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Where Do I Belong in the Church? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 23, 2023 3:00 am

Where Do I Belong in the Church? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 23, 2023 3:00 am

A human body is made up of many different but interconnected parts, and it functions best when each part fulfills its purpose. Similarly, each believer has a vital role within the body of Christ, the church. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Music playing In the Bible, the church is described as a body.

And what happens when one part of that body isn't working as it should? Alistair Begg considers that today on Truth for Life. We're in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. Well, when you read the New Testament, you discover that one of the great pictures is that of a kingdom. And the really significant issue for us is that we are members of his kingdom. We are kids of the kingdom.

Colossians chapter 1 and verse 13. He has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light, for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins. What is it that brings us together? The fact that there is only one King, and he's Christ, and that we have been made kids of his kingdom, and that that is a more significant truth than any earthly passport that we can hold. That is a more significant truth than any other element that divides men and women from one another, whether it is social status, which is anathema in the church, or should be. To be placed in Christ is to be placed under his headship. And the challenge of our journey is to see these physical expressions and local expressions of the invisible body conforming to that standard which God has manifest for us in the kingdom of his Son. In the same way, we're a family. God has put his Spirit within our hearts, and we cry, Abba Father! Who do we say Father to? The same person.

So that means that we're brothers and sisters, with all of the pluses and all of the minuses that go with that—all of the challenges, all of the responsibilities. Loved ones, only the Holy Spirit can create this in a company of people. You can walk in here like you're getting on the Hertz rent-a-car bus. You can sit looking straight in front of you, going to who knows where, and call that church. But I'm gonna tell you, it's not. And until God by his Spirit breaks down all of that significant externalism and isolationism and disengagement and chucks us all together, as it were, as brothers and sisters in Christ, then we've never even begun to scratch the surface of what's going on. You understand what we do in this room? This is an opportunity for instruction. This is not what church is. This is an opportunity to teach the church on a regular basis so that we might get everybody in one room and all say the same things.

But this is not it. So you don't come in here for an hour and fifteen minutes and then go out and say, I went to church. You went in a building that comprises an opportunity for the church to gather, and in this gathered church, all of these people have the same king and all of these people have the same dad. And that is what brings the point of unity.

Not a shared interest in a certain style of worship, not a shared commitment to a certain way of life, not a shared commitment to a political party or involvement in some particular way. All of that can be done without Jesus. All of it can be done without Jesus, and frankly is done without Jesus. But you can't have a kingdom without the King, and you can't have a family without the Father. And you can't have a building without the bricks.

And we are living stones. The focus previously was on a temple. The focus now is on a spiritual temple. Jesus Christ is the only foundation. The focus before was on the Shekinah glory, hovering, as it were, over the ark of covenant, over the ark of meeting.

What's the focus now? Jesus says, I'm going away, and I will send my Holy Spirit, and he will come and live within you. So God is building now a temple that isn't made with hands. And also, this helps us to understand why he would even use the picture of the body. This is Paul's most prominent picture.

It's the only one that doesn't have an Old Testament equivalent. Christ is the head of the body, as we saw last time. It is as a result of Christ that the body has growth.

It's as a result of Christ that the body has guidance. Now, I say to you again that the reason for rehearsing all of this is to make clear the mutual relation and the mutual duties which God's people have. We are fellow citizens of the kingdom, we are brothers and sisters in the family, we are living stones in the building, and we are parts of the body. Now, just to rehearse that, it says to me—I think we've got a lot of discoveries to make in this department, don't you?

Let me go through it again. We're fellow citizens of the kingdom. Do you feel more of a sense of connectedness with those who are your fellow citizens in the kingdom than you do with any other group of people? Do you have more of a sense of affinity with these who are your brothers and sisters than with any other group? Do you feel yourself more attached as a living stone and more attached as a part of the body?

Because, you see, the responsibilities which God has entrusted to his church, he has entrusted to the whole church. And this comes home forcibly in the portion that we read. Now, let me say before we close just one or two things about this whole body metaphor. It's a straightforward picture.

There's really no difficulty in understanding it. You read verse 12 through to the end of the chapter, and you realize that it takes many different parts to make up one body. You recognize that these parts inevitably differ from each other. You recognize at the same time, when you think the analogy through, that although the parts are different, it doesn't impair the body's basic unity.

It actually enhances it. You think about it, and you realize that every part has a function to perform. At the same time, you recognize that some parts appear to have a more important function than others. And you also recognize that each part needs the other and can dispense with it.

Now, this is something that even a child can understand. In order to accomplish his work on earth, Jesus had a body of flesh and blood. In order to continue to accomplish his work today, Jesus has a body that consists of human beings—namely, you and me. And the question is, how does the invisible God become visible? Well, in part, he becomes visible as a result of the relationships that are established amongst those who are truly Christ's. Well, how does this body then function effectively, the same way your physical body functions effectively? By each part discovering its function.

Number one. Everyone, each part, needs to assume his or her responsibilities in the church. The average church has twenty percent of the people doing eighty percent of the stuff. We may be at twenty-five percent, but I can guarantee you we are not at thirty percent. Twenty percent of the people doing eighty percent of the stuff. And the average church, in terms of giving, has twenty percent of the people carrying eighty percent of the giving.

And then ask yourself where you are in the process. It is impossible for the church to function effectively unless each member assumes their responsibility—the responsibility to participate, the responsibility to take their place, the responsibility to add their voice, the responsibility to commit themselves and their resources, because they're members of the same kingdom, they're members of the same family, they are stones within the same building, and so on. There's just a total rightness to it.

There's no reason for major discussion. The brother gives the sister the money for the gas, because they need the money for the gas. One has it, doesn't have it. That's the way it goes. The sister helps the brother, and so on. That's family. That's the way it is. There doesn't need to be a big discussion about it.

It's just what happens when you understand family. Everybody knows, I have a part to play. Are you assuming your responsibility here at Parkside Church, if you've committed yourself and identified yourself as a member?

Don't get yourself into thinking that you can exempt yourself just because you believe that other people have an unjustifiable place of prominence, or because you think that your place is one of obscurity. Do you think God got it wrong? I mean, do you really think that your nose should be where your left knee is? Do you think that would be an improvement? Well, you say we could smell things that are closer to the ground.

There's no question of that. Blowing your nose would be a little different, and so on. If you think about it, there's an amazing symmetry to the human body. And he argues, he says, the design of the human body and the way it functions is a picture of the way the body of Christ is to function. Here's the question.

Not does Brother X have too prominent a spot, or do I have too obscure a position? The question is this. Am I in the place that God has put me to fulfill the function that God has given me? That's your question if you're committed to the body of Christ. That's your first question, your middle question, and your last question.

There are only three questions on this particular test. Number one, am I in the place that God has put me to fulfill the function that God has given me? Secondly, if we have to assume our responsibilities, we also need to accept our limitations. Accept our limitations. Some of us have a problem on the one side, we don't want to do anything. Others of us have a problem on the other side, we want to do everything.

You remember the kid at school? And someone said, Well, we need this done, so I can do that. We need to go over here, so I can go over there. We need to take this down the corner. I can take it down the corner. And he goes, Oh, shut up. You can't do everything.

They're a pain in the neck. Sit down. If you're reading the Harry Potter books, The Girl is Hermeon, she can do everything.

Study everything, go everywhere. And eventually it becomes tiresome. And within the body of Christ, there is no one individual who can do everything, no matter how godly they are, no matter how gifted they might be. And that's what Paul is saying here. The body's not made up of one part, it's made up of many parts. If the food should say, I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body, it doesn't get it out of being part of the body. If the ear should say, Because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body, it wouldn't for that reason cease to be part of the body. Now, you don't need to be a genius to figure this out.

Any child can work it out. An ear has severe limitations when it comes to the task of threading a needle. An eye has a limited role in a telephone conversation. You see somebody pick up a telephone receiver, stick the hearing part of it in their right eye, say, We got a major problem here.

This person doesn't know what they're doing at all. Now, when you get a grip of this, it's very liberating, because it freezes from the fear of other people's criticisms. Because one of the biggest pains in the neck in a local church is that everybody understands what everybody else is supposed to be doing.

Have you noticed that? Everybody can figure it out for everybody else, but they can't figure it out for themselves. Oh, I know where he's supposed to be. Oh, I know what she should be doing. Oh, I know.

Why? Tell my brother to help me. Why am I in here by myself, you know?

Tell my sister to help me. Look where you're supposed to be. Weren't there? You're supposed to be there. Who made you the judge, for goodness sake? We had just said there's only one authority, and it's Jesus. Who got you up on the throne? Pastor? Elder?

Nursery worker? It's important for you and I to be where God wants us to be even if it's not where people expect us to be. It is important for you and I to be where God wants us to be even if it's not where people expect us to be. And one of the greatest tyrannies in the local church is living, trying to fulfill the expectations of other people, and forgetting that we're supposed to be fulfilling the commands and demands and opportunities and privileges that are given to us by the Lord Jesus, who never gives bad advice and who never puts us in the wrong spot. For example, Luther was a bull of a man, a bluff and a hearty fighter. Look at his face in all of the pictures of Luther.

And you look at him, you go, Whew! Don't mess with Luther, you know. Ninety-five theses, nail him on the wall. Look out for Mr. Luther. Here comes Luther. Here comes Luther. Here comes Luther. And who's the little guy with Luther?

The little guy coming along like this. Hey, Martin, don't say that. Don't say that, Martin. I'm going to go. I'm going to get to reform the church. I'll reform the church. No, don't do that, Martin. Don't you get us in worse trouble than last week. Don't do that.

Don't do that, Martin. Who is this little guy? Philip Melanchthon, funny little man, frail little man, scholar, genius, sensitive soul. Luther by himself, no reformation. Melanchthon by himself, no reformation. Luther and Melanchthon, beautiful.

The bulldog and the scholar, together. Not Melanchthon trying to turn Luther into himself or Luther constantly saying to Melanchthon, you know, I wish you'd pick it up, you little wimp. Stand up here and let's get the reformation going. No, Luther says, Melanchthon, thanks. You saved me again. Thanks, Melanchthon. Thanks for saying that. Thanks for helping me.

Thanks for the caution. Because I was about to go completely crazy again. I was going to hammer even more nails up on the door. What's the saying? Neither of them could have fulfilled the function alone, but together they shook the church. There's nothing more damaging when parents begin to say to their children, Why can't you be more like your brother? And we're not talking character now. Why can't you be like your sister? Why can't you be her? Why can't you be him? The person closes their bedroom door and says, I would have thought it was perfectly obvious why I couldn't be. Because I am not.

And we're not talking now about in the nature of kindness or whatever else it is. But it's, you know, your brother was a great athlete, and all you do is sit in your rear end in here playing those dumb video games. Why can't you be like your brother? Because I can't catch a ball. Because my knees do this when I run.

Because I look like the village idiot when I'm dressed up and there's dumb clothes that you're supposed to wear. Do you know how many a life has been hampered, crushed, hindered, just squeezed into nothingness as a result of that? And do you know how much that happens in the body of Christ?

But let me tell you this. Jesus the King, the Head, the Father, the Lord, the Master will never come to you with that kind of line. Because he made you exactly as you are, in order that he might use you exactly as he planned. Finally, each of us need to recognize the role that is given to others within the body. The eye can't say to the hand, I don't need you.

You see, you've got two problems that he identifies. The group that's going around saying, I don't need you, in verse 21, and the others that are going around saying, I don't belong, in verse 16. That's the story of the church.

You go in a local church. Something said, Well, come on now, we want you to step up. Well, I don't belong. No, I don't belong. The other person's over here saying, Hey, I don't need you. Get out of here.

I can do this on my own. And Paul hits both sides. He says to people who say, I don't belong, he says, Of course you belong. You were put in here by he who is the head of the body. You've got a part to play. So the person who goes around says, You know, I don't really need you.

He says, Why don't you sit down for a while? Because you do need the other person. The extrovert needs the introvert. The impulsive need the cautious. The inspirational need the analytical. The mystical need the practical. The old need the young.

The prominent need the obscure. And what a perfect picture. The great thing about this message is you can all go home and do your homework. All you need is a mirror. And you can do it fully clothed or in whatever posture of dress you like.

Or you just go home and take a long, hard look in the mirror. When you have finished your convulsive laughter, which will be an expression of genuine humility, ponder the mystery of the human body. Look at this!

You know? I was yesterday with Sue. We were somewhere. We were in a restaurant, I think, and I said to her, Look at that man's back, I said. Because he had his back to me, and she had her back to him. And he had a back, you know. He had too many backs. He had everybody's back, including mine. I looked at him, I said, There's my back! You know, that's what I should have.

Why does he got one of those and I got one of these? I can't carry stuff the way I should. Look at him.

He could carry a house. Look at that man. Anybody prepared to have their feet photographed?

And we'll put them up here on the screen in the 630 service. Just your feet. Now, some of you ladies, presumably the answer is yes, because you spend money getting them painted. Which is interesting, because I've seen a number of your feet. Shoes are a good idea.

But you look at them, and yet every single one of them is exactly where God wanted them to be. Even the one that's like this, you know, where you're looking for the toenail. Is there a toenail on that thing? What is that? Is that a toe?

What is that thing? Do you have four or five toes? You say, What are you going to do with those things? I'm going to walk on them. I'm going to dance on them. I'm going to go wherever I can go with them.

Every single part crucial. You know the future of Parkside Church? It's for you to sit down and say, Number one, am I committed to this place? My brothers and sisters, the good, the bad, the ugly, knowing everything I know, the good, the bad, the ugly, knowing that there are no perfect churches, knowing that there are no perfect pastors, knowing that there are no perfect elders, for there for sure are not perfect members, knowing all that I know, that am I committed? If I am committed, then have I discovered my function? And if I have discovered my function, am I in my place to fulfill the function that God has given me? And if not, am I part of the eighty percent that is content to ride the back of the bus while the other twenty percent jump on and off at forty different stops, trying to take care of everything? And am I prepared then, under the prompting of the Spirit of God, to move from this majority position to the minority position in the hope and prayer that if enough do, then the majority will become the minority and the minority will become the majority, and Cleveland will reverberate with the impact of the gospel. As we heard today, Jesus made you exactly as you are in order that he might use you exactly as he planned.

You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled Where Do I Belong in the Church? Alistair will be back in just a minute. If you enjoy learning from Alistair on this daily program, how would you like to study with him in person while you're traveling on the Mediterranean? Alistair is going to be the guest speaker on the deeper faith Mediterranean cruise.

It departs out of Rome, Italy at the end of August. This is a great opportunity to learn from God's word as you enjoy his beautiful creation in one of the most picturesque places in the world. If you'd like to find out more, or if you'd like to book your cabin, visit deeperfaithcruise.com. Now, if a Mediterranean cruise is not in your plans for this year, you can still study along with Alistair every day when you sign up for the Truth for Life daily devotional email. You begin each morning reading a passage of scripture followed by a brief commentary from Alistair, and then think about how you live that out as you go through the day. The daily devotional is a free subscription, and you can sign up at truthforlife.org slash lists. As we learned today, God has created us to worship him privately, as well as with other believers. In the book Corporate Worship, How the Church Gathers as God's People, we find out why. Be sure to request your copy of the book today when you give a donation to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life.

You can give online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with a prayer. Father, out of an abundance of words, we pray that your voice may be heard as we think about these most practical issues, as we think about the wonder of your redeeming love from all of eternity, as we think of what it means to be included in Christ and united with him. Build into our hearts a fresh discovery of what it means to be within your kingdom, to be stones in your building, to be members of your family, to be sheep in your flock, to be branches in the vine, to be part of the body. And may our renewed study and discovery in this respect enable us to be better equipped to live in such a way that we might be the worshipping, witnessing community you have designed for your church to be. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God our Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one, today and forevermore. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. Most of us can probably list some effective ways to grow strong, healthy bodies. But what about a church? How can we ensure that a church is growing strong and healthy and making a difference in the community? Tomorrow we'll find out the answer. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-23 05:27:30 / 2023-01-23 05:37:11 / 10

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