THE MINISTRY OF THE BODY

Read: Romans 12:1-5

 

In generations past the one-man ministry was the thing.

There have been prophets who have single-handedly shaken

whole nations.

 

One man with a fiery tongue brought Nineveh

to its knees.

 

One man stood on the banks of the Jordan River

and shouted "Repent!", and all Isreal came out

to listen and get baptized.

 

In the Church of Jesus Christ, the one-man ministry has

never been the best way. And yet in times of widespread

apathy God has often raised up solitary voices to pro-

claim the message that no one else had the faith or the

guts to preach.

 

People would be drawn to that man and cling to him as to

a New Testament Moses.

 

- until the man would either be corrupted by all this acclaim,

- or killed by his enemies.

 

There are church buildings all over It this city which are

monuments to the strong personality and driving ambition

of some gifted preacher or some lady with healing

charisma. And there are still assemblies and evangelism-

tic enterprises that are held together by the drive of

one man or woman.

 

But the day of the one-man show in the Church of Jesus

Christ is over. The real move of God which is stirring

on this planet at this hour is by-passing the one-man

ministry. Itís working in those places where believers

give up trying to be one-man shows, give up the false

security of leaning on one shining flesh-and-blood

leader, and start functioning together as a Body with

Jesus Christ as the Head.

 

The apostle Paul was a fantastic man - a man anointed

with great power from God. But Paul was not a one-man

show. Paul went into Corinth, preached the gospel,

discipled believers for 13 months and left. Paul wasnít

there to supervise,

make decisions,

nurse their wounds,

or blow their noses for them....They got along...

Every ministry that they needed in Corinth was in that

flock, if Paul never came back.

 

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he was writ-

ing to people he had never seen. Paul had never been

to Rome yet, but there was a flourishing church there

for which Paul had done nothing but give thanks.

 

The boss of the Church at Corinth was not Paul. And

the boss of the Church at Rome was not Peter. The boss

of those churches and every other church on earth was

the Holy Spirit who took His orders in turn from the

glorious Lamb of God - Jesus, who submitted in turn to

the Father.

 

These churches had pastors, elders, deacons, evangelists,

teachers, healers, helpers; but the real Shepherd was

the Lord Himself. And there wasnít a single believer

in the flock who didnít have a divine ministry to per-

form. The Church functioned as a Body held together

not by the personality of a chaplain, but by love flow-

ing between brothers and sisters, driven forth into the

world not by the program of some fleshly mastermind,

but by the Spirit of God.

 

The Spirit gathered them to Jesus.

The Spirit enlightened them concerning Jesus.

The Spirit filled them with the love of Jesus

and the power of Jesus

... built them into a living temple of God, transformed

them into a literal Body of Christ on earth. And

through them all together the Word of God went forth

and the grace of God was made manifest to the world.

 

They were the Alpha age.

We are the Omega age.

 

Itís all happening again. The Spirit is doing this same

beautiful thing again. But this time not just in a few

cities around the rim of the Mediterranean Sea, but

across the entire surface of this planet. This time not

to get the Church Age started, but to end it. To get

out the good news of the mercy of God in Jesus to the

whole earth before the hour of judgment strikes.

The work of getting the final call to the Banquet of God

out to the whole world with power

 

- is not given maverick to preachers,

- or to lone-ranger evangelists,

 

but to the Body.

 

And we see the Body being drawn together before our eyes.

We are all hearing the call of the Spirit to give up our

private spiritual enterprises and to enter into the mind

and will of Him who has set us in the Body, made us

members of each other.

 

So that we may no longer be children, tossed

to and fro and carried about with every wind

of doctrine by the cunning of men, by their

craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speak-

ing the truth in love, we are to grow up in

every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,

from whom the whole body, joined and knit to-

gether by every joint with which it is supplied,

when each part is working properly, makes bodily

growth and up builds itself in love.

Ephesians 4:14-16

 

The message of the Spirit at this hour is that we must

no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried

about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of

men. We are to grow up into the Head - into Christ.

To give up our own pet things and our own hang-ups

and prejudices and come together, under Jesus, and

be one!

 

Not everybody is responding to that message. There are

many who are going on in their own private way, re-

serving the right to rule their own lives,

to obey Jesus when they want to,

and disregard Him when they want to.

 

But these are not the ones who are going to get the job done.

- They may be gifted.

- They may be brilliant.

- They may be eloquent.

but they are

being by-passed as the Spirit draws together those who

will practice their faith and exercise their ministry

as part of the Body.

 

And who are these people who are taking their place in

the Body? Romans 12 tells us exactly who they are.

 

1. They are those who have presented their physical

bodies to God as a living sacrifice.

 

How do you worship God? You worship God by making Him

an offering.

 

- The Israelites would kill the best animal

in their flock and put it on the altar.

- The wise men brought gold, frankincense,

and myrrh.

 

You say you're worshipping God today with words of

praise - thatís beautiful. God loves to hear those

words of praise, provided theyíre backed by something

real.

 

What are you putting on the altar of God to back those

words of praise?

 

Money? Thatís a start if itís serious - and

not a half-hearted tip. But money is not enough.

 

Fasting and Prayers? Thatís beautiful if itís

coming from your heart. But fasting and prayers

are not enough.

 

If you really mean those words of thanks to God for

the gift of His Son,

 

- youíre going to go all the way

- youíre going to put your body on the altar -

your flesh-and-blood body as a living sacrifice.

 

I appeal to you, therefore, brethren by the

mercies of God to present your bodies as a

living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God

which is your spiritual worship.

 

Your body is offered up. Itís still alive, but itís alive

now only to God. And all it does is now for the glory

of God and whatever does not glorify God,

please God,

honor God, it does not do

anymore.

 

Your body was once a house of lust and a

temple of vanity.

 

Your body is now a house of prayer and a

temple of the Spirit of God.

 

If you havenít presented your body as a living sacrifice

to God do it now!

 

"Lord, today I lay my body on the altar.

I present it to you as a living sacrifice.

Accept it, 0 God. Cause the fire of your

holiness to come down and rest upon it like

that bush on Mt. Horeb that burned but re-

mained green, that men may turn aside to

see it and hear your voice speaking out of it!"

 

When we present our bodies to God we become together

one single living sacrifice, one glorious burning bush

from which one voice speaks. Thatís the first step

toward actual unity among believers - the laying of our

physical bodies on the altar of God.

 

2. The Body of Christ is made up of those who have

given up their citizenship in this world for the

citizenship of Heaven.

 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be

transformed by the renewing of your mind,

that you may prove what is the good and

acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

So the mind is wrenched out of its old conformity to

the ways of this world....gives up its citizenship and

becomes a citizen of Heaven. Itís a new mind,

a heavenly mind,

a mind that is set

on God, a mind thatís aimed at doing Godís good and

acceptable and perfect will.

 

You donít give up your earthly citizenship with ex-

ternals like refusing to vote or pay taxes. People

refuse to vote and pay taxes and think theyíre really

something but theyíre still bound to the earth. Itís

an internal thing. Itís a matter of where is your mind?

What is it set on?

Where is its comfort?

Its delight?

 

A thousand influences will try to make it turn back to

Egypt and think the way the world thinks.

 

Be not conformed.

Be transformed.

 

God wonít do this for you, you have to do it constantly -

always breaking conformity with that lust of the flesh,

lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Always being

renewed in that River of Life that flows through the

desert of this world, so that your mind is filled with

light instead of darkness,

truth instead of lies,

reality instead of vain dreams and paranoid suspicions.

 

3. The Body of Christ is made up of those who have

quit climbing.

 

For by the grace given to me, I bid every one

among you not to think of himself more highly

than he ought to think but to think with sober

judgment, according to the measure of faith

God has assigned him.

 

Prestige, status, importance do not belong to the Body

of Christ - they belong to the world. Whenever these

things creep into our fellowships, weíve got the world

not the Kingdom.

 

If youíre worried about your image in the eyes of other

believers - still sulking because you havenít been ac-

corded the recognition you deserve - swinging back and

forth between feelings of inferiority and superiority,

youíve brought the world with you. Youíre conforming

to the world and not the Kingdom.

 

When you really enter into the Body of Christ, with your

heart, the climbing stops because God has turned every-

thing upside down.

 

In the Kingdom you donít climb - you descend,

you donít put yourself above your brother

you put your brothers above yourself,

you donít seek honor - you give honor.

 

4. The Body of Christ is made of up those who fit in

where theyíve been put by God.

 

- They donít sulk because they havenít been

gifted to do some great thing.

 

- They donít itch to be somewhere other than

where they are.

 

They start where they are with what they have and they

fit in.

- They fall in step with their brothers

and sisters.

- They fill the gaps.

- They reach out with their hands and lift

where things are sagging.

 

For as in one body we have many members and

all members do not have the same function,

so we, though many are one Body in Christ and

individually members one of another.

 

When you fit in you donít wait around to see if somebody

will come up and talk to you, you open your eyes and

head for the loneliest soul you can find and you talk

to him! You donít stand against the wall waiting to

see whoís going to clean up the mess; you clean it up!

Next thing you know youíve found the place God has for

you - the work God wants you to do. And you do it!

 

When God wants you somewhere else on some other task,

Heíll let you know. Meanwhile, thatís where you belong,

thatís where you fit,

thatís where your joy is.

The Body is strengthened and you are blessed.

 

The one-man ministry is not going to do the job. The

job is going to be done by the Body; and the Body is

being drawn together right now from every nation, race,

kindred, and tongue - together (not in compartments).

 

Every one of us is being called to leave our safe little

fortresses of individualism and fit in where the Spirit

of Jesus puts us and work in harmony with brothers and

sisters - knit together with them in love.

 

God help us to do this today for time is short and

thereís much to be done.

   

                            

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