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Unity in Diversity (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
August 14, 2021 4:00 am

Unity in Diversity (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 14, 2021 4:00 am

Each of us comes from a unique background—and sometimes that causes conflict. But our differences shouldn’t create division within the church. Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explores the basis of unity within the body of Christ.



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The sometimes come stirred up because of differences in economic status or educational background or political perspectives but should these differences be enough to create division within the church today on Truth for Life weekend. Alastair beg teaches us what the Bible means when it talks about us being baptized with one spirit that unites us within the body of Christ. One of the things that were told in creative writing when we go to school is that if we can possibly use similes and metaphors we will be far more effective in our communication because to speak in terms of pictures which graphically illustrate a truth is helpful to most readers, and it is not surprising to us than to discover that when we read the pages of the New Testament we find that it is littered with metaphor in order to help eyes understand the instruction that is contained in this evening and coming to the 12 hours of first Corinthians 12 we come to arguably the best known biblical metaphor. Certainly, in terms of describing the unity of the church, namely the picture of the body and if you were taking notes you would want just a note. First of all died that what we have here is an illustration and then will go on to notice the explanation and then will conclude with some application that's how I make an attempt to get through it and that may be helpful to you.

First of all, then we have the straightforward illustration. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts and wallet sponsor many, they form one body. The metaphor is straightforward. It is this.

It takes many different parts to make up one body.

Those parts inevitably differ from one another, and the fact that they are different from one another in no way diminishes the body's basic unity. That's the truth. That's the thesis.

In verse 12 the same time is clearly obvious that Paul is not giving instruction on human anatomy, but his point is made in this takes us from the illustration itself into the explanation is made in the second sentence of verse 12. The final six words, if you're using the new international version. So he says it is with Christ. So why does he use the word Christ rather than the word church when he's actually talking about the nature of the church.

I think it's fairly obvious that he substitutes the word Christ for the word church in order to impress upon his readers then and now that it is impossible to speak about the church apart from Christ, that when we see Christ we see church when we say church we say Jesus because when we think it out.

How does Christ make himself known in the world today. The answer is through his church. So we are in Christ and Christ is in us by faith we are incorporated into Jesus and we are made members of his body. It is impossible to experience the new birth, the new creation in terms of two Corinthians 517, and not to be made part of the body of Christ in Christ in the church now.

The explanation then continues in verse 13, going on to amplify this truth. He then writes for we were all baptized by or with our in one spirit into one body, irrespective of our background. He says whether we, there are racial distinctions among us, whether there are social distinctions among us. The unifying factor is this. We were all baptized with the one spirit, and we were all made to drink of the one spirit that is why, incidentally, any kind of disunity within the body of Christ, that is, on the basis of superficial things that the market disruption in a culture must never be tolerated. The background that we have the income that we have school we attended the color of our skin.

Our political perspectives, etc. must never be allowed to divine the body of Christ because there is an intrinsic unity which exists as a result of our having been made part of Christ. Now there's 13 is not referring to water baptism when we think of what the New Testament teaches in terms of baptism in water. We know that that is something which follows conversion is something that is submitted to according to the command of Christ. What we have here in verse 13 is one of the multitude of various ways that the New Testament speaks of our initial Christian expedience. When we think in terms of the common parlance in relationship to Christian testimony. We would perhaps say that we had been convicted. Some would say that they had been saved. Someone say that their sins and been forgiven. Some would say that they were born again some would say this and that and legitimately we might equally say we were baptized with the spirit.

While we were made to drink of the spirit. It is expressive of our initial encounter in coming to faith. Now let me illustrate this first turning you to the book of Romans in chapter 8, and then will flip to Galatians this a couple of references Romans chapter 8C. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You, however, verse nine, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by this spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ, so any notion that you may have that it is possible to have Christ and not have the spirit is not a New Testament notion, it is impossible to be born again of the spirit of God without being baptized with or in the Holy Spirit and made to drink of that same spirit Galatians and the third chapter verse five does God give you his spirit and work miracles among you, because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard it already said in the opening chapter that he can believe that people who began in the spirit would try and continue their Christian life in the flesh in chapter 5 he speaks of it in verse 25. In these words since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit, I would underscore this as carefully as I can. This evening we are only going to to supplementary sections. We could go all over the place to discover that the New Testament authors take it for granted that God has given their readers in Christ, his Holy Spirit, and it is in this connection that we are to understand the 13 there's this is not something that is unique to a few, but it is universal Christian expedience. It is initial Christian expedience. It is written in the past tense in the heiress tends actually to speak about once and for all event which has abiding continuing significance before going on to describe in verse 14 and following the nature of and significance of their diversity from one another in terms of spiritual gifts emphasizes the nature of their unity and the way in which he expresses unity in the body of Christ is by means of this notion of baptism with the Holy Spirit. Now for those of us who been around the block a little bit.

We will know that it is somewhat ironic that what someone continued to use as a basis for discrimination within the church. Paul uses to establish the great unity which exists within the church. If you have moved around a tall and Christian circles amongst different groups and denominations. You may well have come up against those who have asked you the question. Have you asked for sought or experienced the baptism in width or by or all of the Holy Spirit's and depending on your theological background you will of answered in a number of ways.

Those who ask that question teach that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a post conversion expedience that is unique to a song that is available to all, but not universally expedience within the body of Christ. Now it is not my purpose to launch into a discourse concerning that but I want you to know that when you read the New Testament, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the notion of the baptism of the Spirit is nothing other than initially expedience enjoyed by all who are truly placed in Christ and you again as I say to you so often are sensible people, you must search the Scriptures on your own to see if these things are so.

But if you want my guidance my instruction my insights that I want you to know that it is an abuse of Scripture, and it is a misinterpretation of doctrine and theology to teach it is anything other than that, I will come by to why some do in a moment or two, but will leave it there.

Also, it is important for you to notice and if you have an NIV, you will see that there is a footnote in this 13 verse the preposition. I'm not sure why English translations continue to translate it with the word by four we were all baptized by one Spirit. In actual fact the preposition is a preposition for in or with not by so I should really read for we were all baptized with or in one spirit, presumably the that the translation is because Paul is stressing the oneness of the spirit in whom we share and so the translators are seeking to get that across.

But I think they do as a disservice. For this reason that the spirit is not the baptizer. Okay the Holy Spirit is not the one who does the baptizing the Holy Spirit.

The third member of the Trinity is the element in which we are baptized when people are baptized in this pool here beneath me. There is a baptizer there is an almond, namely water, there is a purpose, namely confession of their faith and so one. Indeed, when you take the whole picture of baptism in the New Testament throughout Scripture, you discover that there are four parts. When baptism takes place. There is the subject of baptism, there is the object of baptism, there is the element with, or in which the baptism takes place, and there is the purpose for which baptism is administered. Why does that fit with this well it fits in this way, Jesus is the baptizer remembering the hourly verses of the Gospels.

For example, Matthew chapter 3 in verse 11 John the Baptist says I baptize you with water, but one who is coming after me will baptize you with, or in the Holy Spirit, it will be Jesus.

He says who is the baptizer so the baptize is are according to this, we all are right. The baptizer is Jesus, the baptized is we all the element.

If you like is the Holy Spirit, for we were all baptized with or in one spirit and the purpose of the baptism is incorporation into the body of Christ.

Now if you understand that you're getting to grips with this fundamental truth which is very very important because if there is a lack of clarity here then there is manifold confusion. By the time you get to chapter 14 and so it is very important that we think it out. It is not the spirits baptism. It is Christ. Baptism with, or in the Holy Spirit that gives his new life and places us into the body when we trust in Christ. So at the risk of belaboring the point ad nauseam. Let me say again, it is not possible to be a Christian and not be baptized with the spirit.

Neither is it possible to have more than one baptism with, or in the spirit because it is by means of this one baptism that we are placed into the sphere of the Spirit's power into a new environment into a new atmosphere into a new relationship with others, and all on account of the fact that we have been made.

Members with Christ, we have been united with Christ. When you think about the way in which the New Testament speaks about our initial experience of Jesus. It is so vast and wide it is.

It is so multifarious are so many things simultaneously happening when in repentance and faith. We are placed into Christ, our sins are forgiven our debtors canceled our record is set clear. We are placed into Christ we are baptized with the Holy Spirit where placed within the body. We are made members of one another. We are seated in the heavenly places. Heaven is now our home. We are no longer living among the dead. We are no longer in darkness, we are now in light and so on and so on. And these two phrases here in first Corinthians 1213 one baptize with the spirit and to made to drink all of the same spirit are these expressions and a Christian has expedience them both. So when we are baptized in water, it is a sign and seal of our having been baptized with the spirit. There is no point in being baptized with water unless we have been placed in Christ and one of the descriptions of having been placed in Christ is having been in Marist in the spirit and having been made to drink of the same spirit. You see, this is the basis of our unity. This is how we can go throughout the whole world and meet people that we've never ever known and are in our life be united with people that we don't even understand their language. We have no knowledge of their culture with no concept of a million things about them that that is close to exaggeration. We have no concept of hardly anything about the and yet our hearts compete with one another when we kneel down we sense the unity of what the spirits why because we were all baptized with one Spirit we were all made to drink of the one spirit, irrespective of our color of our skin or our background, our place of origin or heritage, or whether we had a long lineage of Christian faith, or whether we are a first generation Christian all of those things are ultimately subservient to this amazing truth of the body of Christ. That having been brought to repentance and faith, we have been placed into Christ, and we been given a whole new family so wonderful truth.

Water baptism is an initiatory Christian expression because spirit baptism is an initiatory Christian expedience. It is not something that comes along the road. God's norm for his people.

When you read the New Testament. Is this that by grace through faith we enter into the benefits of forgiveness. We are given the gift of the spirit.

We are then baptized in water as a sign of these blessings and we continue than to be filled with the spirit of God and to display his fullness by a holy life and a bold testimony that normative Christianity and anything other than that is not New Testament Christianity. Acts chapter 2 in verse 38, it is comes to mind is that as I pause, Peter preaches the gospel to people say, brothers, what shall we do it, he replies, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call people get all tied up in knots over that verse because they want to fit it all in chronologically. While he doesn't see that you do this and then that happens in on you say that that happens and then this is supposed to happen.

Why it is Peter able to compress it in this way because in the mind of the apostle, there was no great time lag between any of these things he says you repent of your sins and you will be placed into Christ. Indeed, your very ability to repent is an indication of God's grace to you and having been placed into Christ. Let's get you baptize. And when you give testimony in your baptism in the water. It will be a testimony to the fact that in repentance and faith you've been baptized with and in the Holy Spirit, you've been given the spirit of God to drink and when you declare Jesus is Lord. It is an evidence of the fight that you been brought to that kind of fullness for the natural man would never say Jesus is Lord.

The natural man is dead in his trespasses and his sins. The natural man has no interest in Jesus and in our endeavor to systematize all the little bits and pieces in our Western Platonic mindset. We made something of a freshness in the vitality and the reality that was part and parcel of those early New Testament days. Now if this that I'm teaching you is true and faithful to the text of Scripture and begs the question, what are we then to say to those who teach this is a post conversion expedience or to those who testify to it in their lives. For many do many of my friends do and some of you may while I'm not going to allow myself a major tangential run on this but I want to say a couple of things. In many cases it may prove to be nothing more than a matter of semantics, a matter of terminology because the reality of our Christian expedience is not ultimately did juice on the basis of our ability to be apologizing accurately that is not an invitation to theological inaccuracy that is in recognition of the fact that oftentimes our expedience precedes our cognitive awareness of what in the world is going on. The man who was blind and the people were pressing them for an explanation at all. He was able to say was listen quit bugging me. All I know is this. And you know it to. I was blind, now I can see he had worked out just exactly how all, it worked or how it all happened or what it was all going to meet. But he knew that and there are some folks who in their experience of walking with Christ in seeking after Christ use terminology in different ways and what they may be referring to when they say that they experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit is nothing other than a very gracious kick in the seat of their pants moving them out of a time of deep lethargy and uselessness in their Christian lives. They been living in a time of rebellion, a time of disinterest, a time of indifference. They have not been reading the Bible.

They find no boldness in their testimony. They have been diminished in their usefulness for Christ and someone has come along and told them that there is a possibility for them to move beyond that level of expedience if they will only encounter what they have on offer what they have on offer is then explained as the baptism in or with her by the Holy Spirit, and so these people then enter into the discovery of God's blessing, the then theology dies it in terms of the phraseology that he been given, and whether using is wrong terminology which confuses them in other people and what they are to be thankful for is the fight that God and his mercy met them along the journey of their disobedience gave them a major hog put them back in the in the in the realm of usefulness not ask for some warning from Alastair back with the Bible has to say about unity within the diverse body of Christ will hear more next weekend as we listed the park to this message on Truth for Life weekend with Alastair Greg.

If you listen to Truth for Life regularly on the weekends who often hear me talk about our mission which is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance. This is at the heart of all we do here Truth for Life.

We know that when God's word is taught directly from Scripture, people will be moved from unbelief to belief believers will grow in their faith in the body of Christ will be strengthened within the local church were also passionate about recommending to you books that supplement what Alastair is teaching this is the final we can all be talking about our current offer to book titled none else. 31 meditations on God's character and attributes. This is a one month devotional that explores many of the attributes of God's nature.

Things like his faithfulness, his compassion, his goodness and his love. The devotional none else is a valuable way to spend a few minutes of quality time every day learning more about who God is.

Requester copy of the book today when you visit Truth for Life.O Bob Lapine.

Thanks for listening next weekend. Alastair will be answering a question that people ask him all the time. Why should I join a local church gives a two-part answer that you won't want to miss her to join us in the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific


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