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Doctrine of the Communion of the Saints II

April 30, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Of the Communion of the Saints Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1–31



  • 1 Corinthians 12

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 26

Article 1, 2

Review: Doctrine of the Covenant Community

Last week we started a new series, looking at the Doctrine of the Communion of the Saints.

The church is called the covenant community.

We explored how the Covenant is administered in the visible church:

  • through baptism
  • through vows of membership in the local church

The people of God take these vows.

  • to join themselves to the Lord
  • to join themselves to one another
  • to distinguish themselves from those who have not entered that covenantal agreement.

We are a community of saints bound together:

We are bound together:

  • to believe what He said in His word
  • to cleave unto Him
  • to obey Him

We are bound together not as private citizens:

  • but as a unified people
    • o as a people for his possession

We become a part of the body of Christ.

  • within the visible church

We explored what it means to be a member of the body.

We explored the duties that are part of the covenant community:

  • Our duties to Christ.
  • Our duties to each other.

We explored the command to be living sacrifices

We enter into covenant by giving ourselves to Him as living sacrifices.

Finally, we explored the privileges of the covenant community

Being a member of the visible church, we can expect:

  • the Lord's favor.
  • His calling us his own
  • His name upon us
  • He will set us apart from the world unto himself.
  • He will provide for us all of his care.
  • His provision, instruction correction, and so on.


Today, we are going to explore the meaning of this doctrine.

  • What it means to be a people in covenant with one another as a body.

Turn to 1 Corinthians 12.19-27

The apostle says that it doesn't matter where you are found in the body.

  • You are all connected by that same spirit.
  • You are all members one of another.

What we do to one part, we do to the whole

When we do harm to one of the members of the Church, to part of the body…

  • we're really doing harm to the whole body.

If one member is injured:

  • all members tend to suffer with it.

If we do harm to one another spiritually: through error, discouragement, or some other thing:

  • we end up doing harm one to another.

The converse of this is true.

  • when we are encouraging one another
  • when we are uplifting one another
  • when we are building up one another
  • when we are loving to one another
    • o we are doing this to the whole body.

This is important to understand. Turn to 1 Co. 12.1-7

In unity:
  • we have the same body.
  • we have the same head.
  • we have the same spirit.
  • we have the same life principle that is the resurrected Christ.
  • we have the same purpose or goals.
  • we have the same end
    • o that is the glorified Christ,
    • o the glorification with Christ.
  • we have the same standard -> the word of God.
  • we have a sameness
    • o in that we are members one of another.
In diversity:
  • we have a distinction of giftedness.
  • we have a distinction of place and station.
  • we have a distinction of ability.
  • we have a distinction of the measure of faith.
  • we have a distinction of different graces.
  • we have a distinction of different afflictions.
  • we have a distinction of different trials.

But in all of these things we have unity in the spiritual community.

We are a spiritual community

We recognize that this assembly, this body is essentially a spiritual body.

  • we come to do spiritual good.
    • o one to another
    • o not only temporal good

This is a spiritual society.

  • we must do spiritual good to one another.

If all we do as a church is just come together:

  • and talk news, weather, and sports
  • and put in our 60 or 90 minutes and go home as fast as we can
  • and spend the rest of the day not keeping the Sabbath
  • but doing whatever we want…

Then what difference are we from the Kiwanis?

  • o or some other group that has naturally banded themselves together?

This is a spiritual organization.

  • It's a spiritual body.
  • It's a body that has spiritual concerns.

We are first and foremost for one another‘s soul

  • for the internal disposition of our souls

Turn to Galatians 5:13-15

This is the general synopsis of the church.

  • We are to serve one another.

In the biting and devouring one another:

  • we're harming ourselves
  • we are truly attacking Christ in his body.

In the loving of one another:

  • we are healing one another
  • we are contributing to the health of the body
  • we are caring for its membership
  • as we would ourselves

We are, in a very real way, members of one another

  • That's what we hear in 1 Corinthians 12.26

Application and Uses

(1).  Consider what it means to love and heal.

We hear: Oh, we don't to deal with that issue, it's unloving.

Turn to 2 Timothy 2.16-17

The Greek word canker is where we get our word gangrene

  • this gangrene has affected the faith of others
  • this gangrene must be excised.

How loving would it be to allow gangrene to remain in the body?

  • Removing it is what true love is


  • we must call out sin when we see it.
  • we must work to remove sin from the body.
    • o not the person, necessarily.
    • o but the sin in the person, necessarily.

(2). Do not behave pridefully or dishonorably

We see the folly of behaving ourselves in a prideful manner in the body. (1 Cor 12.15,16)

That's the where the where the foot says, because I'm not a hand, I’m not of the body at all.

  • I really wanted to be a hand. And since I'm not a hand, but a foot, I'm leaving

What is happening at this point is that you are disconnecting yourself from the body.

How may feet continue to live apart from the body?

  • They cannot.

Why, then, do we think we can live apart from the body?

Why, then, do we think we don’t need to a part of the body.

  • We cannot.

As we have learned:

  • We must be connected to the body.
  • There is no ordinary means of salvation apart from the body – the visible church.
  • If you are not in the body, you should not expect salvation – except by extraordinary means.
    • o But we should not trust in those alone.
    • o We should trust in the means God has provided.

(3). Remember there is no such thing as a private sin that does not affect the body.

  • sin is a blight upon the whole

None of us can sin without affecting another part of the body

Turn to Joshua 7:

  • Remember Aiken – who went into the city.
  • Remember, while the whole city was devoted to God, Aiken took a silver wedge, a gold plate, and a Babylonish mantle and he hid them in his tent.
  • Then Israel sent spies over to AI and they came back said it's a small city, let's just send a few guys, it'll be fine.
  • So, they went up and 36 men died.

Do we realize what we do when we sin?

Do we understand that when we do harm to ourselves in the body of Christ, we do harm to the body?

Do we understand that when we come to church carelessly or not at all, we do harm to the body?

  • Let us understand we are members one of another.

As members one of another it is our covenanted duty:

  • To glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by not harming one another.
    • o With our sins

This means we confess and forsake our sins.

This means we live in such a way as to lead holy lives to the best of our halting and failing ability.

We are a body – united together.

This does not mean that we can expect to treat our body of Christ unhealthily and expect it to be healthy.

  • there is a responsibility:
    • o of formal teaching.
    • o and informal example and instruction.


We see that the visible church is identified as the covenant community.

We ought not walk around professing to be Christians while refusing membership in the visible church.

  • It is through the vows in the particular church that the visible church is identified.
  • It is through the vows in the particular church that the covenant of grace is administered.
  • It is through the visible church that we enjoy the communion of the saints.
  • It is through the visible church that Christ mediates and nowhere else.

As we contemplate the covenant nature of the visible church, let’s consider how to put this into action.

How to think covenantly

There is a way of thinking about the body that is covenantal.

  • What if every member of the body behaved themselves as I'm about to do?

That's a good question that we should ask ourselves

  • this will help put us in a covenantal mindset.

So, what if everybody did what I'm about to do?

  • Got up today, it's a really nice day. It's a beautiful day.
    • o I think I'd rather go to the mall than to church.

So, what if everybody was tempted to do that?

  • Would that be good for the body?
  • Or would it be detrimental to the body?

These are decisions that we should make every day of the week.

  • Would this be encouraging to my brothers and sisters if they knew what I’m doing?
  • Would it be discouraging to them?
  • Would it be helpful to them in their walk?
  • Is what I am doing contributing to the unity and health of that covenant community?
    • o Or is it damaging to the body?

We may have been trained differently.

We may be tempted to think like this…

  • I am not a preacher/ elder/ deacon.
  • I'm just a member in the church.
  • So, it doesn’t really matter what I do.
    • o the church will go on if I’m not here

First, don't ever say, just a member

Do you recognize that this body, this fellowship, this covenant community:

  • is a community joined together in one vine?
  • has communion with Christ by His mediation?

Second, remember that we come as living sacrifices

It's not about us:

  • It's about Christ,
  • it's about his body.
  • It's about what it means to sacrifice and to serve
    • o and not how we can be served.

We don't come to church to see what we can get.

  • we come to serve

We ought not to say:

  • What did you get out of that sermon?
  • What did you get out of that service?

Would you ask a waiter:

  • What did you get out of serving that table?
    • o It's not, “What did you get?”
    • o It's, “What did you give?“

We come as something that is sacrificed.

Christ doesn’t say: “Come to see what you can get”

  • He said, “Come and give up everything.”

My dear brothers and sisters - we must come.

  • o not individually -- but corporately.
  • not thinking about ourselves:
    • o but thinking sacrificially.

Our independent brothers and sisters look at the covenantal structure of the New Testament differently.

  • They look at it more individualistically

But we come by way of covenant and sacrifice.

  • This is the context into which the Bible speaks.


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