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The Grace of The Holy Spirit
I Corinthians 12:1-31
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
I Corinthians 12:7
We have been working through our fall series based on The Seed’s Mission statement: “Know God’s Love, Grow in Christ’s Grace, Go in The Power of The Holy Spirit and Sow Seeds of Faith.” “Know, Grow, Go and Sow!” These are powerful action words!
Have you taken the FREE Spiritual Gifts test on our church’s website? I encourage you take this test. It will take less than fifteen minutes and will help you figure out the gifts that God has given you. It lists your top three, plus gives you your score for every gift listed. It is my prayer that as your pastor you will Go in the Power of the Holy Spirit, using your gifts to sow seeds of faith in your home, neighborhood, workplace and world. Last week, we looked at the opening of 1 Corinthians 12, we heard that the gifts we are given are gifts of grace. These gifts of grace are given to us by God, the Father, God, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As Paul tells us, there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit who gives them. Today we come back to our passage in I Corinthians 12.
Before we do, I read an interesting illustration that might help us as we look at our passage today. In their book The Ascent of a Leader (1999), Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol and Ken McElrath tell of a woman who has a dream in which she wanders into a shop at the mall and finds Jesus behind a counter. Jesus says, “You can have anything your heart desires.” Astounded but pleased, the woman asks for peace, joy, happiness, wisdom and freedom from fear. Then she adds, “Not just for me, but for the whole earth.” Jesus smiles and says, “I think you misunderstand me. We don’t sell fruits, only seeds.”[i]
Maybe a way to look at our passage today is to consider the gifts of grace, that we call Spiritual Gifts, as seeds needed to transform the world with peace, joy, happiness, wisdom and freedom from fear through the church which is called the body of Christ.
Let us come to the throne of all grace in a time of prayer. “God of grace, peace, joy and wisdom, we come to today to hear Your Word. We come individually and corporately. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us. Amen
I Corinthians 12:1-31
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 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 combined the members of the body and has given 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. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.[ii]
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12:7
In verse seven of our Scripture for today, we learn that each one of has been given a manifestation of the Spirit! The Greek word for “manifestation” is; “φανέρωσις phanerosis” and it literally means “to cause something to be fully known by revealing clearly and in some detail—‘to make known, to make plain, to reveal, to bring to the light, to disclose, revelation.”[iii] The Holy Spirit has come upon each one us in order to make God’s love, joy, peace, hope, mercy, kindness, faith, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, known to world. The Greek word for “given” is a present active verb that tells us that the giving of the gifts by the Spirit is continuous and never ends! What is even more fascinating than that is that as we break verse seven down, we find a truly amazing word. This is the word Paul uses for “common good.” The Greek word is “συμφέρω sumpherō” and is translated, “common good, or to be advantageous,
to be better off, to be someone’s advantage, to be helpful, assist or bring together.” What I found so interesting is that this is where the word “symphony” comes from. A symphony is a work consisting of multiple sections or movements of music. Have you ever been to the symphony? Isn’t it fascinating to see, and hear all the many instruments working together?
When I was in high school, I played in the marching band, concert band, stage band and orchestra. We had a concert one night and I decided to skip the concert to attend a wrestling meet at a near by high school. I wasn’t wrestling that night, but I wanted to watch the event. The next morning my music teacher called me into his office. He asked me where I was instead of being at the concert. I had let the orchestra and concert band down. The Band Director asked me to choose between music and sports. I said I wanted to play sports but that I also loved music. He released me from all the music programs.
I didn’t realize that by not showing up for the concert that my part of the symphony would be missing. I was their drummer. I contributed an important part to the orchestra and the concert band. Looking back, I can see that God had given me my drumming skills to share them with the band. I didn’t realize then that God had given me my gift so that I would share them with others for the common good.
The same is true for the church. God has given each of us gifts. They aren’t just for ourselves. Our gifts are given to us so that we can bless the body of Christ—the church. God wants to create a symphony in the SEED!
I encourage you to take a few minutes this week. See what your gifts are and how the Holy Spirit has manifested Himself within you for the common good!
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
The beauty of what Paul is teaching is that we are called to be a community. We are called to be a body. We are called to interdependence. In our society and culture, we have more and more independence. Everyone looking out for number one. The word that is thrown out is autonomy. Autonomy comes from two Greek words --- “auto --- nomos” --which means self-law. We have a culture that does not want to need others or be defined by others. Dependence sounds like weakness or deficiency to many of us. Is this why so many people live such isolated lives!
Paul’s view of the church is as the body of Christ with many parts that are dependent upon one another.
On a lighter note, I came across some funny illustrations this week as I was preparing this message on the body of Christ and all our grace gifts.
An advertising for a new church plant read this way: “Has the heaviness of your old-fashioned church got you weighted down? Try us! We are the New and Improved Lite Church of the Valley. Studies have shown we have 24 percent fewer commitments. We trim off guilt as we are low-Cal ... low Calvin, that is. We feature a 7.5 percent tithe and a 35-minute worship service, with seven-minute sermons. Next Sunday’s sermon is on the feeding of the 500.”
From an anonymous worship bulletin: “We have decided to have four worship services each Sunday. There will be one for those new to the faith. Another for those who like traditional worship. One for those who have lost their faith and are seeking to get it back. And one for those who had a bad experience with the church and are constantly complaining about it. After long discussions, we agreed to a name for each of the services: Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers!”[iv]
I don’t really know how these two illustrations fit --- but my wife is always telling me that I need to be a little funnier. To be honest with you, when I teach or preach, I get too nervous and the end result is that I tend to be really serious.
Paul gives us a wonderful illustration of the different parts of the body that make up the church. And the beauty of this is that we need all the parts of the body: the toes, the eyes, the feet, the hands, the mouth, the ears, and the heart and brain. Nothing in the body is disposable. All parts are vital.
Do you know that the three smallest bones in the human body are the middle ear ossicles—the malleus, incus, and stapes—more commonly known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup? "The hammer is arranged so that one end is attached to the eardrum, while the other end forms a lever-like hinge with the anvil. The opposite end of the anvil is fused with the stirrup (so anvil and stirrup act as one bone)." Though the middle ear ossicles work in obscurity, completely invisible to the outside world, they are absolutely essential to our ability to hear. Without them, only 0.1 percent of the sound energy that hits the eardrum would be transferred to the inner ear. But because God has arranged these tiny parts in a way that maximizes their leverage, they produce a sonic effect far beyond their diminutive size.
Just as the human body has no insignificant parts, the body of Christ has no small or unimportant members. We all have a sphere of influence—however large or small, however visible or invisible—and we all have a vital role to play in God's plan for redeeming and restoring the world. We may be as well-hidden as a bone in the inner ear, an internal organ, or a foot inside a shoe, but every person is absolutely essential to the eternal purpose of God.[v]
As the body of Christ called the church, we are called to be interdependent, not independent or dependent. The beauty of what Paul is teaching us is that we are single parts who are called to be a community. Paul writes that it is almost ridiculous to consider that the different parts of the body would ever decide that they don’t need one part or another. “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!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” I Corinthians 12:21-22
The word “community” comes from the Latin word “communitas” which comes from the word “common.” We are told here in this Scripture that each one us has been given grace gifts for the common good. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 Wouldn’t it follow, then, that each one of us at the SEED has been given gifts to share with one another for the common good? I think we do a really great job of sharing our gifts. I have not been surprised at one person’s Spiritual Gifts test results. Matter of fact, I like to guess what each person will come up with. My guesses are usually right on target. You know why? Because you have been using your gifts whether or not you’ve ever named your gifts or taken a test.
So what? do we do with these ancient words written so long ago? How do we become a community, a body of Christ? We are called to come to worship and connect. We are called to come to worship and share. We are called to come to worship and care. We are called to come to worship and share the gifts that we have been given in order to build up the body of Christ for the common good. We are called to be distribution center of the manifold gifts of God!
Tim Keller, a pastor and Bible teacher, stated it this way, “No one is merely a consumer of services, but everyone is a distributor.” Did you hear that? We are to be a distributor of the gifts that we have been given. I took the test this week. Can you guess what my number one gift is? Teaching. My number one gift that I am to distribute for God is teaching. God has blessed me with the gift of teaching—not so that I sit around and read and learn and study for myself. NO! I am to do these things because I need to teach others about what I’m reading and studying.
I looked up the word “orchestra” and found each orchestra has four sections: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Four sections but listen to the further breakdown by section. Please wave your hand if you play, or have played, the instruments I mention.
Strings: violin, viola, cello, double bass, and harp.
Woodwinds: flute, clarinet, oboe, double bass
Brass: trumpet, trombone, French horn, Tuba
Percussion: Piano, timpani, xylophone, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, tambourine, castanets, chimes, Bass drum, maracas, gong, celesta
And let’s not forget the conductor—someone has to be in charge of all of that power and potential!
Look at all of the gifts listed on the Spiritual Gifts test. None of us has every gift but we all have one, two or three major gifts. Not one gift is given for us to use selfishly. Our gifts are given to us so that we will share them—in this local body of Christ, in our homes, in our schools, in our work places—and everywhere we go. I looked up the words philharmonic and symphony—do you know that they mean: harmonious music? That’s the idea Paul is teaching us: Together we make beautiful, harmonious music. And like any orchestra, or band, we need all of the different parts in order to make beautiful music. We need you here at the SEED in order to make the beautiful music God has called us to.
I look back to the day when I chose to go watch a wrestling meet that I didn’t wrestle in…over going to my concert. I had taken my gift of drumming and I left the building with it. The Conductor was correct in making me choose which “orchestra” or “body” I would share my gifts with. I suppose I was a better wrestler than a drummer!
I want to go gift by gift. Please stand if you scored 1, 2, or 3 in the gift as I list them alphabetically: Administration – Apostleship – Discernment – Evangelism - Exhortation – Faith – Giving Knowledge – Leadership - Mercy – Pastoring – Prophecy – Serving – Teaching - Wisdom
If you haven’t take the test, please, please do! Go home and take the test—it’s freeeeeee!
Next week we will start the SEASON OF ADVENT! The holiday season is here and I am ready to hear beautiful music, aren’t you?
Let us pray ….
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
November 26, 2017
Pastor Dave Peters
[ii] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (1 Co 12:1–31). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[iii] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 337–338). New York: United Bible Societies.
[v] Adapted from James Robison, Living Amazed (Revell, 2017), pages 203-204
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