Building Up the Body

KEY VERSE: “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” —I Corinthians 12:7

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 12:4-20, 26

WHEN THE HOLY Spirit came upon the disciples of the Early Church, it resulted in giving inspiration to the ‘twelve apostles of the Lamb’. Through their inspired teachings other servants became qualified to minister to the church. Through their various capacities, the Holy Spirit of the truth was used for the building up of the entire New Creation class.

Paul explains that these “gifts” were provided “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12,13) The church was baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and that baptism carried with it certain miraculous ‘gifts’—such as speaking with tongues, the ability to perform miracles, etc. These gifts came principally upon the apostles, and could be imparted to others by the laying on of their hands. Except for the apostles, those receiving these gifts from God could not pass them on to others.

A useful purpose was served in the Early Church by these gifts. On the Day of Pentecost, the gift of tongues enabled the apostles to witness the truth concerning Jesus to Jews gathered at Jerusalem from all over the then-known world—Jews, many of whom may have understood only the language of the countries in which they were dwelling. The gift of tongues continued to serve a useful purpose until there were believers in each territory who knew the language there spoken. As the New Creation class spread out into the various countries, and the church became established, the need for the gift of tongues no longer existed.

The ability to perform miracles was also a great aid in connection with the establishment of the Early Church. Those early believers were in a very hostile world. They were scorned and persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles, and the miracle-working power of the apostles was a source of encouragement to all the believers, confirming their faith that the cause in which they had enlisted was the Lord’s, and that the great God of Israel would not allow it to fail. Miracles also served to witness to an unbelieving and gainsaying world. But when the church became better established, this gift also ceased to function.

Directing his words to the entire church throughout the Gospel Age, Paul wrote: “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”—I Cor. 12:27,28

After mentioning the various gifts which were beneficial to the Early Church and later ceased, Paul concluded with advice as to how the Holy Spirit, and its fruits, would be the ultimate unifying influence, and it is still with the church to this day. He said, “Yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” (I Cor. 12:31) This is the last verse of the chapter, and in the first verse of the next chapter, Paul begins to enlarge upon that ‘more excellent way’, which he reveals to be the way of love. Love is an ‘excellent way’ because it is the way of God, who so loved the world that he gave his Son to redeem mankind from sin and death. It is the way of Christ, whose love prompted him to lay down his life for all mankind.

If we are to remain in Christ and to be perfected as part of God’s New Creation by the Holy Spirit of truth, the ‘more excellent way’ of love must become our way. We will be one with Jesus and one with the Father, as they are one. May the Holy Spirit of truth, by which the whole body of Christ is baptized, continue to work in us for the accomplishment of this divinely foreordained condition of eternal membership in God’s New Creation!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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