Yesterday I talked about the oneness of the church. As you can see from the churches around you, at this point this is not even close to being a possibility with all the doctrinal and theological differences among the churches not to mention the rejection of God’s word. Even within denominations there are differences and then within individual churches there are differences. Paul said while talking about communion 1 Corinthians 11:17 “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.” Paul is not saying here that he approves the divisions but to be one in Christ.
                Just because a group of people call themselves the church doesn’t mean they are. The church is the body of Christ, with Christ as the head. That means we do as He says, then we will do as He did. The body of Christ is not disjointed (not well connected) and discombobulated. (Characterized by confusion or disorder) but one of perfection and holiness. Therefore the church that represents Christ should be perfect and holy. This can happen because Ephesians 1:22 “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” In this next passage Paul is talking about the radiant church while talking about husbands and wives. He said, Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
                After Peter preached, the body of Christ gathered. Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
                After, Peter and John healed a man who could not walk, Acts 3:11 “While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.” Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” This was a picture of the church. One person said “Church at Pentecost, was nothing more nor less than what should be in evidence in the Church today. Normal Christianity, as planned by our Lord, was not supposed to begin in the Spirit and continue in the flesh.” As believers gathered the church began to spread in great power, as did persecution. Acts 5:41 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” We are told in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:19 “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” By now you know what full of the Spirit (God dwelling and fruits and gifts of the Spirit seen) means and examples are not always given. Acts 7:3 “Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.”
                The church is made up of people called Christians. Being a Christian means you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Being a disciple means you obey God’s word wholeheartedly. Since you obey, God and Jesus dwell in you, as does the Holy Spirit. You then go out by the authority of Jesus Christ and are clothed with power from on high. The church is made up of these kinds of disciples. Can you imagine a group of people where God and Jesus dwell and the gifts of the Spirit are given as needed. That will look like nothing you have ever seen. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:1 “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” If we do not follow God’s word we are not saying Jesus is Lord and we trample the Son of God. Hebrews 10:29 “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” We don’t say Jesus is Lord and then follow our own ways; that will always end in disaster, either presently or eternally. God is not looking for lip service. Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Sadly most who are gullible have either been lied to about the gifts or they are uniformed. I say lied to because those who distort the word of God say these power gifts are no longer in operation. I say gullible because all you have to do is read the passage and you would see that is not what Paul said. Those who teach this way are anti-Christ and those teachings are doctrines of demons.
                What Paul said was 1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” These gifts represent Ephesians 1:19 “His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.” Yes all of these gifts are available. You do not pick and choose the gifts that fit your theology the best. If you reject some, you will get none of them.
                This is the church and it was meant to continue in power but since we decided man knew better, God turned His face from shining on us and the power was removed. We then became like Israel and God allowed the enemy to take the church captive. Now the church is just powerless, naked and should be ashamed. The body of Christ is supposed to be powerful. I’m not talking about powerful speakers or powerful organizations; I am talking about miracles, signs and wonders power. Jesus said in Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This will be the church that will once again rise up in power and do as Jesus did in the authority of His name. You don’t mess with His words and expect God to bless you. Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” The church has been doing this since the time of Paul and before. Jeremiah 23:36 “But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
                The church is meant to be together as one, the body of Christ, not what we see today with everyone believing something completely different from the other. This is not what Paul describes. Paul goes on after describing the gifts of the Spirit to say 1 Corinthians 12:12 “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” Paul then goes on to describe the body and its many parts. 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” Picture a car also. The sum of all the parts make it a car. Without the engine it’s just a couch. Without the fuel, no matter how powerful that car could be, it is sitting still unless you push it and that is just ridiculous. Imagine a NASCAR race with one of the drivers behind his car pushing it. Like the body we need fuel and that fuel is the Holy Spirit. Without the power of the Holy Spirit we are powerless.
                Paul then goes on to describe the makeup of the church. 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” There is no way the church we see today is the body of Christ.
                The church is not made up of many heads and bodies, just one. Somewhere along the way the church started to believe they could go their own way and still call themselves the body of Christ. Church has basically just gotten ridiculous with all the movements happening, each one thinking they are the way but there is no power. To have one church again we must have the Spirit of truth because as it stands everyone goes their own way and church just gets further and further from the truth. One body many parts doesn’t mean Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Reformed, Brethren, etc.; it means disciples of Jesus Christ. You will notice that the letters written don’t start off to the Baptist church in Corinth, or to the Catholic church in Philippi but the letters start off addressed to people in a location. The church was the same everywhere you went, although different people but the same message. That meant what was taught was the same as Paul said to the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”  Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
                One of the major issues with church growth models is that the principles used are manmade and don’t work everywhere. The church growth model is powerless while the church sent out in the authority of Jesus name and the power of the Holy Spirit heals the sick, cast out demons and the kingdom of God comes near. The church growth model creates an organization, which is temporal, not eternal. Nothing can stop the church when Jesus Christ is the head and it will last forever. As Joshua was told in Joshua 1:3 “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When the church is operating with the gifts of the Spirit, everyone will be doing their part even though each part will be doing something different. The gifts are given as determined by the Holy Spirit. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
                When God turns His face to shine on us once again, there will be one way, one truth and one life and one body. As we submit to God’s way and His truth, our life will be in Him and we will be His body, then the gifts will be in full operation once again and then the church will be the church Jesus started and will go to the ends of the earth. Psalm 67:7 “May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.” Acts 13:47 “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”