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In the King’s Service
Please open your Bibles to 1 Cor. 12
We’ve been talking for some time now about spiritual gifts – we’re going to wrap it up this morning. This sermon is kind of a review, but overall it’s a “What do we do now” sermon. I remind us, that the Objective of Spiritual gifts is what? To serve.
When I say that our objective is to serve, it means there are some questions that each one of use should be asking. The question I ask depends on what group I’m in. If I’m in the “already serving” group, then I ask, “God, am I still doing what you want me to do.” If the answer is yes, then, “God bless me.” If the answer is no, then “God lead me.” But if I’m in the “no serving” group,” then I need to ask a lot of questions, one of which is “How and where can I serve?”
In other words,
Because the objective is to serve, each of us should be in a continuous state of Divine evaluation.
“O God, search my heart and direct my steps.” King David didn’t start out as a king. He began as a son and a brother, then a shepherd, then the king’s servant, then a military leader, then a fugitive and then king. See, God’s call on our lives as servants can change, and often do, if we allow Him to direct our steps.
Of course, the steps to becoming an effective servant are:
1. Crown Christ as Lord
2. Think like the Lord
3. Live Like the Lord
4. Anticipate the Lord.
Lastly, if we put all that together, I must …
5. Work with the Lord
Scripture calls us coworkers with Christ. Jesus calls us, not to go and serve, but to go and serve alongside Him.
John 12:26 NIV
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Turn to 1 Cor. 12. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, understand that the church was still in it’s infancy. The Church was roughly 25-years old. People were coming out of very pagan and sexually charged society. In it’s time, Corinth was well known in the Roman world for it’s decadence and moral depravity. In many ways, we can compare Corinth with Portland. Portland known globally for its immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NIV
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
So who made up the Church? That’s who Paul is wrote to - and to these same people, Paul also wrote
1 Corinthians 12:1 NIV
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.
The people who were formerly sinners in all kinds of grotesque ways can now be empowered by the Spirit of God to do spiritual things. Let that sink in.
It doesn’t matter what your past was, if you are in Christ and washed by the blood you can be filled with the Spirit of God for holiness and to do supernatural things.
“Gifts of the Spirit” in verse 1 is actually one word in the Greek - pneumatikōn – meaning spiritual things.
I mention that because I think Paul is making a very important connection – that as we navigate life,
The natural coincides with the supernatural.
(or above natural).
We can get so busy and wrapped up in our own lives that we can easily forget that there is a spiritual component to life that goes way beyond just prayer and attending church. There are spiritual things at work every day all around us – good and evil. And God says, “I want to empower you to engage the supernatural. So don’t get too distracted by your former sinful life or by the business of life.”
I think this is what Paul implies in the next 2 verses.
1 Corinthians 12:2–3 NIV
You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know 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.
Here’s my loose interpretation – “If you believed in spiritual things before coming to Christ, how much more should you believe in spiritual things now that you follow Christ!” In a sense, Paul is saying, “Look, the supernatural is real! And here’s something you need to know -
Because the supernatural is real, God really empowers His people with real supernatural abilities.”
Next 3 verses
1 Corinthians 12:4–6 NIV
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Paul is trying to be as clear as possible - supernatural abilities (i.e. spiritual gifts) are God-empowered. God is the source. Not natural talent, skills, human effort or anything we can take credit for.
Here’s a question to start pondering if you haven’t already -
If I am NOT the source of spiritual abilities, and God IS the source of spiritual abilities, what is happening around me that is spiritual?
In other words, as I serve, are there any supernatural results?
For example, anybody can lay hands on someone and pray for healing. And for most of us, we pray, hope for healing and wait. However, the one who has a supernatural gift of healing will have different results. That person is not just hoping for a healing, but they are being empowered and employed by God to heal another person. God is manifesting Himself through that person to heal another, and there will be a supernatural result. Make sense?
When we talk about
Spiritual gifts - manifestation is the key.
What God puts in He expects to come out.
What God puts into me, He expects that it will come out of me. If God puts in love, He expects me to love. If God puts in forgiveness, He expects me to forgive. If God puts in a spiritual gift, He expects me to use it.
1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Input - output - manifestation. Pay attention to that in the following verses:
1 Corinthians 12:9–11 NIV
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 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. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Now, each of those gifts are supernatural. God puts in and empowers the person to serve in such a way that the result is something that no human can take credit for.
Before we move, I want to make a few things clear.
A) Spiritual Abilities are on Loan.
One of Rush Limbaugh’s mottoes is “Talent on loan from God.” Whether you like him or not, he understood where his abilities came from. That’s the idea of spiritual gifts - they’re on loan which means we are called to be stewards – to properly manage what God has let us borrow.
B) Spiritual Abilities are the Norm.
The absence of the manifestation of spiritual gifts or abilities is not the norm. I know some of you are concerned - what is Chad saying. Stick with me …
Spiritual gifts are not for hooping and hollering. They’re not for jumping over chairs or throwing people against the wall - they’re for serving and as I stated at the beginning of the sermon, we are to work with the Lord, not against Him - and God is a God so order, not chaos. So, understand that
1) Spiritual Gifts are Really Really Good.
Not sure how else to put that, but listen to 1 Cor. 12:7 again -
1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
- for what is best and advantageous to the Church. The manifestation of the Spirit is to make people better and to bring people together - that’s what common good means. Doesn’t that sound really, really good - especially in our world!
2) Spiritual Gifts Should Edify the Church.
Edify means to build up. Look at
1 Corinthians 14:4–5 NIV
Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:12 NIV
So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
A lot of people think that speaking in tongues would be cool - “Wish I could speak in tongues.” If that’s your attitude - your motive is wrong. We should desire spiritual gifts - not for self - but to advance the Kingdom of God.
Authentic spiritual gifts and their use should not divide – but rather unite, build up, strengthen and advance the Church of God.
3) Spiritual Gifts will Glorify God.
Remember, to glorify means to point toward and to make much of.
1 Peter 4:10–11 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. 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.
Spiritual gifts should never be used to draw attention to self, never used for personal gain, and never used to impress others. (“I’ve got the …!”)
So what do we do now?
4) Spiritual Gifts are a Faith Issue.
When I say faith, I’m referring to obedience, faithfulness, stewardship, partnership with God - all that.
1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Paul is not talking about spiritual gifts in particular in that passage, but the principle is applicable –
We are to be faithful managers of all of God’s blessings and gifts.
Whether it’s money, our bodies, time, families, or supernatural abilities - it’s all a faith issue.
5) Spiritual Gifts are to be Pursued.
Both 1 Cor. 12:31 and 14:1 tell us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts. To eagerly desire means to be zealous for, to passionately pursue.
Let me close with Paul’s opening -
1 Corinthians 1:4–9 NIV
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I want to give us some time to soak all this in. Let’s spend some time asking the Lord questions about serving and spiritual gifts. And listen.
The altar is open
Seek spiritual gifts
Come to Christ for salvation
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