Affiliation with a Local Church

Lesson 1998
Tags: Ministry; Church; Christian service; Spiritual gifts; 1 Corinthians 12:4-13, 27-28
Excerpted from Serving God: A Plan for Success
Related Resources: Introduction to Local Church Ministry A Balanced Approach to Spiritual Gifts

Biblical Text

1 Corinthians 12.4-13, 27-28

4     Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5     And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6     And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7     But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8     For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9     To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10   To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11   But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12   For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.

13   For 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.

27   Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28   And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues,


  • God has gifted every believer with spiritual gifts to make us useful in his service. It is vital to note that in 1 Corinthians 12-14 (the most extensive New Testament text dealing with spiritual gifts), it is made quite clear that the gifts are to be exercised in the context of a local assembly of believers. The wider body of Christ is recognized as a real entity (12.12-13), but Paul emphasized that spiritual service is necessarily a local activity: “Now ye [i.e., the Corinthian church] are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (12.27).
  • The local New Testament church is the institution God ordained to carry out spiritual service in the age of grace. Serving (or ministering) is what the church is all about.


  • It is important that we not attempt to serve God apart from the locus of spiritual service he has ordained—the local church. Those who claim to love and serve God, yet disdain the local manifestation of the body of Christ, are clearly in spiritual error.
  • The church can further the cause of service to God in many ways. First, it is a community that ministers to its members’ own needs (12.7; cf. Gal 5.13; Eph 4.14-16). Second, it focuses on serving the world around it. As members participate in the church’s “body life,” they are encouraged and equipped to live their lives for God’s glory. The church has accountability in the matter of spiritual service. No human organization can supplant the church as the agency best designed for serving God.


  • What are some ways your church helps you to focus on serving God?
  • What are you doing to help other members of your church be better servants of God?