If We Are The Body, Part 2
Posted on 04/05/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
Thaddeus Trenchcoat and I would love if someone could pray for us. We have lost our RL baby. We saw the infant yesterday and it was very hard. This is our second baby to be lost. We are having faith to keep going, but we know we can only do it with the prayers and support of our friends and family. Thank you, Ilya
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
HE HAS MADE ME GLAD
I will enter his gates
with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter his courts
I will say this is the day
that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for
he has made me glad
He has made me glad
he has made me glad
I will rejoice for
he has me me glad!
HIS BANNER OVER ME
He is the vine and we are the branches
His banner over me is love (x3)
His banner over me is love
He calls us to his banqueting table
His banner over me is love (x3)
His banner over me is love
LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in your presence
with your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
you fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice,
COME HOLY SPIRIT
Come Holy Spirit, I need you
Come sweet Spirit, I pray
Come in your strength and your power
Come in your own special way
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Last Sunday, Mariposa brought us a powerful and challenging word from Scripture titled "If We Are The Body." If you didn't get a chance to hear it, I encourage you to go to almcyberchurch.org, click Audio Archives, and stream or download it.
In that message, we were challenged to wake up, to get right, and to do our part in the Body of Christ. Today, I'd like to continue that discussion. And the title of today's message is "If We Are The Body, Part 2."
During the period of time Jesus and his twelve disciples walked the earth, it was not uncommon to refer to a group as a body in which everyone has something to do. But when the Bible speaks of us as the Body of Christ, it takes this idea to a whole new level.
Let's a take a look at this, reading from 1st Corinthians chapter 12, starting with verses 12 and 13 and jumping down to verse 27. 1st Corinthians 12, and verse 12:
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
The first thing I notice here is a distinction between the concept of the Church as the Body of Christ, and socialism. In socialism, marxism, and the inevidable communism they eventually bring, the individual disappears and is replaced by the collective. You no longer have the right to work hard and build up a fortune to save or spend as you choose. Instead, you work according to your ability and are paid according to your need.
But verse 12 says that we are one body, and yet we are many. And verse 27 says even more clearly, "Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually."
The story of Ananias and Sapphira points this out even more clearly. Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. This seems tough, but it sparked a revival of repentance which resulted in an amazing move of God.
During that time in Church history, they had what some today would label a socialistic or even communistic Church society. The members of the Church would give all they had to the Church, and as a result there were no unmet needs.
But let's take a closer look at this story, paying attention to a vital distinction between the Bible's concept of the unit, and the world's.
This account is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter five, beginning with verse one.
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.
6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
8 And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much."
9 Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."
10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
In verse four, Peter states clearly, "While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? You have not lied to men but to God."
You see, Ananias and Sapphira didn't have to give ANY of the money to the church. They could have kept it ALL and would have been blameless. But they wanted to appear as though they were giving all they had, when they really weren't. They were concerned with looking good instead of with having a pure heart before God. And apparently God didn't like that very much.
Do we do this today? Do we try to look a certain way to others?
Maybe we sing, clap, and raise our hands on Sunday when others are looking, but the rest of our week is barren of praise.
Maybe we bow our heads when others pray, but we can't remember the last time we went into our prayer closet alone and got on our face before God.
We want others to think we're giving our all to God, while we're secretly holding something back. But I believe these words apply to us the same as they applied to Ananias and Sapphira, "You have not lied to men but to God."
How much longer will God seem to turn a blind eye to our facade? I won't say that God wouldn't strike someone dead today for lying to the Holy Spirit, but one thing is for sure: we are struck dead in a different way because we're more concerned with how we look to others than with how we look to God.
What would happen if we rooted out the falsehood from among us? We can get a good idea of this by reading what happened right after Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God.
In verse 11, we read, "So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things." and continuing in verse 12:
12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch.
13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.
14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
Was this Peter? Did he become some type of ascended master? Hardly. I believe the fact that people could be healed just by Peter's shadow touching them was tied in to what just happened in the preceeding verses -- Peter was not interested in pleasing man, but lived his life to please God. He didn't lie to the Holy Spirit. He didn't wear a mask, or put on a show. And multitudes were getting saved, the lame, the sick, the blind, and the demon-posessed were healed.
What would the Church look like today if we put falsehood out of our midst? Would we, the Church, be raised from the dead, that death brought on by our deception and by our playing games? I believe we indeed would be raised from the dead, and we would start to function like a living body, full of the power of God.
In John chapter 14 and verse 12, Jesus says this:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."
Greater works than these? Didn't Jesus heal all manner of incurable disease? Didn't he display complete authority over demons? Didn't he raise the dead? And yet he says the works he did we will do, and even greater works than these.
But we're dead. We're asleep. We're wearing our disguises. We're lying to God. And a dead body doesn't do much. How can it? It has no life.
Back in 1st Corinthians 12:28, we read "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
These are the parts of the body, and if you are in Christ, then you are one of those parts. But you'll need to get serious and stop putting on a face and playing games if you're ever going to find out how God wants to use you.
Why don't we see true prophets in our churches? Why don't we see miracles and healings today? We hear about them, sure. But how many church doors do we have to pass through before we see the Body of Christ doing "greater works than these?"
And we can bring this question a little closer to home. You can ask yourself, and I can ask myself, "Why do I look more like a spiritual corpse than a part of the living, thriving, miracle working body of Jesus Christ?"
I don't know about you, but for me, the answer might be a bit scary. It might demand that I take an honest look at my level of comfort and the things I may still be holding back from God.
You see, it is not only for others that we wear a disguise. We cover up ourselves to hide from ourselves as well. We want to think we're okay, we're doing fine. We want to think that nothing needs to change in us, or at least nothing major that would change our lives or bring us too far out of our place of comfort.
But God has something else in mind. He's a God of transparency, a God of truth. And for us to work intimately with him, we need to be a people of transparency, and a people of truth.
And to take this a step further, this honesty doesn't mean coming out of the closet and sinning openly; rather, it means getting the junk out of our lives so that our appearance of Godliness is no longer an outer show, but a true and unveiled glimpse into our hearts.
How about the power of Godliness? Second Timothy chapter three speaks of the last days and the perilous times that will come. Men will be lovers of themselves and of money; they will be boastful and proud; and a long list of other sins that spring up from these things. It then says they have a form of Godliness but deny its power.
It doesn't say they deny the power of God, but of Godliness. Do we see this in the Church today? If the veil were removed from our eyes, I think we would be shocked to the core to see how rampant this is in our congregations and in our lives.
Godliness has great power. It results in what we saw in the early Church -- miracles, healings, deliverances, conversions, and people being raised from the dead. We desperately need a return to true Godliness in the Church today!
And what is Godliness? It is modeling our lives, our actions, our minds, and our hearts after God. And that includes being open and honest, and seeking only to please him rather than to impress others with our own "form of Godliness."
And what is the power of Godliness?
It can be seen in those around us being so convicted and drawn by the Holy Spirit, whether or not God leads us to say a single word, that they come running to the foot of the cross.
It can be seen in the laying on of hands resulting in those in wheelchairs dancing for joy before the Lord, in those who cannot speak shouting the praises of Jehovah, in the mother greiving for the loss of a child holding the beloved resurrected in her arms crying tears of joy.
And it's to be expected that talking about these things happening in your local church would be met by doubt. Some of us are ready and eagerly praying for this type of the power of God to manifest in our midst, regardless of the cost. On the other hand, some of us either doubt it can happen, or perhaps that it can happen today, or perhaps that it can and should happen through you.
But the time is coming in which those sitting on the fence of complacency will either jump off or be burned, shaken, and forced off. And when that happens, when we get either all the way in or all the way out, THEN we will see the power of true Godliness. THEN we will see the Body of Christ doing the things that Jesus did, and even greater things than these. THEN we will see a time in which a person can walk into our local church sick or demon-posessed and walk out completely healed and set free!
It will come at a price. And we may need to go through great persecution to awaken from our slumber. We may need a time during which being a believer will cost us our lives and the lives of those we love. But when we get real, when we stop lying to God, when we get the junk out of our lives, and when we stop denying the power of Godliness and instead live truly Godly lives, then we will see life come into the Body. We will rise up and start walking, start speaking, start healing, and start calling the dead back to life.
And what we can do today is to examine ourselves in the light of God's Word, and pray as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Those here on the ministry team can come stand at the front now, as we prepare for a time of prayer and ministry.
*** Listen to the audio for closing ***