“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (vv. 24–26).
The work of the Reformers was carried on by men and women who followed their example in seeking to define their doctrine according to the final standard of Scripture. In carrying out this task, the heirs of the Reformation developed several creeds and confessions that outline biblical truth in a systematic way. One of the most important of these doctrinal statements is the Westminster Confession of Faith, and in 26.1 of this confession we find one of the purposes of the church enumerated: “All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.”
God ordained the church as the place where we grow to spiritual maturity under the instruction of His Word (Eph. 4:11–14), but the maturing process involves more than just our receiving sound teaching. Our Lord seeks not only the maturity of us as individuals but also the maturity of us as a body, and just as the health of our physical bodies depends on every part’s working properly, the health and maturity of the body of Christ depends on our using our gifts for the benefit of the body. We are saved as individuals—each of us will be redeemed only through our personal exercise of faith. Yet we are also saved as a corporate people as well. Everyone who is united to Christ by faith is also united to every other believer. And being united to one another, we share a common life as the church wherein the health of the whole body depends in large measure on the spiritual health of each of us individually.
This is Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12 when he stresses that each part of the body of Christ is vital to the welfare of the whole. Every gift is necessary. Even those members of the church who have gifts and graces that we might at first consider unnecessary serve vital roles. The church is the community in which we exercise our gifts and graces for the sake of one another and the health of the entire body. If each of us is serving in the capacity to which Christ has called us, the church will function well and it will serve as a beacon of hope in our fallen world.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Today’s passage reminds us that God has given each of His children at least one spiritual gift. If we do not use the gift or gifts the Lord has given us, the body will be diseased and will not function properly. But when we serve one another through the use of our gifts, the church is healthy and is able to ward off the infections of impurity, false doctrine, and an unloving spirit. How are you using your gifts to ensure the health and welfare of Christ’s body?