Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 05&12 July 2009
4. Now, there are various portions of giftings yet the same Spirit,
5. and there are various portions of services and the same Lord,
6. and there are various portions of energizings, yet the same God energizing all of them in everyone.
7. Now, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit toward the [goal of] bearing together, for:
8. to one a word of wisdom is given through the Spirit,
but to another, a word of knowledge - according to the same Spirit,
9. to yet another, faith - in the same Spirit,
but to another, gifts of healings - in the same Spirit,
10. and to another, energizings for miracles,
but to another, prophecy,
and to another, the distinguishing of spirits,
to yet another, kinds of languages,
and to another, interpretation of languages.
11. But one and the same Spirit is energizing all these,
variously apportioning to each individual just as He wills.
· It is the will and work of God the Holy Spirit to bring us under submission to Christ Jesus. If you are a Christian, it is because the Holy Spirit has done this work in your heart to lead you to Jesus because otherwise you would be led away from Jesus to follow dumb idols.
· You don’t have to wait for a separate experience of being filled with the Spirit. When you become a Christian, you were filled with the Holy Spirit, and you still have the full presence of Spirit. (2:12; 3:16; Romans 8:9,14, 2 Cor 1:22, 5:5, James 4:5, 1 John 3:24).
· Every Christian not only has the Holy Spirit, but also has at least one gift from the Holy Spirit.
· In fact, I have come to the conclusion that every Christian has at least a little bit of every gift of the spirit (v.6 = all [energizings/gifts] in all [Christians]), but different Christians have “differently-sized portions” of different gifts so that each one of us excels in a different set of gifts.
· Every spiritual gift comes from one and the same source, God the Holy Spirit. You are plugged into energy from an outside source, from God, and as His power operates in you, you become able to do what you could never have done by yourself.
· The purpose of the spiritual gifts v.7 – is “for the common good/profit/advantage/lit. bearing together” Instead of using your spiritual gifts to put yourself forward, consider how to use your gifts to add value to everyone else in the church.
· Do not neglect to do what you are good at; take the initiative to start doing something you enjoy doing!
· How can you tell what your spiritual gift is? Try one of the spiritual gift inventory papers on the literature table, or contact me for a computerized version. Study the lists of spiritual gifts for yourself in the Bible and consider which ones describe the things you care most about and love most to do, and that will probably bring your spiritual gift to light.
· Explain manifestation (God and His name manifested in the incarnation of Jesus, the Gospel manifested by preaching)
· God, who is a spirit, uses these gifts to show through into the physical world a signal that He is present.
· Can the world around you see the Holy Spirit through you?
· Spiritual Gifts, or, to use the Greek word, “charisma,” are a manifestation of the Spirit. The word occurs in 12 chapters of the New Testament, 3 of those chapters are in 1 Cor. I would like to give an overview of these gifts of the Holy Spirit – I’ll try to cover half the gifts today, and the other half next week.
· There are three passages in the N.T. which list a variety of these spiritual gifts: Romans 12, I Cor 12, and I Peter 4, so I will be drawing primarily from these three passages. Interestingly enough, the three lists are not the same, so when anyone makes a compilation of the gifts listed in these three passages, it requires a certain amount of interpretation, and different people come up with different numbers of gifts depending on what gifts they consider to be the same gift going by different names in the different lists.
· Acts 7:22 – Moses had this gift
· This phrase shows up several times earlier in 1 Cor as a gift which Paul apparently has but which he did not capitalize on when he was in Corinth.
o 1Cor 2: 1. “when I came to you, brothers, I came not with preeminence of words or wisdom, proclaiming to you God’s mystery…4. and my word and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but rather in a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5. in order that your faith might not exist in the wisdom of men, but rather in the power of God…12. Now, as for us, we received – not the spirit of the world, but rather – the Spirit, the one which [came] out of God, in order that we might know the things freely given to us by God.13. These are also what we are uttering, not in learned words of human wisdom, but rather in learned spiritual things from the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things.”
· Some commentators see this as a gift related to revelation and prophecy and is only for those who wrote the Bible, such that this gift no longer exists. Most of those who say that some or all spiritual gifts have ceased point to the end of chapter 13 where it says that prophecy and knowledge will cease. While most of these commentators say that prophecy has ceased, they do not believe that knowledge has ceased, so these cessationists appear inconsistent to me.
· Key word in Proverbs – wisdom. The source of Wisdom is Christ. (Col 2:3 Christ in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.) The Spirit connects people with this gift in an extraordinary way to God’s wisdom.
· Not just words, but practical application of knowledge; knowing the right thing to do.
· Also required in some measure of all Christians: Col 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.”
· Perhaps the same as exhortation (Rom 12:8) perhaps related to evangelism as well. Certainly related to teaching.
· Affirm that you have this gift; questions to ask yourself: (from Lutheran SynodResourceCenter.org)
· Areas for study and personal growth:
· General ways to use the gift of wisdom:
· Knowledge and understanding come from God and are given by the Holy Spirit: Job 32:8 “But the spirit is in man, and the Spirit of the Almighty gives them understanding.”
· Besides here, this phrase appears in the N.T. in only 3 other places, all in the books of Corinthians:
o The Corinthian church in general had it: 1Cor 1:5 “in everything y’all were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge;” 2Cor 8:7 “you abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love to us…”
o Paul had the gift: 2Co 11:6 “Though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge; rather, in every way have we made this manifest unto you in all things.”
· Has to do with information that comes from a relationship with God. All who are believers in Jesus have a certain level of spiritual knowledge, both of the information of the Gospel in order to believe it as well as some experiential knowledge of God Himself as we have been united to Christ.
· Knowledge is lumped together with teaching and gifts that communicate clearly in 1Co 14:6
· Knowledge will be done away with when perfection comes 1Co 13:8.
· ATR relates this gift to “illumination” whereby a teacher has a supernatural ability to understand a passage of scripture so as to be able to teach it. Once again, we see a range of the amount of this gift in Christians – to some extent in every Christian, but in larger measure to some.
· I think that both the “word of wisdom” and the “word of Knowledge” are the same as the gift labeled “teaching” in 1 Cor 12:28, and Rom 12:7, and labeled “speaking” in I Peter 4:10.
· Rom. 12:7 exhorts those who are gifted to teach and exhort to get up and “teach” and “exhort” rather than passively being silent. Speak up! How else will the gospel be heard? How else will people be discipled? Use the knowledge you have of God and His ways to tell others.
· Affirm that you have this gift; questions to ask yourself: (from Lutheran SynodResourceCenter.org)
· Areas for study and personal growth:
· This word “faith” is used to describe saving faith in other parts of the Bible:
o 2Thess 2:13b “…God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”
o Col 2:5 Paul was “rejoicing, beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”
o (See also, 2Cor 4:13,1Tim. 4:1)
· We are reminded over and over in the book of Galatians that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us faith:
o Gal 3:14 “that the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith…”
o 5:5 “ For through the Spirit by faith we wait for the hope of righteousness.”
o Faith is a fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22
· From these passages we see that we cannot believe in Jesus and be saved unless the Holy Spirit has given us the gift of faith to be able to believe. In this sense, the gift of faith is entrusted to ALL Christians and is something that we are to “strive to grow in” and “build up:”
o Jude 1:20 “…building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,”
o Phil. 1:27b “stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel”
· There does, however, appear to be an additional level of the gift of faith that gives the ability to trust God in an extraordinary way through difficult situations. This kind of faith is not common to all, but is given by the Holy Spirit to inspire other Christians toward more trust in God and build up the body of Christ.
· This gift of extraordinary faith seems to go together with leadership-level gifts as you see the faith through adversity of the O.T. prophets, the N.T. apostles and pioneering missionaries up to our day.
o Stephen and Barnabus are both described in the Bible as “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 6:5, 11:24)
o Jesus spoke of people doing extraordinary deeds in faith: Mat. 17:20 “…If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, ‘Get from here to there,’ and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (cf. Mat. 21:21, 1Cor. 13:2b “If I have all faith so as to move mountains”)
· Affirm that you have this gift; questions to ask yourself: (from Lutheran SynodResourceCenter.org)
· Areas for study and personal growth:
· General ways to use the gift of faith:
· Both “gifts” and “healings” are plural, perhaps indicating specialties in certain kinds of sickness, whether those of the mind and emotions, or those of a certain part of the physical body.
· Jesus healed the sick, then instructed His disciples to do the same (Mat. 10:8)
o Mat 10:1-8 “He called unto Him His twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.”
· Later on, Jesus’ brother, James gave instructions for healing services to be led by elders in any church: (5:14-15) “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him.”
· It is a misguided notion, however, that all it takes is faith to experience healing from disease:
o We would be expecting more than we see of the apostles themselves if we expected that every sick person would become well when we prayed for them; Jesus did not heal all the sick (Mark 6:5), and Trophimus, when he got sick, wasn’t healed by Paul (2Ti 4:20), neither was Timothy, who was “frequently sick” (1Ti 5:23).
o This is one of the differences between magic and the gift of the Holy Spirit: magic is the mere manipulation of powers to do your will; exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, however, are the appropriation of the power of God to do His will.
o If you have followed God’s instructions in James 5 and healing didn’t come, then it wasn’t God’s will for the healing to come that you requested. It all hinges on what God wants, not on what you want.
o Story of brother’s friend who dug his son’s grave up, believing that healing hinged on his faith.
· I do believe, however, that God supernaturally heals even today. It demonstrates the power of God to humanists and naturalists who have forgotten about Him:
o John Howie, in his classic book written in the 1700’s on the Scottish reformation, Scots Worthies, wrote of a Presbyterian minister by the name of John Welsh, whom God used to raise from the dead Lord Castlestuart of Ireland. The man had been pronounced dead for a few days, and they kept trying to bury him, but Pastor Welsh was led to keep praying for him to be resuscitated. Finally, his friends brought in a doctor who mangled the man’s legs with a pair of pliers and strangled him with a bowstring to prove that there was no response left in the dead man. Later, when Lord Castlestuart sat up, he said, “I am all whole except for my neck and my legs!” Even the wounds from the doctor’s pliers and bowstring healed in time!
o My Dad has been a pastor of a large church in Alabama for decades, and he has prayed for many sick people. Most have not been miraculously healed, but some have. One of the most memorable cases was when a little boy named Mark Welch was diagnosed as hydrocephalus. I remember seeing his head swelling up to an unnatural size from the water accumulating there. If I remember the story correctly, Mark was dying in the hospital from this condition. My Dad was called in to pray for him, and from that point, the swelling started going down. Mark is a normal-looking man now; and he believes it is because God healed him through the prayer of my Dad.
o You’ve probably all heard of some story of someone you know who has been diagnosed with cancer, then has been prayed for, and found free of cancer on the next checkup.
· Healing does not have to happen in miraculous ways, all the time, however. God gifts people with extraordinary ability to work with natural processes and medicines to bring healing more often than not.
o Chip is a gastroenterologist. When you have a problem with your stomach, he is one of only two people in town with a high level of expertise and ability to help.
o It is astounding to me to consider how God created our world, with bodies that are able to heal, and plants and minerals that are able to facilitate healing – all before sin and sickness ever came to be. I believe that when we get well as a result of these physical processes and medicines, it is still testimony to our God who brings healing.
· Related to gift of helps/mercy (not on this list, but next in list later on in v.28)
· “helps” in v.28. Noun is nowhere else in the N.T. but the verb is in 3 places:
o Luke 1:54 “He [God] has given help to Israel His servant, that he [Israel/God’s people] might remember mercy” Mercy in humans comes by the help of God.
o Acts 20:35 “you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
o (1 Tim 6:2 - refers to employers; probably not relevant)
· Possibly also same as the gift of “mercy” from Rom. 12:6, since almost every use of this verb in the Gospels is connected with a request for healing “Lord, have mercy” and it is also used of the healing of Epaphroditus from his sickness in Phil. 2:27.
o cf. Mt. 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”
o Jude 1:22-23 “And on some have mercy, who are in doubt; and some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
o Every Christian is commanded to exercise mercy just as God has shown mercy to us, but some people are apparently extraordinarily gifted in this way.
· Requires “cheerfulness” (Greek word is “hilarity”) – If you have this gift, the natural tendency to avoid the mess of other people’s brokenness is overcome by the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:8)
· Areas for study and personal growth:
· The Greek word translated “miracles” is actually just a general word for power. (dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite!). It is used:
o in one case of political power (1 Cor 15:24)
o In many cases, this miraculous power is in the context of a healing ministry:
§ Jesus had this gift and used it to heal the sick (Mar 6:5)
§ Paul also had this gift and used it to heal the sick and deliver some from evil spirits (Acts 19:11-12), so there is a relationship to the gifts of healings.
§ It is also mentioned as operating in the church in Galatians (3:5)
o In many cases of spiritual power to curse and to save:
§ in 1 Cor. 15:56 of the law being the power of sin to bring death,
§ of the power of God to save in 1 Cor 1:18,
§ of the Spiritual power behind Paul’s preaching in 2:4-5,
§ of the power of God to raise the dead in 6:14,
· Acts 1:8 – “power” when the H.S. comes for the purpose of being witnesses, This is repeated in Hebrews 2:4 “God bore witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
· This is a gift given by the Holy Spirit to be a conduit of God’s power to do things. It is my observation that when spectacular miracles occur, breaking the normal laws of nature, it is a at times and places when the Bible is not widely available and the church is not strong.
o In the historical books of the Bible:
§ there are many miracles recorded by prophets like Elijah and Elisha and Isaiah who were calling wayward Israelites back to worship God.
§ In the Gospels, miracles cluster around Jesus to witness to Him as the Son of God come to save the world.
§ In the book of Acts, many miracles accompanied the preaching of the apostles as the gospel began to spread throughout the world in their lifetime.
· But Paul got almost drowned in a storm and didn’t exercise any miraculous power to solve that problem.
· Miracles never were the solution to every problem; they only came when God wanted and for the reason of advancing God’s kingdom among people.
· After the shipwreck, when Paul got bit by the snake and didn’t die, and then healed the head honcho on the island, it opened a door to preach the gospel among a new group of people on the unreached island of Malta. The result is that Malta to this day has one of the highest percentages of Christians of any nation in the world.
o The Reformation was another time in history when there was great weakness in the church and many miracles.
§ The book, Scots Worthies, records another account of Pastor John Welsh when he was at dinner. John was trying to talk about spiritual things with everybody at the table, but a man at the other end of the table kept interrupting him with mockery and laughter. After a while, Welsh had had enough, so he stopped teaching and said, “Observe the work of the Lord upon that mocker!” Immediately the heckler fell to the found and died.
§ Robert Fleming, another historian during the time of the Scottish Reformation wrote in 1669 in his book, The Fulfilling of the Scripture, that although he did not think miracles were the usual way with the Lord, He thought that the Lord had favored Scotland with miracles during the time of the Reformation because of the church’s extreme need for supernatural power in overcoming the darkness that had spread across his country. (Deere)
o Even in modern times, I often read in missionary biographies of miracles God has performed in remote parts of the world to advance His kingdom where there is no Scripture and no church.
· The release of God’s power may occasionally result in astonishing miracles, but usually, it is exercised behind the scenes in prayer.
o One of the most famous accounts of this was popularized by Wesley Duewel in his book, Touch the World Through Prayer. Missionaries Matt and Lora Higgens were returning one night to Nairobi in 1960 through the heart of Mau Mau territory, where Kenyans and missionaries alike had been killed and dismembered. Seventeen miles outside of Nairobi their Land Rover stopped. Higgens tried to repair the car in the dark, but could not restart it. They spent the night in the car, but claimed Psalm 4:8: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." In the morning they were able to repair the car. Later, a member of the Mau Mau confessed that he and three others had crept up toward the car to kill the Higgenses, but when they saw sixteen men surrounding the car, the killers ran away. "Sixteen Men?" Higgens responded. " I don't know what you mean!" Later he found out that on that very night, 16 people from his home church back in England had held a prayer meeting for God to protect him. God demonstrated his power in the miraculous appearance of 16 armed men around the Higgenses’ car so that the Gospel could be carried forth in Kenya, and God displayed this power in response to prayer.
o This kind of exercise of God’s power through prayer is what all Christians can engage in.
o For some reason, God likes to do His own will after one of us asks (Piper)
1. consider what He told Ezekiel (36:37) “This also will I let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock”
2. or what God told Abimelek (Gen 20:7) “Return [Abraham’s] wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you and you shall live.”
3. or Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will thrust forth laborers into His harvest fields.” (Matt 9:38)
4. God is waiting with his finger ready to push His power into the visible world, but He is waiting for us to pray as the trigger for when He does it!
5. Again, every Christian can do that to some extent, can become the touchpoint through which God exercises His power to do His will, because we are all commanded to pray. Some get to see more spectacular displays of God’s power than others. God doesn’t do the spectacular stuff every day. It wouldn’t be spectacular anymore if He did!
· Because chapter 14 focuses in on the gifts of prophecy and tongues, and because of the length of the list of spiritual gifts, I plan to wait until we hit chapter 14 to go into depth on prophecy.
· Due to our Reformed and Evangelical heritage, the main question I want to answer is, “Isn’t prophecy extinct? Can anybody have this today?”
· The very first paragraph of the Westminster Confession of Faith which defines the Presbyterian tradition says, “Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in diverse manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His church, and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth… to commit the same wholly unto writing, which makes the holy Scripture to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.”
o The end of that paragraph is a quote from Hebrews 1 “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by diverse portions and in divers manners, has at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son.” Note, however, that the Bible does not say those diverse manners have ceased.
· Dr. Leonard Coppes, a leading scholar in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church reasoned in his book, Whatever Happened to Biblical Tongues, that since the New Testament is a “qualitatively-closed corpus” and is the “foundation” for the knowledge of God and the church, there can be no adding to the foundation - no adding on to the Bible.
o I agree with him thus far, and it is important that we all agree on this point. The Apostle John wrote at the end of the Bible, “…if any man shall add unto [the words of the prophecy of this book], God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book.” (Rev 22:18) There is no more knowledge of God outside the Bible which is necessary for salvation or necessary for mankind to know God.
· However, I have to part ways with Dr. Coppes as he wrote, “all true prophets when speaking prophetically speak as God’s mouthpieces (in God’s stead) and therefore, with canonical authority (i.e. the same as the Bible)… Therefore since… the flow of revelation has ceased, we must conclude that prophets, the giving of prophecy, and prophesying have also ceased.”
o 1 Cor. 13:8 tells us that “prophecies will cease,” as will tongues and knowledge. But vs.10- 12 indicate that they will cease “when perfection comes… [when we see God] face to face… [and when we] know fully.”
o I know that some people interpret these conditions as the completion of the writing of the New Testament, but that interpretation would not fit v.8 “when [the Bible] is perfected, the [incomplete scriptures] will be done away with?”
o I am rather looking forward to perfection in the future when I am glorified, and until then, I maintain that prophecy and tongues and knowledge have not ceased yet.
· However, I don’t believe they are normative anymore, however, because of the complete revelation in the Bible which is generally available. In other words, while there might be some kind of prophecy out there, we should look to the Holy Bible when we want to know about God and His ways, and if any other true prophecy comes to us, that’s just icing on the cake. It may surprise you to know that my position is squarely within the Reformed tradition:
o John Calvin wrote in his Institutes (4.3.4) “The Lord raised up [apostles, prophets, and evangelists] at the beginning of His kingdom, and now and then revives them as the need of the times demands…”
o Samuel Rutherford, one of the Scottish delegates to the Westminster Assembly wrote, “There is a revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come, even since the ceasing of the Canon of the Word, as John Husse, Wickeliefe, Luther, have foretold things to come and they certainly fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinall Beaton should not come out alive at the Gates of the Castle of S. Andrewes… and M. Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh. Davidson uttered prophecies known to many of the kingdome, diverse Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like…” (Scots Worthies)
o This indicates to me that the framers of the Westminster Confession and of Reformed doctrine were not total cessationists. They recognized prophecy as something God could still occasionally do, even though such signs are superceded by the presence of the Bible.
· When we look at scripture, we see lists of gifts that include prophecy side-by-side with gifts like teaching that all agree are in use today.
o Furthermore, we are exhorted in 1 Cor 14 to “eagerly desire to prophesy and not to forbid speaking in tongues,”
o and in 1 Thess. 5:20 not to consider “prophecyings” as “nothing.”
o Unlike the Old Testament ceremonial laws which were abrogated in the New Testament, there is no abrogation of these commands later in scripture, so I must consider them to be still in force, whether or not I am personally comfortable with them.
· But if prophecy is speaking the word of God, how can there be prophecy if we can’t add to the Bible? I believe that conundrum can be solved from the scriptures.
o There are people in the Bible who are called prophets, yet the Bible records no prophecies from them. Furthermore, there are even some prophecies referred to, but not recorded. Consider (I Sam. 10:10) “Is Saul among the prophets?”, the 12 men in Ephesus who prophecied (Acts 19:6), Iddo the prophet (II Chr. 12:15), Philip's four virgin daughters (Acts 21:9), and the prophecy at Timothy's ordination (I Tim 4:13), to name a few.
o Apparently not every prophecy made it into the Bible. Not every prophecy needed to. The prophecy at Timothy’s ordination was for Timothy, not for you, so you didn’t need to get that in your Bible.
o If this is the case, there may be some prophecies today that provide a warning or exhortation to an individual in an extraordinary way but which do not reveal anything new about God and His salvation and thus do not need to be added to the Bible. I hope to address this further when we reach chapter 14.
o For now, let me raise a second solution to the problem, which is that prophecy can include the proclamation of God’s word already written down in the Bible. It does not have to be a new word from the Lord with a prediction of the future.
o In this way, Prophecy is also related to teaching, preaching, and exhortation.
· If you have this gift of prophecy, I think that you will:
o tend to see right and wrong clearly as black and white issues (which also dovetails with the gift of distinguishing spirits),
o be spiritually motivated to identify sin in people’s lives and call them to repentance,
o have a strong desire to see people turned back to God,
o exhibit a pattern of warning people about the consequences of sin, and
o love to expound on the promises that God holds out for the future of those who love Him.
· If that describes you, then do those things – identifying sin, calling to repentance, warning of consequences, and reminding of God’s promises – do all that according to your faith (Rom 12:6),
· and also consider the words of 1 Pet 4:11 “if any man speaks, [do so] as the words of God… that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ”
· What kind of spirits is this talking about distinguishing?
o There are evil spirits, the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the world, and the spirit of a human. Someone with the gift of distinguishing spirits intuitively knows the source of a message and whether it is right or not.
o 1 Cor. 2: 11 “who of men has known the things of man except the spirit of man, the [spirit] in him? So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12. Now, as for us, we received – not the spirit of the world, but rather – the Spirit, the one which [came] out of God, in order that we might know the things freely given to us by God. 13. These are also what we are uttering, not in learned words of human wisdom, but rather in learned spiritual things from the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things. 14. Now, a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him. He is not even able to know because it has to be distinguished spiritually. 15. But the spiritual person distinguishes everything…”
o so, to some extent, all of us who are Christians have the Spirit of God and are able to distinguish spiritual things, but some have it in greater measure.
· Illustration me and my discerning wife: I am low on the gift of discernment. I’m the kind of guy that likes to think the best of everybody and dream with anybody who has a great idea for the kingdom of God. I’ve been taken for some rides as a result. That’s one reason why God paired me up with a wife who has an intuitive sense of who is a “bad-guy.” I remember one time when I was a consultant on foreign mission work among unreached peoples, I met a guy with a passion for reaching unreached Parsee people in Pakistan and around the world. His zeal inspired me as he systematically over the course of a few years won over a lot of the biggest names in world missions to help him champion his cause. My wife got to meet him while I was leading something at an Urbana conference, and she said, “Something’s not right about that guy.” I couldn’t believe her; I figured she was just letting outward appearances prejudice her, because he had a foreign accent and his head was shaved bald. A year or so later, I got a fat envelope from a lawyer who had investigated this guy and documented that he was a cult leader who had been physically hurting young men and women in his mission. My wife sensed something I was clueless about.
· The need for discernment is great:
o 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, don’t believe in every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
o That’s why Paul says in 1 Cor 14:29 to “distinguish/evaluate/judge” what prophets say when they do speak in the church.
o 1 Tim. 4:1b “…some will fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons”
o We already saw in chapter 11 (vs. 29-31) that if we distinguish/judge ourselves we won’t be liable to getting the judgment from God.
· Everyone starts with some discernment, and discernment grows with Christian maturity - See Rom 14:1-2, Heb 5:14.
· James gives us some pointers on how to recognize what is of God from what is of the devil: 3:15 “This wisdom is not a wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and divisiveness are, there is confusion and every evil deed. 17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy….”
· But no matter how gifted you are in discernment or how much you have grown in discernment, never trust your own wits. Always make it a matter of prayer and reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
· There is a danger in this gift, however. I’ve seen some men get so absorbed in this gift that their lives become one big witch hunt. They are constantly looking for something wrong in everybody and abandon grace, love, gentleness, kindness, peace and unity. When you start thinking that there is no church pure enough for you to minister in, you have stepped over the line.
· Here are questions you can ask about whether or not you have this gift. (synodresourcecenter.org)
· Recommendations if you have this gift of discernment:
· The argument over the cessation of this gift is the same as prophecy. I have already made my case for the continuance of these gifts.
· “Tongue” means “language.” There is a difference between making noises and uttering a real language. I have Charismatic friends who think that if you say “Hudda gudda” over and over again, it is “speaking in tongues.” That is not a language.
· Every once in a while, however, I have heard what sounded like a real language coming from someone’s lips. However, every major religion in the world has a phenomenon like speaking in a foreign language, so just because you see it happen does not automatically mean that it came from the Holy Spirit.
· If it comes from the Holy Spirit, it will accomplish the will of the Holy Spirit, which is to bring people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
· I intend to dive further into this when we get to chapter 14, where a particular case of speaking in tongues is addressed.
· However, let me leave you with this thought. I think it is possible that having a predisposition and an enjoyment of learning languages could well be one way this gift works today. The work of missionaries who thrive on putting the Gospel into new languages is a fulfillment of the will of the Holy Spirit in empowering Christians to bring more people under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
· I remember watching the late Kenneth Pike, who was one of the world’s foremost linguists, converse with an African man who spoke a tribal language Dr. Pike had never heard before. Within half an hour, Dr. Pike was talking with the African man in his own tribal language. Certainly that could be explained as the result of great learning, but I suggest it could also be explained as a gift of the Holy Spirit.
· Whether or not speaking or understanding other languages is your bag, we all have at least one language we can speak to bring glory to Jesus, so use the language(s) you know to bring glory to Him.
· For further study, see Mar 16:17, Acts 2, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6, 1 Cor 13:1, 1 Cor 14, and on hermeneuw: John 1:42; John 9:7; 1 Cor. 12:10; 1Cor. 14:26; Heb. 7:2
· In v.5, the phrase “varieties of administrations/ministries/service” appears, but the gifts of Apostle, Evangelist, and Administration are not listed explicitly in the list of spiritual gifts in the first half of chapter 12 like they are later on in the list at the end of the chapter (and like they are listed in other passages in the Bible). I suspect that the various portions of services may refer to the official roles of service in the church. Ephesians 4:11 lists these:
o Apostles – specially commissioned by God to do a certain task – mostly NT church planters and scripture writers
o Prophets – God’s message-bearers, Mostly O.T. leaders and scripture-writers
o Evangelists – preachers of good news, generally not rooted to one place
o Pastor/Teacher – oriented toward the care of one group of Christians
o Deacons are also mentioned in Acts 6 and 1 Timothy 3
· All these people are given by Christ (v.12) toward the equipping of the saints, to [the purpose of] service/ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ,
· Does this describe you?
1. Are you able to organize ideas, tasks, people, and time for Christian service?
2. Are you able to make effective plans to accomplish goals?
3. Do you have a sense for delegating important tasks to the right people at the right time?
4. If a group you are in lacks organization, do you have a desire to step in to help it to run more effectively?
5. Do you enjoy bearing responsibility for the success of a particular task within the church?
6. Are you able to act as a representative of others in church government?
· Suggestions for development:
· Rom. 12:7 exhorts us that if you have this gift, you must use it. Don’t sit on the sidelines; serve!
· Do with the strength God supplies (1 Pet 4:10)
· Rom 12:8 says that the ones with this gift need to be “liberal/generous.” The Greek word also implies sincerity: “free from pretence and hypocrisy; not self seeking” (Thayer)
· “Attitude, perceptiveness, and the spirit of self-sacrifice are the keys to understanding this gift. When giving is characterized by these attributes, the supernatural dimension is evident, and the spiritual gift of giving is undoubtedly at work.” (from www.synodresourcecenter.org)
Do you have the gift of giving?
Ideas for developing your gift:
· Greek word is pro-histami – those who “stand in front” and go “ahead” of the crowd.
· Used in N.T. mostly to refer to church Elders (1Th. 5:12; 1Ti. 3:4-5; 1Ti. 3:12; 1Ti. 5:17; Tit. 3:8)
· Probably the same as “administration/government” in 1 Cor. 12:28. Not used anywhere else in the N.T., except when referring to the pilot of a ship (Acts 27:11, Rev. 18:17).
· According to Rom 12:8 this leadership must be done with diligence/zeal/earnestness/swiftness
· Do you have this gift?
· Ideas for development
· We covered this earlier, but to recap, the word “charismata” is used in 1 Cor 7 where we are given instructions regarding marriage and singleness.
· 7:7. “I wish all men to be as also I am, but each has his own gift from God, this on the one hand and this on the other. 8. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it would be good for them if they were to remain as I also am, 9. but if they are not controlling themselves, let them get married…” (cf. Mt. 19:12)
· In order to be a successful single person, you need God to give you the gift of singleness, and in order to be successfully married, you need God to give you the gift of marriage.
· Everybody has one gift or the other
· We are warned in chapter 7 not to try to live out the other if God has not given us that gift. Both statuses have their own set of almost-impossible challenges, and we need to look to God to give us the grace to do what we are called to do, whether that is to be celibate or married.
· Pray and throw yourself upon God regarding your marital status!
· Closely related to the gift of faith, if not the same as the gift of faith given to all believers. The word “charisma” or “gift” is used in this sense many times in the book of Romans:
o Rom 5:15-16 “But the trespass is not like the free gift. For if by the trespass of the one man the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many. 16 And not as through one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment came of one unto condemnation, but the free gift came after many trespasses unto justification.”
o Rom 6:23 “the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
o also called God’s “mercy” in Rom 11:28-31
· Being saved and made right, being forgiven of your sin, receiving God’s mercy and getting eternal life are all a free gift. There is no way to earn or deserve it. Have you received this gift? If not, you can simply pray in your heart like this:
o Father in heaven, I have not been right with You, but I want to be made right. I believe that Jesus paid a great price to buy me out of the bondage of sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He bought my salvation and sent His Holy Spirit to save me because He loves me. I receive this free gift of eternal life and I will let myself be led by Your Holy Spirit to Jesus who is alive in heaven! Amen.