The Holy Spirit: Gifts of the Spirit
Welcome again to Chi Alpha. If you are new here, I am Joey and I am the director here of Chi Alpha. I am glad you have chosen to join us tonight whether that be here in person or through the mode of live stream.
We are picking up where we left off last week with part 2 of our 3 part series of the Holy Spirit. Our goal is not to cover everything about the Holy Spirit in one series but rather to set a focus of the person of the Holy Spirit here in our group. The Holy Spirit is central to our life as a Christian, and we need His power to truly live the Gospel in our lives. So I hope this series gets your hungry for more of the Spirit of God in your life and your desire to know Him.
Last week we talked about the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you were here or tuned in last week you’ll remember that we learned that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and that He is God’s Empowering Presence in our life. The Holy Spirit is a Person who we can have relationship with, and we can experience intimacy with God the more we seek to have communion with the Holy Spirit.
Tonight we are going to shift our focus towards the Holy Spirit and community. I want to speak to us tonight about what role the Holy Spirit plays in our community and relationships with one another. We will look at the purpose of the Spirit in our community including Spiritual gifts, what they are for, and how does that shape our gatherings. Our message tonight will be out of 1 Corinthians 12, and we will also touch on a few passage in other parts of the New Testament as well.
A little disclaimer, I know when it comes to spiritual gifts we all probably come from multiple background and perspectives. In an age of Youtube and social media, we have undoubtedly seen churches or groups of Christians that are on video doing some very strange things and some things we may even find a bit disturbing. My goal tonight is to give you a Biblical perspective of the Spiritual gifts and make a case for why we need the gifts in our community. We are not doing anything weird. We are not going to try to manipulate the atmosphere with loud music and speaking. We are simply going to read God’s Word, respond with sincere hearts, and ask God to have His way with us tonight. Sound good?
Okay, we need to set a little context of this passage so we can understand why this section if Scripture is being written and we can correctly understand the instructions given to the Corinthian church.
Corinth was an ancient city in southwest Greece. It was a very prosperous city, probably one of the most prominent Greek cities that Paul, the author, was doing ministry in. They prided themself in their intellect and their wealth. Like many Greek cities, immorality as defined in the Bible was high.
In fact, the reason for this letter was because there was a church member in Corinth writing to Paul about a bunch of issues in the church which included sexual immorality, misuse of communion and the Lord’s Supper, and the misuse of spiritual gifts in the church. So the posture of this letter is corrective and instructive to lead those who read this into proper worship and edict.
So when we come to 1 Corinthians 12-14, we see that Paul’s primary aim is to correct the misuse of Spiritual gifts which included just consisted of things like everyone praying in tongues without any kind of interpretation, boasting about spiritual gifts so that it elevated some people and put down others, any many, many other ways. Paul not only corrected, but instructed the proper use of these gifts.
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 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. -1 Cor. 12:1-3
So right from the get go, Paul wants to make it clear that he wants nobody in the church to be uninformed by the gifts of the Spirit. This was a problem in Corinth. It seemed like there were some that were very, very informed with the Spiritual gifts, and there were others that were not. So right from the beginning Paul is letting us know that what is following is meant to give us clear instruction and practice of spiritual gifts. He did not want disorder and chaos in the service. In fact, he says this exact thing later on in 1 Corinthians 14.
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people
Now remember last week we said that the Holy Spirit will always point us to Jesus. This is the point of Paul’s statement in verse 3 where it says “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. It is teaching that the Spiritual gifts first and foremost exalt and draw attention to Jesus. The surest assurance that the gifts that are being used in the church is that the person, character, and love of Jesus is on display. Of course someone could say the words “Jesus is Lord” and not mean it. That isn’t the point. The point is that true expression of the gifts and allegiance to Christ is given through the Spirit of God.
Let’s continue on :
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.
There are different gifts that the Holy Spirit will use in any given fellowship. Again, Paul is very quick to point out that every gift that is given to a Christian, every good work, every service all flows from the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit. When the gifts are genuinely on display in our gatherings, nobody is making this stuff up, it is the Holy Spirit who is the facilitator of it all. Okay, you are still with me? Stick with me because we are going somewhere with all this.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 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.
Paul instructs that to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. Do you hear that? To each person. Every person is able and cable to allow the Spirit of God to move upon them and see one of these gifts manifested. And Scripture says that these gifts are given FOR THE COMMON GOOD.
The word used here in the Greek is symphero and it is where we get our word symphony. This is a wonderful and beautiful picture of what God’s gifts are meant to be like.
Has any every been to a symphony before? Wonderful. It is a cool experience. But before they start playing, does anyone know what happens? Yeah! They are tuning and testing their instruments. And it usually doesn’t sound very good. But when the conductor steps up and begins to orchestrate the symphony, all of notes and instruments begin to blend together into this beautifully skilled piece of art and music.
This is the idea that is carried here in this passage. The Holy Spirit is composer who gives gifts to the church much like a composer gives parts and solos to different people in band. As the Holy Spirit orchestrates these gifts in a gathering, it forms beautiful worship, praise, and revelation of who God is to us. It is encouraging. It builds up our faith and hope in Jesus.
So why do we have the spiritual gifts and why should we seek them? Because it is for our common good. We are better with them, not without them. These gifts are precious and these gifts serve for the betterment of the Christian community.
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 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.
I am going to give us some definition to these gifts that are listed here. These can be a little confusing and mysterious, so let’s break it down this way: The Revelatory Gifts, the Vocal Gifts, and the Power Gifts.
Vocal gifts (Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, Prophecy)
- Tongues: . Tongues are a vocal gift when the Holy Spirit enables a Christian to be able to speak another language that is unlearned. There is debate whether these languages are always known languages here in our world, or if perhaps they are angelic languages, or languages that no one knows. I have experienced both people speaking languages that exist here in our world and other times where the language is unknown. In our context here, Paul is speaking to using the gift of tongues in the public gathering to the whole assembly rather than a personal, private tongues gift you may use in your prayer time.
- Interpretation of Tongues: tied with the gift of tongues is interpretation. This is simply someone gives an interpretation for someone who gave a message in tongues. This is necessary because if no one gives an interpretation, then nobody knows what was said. If there is no clarity, there is chaos and confusion. But again, God is not a God of chaos or confusion.
- Prophecy: . Prophecy is simply declaring a word from God that someone is lead to give to the group. Usually this is a word that is calling people to worship God, or repentance. It exalts God and calls His people to a response.
Revelatory Gifts (Message of Knowledge, Message of Wisdom, Discerning Between Spirits)
- Message of Knowledge: This is a gift that allows you to know a piece of information that you would otherwise not be able to know. Some of you may have experienced this. I’ve had times especially when I have been seeking God for direction or been praying about something, and someone “reads my mail”. They share with me details that I haven’t told anyone but God. This is a powerful gift that really shows that God is listening to us and helping us.
- Message of Wisdom: This is different than a message of knowledge. A gift of wisdom is a message that tells us the wise way in which we should act or respond from God. You can think of it this way: if the message of knowledge is “what”, a message of wisdom is the “how”.
- Discerning Spirits: This is an important gift. We live in a universe filled with both holy and evil supernatural beings, so it is important to discern which is which. The gift of discernment provides insight into the spiritual realm, in order to determine the source of specific spiritual activity.
+Power Gifts (Healings, Faith, Miraculous Powers)
- Healings: This is very obvious, but healings heal people! We saw this all through the life of Jesus, we see this all through the book of Acts, and there are testimonies from all over the world of people being healed from not just minor injury, but chronic, lifelong problems.
- Faith: The gift of faith Paul refers to here is not just simply having faith in Jesus in the sense of just being a Christian. The gift of faith provides the ability to believe God will do more than you could do with your present resources. He empowers you with faith beyond your own ability to believe regarding specific resources.
- Miraculous Powers: This gift if the most myserteous of the whole list but this seems to be referring to very unique and power acts of God. There are stories of people praying for rain, and God sending rain in a dry season. There are stories of people who are raised from the dead all through Scripture and even all across the world today.
Guidelines/Tests for Spiritual Gifts:
It will not violate Scripture.
It will come to pass if it is truly of God
Encourages, strengths, directs, or convicts of sin
Give with an attitude of worship and humility
What Does it Mean for Us?
What Does it Mean for Us?
I know that we could spend a lot time touching in depth each one of these gifts, but we are going to move on to how this affects us in the context of our community. If you have questions or need anything clarified, I’d be happy to talk to you after service to help answer any questions you may have. But now I’d like to address a few ways this affects us:
Unity Within Diversity
Spiritual are about you as an individual. It isn’t about me. The spiritual gifts are for the body, they are for the community. Immediately after his description of the Spiritual gifts, Paul immediately talks about how these diverse gifts should bring unity to one another.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
We are all part of the body of Christ. We are one community. Yet we are diverse. God has uniquely created us with personalities, ethnicity, but also with different spiritual gifts so that we can all be used to help each other grow into maturity and greater spiritual lives with God.
The root of all our Spiritual gift is to be love for one another. 1 Corinthians 13 is often titled “the Love chapter” and we see it quoted in relationships and weddings, but within the context of Scripture Paul is actually speaking about using our diversity and gifting out of love for each other. Immediately following the teaching on unity through our diverse giftings Paul write:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
So the posture of our gifts is to be loving serving our brothers and sisters. It’s not about ourselves. It is about our family. Our community. Our brothers and sisters.
You may think you don’t need to use spiritual gifts, but how do you know your brother or sister doesn’t need you to operate in the Spiritual gifts?
Second, this expect our expectancy of God to show up among us and use us to bless our community. Remember what Paul said in 1 Cor. 12:7 :
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
He said to each one meaning God’s gifts everyone to participate in the local gathering. Later on in 1 Corinthians 14 he restates this a little differently:
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.
So again, we won’t all be gifted in the same ways but according to Scripture if we have been following Jesus, seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading, and abiding with God in prayer then we can expect for God to give us something to contribute. It may be a prayer for the group or just a simple prayer for your friend, it may be a prophetic message, it may even been a work of healing or a word of direction for a group of people. We can expect the supernatural and miracles to happen in our group.
Dr. Gordon Fee was once asked if we should see miracles every time we gather. He responded that “No, we may not see it every-time we gather, but we can certainly always expect something could happen when we come together.
This is exactly why we gather together. This is why we feel that the physical gathering is so important and we want to make every concession to keep meeting in person. Because the Spirit of God moves among His people. He gives gifts to build up his body. It why I feel that virtual options are a poor substitute for the physical gathering. I know that they have become necessary in our context and world right now, and that’s fine. But we all should fight to be gathering together to allow God to function in the Spiritual gifts.
The last thing we will talk about tonight is that this affects us in what we desire to see from God. Listen to 1 Cor 14:1
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
Eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit. That greek word there for eagerly desire is a strong word that means something like “burn with passion and desire”. Paul see these gifts so important that he adds a command to burn with desire and passion for these gifts. Especially prophesy. Why? Because prophecy is God’s word to us in our known language. We can respond to what we understand.
Often we don’t desire the Spiritual gifts, and fall into motions. I don’t say that to shame anyone, I’ve been there too. But I wonder how much of our lack of desire is simply because we haven’t experienced much of God? We can’t really expect to experience much from God if we haven’t taken time to prayer, or read the Scriptures, and lay aside skepticism and ask God to use us in the spiritual gifts.
But we can change that. As we have seen all evening the Spiritual gifts are for our common good. We can all benefit and we can all be used by God in Spiritual gifts. It doesn’t matter your age, or gender, or church background. What it really comes down to is our hunger and desire to see God’s Spirit at work in our life.
So how should we respond to this text we are looking at tonight. Again, I know that many of could be hesitant or apprehensive of the gifts. I understand your caution and it grieves my heart to see many of these gifts misused and taken lightly by so many. But I want to encourage us to lean into what God may have for you. You don’t know how God may want to use you for the betterment of this community! Your willingness to be open and obedient to God’s leading through the Spirit could make it or break it for someone else. Your words may be used to heal someone’s wounds they have carried for years. Perhaps could would use your prayers to heal someone who is suffering. Perhaps could would give you an insight into where we as a group should go and follow God’s leading.
So as we respond my request is this: seek God and earnestly desire the Spiritual gifts. I’m not talking about emotional hype. I’m not talking fabricated, fake stuff. I’m talking about true, genuine encounters with the Spirit of God. I’m talking about things that are not explainable without the Holy Spirit. I am talking about signs and wonders on display that leaves no questions in anyone’s mind that God is truly in our midst.
As we stand to pray, would you posture your heart to receive from God tonight. Would you ask God to help you desire and seek out His gifts for you. You can only receive a gift, we don’t take it , we don’t force it, we just receive what God has for us.