Summary: EPIPHANY 2, YEAR C - This sermon focuses on the Spirit that gives spiritual gifts.
When Rosemary was a teen her best friend’s father Mr Luftglas, got in trouble with his wife when he decided to change the oil in his car while wearing one of his best business suit. Now ladies don’t be so quick to snicker. How many of you have used a shoe to pound in a nail or a butter knife to turn a screw? Do you remember being taught by your mother to dress correctly for the occation, or your father’s advice to be sure to use the right tool for the job. Important advice. When we chose to listen to it. And even more important when the work at hand requires clothing of divine origin and tools that only God can provide. God given clothing and tools like those discribed by Paul in 1 Cor 12, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed.“ Paul is writing here to people new to the Christian faith. Their religious backgrounds are varied and their previous beliefs are a combination of the occult, astrology, superstition, and magic. When Paul comes to the topic of spiritual gifts he doesn’t want the Corinthians to be ignorant from a Christian perspective. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in spiritual gifts, they most certainly did. It was that what they believed had little to do with Jesus or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
And I have to ask, is our society really any different than Paul’s day? Our daily papers provide us with astrological horiscopes. On TV we are inundated with psychic hotlines, and tarot card readers. All those things that in the Old Testament God commands us to stay away from. Instead we are told to place our faith in the creator of all heaven and earth. Paul even speaks to us today when he says, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say "Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
THE SPIRIT EMPOWERS ALL
Before we can even discuss spiritual gifts Paul wants to make one thing perfectly clear. It is the Holy Spirit and only the Spirit of God which empowers all Christian confession. No one confesses the Lordship of Christ apart from the Spirit’s leading. So when ever the church discusses spiritual gifts we must always remember. The focus of the discussion IS NOT on the individuals that possess spiritual gifts. The focus of the discussion must always be THE SPIRIT OF GOD that gives all spiritual gifts. There are false spirits out there. Counterfit advisors wearing the sheepskin of spirituality. Now this doesn’s mean that tarot card readers on TV can’t give you advise - they can. it just won’t be from God. We must be sure to be clothed properly for the work at hand. Clothed with the robes of the Holy Spirit, divinely spun. The only cloth bearing the authentic stamp of God. And supplied with the proper tools for Spiritual work that only the Holy Spirit can provide. For divinely inspired gifts of the Spirit are available for those who know where to look.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but
the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. “
A varieties of gifts, of service and of workings. Now there is good chance that in mentioning gifts, service, workings. Paul is in fact speaking of the one and same thing. He is speaking of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. He is speaking of how the Spirit of God makes itself known among God’s people through it’s spiritual activity. These gifts, service, works have a unity in their source, the Holy Spirit. They also have a unity in their purpose. They were given, not for personal enrichment but for the common good of the body of Christ. For the building up of the faithful, whom God calls the church. But in addressing these manifestations of the Holy Spirit I would like to take some liberty. I would like to discuss gifts, service and works from three different vantage points through which we can observe the one and same Spirit at work through God’s people. Our first vantage point is that of a variety of gifts. Now gifts are something we receive something that is given to us by someone else. The gifts Paul is speaking of here are Spiritual gifts. Gifts given to us by God to be used as God determines.
“To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”