souls. Here they were out in the streets of Jerusalem.
I love the thought of this. They have no church building. They have no pastor.
They had no direction. They had no understanding of what the future held for them, but they had Christ. They had the enthusiasm of Christ's presence in their lives.
He was now bringing their inner beings to a boil. As they heard the message of Christ's love and forgiveness, and His resurrection following the cross, they believed, and they're baptized. Yet again in chapter 11, verse 19, it now spreads beyond Jerusalem because of persecution. 11, 19, then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen, made their way to Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.
But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. Sometimes it requires persecution to burst our own little balloon and to send us outside our own world. And the persecution was Stephen stoning. It looked at the moment like a terrible tragedy, but it forced the church out of itself and into the ranks of humanity.
That's the heartbeat of church. When you trusted Christ Jesus as your Savior, many things happened to you, but these two significant things I'm going to tell you were automatic and immediate. First, something happened within you, and second, something happened to you. Within you, 2 Corinthians 5.17, you became a new creation, a new creature. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.
Old things are passed away. All things have become new. You have new motivation, new interests. Your mind is no longer blinded to the truth of Scripture. Your interests shift from yourself, and often from a body of people who aren't doing you any good at all, to the things of God. And a new group of people come on the horizon of your life. You begin to be more vulnerable, more open, more willing to confess the wrong of your life. You keep short accounts with God from whom you were running all the other years of your life.
Why? You're a new creature. It happened to you down inside, down within your life. Second, you were automatically and instantaneously placed into the family of God.
You didn't feel any different, you didn't hear something, you didn't see something, but that happened to you. The moment you believed. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 is where I want to spend the balance of our time, because that develops the whole theology of the church as far as my emphases are concerned. I want to show you six vital signs of a healthy universal church. Verse 12, 1 Corinthians 12, there's the presence of unity and harmony. The presence of unity and harmony. Even as the body is one, and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. First time I read that verse, I thought it sounded like a tongue twister. I remember distinctly as a young Christian wondering what that was all about, and then I was told to change the word member to organ, like the organs of the body. Let me do that for you, you'll see how much clearer. Even as the body is one, and yet has many organs, and all the organs of the body, though they are many, form one body, so is Christ's body.
That's the idea. The point I want you to see is the harmony and the unity of the body. Many, many, many members, but one body.
Secondly, another sign of good health is the absence of favoritism and status. Verse 13. For by one spirit were we all baptized into one body.
See, that happened when we were saved. We were identified with the body of Christ by one spirit. Whether we were Jews or Greeks, whether we were slaves or free, we were all made to drink of one spirit. In the Roman world, that was much more significant than it is today. And that day, there were definite casts, still familiar to the people of India, but not familiar to the people of America. In those days, there was nobility and there was slave.
There was the slave owner and there was the tool of the owner, a slave. And these people, when they read from Paul's letter, in Christ you are neither slave nor free, said an enormous amount to them. Galatians 3 says there is neither male nor female significance in the body. God doesn't take you according to the priority of your gender or of your color or of your financial status. There was an absence of favoritism and status.
It's true in this organism and it's probably true in no other on earth. You get a number of human beings together, you're going to have prejudice, you're going to have favoritism and status, but not in the body of Christ. Third, an emphasis on individual dignity and mutual variety.
An emphasis on dignity, individual dignity and mutual variety. Now you'll find this in verses 14 to 20. I love this passage. There's a little humor in it and I think it's supposed to be humorous.
Paul writes with a little humor in mind, so don't miss it. Think of the body now. Listen to him describe it. The body is not one member but many. That's true of the human body.
It's true of Christ's family. But think of the human body for a little while. If the foot should say, that's a little funny, feet don't talk, but let's say the foot were to say, because I'm not a hand, I'm not going to be a part of the body. It is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. Feet can't go on strike.
They're going to stay there. They're going to be a part of the body. If the ear should say, because I'm not an eye, I am therefore not that significant. I'm not a part of the body. It is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
And now he goes to the ridiculous. If the whole body were an eye, I just picture that. Six foot three inch eye. How useless.
How unattractive. You couldn't kiss it. You wouldn't have anything to kiss with.
Unless you bat each other when you got up close. You'd get dirt in your eye all the time. You couldn't move around.
Think of trying to drive a car. There's a lot of things you could just imagine. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing. Here's another one. Five foot nine inch ear. Just an ear.
Where would the sense of smell be? Now you're laughing about this and you're supposed to. But the point is obvious. We make six foot three inch eyeballs out of people. We make five feet nine inch ears out of certain people.
We make them our stars, celebrities, big time folks. They're just ears. They're just noses.
They're just lips. No one person in the body is the whole body. Stop making idols out of people in the body. Just stop it.
Just talk straight to yourself about that. We need heroes, people we admire and love and respect, but we don't need six foot eyeballs. We need a body.
Verse 18, I love this, God has placed each member in the body just as he desired. You came into his family, he said, you'll be a nose. You're going to be a foot. You're going to be a toe. Part of a foot. Inside a sock. Inside a shoe. Oh, shoe.
I don't want to be an eye. Ever tried to operate without a toe? Ever had a little problem with just a little part of your foot? Just a little tiny corn?
Just a little callous? I know a lady that can hardly get around because of a very, very tiny part of her foot that needs attention. And the longer she waits, the more pain she feels. And sometime it hurts so badly she just has to sit down. It isn't just her foot. It's her whole body that hurts.
You know that's true. Ever try to walk with a little pebble in your shoe? You take it out, you're sure it's that big. And you drop it out, it just goes clink. Little tiny speck.
Little tiny thing. But your whole body hurts. God has placed the members, each one of them just as he desired. And if all were one member, where would be the body? Now there are many members, but one body. The eye can't say to the hand. Now here we go to the fourth one. A de-emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency.
That's another mark of health in the body. A de-emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency. Hear this, Western-minded Christians. Listen to this!
Pioneer stock, entrepreneurs, strong willed leaders, listen to this! The eye cannot say to the hand, I don't need you. The head cannot say to the feet, I don't need you. On the contrary, it's much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. Members of the body that we deem less honorable on these, we bestow more abundant honor.
Our unseemly members come to have more abundant seamliness. My daughter has a little trouble with her pancreas. It's called pancreatitis. And the little duct that leads into the pancreas is too tiny. And every once in a while something will plug that up in Colleen. And a little tiny, it's a stone maybe, or something gets in that tiny little duct.
And her whole body goes into kind of a spasm of pain. And you'd think it wouldn't be that big a thing. You know, I often want to know, if it's not big, why is it a problem? Little tiny thing, just poke a toothpick in it and open that thing up. Aren't you glad I'm not your surgeon? Just poke a toothpick in there and open that thing up. So the doctor goes in there and he goes down the throat and works around and gets into this little area and just tries to get into it and he says, I can't even get my scope in there to see.
That's what happens. And you would think a pancreas would be that big a deal. I don't even know where it's located in the body. It's down somewhere between the neck and the other parts down there.
It's down in there somewhere. But on that little tiny part of the body, our whole family has happiness or sadness. Because it's a tiny little duct that gets plugged up.
In the middle of the night, trips to the emergency room because of a tiny little duct. Some of you are the little tiny ducts on a pancreas. You don't feel like much. You don't think you're that important. But when you don't function, we hurt. We have come to value you. And if we don't, it's our problem.
De-emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency. In the body of Christ, nobody has a right to flex. Try to imagine a strong person doing this. Nobody has a right to say, look how big I am. Look how significant I am. In Christ's body, we're all the same size.
And we're equally people of dignity. This brings us to 25. The support of others, whether we're hurting or being honored.
Look at 25. That there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, why all the organs suffer with it.
If one member is honored, all the organs are honored with it. Isn't that great? Is it happening?
You're at school, a classmate of yours on the same level as you gets the office you're running for. You applaud it? I hope so. Your roommate, who hasn't been all that great shakes, starts to hurt, has real pain. You hurt?
I hope so. One member is honored, all of us are honored, all of us applaud it, all of us rejoice. One member suffers, we're all sad. That's the way it is in the body. This is God's universal program, and when it's healthy it works like that.
Verse 27, exaltation of Christ as head and Lord. Now you are Christ's body, individually members one of another. Hey, I wish I had more time to tell you about the diseases, maybe I could just kind of wrap it up quick. I don't want to be medically sophisticated about this because I am not, so I'll just put it in simple layman's terms.
Some of the contagious diseases that affect the body, the head gets swollen with pride. The heart grows cold and indifferent because of sin. The digestive system gets clogged by sterile theory and unapplied theology.
So the body can't digest and eliminate what needs to be released from it. It gets clogged on theory and theology and it's all sterile and we start to fight within ourselves about it. Let me get even more specific, eyes that feed on lust and greed. Tongues that wag and ears that listen to that petty stuff from someone else. That's a disease in the body.
I don't know of any disease that's hurting the body worse than a wagging tongue. Knees that seldom bend to the lordship of Christ. Hands that applaud the work of man more than the work of God. Minds that are closed to new ideas. Emotions that are either out of control or under rigid wraps. Muscles that are not exercised. Mental muscles that have stopped being stretched. Financial muscles that have stopped releasing generously God's riches to the church. Involvement muscles, faith muscles. Where are you in that physical analysis of the church?
What's your temperature? He's the great physician. He's looking in your throat. Couple of questions I think ought to be asked. Am I even in this family? Am I even in the family of God? Second question might be, since I'm in, is he really my sovereign? Is he really my Lord? Do you really call the shots? Is he my boss? I guess you could put it all under one question.
Am I part of the problem or part of the answer? The second would be a statement of commitment. I wrote mine out. Today as a member of Christ's body, I recommit myself to his goals for his glory. It's my commitment. I publicly stated, today as a member of God's family, I recommit myself to my Lord, to his goals for his glory. Will you do that too? Please do that.
When you do that, really, you won't want to even go to the show for a nickel. It'll mean your whole life. In the four decades since Insight for Living has been on the air, there's been a handful of series in the archive that qualify as classics, and the one we're enjoying right now certainly falls in that category. For that reason, we're pleased to offer the book Chuck wrote that complements this study. It's called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. Chuck's teaching series will conclude next week, so now's the time to request your copy of the book while it's fresh on your mind. Again, it's called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store, or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, as we prepare these daily programs for you, we have no idea how God will use his word to quicken the hearts of those who hear. But not a day goes by when we don't hear a story here at Insight for Living of someone who's discovered how to grow deeper in the Christian life.
Let me give you an example. One of your fellow listeners from Virginia said, Pastor Swindoll, I began listening to Insight for Living during my lunch breaks in the Navy. You encouraged me to apply the Bible to my daily life. During that season, I also read several of your books, and each one challenged me to conduct a ministry in the Navy, and later helped me during my law enforcement years. Thank you so much.
You know, God uses your gifts to make these moments possible. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
Or you can give online by going to insight.org. And now let's spend the final moments of today's program in prayer as Chuck Swindoll leads us. Father, thank you for the work you are continuing to do in the body of Christ. Thank you for building it up. Thank you for the way you have gifted individuals to fill certain roles and to be significant others in our lives. Thank you that no one person represents the whole body. Thank you that your son, Jesus Christ, remains the head of the body. We've thought about all different dimensions of this subject, and today it is a pleasure to turn to you and to find in you a reassurance about life now and life beyond. I pray that you would continue to work through your body to encourage others, to build up others in love, and to give strength to those who need comfort and encouragement. Thank you, Father, in Jesus' name, for what you have taught us today and how you will use it in our lives in the future.
Through Christ our Savior. Amen. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the Inside for Living Ministries cruise to the great frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun, and without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska.
In fact, I guarantee this. You'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for His majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.
They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing! You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime, and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing, and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you?
The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or visit insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll presents an uplifting message called Three Cheers for the Church, right here on Insight for Living. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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