the Body of Christ

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It’s been a while since I’ve been here, and it’s so good to see a lot of you this morning. It’s been, I think, like three weeks, four weeks, and it’s just good being back in Utah. It took took quite a route to get here. I ended up going to Vegas and spending a night in the airport and sleeping and I didn’t sleep and an alarm went off. I don’t know why that I was so disoriented when it went off. It was just it was an interesting time getting back to Utah. But I was so glad to be back and be able to be with my church family again. I just want to pray to start off our time before we dive into the Word and Scripture. So please join me in prayer. Oh, dear. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for everything that you have given us today. Thank you for even the snow, even this winter. God, thank you for bringing these people here, for providing a place for us to gather and providing your word so that we can know who you are and what you call us to be. And please help us to be transformed by your word and by your spirit in Jesus name. Amen. So if you don’t know who I am, my name is Lincoln Hughes, and I’m the youth pastor at Alpine Bible Church. So I usually don’t speak here. So if it’s really bad and if you guys are like, I don’t want to listen to this guy again, don’t be afraid.

I usually don’t do this. So you can still come back next week to the professional. And I’m a youth pastor and that’s just kind of what I do a little bit about who I am. But if I went around to each one of you guys and asked you the question like, what do you do? Who? What do you do? What? What is your title? You guys would say all different sorts of things. Some would say teachers, some would say maybe graphic designer. Someone would say student. I mean, there’s there’s different things that you guys do, and they describe a little about who you are and what you do. And and this is very important in the business world, especially for like small businesses, A name has to portray who they actually are. If you guys have ever been to sabaidee Thai cuisine, it’s amazing. It is so good. So if you like Thai food, you should go there. But by seeing that driving by, you see that it’s called Sabaidee Thai cuisine. There’s no mistakes about what they are selling and what they are doing. It is Thai cuisine and also if you go down this this street, you’ll see different automotive shops that say Rogers Automotive or, you know, different things that tell you what they do and who they are. And it would be really weird, say, if something said it was a cafe.

But you go inside and there’s no coffee. Instead, there’s suits and different things like ties and. And you’re like, What? What is happening here? I thought this was a cafe. I thought there was coffee here. But it ends up being that there’s no coffee there and say you needed coffee because you didn’t have any sleep because you slept at an airport the night before. You would be kind of mad because they were lying about who they are. They gave a name that didn’t properly represent who they are. So if a name and a title matters. And what we do. I mean, you guys wouldn’t go around just saying that you’re a doctor if you’ve never gone to med school, right? Maybe you’ve treated a kid for the common cold, but you wouldn’t go around calling yourself a doctor if a name and a title describes who you are and what you do. And if that’s important. What does that mean for us who call Alpine Bible Church home and Jesus Christ our savior? Now, there are many names and ways that we in the Bible distinguishes ourselves. There are so many different names that we are called in Scripture. There are We are called believers. We’re called saved. We’re called chosen by God, a royal priesthood, God’s children and much more in every single one of these names has a very significant.

Um, impact on our lives because it’s who we are in Christ. But today we are going to look at two specific titles and names that we are given in Scripture. And the first one is probably the most common way that we refer to one another. Any any guesses of what it is? Christian Yes, yes, that’s the first one. So. Christian Yeah, that’s the first one. When we often call call ourselves, we will call ourselves Christian. Oh, what are you. Oh, I’m I’m a Christian now. Does anyone I’m sure some of you do. But do you guys know actually how we were first called Christians? On why we’re called Christians and. We actually find the story in the Book of Acts Chapter 1119 through 26. This is how we’ve this is how we find out why we’re called Christians. And if you guys want to turn there, you are more than happy to turn there. I don’t have the words on the screen, so if you want to follow along, that is perfect. And it says so. Then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them men of Cyprus, Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks, also preaching the Lord Jesus and the hand of the Lord was with them and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with a resolute heart to remain true to the Lord, for he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And He left for Tarsus to look for Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. And that was a big portion of scripture. And there are a few things that we learn. From this text. And up to this point, believers would call them call themselves disciples, disciples of Jesus disciples of the Christ or followers of the Way. And they called themselves that. And a large part of that. And the people looking into the Christian community maybe probably didn’t call them disciples or followers of the way they would call them like a Jewish sect, because up to this point, most of the people who followed Jesus were Jewish in descent, and they followed the Jewish traditions. So if you’re looking at these Christians, sorry, that comes later. These people that follow Jesus, you view them as this Jewish break off of the Jewish religion.

But for the first time in Antioch, multitudes of Gentiles and Jews come to follow Jesus and they start being called Christians because it’s much more than just a Jewish sect. There’s people from different backgrounds coming to believe in Jesus and following Jesus. And in fact, this word wasn’t a flattering word to Christians when it was first given. They actually the reason why people started calling them Christians is because they were mad. And it was kind of like a derogatory slang term towards the Christians in Antioch, because you can imagine these people who had grown up in the religion, whether it was worshiping the Greek gods or worshiping in the Jewish religion. They see their friends and their families start abandoning what they believe. And they started believing this in this Jewish rabbi that had died multiple years prior. And they start getting mad. So they start calling him Christians. And literally in the Greek, it means little Christ and a historian. Tacitus writing near the end of the first century. This is from Vine’s expository says the vulgar call them Christians. So in the first century this word Christian was not flattering, it was vulgar, and they would call them that in a derogatory way. And so we understand that. But by the end of the first century into the second century, the title Christian and the name Christian. Was a name that was honored that people in the believing community wanted the name Christian, that they desired it because it had an honor to it.

And we still call ourselves Christian to this day. So why do we honor this name that was first made up to be a vulgar, derogatory slang towards believers? Well, that question directly leads into our next name. Our next identity. And this identity we more relate to as a collective than as an individual. But it’s important to understand this name so we can understand who we are in Christ and how we identify ourselves. So I want you guys to meet my friend Stefan. Say hi, Stefan. You guys can do better than that. Well, anyways, this is my friend Stefan. You might not know by looking at him, but he is Austrian. I’m pretty sure that picture was him in Hungary. But he’s Austrian. Me and Stefan both went to Frontier School of the Bible in Wyoming. And we. We had a great friendship together. He, when he first got there, didn’t speak very good English, but towards the end, we started developing a friendship that was just awesome. And he actually ended up visiting Utah last year in the summer, and I got to spend some time with him in Salt Lake and he’s begging me to go to Austria and I really want to and I probably will at some point, but that Stefan and I got to spend a year of my life with him.

And the thing is, when I hung out with Stefan and when I interacted with Stefan, I. He represented for me. Who and what Austrians were. When I talked with Stefan, we talked about his country and we talked about my country. We talked about soccer. We talked about, you know, we talked about our relationship with Christ. We talked about different things. But Stefan will be always inseparable to Austrian culture, society and personality. And when I think of Stefan, I think of someone who has a very contagious laugh that is absolutely amazing at soccer and will always be better than I am or ever am. Who that who loves to joke around and is super outgoing. And when I think of Austria, I think of Stefan. And when I think of Stefan, I think of Austria. And I know intellectually that not all Austrians are like Stefan. But to me, Stefan represents Austria. And like Stefan. We represent our own country, the United States of America. As Americans. But as Christians, we represent so much more. And the second title we’re discussing is something the Apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit, calls us several times in the New Testament. And that is we are the body of Christ. Now there are two main passages that we discuss when looking at the body of Christ. One being Romans 12 and the other Ephesians four. And as I was studying through Romans 12 and Ephesians four, I started realizing that.

The wording and the thoughts were almost word for word. They were so similar that going through that it was basically Paul was saying the same thing to the Romans as he was saying to the Ephesians. In almost the same order. And it kind of just stood out to me and I was like, What? What does that mean? And I think it means that this is important. The redundancy in Scripture means that it is something of vital importance. And these two big chapters were taken to explain what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. And the first chapter. The first verse in both of these chapters starts off with a plea from Paul to the people who are in these church bodies. Romans 12 one says, Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice. Ephesians four one. Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of which you were called. And he starts off this. This chapter, both these chapters with calling them and pleading with them to walk in a way that is holy and pleasing to God. And even before that, we see. The verse prior to both of these, and they’re almost the exact same thing again. And Romans 11 through 36 says for from him and through him and to him are all things to him be the glory forever.

Amen. Ephesians 321 to be to him, be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. And when you look at Ephesians three, in Ephesians, I mean, in Romans 11, you see a constant theme in those chapters as well. And the theme is. The grace of God being shown on people who don’t deserve it. People receiving mercy and being reconciled to Christ, not because of what they’ve done, but because of what God has done. And God deserves the glory for it. In both Chapter 11 of Romans and Chapter three of Ephesians end in this praise to God for what He has done, reconciling us who didn’t deserve it, to a God who gave everything to have a relationship with us. And I could go on, but it would take a while to read both of both of them. But both of these chapters parallel each other and almost say the exact same thing. A little different wording. But. The importance of what being said in both of these chapters. And that strong plea before just highlights the importance of what Paul is going to talk about here. And first. The importance of every individual as an important member of the sorry, confusing. The first thing that we need to understand is that the importance of every individual working in the body for the unity of the body of Christ.

Romans 12, four through eight says For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function. So we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to each of us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. If prophecy according to the proportion of his faith, if service in his serving, or he who teaches in his teaching, or he who exhorts in his exhortation, he who gives with liberality. He who leads with diligence. He who shows mercy with cheerfulness. Now, he illustrates, Paul illustrates how the Body of Christ works by comparing it to our own bodies. And we understand that our arms and our hands and our feet and our hearts and our brains all have different functions in our own body, but are all necessary for the body to function well and in health. And. Um, one of the things that I learned about this I learned at school and it wasn’t through a class. It was through this thing called man, which sounds kind of weird, and it kind of is. But what Manfreds was, is the girls would go on their women’s retreat and all the guys were left at school. And so we went over to the gym and we would get mats and we would put them in the gym and naturally we would have boxing matches naturally.

And my last year I ended up boxing. And what happened is I ended up getting a boxer’s fracture from boxing. If any of you guys are familiar with a boxer’s fracture, it’s like you fracture your hand right beneath your pinky because when you box, you’re supposed to hit with your front two or your. Your front two fingers because they’re more sturdy, they’re more strong, and your pinky and your ring finger are kind of weak. And I punched him and I hit that and I ended up fracturing. My hand didn’t really hurt when I did it, but afterwards it started killing. And one thing you guys got to know is that it’s not like the first injury I’ve ever had. I’ve had several concussions. I have broken an arm and I’ve been in a neck brace. So I’ve been I’ve been injured before. But when I had this little boxer’s fracture, almost nothing was more debilitating to me than that boxer’s fracture. I could not write, I could not type. I could not do practically anything with my hands because it was my right hand. And this was in the middle of writing tests, doing papers. And I was lost because I really couldn’t do anything. And I was like, How does this little pinky, like, right beneath my pinky? Pinky keep me from accomplishing all my goals and all the things that I need to get done.

And the thing is, it’s the same way in the Body of Christ. And that’s what Paul is highlighting here when he talks about the importance of us all using our gifts, even though they’re different. And. The importance of roles and functions in each one of us. Is so important that Paul says. That we are like a body and without all of us functioning on the same wavelength, we’re going to we’re going to fail. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a more visible role such as preaching or teaching or leading the church, or serving in hospitality ministries or cleaning and less visible roles, Every role is important for the body to function properly, just like a little pinky. And. Thirdly, that every member is gifted and called to a role in the body of Christ. I think oftentimes we think that we’re not gifted. But the fact is, if we are a part of the body of Christ, we have been gifted, each of us. And Romans 12 six says, Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to each of us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. Each of us have a gift and each of us need to use them. Every one of us belong to the Body of Christ and have been given gifts to serve, whether you know them or not.

He has given it. And to properly function, each one of us has to use the gifts that he’s given us. A church cannot properly function with an awesome pastor. Just. Just. Just an awesome pastor or an awesome leadership team or awesome hospitality. It takes a working of people or an awesome youth pastor. It was a joke. But the body only functions as a collective when the whole body works together. Now, when I studied the Body of Christ, especially when I was at school, this is where I usually stopped. And when I looked at the body of Christ, I saw it as this, as something that we all work together towards. But the fact was, as I was missing something and I had read it so many times, have you guys ever read the Bible? A passage probably like 50 times. And it was just like, been like. And then read it one time, probably like four years later and be like, Oh my goodness, what is that doing there? I never saw this before. It never clicked in my mind and that’s what happened for me, reading about the Body of Christ. And it’s the words that Paul chooses and it’s that we are the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ. I know it’s simple. It’s what I’ve been saying this whole time, but it’s that we are the body of Christ and it’s as Christians, we confess that Jesus Christ died and rose again and ascended into heaven.

And. He gave us the role of representing him here on the earth as his body. If people ask who is Jesus? What is he like? We should be able to say he’s like us. We are his representatives. And that is super challenging. To me and I hope to you. But we are his body and we have the role of representing who he is to each other. And that concept isn’t new to me either. But often we exclude it to thinking about people outside of the body of Christ because they don’t know who Christ is. But Paul, in both Ephesians and Romans, towards the end of talking about the Body of Christ, talks about how to be Christ like. And he gives these he gives these lists in Romans in Ephesians 423 through 32, in Romans 12 nine through 21. What it means to be Christ like to one another. And with both of these verses, both of these passages, it talks about how to be like Christ more to one another than to people outside of the body. And that kind of made me think about how important it is for us as a body to treat one another just as Christ has treated us and to be representatives of him, not just to people on the outside, but to each other. Ephesians 23 through 32 says and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, which is in the likeness of God, has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Therefore, laying aside falsehoods, speak truth to one another with his neighbor, for we are members of another. Be angry and yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer, but rather he must labor. Labor performing with his own hands. What is good so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. Paul gives these instructions and these pleads to both the Ephesians and Roman churches because he understands how important this is for every one of them. Because just like today, back then, people needed reconciled reconciliation with their relationships. People needed to learn how to treat one another, to have proper relationships.

And God calls us to have relationships that breathe life instead of take it away. And Paul wanted them so badly to live as they were called to live. As members of the Body of Christ. Because Jesus desires marriages that forgive and reconcile before the end of a painful day. Friendships that edify and encourage, that rejoice and weep with one another. Co-workers that act in honesty and respect. Families that forgive, pray and persevere. And we all long to have these relationships. That are Christ like. And that’s exactly what we’re called to be in the body of Christ. Our identity as a Christian and our identity as a member. And that word Christian in Greek means literally little Christ. And that’s the reason why. It became a name that carried such honor and weight is because every Christ follower, every disciple wanted to be known as someone who represented who Christ really was to each other and to a dying world. And we are called to be little Christs. Serving, forgiving and loving one another. The ancient world was turned upside down by these Christians who displayed who God really was, that he wasn’t some God that stood off in the distance and was spiteful and angry and threw lightning bolts and didn’t like you and tried to make your life miserable. But God was a God who came in the form of a servant, sacrificed himself so that he could have a relationship with you.

And the ancient world was turned upside down because people became too came to accept that message because they could see it in the lives of the people who represented their God. People who lived as members of the Body of Christ. And my prayer and challenge for us all, me definitely included. Would be. We would be people who lived out our identity. That we would be people who live in a manner worthy of the calling. Of which we have been called, and that we would present our bodies as holy and living sacrifices because it’s who we are made to be in Christ. Ephesians two four through ten before Ephesians four says, But God being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him and seated us, us, us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. So that in the ages to come he might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us, in Christ Jesus, for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no 1st May boast, for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.