I Corinthians 12:1-4 I Corinthians 12:1-4 1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:5-9 I Corinthians 12:5-9 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;
I Corinthians 12:10-12 I Corinthians 12:10-12 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.
Focus Verse I Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Focus Thought God gave spiritual gifts to the body of Christ to edify, and they should be active today.
Introduction Introduction God’s church is a vibrant body, composed of lively, Holy Ghost filled members. (See I Peter 2.) Different cultures, personalities, ages, and traditions find common ground in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate—all stand side by side in the kingdom of God. Through the centuries, this unlikely collection of human beings has held at bay the power of kings, stopped the spread of deadly diseases, rebuked evil forces, triumphed over imposing armies, and conquered the spirits of darkness on every continent on this planet.
Introduction This diverse group is so powerful because the people are empowered and appointed by God. Jesus described the empowering when He told the crowd, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Paul explained the appointing when he wrote, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Corinthians 12:18). The strength of the church resides in its members individually submitting to the Holy Ghost for power and position within the body.
Introduction It is natural for people to avoid being used in the gifts of the Spirit. What could be more foreign to our carnal natures than an invisible force compelling us to attempt impossible things? To submit to the Spirit is to ignore the natural senses that warn of rejection, failure, and ridicule.
Introduction When a person is taught the purpose of the gifts and realizes that they are essential to God’s plan, the higher purpose becomes obvious and obeying the Spirit comes more easily. When the members of the church are walking in the Spirit, the body of Christ is at work in the world.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) UnderstandingSpiritual Gifts There Are Different Gifts “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:4).
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) God’s great power and creative mind are displayed in the things He has made. Not only did He design a variety of plant and animal life, but He made them to flourish under different circumstances and during different seasons. Some species display their glory in the heat of summer, while others thrive in winter’s cold.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) The forest by day is a different world than it is at night. After dark, a new set of wildlife with its unique sounds and habits owns the woods. The stars and planets testify of things He has done and planned that we have yet to comprehend. When observing God’s handiwork, one must agree with the words penned by Mark in his Gospel: “And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well” (Mark 7:37).
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) Nothing that God created is within itself more diverse than the human race. Made in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), men and women come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities. Moreover, each one is uniquely equipped by his peculiar culture and environment. To minister to the needs generated by this ever-growing population requires many ministers with differing natural abilities who are empowered by God with different spiritual gifts.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) One of Paul’s main concerns as he wrote to the believers in Corinth was that the church understand this important concept. He introduced the subject of spiritual gifts by first explaining the many differences, but equal value, of each member of the body. Comparing God’s church to the human body, Paul wrote that while one member may possess a gift that brings public recognition, he is no more important than the one whose gift operates quietly in the background. The source of every gift is God; therefore, no person has any right to boast if his or her gift is used in spectacular ways.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (A) Contrary to our way of thinking, God’s greatest honor is often given quietly and without fanfare, and those members we seldom consider are often the ones most needed (I Corinthians 12:22-23). Just as a person values every part of his or her own body, every person and every gift in God’s church must be given the utmost respect by every member. None is useless and none is without specific purpose.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (B) There Are Differences in Administration “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord” (I Corinthians 12:5).
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (B) While the spiritual gifts are not dependant on natural abilities, one may conclude from Paul’s instructions that the nature of the gifted person is involved in the process. (See I Corinthians 13:1-3; I Corinthians 14:28-32.) Because their natures are different, people will operate, or administer, the same spiritual gift in different ways, reflecting their uniqueness.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (B) God did not set specific rules for the application of each gift; rather, He chose to work through the peculiarities of each person’s personality and nature. Spiritual gifts are time and place specific. God chooses who will work the gifts at what time and place, His own design and reasoning unfettered by human logic. Administrations and applications may differ, but they all originate with the same Lord.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (B) The work of the Spirit cannot always be neatly categorized under a specific spiritual gift. According to M. D. Treece in his book The Literal Word (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1995, 284), I Corinthians 12:5 intends to “include other workings of the Spirit through the saints which are not listed in the present categories. The moving of the Spirit of God upon the worshipper may perform a service in a spiritual capacity which would be difficult to describe in the course of normal reason.”
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (B) All the works of the Spirit, whether easily defined as one of the listed spiritual gifts or not, are ordained by the same Lord. Some works of the Spirit do not fit neatly inside a defined category.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (C) There Are Different Workings “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (I Corinthians 12:6).
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (C) The diversity of needs requires the diversity of operations (or workings). That God alone is the mastermind behind the work of the Spirit is emphasized even more strongly in I Corinthians 12:6. The gift is from God and the gift is the work of God. It is God working through the gift, but it is also God working in the believer.
I. Understanding Spiritual Gifts (C) Some gifts of the Spirit involve communicating God’s message. Other gifts demonstrate God’s power. God uses some gifts to reveal things that are hidden from man. While God may choose to have someone operate the same gift repeatedly, the spiritual gifts are not permanent endowments inside the believer, which he is able to use at will. God chooses the time, the place, and the person. Together, these gifts provide God a comprehensive set of tools that He uses to minister to and through His church.
II. Gifts of Revelation (A) Gifts of Revelation Word of Wisdom Delivering a specific declaration of advice or direction for a specific situation is the purpose of the word of wisdom, which is one of the spiritual gifts. This word does not originate inside the educated mind of a person well-schooled in the matters being discussed, but it comes directly from the mind of the Spirit as the believer expresses what the Spirit impresses. The fact that this utterance is a gift from God indicates that a person could not acquire this wisdom on his own.
II. Gifts of Revelation (A) Paul experienced this gift while on one of his missionary journeys when he told the sailors; “Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives” (Acts 27:10). This message from a tentmaker advised the seasoned seamen to delay their departure. Not being spiritually minded, they ignored Paul’s warning and lost both vessel and cargo. (See Acts 27:11-24.)
II. Gifts of Revelation (A) Instructions are usually valued based on the teacher’s experience, knowledge, and training. Such requirements cannot be used to appraise the correctness of a word of wisdom, however, because God does not use our standards to decide whom He will use. Every member must be spiritual so that both the one speaking and the one obeying are in one accord. (See Acts 2:1; I Corinthians 14:29.)
II. Gifts of Revelation (B) Word of Knowledge When God revealed to Peter that Ananias and Sapphira had conspired against the Holy Ghost, He did so by the gift of the word of knowledge. (See Acts 5:1-10.) God told Peter the things Ananias and Sapphira had plotted in private, and the punishment that was theirs for lying to the Holy Ghost. This gift operates when God passes knowledge of a specific nature to an individual who does not know it by natural means.
II. Gifts of Revelation (C) Discerning of Spirits Strong’s Concordance includes the words “judicial estimation” as part of the definition of the word discerning, which creates the image of a judge presiding over matters displayed before him. God, as judge, uses the gift of discerning of spirits to expose evil spirits and improper intentions.
II. Gifts of Revelation (C) The discerning of spirits is a gift that Paul also experienced firsthand. A woman followed him to prayer daily, shouting that he was sent from God to bring salvation. Paul discerned that she was possessed by an evil spirit and rebuked it. From that moment, the woman was free. Paul’s action, however, displeased those who were carnal and who profited from the woman’s evil spirit, and they imprisoned him. (See Acts 16:16-24.)
II. Gifts of Revelation (C) A believer used in this gift will display keen supernatural insight with regard to spirits.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (A) Gifts of Power and Action Healing The gifts of healing are the various ways that a human body is miraculously cured of disease, injury, illness, or other imperfections through the direct prayers or actions of a believer.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (A) The healing of the cripple at the Gate Beautiful is an example of this gift in action. (See Acts 3:1-8.) Since this man was carried to this spot every day, it is possible that Jesus passed him when He visited the Temple. Many disciples, including the apostles, probably had walked past him on their way to worship, but apparently none had stopped to pray for him. This time, however, the Spirit compelled Peter to speak words of faith and healing to this man who had never walked.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (A) What was different about this particular visit to the Temple? Why had Jesus earlier chosen not to heal the beggar? The text does not reveal the answers to these questions, but everyone who was at the Temple that day witnessed the miracle and heard the message of salvation preached. The Holy Spirit orchestrated the entire event and the impact rippled beyond the Temple walls. (See Acts 4:1-23.) The Scriptures may not answer all our questions about the matter, but we can be confident that God achieved His divine purpose.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (A) An individual can receive healing in various ways; thus the Scriptures identify this gift in the plural form: gifts of healing. James called for the elders to anoint the sick with oil and pray for them (James 5:14). Jesus put clay on a blind man’s eyes and sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). James taught that healing can be connected to confession of sins and errors (James 5:16). Peter simply spoke in faith to the lame man in Acts 3. Since God is the source of both the gift and the healing, He chooses the method by which the gifts operate and healing is given. An obedient response to the Spirit will complete the work.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (B) Faith The gift of faith is obviously more than the fundamental faith required for conversion, or the faith a Christian daily displays as he lives his life for Jesus Christ. Every Christian has faith (Romans 12:3), but the gift of faith is a supernatural gift that empowers a person to “trust in God for a particular need or circumstance” (David K. Bernard, Spiritual Gifts [Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1997], 124).
III. Gifts of Power and Action (B) Paul serves again as our example. Displaying unusual confidence as a severe storm battered the ship in which he was being transported, Paul rested on God’s word to him. “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). His supernatural faith told him all was well while his eyes were warning him that his life was in danger. His faith calmed his mind while the wind was fanning his fears. Beyond his trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, God enlarged Paul’s faith to see Him at work in the midst of tragedy.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (C) Working of Miracles While the use of and most of the results of the spiritual gifts could be considered miraculous, the gift of the working of miracles occurs when God, operating through a human being, transcends the laws of nature in a particular situation. Luke wrote of such an occasion when Paul’s missionary team was ministering in Asia. People possessed of evil spirits or sick with diseases were healed when handkerchiefs and other cloths that Paul had touched were given to them. (See Acts 19:11-12.)
III. Gifts of Power and Action (C) God has always used miraculous events to lead or deliver His people. He parted the Red Sea for the people of Israel (Exodus 14:21-22), closed the mouths of the hungry lions for Daniel (Daniel 6:16-17, 22), and made the footsteps of four frail lepers sound like an advancing army (II Kings 7:3-6).
III. Gifts of Power and Action (C) The stories described in the Bible catalog the supernatural events that God orchestrated on behalf of His people. At times, such as when God sent the plagues to trouble Pharaoh, His miracles were widespread and affected many. (See Exodus 7:17–12:30.) On other occasions, such as when the widow’s meal and oil were replenished, only a few knew and benefited (I Kings 17:16). These accounts assure us that God observes the needs of every individual as well as the corporate needs of the whole body, and He is prepared to suspend the laws of nature to meet every challenge.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (C) The supernatural works of the Old Testament were continued in the New Testament. Miracles were a regular part of the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the Book of Acts records many miracles done through the faith of His disciples. Miracles occurred so regularly that they became part of the culture of the early church.
III. Gifts of Power and Action (C) By the gifts of the Spirit, God continues to work through His church. By the gift of the working of miracles, God’s supernatural power provides for His people and reminds the world of His ability and desire to save them.
Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Mark 16:19-20 “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:17-20).
IV. Gifts of Communication (A) Gifts of Communication Prophecy Because of the ministry of Old Testament prophets, we usually associate prophecy with inspired foretelling or prediction. While prophecy may include foretelling certain outcomes, a more complete definition would be “a supernatural utterance directly from God in the language of the speaker and hearers” (Bernard, Spiritual Gifts, 204). As is often observed, prophecy includes both foretelling and forthtelling.
IV. Gifts of Communication (A) It is this gift that Paul considered most valuable in public worship because of its ability to edify the whole church (I Corinthians 14:4). While other gifts are to be desired, a person wishing to benefit the entire congregation should pray to be used in the gift of prophecy (I Corinthians 14:1).
IV. Gifts of Communication (A) Prophecy was common in the early days of the church. Acts 11 tells of a group of men who were recognized as prophets (Acts 11:27). God also chose to use Philip’s four daughters to prophesy (Acts 21:9).
IV. Gifts of Communication (B) Divers Kinds of Tongues A lack of understanding has caused much confusion over the use of tongues in the church. Speaking in tongues (speaking in a language that the one who is speaking does not know and cannot understand) is a work of the Spirit designed to get the attention of unbelievers. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not” (I Corinthians 14:22).
IV. Gifts of Communication (B) • To understand the use of tongues in the church, one must distinguish properly between the three distinct uses that the Bible identifies: • the initial evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost, • personal edification, and • a special message from the Lord requiring interpretation.