(A Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 11/1/98 a.m. I Corinthians 12:1-6
PROPOSITION: That the Holy Spirit manifests spiritual gifts through each believer as He wills for the common good.
- THERE is no denying the fact that America believes in the supernatural.
* On Friday night, KING 5 evening news reported an elementary school in the area that has been closed for 16 years and is haunted by the ghost of a 9 year old that died there years ago. The custodian and others reported that soccer balls roll inexplicably across the gym floor, doors slam, and a child’s footsteps can be heard running the halls.
* Psychic hotlines are a huge money-maker as millions call in each day to get direction for their lives.
* Television shows, movies and books about angels are filling the airwaves....even though their theology is like vegetable stew.
* I saw a “white witch” being interviewed on TV last week, complaining that their magic is good and they are terribly misunderstood and much maligned.
* Books about life after death are in all of the major bookstores.....also with some very mushy theology and no Biblical foundation.
- IN addition to all of this interest in the supernatural, pollster, George Barna, tells us that 84% of Americans call themselves Christian.
- 66% of adult Americans in that same survey say that they desire a meaningful relationship with God.
- WITH all of this interest in spiritual things, why then has church attendance suffered so terribly in the last twenty years in America...with so many churches across the nation closing their doors?
- BECAUSE Christianity has retained the “name” and a “form of godliness” but has denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
- BUT if true Christianity is about anything it is about the power of God in clay vessels.
- JESUS came and ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.....all through the Gospels, healing, casting out demons, teaching with authority.
- WHEN He sent His disciples out, He sent in the power of the Spirit.
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, (2) and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2)
- WHEN He got ready to leave this earth He said to those same disciples,
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
- THE New Testament church was born in the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit and that was how it grew....how it survived. Acts 4:33 says,
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”
- IN Acts 19:20, speaking of the impact that the Christian faith had on the witches and sorcerers in Ephesus who came to Christ and burnt all their books and charms, Luke records,
“In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
- IN Romans 15:18-19, Paul says,
“I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--(19) by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.”
- PAUL told the Corinthian believers that when he first came to them that his....
“....message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, (5) so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.” (I Corinthians 2:4-5)
- BUT today the church of Jesus....has in most quarters been embarrassed by any demonstration of God’s power because it defied rational thinking.
* So we have relied on state of the art programming and management methods to build the church instead.
* We built Bible Schools and Seminaries to have better trained pastors and leaders.
* We have built radio stations and generated millions of hours of recorded teaching and preaching and Christian music.
* We have created curriculum, published millions of books, and conducted conferences all over the nation designed to make us better Christians.
* We have huddled inside of our walls and congratulated ourselves on our organizational abilities.
- BUT the reason that the world has shown less and less interest in our brand of Christianity is that they have noticed that what we profess lacks the power to transform our own lives.
* 33% of non-Christians watch MTV regularly.
• 26% of Christians do the same.
* 40% of non-Christians watch “R” rated movies.
• 30% of Christians do the same.
* The same % of non-Christians and Christians believe that money is the measure of a successful life.
* 17% of non-Christians believe that it is better to get even than to get mad.
• 12% of Christians believe the same.
* 60% of non-Christians men are unfaithful to their spouses at some time in their marriage.
• It is the same for Christian married men.
- NO wonder the non-Churched world has little interest in Christianity.
- WE say the creeds, go to church on Sunday, but our lives lack the transforming, supernatural power of God.
- LIKE the church that Jesus wrote to in Sardis, in Revelation 3:1-2, where He said,
“...you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.”
ii. the focus of the gifts is jesus
- JESUS came to earth and ministered in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
- THE church of Jesus was born in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.
- THAT same power and anointing is still available to all believer of all generations....from Acts 2:39 where Peter said of the gift of the Spirit,
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
- FROM that day....all the way to November 1, 1998....the same Holy Spirit is available to baptize and fill us with the power of God.
- AND one of the ways that the Holy Spirit demonstrated the power of God is through spiritual gifts.
- WHICH is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians believers, in I Corinthians 12:1,
“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”
- TO be ignorant about spiritual gifts is to be left to your own devices in a spiritual world.....
* Pushing, shoving, manipulating, scheming, begging against opponents and obstacles that you cannot see.....and never getting ahead.
* Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
- BACK to verse 2, of I Corinthians 12,
“You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.”
- WHEN you were pagans there were demonic supernatural unseen forces at work on your life through the idols you worshipped.
- “INFLUENCED....led astray”. The Greek word for “led astray” means a loss of control over your life.
- YOU started out thinking you were in charge, but you ended up going where they took you.....deceived by the very forces that you thought were your friends.
- THEN in verse 3, Paul tells us what the FOCUS is of the work and demonstrated power of the Holy Spirit....it is Jesus!
“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.” (I Corinthians 12:1-3)
- THIS is not some magical formula that you can use as some litmus test of true Christianity....the demon, speaking through the possessed man in Luke 4:34 said,
“Jesus of Nazareth?...I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!”
- NO, this verse speaks of the focus of the person of the Holy Spirit and the focus of the demonstration of His power...it is to point another life to Jesus...to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
- ONE of the problems with some of the extreme Pentecostal and/or Charismatic movement is that we have made the power of God the main thing.
- THAT is the reason there have been so many tangents....and so many people misled....and so much weirdness....because we got our eyes and hearts on the power.
- BUT the focus of Holy Spirit power is always to get people delivered and in love with Jesus....
* healed....but in love with Jesus.
* freed....but in love with Jesus.
* baptized in the Spirit....so you can be in love with Jesus.
- THE work of the Holy Spirit is to point people to Jesus.
- JESUS is the focus of the work of the Spirit.....even in the gifts that must be our measurement of their authenticity.
iii. the source of the gifts is God
- NEXT, Paul writes to the Corinthians about the source of spiritual gifts.
- LOOK at verse 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.” (I Corinthians 12:4-6)
- NOTICE that all three members of the trinity are mentioned in this passage.
* Gifts.....owned and operated by the person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
* Service, literally, ways of serving others....owned and operated by the Lord Jesus.
* Works, literally, activities....but the same Father God working all of them in all men.
- THEY are His gifts, His service, His works.....He is the Source and we have to go back to Him every time.
- THESE are not yours and mine to operate whenever we want to.....we are not the reservoir for supernatural power.
- WE have to go to God and be in relationship with Him for the gifts, service and works to be effective and powerful.
- THESE supernatural gifts belong to God. Verse 11 of this passage says,
“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
- JESUS is the focus of the work of the Holy Spirit.
- GOD is the Source of the power and anointing for the gifts...they belong to Him.
- AND then, after making these two points about spiritual gifts, Paul goes into a description of nine of many spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament.
- FOR this sermon series we will confine ourselves to this list.
- THESE gifts are God’s powerful tools for building His church.
- WHY would we try without them?
- WHY would we resort to our own wisdom and ingenuity?
- WE need to get back to a place of dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of God.