Introduction: What role should the church play in the life of the
believer? Some think that they can comfortably live a Christian life
apart from organized religion. Avoiding organized religion, and its
institutional conflicts, allows them to have a closer, more personal
relationship with God. I think this is delusion and a profound
mistake. The church plays many indispensable roles in the life of the
Christian. But, what does it matter what I think? What matters is
what God thinks. Let’s plunge into the Bible and see what it has to
teach us about the role of the church in our life!

  1. Spiritual Gifts

    1. Read John 16:12-15. Most of you recognize that these are
      some of Jesus’ parting words to His disciples. How
      important is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a
      Christian? (He is the replacement for Jesus being with us

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Who leads pagans and who leads
      Christians? (Pagans are led astray by idols. Christians
      are inspired and led by the Holy Spirit.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. How does the Holy Spirit lead
      us? (One way the Holy Spirit leads us is to give us gifts
      so that we can be of service to God. He leads us in

      1. Are our gifts and service the same? (No. Different
        people receive different gifts. They have different
        gifts because they have a different kind of service
        and different work.)

  2. The Common Good

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7. How does it make any sense to
      give Christians different gifts? In law school, we try to
      give our students the core skills that will allow them to
      be good lawyers. These core skills are the same.

      1. What is this “common good?” (The body of believers,
        the church.)

    2. How is the church essential to the method by which the
      Holy Spirit works? (Is the picture beginning to come into
      focus? Without the body of believers all contributing the
      various gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit, the work
      falls apart. The method by which the Holy Spirit works
      makes the church essential!)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. How essential are these gifts
      to the life of the believer? (Unless we are together in a
      group, we are deprived of the benefit some of these

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. What analogy does Paul give
      us to help us understand the importance of the church? (He
      says it is like a body. Individuals are like part of the

      1. If members of a church are like part of a body, what
        does this say about the person who says they refuse
        to be a part of “organized religion?”

      2. Unity and diversity are competing visions. These days
        I think we have run off the road and into the weeds
        on the side of diversity. What is both a blessing
        and an antidote to diversity? (The Holy Spirit brings
        all of us together, regardless of race or social
        status. The key is that the Holy Spirit unifies us.
        The focus is on unity. If the focus were on
        diversity, we would be like a bunch of unconnected
        body parts!)

  3. Lone Wolf

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:15-17. What is wrong with the
      thinking of the “lone wolf” Christian – the one who does
      not want to be part of a group of believers? (Two things.
      First, that person denies the reality of the way the Holy
      Spirit works in giving us individual gifts. Second, that
      person cannot be effective in ministry because he is
      missing important gifts. It is like trying to look
      through your ear!)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:18-20. Who decided that Christians
      should work together as a body? (God! This is God’s plan.
      Thus, those who work alone work in a way inconsistent with
      the plan of God.)

      1. To what degree is God involved in the organization of
        the local church? (“God has arranged the parts in the
        body … just as He wanted them to be.” God decided
        who should have each role.)

        1. If someone is trying to fulfill a role for
          which they have not been selected by God, are
          they opposing God? (They are at least opposing
          God’s plan.)

  4. Body Language

    1. Each one of us has a body. Our parts (hopefully) work
      together without serious problems. Is that the goal of
      life – to have a workable body? (No. We need to do
      something with our body.)

      1. Is that also true for the body that is the church?

    2. Read Matthew 28:19-20. What is the mission of the church?
      (To make disciples.)

      1. What are the component parts of this mission? (To
        baptize and teach.)

      2. Is this order important? (The way Jesus states the
        mission, that seems to be true. Teaching disciples to
        obey follows baptism.)

        1. What order does your church follow?

      3. Why does Jesus end with “I’m with you!” (He wants us
        to know that He is present, through the Holy Spirit,
        to help us with our central mission.)

      4. Is there anything more to the mission than to convert
        others and make disciples? (I don’t think so. Any
        other specific tasks we can think of come under these
        two headings. But, let’s look at some more texts to
        test my theory.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 2:9. Is this part of the mission? If so,
      what part? (Praising God and representing God are a part
      of converting and teaching.)

    4. Read Matthew 10:5-10. In the next section, we are going to
      discuss the issue of the church and helping the poor. Why
      is giving money to the poor not mentioned here?

      1. What is mentioned in these verses that is a “help” to
      2. If someone tells you that you have not sufficiently
        helped the poor, is it appropriate to respond that
        they have not sufficiently healed or resurrected?

        1. Why is it that in this model given by Jesus,
          the disciples collect money, they don’t give it

    5. Read James 1:27. What is the first thing that James
      mentions about the mission of religion? (To help orphans
      and widows.)

      1. What does this teach us about helping the poor? (It
        is part of the mission of the church – but note that
        those being helped were powerless.)

  5. Sheep and Goats Test?

    1. Skim over Matthew 25:31-46 and read Matthew 25:34-36.
      Jesus seems to say that the test of salvation, and
      therefore logically the primary work of the church, is
      helping the poor. Do you agree?

    2. Read Romans 10:9 and John 6:29. How can you reconcile
      these texts with Jesus’ story of the sheep and goats?

    3. Read Matthew 25:37-39. Did these people accidentally get
      into heaven? Unless this is a trick question, how can
      they be unaware that they were performing the “central”
      mission of the church? (This is the most important part of
      the story. The saved are unaware of the “good deeds” part
      of the mission. Helping the poor is not the central work
      of the church. Converting and discipling is the central
      work of the church. It is converted hearts, those who
      understand the love of God, that automatically help
      others. It is the natural impulse of the converted heart.
      You can no more help the poor to be saved than you can do
      any other work to earn salvation.)

    4. Friend, are you a lone wolf? The Holy Spirit directs His
      gifts and power so that they work best in the body which
      is the church. When that body is working right, it is
      converting and discipling. Will you decide right now to
      share your gifts with the church to advance the Kingdom of

  6. Next week: The Church: Rites and Rituals.