2020-11-22 – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 – Gifts, Ministries, and Activities
2020-11-22 – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 – Gifts, Ministries, and Activities
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve Sunday everyone. We are continuing our study of the New Testament book of First Corinthians. From a new believer’s perspective to the learned Theologian scholar, there is much in this book for us to learn and apply. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. Last week we discussed the Lord’s Supper and we also talked about the different groups within the church family body. I must say that I am so blessed that in this church we have a very caring and compassionate body of believers. I have never been in a more solid and loving church family as this one is, and for that I thank you all and I praise the Lord daily for each and every one of you.
Today we are going to talk about some topics that many Christians have some differences of opinion about. So I’ll ask of you, as we are all learning together, to open your hearts and minds to what God is attempting to show us in His amazing and holy word. I hope you with me in this.
Question to start us out: Have you ever had a dream which after you woke up, was wondering if it was really real or not? I remember when I was a young lad, I had an amazing life-like dream, that if I concentrated really hard, I could levitate things. After I woke up, I remember preparing my breakfast and I needed to get a spoon out of the drawer. So I looked around to see if anyone was watching, then looked down at the spoons intently and concentrated really hard in an attempted to get a spoon to rise up and come to me. After about a minute or so of extreme brain crunching, I finally gave up. My hopes were dashed and all I got out of it was a headache. Well today we are going to talk about super powers, or specifically Spiritual Gifts, Ministries, and Activities, and hopefully you won’t leave here with a headache.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 12:1, page 1018 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
The subject of Spiritual Gifts sometimes causes some people to listen intently, and other people to flee. This is an area that scares some and intrigues others.
As we are going through the Bible verse by verse, we are digging deep into the subjects as they are written about in scripture. Some churches tend to skip over these types of subjects to avoid challenge, or maybe they feel that it is a topic that is reserved for only the more mature and enlightened Christian. Other churches may feel that the subject of the Spiritual gifts is too conflicting or controversial so they just avoid it all together. However 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. That is our charge and that is our goal. Amen?
The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about Spiritual gifts, specifically in chapters 12, 13, and 14 of First Corinthians. So we will talk about their Usage, their Function and their Misuse as well, just as Paul lays them out for us. Over the next few weeks we are going to get a pretty good overview of this thing called Spiritual Gifts.
In our text today I found it interesting that the word Spirit is used 11 times in these two short paragraphs. We sometimes take the “spirit” of our faith-walk for granted. I think we all could use this lesson today to maybe reconnect us to the spiritual life that God has us now a part of.
Please recall that this is a letter of correction written by Paul to the Corinthian church, so we might surmise that the Corinthian believers were not exercising their Spiritual Gifts in a way that brings honor to God and strengthens the church as it was intended. Starting at verse 1 of chapter 12, Paul wrote:
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know 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.
Right away we see that Paul is warning them and us that spiritual matters are nothing that we should take lightly. The Holy Spirit is live and real and He is the one that is gifting these Spiritual Gifts and abilities to us. The Holy Trinity is made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And Jesus said right before He ascended into heaven that He was going to send the Holy Spirit to us and He will never depart the Christ followers. It seems apparent that some of the Corinth believers were taking God for granted and even blaspheming His holy name. God doesn’t take lightly these things. That is another reason why we should refrain from participating in activities like Séances, Ouija Boards or witchcraft to name a few, as those types of activities can entice us and lead us astray, and into a fractured relationship with God. For us Christians, the Holy Spirit Counselor is in us and He wants to guide us and protect us, and we should listen to Him, especially in regards to spiritual matters.
But what are Spiritual Gifts? Here is my personal definition: Spiritual Gifts are abilities that are given to believers by God that exceed our normal or natural human abilities. Spiritual gifts enable us to carry out some of the functions of the church body. As Paul says right in our first verse “I don’t want you to be unaware”, and likewise I don’t want you to be unaware. And that is why we are going to go through this together. Verse 4 continues:
4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person. 7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit,
9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of tongues, to another, interpretation of tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.
Gifts, Ministries, and Activities. Each of these Paul mentioned in these first verses here. Although Gifts are the main topic, we must also recognize that Paul gives credit to God for the Ministries and the Activities of the church as well. The Greek word for Ministries used here is ‘diakonos’ from which we get the title of Deacon. God appoints or inspires us to participate in the various ministries. Ministries are areas of service or areas of calling within the body that are appointed by the Head of the Church, who is the Jesus Christ. And Jesus has a ministry here for each of us. We just need to be willing to step in to discover it and work in it.
The word Activities in this text could also be translated as “operations” or “workings.” God works in various ways in various people in various places at various times to bring about His eternal purpose. Paul is explaining that as Christ followers, we don’t come to church to just hear a “good” message and then leave. No, God has Ministries and Activities for us to do together for His purpose and His glory. And God gives us these Spiritual Gifts so that others might have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and be saved. This church is here to help equip you and to send you out and to do His good work. Can I get an Amen?
In these verses, Paul also lists several specific gifts, and that is the main subject we are going to discuss today: The gifts of Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Each and every one of these gifts could be a subject of several weeks of sermon messages. However instead, I will intend to give you a brief overview of each gift mentioned in this one message today. God wants each of us to recognize our gifts and to use our gifts in a way that advances His kingdom work.
The firsts gift listed here is Wisdom. You may recall that God gave King Solomon much wisdom to lead the kingdom. Likewise, God can give us wisdom as well. That is my number one prayer for wisdom. It can be defined as the ability to know what is true or right, sometimes called common sense, which is lacking in our world today in my opinion.
Knowledge can be defined as facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education. So in a nut-shell, Knowledge is knowing what’s wrong, wisdom is knowing what to do about it. Today we can learn most anything through YouTube or searching the internet, but gaining knowledge about brain surgery doesn’t make me qualified to be a surgeon. We need wisdom in making good use that knowledge. These gifts can be gained through study and application, but they can also be gifted to us by God.
There has been many times in my life that I have been given knowledge about a topic or issue that I shouldn’t have known about. And other times I have been given wisdom on how to deal with a particular situation. When that happens, I know it is God’s blessing and I thank Him for that blessing.
Faith is another blessing that God can gives as well. I think we all have faith in something, but the question to be asked is what is that faith based on. In Hebrews 11:1 it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Our faith is the glue that holds us close to God and His blessings, especially when times are tough like they are these days. I had a mentor once that said “you can’t ask God for faith”. But in that I disagree. As Faith is listed here in our text today as a spiritual gift, that means God gives it to us. We should all ask God for more faith. In the book of Mark chapter 9, it speaks of a father who came to Jesus about his son that had an evil spirit. He “cried out [to Jesus], “I do believe; help my unbelief!” We all should ask God for more faith.
Regarding the gift of Healing, I have seen this gift employed a few times in my life. Where someone, based upon a doctor’s prognosis was expected to have a terminal condition or gloomy way ahead. But then after many were praying for them, they were miraculously healed. We all can see the various televangelists on the television healing people at will. To be honest, I am personally not a fan of that type of performance and I have my doubts. Instead I feel that God heals as God wills not man. So when we pray for people as scripture tells us to do, we should plead for them and expect God to exercise His will on that particular situation. And sometimes that includes actual miraculous healings. There is nothing my God cannot do. He is the author and creator yesterday and today.
The gift of Prophesy is described as the foretelling or predicting of what is yet to come. In regards to our faith, profits are those in scripture who speak on God’s behalf. There are many profits in the Bible. Some of the major ones are Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and of course Jesus Christ. Many people claim to be profits but scripture tells us we are to judge any prophesy received based upon the word of God. Most prophecy today we hear has to do with Christ’s second coming. However, Jesus said that nobody knows the hour. And He cautioned us several times to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). God does gift some with prophesy, and we are to measure it against His Holy Word and listen to the Holy Spirit counselor so we won’t be deceived.
The last two spiritual gifts mentioned are Tongues, and the Interpretation of Tongues. Some might argue that in this, Paul is referring to only the different human languages like what was exhibited at the time of Pentecost, but I think not. In that, I thought it would be prudent to show you again the miracle that happened to those first Christians as written in Acts 2. Because in that event, not only was the church first established, but that event is what many other Christians today improperly use to support the exercise of Angelic or Heavenly tongues. So let us read that together now. Acts 2 reads:
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly
a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
[SLIDE] 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
So again, I hope you can see this shows this Pentecost event was about other human languages. Having said that, I also believe that there are indeed other non-human languages. Paul mentions them himself. In the very next chapter 13 Paul starts out by saying, “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. Anyone know what language the Angels speak in heaven? I sure don’t. So do I believe in the spiritual gift of Speaking in Angelic or Heavenly Tongues? Yes I do. Do I speak in Angelic or Heavenly Tongues? No I don’t. You see, if God would have given me that gift, I would be happy to employ that ability for His purpose and His glory, but He did not. However, this gift as well as the others are real, who am I to question. I also know that sadly they are misused and exaggerated by many for the purpose of monetary gain. God is not pleased in that and they will be held accountable.
Gifts Ministries and Activities are important, and are something we all should endeavor to better understand and employ smartly as part of our Christian walk. But as we will see in the next chapter, at some point God will take them away. You see, they were initially designed and given to help start the churches, and to strengthen the church and to equip the church for job of saving souls. I pray we too can save some before Christ returns. I pray that whatever gifts, ministries or activities he gives each of us, will be used to make a difference and save some before He returns from Heaven and takes us away. There is a day coming brothers and sisters when the Bible says we will meet Jesus in the clouds. That is what we call being raptured, when the church is taken away. And that event will usher in the Great Tribulation and the eventual recreation of heaven on Earth.
Today we saw just one of the three main lists of Spiritual Gifts mentioned in the Bible. The others are 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12:6–8.
Here is a slide of all the Holy Spirit gifts found in those verses. As a takeaway today, and as we prepare to close, might I suggest that you take and audit of your person, and ask God to reveal your Gifts, Ministries and Activities going forward. Discover your gift and use your gift in keeping with God’s word, God’s will and God’s purpose.
In closing I will give two quotes on the topic from Saint Paul and Saint Peter.
Romans 12:6-8 NLT – “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” –
1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT – “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” –
As we are now preparing for Thanksgiving, I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait to smell again the turkey, the fixins, and the deserts being made. Then we will all sit down and give thanks to our wonderful Father God for all His blessings and gifts. Then I will reach for my spoon, with my hand this time, and dig in to a wonderful feast. I pray you too will have some time to enjoy and recognize God’s blessings, and give thanks this Thanksgiving Day.
Would you please rise now and pray with me..
Next week we are going to talk a little about the subject of Love. I hope you can make it. We always could use a little more of that, especially these days. 😊
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”