The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 12
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.
2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:1-3
Paul begins his teaching on spiritual gifts, the body of Christ and love with a statement I have often pondered about. “No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit”. Does this mean anybody who says “Jesus is Lord” is a born again Christian? I have come to accept that God moves in every type of church. That He will reach people where that are at. I read yesterday of a person coming to Christ when they were at a Greek Orthodox Easter service, full of icons, incense and golden robes because the Holy Spirit prompted them with the question “What would it mean for our world if Christ were truly risen?” The Holy Spirit is given to be our comforter, to lead us into all truth and to glorify Jesus:
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. – John 15:26
True spirituality will always glorify Jesus. He will be the power of God in our midst:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
He will enable us to speak the truth in love. We will declare “Jesus is our Lord” boldly to a dying world.
4 Now 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. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
I wonder what the difference is between gifts, services and activities. Gifts, I guess is fairly obvious:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17
So the Holy Spirit is a gift, and He enables us to do various things by the power of the Spirit, which are gifts to us:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: – 1 Peter 4:10
So service is when we do things of other people:
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
Jesus being the ultimate example of how to serve one another, to lay down our own needs and desires and help others first. But activity? The Greek word is energama, You guessed it, that’s where we get the word energy from. But this form of the word is only used twice in the New Testament. It appears again in verse 10 “the working (energama) of miricles”. So does this relate to the power given by the Holy Spirit to do the things He may ask us to do in faith? Which is actually seems to be confirmed in verse 6 “but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone”. Really the truth is: no activity is worth doing unless it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Praise God for His gift of the comforter:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. – John 16:7
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, – 1 Corinthians 12:7-8
Paul makes it clear the gifts of the Spirit are not for an individual’s benefit but for the “common good”. God has everyone in mind as He manifests Himeslf through the Body of Christ on the earth. Believers and unbelievers are blessed as the Holy Spirit is poured out among us. Just as Israel was supposed to bless all the nations:
16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,
18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” – Genesis 22:16-18
So, what are the utterance of wisdom and the utterance of knowledge? Are they “super natural” gifts where wisdom and knowledge previously unknown to the speakers are divinely given by God? Well, possibly, sometimes. But more normally God has been working in our entire lives to build resources of endurance, character, hope, faith, knowledge and wisdom (Romans 5:4). Although He was God, Jesus learned through the things that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). He had to learn to walk by falling over, He had to learn to talk even though He was the Word of God incarnate. God pores His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and gives us the wisdom and knowledge we require in a given situation as we ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. Yes, gifts are supernatural but let’s not make them “super natural”. God has designed us to learn and use what we have learned to bless others. He can develop craftsman to build the tabernacle and the temple, led and empowered by the Spirit of God, as well as bestow the power of miracles on His chosen vessel, like Moses. Yes, He might choose to bless someone through a word of knowledge that the speakers may not even be fully aware of but God also blesses others through our day to day lives as we live submitted to Him. Our Lord is…. SUPER natural.
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. – 1 Corinthians 12:9-11
Gifts of the Spirit are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” So, the Holy Spirit give us what we need to fulfill the ministry He calls us to. If we need faith to move a mountain, the Spirit gives us it, if someone needs healing the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, gives it. All the gifts operate this way. We are not given a gift to use for our own benefit but that the glory of God be made manifest. David Guzik writes in depth about “are some of these gifts of the Spirit still no longer given to the church today?” He notes the Calvary Chapel balanced view and that some people have dubbed it “pentibaptist” or “bapticostal”. There have been times in history when the mainstream church has feared the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and have neglected them. But Guzik says the bible shows that “in the context of those sharing the gospel they will be unstoppable, and God will even use miraculous means to protect them and make them effective”
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
When I was first saved and became part of the Bible Speaks fellowship the first major revelation I received was that the Body of Christ is made up of all the Christians on this earth. To me it felt mystical and special. I had never heard that teaching before and suddenly a single child had millions of brothers and sisters. In the local church there were many people of my age and we spent a lot of time learning and fellowshiping together. That experience of church life was so important to me. Being baptised into Christ through His death and resurrection, people from all walks of life being fitted together into a body that works for the glory of God drawing others into fellowship. As we drink of the Spirit, love one another and live in unity we shine as a light into a dark and lonely world. Much as God will use individuals we all need to be hid in the body of Christ, grafted into the vine, adopted into the family, living in unity of faith to truly bare fruit. We gain that oneness by being immersed in the Holy Spirit, true spiritual baptism, baptised into the body of Christ. We then have that common Spirit with in us. Just as DNA is found in every cell of our body that coordinates all aspects of our physical body’s functioning so the Spirit unites the body of Christ, energising, leading, giving knowledge and wisdom, healing, developing, nourishing and reproducing unique, divine, spiritual life.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.
16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. – 1 Corinthians 12:14-16
As the analogy continues Paul uses this bit to assure people we are all part of the body whatever our function. And in the next section he emphasises we need to rejoice in our differences. We are where God has chosen us to be. We can rest in the part we have to play in the Body of Christ. One of us are excluded and we cannot exclude anyone. Just as our body works effectively together and we can not ignore or exclude any part of our selves. Let’s celebrate true diversity in the church, of nationality, age and gender in God’s given order.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,
25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. – 1 Corinthians 12:17-25
Jesus taught that we should be servants, living in humility:
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:5
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. – John 13:14-16
Jesus is the head of the body yet He was willing to set aside His glory and become the lowest of servants that we all might be saved. Therefore let’s rejoice in the position God has chosen to put us in. That way we will fulfil His purposes and glorify Him.
26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:26-27
Paul concludes, in this section on the body of Christ, clearly in verse 27 that this is not a allegory, we are not LIKE a body we ARE the body of Christ. We represent Him, are His visible presence, are His hands and feet on the earth now. We joy together in the fullness of Joy He gives us:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11
and we suffer together:
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12
We should be happy and rejoice when one of the church is blessed, healed or has success and we should grieve together, weep together, be there for each other, heal each other through listening and caring when one of the church suffers loss or illness. We should suppliy each other’s needs:
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, – Luke 11:5 ………
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:13
As the Father has given us the Holy Spirit so we can give ourselves and of what the Lord has provided to bless others. Feeding and nurturing our spiritual body as we do our own body.
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:16
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. – 1 Corinthians 12:28
We have heard teaching that apostles are sent ones, that The Apostles were the ones who were with Christ, that prophets bring the word of God (not future predictions), Pastor/ teachers care for the flock and gifts and signs are used to edify the Church and confirm the presence of the Spirit of God on occasions as God wills. But what hits me here is: God APPOINTED, that is the whole issue. When God appointed Judges or Kings there was a blessing. When men chose or individuals made themselves leaders there was disaster. Abraham, Moses, David were appointed and brought blessing, whereas Korah, Saul and Abimelech were chosen or self appointed and they brought disaster on the Children of Israel. So we need to be sure we are appointed and anointed to do ministry, chosen and filled with the Spirit of God. Nebuchadnezzar recognised Daniel was filled with the Spirit of the Most High God. Daniel’s ministry was effective although he suffered: capture, deportation, being made a eunuch, living in a hostile and volatile culture, inprisonment and being threatened with death. A foreshadow of Jesus, who suffered as the appointed and anointed one so we could be redeemed.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. – 1 Corinthians 12:29-31
Paul ends this bit with questions “Do all….?” He is emphasising that we all have different parts to play in the body of Christ that we are appointed to and anointed for. Then he suggests we earnestly desire the higher gifts which, Chapter 13, he will reveal are Faith Hope and Love. With the Lord it always appears to be a heart issue. Before the flood the Lord records;
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5
He does not say their actions were wicked although they were but that their heart was the powerhouse of evil. The Lord wants to change our hearts:
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, – Ezekiel 11:19
Being an apostle will not change our heart, being a pastor will not change our heart but faith in God, hope in the resurrection and the love of Christ will produce in us a heart that honours God and:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
The way we act blesses the body of Christ but the way we think in our heart blesses God.
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:1-2
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.