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Spiritual Gifts

Holy Spirit 101  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God doesn't desire us to be ignorant about spiritual things; He has give each individual a measure of grace for the common good that binds us to the body of Christ. What do we do with His grace?

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Holman Bible Atlas (pp. 252–253): Although the Romans destroyed the city in 146 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt Corinth as a Roman colony in 44 B.C., and the city quickly regained its commercial importance. In 27 B.C. Augustus made Corinth the provincial capital of Achaia, adding political prominence to the city’s unquestioned commercial importance. Corinth attracted pilgrims every two years to the Isthmian Games, one of the four major Panhellenic Games. The Isthmian Games honored Poseidon, god of the sea, and were held at nearby Isthmia. These pilgrims added to the rich cosmopolitan population—Romans, Greeks, and a sizeable Jewish community—of the great seaport city. Like most ports, Corinth had a well-known reputation for immorality. The colloquial expression “to Corinthianize” meant to engage in immoral behavior and loose living. Paul warned his Corinthian converts against returning to the immorality and licentiousness out of which they came (; ). ~Thomas V. Brisco

Although the Romans destroyed the city in 146 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt Corinth as a Roman colony in 44 B.C., and the city quickly regained its commercial importance. In 27 B.C. Augustus made Corinth the provincial capital of Achaia, adding political prominence to the city’s unquestioned commercial importance. Corinth attracted pilgrims every two years to the Isthmian Games, one of the four major Panhellenic Games. The Isthmian Games honored Poseidon, god of the sea, and were held at nearby Isthmia. These pilgrims added to the rich cosmopolitan population—Romans, Greeks, and a sizeable Jewish community—of the great seaport city. Like most ports, Corinth had a well-known reputation for immorality. The colloquial expression “to Corinthianize” meant to engage in immoral behavior and loose living. Paul warned his Corinthian converts against returning to the immorality and licentiousness out of which they came (1 Cor. 6:9–11; 2 Cor. 12:21).

The city of Corinth was a thriving center of political, cultural, religious, and commercial power - much like our cities of New York, London, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.
Opportunities fo
They would struggle after their conversion to completely come out from their former way of life and be transformed into the image of Christ. As they came into the Church, the clash of cultures and worldviews that came into the Church would have been enormous!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

(NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The Corinthian Christians had to
(NET) Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2:2 For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty, 2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 2:4 while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The city of Corinth was a thriving center of political, cultural, religious, and commercial power - much like our modern cities of New York, London, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.
(NET) Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2:2 For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty, 2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 2:4 while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
(NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere.
Christians would have struggled after their conversion to completely come out from their former way of life and be transformed into the image of Christ. As they came into the Church, the clash of cultures, ideas, and worldviews that came into the Church would have been enormous!

(NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Paul tells the Corinthian Christians to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ; their successful separation from the world and bonding together as the body of Christ requires that their way of thinking and living be conformed to the holiness of Christ – otherwise they will destroy each other and divide from one another.
(NET) I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.
, (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?
The NET Bible Chapter 1

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.

This sets the stage for the message God gives to the Corinthians – God has seen their worldly divisions and tells them to end their divisions and be united together in the mind and purpose of Christ!

Concerning the Spirituals: Don’t Be Unaware

The Corinthians wrote to Paul with questions and disputes that they wanted him to settle for them. So beginning in 7:1, Paul begins to answer questions: 7:1 - “Now concerning the things about which you wrote” (Περὶ δὲ ὧν ἐγράψατε).
This is an important clue for your Bible study.
Paul introduces uses this phrase “now concerning” (Περὶ δὲ ὧν) each time he begins to answer a new question: 7:1 (divorce), 7:25 (marriage), 8:1 (idolatry), 12:1 (spiritual things), 16:1 (money for the saints). Look for phrases like this that get repeated when you’re studying the word.
Therefore, Paul begins with our text for today to answer one of the questions sent to him by the Corinthians about “spiritual things”: to 14 is one fluid answer to this question! Yes, sits at the heart of this discourse.

Verses 1-3: Speaking in the Spirit

(HCSB) Now concerning what comes from the Spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you used to be led off to the idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I am informing you 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.
1 Corinthians 12:1–3 NASB95
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
The Corinthian Christian’s are asking a question – perhaps even two opposing parties are questioning Paul to get him to take sides in their dispute – and they are asking Paul about true spirituality.
The Corinthian Christian’s are asking a question – perhaps even two opposing parties are questioning Paul to get him to take sides in their dispute – and they are asking Paul about true spirituality.
There seems to be two sides to this question: from 12:15-21 (and 12:29-30), Paul seems to be preaching to those who are saying “because you don’t have my spiritual gift, you’re not part of the Church!” But all throughout this discourse he also seems to be preaching to a different – perhaps opposing – side of this question (in 12:31 and 14:1, 5, 31-33, 39) that seems to be saying “things like “ tongues” should not be allowed!”
Sound familiar?
D.A. Carson states it like this: “This suggests that Paul’s correspondents were at least partly made up of charismatics (in the modern sense of the term) who wanted to elevate their gifts to the place where they could give exclusive authentication for spiritual life and who wanted Paul to approve this judgment; and partly they were made up of noncharismatics (again in the modern sense) who were profoundly skeptical of the claims of the charismatics, and wanted Paul to correct them.” (Carson, D. A. [1987]. Showing the Spirit: a theological exposition of [p. 26])
Instead of taking sides in this dispute, Paul speaks to their identity in Christ.

A TEXTUAL CHALLENGE

(HCSB) Therefore I am informing you 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.
Some impose a burden on this text that Paul did not intend to give it by interpreting this to be a test to verify prophetic utterances.
In other words, if a spirit or prophet confesses “Jesus is Lord”, whatever message presented is from the Holy Spirit.
Instead, I suggest the purpose of 12:1–3 is not to provide a confessional test to enable Christians to distinguish true from false spirits, but to provide a sufficient test to establish who has the Holy Spirit at all; participation in the things of the Holy Spirit is attested by all who truly confess Jesus as Lord. Both parties must expand their horizons: the charismatics should not feel they have some exclusive claim on the Spirit, and the noncharismatics should not be writing them off.[1]
If we interpret this simply as a test to determine authentic prophetic utterances or spirits, then these verses sit in isolation and have almost nothing to do with the rest of his discourse. But if we take these verses to be contending for the harmony and unity of fellow believers who are living under the authority of Jesus as their Lord, then these verses flow into the rest of Paul’s discourse in a way that supports and strengthens his message to the Corinthians.

Verses 1 & 4: Important Parallels

To understand the message being given to us in these three chapters, we have to understand the significance of several parallels that happen in the text.
Verse 1: Now concerning what comes from the Spirit (πνευματικῶν): brothers, I do not want you to be unaware.
Most English translations say “spiritual gifts” because πνευματικῶν is so awkward and ambiguous: does Paul mean “spiritual gifts” (14:1 - πνευματικά) or “spiritual people” (14:37 - πνευματικός)? Πνευματικῶν comes from the word “πνευμα”, which means “spirit” (the same word used for “Holy Spirit”); it simply means “things of the Spirit”.
There are strong factions and divisions in Corinth at this time (see 1:11-17; 3:1-7); I believe Paul intentionally uses this word so that he can contend for the unity of the Church (see 12:4-6, 11-17, 27) and speak to both sides (14:1, 37) so that he can instruct them in true spiritual life.
Verse 4: Now there are different gifts (χαρισμάτων), but the same Spirit.
The Corinthians would have expected Paul to use the word πνευματικῶν again, but instead, Paul makes a profound switch by using the word χαρισμάτων. Χαρισμάτων comes from the word χαρις – which means “grace”[2] – and means “spiritual graces” or “grace gifts”.
The apostle Peter sheds light on this saying:
(NIV) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
The concept of “spiritual gifts” and being “spiritual people” had become a hot-topic of contention, pride, and division; Paul therefore switches these words to introduce the idea of “grace gifts” and “people of spiritual graces”.
In doing this it is clear that the particular “spiritual gifts” Paul wishes to discuss in these chapters are gifts of God’s grace.
He brings the Corinthian’s pride low by asserting the source of their spiritual gifts as grace meant to be administered by each individual to the whole body for each other’s well-being!

Important Parallels: 12:1 & 14:1

12:1 (HCSB) Now concerning what comes from the Spirit (πνευματικῶν)
14:1 (ESV) Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (πνευματικά)
Paul is tackling the divisions that exist between them step-by-step. Where Paul does not specify “spiritual gifts” in the beginning of his discourse, now he speaks to those who may be looking at the spiritual gifts with suspicion.
Remembering that Paul calls these gifts God’s “grace gifts” to the Church for the benefit of everyone, he instructs the Church to deeply desire these gifts – to desire all the gifts, not only tongues and prophesy, but especially prophesy because it is good for all and glorifies God (14:24-25).
· In our time when so many churches fake the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we need to learn from Paul’s words so that we do not become embittered against the true gifts of the Holy Spirit.
· I hate the fake gifts because they bring a reproach upon my God. But I deeply love the true spiritual gifts of God’s grace because they build up the body of Christ and bring glory to the name of God.

Important Parallels: 12:1 & 14:37

12:1 (HCSB) Now concerning what comes from the Spirit (πνευματικῶν)
14:37 (CEB) If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual (πνευματικός), he should recognize that what I write to you is the Lord’s command.
There seems to have been a lot of pride in “being spiritual”; those who possessed some of the greater gifts like “tongues” and “prophesy” were not keeping themselves in proper order, nor were they exercising love for their brothers and sisters by considering their needs or giving them honor as they should have.
Paul challenges them by implying this question: “if you are so spiritual, why do you not already know and follow God’s order of love (13:1- 14:1 & 14:12-19)?”

For the Common Good

In contending for the harmony and unity of fellow believers who are living under the authority of Jesus as their Lord, Paul expounds the mystery of God in one of the most beautiful expressions of the trinity:
(CEB) There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5 and there are different ministries and the same Lord; 6 and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.
The unity of God becomes the impetus for the unity of the body.
(CEB) I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. 23 I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.
Therefore the foundation of unity is laid among those who follow Christ as Lord because, though there are many different gifts, ministries, and activities in the Church, all of these come from God for the common good of all.

What Spiritual Grace Gifts?

Knowing that whatever we receive from our One God is given for the unity and good of all (the same presentation given in ), we must ask “what have we received from God?”
(CEB) A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, 9 faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, 10 performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. 11 All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person.
1. A word of wisdom
2. Word of knowledge
3. Gift of faith
4. Gift of healing
5. Gifts of miracles
6. Prophecy
7. Discernment of spirits
8. Tongues
9. Interpretations
Therefore,
(NIV) For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere.

That There Be No Division in the Body

Paul writes that “God has placed each member in the body just as He desires” (v.18) – he removes our sense of boasting by reminding us that whatever you have received from the Lord, you received by grace according to God’s will and purpose.
(NIV) The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
The mutual dependence and concern of the various members of the body is the heart of God’s message to the Corinthians. As the organs of the human body—such as the eye, hand, head, and feet—need each other, so the members of the church with their various functions need each other. And the least attractive and unnoticeable parts of the body are important and should be treated with respect (vv. 22, 23).
Yes, the unnoticeable members of the church are essential—those who pray, those who work with their hands and bring their poor tithes into the church – in the same way that the humbler parts of our human body are given special attention by covering them with appropriate clothing, so also the unnoticed members of the church—the poor, the despised, the less prominent—are to be cherished and nurtured. All this care for one another is for the purpose of causing the body to operate in unity.

If I Have Not Love

God’s message to the Corinthians about His spiritual grace gifts has removed their reasons for boasting and pride; now God begins to set in order His grace gifts so that they can be used for maximum benefit to all.
(ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Paul – who speaks in tongues more than all the rest, and who had such a great magnitude of revelation that he was given a physical illness to keep him humble – writes that if you speak in tongues, have all knowledge, and faith, but do not have love, then you are nothing.
Love is presented as the greatest spiritual grace gift of all.
(NIV) For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
(NET) Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2:2 For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty, 2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 2:4 while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
[1] Carson, D. A. (1987). Showing the Spirit: a theological exposition of (pp. 26–27). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[2] Mounce, W. D. (2006). Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (pp. 303–304). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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