Well, let’s take our Bibles and let’s turn to First Corinthians Chapter 12 this morning. First Corinthians 12. And this morning, we’re interested in just a few verses: verses 11 through 13. We’re going to be focusing in particularly on verse 13 this morning, but I want to read all 13 verses of this chapter to set it in our minds and in context. So, follow along, beginning in verse one:
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
In 1971, John Lennon released his iconic song, Imagine, which captured the longing of the human heart for a world of peace and harmony. He said in that song:
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try
No hell below us. Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people livin’ for today
Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion, too
Imagine all the people livin’ life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will be as one
Well, John Lennon was certainly not the only one dreaming of that kind of thing. There’s always been a desire in the human heart for a world of peace and harmony. But as he expresses in the song, the only condition is that God is not a part of it. We don’t want God. We don’t want religion. We don’t want countries or governments. We don’t want any restraints. We just want to do whatever we want to do and we’ll all just get along. Well, that longing has been expressed and promised in all sorts of ideologies, most popularly in Marxism, which, when applied in one form or another (or by one name or another, by the way, as we see it marching through our country right now), it always over-promises and it always sorely under-delivers. The disappointment and disaster of Marxism and every other humanly devised system of humanity is a fundamental failure to acknowledge the fact that God is and to take into account the sinful nature of man. You know, the word of God sets the record straight. There is indeed a God, and man was made in his image. But man has rebelled against God and therefore is inherently enslaved to sin, which means that man is innately selfish, selfish, and prideful. As long as men continue in their rebellion against their Creator, mankind will never be able to achieve peace and harmony. Just the opposite, in fact, is what will result. James says, What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you? You desire and you do not have, and so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel…and so goes humanity. That longing of the human heart cannot be found through human machinations. God has to intervene, and God actually has to create a new humanity in order for this to be possible through the cross of Jesus Christ. There is no peace among men without peace with God. There is no unity among men apart from union with the perfect God man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, that’s the big picture that’s wrapped up in the few verses before us this morning. We’ve seen throughout this letter that the Corinthians needed correction in all sorts of areas, but the core issue in every single one of those issues was that basic problem of pride and selfishness. The Corinthians, you remember, were saved out of a culture that was immersed in paganism and pride. Especially in the city of Corinth, which was mostly composed of slaves and those who had been freed from slavery, there was this intense culture of one-upmanship. Everyone was trying to prove themselves and move up the social ladder, and everything–every relationship and everything in society was seen as an attempt at a badge of honor. And we saw this most recently in the way the wealthier members of the church at Corinth were treating the poorer members in that fellowship meal that surrounded the Lord’s Supper. Well, the issue that Paul is now addressing is the issue of spiritual gifts. And once again, the Corinthians were taking something that was good and right and given by God as an expression of their unity in Christ and they were distorting it according to their worldly mindset, so that those who possessed the more visible or spectacular gifts (and particularly, as we’ll see, the gift of tongues) were viewed as superior to others who were less prominent and who had gifts that were behind the scenes. The Apostle confronts that tendency by bringing the Corinthians back to the foundational reality of where spiritual gifts come from and why they were given in the first place. You remember in verses 1 through 11 we noted that he laid down three essential truths about spiritual gifts: Spiritual gifts are possessed by a diversity of people united by a common profession, which is Jesus is Lord. Secondly, we noted that among the people of God, there is a diversity of gifts that are united in a common provider, who is the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the Spirit being the one who distributes those gifts according to his will. And among the people of God, there is also a diversity of abilities that are united in a common purpose, which in verse 7 we saw is the common good. In other words, it’s to build others up and help them to grow the way that God intends. And the central theme of those three truths that bind them all together is that the church is a unity of diversity. Spiritual gifts are the expression of the Spirit’s work among God’s people. Notice that again in verse 7 they are manifestations of the Spirit among God’s people as he’s distributed the gifts in such a way that we are equally dependent upon one another in order to grow.
Now as we come to verses 12 through 13, Paul begins to elaborate upon that theme. Notice that each one of these three verses (12, 13 and 14) begin with that little word for–that three-letter word, for, which also could be translated because. It means that he’s giving an explanation. And his explanation hinges on that familiar analogy of the church as the body of Christ. Note verse 12: For just as the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. Paul here likens the Church of Jesus Christ to a body which has many members, or parts, like arms and legs, that’s what a member is in the context here. Arms, legs, eyes, ears and so forth. And yet all of these parts are united and work together as one body. If you had just parts of a body, you wouldn’t have a body. A body, by definition, is made-up of parts that are united and work together as a unity and this is the illustration that he’s going to flesh out in this chapter down in verses 15 through 27. And he’s going to do that to show us the functional unity of the body–how these parts work together. But before he emphasizes the function of those spiritual gifts, he’s going to take a moment to address the foundation of spiritual gifts and to show us how inseparably these gifts are linked to being a part of the body–that spiritual gifts are possessed by the people of God. And so, what he’s doing is circling back to that first point that he made at the outset in verses 1 through 3: that spiritual gifts are possessed by a diversity of people united by a common profession. And again, in verse 3 he stressed the fact that no one can say, or to put it better, no one is able to say, Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. And now in verse 13 he’s going to concisely relay the way in which someone receives the Spirit and is thus placed into this body, and by virtue of that union with Christ and being part of that body has been given the Spirit of God and a spiritual gift that is a manifestation of that Spirit that will serve the larger body and help it grow. And notice in verse 12 that Paul equates the body with Christ. It’s interesting how he puts that. He says, you know, just as the body has many parts but one body, so it is with Christ, or so also is Christ. And then he proceeds to show how someone is placed into the body of Christ. That is the purpose of verse 13. And if you have a pencil or a pen with you this moring, I would encourage you to take that out and a piece of paper and take some notes because we’re going to be drinking through a fire hose this morning, looking at a lot of passages to explain what’s going on in this verse because it’s so vital.
This is a fundamental truth about the application of our salvation, or the application of our redemption, how someone is placed into union with Jesus Christ and indwelt by his Spirit. It’s extremely important because this concept of Spirit baptism has been sorely misunderstood and mistaken for so long. And one thing I want to note before we dive into this verse is that we need to clarify that Paul is not speaking of the ordinance of water baptism when he uses that word baptism here. I’ve said this many times before and I’m going to say it again this morning to clarify that some words in the history of English Bible translation have not been translated, but they’ve been transliterated. What do I mean by that? Well, a translation is bringing the meaning of one word in one language into the word that means the same thing in another language. We get that. Think of the word casa. Most of us know that, right, here in the Southwest? Casa is the Spanish word for house in English. So if you translate it you get house–totally different word, same meaning in either language. That’s a translation. A transliteration, though, is not a translation. It’s the changing of letters of a word in one language to the letters of the word in another language that has the same root language so that you get a word that is not translated according to meaning, but the letters are just changed into that language. And that’s what we get with this word baptism. Guess what the Greek word is for baptism? Baptizo. Sounds very similar, right? It’s just taking those Greek letters and bringing them into English. It is not a translation. The meaning of the Greek word baptizo is to dip or immerse or to place into something. It’s something being placed into something else. In fact, there are a couple of places in the New Testament when the word is actually translated, because to do otherwise would be quite awkward. Turn over to Mark 7 with me just for a moment. Mark Chapter 7. I just want to parachute into this interaction between our Lord and the Pharisees, and just so we can see the point here about this word, Mark 7 verse 1 says:
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches…and so forth…
So, the point I want to make is that word wash in verse 4 (it’s used twice in verse 4, it’s a different word in verse 3), but in verse 4, both of those words translated wash are baptizo. That’s what the word means. So, when you wash your dishes, you baptize them, okay? Just get that into your mind. That’s what the word means. We need to think that way when we see the word. Now, of course, that word took on a technical meaning for the ordinance of Christian baptism where you are dunked into the water, right? That’s why, by the way, we immerse people, because that’s what the word means. The word rantizo in Greek means to sprinkle, but we don’t do that. We immerse because that’s what baptism means, and that’s what we see throughout practiced in the New Testament, is immersion. We see the same thing in Luke 11, verses 37 through 38. You can note that and look at it later. But it’s clear if you go back to First Corinthians 12, verse 13, that in this context here he is not talking about water baptism. Actually, it would be better if this were translated to say that we are immersed or placed into. That would be the better rendering of that. So, there’s not a drop of water here in this passage, as some would say
Now, with that clarification in mind, I want to look at two facets of the application of redemption that we find in verse 13. And the first one, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time on. The second one, we’re just going to note very quickly because it’s kind of a secondary aspect of the first. But the first one, if you’re taking notes, is this: that every Christian has been placed into union with Christ through the Spirit. That’s what this verse is teaching. Note the emphasis of the unity of diversity in this phrase. In one Spirit, we were all baptized (or immersed or placed) into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free. We see Paul make a very similar statement in Galatians 3:27 through 28. He says, For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. That’s the point. Paul repeatedly hammers home this concept of the church as a unity of diversity, and in doing so, he’s stressing the fact that Christians, regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status, or gender, or any other humanly contrived issue, no matter what, are all one in Christ. We’ve been placed into the same body. And notice, with that first person plural pronoun, we, Paul even includes himself. He says we. He didn’t say you, he says we. And so, what we know from this passage just kind of in a broader view is that the functional teaching of verses 15 through 27 obviously applies to the local church. But the local church, remember, is a visible manifestation of the larger body of Christ that encompasses all genuine believers, both those here and across the world, and even those who are already in heaven. And so, in the local church, this functional aspect is a manifestation of that larger body of Christ. But there’s only one body, and we’re all in it. If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul is saying that every Christian has undergone Spirit baptism. In fact, he’s saying that if you haven’t been baptized with the Holy Spirit, you’re not a Christian. I’ll put it that bluntly.
Now, many hold to a belief in a baptism of the Spirit that is seen as a second blessing work of the Holy Spirit that only some Christians attain to. And the idea has its roots in the teaching of John Wesley, but was formulated in 1901 by Charles Parham. And it was the defining doctrinal aspect of the Pentecostal movement that was officially born in 1906 in the Azusa Street Revival. Of course, it was born in California. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. In a little more than a century, though, Pentecostalism and Neo-Pentecostalism, which is the charismatic movement, the Third Wave movement, has spread to every denomination of Christianity. It’s even infected Roman Catholicism, and you will find charismatic Catholics. But not only does this concept of this second work of grace of the Holy Spirit defy the clear teaching of this verse before us, it disregards the entire point that Paul is making in these three chapters. As we’ve noted, the Corinthians were viewing the more visible gifts, and particularly the gift of tongues, as a sign of superiority. They were creating a hierarchy of gifts. And Paul is countering that notion with the fact that no Christian is superior or more spiritual than any other Christian because of their spiritual gifting. We’re all one in Christ and our gifts have been apportioned so that we would be interdependent upon one another. That’s the whole point of this entire section. It’s very telling to me that, according to Pentecostal teaching, the sign that someone has received the so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues, which is diametrically opposed to what Paul is teaching in this very passage. One commentator rightly asserts that “any theology that might imply that this one baptism might mark off some post-conversion experience or status enjoyed only by some Christians attacks and undermines Paul’s entire argument and emphasis.” And I would wholeheartedly agree with that.
Now those who hold this position will immediately go to the book of Acts to make their case. But I would say (and I think we’re going to see) that in doing so they make the mistake of reading the historical experience of the initial coming of the Spirit in fulfillment of the New Covenant promise into the experience of every Christian. That’s a mistake. It’s an unfounded leap because the book of Acts is a historical book that records something that was momentous in the plan of God. That’s why it’s in our Bibles. And here we have in First Corinthians 12, though, a didactic book, which means a teaching book, which means that this is what every Christian should count on. And so, they’re taking a historical record and reading it into the lives of Christians and then ignoring the didactic portion where Paul makes this clear. But I would say that even beyond this, that doctrine undermines and undervalues that historical record in the book of Acts. It undervalues it. Spirit baptism (listen, folks) is a central theme of the New Covenant. Isaiah 32:15 tells of a future day when the Spirit will be poured upon the people of God from on high. That’s looking toward that day when the new covenant would arrive. Isaiah 44:3 says (this is the Lord speaking): He will pour out water on thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. [God says] I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring and my blessing upon your descendants. That’s a New Covenant promise. Ezekiel 39:29 says that in that day, that New Covenant day, I will not hide my face any more from them when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God. The most prominent, the most notable passage that has to do with the Spirit’s work and the New Covenant promise beyond Joel Chapter 2, verses 28 through 29 that we’re going to look at in a moment–that Peter quotes in his Pentecost sermon, is Ezekiel 36 verses 25 through 27. And here’s where the Lord says, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. I will cleanse you, and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You see, folks, the coming of the Spirit in the sense of indwelling the people of God is a New Covenant promise. That’s what makes the church unique as the New Covenant people of God, because prior to that, the Spirit did not indwell the people of God. He came upon people at certain times as a theocratic anointing, as he did to David, and so forth. But he did not indwell the people of God. That’s something new that you and I experience that the people of God did not experience prior to Pentecost.
Now, with that promise in mind, you would expect that the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be a prominent teaching of our Lord Jesus, wouldn’t you? And isn’t that exactly what you find in the teaching of the Lord Jesus? Think about Nicodemus coming to Jesus in John, Chapter 3. And what does Jesus say? He just cuts him off. He says, Nicodemus, you must be born again. And then he fleshes that out. What does that mean? It’s the work of the Spirit, right? The work of the Spirit regenerating the heart, being born again, being born from above. And then there’s this anticipation in all four of the Gospels of the coming of the Spirit of the fulfillment of this New Covenant promise through the coming of the Messiah and his finished work. In fact, it’s interesting that this promise, this anticipation, is given to us in the language of none other than the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Turn over to Matthew 3 with me for a moment. I want you to trace this with me so that you have it clarified in your own mind. Matthew Chapter 3. And I want you to note verse 11. This is John the Baptist speaking. And John the Baptist says, I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Turn over to Mark with me, Chapter 1. Mark Chapter 1. Look at verse 8. Same record, same speaker. John says, I have baptized you with water, but the one who is coming, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Turn to Luke Chapter 3. Luke 3 and look at verse 16. Same record, same speaker. Luke 3:16. John the Baptist answered them saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I’m not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Turn to John Chapter 1. John Chapter 1. Look at verse 33. Actually, begin up in verse 32. John the Baptist again bore witness. I saw the spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, he on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
Turn to Acts Chapter 1. And as you’re turning there, let me just note that in all of those synoptic Gospels (not John, but the other three), John the Baptist goes on to explain. He says his winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn. But the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. And so, when he says he’s going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, what is he doing? Well, he’s talking about the great harvest of souls, and he’s simply saying that men are going to be put into one of two categories. They’re either going to be baptized, or immersed, in the Holy Spirit, or they’re going to be baptized, or immersed, in fire, which is the language of judgment. And we know that clearly because he goes on to speak of this threshing idea, where you would take a winnowing fork, which would be like a pitchfork, and you would toss the grain up into the air and the chaff, which was the waste product, which was lighter, would be blown off to the side. And the heavier grain that you would prepare and eat would fall down to the ground. And sometimes that chaff would be raked up and gathered up and burned because it was a waste product. And so that’s what he’s talking about. He’s talking about that men are going to be divided by this coming one, the Lord Jesus Christ. You’re either going to be those who are redeemed or those who are judged. In John Chapter 14, before we get to Acts 1, I just want to note one more thing Jesus says in John Chapter 14 verses 16 through 17. Remember, this is the eve of his crucifixion. And he makes this promise to the disciples. He says, I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper (speaking of the Spirit) and he will be with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. There’s that division. The world can’t receive him. But you will. You know him, he says, for he dwells with you and will be in you. Right now, he dwells with you, but soon the promise is that he’s going to dwell in you. And then he says in Chapter 16 of John and verse 7, I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come. But if I go, I will send him to you. So, Jesus had to go. He had to ascend back to the throne of God before the Spirit would come.
Now look at Acts. Here Luke records the final meeting of the risen Lord with the disciples right before he ascends. He records the ascension right after this and look at verse 4. It says, and while staying with them, he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said you heard from me. For (John the Baptist) John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. What promise is he referencing? Well, the one that we see consistently throughout the Gospels, this baptism of the Spirit, and they were confused at this point because they still think that he’s coming to overthrow the Romans and all of this–their heads are still spinning. They don’t get it. And they say, Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? And he says to them it’s not for you to know the times and the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But here’s what you need to be worried about: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. And that statement becomes the outline of this historical record that Luke is going to pen in the book of Acts that tells us about this initial coming of the Spirit and the birth of the church. And so, what we have in Acts Chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost, with the mighty rushing wind and the divided tongues of fire on the heads of the Apostles, and they’re speaking in tongues–what we have here is the miraculous experience of the Spirit’s initial coming in fulfillment of the New Covenant promise. They were indeed baptized by the Spirit for the first time. You see, the apostles didn’t have the Spirit in this way yet. They got the Spirit at this point, in the sense of being immersed into him, into this new thing that God was doing for the first time as the New Covenant blessing had come, and God brought it with these miraculous signs for the purpose that the apostles and all the Jews present from all over the known world would know that this is God’s work in fulfillment of his New Covenant promise. How do I know that for sure? Well, Peter identifies it as just that because he quotes from Joel Chapter 2 and verses 17 and following. And there, he says, and in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophecy and your young men shall see visions. And your old men shall dream dreams, even on my male servants and female servants. In those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophecy. And so, this is indeed the fulfillment of that New Covenant promise. And as you move through the book of Acts according to that outline that was given in that first chapter by the Lord Jesus, you see these many recurrences of this experience of Pentecost to different people-groups. And we’re not going to go through all of them because we don’t have time, but you can do it on your own. That’s why I said, grab your pen and write these down. But if you look at Acts Chapter 8 and verses 14 through 17, you see the Spirit come upon the Samaritans. And then in Acts Chapter 10, you see the Spirit come upon the Gentiles with Cornelius. And then in Acts 19 verses 1 through 7, you see the Spirit come upon those in Ephesus who had been the disciples of John the Baptist and had not yet heard of this teaching. And each of these was a special historical experience of the initial coming of the Spirit in fulfillment of the New Covenant promise, and all but one of these note that people did indeed speak in tongues.
But come back to First Corinthians with me, which is our official teaching here. And as we come back and see what the apostle Paul gives us about what is the norm for all Christians, we find that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is something that is experienced by every single Christian. Again, Paul is saying in no uncertain terms here, you can’t be a Christian unless you have experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And there’s no reason to believe that he’s talking about some other baptism here than the initial baptism that the apostles experienced, and those throughout the book of Acts. It’s important to note that the verb translated baptized here is an aorist passive, which, if you’re a grammar nerd, that means that it’s something that has already happened, and it’s something that happened to us. So, it’s an initial act that happened to us. We didn’t make it happen. And nowhere in Scripture are we ever commanded to seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We already have it. Why would we be commanded to seek something we already have? You can’t get any more of it. What we are commanded to do is to be filled with the Spirit. That’s something that we are actively commanded to do, but that’s a completely different idea. Totally different word, different concept. What that is talking about is just simply being obedient to the Spirit of God instead of giving in to the flesh, which is that indwelling sin that all Christians continue to drag around, right? It’s those vestiges–the old habits of the old self. We’re putting those off and we’re putting on the new man–the habits of the new man, just like we see in Ephesians 4 right before that. And listen, folks, nowhere are we taught that we should expect miraculous signs to accompany this event. In fact, Jesus taught just the opposite. He said, (you know) the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know which way it’s coming or going. That’s the way the Spirit works. And your salvation testimony is probably very much like that. You know, very few people can put the day and hour on it. And if they can, sometimes I think maybe they’re even wrong about that. The Spirit is the one who does it. It’s not dependent on that time you did something–you walked an aisle, or you raised a hand, or you signed a card. The Bible never speaks of our salvation in those terms. It speaks about God doing something to us, and then we respond by believing. And that’s the work of the Spirit.
Now, those who hold to the Spirit baptism as some second blessing, some second working of grace, call it the baptism of the Spirit. But I want you to see something here, that this is not the right terminology for this at all. Because when you say baptism of the Spirit, that is saying that this is something the Spirit does to you. But Spirit baptism is actually something that the Spirit does not do to you. Someone else does it. We saw in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33–all of those–what did John the Baptist say? There’s one coming who’s mightier than I. Who will do what? He will baptize you. With what? The Spirit. So, who is the Baptizer? It’s Christ. Christ baptizes. Now, you may say, well, there’s that little preposition there. If you have the New American Standard or you have the New King James, it says by, but the little word there is actually in. That’s actually the word. It’s en in Greek, “in” in English. That’s an easy one to translate, right? But that word here is what we call an instrumental preposition, and it can mean a few different things. It can mean by. It can mean that, or it can mean in, or it can mean with. And I think here the only way to translate it is with. Why? Because we know that it’s Christ who does the baptizing. And we’re baptized into what? The body, right? So, Christ immerses us into himself. How does he do that? Through the Spirit, with the Spirit. And what does he mean by that? Well, he obviously is speaking about the Spirit’s regenerating work. He’s simply talking about what the Spirit does in indwelling us and sealing us, regenerating us, causing us to be born again. That’s what this is all about. Christ unites us with himself through the work of the Spirit of God.
Now, very quickly, I want you to see the second thing that we know. Remember, the first thing is that every Christian has been placed into union with Christ through the spirit. The second thing I want you to know is this: that every Christian has been indwelt by the Spirit. You may say, well, you’re saying the same thing. Well, yes. But I think this parallel statement that Paul gives us as he says, and all were made to drink of one Spirit is talking about the same thing, and yet he’s emphasizing a nuance of that thing, which is the indwelling of the Spirit. Remember back in John Chapter 7, the Lord Jesus said in verses 37 and 38 that if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. And whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. You see, as he’s talking about us being made to drink of the Spirit, I believe he’s saying that you’ve been baptized or placed into Christ with the Spirit, and in so doing–that work of God–he has also given you the Spirit. And through the Spirit flow rivers of living water from you. And folks, part of that–part of that, a big part of that–is your spiritual gifting. That’s why this analogy of the body is so intimately tied, and in the very context of Paul explaining spiritual gifts, because the Spirit is working through us. He’s working his gracious work through us to build one another up. And there’s not one of us that’s more important than the other. And we all need each other as we’re going to see when we look in detail at verses 15 through 27.
Like I said, that was like drinking through a fire hose, wasn’t it? We got it all packed in there, so I hope your pen was moving! And this morning, it’s our privilege to celebrate the very truths that we’re talking about as we come to the Table of the King because as we just saw in Chapter 11, that’s what this table is all about. It’s a declaration of our unity as the body of Christ. In fact, remember back in chapter 10, verses 16 and 17–remember what he said there? The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there’s one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. You see, this is just a beautiful picture of this unity of diversity that we, the people of God, are. I’d like to ask the men to come forward as we prepare to observe the Lord’s table and as we do, I just want to say that if you’re not part of that body, if you don’t confess Jesus as Lord, then we ask that you please let the tray pass by you this morning. We’re glad that you’re here. We would pray that this morning you would come to know the Lord Jesus, and I’d love to talk to you about that this morning, but please let that tray pass. And if you’re a believer here this morning, but you have hatred in your heart toward another believer–there’s something between you and another brother and you have not dealt with that–or if you have some other sin that you’re harboring in your life that you’re not willing to give up, please let that tray pass as well. Because, as we saw in Chapter 11, to partake in that hypocritical way would be to mock the Lord and what this table is all about. This table is our remembering of who Jesus is. And so let me pray. And as the men serve, remember that there’s going to be two cups, one with the juice on top and the bread on the bottom. Remember to carefully separate those.
Father, what a blessed morning it has been, to think deeply upon your word and what you teach us about the work of your Spirit that applies to us, this glorious truth of our union with Christ. And if we’ve been united with Christ, we’ve been united to one another in a spiritual union that goes beyond human friendship, that goes beyond any sort of human bond. We are one despite our different ethnicities, our different economic status, male, female, whatever division there may be, we are all one in Jesus. And it’s because of what he has done for us, purchasing redemption for us and applying that to us, uniting us with him so that we share in all that he accomplished in the victory over sin and death and hell forever through his death in our place and his glorious resurrection. And so, this morning, as we partake of this simple, symbolic meal together, would you be glorified, and would we once again remember him?