Spiritual Gifts-1 Cor. 12
· If I were to give you each a gift what would you do with it?
· Would any of you just leave the wrapping paper on it and not open it?
· What if inside was something picked out just for you and was something you could use and appreciate?
· Would you take special care of it, trying to keep it in good shape but enjoying its usefulness?
· Would you compare it to what was given to others seeing if they received something better?
· Would you take that gift and see if it could be used for the benefit of others?
· There is something unique about the Christian life that we often overlook.
· A picture of it can be observed in the OT when God instructed the nation of Israel fresh out of Egypt to construct a house of worship for Him
· With his instruction he gave people in the community special abilities in order to fulfill his commands.
· This also happens today in the form of Gifts of the Spirit given to everyone that has placed their trust in Christ.
· The nature of the church is meant to be a community of believers who have been given special abilities for the work of God.
· Today we want to look at what Paul has to say in regards to Spiritual Gifts in 1Cor. 12.
We Receive Spiritual Gifts from One Source (1-6)
12:1 With regard to spiritual gifts,1 brothers and sisters,2 I do not want you to be uninformed.3 12:2 You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 12:3 So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
· Paul is concerned that the believers understood their spiritual lives.
· In particular the issue of spiritual empowerment of gifts.
· As unbelievers they were influenced and possibly controlled by things of the world and evil spirits.
· They were walking in shadow-blind in the dark without means to see clearly.
· Without the H.S. none of us are capable of seeing who Jesus really is.
· We cannot discover Christianity on our own and as unbeliever we cannot acknowledge God.
· So what led you and I astray?
· Paul clarifies that when someone declares that Jesus is not God, that person cannot have a claim on Christianity.
· He contrasts this for emphasis by saying those who admit Jesus is God only do so by the work of the H.S.
· The H.S. is not some mute idol that we fashion for our own purposes.
· He is alive and active in peoples lives.
· Verses 1-3 reiterate that the H.S. allows us to know Jesus.
· This leads Paul to discuss the singular source not only of our spiritual redemption but of our spiritual gifts.
· In verses 4-6 he begins by saying that there are different gifts (charismata: gifts of grace)
· The source of these gifts is clear; it is because of God’s favor that we receive gifts.
· There is diversity in gifts-not everyone receives the same gift.
· Not one person receives all of the gifts but the Spirit is in all of them.
· There are different ministries that provide the purpose or function of gifts.
· Gifts given by God are designed to produce action that comes from Jesus Christ.
· By virtue of a relationship with Christ you have been given gifts or a gift.
· Paul does not suggest the use of gifts but assumes that your gift will be used for ministry.
· The word for ministry is from the Greek meaning service.
· The function of gifts is done in service for the Lord.
· V. 6 in some Bibles say activity or work but this is misleading.
· Rather it should be “results” or “results from activity or work”
· And again he emphasizes that the source is God.
· Paul takes a Trinitarian perspective to say that different gifts are from the H.S. and should produce active service through Christ and will have results from God.
· The reliance from start to finish is on God’s activity.
Ramon Piaguaje, a Secoya Indian born and raised in the rain forest of Ecuador, won the Winsor & Newton Millennium Art Competition, the largest painting competition in the world. His painting "Eternal Amazon" was selected from over 22,000 entries by professionals and amateur artists from 51 countries and was on display at the United Nations this past summer. Ramon, who started drawing as a teenager over 30 years ago, was not introduced to oil painting until 1993 in Quito. The young man who has captured the attention of the art world was first encouraged in his efforts by Orville and Mary Johnson, Wycliffe Bible Translators working in his village. The Johnsons recognized a God-given ability and had encouraged him to keep drawing. When they left his village in the early seventies, having completed their translation of the New Testament, the belongings they took with them included 30 drawings by Ramon. Since then, Ramon has met the Prince of Wales and the secretary general of the United Nations, and "Eternal Amazon" has been viewed by ambassadors, artists, dignitaries, and members of the press and public from around the world. Ramon is quick to give the Lord credit for the acclaim he has received. "I can't take pride of the gift that I have as an artist, for it is God that has given me this talent, and I want to use it for his glory." When the elderly missionary couple heard about the exhibit at the United Nations, they decided to surprise the South American artist. They entered the exhibition hall and found Ramon surrounded by many people. As he looked beyond his admiring fans, he saw the Johnsons and began to cry. They hugged and wept for several moments. In Secoya, Ramon repeated over and over to Orville and Mary, "You are the ones that should be honored, not me.for you came to give us the gospel, and I believe that is why I now can be here." God has gracious given gifts to each of us, not only to enjoy, but also to use to build up others.
We Receive Spiritual Gifts for One Purpose (7-11)
12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 12:8 For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 12:10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.
· Paul begins in v.7 by summarizing the next four verses.
· Individually we have gifts (manifestation) from the Spirit to help the church.
· So there is one purpose: Gifting is for the common good of the body.
· Spiritual gifts were and are not intended for ourselves.
· If you can sing or perform music the intention is not for personal accolades but to encourage others or lead in worship.
· If you are able to be an administrator it should not be done to elevate yourself with stellar organizational skills but to benefit the body.
· Gifts can easily be manipulated in our hearts to puff ourselves up.
· The trick is to use them to elevate God and others.
· The manifestation of v. 7 described here implies the same as in v. 11.
· The Spirit distributes as he decides to each of us.
· This means that the gift you received was not a random out of the hat decision but a careful decision of God for you.
· It means that all gifts have benefit and importance.
· It means the outcome of that which is given is also derived from God’s favor.
· What this also indicates is that gifts may be given for periods of time or can be removed if they are being misused or neglected.
· Inside the frame of v.7 and v.11 Paul provides a selection of gifts to make his point.
· He describes 9 gifts not as the only gifts for the edification of others but as examples.
· He brings out a unity by emphasizing that they all come from the same source.
· This takes on added significance in verses 12-26.
· Wisdom or Word of Wisdom: is the ability to speak divine wisdom received through the H.S. that will help the church.
· Knowledge: has to do with knowing, understanding and explaining God’s message in the Bible that will help us to live according to his will.
· Faith: it is heightened faith that is above salvific or trust that is unshakable and complete trust that God will act. It is the faith that accompanies healing and miracles.
· Healing: Note it says gifts of healing not gift of healing. Some have noted that a person may not be able to heal all ailments.
· Healing may the ability to cure only physical ailments, mental ones, gifting may give immediate results or occur over a period of time.
· Miracles: the ability to perform acts contrary to the laws of nature.
· Prophesy: Prophesy as fore-telling implies that one can declare revelation added to Scripture-this cannot happen today.
· Prophesy as forth-telling has the idea of explaining and teaching the will of God as it pertains to our lives. The ability to use Scripture to warn of possible events and changes in the stability of society.
· Discernment: ability to scrutinize information, actions and teachings to protect the church.
· Tongues: Two kinds-languages and spiritual tongues that help and edify the body.
· Interpretation of tongues: ability to translate into intelligible language and is needed if tongues are spoken (1 Cor. 14:27)
· There are some cautions about gifts:
· Gifts may not have been permanent-Paul faced this in Phil 2:27 and 2 Cor. 12:9 when he could not take actions he was previously able to perform.
· Certain gifts may have had specific functions for a given time- miracles for instance were used to demonstrate the mark of an apostle, confirm the message of the Gospel and we see that they become less and less frequent until there ceases to be a record of them.
· Modern expressions often are used for personal benefit and they can seemingly call on them whenever they wish.
· The N.T. reveals that many of the extraordinary gifts (healing, miracles, tongues, fore-telling prophesy) were temporary as they functioned for spreading the gospel.
· These can exist today but I question if they continue in a permanent fashion but rather come in temporary ways as God chooses to build up the church.
We Receive Spiritual Gifts as One Significance (12-26)
12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves4 or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 12:14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many. 12:15 If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 12:16 And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell? 12:18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided. 12:19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 12:20 So now there are many members, but one body. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.” 12:22 On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential, 12:23 and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity,5 12:24 but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member, 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another. 12:26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a6 member is honored, all rejoice with it.
· In this section Paul is addressing the concept of the body for the benefit of his readers who struggled with exercising equality in the gifts. He compares the church and gifts to parts of the human body.
· He brings up the comparative use of nationality and social status (Gal 3:28) to express redemptive equality.
· No matter who you are there is only one Christ for who you belong.
· So while the parts are very different with different gifts they are all crucial to the church.
· He describes the foot, hand, ear, and eye to emphasize the importance of each part.
· The body parts are having a hypothetical conversation where parts are discouraged because they are not other parts deemed more important.
· Paul makes it clear that if all the parts functioned the same there would be many things missing.
· There would be vital functions that could not operate.
· Then He addresses the issue that some parts feel they are superior.
· One part of the body may say that their function is vital but others are not.
· Paul makes the point that those things that seem of low importance are actually so important that they are essential.
· In v. 23-26 he places emphasis that each part of the body works together in a perfect blend that benefits every part.
· The church with its great diversity and characteristics is God’s design.
· The many gifts are also God’s design.
· One gift given to a person may appear less appealing but with out it the church would suffer.
· This becomes a great occasion to stress that although a person may not have a gift that has outstanding results or mass appeal or sees the spotlight it should be honored and celebrated.
· A person may work behind the scenes using what God has given them and the church only notices when they cease to use it. That gift may have been the underpinning of the entire church.
· So it is very clear that the gifts you have, have only one significance; they are all vital to the church.
· When the church recognizes and understands the importance of every gift and the people that have them then the church can function as it was intended.
· When a proper understanding is practiced the church will not have division but will express proper concern and care.
· They will see to it that all are cared for, looking to each others needs.
· When one person with all that God has given is not well or will not or cannot use their gift then the entire church suffers.
· God has uniquely equipped his church in this manner and when we discourage others from the importance of using their gift then we as a church suffer.
· When any one of us refuses to use our gifts for whatever reason it takes away from the ability of the church to do what it was meant to do.
"During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war. First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky. "Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, "And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?” And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, "We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.""
We Receive Spiritual Gifts for One Provision (27-31a)
12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. 12:28 And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. 12:29 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? 12:30 Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they?7 12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts.
· All the individuals with the gifts provided through the H.S. make up Christ’s body.
· As individuals they make up the specific parts of it.
· One cannot come without the other-for if an individual is missing the body is incomplete.
· He lists groups of people and then certain gifts.
· Of this list, 4 gifts are new from the list in v. 8-10.
· Paul seems to rank the gifts and offices which seems to contradict what he has just said about essentiality and equality.
· Context helps us to understand that Paul placed them in this way because the Corinthians had a misplaced hierarchy.
· They were placing over emphasis on gifts like tongues and was trying to correct this.
· There are four gifts not mentioned previously:
· Apostles: This was a temporary position and gifting to serve the entire church.
· They followed Jesus, witnessed his resurrection.
· Teachers: This gift is closely related to pastoral work (Eph. 4:11) and is the ability to expose, interpret and explain the Scriptures.
· Helps: Helping hand of love and mercy both in and outside the church.
· Leadership: it is the guiding of the church in the direction God intends.
· In v. 29-30 Paul is asking several rhetorical question that call for a negative answer to make his main point of this section.
· Not everyone does the same thing for what kind of state would the church be in if all exercised the same gift?
· If everyone played an instrument how would the sick get care?
· If all were teachers who would provide hospitality?
· If all had the gift of helps who would lead the church?
· God has built a perfect provision in the church so that not everyone has the same gift.
· Diversity of gifts provides assurance that what God calls us to do gets done.
· For everyone to place importance on one gift over another works against the design God intended for the distribution of gifts.
· Verse 31a has posed an interpretive problem.
· It can be translated as “but you should desire the greater gifts” or “you are desiring after the greater gifts”.
· It is difficult to see Paul making a distinction in importance of gifts after what he has said in v. 11.
· Context again tells us they were delineating importance between gifts.
· The point Paul is making is that (depending on how this translated) they should seek after gifts that are greater because they had placed emphasis on gifts like tongues which he says (ch. 14) are not as important but needed.
· Or he is stating a revealing fact that they have made gifts into greater gifts when they should not have.
· To interpret some gifts as vital for faith like tongues is a misinterpretation of the verse.
· In fact some will not speak in tongues so why the call for all to do so?
· Pauls main point in this section is that God has provided all the abilities for his church by not making everyone the same.
· When we all have the same gifts then the church cannot do all that God calls it to do-his provision is that he creates diversity.
Someone has imagined the carpenter's tools holding a conference. The Hammer presided. Several suggested he leave the meeting because he was too noisy. Replied the Hammer, “If I have to leave this shop, The Screw must go also. You have to turn him around to get him to accomplish anything.” The Screw then said. “I will leave. But the Plane must leave too. His efforts have no depth.” The Plane responded, “The Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring as though he were the only one who is right.” The Rule then complained against the Sandpaper, “You ought to leave too because you're so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way. In the midst of all this discussion, in walked the Carpenter. He had arrived to start His day's work. Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the gospel. He used the hammer, screw, plane, rule, sandpaper, and all the other tools. After the day's work when the pulpit was finished, The Saw remarked, “I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.” God is a God of variety in His church. What a diversity of gifts He has bestowed on believers to equip them for service!
· It is a wonderful thing that God has done.
· He has placed all of us together and given us special gifts to be used for the building of this church.
· For me it opens up another thought and challenge.
· The though is that if God has not equipped up with gifts in certain areas does that mean that we should be doing a ministry at that time?
· Does it mean that we pray for God to give us the people who have those gifts or enable the people we have already with a gift?
· The Challenge is that each of has a gift or gifts if we believe in Christ.
· As such we have the opportunity to provide help in the areas that God has enabled us.
· If we neglect the use of our gift it hurts the church and the joy we can find as Christians.
· When we do not use a gift properly we create problems and work outside of God’s will
· Sometimes we feel that we do not know our gifts.
· My solution to that is that you begin to involve yourself in the work of the church and see what brings you joy and benefits others.
· If there is nothing that seems to be in your area of passion then propose something, we are always open to new ministry.
· Your gifting is a precious commodity given by God just for you do not waste it.