Sunday Sermon: ‘Unity in the Body of Christ’


The book of Amos asks a very important question: “How can two people walk together unless they be in agreement?” (Amos 3:3) The answer to that question is obvious. They can’t. Two people can’t walk together unless they are going in the same direction.

This is true in many areas of life. For instance, consider the necessity of unity on a sports team. Anyone who has ever played sports knows that unity on a team is vital for success. Whenever you hear of a locker room that is divided, you know that team is in trouble. You can’t be a team unless you’re working together.

This is also true for homes. The Bible tells us that God’s plan for the home is that a man and a woman come together as husband and wife and that the two of them become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Unity is also important in the church. If you’ve ever read the book of Acts, you know that there is one phrase that is repeated over and over again, especially in the first few chapters. It’s the phrase, ‘of one accord.’ The first Christians lived and worked together in one accord. Scripture says that they prayed with one accord. (Acts 1:14) They praised with one accord. (Acts 4:24) They faced their problems with one accord. (Acts 4:24) And they sought God’s power with one accord. (Acts 5:12) Much of the success of the early church is due to the fact that they worked together with one accord.

What does it mean to be of one accord? To be of one accord is to be of one mind and one passion. Not only are those of one accord thinking alike, they’re striving to go in the same direction. Today we might say that they are – ‘On the same page.’

It is Christ’s desire that those who are a part of His church be on the same page. The book of psalms says – “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) Shortly before Jesus returned back to His Father, He prayed that we as His disciples might be as one, even as He and His Father are one. (see John 17:21) Recently I read something about this that really stuck with me. Jesus not only prayed that we be as one, but that our oneness be as real as the oneness He shares with His Father. Think about the oneness of the Trinity for a moment. The Bible teaches us that there is just one God (see Deuteronomy 6:4), yet this one God exists in three distinct persons. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not God choosing to show up in one of three ways. The Trinity is three distinct persons working together in total unity.

It might help us to know that there are two words used in the Bible that are translated as ‘one.’ One word speaks of a numeric one. God told Abraham, “Take now thine son, thine one and only solitary son, Isaac… and offer him up as a burnt sacrifice…” (see Genesis 22:2) One here speaks of a singular solitary number.

But there is another word that is also translated as one. Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The word used here means a unified one. A marriage consists of two separate individuals who are often very different, working together as one. When the Bible says that God is one, it uses the word for ‘unified one.’ There is such a unity in the Trinity that they are one.

This is the unity Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I know that many of our adult Sunday School classes studied 1 Corinthians 12 today, but if I may, I would like for us to look at it for a few moments once again.

I. The Unity the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members…

A. The Unity of the Human Body

The human body is pretty amazing. It’s made up of hundreds of muscles and trillions of cells, yet it functions as one.

B. The Unity of the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 

1. Diversity in the Body of Christ

First of all, we must recognize that there is diversity in the body of Christ. Paul says in verse 14, “For the body is not one member, (just one individual) but many.” The church is not made up of a group of people who all look and think alike. It’s made up of a lot of different individuals. 

Much of the diversity in the church revolves around what scripture refers to as ‘spiritual gifts.’ A spiritual gift is the way the Holy Spirit manifests Himself through the believer. Scripture teaches us that there are many different spiritual gifts, yet they all work together for the benefit of the body. Paul says in verse 27, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

The church is made up of a lot of different individuals who have different spiritual gifts. The body of Christ is not just one individual with one spiritual gift. The church is a gathering of many individuals with many different spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 

Paul is being a little bit silly here, but his point is clear. If the body was only an eye, how could it hear? And if the body was only an ear, how could it smell? From this illustration we see that it takes all the members to form what scripture calls the body of Christ.

2. Unity in the Body of Christ

There is diversity in the body because God planned it that way. But this diversity doesn’t mean division. It is God’s will that all the diversity in His church work together in unity. How can a group of diverse people with different ideas and opinions work together as one? To have unity, there must be a Unifier.

II. The Unifier of the Body of Christ

A. The Unifier of the Disciples

1. Division Among the Disciples

As many of you know, for a long time there was a lot of division among the disciples. On more than one occasion, Jesus had to call them down because of their arguments. What was their problem? Most often they fought over who among them should be considered to be the greatest. Or, to borrow an old statement, ‘There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’

2. Unity Among the Disciples

But then, something amazing happened. It’s almost like someone flipped a light switch and suddenly everything changed. The same men who had been fighting, suddenly began working together in unity. How did this happen?

What produced the change in the disciples was the Holy Spirit. Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to unify God’s people.

B. The Unifier of the Church

Notice what Paul tells us about the church.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

It was the presence of the Holy Spirit that unified the disciples. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that unifies the church. And as Tammy and I learned over the years, it is also the presence of the Holy Spirit that unifies the home. How does God use the Holy Spirit to unify us?

1. God Unifies Us by Baptizing Us with His Spirit

The Baptism of the Spirit has long been a source of debate and controversary among Christians. Some believe that this is a special anointing of God’s Spirit given only to certain individuals. Many of these same individuals also believe that this special baptism is accompanied by the speaking in tongues. The question they often ask is, “Have you been baptized by the Spirit?”

Although I will not claim to know all there is to know about this important subject, here is some of what I have learned.

a. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of their salvation. (See John 3:3-8; Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9)

b. Even in the days of the early church, not every believer spoke in tongues. (See 1 Corinthians 12:28-30)

c. Every believer is baptized with the Spirit into the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

 d. There is only one-true baptism.

There are not many types of baptism, but one baptism that is revealed in multiple ways. Consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

There is only one true baptism; the baptism of the believer into the saving work of Jesus Christ.

i. The One True Baptism is When We Are Baptized into the Savior

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

The only baptism that will save a man’s soul is the baptism into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. What does it mean to be baptized into Jesus?

Baptism refers to a complete identification with something. It means to be submerged or immersed into something so deeply that the object being baptized takes on the characteristics of what it is being baptized into.

One of the classic examples that is often used to illustrate the meaning of baptism is the pickling of cucumbers. Most of you know how pickles are made. You take a cucumber and immerse it in a pickling solution so that when you take the cucumber out of the solution, you no longer refer to it as being a cucumber, but from that point on you call it a pickle. What turns a cucumber into a pickle? It’s the immersing or baptizing the cucumber into the pickling solution so that it becomes saturated with the solution.

A sinner is turned into a saint when they are baptized into the Savior.

ii. What Does Baptism into Jesus Accomplish?

 1) It Unites Us with the Saving Work of Christ

 2) It Unites Us with the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free…

The same Holy Spirit that enabled me to have this personal relationship with Christ is the same Spirit that enabled you to have your personal relationship with Christ. Therefore, by this one Spirit, we are brought together in Christ. Just like our physical bodies have lots of parts and members and yet work together as one, so we, being many, work together as one through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2. God Unifies Us by Causing Us to Drink of His Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

a. Being Baptized by the Spirit is What Unites Us Together in Christ

Through our being born-again by the Spirit, we are baptized into the saving work of Jesus.

b. Drinking of the Spirit is What Unites Us in Our Service

Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to live the Christian life. Consider what Jesus said in John 7.

John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) 

Notice that when we take in this living water, we become a river of living water that flows into the lives of others. Consider how this correlates with what Paul said about being empowered with spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The church is united in our Savior and by our service.

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