FIRST CORINTHIANS 12
First Corinthians 12:4-30 is divided into four sections:
(1)Subject—vv. 4-6: Gift, ministry, and function.
(2)The gifts of the Holy Spirit—vv. 7-11: The main emphasis being on the Holy Spirit.
(3)The ministry of the Lord—vv. 12-27: The main emphasis being on Christ.
(4)The work of God—vv. 28-30: The main emphasis being on God.
The beginning of every section points out the main divisions, while the theme can be seen in the subject of that section. Gift is related to the Holy Spirit, whereas ministry is related to Christ. The bringing forth of the ministry is through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gifts are the vessels to perfect the ministries for the building up of the Body of Christ. The goal of the gifts is to bring in the ministries, and through the ministries, the Christ that the church has learned, known, and gained is dispensed to others. Most of the revival movements today have gifts but no ministry. It is useless to exercise gifts all day long. We have to realize that gifts are secondary; the main thing is the ministry. Once we have a ministry, we can serve the Body and cause the growth of the Body.
MUTUAL INFLUENCE OF THE MEMBERS
All the members of the Body of Christ mutually affect one another. If one member suffers, all the other members spontaneously suffer. Sometimes we feel strong because strength from other members has been transmitted to us. Every member can affect the other members. This is why we should not live by ourselves but hold the Head and seek fellowship. God conveys life to the Body through every member. If life stops in you, you will not be able to supply others with life, and the church will suffer. Every individual failure causes damage to the church. As a consequence, when one member suffers in the Body of Christ, all the members suffer with him. Every member affects other members one way or another. Hence, we have to be in the fellowship of the Body in everything we do. If we have some good experiences, it is for rendering a supply to the Body. If we are in some adverse condition, we must realize that this also affects other members of the Body.
IN THE BODY, THROUGH THE BODY,
AND FOR THE BODY
Everything we have is in the Body, through the Body, and for the Body. In 1925 Brother T. Austin-Sparks was invited to America. He met a sister there who had learned many lessons through her illnesses and who had subsequently rendered much help to many people. She had a ministry of life and was a person who supplied others with life. The lessons she learned were learned in the Body, through the Body, and for the Body. This is the kind of person God is looking for today. Our living should be in the Body, through the Body, and for the Body; this should be our standard. May the Lord deliver us from individualism into the Body. May the Lord show us the Body, and may we serve His Body with a ministry which is based on our knowledge of Christ.
(The Mystery of Christ, Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)