One: 1 Corinthians 12.1-11
June 23, 2013 Series: One | First Letter to the Corinthians
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:1–12:11
Intro: READ 1Corinthians 12.1-11
Even though the Church at Corinth is going wild, Paul began his letter thankful that: 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift… Then, Paul spends the next third of the letter responding to a report of serious problems in their relationships with one another—members are sleeping together, divorcing each other, suing one another, and slandering each other as they compete for status. Then, Paul’s spent several chapters answering questions the Corinthian church had about marriage, divorce, liberty, and how to engage with a world that gathers to worship and feasting before demons.
Paul commends the Corinthians for their own commitment to gather for worship and feasting unto the Lord. But then, for four chapters Paul corrects exactly what is happening “when they come together.” We saw in chapter 11, Women were throwing off their head coverings and men are partying at communion. With 12-14, we’ll see that they very thing Paul had praised them for—not lacking any spiritual gift—has proven to be a problem. Over the next several chapters, we will get a picture of what some today might characterize as a “spirit-filled” worship service As “spiritual” as the Corinthians might believe it is, the truth is that their worship is bringing more shame than fame to Jesus’name Any sense respect for God’s authority, order, or sacredness in the gathering has been replaced with disrespect, disorder, and drunkenness. Bottom line, they are going wild exercising their spiritual gifts in service and Paul intends to restore order and reverence to a worship gathering that has become chaotic.
V. 1-3: What is “spiritual” ?
These are some of the most controversial passages in today’s church because much of what we know about spiritual gifts is based on our experience. Paul writes to ensure that the Corinthians ARE NOT uninformed about what is truly “spiritual” and what is not, implying that it is really easy to get it wrong. Even today, there are many Christians ignorant about what it means to be filled or gifted by the Spirit. Some abuse gifts, others condemn then, still others are indifferent. For the next three chapters, I want you to put all of your emotional experiences—good and bad—on the shelf, and learn to discern between what comes from the Spirit of God and what is manufactured by men being “merely human” (3.4). [PRAY]
The Corinthians are what we might call SUPER-CHARISMATIC! Their gatherings are extremely colorful, energetic, loud, emotional, and active. People are praying out loud over one another, some are making prophetic declarations, and others are randomly speaking or just babbling in different languages (real and made up)—ALL at the same time and ALL supposedly “in the Spirit”. Depending on your church background, this might sound familiar. It looks spiritual, it feels spiritual, but Paul says that it is no different than what the Corinthians did when they worshipping at the Pagan temples. And because the idols were not real, they had no real spirit or real mouth to inspire anything. As pagans, their spirituality was SELF-INDUCED, manufactured by the individual, to make themselves look and feel spiritual.
They are acting like pagans in their worship gatherings. They are in spiritual competition with one another. They want other people to believe they are spiritual so they might earn their respect. The Corinthians spoke of being “Spiritual” as something earned because of who you were socially—you have proven yourself worthy, wise, knowledgeable, skilled, therefore God has gifted you. They worked hard to demonstrate this was true and the more the strange and unusual then the more spiritual is must be.
How do we evaluate whether this is from God or made up by self-boasting men? As Pastor Chris preached last week, men are naturally consumers, evaluating the value of something based on the benefit it provides me. Too many come to a church service intended to GET something from God or God’s people rather than to GIVE God worship and His people love. Many come to church seeking a “spiritual experience”, and we all define that differently. How do you evaluate the “spirituality” of a worship experience? A song? A Sermon? A prayer? Typically, we evaluate such experiences by its affect…how did it make me feel…what did it help me learn…where did it make me grow? And while those might help you, they make declaring something “spirit-filled”, or not, a very fragile and individualized thing. Paul states very clearly that we will know if something is from the Spirit of God by where it leads you to.
It does not necessarily lead to tears, tongues, or tingles. According to Paul, the presence of the Spirit is not measured by how strange, disorderly, or even ABNORMAL the effects. The Spirit leads, to NORMAL responses, greater thoughts about God, and deeper appreciation for His grace. More specifically, the presence of the Holy Spirit in a prayer, sermon, or a worship service is manifested by leading people to CONFESS and ACTIVELY SUBMIT TO THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS. Genuine Spirituality leads to making much of Jesus. False Spirituality leads to making much of ourselves. Genuine Spirituality leads to Lordship, and false spirituality leads to living as Lord.
V. 4-5 Who gives gifts and talents?
That does not mean that the Holy Spirit does is not emotional, or creative, or diverse. Paul says that ‘there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
FIRST, there are not only a variety of gifts, there are a variety givers. Paul makes a point to say that all gifts come from our Trinitarian God. All three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are involved in the giving of gifts and talents. Historically, church traditions tend to identify with one member of the trinity more than another. This is usually most evident in the worship service. The fundamentalist churches identify most with God the Father with services characterized by rigid traditions, morality-rich teaching, and some hostility toward culture. The missional churches identify most with God the Son, with services that talk about Jesus and only Jesus. Finally, the charismatic churches identify most with God the Holy Spirit, with services emotionally charged, theologically shallow, and manifestation-full.
God the Father, God the Son, AND God the Spirit are ALL involved in our worship. God is not only the origin of these gifts, but his very nature is the model for how they are to be exercised. Paul intends to emphasize diversity within unity. The Bible teaches that there is one God. The Bible also teaches that God exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While each person is different, function in different roles, they exist in eternal relationship as equals. This gives us insight into the church, reminding the Corinthians that their gifts are designed to work together, to complement, and even complete another’s.
SECOND, there are a variety of gifts, services, and activities. Paul mentions three things that are given, gifts, service, and activities. I put them in two categories—natural gifts of God and supernatural gifts of God. Out of his Common Grace, God gives talents to all people. All men are made in his image, therefore, men possess at least one skill, talent, or ability that reflecting that image. The indirect source of these gifts is the Creator, but the direct source is our parents. These gifts are received at birth, and the purposeof these gifts is to benefit mankind on a natural level. These talents must still be recognized and developed, but they can be used by anyone to build, instruct, entertain, inspire, etc. You have one.
When we become Christians, however, God we begin to see how those talents become employed for God’s gospel work. But God does more than that. When we become a believer, God graces us with new supernatural gifts. These gifts are received independent from our parents at new birth. They too benefit mankind, but are at a spiritual level. And they too must be exercised and developed. Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to Christians and every Christian has at least one spiritual gift, and some people may have several. The Corinthians wrongly believe that God blesses those who prove “spiritual” with gifts. So, to prove that they are “spiritual”, they begin to exercise the ‘respected’ gift they want but might not have. This unhealthy cycle creates a church filled with attempts to ONE-UP the next guy. Christians are given their spiritual gift solely by God’s grace and can do nothing to earn or get a different gift.
V. 7-10 What are the gifts given [SEE INSERT]
What are the different spiritual gifts that are given? There are six separate lists of gifts that appear in the New Testament: I Corinthians 12:8-10, I Corinthians 12:28, I Corinthians 12:29-30, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, I Peter 4:11. So that you are not uninformed, I will try and define them briefly:
Administration: the ability to give direction and to make decisions in behalf of others that results in efficient operation and accomplishment of goals.
Apostles: not to be confused with the office, this is a God-given mixture of gifts to proclaim the gospel with boldness and plant new churches.
Discernment: the ability to clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation.
Encouragement: the God-given gift of patience and optimism, with the ability to help those struggling or discouraged in their faith.
Evangelists: the ability and desire to boldly and clearly communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Faith: the ability to envision what needs to be done and to trust God to accomplish it even though it seems impossible to most people.
Giving: the ability to give eagerly, wisely, generously, and sacrificially to meet the needs of others.
Healing: the God-given gift of compassion toward the sick and a desire to pray over them regularly. Great faith and trust that God can and will heal some; not deterred when He chooses not to
9. Hospitality: the ability to entertain guests in your home with great joy and effectiveness.
Interpretation of Tongues: the ability to clarify and interpret messages in an unknown language.
Leadership: the ability to have a clear, significant vision from God and the ability communicate it publicly or privately in such a way that they influence others to pursue that vision.
Miracles: the heightened sensitivity to the presence and power of God through His Holy Spirit.
Pastor/Shepherd: the ability to feed and shepherd and take responsibility for a local flock (church)Prophets/Prophecy: the ability recognize sinful behavior and a driving compulsion to confront individuals, groups, and/or cultures by proclaiming God’s Word without compromise—a preacher
Serving: the capacity to recognize and joyfully provide assistance in meeting practical needs, thus making life a little easier for others, particularly those who cannot help themselves.
Showing Mercy: The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of mercy to some in the church to love and assist those who are suffering, and walk with them until The Lord allows their burden to be lifted.
Teaching: the God-given ability to understand and communicate biblical truth in a clear and relevant manner so that there is understanding and practical application
Tongues: the Spirit enabling a Christian to supernaturally speak a previously unknown language.
Word of Knowledge: the ability to seek out, remember, synthesize, and make effective use of a variety of information on a number of diverse subjects.
Word of Wisdom: the ability to have very practical insight into people and situations that is not obvious to the average person, combined with an understanding of what to do and how to do it.
How can I discover my spiritual gift? Some of what are called “gifts” exists as a normal part of a Christian’s identity. Things like faith, and service, even hospitality as attitudes of the heart that come with a transformed heart. That being said, we need to be able to discover our spiritual gifts. FIRST, you should seek the counsel of church leaders and mature Christians who have wisdom (Acts 13:1-4, I Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). SECOND, you should begin serving in various areas to discover what seems like a good fit for you (Romans 12:1, Isaiah 6:8). THIRD, you should think through your areas of burden and joy because those may be areas that God is leading you for a ministry opportunity. FOURTH, you should seek to recall in what ways God is already using you to bear fruit since that may be an indication of your gift(s). FIFTH, though serving the Lord can always be tiring you should expect to have a sense of accomplishment, energy, and enthusiasm if you are serving in your area of gifting.
Conclusion: In conclusion, why are gifts given at all? God didn’t have to. Everyone is given a gift, and every gift is designed to work together for the common good (hit this next week). Ephesians 4.11-1 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
In other words, every gift is important and every gift is given for someone or something other than you.
Help build up the church (Ephesians 4:12,16)Establish fellow Christians (Romans 1:11)Encourage fellow Christians (Romans 1:12)Enhance the effectiveness of the whole church (1Corinthians 12:7)Expand the mission of the church beyond its’ present state (Ephesians 4:16)
Most importantly, gifts are given to Honor the Shepherd of the church, Jesus Christ (I Peter 4:11, 5:4). If our serving, our preaching, our leading, our teaching, our hospitality, our singing, our healing, our encouragement, our service ever becomes a distraction from Jesus…we’ve become Corinthians. Spiritual gifts are NOT intended to provide us an identity, or even personal edification, they are meant to build up others, to testify to Jesus, and display God's glory. Communion reminds us that we gather to give praise to the one, who used his giftedness, to bless us.