Spiritual gifts and the Church Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

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1 1of5 Spiritual gifts and the Church Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Introduction This text falls into a greater section, 1 Corinthians 11:1-14:40 in which the Apostle Paul is responding to 3 issues relating to conduct of believers when gathering for worship. 1. Head coverings and worship (11:1-16) 2. Social snobbery at the Lord's table (11:17-34) 3. Elevating one spiritual gift over another (12:1-14:40) It seems that some of the Corinthian Christians were creating divisions in the Church by elevating certain spiritual gifts over others. Later on in the letter Paul will use the analogy of the body to show that every believer has a part to play in the Church, that believers need one another. The issue of spiritual gifts and the interpretation of passages that speak about spiritual gifts have been very controversial in history. The controversy arises in which of the gifts are still in operation today and how the gifts work themselves out in the life of the Church. May God give us a measure of clarity this morning. 1. Born of the Spirit v.1-3 v.1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. In light of some trouble and division in the Church of Corinth Paul now wants to help and correct them regarding spiritual gifts (he does not want them to be uninformed) Other translations use the words ignorant and unaware I don't know about you, but I do not want to be uninformed, ignorant, and unaware, especially when it comes to matters of the Bible So, Paul does not want them to be uninformed about spiritual gifts v.2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Pagans refers to them as being Gentiles or non-jews But they are now part of the people of God Paul is saying that before they came to Christ for salvation they were led astray to mute idols Other translations call them dumb idols So, non-believers follow after mute, dumb, dead idols These idols don't necessarily need to be of a religion eg. Hinduism What about the way that we tend to set up as idols people, our work, our abilities, money, houses, cars, our public image etc.? v.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. Paul wants the Corinthians to understand that a person born of the Spirit of God will never curse God Also, Paul wants them to understand that a person can only say Jesus is Lord and mean it if they have truly been born of the Spirit of God Jesus Himself said that we must be born again: John 3:1-6 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs

2 2of5 that you do unless God is with him. Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. So, we are talking not just about talents, but spiritual gifts These would be gifts given by the Spirit of God for the work of the Spirit of God Have you been born of the Spirit? Have you been born again? The Bible teaches us that to be born again we need place our faith in Christ to be saved. We do this by repenting of our sins before God, and trusting in Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That we are given the opportunity to do this is a gift from God by His grace. 2. Empowered by the Spirit v.4-7 v.4-6 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. We have here a reference to the Holy Trinity Spirit, Lord, and God The Holy Spirit Jesus the Lord God the Father Between them they distribute varieties of gifts, varieties of service, and varieties of activities There is perfect unity within the Godhead There is unity within the giving of gifts, services, and activities And as they are given to believers there should be unity within the Church v.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The gifts are given by the Spirit of God, empowered by the Spirit of God To each one is given... Believer, do you see yourself in that verse? God's work is a spiritual work It will only be accomplished with spiritual empowerment And God gives to each believer abilities to fulfill different roles in the Church These gifts are also given for the common good They are not for division, but for unity We need to recognise this morning that Ladysmith Baptist Church cannot function without the Spirit of God who empowers people on the ground to do His spiritual work. 3. The gifts of the Spirit v.8-11 v.8-10 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 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.

3 3of5 Again we see that it is the Spirit who gives the gifts For to one is given through the Spirit the...and to another the...to another...to another the...etc. There are other texts in the Bible that also speak about the spiritual gifts: Rom. 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 1 Cor. 12:28 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. Eph. 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. 1 Pet. 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. v.11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. In the Church these gifts can only be exercised in a Godly manner if empowered by the Spirit of God God apportions gifts to each believer as He wills According to Romans 12 it is by God's grace that we are gifted and these gifts are to be used to build up the Church According to Ephesians 4 God gifts certain people with the ability to equip the Church for works of service 1 Peter 4 reminds us that we have all received at least 1 gift, and it is to be used to serve one another, and all for the glory of God Now we come to the controversy. I said earlier on that the controversy arises over which of the gifts are still in operation today and how the gifts work themselves out in the life of the Church. I am not here this morning to solve the controversy. Not even John MacArthur & John Piper can agree on these things Either all of these gifts are in operation today, or some of them have ceased. And if some of them have ceased, which were the temporary gifts, and which are the permanent gifts? John MacArthur is a cessationist Cessationists believe that some gifts were for a time during the Apostolic age The qualification for an Apostle was that he had seen Jesus Therefore, Apostles were only around during the time of Jesus Jesus gave His Apostles unique abilities that accompanied them in their ministry as the gospel was first taken into the world eg. Speaking in tongues, performing miracles, and healing people So, the cessationist position is that as the Apostles died, so some of these gifts died with them ie. They were no longer needed for the ministry of the gospel to spread The opposite position is continuationism which is the understanding that these gifts continue in the ministry today

4 A continuationist then would believe that God still uses for eg. Speaking in tongues, performing miracles, and healing people, for the spread of the gospel today The controversy is centred on up to about 9 gifts Apostleship since there are no longer any eye-witnesses of Jesus Prophecy since we have the complete Scriptures Miracles since the gospel has spread all over the world Healing it accompanied the apostles Discerning spirits Word of wisdom Word of knowledge Tongues Interpreting tongues There is relative agreement on the permanent gifts still in operation today Teaching Helps (ministering) Administration Evangelism Pastor Shepherd Exhortation Giving Mercy Faith As I've said, I am not here to try and clear up the controversy. But I think the point is that God equips the Church by His Spirit by giving certain abilities to each believer so that the Church may be built up in its mission to take the gospel to the world. I believe strongly that God empowers His Church for His work. Therefore, I believe in spiritual gifts. I have my doubts about the working of miracles, performing of healings, and speaking in tongues (mostly because of the gross abuses thereof on Christian TV). But I would not put God in a box to say that He cannot ever do those things again. We must remember that not everyone who can do some of these things are actually Christians. Jesus said in Matt. 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. We must all agree then that there are spiritual gifts. God gives them as He wills. Conclusion The Apostle Paul said in Rom. 1:11-12 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. This should be our heart! That we want to serve the Lord That we would want to minister to one another That we may be an encouragement to one another That we may help build one another's faith I believe that if we would seek not so much the gift, but the love that should be behind the gift, then 4of5

5 God will pour out His Spirit upon us. And who knows what He will do through us?! LBC is in God's hands. Are you playing your part in the life of the Church? 5of5

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