A biblical perspective on what they are and who has them
According to the New Testament, the Church is the body of Christ. That body has a built-in unity; its members, having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, have by that process become a part of the same body. This body cannot be identified with a single group, whether Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic or any other. It includes all Christians whatever their denominational labels, and it certainly can and does include persons who have no label at all but who have indeed been born of God’s Spirit.
The Apostle Paul describes Christ’s body as analogous to the human body. The human body has different parts, and each part has a different function. The body is not complete when any part is missing. The parts of the body are not of equal importance. The loss of the fourth finger is quite different from the loss of a thumb. One can live without a gall bladder but not without a heart or a liver. But to say that some parts are more important than others is not to disparage the lesser parts. The perfect body must have all the parts.
The Church, like the body, is made up of different parts. In his first letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul says that the differences among believers, members of the body of Christ, occur not by accident but by design. A Church made up of all fingers or all toes would be a monstrosity. God has ordained that the Church shall be made up of many people, to whom are given spiritual gifts that vary in kind as well as degree. But there is no member of the body who does not have some gift, however minor it may appear to be and however limited in quantity. Some have great gifts, and others have the same gifts but in smaller degree. Yet no one is without ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more