The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Tim Temple


There are a lot of people who have a misconception about what the Church really is. Unfortunately, some of that is based on the false standards that we as Christians have as we live before the world. In I Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul, writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, addresses those misunderstandings. As we look at the middle section of this chapter, we want to think about some of those misunderstandings about the Body of Christ, which is the Church.

In the first part of the chapter, Paul dealt with some of the misunderstandings we have within the Church, the idea that because we are different from each other, there is something wrong. Actually Paul says, “I don't want you ignorant of the fact that there are differing spiritual gifts, that every believer has a spiritual gift. The gifts are different and the way that people use the gifts are different.” Those differences that we so easily misunderstand are actually part of God's plan. Rather than insisting that everyone else ought to be just like us, we ought to take pleasure in the fact that God has designed it that way, and we ought to honor those differences that we have with each other and make use of those differences. So the first part of the chapter has to do with those internal misunderstandings.

Membership In the Body of Christ

As we come to verse 12 today, we want to talk about some other kinds of misunderstandings that can take place. As Paul continues with his discussion of this very important area of the Body of Christ, he illustrates what the Church should be like by comparing it with the human body. The first thing that he deals with in that regard is in verse 13, where he talks about placement within the Body:

I Corinthians 12

13For 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.

How do we get into the Church? Someone says, “That is simple. You just walk down the aisle if you are sure this is the church you want to be a part of and you join the church and everyone votes, raising their hands, welcoming you into the church, and that is how.” No, the Scripture does not say that is how you get into the Church at all. The Scripture says, “…by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” The word “baptized” there is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo . A transliteration is just a word from any language spelled with the equivalent English letters. The word baptizo in its broadest meaning means “to identify by placing one thing into another thing.” We tend to think of just one aspect of baptism as baptism. When we hear the word “baptism”, usually we think of placing a human body into the water and bringing it back out. Even though that is very legitimate, it really is only a picture of real baptism. Real baptism is identification by placing one thing into another thing. A legitimate translation of the word baptizo could be “to envelop”, because that is really what baptizo means. Here it says that we are enveloped in the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, we are placed into the Body of Christ; we are enveloped in the Body of Christ.

There are two implications of that. One is that tells us how we joined the Church. You become a member of the Church when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior. The Scripture lists over thirty things in various places that God does for you the moment you accept Jesus Christ as Savior. The one that we are thinking about today is that He places you into His Body. In Acts, chapter 2, the Scripture says the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. So you become a part of the Church by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.

At Abilene Bible Church, we do not put any real stress on being a member of this particular church. We don't have people coming down the aisle to become a member of this church. We don't raise our hands or say “amen” to accept people into this church. That sometimes bothers people who come here from another church. The reason for that is that the only thing the Scripture talks about as joining a church is this right here, and this concept is mentioned in several other places. Membership in the Church is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and to be placed into His Body. Anything that a local, human organization of a church will do is totally superfluous. Churches can handle it any way they want to handle it. The Church consists of all believers everywhere. Anyone who has genuinely, sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior is a member of the Church, no matter what local church he may attend and be a part of. There is no requirement whatsoever about what those local churches should do about membership. Real membership into the Church is placement into the Body by the Holy Spirit.

Let me say at this juncture that that is the most important membership that you can ever have. Do not think that just because you never see anyone come down the aisle and join this local church that Church membership is not important. The kind of Church membership we are talking about here is vital, the kind where you accept the fact that Jesus Christ died in your place and by faith you believe that Jesus Christ paid for the sins you have committed and you accept Him as your Savior. When you do that, I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13, says you are baptized into His Body; you are placed into the Body of Christ. That is Church membership, and it is vitally important.

Understanding Spirit Baptism

Another verse that is important is Colossians, chapter 1, verse 18:

Colossians 1

18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

The reason that verse is important is that it provides the tie–in between Church membership and the body of Christ. Here in I Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul is using the terminology of the Body. Someone might say, “Well wait a minute. In I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13, it says we are baptized into His Body, but how can you say so confidently that that means that you are placed into the Church?” Colossians, chapter 1, verse 18, is the verse that specifies that parallel. It is very obvious, even if we didn't have Colossians, chapter 1, verse 18. If we study the New Testament carefully and thoroughly, we will see it anyway. Colossians, chapter 1, verse 18, spells it out. What is the Body? It is the Church.

There is something else that is important about I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13, and that is the fact that it refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something about which there is a great deal of confusion today. There probably always has been, but in the last couple of decades in the Protestant church in the United States, there has been a great deal of confusion. This verse, if we read it at its face value, explains to us that there is nothing mysterious about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is not an experience that comes sometime after salvation, maybe by long prayers and the laying on of hands and suddenly you are instantly spiritually mature. That is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is what many people claim is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What does I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13, say? It says we are all baptized into one body by one Spirit. Paul is addressing this verse to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. He says in verse 13:

I Corinthians 12

13…whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

You see, it is nothing mysterious; it is nothing super pious. It is a simple matter of our being placed into the Body of Christ when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior. It is not accompanied by speaking in tongues. It is true that that first group of Christians spoke in tongues when they were baptized by the Holy Spirit, when they were placed into the Body of Christ; but as we will see as we go farther into this section of I Corinthians, that had its own unique purpose. Don't get the idea that if you have never spoken in tongues, you have not had the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have had the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In fact, if you will notice in verse 13 he says:

I Corinthians 12

13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,…

In the book of Romans it says “if you have not the Spirit of Christ, you are none of His.” If you do not have the Holy Spirit, you are not saved. So any person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, been placed into the Body of Christ, enveloped in the Body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a very simple matter. There is no reason to add a lot of baggage to it; it is a matter of being placed into the family of God when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

From that, Paul is going to spend the next several verses addressing the fact that since we all are placed into the Body in the same way, then none of us is any more important than the others. We all come to God in exactly the same way, by the work of the Holy Spirit as we accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. So that is the matter of placement into the Body. That is how we become a part of this Body that Paul is going to talk about here in the latter part of chapter 12.

Participation In the Body of Christ

We want to spend the bulk of our time today thinking about what is involved in participation in that Body now that we are placed into the Body, assuming that you either have been placed into the Body or at the very least you understand what it takes to be placed into the Body. In verses 14-28, Paul is going to talk about how we participate in that Body. As he surveys the matter of relationships between people within the Body of Christ, he finds three broad areas of misunderstanding. Remember way back in the beginning, we talked about the fact that people misunderstand the Church. So Paul deals with three areas of misunderstanding about the Church. First, in verses 15-18, he gives some clarification for the inconspicuous members of the Body. There are many people in any church, and there are many people in the Church universal–all Christians everywhere–who say, “I am just not important. There is nothing I can do for the Lord. These other people are so much more spiritual than I, so much more important to God than I.” Let's look at what the Scripture has to say about some clarifications for inconspicuous members of the Body.

In verses 15-17, he deals with the misunderstanding concerning priorities. In the human body and in any other body, whether it is an organization or whatever kind of body it is, there are parts of that group that seem to be less important than others. For example, notice the comparison of the foot and the hand in verse 15:

I Corinthians 12

15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

Do you see what he is saying in that verse? The foot, in a human body, could say, “Well, I'm not important. The master keeps me covered up all the time. I usually have some old sweaty sock on me and then some dark shoe. Look how unimportant I am. I am down here at the bottom of the list all the time, but look at the hand. The hand is out there in the middle of everything. Everything the master does, the hand is involved in. If I were only the hand, but look at me; I am nothing; I am not important; I am just a foot.” Have you ever heard anyone talk that way in the Church? Notice what the Word of God says in verse 15:

I Corinthians 12

15…is it therefore not of the body?

Notice the comparison of the ear and the eye in verse 16:

I Corinthians 12

16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

Again, if you could imagine what it would be like for an ear to say, “Look at me. Here I am just over on the side of the head. People hardly ever notice me. The master hardly ever pays attention to me. Look at the eye. He is right out there in front. The master always points that eye at everything first. The master covers me up with hair half of the time. If only I were an eye, I would be important.” Isn't that ridiculous? Yet we hear Christians talk that way. “If only I could sing…” “If only I could play the piano…” “If only I could preach…” “All I can do is come and be a part of the group. It is all I can do to get to church on Sunday. I am not important.”

Importance of All Parts

It is interesting to note the parts of the body that Paul uses in this illustration, the ear and the eye, the foot and the hand. When you start to think about trying to do without one or the other, you begin to realize the importance of all of the parts of the body.

Verse 17 stresses this importance from a little different standpoint:

I Corinthians 12

17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

I think Paul's sense of humor comes out in this passage. Basically what he is saying is, “Can you imagine a body that is just one great, big eyeball?” Would any of us say, “How fortunate we are to have that eyeball with us today.”? That would be the most totally ridiculous thing in any kind of setting that you can imagine. Yet aren't we that way about the Church in so many other ways? Perhaps the majority of Christians who come to church choose a church very largely on the basis of the pastor. It is very much as if they finish watching the Johnny Carson show on Friday night and they start making preparations to go see the Tim Temple show on Sunday. As they come to church, they think, “I wonder what Tim is going to have for us today? I wonder what the support group behind him has for us? Johnny has his band and his sidekick who sits at the desk with him and Tim has his choir and organist and pianist.” Let me tell you something. That is completely as ridiculous as a big old eyeball being with us today. To base the whole concept of the Church around the pastor is just as ridiculous as that. Paul said, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were the ear, where would be the smelling?”

Placement In the Body

Another misunderstanding of this sort is concerning placement in the Body, in verse 18:

I Corinthians 12

18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

Remember, he has been talking to people who feel unimportant within the Body. Now he says, “Listen, in the first place, you are not unimportant. In the second place, if you are an ear, you are an ear because that is what God chose you to be. You are no less important than any other member of the Body, but beyond that, you are there because God put you there.” God has set the members, each one of them, in the Body just as He pleased. To be dissatisfied with the gifts that God has given you, to be envious of the gifts that God has given to someone else is to be rebellious against God. I know that you don't think of it this way and you don't mean it this way when you say, “Oh, if only I could sing…,” or “If only I could play the piano, then I could serve the Lord.” “If only I could teach adults, then I could serve the Lord, but I am only able to teach kids. There's not much I can do.” Listen, if you are able to teach children, and if you are willing and able to invest the time that it takes to teach children, and yet you feel that you are not as important as someone else in the church, then you are rebelling against God because God has given you whatever ability He has given you. If you think someone else is better because, even though you exercise your gift carefully and as unto the Lord, their gift is more showy, then your argument is with God. Your disappointment is with God.

That touches on something that we talked about in our last study, the fact that so many times we think that everyone else ought to be just like us. One of the problems with the differences of spiritual gifts is that if we have a certain gift, we can't understand why everyone else doesn't appreciate that same gift. The person who has the gift of evangelism thinks that everyone ought to be out winning souls, and certainly all of us ought to be witnesses, but not everyone has the gift of evangelism. The person who has the gift of pastor-teacher can't understand why people don't just line up to teach Sunday School. The person who has the gift of giving wonders why the budget isn't always met. Whatever spiritual gift you may have, we all have a tendency to think that everyone else ought to be more like us than they are. That is rebellion against God. If you think that other people aren't what they ought to be, you need to very carefully check your heart and make sure that you understand that God has placed you where He has placed you, but He has also placed those other people where He has placed them. Be very, very careful about saying, “The people in this church ought to do more of…”

Exercise of Spiritual Gifts

Of course, all of this assumes that all of us are sincerely and wholeheartedly exercising our spiritual gifts. Certainly if you have the gift of teaching and someone else has the gift of evangelism and the other person is not exercising his gift of evangelism, then there is some cause for concern, but the concern is not that he ought to be more like you. The concern is that he ought to be living more closely with the Lord and exercising that gift that God has given him. So be very, very careful in saying, “I don't understand why people aren't more like me.” They are not more like you because God didn't make them like you. God made you the way you are; He made them the way they are. If we all walk closely with the Lord, it will produce a marvelous result that would never be produced if they all were more like you.

This is underscored way down at the end of the chapter in verse 29:

I Corinthians 12

29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Let's back up just a minute. In that first century, there were twelve apostles. The twelve disciples of Jesus became the twelve apostles–actually eleven. Judas, of course, was not an apostle. The Apostle Paul took his place. Obviously the answer to that first question in verse 29 is no, we are not all apostles. There were twelve apostles. Are all prophets? No, everyone didn't have the gift of prophecy in the first century. Are all workers of miracles? Obviously, not everyone could work miracles. Do all have gifts of of healing? Obviously not. There were some who did have gifts of healing, but not everyone. Do all speak with tongues? Here is an interesting question for our generation. No, they did not all speak with tongues in the first century. They do not all speak with tongues in this century. Paul devotes a whole chapter to that, in chapter 14, so we will leave that for later. Let me just say at this point, don't let anyone make you think that you are not as spiritual as you ought to be because you haven't spoken in tongues. The Word of God says that not all speak in tongues. Don't let anyone push you around about that. Do all interpret? Obviously not. So the implied answer to all of those questions is, no.

Going back up to verse 14, the point is that God did not expect everyone to do the same that everyone else does. God doesn't expect everyone to be a prophet. God doesn't expect everyone to be an apostle. God doesn't expect everyone to be a pastor. Those are very, very important misconceptions in the Church. God places people in the Body where He wants them.

Let me say a word to parents. Thank God that He gives our children spiritual gifts, but let's be very careful that we let God place our children in His Body where He wants them. It is not required that every family have a pastor among its children. It is nowhere required in the Word of God that every family have a missionary among its children. On the one hand, I would like to see God raise up some missionaries within this church and some pastors; on the other hand, let's be very careful that we let God do that.

Parents, be careful that you don't call your children to the mission field or to some kind of full-time ministry. God can do that, and He will do it if you will let Him. A close friend of mine has told me to my face that he feels extremely guilty because not one of his three sons is in the pastorate. The man is a retired pastor himself. He feels that he has failed somehow because not one of his sons is a pastor. God is the one who places people in the Body. Let's do all we can to encourage our children to do what God wants them to do and exercise the gifts that God has given them in the way that God wants them to exercise them; but let's be careful that we don't place them. Let God place them in the Body.

Relationship of Members to the Body

There is another aspect of these misunderstandings that we need to look at in verses 21-24, and it is those illustrious members of the Body. Let's just go ahead and admit that there are some members of the Body of Christ who seem to be more important than others. We tend to think of the pastor as the most important member of the church. We tend to think of the music director or the youth director or the organist or the pianist or the soloist or the choir members or the Sunday School teachers as very important parts of the church. They are, but let's notice the true nature of operation which we find in verse 21:

I Corinthians 12

21And 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.

Think about this. No matter how important the eye is, the eye can't do anything if it doesn't have a hand to fulfill what it sees as its objective. That eye can stare at a candy bar on the counter all day long, and if it doesn't have a hand or some substitute for a hand to reach out and get it, it won't matter how clearly the eye can see it. The same thing is true of the head and the feet. These comparisons are obvious. Even those parts of the body which we seem to think are most important can't function without those other parts of the body. Obviously the same thing is true of spiritual gifts. The pastor cannot function effectively without those who pray, those who give, those who administer.

It is an ironic thing. I was reflecting on this concept this week: Who do we think the best pastors are? On the one hand, we seem to think the pastor is the most important part of the church and we are all going to go see the Tim Temple show or whoever it might be, which is totally wrong thinking. On the other hand, as we line up all the pastors, who are the most important pastors? They are the ones with the biggest congregations, aren't they? Isn't that how we judge whether a pastor is good or not? Think about the faulty reasoning here. If he is good because he has a big congregation but on the other hand the congregation is coming to hear him because he is the most important member of the church, then what does that mean about the congregation? You see, if the pastor's importance is relative to the attendance of the congregation, the pastor is nothing without the congregation. The guy who doesn't have many coming to hear him is not important at all. Do you see the relationship there? The congregation is just as important as the pastor if we are going to think in those terms. A pastor can't function effectively if there is no one to preach to. A pastor can't function effectively if there is no one to pray for Him or no one to give. The evangelist can't function effectively if there are no teachers to come in and teach the Word to people who accept Christ under his ministry. Do you see how we all intermingle together in God's plan?

The True Nature of Honor

Another area of misunderstanding concerning those illustrious members is the true nature of honor, in verses 22-24. A general statement of God's viewpoint, compared with human viewpoint, is in verse 22:

I Corinthians 12

22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

Notice how contrary that is to human reasoning. The people who seem to be the least important in God's sight are actually the most important. To further elaborate on that point, Paul uses the illustration of clothing or protection of the human body, in verse 23:

I Corinthians 12

23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

He is talking about the human body there. What parts of the human body do we cover up? We cover up the parts of the body that need protection. They need protection because they are important to us. Why do we cover the feet? So they won't step on a thorn and be out of commission. There is an odd sense in which it is an honor to cover up those feet. We cover up the genitals partly because in our society, it is the accepted thing to do, but it is really for protection. We want to protect that reproductive ability. So in a sense it is an honor to cover up. The same thing is true, this text says, in the Body of Christ. This is a concept that is so contrary to the way we think that it is going to really sound revolutionary to you, but what this text is saying is, in verse 24:

I Corinthians 12

24…God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

Do you know what that means? It means that within the Body of Christ, He provides spiritual honor for those who work behind the scenes. God provides human honor and recognition for some in the form of those more illustrious gifts, but He provides spiritual honor for those who work behind the scenes–the person with the gift of giving, the prayer warrior, the person with the gift of helps, the person with the gift of mercy. Those things are not usually done publicly. What this is saying is that God has placed those people in a behind-the-scenes capacity. The fact that God has covered them up indicates that there is a sense in which they are more important than those who are out in front. Again I say, our standard operation is that the pastor is the most important.

Workers In the Background

Here's an interesting little project for you next week. I have done this because it interests me. As you travel around town, count the number of signs in front of churches that have the pastor's name on the sign out front. Then see if you can find a single church in town which has the name of the biggest giver on that sign, or the name of the janitor, or the name of the prayer warrior. Why do we do that? The pastor stands up in front of everyone, and everyone notices if he is not there, but he is not more important than anyone else. I have a recurring nightmare about not getting to church on time. At least on one occasion, the nightmare came true. But that is not because I am more important; it is because I am more noticeable. There is a big difference. See, God says that those people who are out front are not the most important ones. The most important ones are covered up by God; they are kept in the background.

Of course, that doesn't mean necessarily that they are any more spiritual or that God loves them any more. It means that just as in the human body we keep the most important parts of the body covered up, God keeps some people in the background because of their overall importance in His plan. So don't ever look down on someone because you don't see them doing something in the church. It could be that that person is not doing things in the church because he is out of fellowship with the Lord or he doesn't know that he has a spiritual gift. It may be that he is not doing something that he should be doing, but it very well may be that he is doing all kinds of things for the Lord that you are not even aware of, and God has designed it that way, and God has kept it quiet deliberately. It could be that that person that you, as a Sunday School teacher or a choir member or a musician, see and you think he is not doing anything, is very much more important than you are. We are members of the body together.

Importance of Working Together

This past week I read an interesting illustration by Lewis Timberlake, who is a motivational speaker. He said that he was taking a tour of the giant Sequoia forest in California. The guide said something that was shocking. He said, “These Sequoia trees, which are hundreds of feet high in some cases, have very shallow roots.” Mr. Timberlake said, “Wait just a minute. I'm a country boy, and I grew up around trees, and I know that the taller a tree is, the deeper its root system has to be.” The guide said, “You may know about trees, but you don't know about Sequoia trees. They only grow in groves, and they have very shallow roots; but those roots interlock with each other, and when the high winds come, those tall but shallow–rooted trees are able to stand because the roots intertwine, and they stand together.”

Let's think about that spiritually for a minute. Some of those trees are a lot taller than others. Some of them are bigger around than others, but they all depend upon each other equally. It is not possible for trees, but let's use this from a spiritual standpoint: If one of those trees were to let its roots go and not interlock with the other trees, its importance would be seen immediately. One of those taller trees beside it would topple in the next wind. Listen, it doesn't matter how unimportant you may think you are. Do not let that be an excuse for not serving the Lord to the fullest of your capacity. Find something to do for the Lord, no matter how unimportant it may seem, and get busy with it. Just because you seem unimportant does not mean that you are. “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?” Of course not! It is still part of the body, even if it thinks it is not. You are important to the Body of Christ.


We will talk more about spiritual gifts when we get to chapter 14. One of the big misconceptions, one of the things that I think Satan uses a great deal, is this concept of “I don't know what my spiritual gift is, so I just won't do anything till I find out what my spiritual gift is.” Do you know how you find what your spiritual gift is? Get busy and do something for the Lord. How did you first learn that you could carry a tune? You sang. You find out what your spiritual gift is by getting out there and doing something. You will find what you can do well and what you can't do well.

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