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All Disciples are Created Equal
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:13
Track 4 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series
Running time: 35 minutes, 19 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, September 26, 2004
4th sermon in a 17 part series
ďAll Disciples are Created EqualĒ
ďBeing in Him Means Being His ChurchĒ
(1Corinthians 12:12 & 13)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

Early in the framework of the U. S. Constitution, it says ďAll Men are Created EqualĒ. Thomas Jefferson borrowed those words from the British philosopher John Locke and made it a major portion of the democracy upon which this country was built.

But if you were to ask Dred Scott, the African American, who in 1847 sued for the privilege of being free, if he thought all men were created equal, he would probably tell you, no, that wasnít true. The Supreme Court decision in 1857 was that he was a piece of property, therefore not a U.S. citizen, therefore he didnít have the right to sue the government for freedom.

You can ask Susan B. Anthony who in 1872 was arrested and fined $100.00 for illegally voting in an election. She would probably tell you that all men created equal doesnít really mean equal after all. In fact it wasnít until 1920 that women were given the legal right to vote in the United States.

You could ask any member of native America if they believe that all men were created equal. It was 1924 before those people who occupied this particular continent before we did had the privilege of being declared American citizens and, as recently as 1964 the Choctaw Indians were charged a $2.00 poll tax in order to have the privilege of voting.

You could say all men are created equal. We claim that and yet, historically, in our own country it has been proven over and over again that, that is at best and ideal, not a real piece of information.

Everybody, for as long as there have been humans have taken advantage of the privilege that is afforded to them either because of their race or their gender or their position. Something sets them apart and makes them unusual, different, better, elite. You would assume that wouldnít be true in the church among Christians. That of all places in the world where we ought to believe that all men are created equal, it would be at least in the confines of a context of Christian people.

And yet, even in the church in Corinth there was a major issue that surrounded whether or not people were, in fact, actually equal. There were some select special gifts of the Spirit that seemed to be identified as those that set people apart from all other people. If you had this particular unique set of gifts, then you were somehow different than other people. The church in Corinth suffered from an inequality based on wealth. If you happened to be a wealthy person then you were given the chief seats. I would say the seats in front, but we all know those are not the chief seats. The expensive seats are the ones you get to early, back there in the back. We charge for those, by the way, if youíre a visitor here. We just want you to know. Weíll collect on the way out if youíre sitting at the back five rows.

In Corinth, there was a problem, based on whether you were free or slave. If you were a freeman then you could get to church early and you could participate in the love feast, the meal and frankly, thatís what happened. The wealthy, free people got their early. They ate their fill. In fact, often becoming drunk. And then when the slaves who had to work late into the evening arrived there was no food left. There was nothing for them in which to share. You would assume that in the context of the church that all men being created equal would not be an issue, and, yet thatís one of the key questions that we face in 1Corinthians.

1Corinthians 12 is one of five answers to questions. Ah, youíll notice the very first verse of 1Corinthians 12 says Now about spiritual gifts, (or in some translations it says Now concerning spiritual gifts,) It would have been really helpful if, in fact, the

New International Version or for that matter, any other translation had been consistent in the way it translated those words and had it always sound like Now concerning or Now about. Unfortunately sometimes they translated it one way, sometimes they translated it another. There are actually five questions. This is the fourth of five questions and he says I want to answer the question. I want to answer the question about spiritual gifts because I donít want anybody to be ignorant and I donít want anybody to misunderstand what it is that the Scripture teaches about this whole thing of gifted-ness. Some gifts, quite frankly, are just more visible than other gifts and throughout the history of the church have been made to be outstanding. They separate us. I donít mean for this to sound as if Iím picking on any particular group of people. Iím not in any way suggesting that this gift isnít a reliable gift. Itís just been one that has been, in my own life, surfaced as a point of contention.

I was in camp during that little brief period Iíve told you about in my life when I was going to church in order to get this Boy Scout award. We went to a summer camp, my friend, my cousin and myself and I remember being invited to come to the altar and pray and I was told if we were there long enough that we would receive the Holy Spirit and we would speak in some kind foreign utterance. Ah, we were there for probably an hour and a half. Ah, none of us ever experienced that. Ah, I came away from it just simply disappointed. My cousin came away from it challenged. He decided that he could imitate anything and he could. And so, he would go around the camp imitating, speaking in foreign tongues and got in trouble for that because everybody knew it wasnít real. My friend became disenchanted with the church and to my knowledge, has never been back because this promise was made to him.

My frustration isnít just that, that experience turned out to be a bad experience. It was the attitude with which it was presented, that if you didnít have this one particular gift, somehow you werenít really Christian.

That is what I think Paul is trying to correct in 1Corinthians 12. That no one gift, no matter what gift it is, singles you out as a Christian. But in fact, that we are all gifted people, all created equal in the kingdom and all given gifts who are believers. Itís just that God decides who gets the gifts.

In fact, itís really rather fascinating, if you look at 1Corinthians 12:11 it says that itís the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts. Itís his choice. He gives them as He will. If you read Romans 12 what you discover is the Father gives the gifts and He decides whoís going to get them. And then if you read Ephesians 4 it says that Jesus is the gift giver, which I find really fascinating in this context of talking about the fact that we are a body, all one, and yet with diversity. It is the diverse, yet, unified Holy Spirit, Trinity, Father, Son who distributes the gifts as they will. And even in the demonstration of giving the Spirit, it is a diversity within a unity that produces diversity within unity in us.

I want to come to 1Corinthians 12:12 & 13. Thatís really the text that weíre looking at. Because what I would like for you to hear in the context of Paulís statement about the Holy Spirit is this really simple, fundamental truth. We are all one and yet we are many. He says for example in 1Corinthians 12:12 & 13 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ, for we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Youíll notice the heavy emphasis on one, same, in the midst of all. We are all one and the reason weíre all one is because we share the same conversion experience. What makes us all equal is we all come to Christ exactly the same way; by faith in Jesus and by Godís grace. Thereís nothing that separates us by the drama of our conversion.

We may have been reared in the church and becoming a Christian was as simple as turning a page in a book and it was the next chapter that we wrote. Or, we may have been outside the church and have spent our entire life living away from God and at some point made a decision to have that reversed and changed and it came in dramatic fashion. But in either case, the conversion was exactly the same. It was Godís grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we came to have a relationship with the Father.

Itís interesting language here and John Scott (??) in his book Baptism of the Fullness of the Spirit does an excellent job of helping us understand, because it is here that we have a bit of frustration with this language baptized either in or by the Holy Spirit depending on how you translate that particular preposition. That phrase is used seven times in the New Testament. Itís used four times in the gospels. Once in each gospel when it refers to John the Baptist when Jesus shows up and he says, ďThere is one coming who will baptize you in fire and in the Holy Spirit.Ē Luke uses it twice more in the book of Acts when he describes by saying this. This is what happened or this is the fulfilment of what was promised when it was said, ďHe will baptize you with the Holy SpiritĒ. Then itís used here 1Corinthians 12. Those are the only seven occurrences of this particular phrase, baptized in or by the Holy Spirit. In each one of those cases it is an initiation rite whereby a person comes to identify with Jesus. This same act of identifying with Christ that we talk about, being immersed in water, occurs at the same time as when you are immersed in the Spirit. The language is exactly the same in the New Testament. When you are baptized, according to Galatians 3, you put on Christ. According to 1Corinthians 10, the people in Moses day were baptized in the sea and in the clouds and they identified themselves with Moses. In 1Corinthians 12 we are identified by the Spirit as having entered into a relationship with God in that way.

This conversion experience puts us in Christ, puts the Holy Spirit in us and it all happens at the same time. What Iím suggesting to you is a really simple principle and Iím probably making it very cloudy. The way you get into Christ is the same way the Holy Spirit gets in you. Itís one experience, not two. Everybody who is a believer has the gift of the Spirit and has the gifts of the Spirit. It is not a second experience. You donít become a Christian and then sometime in the future be filled with the Spirit at a later date. Our conversion experience is what makes us one. We do not have two classes of Christians, the non-Spirit filled and the Spirit filled. If youíre a Christian, youíre Spirit filled. Thatís the language of Scripture. We are made to drink of the same Spirit. We are baptized either with or by, in or by, the same Spirit and that makes us one.

Itís not only that we are one because of that same common experience but we are all one because we do literally share that Spirit. 1Corinthians 12:13 we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. That Spirit becomes a part of who we are. God takes up his dwelling in us. Jesus said when he left, he would send one just like himself, the Holy Spirit, who would come and live with us. And in that presence, his presence with us marks out that there are no distinctions between us. There is no discrimination. We are, in fact, all created equal when it comes to the issue of salvation. Thatís the thing I think heís driving at in 1Corinthians 12. There is neither slave nor free. There is neither Jew nor Greek. It doesnít make any difference. Your status in society doesnít make any difference what nationality you happen to be.

Paul would say it this way in Galatians. In quoting and actually reversing an old Jewish prayer he says, in Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek. None of those distinctions matter when it comes to salvation. Everybody has the right to know Jesus.

He would say it again in Colossians 3:11 and in that text he would include the fact that there are no barbarians. There are no Scythians. It doesnít make any difference what your background is. If you know Jesus, then you are the same as everybody else who knows Jesus. It very much is a reflection, by the way, of the core value of this congregation, that we value every person as being reachable by God and it doesnít seem to make any difference who that person is. It might make a difference to me who that person is. It doesnít make any difference to God who that person is.

I was reminded of that early in my very first ministry. Most of you know I grew up with my father being the bar owner and alcohol has never been something that I dealt with very well emotionally.

We had a couple in our church, Gary and Miriam LaRue, who were working with this native American woman and her child and I remember late one night getting a phone call at home and Gary saying,, ďWeíve got to go get (and he named the little girl)Ē and I said, ďOkay well, where is sheĒ? And he named the local bar where she was because thatís where her mother was. And I said, ďWell, Iím sorry, I canít goĒ. And he said, ďWhat do you mean you canít goĒ? And I said, ďWell I, I just, I donít go into barsĒ. ďWhat do you mean you donít go into bars?Ē So I gave him this long detailed explanation of why I donít go into bars and he said, ďI donít care thatís where you came from, thatís where this little girl is and weíre going down there to get her and youíre going with meĒ. And I said, ďOkay!Ē And we did. And six months later her mother died of an alcohol related disease and Gary and Miriam adopted this little girl.

But see, the heart is exactly the heart that Paulís talking about. It doesnít matter who you are. You are never outside of Godís reach. Because when it comes to salvation it doesnít matter whether youíre slave or free, male or female, Jew or a Greek, God wants you in relationship with him.

If we are all one and the Spirit dwells within us, if we have the same Spirit then there is no discrimination, not only when it comes to salvation but when it comes to Godís blessing. When God pours out his blessings upon us, it doesnít seem to matter to Him who you are or where youíve been.

When the read the first chapter of Ephesians, he has this enormous list of blessings that come because you are a Christian. Look at, just briefly, at Ephesians 1. Oh I donít know, a dozen pages over in your Bibles. Ephesians 1:3 Itís one big, long sentence from now until verse 14.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,. . . . . . .

Now I could read all the way down to Ephesians 1:14 and it would list, oh, I donít know, a dozen different blessings. But I canít get past that one right there. See, when I read that text, the very first thing that I run to is this, he adopted us.

Iím an adopted child. Unlike most of you, your parents just got what they got. They went to the hospital and you showed up and they were stuck with you. Personally, I was chosen. Of course they got me when I was three days old so they had no idea what they were in for.

That particular blessing has just always stood out for me--adopted. Now maybe youíre one of those kids that grew up and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and nobody ever chose you for anything. And you read this text and all of a sudden, it says, and he chose us and you go, oh wow! What a blessing! You may read down there a little further and you may discover that even though you have absolutely no realistic hope of a physical kind of inheritance. I mean you came from poverty and you live--and thatís just where itís gonna be and when all your ancestors are gone, youíre not going to be any better off than you are now. And then you read that, in fact, you have inherited from God, the universe, as your blessing. Maybe thatís the one you relate to. See, all of us may relate to blessings differently but we all get the same blessings. There is no discrimination on the blessings. Itís just that some of us relate to some better than we relate to others. But we all get them. Iím not more blessed because Iím adopted. Well, youíre adopted too. Youíre not more blessed because youíre chosen because Iím chosen too. There is no discrimination in the kingdom because all the blessings come to all the believers because we all have the same Spirit.

Well, there is no discrimination in the body of Christ because we all share the same Spirit and thatís not only true as far as salvation is concerned and as far as blessings are concerned. It is also true when it comes to gifts. There is no distinction when it comes to who has what gifts. One gift is not better than another gift. He says in this text which we read back in the Park service, which we will see again in a few days--there are no superior gifts, no inferior gifts. Just count it an enormous blessing that God has gifted you in some particular way. Now it is true that some gifts happen to be more visible than others. Doesnít make them more important, just makes them more visible.

You notice whoís on the stage? Itís kind of hard to be an invisible preacher. If your gift is speaking, youíre kinda stuck. You gotta be visible. But if your gift happens to be mixing the sound up there in the booth, the chances are you donít even know whoís up there. Itís Kurt, by the way. And if you want to know who has the real clout in here, why you saw what happened last week when the mike didnít work. . . . . . . . .put some nails in the floor cause this is where Iím stuck. I couldnít go anywhere.

There are people all over this building who are demonstrating acts of service because they have a gift of hospitality or a gift of service or a gift of helps and you will never see them, but it doesnít make their gift less valuable or less important. It just makes it less visible.

We have a whole lot of gifted people that have been blessed genetically. Theyíve been blessed spiritually. . . . . .their visible, not more important. No offense! Just visible! When it comes to the gifts of the Spirit this isnít a matter of whatís important versus whatís not important. This is simply a matter that God makes a choice and he says for some reason I endow you with this particular collection of gifts and the responsibility for you to carry it out is just that. . . . .carry it out!

Donít worry about whether you get seen or donít get seen, just do what it is that I have gifted you to do because in this body it is not a matter of discrimination, one gift more important than another. Itís just a matter of understanding that in Christ because we shared the Spirit of God, we have all been gifted in some way. And we demonstrate our gifts the very best way that we know how.

Because we share in the same Spirit, there is no discrimination. Not in our salvation. Not in our blessings. Not in our gifts and not in our service.

One of the wonderful things that happens around here and I hope that you can appreciate this as deeply as you should. It hasnít been all that long ago, maybe within the last year that we introduced having some of our ladies actually serve the Lordís Supper standing up. Now you recognize that since the day the church started in this place we had ladies serving the Lordís Supper, itís just that they served it sitting down next to you. Weíve asked them to actually stand up and pass it to you at the end of the aisle. And some of you men. . . . .no offense. . . .who have been serving the Lordís Supper, well, frankly, as long as youíve been a believer, may not have ever watched carefully, but if you will take a look at one of the ladies, especially the first time or two that they serve you the Lordís Supper you may notice what I notice. Tears coming down their cheeks because of the enormous privilege of doing something in the area of service that theyíve never done before.

If you read your Bible you canít help but understand that service was never discriminatory in Scripture. The Bible never says that certain people can do certain things and other people canít do those things. The Bible simply calls us all to be servants. In fact itís fascinating to me in the 6th chapter of Acts that when weíre talking about serving widows a meal and the apostles not giving up the ministry of Scripture and prayer, exactly the same language is used for both. There is the ministry of waiting tables and there is the ministry of the word and the vocabulary is identical. Well, I wonder why? Because the service is the same. There is no discrimination of service in Scripture. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all people are invited by God to serve him as an act of gracious appreciation for what heís done for us.

Well, weíre all one. And what I hope that you have noticed in this process is really simple. That in Paulís attempt to answer this question. . . . . . . . . . .ignorant???? he says, of the Spiritual matter, these things about gifts. By the time you get done taking a look at this chapter, what you learn is this. It is not the gift that matters, it is not the receiver of the gift that matters, it is the giver of the gift that matters.

And when you and I come to understand that this is not about us nor about what we do, but about Him, we will have understood. The bottom line in Scripture is that what really, really matters is whether or not you have his Spirit in you. Blessing you, saving you, serving through you, gifting you. . . . .let me try to put this in the clearest terms that I think Paul used. In the chapter in the New Testament that says more about the Holy Spirit than any other single chapter in the entire Bible, Romans 8, Paul says this. If you donít have the Spirit of Christ, you are not his. It doesnít get much plainer than Romans 8:9. You either have the Spirit or you donít and if you donít have the Spirit, you donít belong to him.

So it isnít about whether or not youíre blessed in a particular way or gifted in a particular way. The fundamental bottom line is this. Do you have inherent present in your life his Spirit living in you?

Peterís comment in the book of Acts 5 is this. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey him. Now there are a lot of different way in which I suppose we could go around that barn and talk about that. The bottom line is, the Holy Spirit comes to those who submit themselves to Jesus, who want his presence in their life. Scripture teaches it in a number of different ways. One of the things it says is you need to believe in him and respond to him. It says you need to repent, make room for him in your life. Says you need to be baptized, that he can give you the gift of the Spirit. That you should obey him. That you should keep on being filled by this Spirit once heís there. Itís a constant kind of ongoing life. The bottom line is really the answer to this question. Have you surrendered yourself to Jesus? Have you taken your hands off of the controls and said I just give it up to him? I donít know what heís gonna want from me but it doesnít matter because heís gonna be in control. I donít know whether I fully understand all of this or not. . . . .itís alright. . . . Iíll learn. . . .Iíll do whatever I have to because I want him to be in control.

I may not have believed this most of my life but Iíve come to this understanding, heís the one who needs to be in control. Because the bottom line is, do you or do you not surrender? Do you not give up control to him? Is he the Lord of your life or not?

Maybe youíre ready to make that kind of decision, to just let him be Lord. This would be a great time, and this song is certainly a great song for which for you to do that.

Weíre gonna stand. Weíre gonna sing. If youíve got a decision you want to make right now, come and letís talk. Come after services and letís talk.