Thu, Jun 24, 2004

I CORINTHIANS 12

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

I CORINTHIANS

 

            Please turn in your Bibles this evening to I Corinthians chapter 12 as we continue our study through the Word of God.  Over the past few weeks, starting way back in I Corinthians chapter 7, Paul is answering some questions the Corinthian believers had, dealing with some misconceptions they had relating to some spiritual issues and now, here in I Corinthians chapters 12-14 Paul is going to deal with Spiritual gifts, the empowering by the Spirit of the believer for the work of the ministry. This section can then be divided up as follows: The purpose and nature of the gifts, I Corinthians 12:1-30; The best gift – love, I Corinthians 12:31-13:13; and exercising these gifts in love, I Corinthians 14.

            As we have seen, the church in Corinth was very carnal, very worldly, but as we are going to see, they exercised all of these gifts of the Spirit. Now I know that is hard for us to understand because we tend to think you need to be this spiritual giant to receive these gifts. The reality is, they are grace gifts, we don’t deserve them but the Spirit gives them to us as He sees fit, and they are used for the building up of the body of Christ.  The problem Paul is dealing with here in Corinth is their carnality plus these gifts of the Spirit leading to the abuse of them, and we see that very thing today!

            The Late John Wimber, who was the head of the Vineyard Fellowship of churches, said this in regards to barking like dogs, being drunk in the Spirit, glued to the floor and-so-on, and it is dangerous and what Paul was dealing with in Corinth, their carnality. He said “There’s nothing in the Scripture that supports these kind of phenomena that I can see, and I can’t think of anything throughout the church age that would.  I feel no obligation to try to explain it. It’s just phenomena. It’s just people responding to God.”  (Charisma, Feb. 1995, p 26).

            Please understand that God is going to work according to the Word of God and not apart from it or in contradiction to it.  Thus, as we study this section on the gifts of the Spirit, it will be according to God’s Word for Paul is going to redirect the church at Corinth, getting them back on track regarding the gifts of the Spirit. With that said, let’s begin reading in I Corinthians chapter 12, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us this evening.

I CORINTHIANS 12

 

VERSES 1-3

            Verse 1 should actually read Now concerning spirituals for the word gifts was added for clarity but it truly is not needed because the context of these verses tell us that Paul is referring to gifts.  Clarke defines these spirituals this way, “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results . . . These all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.”

            Now regarding these Spiritual gifts, Paul says that he did not want the Corinthian believers to be ignorant about them.  He wants them to pay close attention to this information because it is important.  Tragically, even today, look at how ignorant Christians are regarding Spiritual gifts, from abuse to negating them saying they are not for today.  Thus, as we read this section over the next few weeks, we should have a much clearer understanding of these things; we should not be ignorant of them. If you want to do a more in-depth study on the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, check out the study I did a few years back either from the book store or off our web page, it is some 24 studies long and more in-depth than what we will be going into here in Corinthians.

            Paul then speaks of their past religious experiences and how they can confuse us in regards to the things of God. In fact Paul speaks of their old life as being carried away APAGO (ap-ag’-o) in the Greek which speaks of prisoners being lead away by armed guards for their execution – they were blind people walking aimlessly through life with no real direction, worshiping idols that couldn’t even speak, they were dumb!  That was their past, but now they are a new creation in Christ and thus, they needed to walk accordingly, using the gifts that God has provided according to His Word for the edifying of the body of Christ!

            How do we know if these gifts that are being exercised are from God?  Paul gives to us a principle to follow in discerning this issue. Is the gift glorifying Jesus, or does it lead us down another road to a false Jesus?  Does the gift draw attention to the person bringing him glory or Jesus?  In fact, when you look at the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said that He will testify of Jesus – John 15:26, and He will glorify Jesus and declare Jesus to us – John 16:14.

            Now that is a good, broad principle for us to follow.  Let me narrow it down even more. First of all did Jesus practice it?  Secondly, did the early church practice it? And lastly, was it spoken of in the Epistles or letters of the New Testament?  You see, Jesus is the focus and the Word of God narrows it down and gives us the assurance that the practice continues on today!

            One more point before we move on. There are those rumors of people saying, “I know a friend whose brother’s sister’s wife, twice removed was at a church service and as they were praying in the Spirit they were cursing Jesus unknowingly!” Garbage!  Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13,If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!  Don’t be afraid of the Gifts of God, they are not to hurt but to build up, to edify, to bring harmony and power into the body of Christ!

VERSES 4-6

            The word gifts in the Greek is the word CHARISMA from which the Greek word CHARIS or grace comes from.  These are grace gifts, supernatural gifts freely given to us by the Holy Spirit to minister in the body of Christ. They are not natural talents that we have, or abilities that we have. What I want you to see here is that there is a variety of gifts given by the Holy Spirit. There are a variety of different ministries but the same Lord Jesus.  There are a variety of activities or operations of these gifts but the same Father God!  You see, the Holy Trinity is actively involved as these gifts are given out! God not only gives us these gifts but He empowers us to use them as Peter tells us in I Peter 4:10, As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].  May we use them to build up the body of Christ!

VERSE 7

            The Holy Spirit is present with every believer, the thing is, at times the Holy Spirit will empower us with gifts to be used not jut for ourselves but for the body of Christ!  In fact, the only gift that is for our use is the gift of tongues and this gift can also operate in a group setting when the gift of interpretation is also working.

            Paul is going to list some 9 gifts of the Spirit here in I Corinthians chapter 12. There are more listed in Ephesians chapter 4 and Romans chapter 12.  The thing is I don’t believe these lists are exhaustive; the Spirit will give to us what we need when we need it!

VERSE 8

            Wisdom, SOPHIA in the Greek, is the application of knowledge. For example, this coiled creature whose tail makes a noise like a rattle is the deadly rattlesnake, which is knowledge. Wisdom, on the other hand, is when you stay away from that snake, it is the application of the knowledge you have.  Please understand that this is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit that He will give to us at times to help answer a question, solve a problem, defuse a crisis, and-so-on.  At times, as this gift is exercised the critics are put to silence, and people are amazed.  Also, this is not something that you can turn on and off like a light switch but a supernatural gift that the Spirit gives to us as He pleases!

            A great example of this gift is seen in I Kings chapter 3 as two harlots come to king Solomon with a big problem.  Both of them had just given birth to babies and one night, as the women went to bed, one of the women rolled over on her baby and the baby died.  When she awoke and saw this she switched babies with the other woman!  As this other woman awoke and found this baby dead by her side, she realized it was not hers. So they brought this matter to Solomon to solve, not an easy thing to do, no DNA testing at that time and yet he had something even better, the Holy Spirit.

            Upon hearing the case Solomon called for a sword to be brought so the child could be cut in half, each mother would get half of the child!  How ridiculous we might think, but listen to what we are told in I Kings 3:26-28, Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, ‘O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!’  But the other said, ‘Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.’  So the king answered and said, ‘Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.’  And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.  The gift of wisdom!

            The Word of knowledge is supernatural information that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit, something we could not know on our own or gain by studying.  It is not a reservoir we can draw from but a limited piece of information given to us by the Holy Spirit to solve a problem, silence the critics, expose sin, encourage a person, and-so-on.

            In John chapter 4 as Jesus encounters the woman of Samaria by the well, we are told,Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’  The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’  Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’  The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’  John 4:16-19.  The gift of knowledge!

VERSE 9

            The gift of faith is also a supernatural gift of the Spirit that gives you confidence that God is going to work a miracle, perform a healing, provide for your needs, protect you in a situation, and-so-on.  Usually when this gift is in operation it is working in conjunction with other gifts like healings or miracles.  In regards to this gift, Donald Gee said, “It would seem to come upon certain of God’s servants in times of special crises or opportunity in such a mighty power that they are lifted right out of the realm of even natural and ordinary faith in God – and have a divine certainty put within their souls that triumphs over everything.”

            We see this gift in operation in Acts chapter 3 as Peter heals a man who was lame from birth, never walked, and now, every day is carried to the temple area to beg for alms. As Peter and John encounter this man we are told in Acts 3:6-9, Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God.”  God gave Peter the supernatural faith to say to this man “rise up and walk” and also faith to lift him up!  We also see this supernatural faith in this man who did stand!  As I said before, many times in conjunction with this gift we see other gifts in operation, like healings and miracles!  The gift of faith!

            Notice that it is the gifts of healings, in the plural form because there are different types of healings.  This is a supernatural gift of the Spirit that is either given or received!

            In Matthew 9:27-31 we are told, When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’  And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’  They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’  Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’  And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, ‘See that no one knows it.’  But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.  We see the gift of healing working in conjunction with the gift of faith.  Now we need to understand that God does not heal everyone, it is according to His will, as the Spirit desires.  The gifts of healings.

VERSE 10

            The gift of miracles is a supernatural occurrence.  If there is an earthly explanation, then it is not a miracle!  The word miracle comes from the Greek word DUNAMIS, which speaks of “miraculous power.”

            We see this gift exercised in Matthew chapter 14 as Jesus fed the 5,000 men, plus women and children, maybe some 10 to 15 thousand people or more, with just five barely crackers and two small fish, like sardines!  And in Matthew 14:20 we are told, So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.”  This was a miracle, no earthly explanation to it, they were stuffed, they could not eat any more and they even had 12 baskets of leftovers!  The gift of miracles!

            Another supernatural gift is that of prophecy and it speaks of divinely inspired speech that will edify, exhort, comfort the body of Christ as needed. When we think of prophecy we think of foretelling or telling the future, but it also carries with it the idea of forthtelling or speaking forth the Words of God!  It is as Peter tells us in II Peter 1:21, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  The gift of prophecy!

            Why did Paul place the supernatural gift of the discerning of spirits right after the gift of prophecy?  It was no mistake, you see, the things that were being taught needed to be tested to see if they were true or not, tested alongside the Word of God!  Now we need to understand that this is more than a learned discernment, this is a supernatural gift of the Spirit to see right to the heart of the matter, to judge if a teaching or a person is of God or not.

            In Acts chapter 13 Paul is on the island of Paphos and Sergius Paulus, one of the leaders wants to hear what Paul has to say from God’s Word. Also there was a man named Bar-Jesus and in verse 9 Paul, in speaking of Bar-Jesus, said, Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?  And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’  And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.  Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.  Acts 13:9-12.  The gift of discerning spirits!!

            The supernatural gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues we will cover when we get to chapter 14.  But to give you the basics, it is the supernatural ability given by the Spirit to communicate with God in language that we don’t know or understand, it bypasses the intellect!  It is a praise language to the Lord.  The language can be a foreign language or an ancient dialect not used any more or even a heavenly language.  Now when this gift is operated in a group setting, for it is mostly done in our private prayer time with God, then it needs to have an interpretation and if there is no one with the gift of interpretation at the meeting, then the gift is to be stopped that night.  Again, we will deal more with this very controversial subject on tongues when we get to chapter 14 in a few weeks.

VERSE 11

            Notice we have no control over these gifts, when we can do them, except for the gift of tongues!  Thus, to say we are going to have a healing service, a miracle service on the second Tuesday of the month would be foolish.  You can have a worship service and as you are praising the Lord there may be a healing or a miracle that takes place, but we can’t tell God what we want and when we want it, we are not Lord, He is!  Also, there is no competition here, the gifts are used and distributed by God for the edification of the body of Christ, we are working together, and Paul will deal more with that as we move on.

VERSES 12-14

            Paul speaks of the body, made-up of many parts and yet all those parts are different. DNA is the building blocks of our body and yet how vastly different each body part is, it does different things but it is still one body.  In Christ there is a diversity of people with gifts and yet we still are one body!  Paul is going to continue to elaborate on this illustration of the body and will relate it to the body of Christ!

VERSES 15-20

            First of all let me say this, it is a contradiction for a person to say “Yes, I am a Christian” and yet not be involved in a ministry, not serving in the body of Christ!

            Secondly, it seems that some of the Corinthian believers wanted to be something they were not and they were jealous of those who have that gift or ministry. Thus, Paul gives to us an illustration of the body once again. Imagine my big toe being upset and saying, “I’m sick and tired of being covered up in this sock and shoe where nobody sees me, I get no respect!  I want to be somebody!”  Thus, he decides to make himself known by planting himself right in the middle of my forehead!  Now my balance will be off, the body will be in jeopardy of hurting itself because of the selfishness of another part of the body!  We need to be thankful that God is using each of us and be thankful where He has us!  It is as Paul said in Romans 12:3-6a, For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.

            What happens in many churches is they become an organization because people are not doing the work and thus, the foot may be called to do the work of the hand.  They let the professionals do the work and they sit back.  The church is not an organization but a living organism and that means that every single member of that organism needs to be involved, for the betterment of the body of Christ!

VERSES 21-25

            As we have seen in the previous verses, some say “They don’t need me to do that” and we saw how that was a wrong attitude to have for every person in the body of Christ is important and vital for the body to function properly, for it to be healthy. Here Paul tells us, there were some who were saying, “I don’t need them to do that” and that too is obviously wrong!  We are all interrelated, we are all needed, one person can’t do it all on their own!

            We also tend to make some parts of our body more important than others. Think about it, how much time do we spend fixing our hair and yet some of you have lost your hair or are losing it and you still do fine without it. And yet, the liver, not a very pretty organ, less desirable than hair, I mean how often do you hear someone saying, “Let me run my fingers through your liver!”  I don’t want to know!  And yet, the liver is vital, without it we would die!  It is more essential to us than our hair and yet it is not seen, it is hidden, but still important.  We tend to think of the upfront ministries as important and those that are not seen, like cleaning the church, prayer and-so-on as less important. The exact opposite is true.  You see, some of the most vital ministries in the church are those that are not obvious. And the reality is, in the body of Christ we work together, caring for each other, using the gifts for the betterment of the body!

            Spurgeon had this to say, “I want every member of this church to be a worker.  We do not want any drones.  If there are any of you who want to eat and drink, and do nothing, there are plenty of places elsewhere, where you can do it; there are empty pews about in abundance; go and fill them, for we do not want you. Every Christian who is not a bee is a wasp. The most quarrelsome persons are the most useless, and they who are the most happy and peaceable, are generally those who are doing most for Christ.”

VERSE 26

            Have you ever stubbed your toe before?  I’m sure you have.  Now is it just your toe that hurts?  No, it shoots up throughout your body.  Paul’s point is this, it doesn’t matter how different you might be from another member, you are part of the body of Christ and if one hurts, you hurt, if one rejoices, you rejoice because that is how closely related to each other we are!  (See Philippians 2:1-4).

VERSE 27

            Just as the body is made up of many members, so is the body of Christ and yet we still are individuals!  But think about it, apart we are nothing but together we make-up the body of Christ, a living organism that is impacting the world for Jesus!  You see, for those who think “I don’t need the church, I can do church at home!” you are wrong and you are in rebellion to what God has said.  Paul said in Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

VERSE 28

            There is the office of apostle, which there were the 12 excluding Judas and including Matthias.  Then Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles. There were secondary apostles like Barnabas (Acts 14:4), Silas and Timothy (I Thessalonians 2:6), and-so-on.  But the office of apostle, the primary one, has passed off the scene as they along with the prophets laid down the foundation of the church. We are told in Ephesians 2:19-22, Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  Today, in the broadest use of the word, we are all apostles or ambassadors for Christ!

            Again, the prophets spoke forth the Word of God, laying down the foundation of the church, the Scriptures and this office has now passed off the scene, the Scriptures are completed.  If you want to be a prophet then when you speak forth you have to be 100% correct as Deuteronomy 18:20-22 tells us, ‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’  And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ — when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

            We have talked about the gift of miracles already so let’s look at the supernatural gift of helps. The idea here is to take the burden off someone else and place it on themselves.  Those that have this gift are truly a blessing in the body of Christ and yet; they are most often not noticed! Spurgeon tells us of this gift, “It strikes me that they were not persons who had any official standing, but that they were only moved by the natural impulse and the divine life within them to do anything and everything which would assist either teacher, pastor, or deacon, in the work of the Lord.  They are the sort of brethren who are useful anywhere, they can make themselves serviceable to the church of God in any capacity whatever.”  He also said, “Dear, very dear to us, must ever be the hand that helped us out of the depth of the mire where there was no standing; and while we ascribe all the glory to the God of grace, we cannot but love most affectionately the instrument he sent to be the means of our deliverance.”

            The gift of administration is the gift of leadership. The Greek word is KUBERNESIS (koo-ber’-nay-sis) and it speaks of keeping the church on course so it can reach its proper destination.

VERSES 29-30

            These are rhetorical questions with the answer being, “No, of course not!”  God gives to each believer as He sees fit!

VERSE 31

            Yes, the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts, but we too can ask for them and according to God’s will, He will give to us what we need. What are the best gifts?  What are you trying to do?  I have a crosscut saw, a circular saw, a jigsaw at home, on display, my wife won’t let me use them, the doctor bills are too expensive when I do!  But if I were to use them to cut a circle in a piece of wood, the best saw for that job would be the jigsaw. If someone needs a healing or miracle you would not ask for the gift of tongues, your desire would be for the best gift – healings or miracles probably with the gift of faith!

            As Paul concludes he speaks of a more excellent way!  How can there be a more excellent way then the exercising of the gifts of the Spirit?  The fruit of the Spirit, which is LOVE and Paul will cover that in chapter 13, a section that is sandwiched between spiritual gifts and yet it is the meat of these chapters and we will see that next time!

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