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In lesson 5, we learned about finding our identity in Christ. To find our identity in anyone or anything else is idolatry. Today, we’re exploring membership in the Body as part of our identity in Christ.
Questions to Consider
1. In previous lessons (see links above) we learned that we were created by God, in the image of God. We also learned that, as Believers, our personal identity – who we are at the deepest inner level of our own being, and how we see ourselves – is found in Christ. But there’s no such thing as an isolated Christian individual. (1 Corinthians 12:14) Read 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Romans 12:5 from today’s passages. What is another aspect of our identity in Christ?
2. According to the Colossians passages, what is another name for the “body”? Look up the word “church” in a concordance. What is the first verse in the Bible to mention the word “church”? Who spoke this verse? In what ways does this verse demonstrate that Jesus is the founder, builder, owner, and sustainer of the church?
3. There are two different ways the term “church” is most frequently used in the Bible and by Christians today: a) the church catholic (small “c”, not Roman Catholic) or universal, and b) the local church. What is the difference between these terms? Describe your membership as a Believer in both the church catholic and the local church.
4. How do you become a member of the church catholic? (1 Corinthians 12:13) Is this baptism at the moment of salvation visible or invisible? Spiritual or tangible? How does visible water baptism into membership in the visible local church outwardly symbolize your invisible baptism in the Holy Spirit into the invisible church catholic? Have you been baptized as your first step into local church membership? Why were you baptized, or why haven’t you been baptized?
5. Consider the metaphor of individual Christians as “body parts” (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) in terms of actual parts of a human body. Explain the metaphor in detail – how are the parts connected to the body? How/where do the parts get their nourishment? How do the parts know what to do and when to do it? How can the parts help or hinder other parts and the body as a whole? Who/what is the “command center” of the body?
6. What does 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 teach us about how we should view ourselves as a member of the body? What is God’s purpose in teaching us this view of ourselves – to build up our egos? Explain verse 18 as it applies to you and to other church members. What does 1 Corinthians 12:20-27 teach the church about how we should view individual members? What does it mean to be a church member who is “weaker” (22), “less honorable…unpresentable” (23)? What provisions does God – and do we – make for those members? (23-24) How does this contribute to unity in the church? (25-26)
7. Consider the 1 Corinthians passage and the Romans passage together with regard to how individual members contribute to the workings of the Body. Describe the heart attitude God wants us to have, and the approach He wants us to take as we serve the church. How do the concepts of unity, cooperation, and humility flesh themselves out as we work with fellow church members to serve the Body?
8. Sometimes we encounter a sister in Christ who is so passionate about her particular gifting or area of ministry that she pressures other church members to be as passionately involved in that ministry as she is, or she seems to look down on Christians who don’t have the same gifting she has. How would you use today’s passages to disciple her?
Is membership in the church catholic or the local church optional for Christians? If you answered yes to either, cite the Scriptures supporting your answer.
Give my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians (and the articles in the “Additional Resources” section) a read. Explain in your own words why God wants Christians to be members of a doctrinally sound local church. Need to find a doctrinally sound church? Want to know what to look for in a healthy church? Explore the resources at the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page. (You can also recommend any doctrinally sound churches you have a personal connection with.)
Suggested Memory Verse
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27