Tag Archives: Grace and Peace

Compensatory Honor

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #149

For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:24–25).

So the body is naturally solicitous for the parts of the body that have less honor. There is a natural modesty we have, given by God, which causes us to compensate. The “comely parts” need no additional honor through clothing or jewelry, but other parts do. This giving of additional care to certain parts of the body is described as God “tempering the body together.”

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Pride in the Body

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #147

And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” (1 Cor. 12:19–21).

Paul has been arguing for the interdependence of the various parts of the body. In this previous illustration, he talks about a member exiling himself from the body simply because he was not another member. The foot cannot separate itself from the body because it is not a hand. The ear cannot separate itself because it is not an eye. This separation might occur because a member thinks that it is not worthy enough to be with the others.

But in this next round of comparisons, Paul has parts of the body becoming proud. He has established the principle that one body is made up of many members. And in the false understanding of this, he now rejects the pride that makes one part say to another member that the other member is unnecessary. The eye cannot say to the hand that the hand is not needed. The head cannot say that to the foot.

As It Has Pleased Him

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #146

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor. 12:18).

In the lines preceding this, Paul has been using the illustration of the human body. The eye cannot hear, the ear cannot see, and so forth. And just after this, in verse. 21, he returns to the illustration again in order to reinforce the point. In the two verses just after this one, he applies the concept to spiritual gifts.

Before getting to that point, however, the center of this verse must be pressed home. The body of Christ has many different members in it, and each one of them is where it is because God has placed it there. “God set the members.” This point is reinforced with Paul’s follow up phrase—“as it hath pleased him.”

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Most of What We Do We Mostly Can’t Do

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #145

“If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 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? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (1 Cor. 12:15-17).

Before going on to apply the illustration of the human body to spiritual gifts, it is important for us to take in the various points presented by the illustration. The first point is that unity is unavoidable (v. 15). The foot cannot say that being not-a-hand means that the foot is outside the body. Regardless of what the foot says about it, it is in the same body with the hand—despite the fact that they are not at all alike. Their functions are dissimilar, but they are parts of the same body nonetheless. Paul makes the same point over again with the ear and the eye (v. 16). If the ear notices that it is not an eye, and that premise may be true enough, but the conclusion that it is not “of the body” does not follow. It remains in the same body together with the eye. Paul’s second point is that the hidden logic here destroys the very idea of a body. If the whole body were an eye, that whole body would be deaf. If the whole body were an ear, then there would be no way to smell.

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One Body, Many Members

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #144

“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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:12-14).

Paul then comes to introduce his central illustration for the use of spiritual gifts, which is the illustration of one body with many different organs. He says, first, the body is one, but the one body has many members. He then comes from the opposite direction, and says that there are many members, but they are all part of one body. This is the way Christ is, because this is the way the body of Christ is. Christ has one body—His church—and this one body has many different members.

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Beach Boys Glossolalia

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #143

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 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: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:8-11).

Paul’s point here in this passage is to point out the fact that multiple workings are all proceeding from one source, which means that these multiple gifts are all meant to work toward one unified purpose or end. He does this by saying the Spirit does x, the same Spirit does y, and the same Spirit does z.

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Gifts That Profit

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #142

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor. 12:7).

Let’s begin our discussion of this passage by citing a more contemporary translation. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7, ESV). We have many different gifts, with many manifestations, but there is one common theme. All of these things are given by God (the Spirit) in order to establish the common good, or common advantage. To anticipate a metaphor that is coming up, there is one body, with one interest—that of staying alive—and the different gifts are like different organs or members of that body. The liver does one thing, for the common good, while the kidneys do something completely different from that, also for the same common good.

This means that we cannot dismiss the liver because it is not acting like the stomach or the kidneys. But we can object if the liver is acting like a diseased liver, or perhaps like a rock or at stone. The liver doesn’t act like the stomach, but a stone doesn’t act like the stomach either. Gifts are tested, not by whether they match a different gift or not, but by whether or not they benefit the common good. Genuine gifts bring that profit; spurious gifts do not.

Expecting Diversity

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #141

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:4-6).

We need to begin our discussion of the spiritual gifts with a recognition that the whole thing is an exercise in Trinitarian theology. There is one purpose that runs throughout the manifestation of all true gifts—because there is one God. There are many different displays of God’s power because there is first the Spirit (v. 4), then the Lord (v. 5), and then God (v. 6).

So the differences between “diversities of gifts” or “differences of administrations,” or the “diversities of operations” are not themselves unworthy of God. God is not an infinite and undefined extension of Newtonian space. God is triune, and exuberantly creative. We must not disparage the manifestation of this gift here and a completely different gift over there, any more than we would slight the fact that the same God created the sea lion and the little yellow canary. That is how our God is. This is how the problem of the one and the many resolves—it resolves in the one God, who is Spirit, Lord, and God. This one God has one purpose and many tools.

So diversity is not unworthy of Him. We saw in the first verses of this chapter that there are spurious gifts, displays of spirituality that lead into idolatry. But the mere fact of differences cannot be used as an argument against the legitimacy of a gift. We should expect differences in our gifts.